Just Another Night in the Band

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

Chapter 51 (v.1) - Chapter 51

Submitted: April 23, 2017

Reads: 78

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Submitted: April 23, 2017

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Carrots was already looking around when I pulled up, making a show of ignoring me when I asked if she'd found anything. She just pointed to a line she'd drawn in the dirt, then to the field on the other side of it. By the time I looked back, she was gone. I chuckled.

Was starting to wonder when she'd pull that on me.

I'd used the trick a hundred times when I'd been cornered by the paparazzi, and it'd been caught on camera more than once. I'd only used it on Carrots once so far, when we'd watched Yumiko so Rocco could check on Astelle and Zariah at the hospital. I'd given Ed a few weeks off after that, saying his brother and sister-in-law needed him more than we did, that Yumiko needed her uncle. With Max and Jeremy still who-knows-where, that left Leo by himself most of the time, since I wasn't about to make Rocco work in this situation. He still came in when he could, but I didn't blame him if something got past him, not that it ever did.

I shook my head. We only had a few hours of daylight left, and here I was standing around with my head in the clouds. I bent down and picked up part of a branch, pushing the long grass aside as I slowly made my way through the field.

And Carrots thought I was crazy for bringing flea shampoo, I thought. I was definitely gonna need it after this. I glanced at the sky; the clouds hadn't moved, but it hadn't rained since we'd gotten here. I wished they'd just start the big downpour and get it over with, enough of this stalling crap already.

But we don't exactly have time to wait around for things to dry out. If I was right, we only had about thirty-six hours left, maybe even less. And so far this was turning out to be as much of a dead end as the last two farms. I sighed, choking on it when I tripped on a root. Why'd I let Buffalo-Butt push us into this?

I stopped pushing the grass around and straightened, sniffing as the wind blew past me. There had definitely been animals here in the last couple days, but there were so many other scents around I couldn't tell what they'd been, or if there was anything familiar or not.

And that's what I really don't get about all this, I went back to searching. The only place mammals were going savage was Zootopia, so why would there be a related drug farm all the way out here? It was over two hundred miles away, and there were plenty of places just outside the city wall, and even more in the city, where this stuff could be made without anyone thinking twice about it, so why go through all this? It only cemented the idea that there was more going on here, that whoever was behind this didn't just want to make a few animals lose their minds, but what else could they be after? Were they trying to get some kind of message across? Did they want Lionheart to bring back the collars the mayor before him had gotten rid of? What the heck was the end goal here?

Ugh, I pressed a paw to my forehead. I wasn't sure if it was the case or dehydration, but my head was starting to spin. I should've brought a water bottle or something with me. Wait, what's that?

I dropped the branch and crouched on all fours, my ears perked to the side. The grass had started rustling, loudly, and now that it was closer, I could hear someone talking. I pulled out my phone and hit record.

"You really don't think the anyone'll catch on?" the guy sounded even younger than Carrots, like he knew he was in way over his head. Someone else laughed.

"Why do you think the boss made us do this all the way out here?" he didn't sound much older, but something in his tone said he knew what he was doing. "We've been getting away with this for months already, and they haven't been able to do more than lock these guys up. There's no way the cops'll figure it out!"

"It's not the cops I'm worried about, Jamie," the first guy said. "Not the city ones, anyway, it's who they have working with them!"

"Pfft, you mean that bunny? Please," Jamie laughed. "Everyone knows rabbits are only good for farming and fucking, there's no way that little cutie got to be a cop on her own!"

"That's not who I'm talking about, Jamie," the other kid sounded like he was about to start panicking. "Didn't you hear? They've got Nick freaking Wilde on their side!"

Jamie stopped, the first kid grunting as he walked into him.

"Y-You better not just be fucking with me, Benny," he'd lost the edge of his cool. "T-There's no way a fox would work with the cops, especially Wilde!"

They started walking again, and I crept after them, staying just far enough back I couldn't see them over the grass.

"It's true!" Benny almost shouted it. "That bunny even pointed him out at that press conference, it was on the news and everything!"

Jamie groaned.

"So what if he's working with the cops now? Even he hasn't been able to figure out what we're doing!"

No, but I'm pretty sure I'm about to, I smiled. And you two just signed the warrant.

