Hello everyone. This is a new dalliance of my muse. I have no idea if it will go anywhere, and I can guarantee the updates will be much farther apart if muse graces me with any more at all. Then again, I didn't expect AFH to go past about chapter 5, so… We shall see.
1: Muse is still teasing me with this, so it is not getting posted with a full edit. If it takes off the way A Friendly Hustle did, then any posted chapters will get a fresh scrub and re-write.
2: To those that criticise the technique I am using here, I invite you to write your own fic according to those inviolate rules you seem so convinced I must follow just to make you happy. There are no rules, and a chapter that is nothing but the chapter title and no text can be the most impactful of all. It is what best suits the story and how my muse bothers to present the story to me.
Of course, I do not own Zootopia, and can therefore make no claims to Zootopia or its characters. I only make claim to my own OC's included herein as needed. Though I think I could do more with it than Disney is at the moment. So many awesome ideas that they could use, and they're sitting on their asses.
I blame Bear678 for this.
MRE = Meal Ready to Eat. It's a military thing. They're not actually that bad, at least modern ones, and while they have an expiration date, they don't really go bad due to how they're prepared and preserved.
Anyway, on with the show.
Wilde Cardz - Savage Territory - Chapter 2
Keying the mic on his shoulder, Nick reported to Lizz and Mike what he was seeing. They had managed to reclaim the police band radios, which was really useful in situations like this. "Couple of trip wires. At least one, not very well hidden mine. This seems more like it is meant for savages and not thinking mammals. Still, could kill someone if they weren't paying attention. If you can, Mike, see if you can see and then follow the trip wires to what they are hooked up to."
Mike replied back. "Already ahead of you. Saw you stepping over them and did just that. They link back to the explosives you are going to investigate."
Nick looked back at the wires, then up at the stack of cars. "Yeah, that seems right. They'd probably topple the whole stack down on whomever triggered it."
Mike replied back. "Yeah. That's not nice."
"Right, and if the person triggering it isn't as durable as the three of us, that would be it for them." Nick moved forward and then over to the left side. "Oh, now that's interesting. Looking at these cars, they have all been welded together and there are scraping marks on the buildings. I can also see what might be a mechanism built from car parts through the crack between the building and these cars. I think you are right, Mike. The explosives are to push them over quickly and squish whomever sets it off, but the whole thing can be reset. We may have to borrow this idea."
"So what then? You set it off and we somehow drive over it?" Lizz asked.
Nick shrugged as he worked his way over to the other side. "Not sure. Let me finish looking this over. Given the thought put into this, there is either a way to lower it slowly using the same mechanism that lifts it, or let it swing aside to allow us to pass without setting it off. At least, that would make sense. If not, I figure I'm fast enough."
Mike spoke up. "Based on the height, that red car that is at an angle and on it's roof is in just about the right spot needed to drive onto it when it is down. Assuming it works like we think."
Nick chuckled as he got to the other end of the barricade where it met the other buildings."Well, this thing has definitely been triggered at least once, based on the scraping marks, and the dried blood against the cars about half way up. Which unless I miss my guess, is right about where the trip wires are."
Mike responded. "Yep, right about there."
Nick got to the other corner of the barricade and the buildings and grinned. "There is a latch."
Lizz chimed in. "You sure it isn't rigged as well?"
Reaching in, Nick grasped the mechanism. "Only one way to find out." With a pull, he felt the grind of metal and gears and then the whole thing loosen. "I think I know what caused that scraping on the street, Lizz." With very little effort for him, Nick pushed on the barricade and it started to swing aside like a giant door.
Lizz gasped. "Holy crap."
Nick chuckled. "It's on the wheels of several of the cars."
"Okay, but what about the trip wires?" Lizz asked.
Nick smiled. "You see it Mike?"
Mike laughed. "I do. The farther you push that, the higher they get over one section. Even the mines shift out of the way of a very specific, and now very clear path. Move over, Lizz."
