Zootopia: Navigating in a Changed World - Ch 33
Some of the most important conversations I've ever had occurred at my family's dinner table. ~Bob Herlick ***** "So, you guys really gonna stay in the city for a while longer?" Nick asked to the gaggle of bunnies that was with him and Judy. They had really gone to see Judy's family, but Bonnie and Stu were not on the apartment. Apparently, Stu decided to take Bonnie out for an evening in the city, to help her feel a little better with everything that has been happening. "Yeah, at least until the enforcers have decided to liberate Mom." Harry said, and all of the bunnies around agreed with him. "She surely needs her family now, so we are staying with her. Well, most of us anyway. Cotton will be returning BunnyBurrow tomorrow. Her parents are really worried with what happened." "I want to stay too." Cotton said, looking up at the grownups in there. "I want to support Grandma too." "Sorry, Cotton." Harry said, patting his niece's head. "Your mom and dad are both worried with you. They want you to go back as soon as possible. That's why you will be going tomorrow morning with your aunt Kayleen." "Owww." Cotton said, looking down, and Judy did patted her head as well. "It is just that they want you back by their side." Judy said to the younger bunny, "They are worried with you because you were in the middle of the dangerous thing, and they want to be sure that you are okay. You understand, don't you?" She asked, and Cotton looked up at her, before she nodded. "They might also want to put you through therapy, considering the details of what happened." Jason said, as he was sitting on the table chewing on a stick. "Especially if you start having nightmares about the mall." "You mean see the doctor that made Mr. Grey all nice?" Cotton asked, "I hope I don't start having bad dreams about that. It is bad enough to dream about spiders and big brothers without the evil statues breaking the stores." "Dreaming about evil spider big brother statues breaking stores would certainly be appealing." Nick whispered to his partner, and Judy had to hold back some laughter, and so did other bunnies who had caught hearing of this. Nick had forgotten how good bunny hearing was. "Yeah, they will probably want her to have therapy when they hear about the zombies, if they haven't already." Jason said, "They probably already know that Mom used to be a necromancer before she moved to BunnyBurrow. Seriously, that is what everyone is talking about on the family's chat group. They say that it is even being on the front page of the local newspaper, the whole town doesn't speak of anything else." "Mom doesn't like that." Harry said, and Judy could totally understand that. After all, having your life exposed on the newspaper was not good to anyone. "These guys are talking about Mom too." Jason said, looking to the side as he continued to gnaw on his chewing stick. "They are calling her a witch and saying that they have always suspected that there was something strange about her. They even tried to pass around a petition to get her to forbid her of living in the burrows." "What!?" Judy said, shocked. "But... that's absurd!" "Don't worry, that won't be going forward." Harry said to her, "The guy who tried to pass the petition around took it back on the following day, after some of our older siblings... talked with him. I don't think anyone will be trying that again." Judy knew what that meant, and normally such thing would appeal her, however, the fact that someone had tried to pass around a petition like that was something that bothered her too much for her to pay attention to her older brothers threatening or hurting someone. "Bunch of idiots." Jason said under his breath, taking the stick out of his mouth a little bit. "Hypocrites. They knew Mom all of their lives and always said that they liked and respected her, now they are swearing that they saw her stealing corpses from graves and that she threatened to curse their families if they didn't did things her way." Right after that, he was once more chewing on his stick, and this time it was as if he actually wanted a piece out of the thing with his teeth. "Jason, this way you will break your teeth." One of the females said, looking at him, "You are supposed to chew on the stick so your front teeth will be fray down." Nick looked at the bunny, who continued to chew on his stick. Nick had been surprised to learn that bunnies did that on a regular basis. Judy had told him that this was something that all bunnies needed to do. It was because their front teeth were always growing, during all of their lives, and they needed to gnaw on something to keep them from growing too big for their own mouths, otherwise their teeth could become so big that they would not be able to eat or talk properly. Just another bunny fact that he learned by being best friends with one. Now, as Judy and Nick continued to talk with her relatives, the conversation eventually moved from the things that were happening in BunnyBurrow to other topics, including their opinions on the mage thing as a whole. That's when Judy finally learned how pumped up Harry had been about it, which was actually no surprise, once he had always loved fantasy stories and things of magic in general. "It is all so cool." Harry said to his sister, "You know, I guess deep down I have always had a suspicion that magic could actually exist. I mean, with so many mysterious and strange things happening. The universe is so diverse and so wide; I guess that it was obvious that magic could actually be a thing." "It was?" Harry said, looking at his brother, and Judy couldn't help but chuckle a little bit. With this, the talk continued, and it evolved to other topics, until it arrived in the very one which Nick and Judy wanted to talk with the many bunnies in the first place." "A party in a mansion?" Harry asked. "Yep." Nick confirmed to the bunny, "The mansion of the Manechester family. They are a rich bunch of horses." "Yeah, I heard of them..." Harry said, "The grandfather founded some private police company, right?" "Yes." Judy