Chapter 10

"Good evening, Zootopia. I'm Peter Moosebridge."

"And I'm Fabienne Growley, and this is ZNN News at 6."

"In today's headlines, Mayor Antonio Staggno has announced his intention to resign amidst allegations of gross abuse of power, embezzlement of taxpayer dollars, and malfeasance. His former aid Agnes Cutter is cooperating with authorities regarding these allegations, citing an 'attack of conscience.'"

"The City Council, unsurprisingly, cast a vote of no-confidence and has reversed the decision to remove Chief of Police Idris Bogo from service. He returns to his position this week on the heels of an acquittal in criminal court. The civil case that was being spearheaded by local Union rep Reginald Pranceton has been dropped."

"In other news…"

...

Nick walked into the Precinct atrium with somewhat less swagger than his coworkers had come to expect from him. Eyes from every level rested on him as he stopped in the center of the atrium and drew himself to his full, if limited, height. "Gentle mammals, if I could have your attention please?" He swiftly had a captive audience. "Normally I'd make a speech, some moralistic statement wrapped in snark, but I think we're all too worn for that so I'll get right to it."

He spun on his heel and gestured to the front door. "May I present to you the ZPA's most recent MII Graduate, and your new Rookie, Officer William Coonaly!" He started clapping and whistling as a young raccoon in police blues marched into the precinct. Soon the entire lobby and mezzanine were awash in cheers and applause.

"Don't think this gets you out of Rookie-work, Wilde!" Francine called from the second tier.

Bill Higgins smiled from his spot on the rail before heading back into the Chief's office. Bogo stood in the center of the room, looking around with his hooves clasped behind his back.

"Idris please, take a seat."

The bull glanced over his shoulder and gave the faintest of head shakes. "Sorry Bill, not sticking around."

Chief Higgins stepped fully into the room. "So it's true? You're turning the offer down?"

Bogo leaned on the desk with one hoof, the decades of time seeming to suddenly catch up with him. "It's true. An acquittal isn't the same thing as being proven innocent, and this position," he thumped the desk with his other hoof, "needs to be above reproach."

He stood erect and faced his old friend. "I may have done some good while here, but that's not enough. This position needs a better mammal." He stepped forward and rested a hoof on Bill's shoulder. "The best mammal, really."

Higgins somehow managed to smile and grimace at the same time. "So what's next for the newly not-fired former Chief of Police?"

Bogo stared at the wall that once held all his many awards and accolades. "Hadn't given it much thought. Just having the opportunity to do anything wasn't one that I thought I'd have the privilege to entertain." His attention wandered to the window behind the desk. "Miss New Moon sent me a message that she might have something for me. Non governmental, obviously. I thought I'd head on down and talk to her in person."

Higgins looked down in thought. "Isn't she in the Capitol?"

Bogo nodded. "I thought I'd make a trip out of it. I never did the Great Animalian Migration when I was a young bull."

"When were you planning to head off?"

Bogo shrugged at Higgins' question. "Now?"

"Well, you're sticking around to say goodbye." Bogo was about to demur, but the hippo's harsh grunt forced his mouth shut at once. "I wasn't asking, Idris." The harshness of the tone was softened by the grin on Bill's face. Bogo grunted a laugh and nodded.

"If you insist."

He followed Higgins downstairs to the break room where a crowd was forming. Two crowds in fact, as one group was greeting Precinct One's newest officer, while the other...

"Behold! I said it and it is so!"

Nick Wilde held proudly and loudly over his head a book that was almost as wide as he was tall. It was certainly bigger than his grumping partner. Judy was thumping her foot with arms crossed as she "glared" at him, fighting a grin creeping at the corners of her muzzle.

"Did you have to make it mattress sized?" she asked and threw her arms up in the air.

He turned with a wide grin at her. "Yes."

She rolled her eyes. "Just how many mayors do you expect us to oust from office?"

He relinquished the book into Leo Johnson's paws and gestured at Judy dramatically. "That depends how many suckers they find to stuff in there. We keep this up and I might need to commission a 'Volume II'."

She rolled her eyes and waved to the lion. "Leo, can I see that for a moment?" Once she had the book in her paws, she turned it to the second page: Bellwether. She smiled innocently at Nick for a moment. "Can you run?" She began brandishing the ewe's mug-shot page at him. "I think not!" The room broke out in laughter as Judy began chasing her partner with the book raised as a cudgel.

They weren't watching where they were running until the very last second when they nearly collided with the new arrivals that had just entered. "Sorry Chiefs!" came the dual apologies.

Bogo couldn't help giving a short snort of a laugh, even though it burned his lungs. He was going to miss that. Having been 'chief' for close to half of his life, it had become an integral part of him. Now that it was in its death throes… well, it wasn't something he was quite ready to say goodbye to.

