Case File – The Savage Dark
Reporting Agent: Code Name – Jack “Savage”
Current Whereabouts: Unknown
Agent Status: Unknown (Active)
“’The package’ was intended to be a safeguard if Wilde went savage and was set loose on the city. It wasn’t designed for this, of course. In the right hands, my hands, it is a countermeasure for high-speed hard target neutralization. Even my tech and logistics teams can only do so much in the twelve hours I gave then, which in this case turned to my benefit.
“I say ‘to my benefit’ as it was the only thing on that particular night that had gone my way up to that point. I thought I was prepared for Wilde to go savage again if it did go that way, but I was not. His progression from perfectly normal asset to running down the street on all fours faster than a fucking cheetah was not really a progression at all. From what I could tell, he simply snapped. One second he was listening in, his eyes normal, his body language uneasy but nothing out of the ordinary. The next second, he was already out of the van with his vest lying on the ground and the rest of us hoping he didn’t get himself or Hopps killed. Him going savage and running off into the city somehow had been in the playbook, thus the package, but tackling a grizzly and fighting tooth and claw with a savage badger was not.
“With the arrival of the ZIA, I came to understand that they had been watching the situation far more closely than I realized. This was a simple case of underestimation on my part. I learned later that they were not even there for Nick. They were there for Muste, just like we were, though when it became clear that they had an opportunity to capture the ‘one that got away,’ they – meaning Special Agent Skye – took it. Hard-armed, loaded, and ready to fight to get him if they needed to. The situation in the bar was lose-lose from the moment I was told that a convoy was inbound, without question. Which is why I let them take Wilde without resistance. Gave Special Agent Skye all the cards for a few precious moments so I could reorganize the plan. I don’t like to lose. I don’t like being taken off guard, least of all twice in one evening. I don’t like it when my promises are broken through no will of my own. So at that moment, I was angry. And realizing this, I made two independent plans.
“The first was personal and reckless. Which is why I made the second: Judy Hopps.”
‘The package’ was a quick, black bullet through the dark streets of the city. What otherwise would have been a roaring through the night was muffled by design but it had no effect on the speed that Jack was aware of. He didn’t track it; didn’t glance down at the display on the HUD of his helmet to see how many kilometers he had eaten in the three minutes since he had mounted the bike. Knowing your actual speed when moving so fast that all other vehicles seemed to be standing still, by comparison, was never a good idea in his experience. Wind rushed past his helmet, into his visor, and behind his folded ears, bringing with it all the scents of a sleeping city. He had little time to enjoy it as he often did. The thrill of the chase remained, as a secondary sensation. Like the vibration of the engine that thrummed through his entire body and the cooling air of the night that beat against the skin tight black jumpsuit he now wore.
His attention was focused solely on finding the arctic fox who had taken his charge. A fox who, for the moment at least, remained carefully out of his crosshairs.
“Passengers offloading now, Alpha. Awaiting further instructions.”
“Keep Hopps and Wolford appraised of my location on a separate channel. I need you in the air to the west to locate…”
He was cut off when he was forced to rear brake hard and dart to the side to avoid the black SUV that tried to side-swipe him as it pulled onto the road with a screech of tires and the blue lights of a Federal agent in pursuit. Despite the dramatic entrance, the pursuit was short-lived and quickly ended when he punched his speed up again, leaving them with no chance of keeping his pace.
“…the target,” he continued, his eyes on the road ahead as he noted a clear lack of moving traffic. “If that attempt to run me down is any indication, however, I am on the right track. West side past Savanna Central, still heading west. I would hazard a guess that they will head north toward the Canal District rather than drive into the docks, but require visual to confirm.”
“Roger that, Alpha,” came the crisp reply, along with a good deal of engine noise. “Cargo delivered and I am airborne. ETA on west bank with a northern sweep, three minutes.”
Three minutes was a long time at the speed he was traveling. Cursing mentally when he was faced with the choice of continuing to the bay on the chance that they may try to offload Wilde onto a ship or turning his pursuit north, he made the choice when he reached a wide intersection. Sweeping around the corner at a speed that made his legs ache when he dipped the bike low enough that his knee-pad skimmed the asphalt, he calculated how long it would take him to return to the docks if it turned out that his choice of direction had been wrong. They would have to split in case of a decoy if a boat was used, in which case he only had a 50/50 chance of facing off against Skye, whom he had no doubt would be sticking with Wilde the rest of the way. But it was speculation.