confirmed, "The Beastar Corps." "How tacky." Jason said, still chewing on his stick with a bored expression. "And, they just invited you guys?" Harry asked, "Are you their friends?" "Well, Ben is. You remember Ben, right?" "The fat cheetah?" Jason asked. "So, Mr. Bubbles is their friend?" Cotton asked, and Judy nodded. "Yes, he is friends with Chandler Manechester. He is the one who is making the party. He invited Ben, and I guess that he decided to invite us to come as well because we are his friends." "And he also invited Spots' brother and sister to the event." "Well, good to see that you guys have found time to have fun." Jason said, looking at the two, "Be honest, you are not going in there just to kiss up to the rich guys for money for the ZPD, are you?" Judy and Nick shared a look. Of course it was not to "kiss up to them" for donations or for any other reason. Of course, they could not tell Jason that, once the real motive was one that they could not go sharing with anyone. Bogo had been very keen on how the Manechester wanted this to remains on the low profile, including from the others who would be attending. "We are just going there to have a good time." Nick said, looking at the brown bunny. "But, if you really want to know, I guess we might take some time to enjoy the finer points of living in a mansion. After all, this little gathering is going to last for a few days." "So, you are going just to relax while everyone else is on their toes because of the terrorist mage attack and your enforcer friends are treating Mom like a suspect." Jason said, looking at both of them. "Nice guys. Really nice of you two." "Jason!" Harry said, looking at his brother, who simply scoffed and went back to chewing his stick as if nothing else mattered, looking away. "Sorry, he is still on edge with all that happened." Harry said, turning back to Judy and Nick, "I guess we all are a little bit. And, I guess he is kind of envious that you two will be attending some rich mammal party." Nick and Judy shared a look, and they both only nodded. That was all they could do now. "So, will you guys eat fancy food while in there?" "Probably." Nick said, looking at all of them, "By the way, it is a costume party. We will be in there wearing masks and costumes." "Which is one of the reasons why we wanted to talk to you guys." Judy said, causing all of the bunnies to look at her, "Nick and I need ideas for costumes, we still haven't decided." Soon all (or nearly all) of the bunnies were giving them suggestions. Some of them were the classic, some of them were modern, some of them were funny, some of them scary, and some of them were... a bit more mature. Of course, none of them was downright lewd, but Nick had the feeling that they would be if there wasn't a small kit in the room with them. Wow... Carrots has some dirty-minded siblings. Nick thought as he heard the suggestions that came from some of them, even with Cotton's presence. He wondered what they would suggest if she was not around... Speaking of Cotton, she was one who made many suggestions to the two. "Maybe you two could go as Pocahamtas and as John! Or maybe as Princess Aurora and the Prince who woke her up! Or maybe you could go as Princess Leia and her brother Luke!" Nick and Judy shared a look, and they both couldn't help but notice on how all of the suggestions that Cotton was making were for pairs. "Yeah, all of these are good." Judy said, "But, we kind of need our costumes to have masks. You see, the Manechester have a tradition with parties with mammals wearing masks." "Well, then maybe you could go as two criminals." Jason suggested, looking at two, "You could be Bonnie and Clyde." "Who?" Cotton asked. "These are two very famous criminals from the time of your great-grandparents. You will learn about them when you're older." Nick said to her, and the suggestions kept coming. "Maybe you could go as two knights." One of Judy's siblings suggested. "The helmets could work as masks." "Maybe they could go as super heroes." "Maybe they could go as Robin Hood and Maid Marion!" Cotton suggested once more, and someone said: "A fox as Robin Hood? Ain't that cliché?" "That's what I said when Carrots suggested it." Nick said, looking at the bunnies. He, along with Judy, noted that all of the suggestions that they gave were still suggestions for couples. "Maybe you guys could go as the Pawer Rangers." Harry suggested. "Remember of that Halloween when you and the others of your litter dressed all as the five original Rangers? You guys won the prize of best group costume. Maybe you could convince Ben and his siblings to dress the part too?" "Nah, I don't think so." Judy said, "They all probably have ideas on what to wear. I mean, we don't even know what Ben will be wearing." "Oh, oh!" Cotton said, as her face suddenly illuminated, and the others looked back at her, before she spoke: "Maybe Mr. Bubbles and Chief Bogo could go as The Beauty and the Wildebeest!" Everyone stopped and looked at the little bunny, who smiled innocently as the adults on the room looked at her. "That's..." Judy said, "A really interesting idea, Cotton. But, Chief Bogo won't be going to the party with us." "Oh..." Cotton said, and she looked back at her aunt and at her fox friend. That was when she noticed a curious look on Nick's face. The fox was looking a bit at the distance as he pictured it in his mind's eye: Benjamin dressed in a puffy golden dress, with Bogo dressed in 1800's blues, and they both dancing inside of the mansion at the rhythm of classic slow music. The thought put a smile on his face, for quite a few reasons. "Nick, quit imagining it!" Judy said, looking at the fox, and Jason agreed with her. "Yeah, quit it, you pervert!" The brown bunny said, looking at the fox. "Seriously, the thought is cringy enough without you drooling over it." "Oh, come on, it is not that cringy." Harry said, looking at his brother. "I mean, it is not weirder than how some of our siblings dress up to Halloween, and other parties, right?" Judy knew what Harry was talking about. You didn't get as many siblings as she