Looking around, it seemed the officers present were more than ready to say farewell, though. There were warm smiles from most, though there were a few strained ones. Oh well; it wasn't like every officer would be throwing him a ticker tape parade, no matter the circumstances of his departure. It still wasn't the walk of shame he'd expected a month ago.

The silence deepened until it became stifling, and Bogo cleared his throat. "Well? What's all this lollygagging around for? Haven't you all got work to be attending to?"

Nick took a chance while Judy was paused. "Well, the Vice-Mayor's keeping a low profile since his old boss tucked his tail and scamp-thwump-ow! Okay, that thing really is too big."

"In point of fact," Higgins said, and stepped past Bogo to join the rest of the officers gathered around him, "this is the first item on the agenda for this morning." He squared his shoulders. "Room! Aten-Hut!" The confines of the break-room shook with the suddenness of the single motion. "Present, Arms!" As one parade perfect moment, every paw, hoof and trotter in the room snapped up. "The unit awaits your final command, Chief."

Bogo's ears drooped. Never one to shun the lead position, he was all at once at a loss for words. What words were adequate to leave his officers with, that would in essence become almost tantamount to his legacy in this place he loved with every inch of the husk that he called a heart? Were there any left in him that were worthy?

He stood at attention himself, and rendered his own salute. As every mammal's arms came down, he spoke. "At ease." There was a shuffle as the officers relaxed. "Trust, Integrity, Bravery." He tapped the spot over his heart where a badge had rested his entire adult life. "We each swear to uphold these words when we take on our oath of service. We each strive to uphold them." He looked down at Hopps and Wilde. "Sometimes, we live them as an example to all others around us."

He looked back up. "And sometimes we fall short." He held up a hoof to prevent interruptions. "I swore to uphold the law; to be it's enforcer, not it's adjudicator. I fell short of that oath. You," he looked around at all the officers, "did not. In a time of trial, you stood up for what was truly right and just. You bore true faith with one another, and even with me. I will always be grateful that I could be counted amongst you all; yes, even you Wilde."

"Aww, love you too, Chief."

"Not your Chief anymore, am I?"

The assembled officers all started speaking, one after another; Judy, "Ah, on the contrary…"

Then Fangmeyer. "Maybe not on the payroll, but…"

Then Wolford. "Once our Chief…"

And, finally, Higgins. "Always our Chief."

Idris Bogo had seen a great deal of tragedy in this line of work, things that would send mammals older and more world worn into the fetal position. Somehow, in spite of it all, he'd managed to keep composed and-perhaps most importantly-without a single tear shed. Not here, in this building, not once.

He was moments from ruining that record.

"I am… honored."

Nick cleared his throat. "Well I hope you're also hungry. Benji went all out on supplying the food." From the side of the table, the efervescent cheetah smiled as he openly wept.

Idris chuffed a laugh. "Well, we wouldn't want his efforts to go to waste. This is my final order to you all." Everyone looked up. "Dig in!"

...

There was a general murmur from the officers in the Bullpen. Chief Higgins had an unusually somber expression on his face as he stepped up to the podium.

"As you all know, there has been a missing mammal from this city for the last month." There was a confused stir from the assembled officers. "I have just received an update on their situation."

He pushed a button on the podium causing a picture to appear on the screen behind him. In the background, a wide river wound around an oxbow between a set of gently rolling hills and a series of bluffs. The foreground was dominated by a monstrous motorcycle, and a grinning Cape Buffalo.

Higgins continued amid the laughter and cheering of the officers. "He was last spotted outside Pawstin, Texas, and is reported to be in good health. His current whereabouts are unknown, but he's not exactly being discreet anymore. I have no doubt we'll be seeing him again."

He gave the officers a few moments. "Alright, alright, that's enough. Settle down now."

They did not settle down.

"Settle, I said."

If anything, even less settling.

"SHUT IT!" The reaction was almost instantaneous and the room fell to dead silence.

Nick snickered. "Nice enunciation, Chief, but you lose points on the accent. I'ma give you a solid 7.9 on the Bogo-scale."

Higgins gave Nick a flat look. "Hopps." Nick yelped as Judy jabbed his ribs. "Huh, that felt nice. No wonder he did it that way. Now then: Assignments..."

...

Precinct One had seen thousands of officers pass in through its doors, walk its halls, serving and protecting the great metropolis of Zootopia during the course of Zootopia's colorful history. It would see thousands more in the years to come. Zootopia was the city where 'anyone could be anything'; it continued to grow and to change and to become in all ways every day better than it was the day before. There at the city's heart it stood, a bastion for upholding justice with Trust, Integrity, and Bravery and would continue to do so in all the years to come.

FIN