Welcome to one of the tortures my muse subjects me to when I don't write often enough. I do hope you enjoy it.
To be clear, this is absolutely NOT canon to either of my main stories. If anything, it might be a bit closer to the original Zootopia story-line, with some GhostRider added in for extra flavor.
I do not own Zootopia, GhostRider, or anything that is not my own OC. I could do so much more with them then they are, but I'm just some puke on the internet. Easy to claim that.
Unnoticed by anyone but Bonnie, Nick Jr. had run from the room after the revealing of the failure of the antibodies and enzymes, tears flowing freely. He ran from the hospital. Ran until he couldn't run any more, blinded by the tears, until he collapsed to his knees sobbing. Eventually he calmed down to take stock of where he was, and found himself very lost. There were train cars and tracks, and he could hear a highway nearby. He assumed that he was in or near one of the city's shipping hubs.
Turning around, he started following his own tracks back towards a street. Figuring if he can find an intersection, he could find his way home. Checking his phone and finding he had no signal, he figured he might also find some signal once he was clear of the large buildings and structures of the shipping yard.
As he approached the street, a mammal stepped from a nearby shadow, startling Nick. Jumping back, he glared at the mammal, not able to see much more than their feet, which appeared to be those of a predator. "Hey. What do you want?"
A dark chuckle that sent shivers down Nick's spine and puffed his tail was the initial answer. "Don't you worry little one. I mean you no harm. In fact, I may even be able to help you. Depending on what your problem is, and for the right price."
His hackles raised. Nick knew there was something wrong with this mammal, his instincts were screaming for him to run, but he didn't know where he was, and running without knowing where he was going is how he ended up there in the first place. "What makes you think I need help?"
A Cheshire like smile gleaned from within the shadow hiding the mammal, the voice taking on an almost caring tone. Neither of which did anything to calm Nick. "Come now. No one runs that hard, with that many tears, without hurting and needing assistance. Surely it cannot hurt to tell me what the problem is. Worst case, it is something I cannot help you with. But if it is something I can help you with, wouldn't it be worth it?"
Still upset, his emotions completely out of whack, the logic seemed good to him, so Nick relaxed slightly. Moving slightly so his back was to the street, and so this mystery mammal was no longer between him and said street. "Fine. What do I get if you can't help me?"
"Directions to get out of this place. It is certainly no place for a kit such as yourself."
Nick nodded. He couldn't disagree with that. "My mom and dad were attacked with Nighthowler. Because they're the ones that brought down the Bellwethers. Only the vets can't cure this version. They said it's going to kill them." Sniffing and wiping his eyes as the tears threatened to take hold again. "They said… They said that they'll die soon, in like a week or two, if they don't find a cure, and the vets said everything they tried isn't working. Just making it worse. They're going to put them down. I know they are. It's just like before. Like they tell us in history class."
The mammal nodded, their grin still present. "I see. That is unfortunate and terrible. If I could cure them, what would you give?"
Nick looked down. "I don't want to lose my mom and dad. I know I have uncle Finnick, auntie Honey, Uncle Ben and Aunt Skye, and the others. I've got my sibs. But I don't want to lose them. I don't have anything though. Just my phone. I'll give you that if it would be enough."
"Oh, you have quite a bit that I might want, young one."
This caused Nick's hackles to raise again as he took a step backwards towards the street. "What is it you want?" His voice shaky with fear.
"I can cure them. But I will want something in return."
Nick was quiet for a moment. Thinking he knew what was going to be asked. He made his decision. "I'll do anything, if you can actually save them. But… I want you to do it so that those that did this get caught. Better yet, I want to be there when it happens, and I want it so that the vets and scientists are able to help anyone else that gets attacked like my mom and dad."
The chuckle from the mammal returned, still only their toothy Cheshire grin and a flash of red eyes, almost like they were glowing for a moment. "So selfless. Any other conditions? I would normally not be so giving, but you are young, and I'm curious."
"Whatever price it is, my parents have to be cured first. Then you can take what you want." Nick was shaking at that point, convinced he knew what this mammal was going to want.
"Acceptable." The mammal was suddenly standing before Nick, and he was no longer sure he knew what this mammal wanted. It appeared almost feline, but had horns like the father of one of his friends, a mountain goat. Its grin splitting its face unnaturally. Taking Nick's paw, a searing pain flashing across his pads.
Pulling his hand away, Nick looked and saw a symbol appear on his palm in flames that went out, seemed to scar, and then vanish. Looking up at the strange mammal. "What just happened?"
"That is the mark that says you belong to me now, Nicholas WildeHopps. Now it is time for you to return to your parents. Turn left at the street, and it is a straight shot to the hospital. You are much closer than you realize. Just over the hill. You will not see me again until I come to collect payment." With that, the mammal simply vanished, leaving Nick alone.
Spinning quickly, Nick turns left, catching sight of the top of the hospital just beyond the hill described. He quickly runs towards the hospital, terror gripping his heart, and yet hope too. He didn't know how he knew, but he needed to hurry. His mom and dad would be waking up soon."
Savannah General Hospital
10 years later
Nick Jr. stood outside the hospital having just stepped outside. In the decade since his parents were dosed with a variant of Nighthowler, they had recovered and returned to the doting parents they always were. Today however was different. The vets said that, despite the cure, it seems the damage was still too great for them to fully recover. As such, they were dying, again. And again, the vets saw no way, save another miracle breakthrough.