had without some of them turning out to be gay. Of course, since her parents had so many children, it was to be expect that they would end up getting a whole range of the spectrum, if not the entire thing. "Yeah, whatever." Jason said, "Besides, is not like these two are gay, anyway." "You sure?" Nick said, looking at the brown bunny, who looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. So did the other bunnies. "Yeah, I didn't went assuming Ben was gay at the beginning either." Judy said, looking at them, "But hey, it is not like people can tell that some of our brothers are gay just by looking, right?" There was a brief silence, and Jason shrugged. "Yeah, that cat seemed a bit of a sissy." He said, "Still, I don't think that this Bogo guy would go along with this little game. He would have to pretend to be gay as well." "Oh, he wouldn't have." Nick said, "Because he is." Now that surprised the bunnies. "Wait, for real?" Harry said, as he couldn't' help but be a bit surprised by it, along with the rest of his siblings. Judy looked at them, and she could totally understand that they would be surprised by this. She was surprised as well when she finally learned that her Chief was gay, which she only did shortly after Nick joined the ZPD. In other words, she didn't even suspected about this for nearly an entire year working on the ZPD. So much for the talent of observation that she thought that she had. She didn't noticed the clues until she really stopped to pay attention. "You mean that the huge guy is a queer?" Jason said, looking at the two, "That big guy with the huge horns and the grumpy face?" "I'm not sure about the queer part." Nick said, shrugging, "But he definitely likes males." "Man, what a waste of a hunk." One of the female bunnies said, and Harry then said: "Wait, isn't Chief Bogo married?" He asked, looking at his sister, "Doesn't he has a kid?" "Yeah, that's right." Nick said, "He was still closeted back at the day. He came out shortly after his divorce. It was quite the subject for gossip around the city." The bunnies took in this information. "And, people just go along with it?" Jason asked, and Judy nodded at her brother. "This is not like BunnyBurrow, where they want you to be subtle about things. Here is a big city." Judy said, "Practically everyone knows that Bogo is gay, and many know the same about Ben, but they don't really mind about it, because they are not hurting anyone and because they are both good at their work." "Yeah, I guess the city is really different from the country." Jason said, and he went back into chewing his stick. "Maybe Mr. Bubbles could still dress like Belle from the movie." Cotton suggested, and Nick and Judy shared a look. "He would look nice." Nick said with a shrug. "Yeah, I guess he already has an idea for his costume." Judy said, "Guess we still have to think about what we will wear." This put Cotton to think, and then said said: "Maybe you guys could go like Christian and Ana." Jason was gnawing on the stick and he miss-bit it and ended up biting his own tongue. However, he didn't gave much attention to it, as he was now, like everyone else, looking in horror at Cotton. "Like who!?" Harry asked, and Cotton looked around. "Christian and Ana. You know, from Fifty Shades of Prey. They do use masks in the movies, right?" "Yeah, I know who they are, but, you have watched that movie!?" He asked, having to ask this, but dreading to hear the answer. Cotton made a face. "Ew, no. I heard some of my aunties talk about this movie. They said that it was about a man and woman who do strange experiences together, like joining to make a monster with two backs." Everyone continued to stare at the little bunny in horror. While they did felt relieved that she didn't truly understood what the movie was about, they were still a bit shocked for finding out that she had heard something like that from the older bunnies. At that moment, they were glad that Bonnie and Stu were not around to hear Cotton say this, for if they were, they were surely going to have a stroke. It took a while for everyone to recover from the scare, and then, he subject changed to better topics. Part of the effort came into changing the subject that Cotton had brought about by talking about other things that she liked. "I do love the Camelback of Notre Dame." Cotton said, "I like all of the characters, and my favorite is Esmeralda. But I also like that funny clown of the colorful clothing." She said, and Judy could only chuckle about that. Yeah, she knew that movie as well, and it had been something that she enjoyed. She also like Cloppin, he was really funny. Of course, jesters usually were, after all, they were the clowns of the old days. Judy stopped a moment at this thought, and then she started to ponder. A jester... could it be? "So, you think the Justice League would win against the Avengers? "Actually, I think that they would end up in a tie before they realized that they are on the same side." Harry said to the fox, "But, that is only my opinion. I never get too involved in the ZC vs. Marvole thing. There are some great heroes on both of them. DC has the Green Panther, Wonder Wombat and The Flash. Marvole has the X-Mammals, Captain Animerica and the Iron Wolf. Both of them have really good merits to themselves." Nick looked at him, and he nodded. "Yeah, they sure have, my friend." The fox said, "They sure have." The conversation was good, but eventually, the two cops had to bid farewell to the bunnies, as they needed to get going. They still needed to go for their costumes and, thanks to that conversation with the bunnies; both of them got some good ideas to the kind of costumes that they would wear. "So, Carrots. What will you wear?" Nick asked, and Judy smiled at him. "Oh, you will have to wait and see. It was an idea that Cotton gave me." She said, and Nick nodded, "What about you, Mr. Wilde? What costume you have decided?" "Oh, it was an idea that I just got from your brother." Nick said to her, winking, "And you will have to wait and see." With this, the two cops continued on their way, both of