A visual. He just needed a damned visual.
“Alpha, target spotted north of the docks, still in transit. I count seven total vehicles, now,” came the updating, causing him to mentally fist pump as he tightened his grip on the accelerator and increased speed. “It looks like they swapped the vans for large class SUVs as escorts for the armored car.”
“She expected pursuit,” Jack muttered, just confirming out loud what he had already guessed. He wasn’t impressed by the realization. It just proved that she wasn’t an idiot. “I just passed Oak and Seawall, center of the road. Eyes on me and tell me where to go.”
“Confirmed, Alpha. I have you one block west of the target’s current route. Clear turn to intercept two blocks up, one mile behind.”
The adjustments to his course brought him into visual range less than a minute later, the rear lights of the escort vehicles glaringly obvious down the straight stretch of road. It was obvious that they saw him, too. The four huge SUVs drifted away from the convoy and lined themselves up as a mobile road block, dropping speed as he quickly closed the distance. He easily could have gone onto the sidewalk, or taken another route around that would have put him up right beside the armored car, but he still had a point to prove. He yanked an ultra-light submachine gun from one of the holsters on the body of the bike, not hesitating as he aimed high on the rear windows and sprayed a quick line across all four. The kick of recoil from the gun, which he was well familiar with, hardly registered as the line of bullet holes peppered the glass well above the driver’s heads.
Even with his attempt to be non-fatal against agents doing their jobs, the result was quick and obvious as the line broke. One of the drivers, panicking under fire, tilted the SUV suddenly and sideswiped the one to his left. The force of the impact drove the leftmost vehicle onto the sidewalk, opening a path easily wide enough for the bike to slide into. Which he did, sweeping his gun low and releasing two quick bursts into the front tire of one vehicle, feeling the pressure wave as it exploded with a reverberating boom. Quickly dropping back as the driver lost control and slammed into the truck beside him, the rabbit took the opportunity to jump ahead of the pack. Steering the bike around the two remaining trucks, he feinted left and then went right before they could adjust, easily breaking ahead and towards the rest of the convoy.
He was aware that there had been no fire exchange from the escort vehicles. To this point at least, it had been made clear that they did not want him dead. Though that might change soon when it became clear that a few extra cars on the road were not going to stop him. Whether or not they would change that all depended on how much they really wanted to keep Wilde. A consideration that worried him more when two more cars with flashing blue lights peeled out from side roads as he approached the armored car, forcing him to angle his body right quickly to avoid slamming into one of them.
With no time to swallow the heart lodged in his throat at the near miss, he realized that he had dropped the gun in his rush to avoid becoming the victim of an unwilling velocity-times-mass experiment. Grunting at the distraction, he glanced around to realize that three cars were moving into position to box him in, a move completed by the roar of an SUV engine behind him. When this forced him to drop his speed, he glanced over at one of the cars as the dark tinted window rolled down, the muzzle of a black wolf poking out.
“Stop the bike and cut the engine!”
Keeping the bike at a steady speed, Jack held one paw up to the side of his helmet and shook his head to indicate that he couldn’t hear them.
“I said, stop the bike and cut the engine! You’re not going to accomplish…”
The wolf stopped his pointless shouting when a brass disk slapped into the center of the hood of that particular car and stuck as the powerful magnet caught on steel. The wolf’s broad muzzle curved into a frown as he questioned his leopard driver but his eyes widened when one black gloved paw was raised in an almost friendly farewell wave. When the tiny explosive within the disk triggered, the plate of copper behind the magnets was driven through the hood with enough speed and force to cause the rear tires to kick up off the ground as the engine block was pierced. The other cars were quick to spread out after that, though not before Jack pulled his secondary submachine gun, turned his gaze back and emptied half the clip into the grill of the SUV. Even though it tried to swerve to the side, the sudden burst of smoke from the hood and trail of various liquids spilling out as it rapidly lost speed indicated that it would not be continuing the chase.