His mother would die first, sometime in the next few days when her organs gave out, and his father no more than a few hours later. There was, again, nothing that could be done. At least this time they were going to be able to say goodby.
In the ten years since his experience in the rail yards behind the hospital, Nick had graduated high school 2 points behind his sister Bonnie, and 3 ahead of Eric. The three of them taking the top 3 academic spots. Nick lost 4 points due to an injury that kept him from turning in an assignment on time. That injury incurred while completing, successfully, a world record motorcycle jump.
The injury should have been lethal, yet he woke up, three days later, with only bruises. Nick explained it away as luck, just looking worse than it was, and a credit to the safety gear. He also knew, without question, having felt his bones splintering and breaking, that he should be dead.
Since then he had completed his BS in criminology with a minor in occult studies, and was due to ship out to the ZPD academy in a few months. His occult studies told him why he was still alive. He now understood the Faustian deal he made as a kit to save his parents. He knew now that his soul was likely forfeit, but found himself okay with that. He only wished he had known as a kit to clarify that his parents wouldn't have any lasting consequences. At least he got 10 years.
Lighting a cigarette, Nick took a long drag, glancing towards an unnaturally deep shadow. "I know you're there. Is it time to collect on a deal you made with a kit desperate to save his parents and not knowing what he was getting into? Though you still haven't paid up on the part about being there when those that did that to my mother and father were dealt with."
The same being as before, a being Nick now knew as a demon, stepped from the shadows. "Greetings Nicholas. You are correct, but that part of our bargain is coming soon, and as such, I am not here to obtain my payment. No, I actually have a proposal for you. A new deal, if you will. One that I think you will find agreeable."
Taking another drag from his cigarette, Nick nods. "I'm listening. I know what you are, or at least I am pretty sure. Heck, I think I may even know your name. Not that it would do me any good, since we already have a deal, which renders such knowledge useless."
The being nodded with its Cheshire grin. "So very true. You have grown. So here is my proposal. I am in need of some… assistance, on this plane of existence. As you are I am sure aware at this point, our deal hinged upon your soul, and short of destroying me, that soul belongs to me. However, given my needs, I'm willing to barter back your soul in exchange for 100 years of service to me on this plane. You see, the place you would refer to as hell, my home, is a place where many mortal souls end up, as I am sure you have guessed and realize it is not quite as black and white as most religions would have you believe." Nick nodded. "Those souls can occasionally escape back to this plane.
What I propose is that you, as my agent here on this plane of existence, capture and return souls to hell that have escaped. You do this for 100 years, and I return ownership of your own soul to you. Now, fear not, I will be granting you power to complete this task, and you will also be given a list periodically. As my agent, regardless of who may have owned the soul originally, any soul you send to hell becomes mine by default. There are also agents of others like myself here on this plane, you get extra credit if you can take them out. It improves my standing, and anything that does that is worth something to me, and therefore you."
"Interesting. So, I work for you for the next century, and I earn my soul back? Is this a full time gig, or?"
The demon nodded. "I suppose it could be seen as both part and full time. As my agent, the souls you send to hell are mine, and if I send you after specific souls, those become mine too. If I give you a soul, I expect you to collect it promptly. Otherwise, I simply expect you to send me souls on the regular. A few a month, plus any specific souls. Your upcoming job will play into that well, no?
You'll be given power. You will be able to fight these souls, because they will not go willingly. You will be able to sense them, and also tell what souls are truly evil, and which are only slightly tainted, or clean. No point wasting your time on marginal souls, or those going the other way."
Nick nodded, putting out his smoke."I'm not averse to this deal, but I have a condition or two, of my own."
The dark chuckle arose from the demon. "Let me guess. Correcting an oversight of your younger self."
"Correct. I work for you for the next hundred years as your enforcer, your collector of souls. You give me power to do this, to collect these souls, and to be the one to actually take down those that attacked my parents and brought us to our initial meeting. You also make it so the damage done to my parents, by weapon, claw, or chemical, is undone. They're healthy again, immediately, and when they do pass, it is their due and proper time. At the end of this century, my soul is mine again, and should you still need my services, we can negotiate terms at that time. Sound agreeable?"
"Your terms are acceptable." The demon puts out his paw, which Nick accepts and shakes, A familiar burning pain from his paw reveals a new symbol searing into his flesh.
Nodding, Nick turns back towards the Hospital, then looks over his shoulder. I am going to go check on my parents. Once I know you have satisfied this part of our bargain, I expect you will have a soul or three for me to collect?"
"I will, indeed. I will text you what information I have." Laughing at Nick's look of surprised confusion."What? I find modern technology so much more useful."
"Good enough. That makes it easier. But do remember that I will be entering the academy. Barring something very unusual, I will be out of pocket until I graduate."
The demon shrugged." Not unreasonable, but I expect you to catch up." Nick nodded again, then turned and reentered the hospital. The demon vanished as it had before the first time.
Just beyond the smoking area, Bonnie WildeHopps stood there wide eyed in shock having observed her brother. This was beyond anything she could have imagined. Did he really just make a deal over his soul, for their parents? He made one in the past? Shocked and terrified, she runs back around to the front of the hospital and just barely makes it into their parents room when Nick Jr. arrives on the floor.
A few days later, an experimental treatment was tried, utilizing new technology called nanites. It took less than an hour, but both Nick and Judy WildeHopps were on their feet as if they were twenty years younger once completed. Though much to their frustration, they were made to ride a wheelchair out of the hospital. Rules, and all.