them with very good ideas of what they would be looking for when they went to get their costumes. ***** On another part of the city, where Savannah Central made border with the Rainforest District, two Cape buffalos were reunited and having a certain chat. Chief Bogo had taken the afternoon off to try to go for a talk with his brother. He felt like he needed, after what he had been through recently, otherwise he could lose it if he didn't talked to anyone about that. Mansa and Tim had really gotten closer on the last months, ever since they finally had a proper talk and Mansa finally apologized properly to his older brother. It had been a big step for both of them, and Mansa had realized that his brother was not as insane as he and everyone else always thought. Now they had good conversations when they met each other, and they didn't ended in screaming. Well, most of them didn't ended. The two brothers were similar in the point where they both had strong personalities, and it was clear that they could end up clashing at one moment or another, but none of that came close to the fights that they had before they finally came to an understanding. Compared to these, the arguments they had now seemed more like the traditional sibling squabble. All in all, it seemed that their relationship had been truly fixed after so many years of turmoil, although they both still had a long way to go. "Oi, Mansa!" Tim's voice brought the ZPD Chief back to reality as the other buffalo snapped his hooves in front of his face. "Huh, what?" Mansa said, looking at his sibling, who looked back at him with a worried expression. "Say, were you listening to what I was saying?" "What? Me?" Mansa asked, looking at Tim. "Yeah! Yeah, I was. I was listening. You were speaking about the video of these teenagers." "Yeah, I did talked about that." Tim said to Mansa, "Around twenty minutes ago, then I started talking about other videos that were coming about in other websites about people who are investigating possible mages living near their properties. Some of them include some members of these fanatical groups that either adore or hate the mages." "Oh... Y-yeah, that's right." Mansa said, before looking away, and Tim looked back at him. "You busy thinking about other things, right?" Tim asked, and Mansa said nothing, so his brother soon was continuing. "Yeah, of course you are, with all that is happening around here lately. I mean, taking an entire mall as hostage? Wow, that's crazy." He looked at his brother, as their gazes once more met. "I knew that you would have your hooves full because of this, so I refrained from trying to contact you, at least until you felt like you were in a calmer place. I do feel glad for you to coming to visit me for the first time since that, but if you were going to ignore me than maybe you should have stayed at work." Mansa looked at his brother, before he sighed. "Yeah, sorry about that, Tim." He said, "Is just... there is a lot happening. With this whole thing of the mall, the enforcers, this ongoing investigation, and now with this thing involving Clawhauser..." "You mean, your ex-mage front desk officer?" He asked, and Bogo looked at him, "What about him?" Mansa had spoken a bit more than he intended and he looked at his brother. He knew that he could not go telling him about their assignment, but he didn't wanted to lie to his brother, and so, he decided to say a half-truth. "He got invited to the Manechester mansion." He said, and Tim looked back at him. "What, you mean, the Manechester? The same ones from..." "Yeah, the very same." Bogo said, looking at his brother. "He and Chandler Manechester are great friends, and he was invited to spend a few days at the mansion." "After what happened?" Tim asked, looking at him, "Wow, I thought that he and that family would be avoiding each other like the plague, after all that went down when he got close to their little golden foal." He said. Bogo looked back at his older brother and sighed. Of course, Tim would be among the ones who knew the full story, or at least thought that he knew. No surprise, considering how smart and resourceful he was. Tim could have become a really good detective if he had put his mind on it and had some support. "So, think he will be safe in that mansion?" Tim asked, and this caused Bogo to stop for a moment to look at him. "I mean, with Adrian and Yahya Manchester both in there?" Tim elaborated, "These two are already famous for having a bad opinion on predators, who says about one that they think that did something to their family." Mansa looked back at Tim for a few moments, and he looked at the other buffalo, before speaking: "He won't be alone in there." He said, "His brother and sister will be there with him, and so will Hopps and Wilde." "The bunny and fox?" Tim asked, looking at Bogo, who nodded. "You mean you put two of your best officers to go along with him to that mansion to keep him safe, huh?" He said, and he was giving Bogo as look as he did. Bogo didn't really like that look very much, but instead of giving back a glare like he would do to most other mammals, he looked away. "They all got invited as well." He said, looking away. "And you had nothing to do with their presence in there?" Tim asked, to which Mansa scoffed. "I don't use my position to help others." "Not even the ones who you really care about?" Mansa then looked at his brother, giving him a raised eyebrow. "Come on, Mansa." Tim said, looking back at him, "I think that I know my brother well enough to at least understand a little bit of what goes into his head." They looked at each other in silence for a few moments, before Tim asked: "You really care about that cheetah, don't you?" Mansa looked at his brother, opening and closing his mouth a few times, as he was trying to find the right thing to say, however, he didn't said anything, as he looked away. "Of course you do." Tim said, looking back at his brother. "So, should I think that you will be introducing me to him one day? Maybe your son too?" "It is nothing like that!" Bogo said, and he only then realized that he was