A few minutes later Mike drove their vehicle through a snaking, but clear path through the mines and trip wires and to the other side of the barricade. Nick then pushed it closed, after climbing up it and using some spray paint they had brought, painting a warning on the side.
Warning. Savage Trap, Do Not Approach.
Once the barricade was back in place and clearly armed again, Lizz drove as Mike scanned for mammals ahead and around them. Glancing at Nick in the rear view mirror, Lizz shook her head. "Why the warning?"
Nick shrugged. "Why not? Mike. Keep a look out for explosives and traps. The lack of anyone at all; savage, psycho, or otherwise, is making me nervous. There has to be a reason."
Mike nodded. "You got it, boss."
They drove on slowly, Mike setting the pace with Nick and Lizz swapping out on driving every hour. After five hours, and about thirty city blocks: the going very slow to avoid abandoned vehicles, traps, explosives, etc… they reached the back side of another barricade.
Nick got out and looked up at it. They could see the explosives and the mechanism to raise it, as well as the latch that would open it, just like the other one. "Well, this was a literal gauntlet. as you saw on the drone video, everything else is blocked. Roads that way." Indicating with a wave of his paw. "Are all blocked with collapsed buildings and then the climate wall. The other way is one of the collapsed skyscrapers.
You have to go fifty blocks and the other side of the far climate wall to get around the destruction the fallen scraper caused and find passable streets. The only way through without going well out and around, essentially halfway around the city, is this road, and even it is trapped and rigged. I'd bet that some of the collapsed buildings that are blocking the streets on either side of this one were demo'd deliberately. Only way through is slow, careful, and methodical. We will rest on this side. Continue in the morning, fresh. Mike, anything or anyone on the other side?"
"Couple of savages a few blocks out. They seem reluctant to approach even though they clearly smell us. The ones in the area seem to have learned to avoid this thing."
Nodding, Nick turned. "Okay. Dinner is on me, then I'll take first watch. I know you two want to be alone. Just don't make too much noise and air out the cruiser." Giving them both a friendly but pointed look. "Don't stain the seats." Opening the cooler in the back, Nick handed both larger predators a full turkey, pulling a chicken for himself. "Don't get used to it. It's rations and scrounging from here until we get home."
Lizz looked at the turkey and her stomach growled. "Thanks, Nick."
"Just figured we could use a good meal before we have to live off out-of-date MREs and such. If I remember right, there is a Woolmart about a block from here."
Mike chuckled. "Thank you, Nick." Then turning his attention to Lizz and wiggling his eyebrows."
With a giggle that was very uncharacteristic for the Tiger, if you didn't know the relationship between her and the wolf, Lizz shook her head. " If anything, that looks sillier without the eyes."
"All part of my wolfy charms."
Nick shook his head and laughed. "Okay… I am going to scout. Keep your radios on and crack a window on the cruiser. Mike you've got second at midnight. Be done by then."
Nick walked away leaving the snickering tiger and wolf to a kiss they gave themselves to before tearing into the food. Nick climbed up the side of a building and looked out over the city. Speaking to himself. "I know you are out there, Carrots. Just give me a sign. Find me, or help me find you."
Nick kept his position at the top of the building well into the night, easily tossing the bones from his meal far past the blockade they were currently camped behind. Doing his best to ignore and tune out the sounds, and scents, coming from the cruiser. Instead he climbed higher, up a now dead cell phone tower to get the highest vantage he could from where he was.
Once at the top, he stood upon it, unconcerned as he had already fallen without injury from much greater heights and stuck his nose in the air. Questing, searching, for any hint of her. His mind focused, letting the more primitive parts of him take control over his senses as they were far better at parsing scent then his conscious mind was. That conscious mind wandering into memory.
1 year 6 months before the end
Mike Wolford walked alongside Nick and Judy as they entered the precinct, Lizz Fangmeyer following them. "I'm telling you, Nick. You need to try out for K9. Your nose might be almost as good as mine, and you see I don't work it all the time, only when needed and I am on rotation. You'd get a pay bump, and Judy could train as your handler."