At this point, all of them fell back to put some distance between them and the rabbit who had already disabled half what otherwise might have been an impressive convoy. The armored car increased speed, as much as something as heavily armored as it was could increase speed, but he was able to ignore it for the moment as he considered the rest of the convoy. One of the trucks had caught up but kept its distance with the rest of them. He had no doubt that they were debating whether or not he would risk hurting Wilde in an attempt to stop or crack the still fast moving armored car before the reached…
What? What are they heading towards?
“I am seeing a large amount of movement from up here, Alpha. Coming from the east.”
“Nightingale, I need your eyes ahead,” he said, one finger toying with the trigger under his break as he eyed the two cars that tailed him. They were inching closer, maybe not sure how much room to give him. “They are delaying me rather than trying to take me out and I need to know why.”
“Roger, Alpha. Eyes ahead.”
Close enough now. When he pressed the trigger, the compartments next to either side of the bike’s rear tire sprang open and dropped their cargo all over the road behind him. The little black spheres acted as advanced caltrops: when the cars drove over them, the micro-explosives within triggered a cascade or tiny explosions that seemed to set the road on fire. The sharp hiss of air escaping ruptured tires accompanied it, forcing both vehicles to limp along on sparking rims as they fell behind. That just left…
“Alpha, you have incoming. A lot of incoming.”
He was about to question exactly how much incoming ‘a lot’ boiled down to when the ZIA answered the question for him. A flash count told him that at least twelve new vehicles in all size ranges joined the armored car in a neat formation that told him this was not a random assortment of drivers. Chances were this had been set into motion the moment they realized they were dealing with him, which also explained their reluctance to engage him with violence. Whoever was pulling the strings in the ZIA did not want the agency more involved than they already were by openly causing the death of an agent. This was a show of force in an attempt to get him to back down.
Obviously, whoever was pulling the strings had never dealt with him before.
“What time is it, Nightingale?” he said, keeping a safe distance from the convoy in front while not allowing them enough space to try to remove the armored car from his line of sight.
“2:14 am, Alpha.”
Hopps had been dropped off at the ZPD twenty-five minutes ago, give or take.
“Has Hopps been updated on my position?”
“Affirmative. She is inbound.”
“They are headed to the Canal District,” he muttered, mostly to himself as he moved in on the rear-most of the vehicles in the convoy. When it altered course parallel to his own, he fired a two shot burst into the rear, this time intentionally placing the shot so that they would exit the front windshield right below the rearview mirror. This caused the slight hesitation and change in course that he needed to pull up beside them and drop a disk on their hood before falling back as the disk triggered. “Once they reach the first bridge, this convoy will turn into a road block to keep me from following. Not a bad idea.”
“Just thinking out loud while playing footsie with the locals,” he said as the car he had disabled vanished into his rear-view mirror. When he moved forward again, the formed a neat wall to prevent him from moving up beside anymore. Which was fine by him as he unleashed a full auto spray of bullets across the line of their rear tires. He only saw and heard three tires burst from the barrage, causing one van and one SUV to lag behind the group until he managed to easily swing past them and leave them in his mirrors. It was enough to have them scatter and move forward to move closely cover the armored car. Luckily, they didn’t seem aware that he had spent the rest of the clip on the little show of force.
“Put me through to Hopps.”
“Hopps here, Jack,” came her voice a few seconds later. She sounded broody, which was the least he had expected, but also focused. He expected the look on her face was a cross between professionalism and murderous. “We’re almost at your location.”
“You got the vehicle?”
“I did,” she replied and after half a beat of silence continued, “and a few extra as back up.”
“I’m going to have to train every agent under my command on the validity of actual numbers,” he said, though there was no actual annoyance in his tone when he said it, watching the large class ZPD SWAT armored truck swing onto the road with a squeal of tires a block behind him. He could already hear other sirens in the distance. Not coming in quietly, as he expected. “How many extra?”
“All of them.”