a little rude, and he continued: "It is... not simple like that." "Really?" Tim asked him, "Don't tell me that you have decided to go back inside the closet now." "No! It is... not like that either." Bogo said, and he looked at his brother, "I don't intend to lie to myself again... Not anymore." "Yeah, at this point it might actually be a good thing that dad has taken the old dirt nap, huh?" Tim asked, and Mansa looked at him. "After all, it was because of him that you spend decades pretending to like women, right?" Mansa wanted to say that this was ridiculous. However, he knew that he could not. Tim and him had grew seriously apart with the years, but it still felt like his older brother knew him like few other mammals did. Their father had been strict with them from a very young age. He had a drinking problem and he didn't take crap from anybody, not even his own calves. The Bogo brothers could say that they went a lot after him, but they never allowed themselves to fully be like their father was, alcoholism included. Their father always was very keen on how they should be "real males", how they should be strong and not show weakness, how they should find jobs that would make use of their strength and manliness, and find women to marry and have little calves, like true males. He was very keen on teaching that to both of his sons. Keener on teaching that to Mansa, ever since his first born "already proved to be a lost case". In the end, he managed to hammer a lot of things in Mansa's head, and he truly ended up engraving a lot of his teachings in his life. He became big and strong, and proud to be, he got himself a job as a police officer, a "manly" job, and he got himself married with a beautiful cow and they had a son together. Now, while Mansa was genuinely proud of his achievements as a man and as a cop, he didn't quite felt so fulfilled in his marriage. Of course, he loved his son, but he didn't quite felt right with his wife, even though she was a sweet person and maybe one of the best friends he ever had. He just didn't felt... quite right with a woman, not quite satisfied. However, he never dared admit it, not even to himself. At least, not while his father was still alive. Only after his death did Bogo started to question himself. It would be a while more of marriage before he finally felt like admitting to himself that he didn't really liked women. His wife, to his surprise, was very understanding, she worked with him for a peaceful divorce, and they agreed on shared custody, as much as Mansa's job in the ZPD would allow. They were still great friends and got along just fine. Still, it took a while before Bogo could be completely honest to himself about feelings that he spent his entire life denying. "I am totally over it now." Mansa said to his brother, "I already accepted myself." "Well, that's great for you." Tim said, patting his shoulder, showing total support of his brother. "But then, what is the problem?" "For starters, the fact that Benjamin Clawhauser is one of my subordinates." Mansa said, looking at him, "There are all kinds of regulations about this. Do you know how easily that could become a case of sexual harassment?" "Do you think it would?" Tim asked, and Mansa did not answered to that. Instead, the younger buffalo only sighed. "Besides, I'm not even sure if it would work." He said, looking away. "Maybe it is better to keep distance." "Even though you obviously care about him?" Tim asked, and Mansa stayed in silence for a few moments, before he looked back at him. "Is it really obvious?" Mansa asked, and Tim shrugged. "Well, if you know what to look for." He said, looking at the younger buffalo. "I mean, it is pretty obvious that you really wanted to protect him when he was just starting on the ZPD. If the incident proves anything." Yeah, this was the proof that Mansa needed to know that his brother really knew what had happened five years ago. Not many on the city knew, and the ones who did avoided talking about it because of possible repercussions. As he thought of it, Mansa couldn't help but unconsciously pass his hoof over his right eyebrow. His fingers passed on the line of the scar that was hard to see, but was in there. If that bottle had hit him a little lower he could have lost his eye, was what the doctors had said. It still tingled when he washed his face. He had been a cop for years, and the only scar he got was due to a fight in a very fancy restaurant. Hard to believe such things. Of course, it was already hard to believe how much Benjamin Clawhauser managed to affect his life when he entered the ZPD. The cheetah already got him really worried by getting involved with Chandler Manechester. The thought of that innocent and kind cheetah getting involved with the relative of such a sociopathic horse who could ruin his life on a whim... "Mansa." Tim said, and Bogo looked back at him. "You were just starting to zone out again." Mansa was soon apologizing to his brother, and saying: "Is just... you are right. Kind of. I am worried about Ben." Mansa admitted, and Tim looked back at him. "Yeah, that on top of all that is happening, huh?" He asked, and Mansa nodded. "Yeah, this is all very stressful for the ZPD Chief." "Yeah, and now I'll be in charge in helping the enforcers while Hopps and Wilde go to this party." Bogo said, and Tim looked at him. "You dismissed them from duty only so they can protect your dear cheetah." Tim said, and the smile on his face was a bit unnerving. Bogo had to bite back some of the retorts that he had to his brother at that smile. He was not on the mood to have a fight now. "So, you basically will be working very close to the enforcers, right?" "You can bet." Bogo said to him, "And you can be sure that I'll make sure that they follow procedure." He said, remembering very well of what he learned, and really wishing that he could share this with his brother, for him to understand just how made he was at the enforcers at this moment. Tim nodded as he looked at his brother. He then nodded, Mansa looked at his brother's expression, and he saw something on his