Nick shrugged. "The pay boost would be nice, but it requires I get in touch with the primitive brain, those hunting instincts. Judy is a rabbit, prey, and specifically a big prey species for my species. What if I go too far?"
Mike smiled. "I get it. I had similar concerns myself. What if I dive too deep and lose myself. What if… What if… The reality is that is not how the training works. You learn to use it, direct it, but you are always in control. That other aspect of you is still you. If you love her, that's it. It won't change things, and that other aspect would never try and hurt anyone that isn't a threat to you. Even then, they train that too. What about you, Judy."
Judy gulped and dropped her ears to hide the blush that flushed them at hearing Mike's bit about loving her. Turning to Nick she smiled. "It sounds cool, and your nose has helped us many times, Slick. If you were trained to really use it, it could only help us, right?"
Lizz chuckled from behind them. "She's right, Nick. Mike's schnoz has helped us many times completely independent of being called out on K9 calls. Besides, since they cannot separate handlers from noses, you two can finally give into what the entire precinct has been expecting since your first day here."
Nick looked back, his ears folded down. "We are just friends. I don't get why you all go on about it like that."
Mike leaned down and sniffed them both, then stood up suddenly. "Holy shit! How long?"
Judy groaned and pulled her ears over her face. "Damn it, Nick. I told you…"
Nick chuckled as well. "It was inevitable, fluff. I guess I'll apply for K9 training, but only if you apply as my handler. You're very good at that, after all."
Judy felt like her ears would catch fire. "Niiiick!" She whined. "Really? Here? Now? In front of these two gossips?"
Nick glanced at Judy, behind them to where both Lizz and Mike stood frozen in shock, then back at each other. They both started laughing, leaning against each other as they pointed at the other two officers.
Wheezing through his laughs, Nick shook his head. "Oh my gods! The look on your muzzles." Nick and Judy then performed a complex, buddy cop, celebratory pawshake, complete with fist-bump and unnecessary extra motions. "We got them in one." Turning towards the front desk. "Benny! You owe Carrots and I fifty bucks. Told you it would work."
The response from the bubbly cheetah was more whine than cheer. "Noooo… I am going to verify on the cameras." A moment later he whined again. "Noooo! Lizz, Mike? How could you be so gullible? Fine. I'll pay you Friday."
Judy laughed, finally recovered from her laughing. "No worries Ben. Pay day is fine." Turning to Mike and Lizz. "We applied for K9 last week and tested out into the next training cycle yesterday. You need to read your emails. As for what you think you smell, we traded towels after drying this morning, just to make sure we had our scent intermingled." True, and yet also so very far from the truth.
With that, and a few additional chuckles from the rabbit and fox pair, they headed for their desks, leaving the shocked pair of Lizz and Mike to stand there staring.
Back in the present, Nick Is pulled out of his memories by a scent he knows better than his own, and strong enough that he knows it finally isn't his imagination. It was old, several weeks he'd guess, but it hadn't rained in a month, so it had not been washed away. That meant she was alive since the last rain and his heart soared.
It meant she survived the crash, and had survived for some time. Analyzing the scent more as he blinked joyous tears from his eyes, he didn't pick up any of the tell tale signs of savagery. Going savage changed a mammals scent in specific ways he would call spicy, and not in a good way. Still, the scent was too old to know for certain.
All those details were beside the point. She had been alive recently enough to leave the scent he picked up. This did not silence, but it did quiet the howling void inside him as he checked his watch. Still four hours to go on watch, but her scent carried true on the wind from the direction they were heading. There were other mammals, none closer than a few blocks, but he cared only for that one scent, taking deep breaths of it and tuning out everything else as several tears dripped down his muzzle. It wasn't Judy herself, but it was enough to lift him up with hope he had been missing for months.
He wondered, now that it was well into night. He could see lights in the distance, which most likely meant a settlement. They would need to make contact. He took several photos to line up with their daytime pics from the drone. That way they could be more sure where the settlement probably was.
Letting his senses free and his primitive instincts to control them. Nick fell again into memory.