Just Another Night in the Band

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Fandom Fanatics

Chapter 44 (v.1) - Chapter 44

Submitted: April 02, 2017

Reads: 76

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Submitted: April 02, 2017

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I could tell Carrots was thinking the same thing I was: please tell me this is just a bad joke. A really, really bad joke.

None of us stopped running until we were back at the reception hall, my whole body going numb when I heard what was going on inside: animals crying, some of them even screaming, crazed growling that faded into whimpers before stopping completely. Paul glared down at us as he went for the handles, almost yanking them off.

"You're lucky Big's made his bears start carrying tranq-guns," he snapped, then threw the doors open. I couldn't stop a gasp from slipping out; it looked like a bomb had gone off. Pretty much anything that could be was toppled or thrown over, curtains and tablecloths ripped up, anything breakable pretty much shattered. There was only one mammal not crowded against the walls, Mercy slumped on her side in the middle of the room, her dress clawed to shreds, two darts stuck in her arm. It didn't take long to figure out who had shot her: Kevin was holding Mr. Big and Fru-Fru in one paw, the other still up and holding the tranq-gun. "Or who knows how much worse this would be…"

It was a minute or two before the panic died down, and then all we could hear were mammals whispering, sneering and pointing at us in ways that were anything but subtle. I felt Carrots' claws dig into my paw, glancing down to see her shaking, her other paw pressed to her mouth. Her ears were flat against her back as she stared around.

"D-Did Mercy really do all this?"

She shrank behind me when Paul glowered at her.

"Check the damn cameras if you have to see it yourself," he snapped, then turned on me. "You just had to get involved in all this, didn't you? Play 'hero to the preds' like you always have to, and now look where it's gotten us, asshole!"

He growled and jumped at me, but ended up getting shoved to the floor by Raymond.

"Attacking him won't fix her, cat," he said flatly. I'd never heard his voice break from that monotone, not even once. "Or do I have to make Kevin tranq you, too?"

Paul snarled at him, but stopped fighting, and in a few minutes the bear let him back up. He shoved out a breath like he'd just been sucker-punched. He glared at us one last time, then stormed off, dropping to his knees next to Mercy and dragging her into his lap. Raymond stayed close on his tail, Kevin coming over to me and Carrots, still keeping hold of his gun.

"Was anyone hurt?" I asked before any of them could talk. Fru-Fru shook her head.

"No, Nicky, we're all fine," she looked over at Mercy and Paul. "But I have no idea what happened to her, she just took a sip from a drink someone bought her and-"

"Wait, what?!" I turned on her, backing off when she cowered a bit. "Sorry, but do you have any idea who bought it for her? What kind of animal were they?"

She shook her head again.

"Whoever they were, we didn't see them, one of the waiters just came up and said they had a special drink for her."

My tail flicked as I looked down at Carrots, and I knew we were thinking the same exact thing.

"Take Fru-Fru and see if you can track down that waiter," I told her. "We've got to find out who that guy was, and fast!"

She nodded, barely letting Fru walk onto her paw before running off. I turned to Mr. Big, still sitting in his tiny leather chair like always.

"My private doctor will be here soon," he said. "He and Paul will bring Mercy to the hospital, you and I have our own matters to discuss."

I nodded, glancing back toward Raymond. He was still standing close to Paul, but I could see his eyes tracking Carrots; hopefully he and the rest of the crew would be enough to keep things under control. I followed Kevin to Mr. Big's office, and I knew whatever he had found out was even bigger than I'd thought it would be. It hadn't changed much from the last time I'd been in there: still pretty dark, a chill coming from the 'icing pit' hidden under the rug in front of the desk. I waited until they were both situated, Kevin sitting behind the desk and Mr. Big's chair on top of it. I swallowed, my tail starting to twitch as I tried not to imagine what he had to tell me.

"As I promised, I looked in to this new drug on the streets, but sadly I was unable to find out much more than you have already discovered for yourselves."

"Oh," my ears fell against my head, my tail slumping to the floor. "Well, t-thank you anyway, sir, I-I'm sure we'll-"

"However," he held up a paw to stop me. "I was able to find and trace the latest batch to come into the city, and I'm afraid this situation may be even worse than we thought."

He paused to breathe, and it was the first time I noticed that it rasped a bit, that I realized just how old he was getting.

"This particular batch," he went on after another minute. "It originated in Bunnyburrow."

************

"B-B-Bunnyburrow?"

Carrots looked completely shell-shocked. After my talk with Mr. Big, he'd asked Kevin to take me to All Saints, where I was forced to see all the savage victims at once. Counting Mercy, there'd been eight more attacks since we'd figured out it was a drug causing all this, and in my opinion, that'd been eight too many.