face. "Do you... want to talk about something?" Mansa asked, and Tim looked back at him. "Well, I wanted to ask..." Tim said, but hesitated, before saying: "No, it's nothing." "Tim." Mansa said, causing the older buffalo to look at him. "I think that I know my older brother well enough to know what goes through his head." Bogo said, and they both looked at each other for a long moment. "You want to know if the enforcers know anything about... that day, right?" They looked at each other for a long moment, before Tim nodded. "Yeah, I have wanted to know if you got any information from them about that day." Tim said, looking back at his brother. "I have wanted to do it since I saw the video that the Mage Chasers posted." Mansa looked at his brother, and Tim looked back at him. "There is a lot of things on that video." Tim explained to his brother, "In one of the scenes, they give a close up on that black fox fighting the golems. On how he made them explode after touching them." More silence, before Tim spoke: "Do you know how familiar that was?" Mansa looked at his brother, and he said: "I can imagine." The two brothers looked at each other for a while, and Mansa made a decision, the decisions of telling Tim all he wanted to know about the subject. Mansa knew that it was something that he shouldn't do. He knew that giving information about any case to someone was against protocol, even a crime, as it could jeopardize the investigation in the future. But, this has nothing to do with the investigations we are making now. Mansa rationalized to himself. It is something that happened many years ago and is unrelated. And it is something that is already on an online video, so... In the end, Bogo ended up telling his brother all he could, from the information that he was giving on how the fox achieved that, to the conversation that he had with the vulpine about that specific subject. "You said to him that it was you who had seen it?" "I didn't said anything." Mansa said, looking back at his brother. "He took his own conclusions. I just didn't disagree with him." Tim looked at Mansa for a few moments, before he spoke: "Do you know that it was dangerous?" Tim said, "He could have decided that you knew too much and needed to forget what happened. Mansa, he could have decided to silence you." "Yeah, I don't think he would've." Mansa said, looking back at Tim, "But, in the case he would, I supposed it was better me than you." The two brothers looked at each other, before Tim sighed. "Just like when we were calves." The oldest sibling said, "We would always be ready to cover for each other when dad was having a fit." "Yeah, back in the time when we said we would always have each other's backs." Mansa said, smiling at his older brother, "Something I should have remained doing when you needed me." They looked at each other, before they moved along. "And then, what happened?" Tim said, returning to the topic, and Bogo once more was telling his brother what he had been explaining. By the time he was finished, Tim was looking intently at him. "He was in there?" Tim asked, and Mansa nodded. "That was what he said." Mansa said to his older brother. "Do you remember seeing him in there? It was over thirty years ago, so he probably was on his early twenties or something." "I don't know." Tim said, looking at his sibling. "There were many of them, and all of them were wearing hoods." "Maybe someone who was around four feet tall?" Mansa offered, "Someone of the height of a fox?" "I don't know." Tim said once more, "That was when the wolf started to kill everyone, and I ducked to hide. I couldn't get a very good look at everyone. Even though I still remember all of their screams." Mansa saw as his brother shuddered at the memory, and he placed a hoof on his shoulder. They said nothing more on the matter for a while, until Tim once more spoke: "And, did he said anything more?" "Only that I should try to forget about it and move on." Mansa answered, to which Tim scoffed. "Easier said than done." Mansa said nothing in return, and for a long moment, they only remained like that, sitting in their chairs, Mansa's hoof on his brother's shoulder, before Tim once more looked at his brother. "Thanks for telling me this." "I still haven't found out what really happened." Mansa said, "Maybe I can talk to Mieczyslaw. He was in there. He can tell all that happened in there." "Mansa, you don't have to." Tim said, "If you keep asking about this, the guy could become violent." "I can handle myself." Mansa said, "What's the worse he can do?" "He can silence you!" Tim said, sounding worried, "Especially if what happened in there is something that the Association wants to keep a secret. They could order him to do something to discredit you and ruin your life! They could even order him to make you disappear! You don't have to put yourself through all of this trouble!" "We still don't have the answers." Mansa said, looking at his brother. "I might not show it, but I am a sociable fella. I am sure that I can get him to speak more about this." "But you could put yourself in danger." Tim said, looking at his brother, "I don't want to see you get yourself in trouble with him or with his superiors only because of me." Mansa stopped for a moment, and he looked back at his brother, before saying: "We need to know what happened." He was serious as he spoke that, looking Timetri dead in the eye. "What happened on that forest years ago affected both our lives. It made us both grow apart with the years." He spoke that with a certain guilt, looking at his brother. "We grew apart when we could have remained friends all of this time." Tim said nothing in answer to what his brother, and Mansa got up. "You have always wanted to know what happened back then, and now so do I." The ZPD Chief said, looking at his brother. "I think I can get Mieczyslaw to tell me. I just need to be smart." Tim looked at his brother. "You don't have to do it for me." He said one more time, and Mansa looked back at him. "Yes, I do." He said back to his brother, and Tim looked at him. "After so long calling you a