I stopped, kneeling as I sent the video to Carrots.

'I think I just solved the case'

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

"What? What do you mean you couldn't find anything?"

Carrots stared up at the biggest female cheetah I'd ever seen. She shook her head.

"I mean 'we couldn't find anything', Hopps," she crossed her arms. "This place was bought in the last few months, yes, but there's no sign anyone's been near the property since."

"But what about that conversation Nick overheard?" she put her paws on her hips, his foot tapping like crazy. "He sent me that recording just a few hours ago!"

"Did he, now?" the cheetah turned to me, and it was hard to keep my tail behind me. "And did he happen to see the two mammals in question?"

I swallowed.

"Well, no, but…"

"And did you happen to catch their scents?"

"No, but…"

"'But' nothing. You brought us out here on a dead end, Hopps," she turned back to Carrots, her eyes narrowed to slits. "We already have too much to deal with in Zootopia, where we still have actual criminals to catch on top of this savage mammals case. I've heard the recording, and you two could just as easily have faked the whole thing just to waste our time. I certainly wouldn't put it past him."

She pointed at me, but kept her glare on Carrots.

"I was almost starting to think maybe you could be a competent officer, Hopps, but the last few months have told me otherwise. Not only have you teamed up with a fox," she glared at me again. "But you've spent the last few months chasing his ghosts instead of doing your job."

She didn't bother hiding her smile after that, not that she'd been trying too hard in the first place.

"After this, I'm afraid I'll have no choice but to recommend you to Bogo for-"

"You can stop right there, Maywood."

We turned to see a tiger and white wolf walk up, both of them doing a nice job of staring the cheetah down.

"Nick and Judy are the reason we've gotten this far in the case to start with, I would've thought you'd be well-aware of that right now," the tiger held up a paw when Maywood tried talking. "You've already been reported to the chief for harassing Officer Hopps before, and I don't think I need to remind you what'll happen if I have to do it again."

That shut Maywood right up. She stared at the tiger before turning, smacking me in the face with her tail when she stalked off.

"Ow," I held a paw over my eye as I glared after her. "What the hell's her problem?"

The tiger sighed.

"Sorry about that, Wilde, Rebecca just has some…issues she hasn't quite worked out yet," she shook her head. "I never would've let her into the academy, but the need for fast officers matters more than what some of us think."

"She was second in our class," Carrots rubbed her arm. "And she thinks the only way I could've beat her was if I slept with one or more of the instructors."

"And even if she had, it wouldn't have made a difference," the tiger smiled. "Sure, it took her some time to catch up in the physical areas, but her test scores started off the charts and stayed there, she worked too hard to be anywhere but the top."

"And you should see her in the ring!" the wolf's tail wagged like crazy. "She took down Pennington in thirty seconds flat!"

A blank look from me had them both pointing to the elephant talking to Bogo; I took my paw off my eye, blinking as the last of the burn faded.

"Not too hard to believe that," I rubbed my stomach, that bruise had taken almost a month to fade. Then my mind went back to that cheetah. "But what about Maywood? Was she right? Did this really turn out to just be a waste of time?"

The tiger hesitated, then sighed.

"As far as the savage mammals case is concerned, I'm afraid this was a dead end, it's nothing more than an illegal distillery," she smiled a bit. "But it does mean we've arrested two other mammals we've been looking for, brothers Benny and Jamie Johnson, wanted for armed robbery and assault, as well as supplying illicit watering holes throughout the city and the Tri-Burrows."

Carrots tried to smile back.

"Well, that's something, at least," it dropped when she turned to me. "But I really wish we could've gotten further on this case. I'm sorry, Nick."

I shrugged.

"It's fine, Carrots, we still have one more day to try and figure this out, and I know you're not gonna let either of us rest until we do."

She laughed a bit.

"You're right on that," she looked over the field full of cops, already starting to pack things in. "But it looks like you don't really need us here anymore, so I guess we'll just-"

"One moment, Hopps," Bogo walked up, looking a lot less pissed with us than I thought he would. "After your find today, I'm feeling generous, so I'll give you twelve more hours, don't waste them."

Carrots beamed, grabbing my arm and dragging me with her when she ran back to the truck.

"Thank you, sir! I promise we won't let you down!"


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