"Yeah, or at least that's the closest he was able to get before it reached the city," I shrugged, then let my shoulders drop. "Even with his network, it was almost impossible to trace, so that just proves whoever's behind this really knows what they're doing."

She nodded, then glanced around, rubbing her arm.

"S-Some of the guests are in the waiting room downstairs," her voice was low, tight. "I-I should go talk to them, see if any of them saw something that might help."

"Good idea," I put a paw on her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. "I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?"

She nodded again, glancing up at me with wet eyes before heading slowly for the elevators. I felt like someone had filled my gut with rocks, jagged, razor-sharp rocks. I waited until she was out of sight before turning to Paul, staring into Mercy's room with his forehead pressed against the window. According to Mr. Big's doctor, a lemur who'd patched me up almost as much as Doc Muskrat, he'd been standing there since they'd brought her in. She was still under the effects of Kevin's tranqs, but she was still strapped paw and foot to the bed, just in case they wore off sooner than the white coats thought. That stony feeling in my stomach just got worse, that screwed-up voice in my head telling me it was all my fault. I clenched my teeth and did my best to shut it up.

"We'll have to go to Bunnyburrow," I barely noticed I'd said it out loud. I shoved my paws in my pockets, my claws digging in as my fists tightened. "Hopefully we'll finally be able to put an end to this."

I turned away, not able to look anymore, stopping when I noticed Paul hadn't moved. I looked up at him.

"Paul, you coming?"

It was a while before he said anything. I took my paws from my pockets and walked back to him.

"No, I can't leave Mercy," he finally turned away from the glass. His face was blank, his voice flat, but his stare was one of the coldest I'd ever seen. "And I can't really look at you right now, either."

He might as well have just slugged me in the gut. I started reaching for his shoulder, clenching my fist again and forcing it back to my side.

"We'll find who's behind this," I started. "And then we'll find a cure, I promise."

He just scoffed quietly, already staring through the window again.

"You fucking better," he barely glanced at me, but it was hard to miss the fury that had boiled up. "Or Mercy and Trevor won't be the only ones going savage, and I won't even need some drug to do it."

I gulped, my tail smacking my thigh as it flew between my legs. I'd seen Paul ticked off or annoyed before, hundreds of times, but he'd never looked at anyone like that, like he was ready to kill them with his bare paws. I just nodded and backed away, my ears completely flat against my head; I didn't even turn until I was around the corner, hightailing it back to the waiting room, where Carrots was doing her best to get anything useful out of the mammals that had seen Mercy go savage. Not surprisingly, most of them weren't being much help. They were either still too freaked out by what they had seen, or were those that just hated prey, no matter who they were or how much they were trying to help.

"I don't have anything to say to you," a cheetah snapped at her. The cub in her lap was fussing, reaching for Carrots' ears, shaking from how hard she was trying to keep them perked.

"Please, ma'am," her voice was steady, though, but it was clear she'd practiced keeping that tone. "I'm an officer, and my associates and I are doing everything we can to find the mammal behind this and bring them to justice, if you could just tell me if you-"

"I already said I didn't," the cheetah glowered at her. "Now leave me alone, or I'm going to have the hospital staff call security and get you thrown out on the street where you belong!"

She got up and stormed away, smacking the rabbit in the face with her tail hard enough to knock her over. I was close enough now to see her clinch her eyes shut, her teeth almost tearing her lip off. But she was only down a few seconds before she grabbed her notepad and that weird carrot pen and got back to her feet, brushing herself off and fixing her dress like nothing had happened. But I could see how hard she was shaking, and she wasn't even trying to hold her ears up anymore. She threw on a smile when she saw me, though, almost skipping over to where I'd stopped dead.

"I don't think we'll be getting much more tonight," her tone was too bright. "Everyone's still in shock, but I gave a few of them my card so hopefully in the morning they'll…"

She trailed off, but kept smiling as she walked quickly past me, waving to the nurse at the front desk as we headed outside. That whole charade lasted until we were back in the car Kevin had brought me in, the bear not bothering to ask before pulling out of the lot. As soon as the hospital was out of sight, Carrots threw herself at me, sobbing into my chest like she'd never stop.

"Oh, N-Nick," she gasped, already choking on her tears. "I-I can't take it anymore! N-No matter what I do, I-I just can't-!"

She broke down again, the fit barely half-done when we reached my place. I picked her up and carried her inside, throwing up a paw toward Kevin before shutting the door. I sat with her on the couch, just holding her while she just kept letting it out.


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