nutcase for saying the truth, it is the least I can do." They looked at each other for a while. "Mansa?" "...Yeah?" "Thank you..." Nothing more was said between the two brothers. ***** On a certain building of Savannah Central, a certain panther was fuming in anger as he worked on his golems. More pieces had come in boxes, and he was working on them, not only to have them ready, but also because this was a way of distracting himself and helping calm down. However, even that seemed not to be working. How could he let himself be fooled like that!? How someone like him, who was among the top of the rankings of the MTC allowed himself to be tricked like that by these two stinking pelts!? He was smarter and more resourceful! He had helped the MTC make a great deal of money with his golems that could be mass produced, sold, and would then be impossible to track back to them by any means! How he got himself by fooled by the old switcheroo!? This was ridiculous! Oh, how the enforcers must be thinking themselves to be smart to have fooled him with such a cheap trick! They were probably talking about him and laughing at his expenses as they did! With a growl, the panther simply threw the arm that he was trying to assemble back into the table as he leaned back on the chair and stared at the ceiling. For a long moment, he just remained in that position, looking up as if the answer would be among the cracks and stains of the ceiling of the old building. He knew that he needed to find an answer, if he wanted to get Tasman out of his tail. That was the worst part of it all. Not having fallen for that little trick. Not thinking that the enforcers were laughing at him at that moment. No. The worst part was, most definitely, to have Tasman hoovering over him like a vulture over a carcass in a desert. Having to hear him speaking to him how his idea was stupid and how he risked everything to, in the end, not even achieving anything good out of it. Darn that pompous, noble bred bastard! The plan wasn't even his! Of course, he was not about to tell that Tasman that only for him to shut up. He was sure that the stupid dog-faced moron would be even more on him and ridicule him for using someone else's idea like that. That if he even believed him if he told him that he got the idea from a mammal that everyone was sure that had died. "Having a rough week?" A familiar voice suddenly said, and the panther nearly fell from his chair as he straightened himself up and turned his head in direction to the voice, to see a familiar dark fox looked back at him with his yellow eyes. "You!" The panther said, getting up and looking back at him with murder on his eyes. "You definitely look like you have been through a lot, Peter." Cornelius Wilde said as he looked at the panther, who growled back at him. "Because of you I lost a lot of my golems!" The panther said, walking to him with an accusing finger, hate shining on his eyes as he glared to the fox. "Well, I told you from the beginning that you might have to sacrifice a number of them for the plan to work." Cornelius said very calmly, and this only enraged the panther more. "You have no idea what I am going through because of that crazy plan of yours!" Peter said back to him, "Tasman said that he would talk to the rest of the MTC to permanently reduce my privileges within the organization!" "Can he do such a thing?" Cornelius asked, and the panther growled. "Yes, he can!" He said to the fox, nearly roaring. "That stinking mutt has enough influence with the rest of the MTC to actually cut my off if he really wants to!" "Even with how much money you make to them with your golems?" Cornelius said, "Well, I guess he really must be influent. Maybe you should try to be on his good side. You know, there is no shame in kissing up to the guys when you have something really good to gain." The panther roared as he advanced against the fox, stopping when he was just a few inches away from him, his mouth wide and revealing many sharp teeth, as if he was ready to chomp down at the fox's head. The fox, however, stood in there, unimpressed, and looking back at the gaping maw full of teeth. "These are really good." Cornelius said, reaching out and touching the teeth, as if he was feeling their texture. "Seem really nice if you are going to bite someone. You really put a lot of effort in this one, didn't you?" A growl came from the back of the panther, as he slowly retreated, and glared with hatred at that fox before him. "I should kill you." He said; his claws unsheathing as he looked at the fox. "I should kill you right now and get rid of your body." The fox continued to look at him unimpressed, with a smile on his face as he looked back at the panther. "It would be fairly easy for me." The panther said to him, his voice carrying all manners of threats. "I could easily do it and no one would ever bother me for this. After all, everyone already thinks you are dead. Including your son." Cornelius looked back at him, and the panther looked at him with disdain. Cornelius shrugged. "Yeah, I am sure that my death would not affect him, if his mother already told him that I died. I mean, it is not like I was very present on his life either." Cornelius said, looking back at the panther, and he then looked away. "You know, I kind of regret it now." "A couple decades too late, isn't it?" The panther said to him, "After all, your son is already an adult at this point." "Yeah, and what an adult he has become." Cornelius said, "I have been looking over him from a distance a couple times, without him knowing, of course. I can't afford to let him see me and maybe tell his mother that I'd been around. I don't know how that woman would react if she saw me. She would be as likely to run to me and hug me as she would of trying to throw a dagger at my neck." The panther looked back at him, and the fox sighed. "Yeah, I do regret that I was not present to see my son grow... but, I don't really mind that very much anymore." He said, looking at the panther, a very strange smile on his face. "I don't really care about any of them anymore." The way that the fox said this caused Peter to feel uneasy. It was not everyone that could creep him out like that. Few could, actually, but the fox somehow was managing to do that to him at that very moment. Soon, however, the fox put that aside and looked back to the panther, as it seemed that he wanted to get back on his last track of thought. "Well, I didn't came here to speak about my own dysfunctional parental instincts." He said, "I came here to speak with you about something important." "Really?" Peter asked, looking back at him with a raised eyebrow, and the fox continued to smile at him. "Yes." Cornelius said, smiling at him. "I came here to say that I have another plan. One that I am sure that will work." "Like hell!" The panther said, growling at his face. "Right now I am already in a mess because of your last little plan! I am not hearing any more of your crazy ideas!" "It is a good plan." "You said the same thing about the thing of using my golems and these brats to take the mall so I could get into the apartment and take the box back!" The panther said, "And in the end all of that was to recover a box that had only a rock inside of it! A rock!" "Yeah, the enforcers really got you at this, didn't they?" The fox said, "Leaving only a rock with 'better luck next time' written in it." "Yeah! They had the gall to-" Suddenly, the panther stopped, and turned to look at the fox. He hadn't said anything about what was written on the rock... Cornelius looked back at him with a smile. "You knew..." Peter said, and the fox only chuckled. The gaze of the panther became truly murderous. "You are dead meat!" He said, getting ready to pounce at him, but the fox rose a paw. "Before you maul me, let me talk about my new plan." "Like heck!" The panther said, and immediately dove in direction to the fox. He had him in sight as he outstretched both of his paws on his direction, and he was about to grab him. But he only grabbed air. He tumbled into the ground, before he stopped on his four paws in the ground. The panther blinked, looking around, as if confused, before he got sight of the fox. He was standing nearly ten feet away from where he had been standing just moments before, with a calm smile on his face. "Y-you!" Peter said, looking at the dark fox. "Y-you were... I was just... you were right..." He said, sounding as if he was in disbelief, while he calmly walked indirection to the panther, not showing any sign of fear as he walked forward. Peter looked back at him with astonishment, as his mind processed what had just happened. "Y-you..." He said, looking at the approaching vulpine. "You... you actually did it... didn't you?" Cornelius said nothing, and he only chuckled. "That's how you do it..." He said, sounding shocked, and the fox looked back at him. "So?" He asked, looking back at Peter. "Will you hear me out now?" The panther said nothing, as he continued to stare at the fox. "How?" He said, looking at him. "When did you...? How did you managed to...?" "I'll gladly answer your questions later on." He said, looking at the panther, "But, right now, I think we should focus on getting that thing back, don't you think?" He said, looking at the feline, "After all, you still need to get it back to clean your slate with the rest of the MTC, right?" The panther looked at him for a few more moments, before he got up, dusting and recomposing himself, and looking back at the vulpine before him. "Okay, you got my attention." He said, looking at the fox. "I'll hear this new plan of yours, but when this is over I'll want to hear details of how you really managed to achieve... this." He said, looking at him. "And it better not fail again, or I'll be skinning you and making a wall decoration out of your pelt!" Cornelius looked back at him, smiling as he admired the panther. "Now you have spoken like a true Wilde, Peter." The panther scoffed at this, and the fox decided to go forward with the plan: "Well, if you are worried about calling too much attention, you don't have to worry, because this plan will be more subtle than the last one. However, it will also involve spending some money." "What money?" The panther said, looking at them, "Well, I'll have to use my own, once Tasman already told the MTC to cut me off from the funds temporarily after he saw how much money I had to pay that bunch of thugs to take part on the plan." Cornelius looked at him, the smile not leaving his face even for a second. "Don't worry. I still have some money of my own saved. I'll be paying for this plan." The panther looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and the fox smiled to him as he said: "After how much trouble I landed you with the last one, this is the least I can do." Peter continued to look at him, and then, he said: "You are crazy." He looked at the fox, "Still, for a fox, you are being awfully nice." "Well, we from the Wilde clan are a nice bunch, despite everything." He said, and the panther continued to look at him with mistrust. "Yeah, alright, so you are paying." Peter said, "But, what exactly are you paying this time? Not these Vipers again, right?" "No, not them." Cornelius said, "This time, we will need someone more... professional. We are hiring a freelancer." "Oh, that's much better." The panther said to him, a hint of sarcasm on his voice. "This freelancer is quite a good one, and he was well recommended." Cornelius said to him, "He is good at obtaining results. However, this also means that he is quite expensive." "Yeah, whatever." Peter said, looking at the fox. "So, I imagine that we now must need to reach this freelancer and offer him the job, right?" "No need." Cornelius said, surprising the panther. "I already reached him about the job, and he already accepted." The fox was smiling as he looked at the panther. "As a matter of fact. He will be arriving on Zootopia tomorrow." He concluded, and Peter looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. Why do I have the feeling that I will seriously regret this? Peter thought to himself, as the fox continued to smile like a kit showing a nice shiny rock to his mother.