Even knowing it was coming didn’t stop the thrill of pleasure when the ZPD cruisers swarmed the street behind the lead vehicle in a blaze of blue and red flashes, loudly blaring sirens announcing their arrival. She hadn’t been exaggerating. The sea of black and white continued to build as more cruisers poured in from side roads, telling Jack that they had been called from their patrols to join in the chase. He didn’t bother to try a count, but the sheer force of numbers meant that they were not just active duty from Savanna Central. It was no less than he’d hoped.
This was the reaction of the ZPD when one of their own was taken.
The fastest of the pack, the medium class cruisers, broke away from the rest in a perfectly ordered maneuver that had them blowing past him in a roar of horsepower that he could feel vibrate from his teeth to his toes. A satisfied, and slightly manic, grin grew on his muzzle as the escorts ahead tried to increase speed in reaction, but with the armored car slowing them down they were forced to stand their ground. He could almost imagine the chaos going on in Special Agent Skye’s ear as the agents in the vehicles around her asked for instructions to counter what was doubtless an unexpected development.
He was surprised that is was Wolford’s voice that boomed from the bullhorn of the lead cruiser, which muscled its way past one of the escorts with a blithe side swipe that had the entire formation shifting to the left to make way.
“This is the ZPD! Obviously! Pull over, shut off your engines, and prepare to hand over Office Nicholas Wilde. This is your only warn…”
His voice was cut off when one of the escorts, either by order or simply to test their resolve, swerved hard in an attempt to take Wolford’s cruiser out. It was a move that had clearly been expected as with a squeal of breaks it dropped back far enough so that the attempt missed, sending the escort run sidelong into a building. The scream of metal and rubber against the side of the building was highlighted by the sound of the tires blowing under the force and friction.
The ZPD moved in, clearly taking that as a non-compliance in their one and only warning. He had to admit, he was impressed by the restraint and control the ZPD showed in their vehicle takedown maneuvers. Even as the heavier escorts tried to enter a tighter formation at the rear to prevent passage to the armored car, the medium class cruisers dropped back and made way for their larger comrades. Then, with a precision that he respected, they moved in, to firmly nudge the rear bumpers of the two outermost escorts. Traveling at high speeds, those nudged fell into a quick wobble that forced them out of formation and even sent one into a sideways slide. Before either could recover, they were boxed in at the front and rear by the cruisers still following at the rear.
It was a tactic that would have worked well given the number of ZPD officers in pursuit, but it was also one that was obvious. After the first two were taken out, chaos erupted. The armored car escorts started to blatantly try to take the ZPD cruisers out in the middle of the road, and the ZPD responded in kind by trying to drive them off the road. The combination led quickly to wrecks, from those that happened as planned to those that caused the entire fleet of pursuers to adjust their course to avoid colliding with the ZPD cruiser and escort that had stalled and rolled to a stop in the center of the road.
It broke up suddenly and quickly when most of the convoy split, turning down random roads as he sped past.
“Hopps, keep them contained,” he snapped, seeing the number of escorts dwindle until there were only two left. “They may have been ordered off, but I don’t want them coming back once we have the target stopped. Do not capture and arrest unless needed. I don’t think anyone wants to spend the next week in court trying to process agents for following orders.”
The order seemed to be understood as the ZPD broke off in pairs in pursuit of the fleeing escorts, thinning the herd until he counted five cruisers trailing behind. And no SWAT vehicle among them.
“Hopps, report. I’ve lost sight of you.”
“I pulled off of the main road with two units,” she explained, sounding distracted over the roar of the heavy vehicles engines being pushed to the limit. “We both know they’re headed to the bridge. We’ll be there before they arrive.”
“Confirmed, Alpha,” Nightingale chimed in. “Hopps should be in position before the target reached the bridge.”
“Understood. Order the remaining units to break off direct pursuit and meet us at the bridge. I’ll try to stop the target before it reaches the bridge. Once they have been stopped, everyone stand by and wait for my order.”
“Everyone stands by, Judy. This agent won’t hesitate to tranq you just like she did your partner, which would make you effectively useless once we’ve recovered Nick.” He allowed it to sink in for a moment as he punched up the speed to easily close the distance to the target. “She will be handled. You focus on keeping the area clear while I do it.”
Nothing stupid, such as a pointless attempt to run him off the road, was tried when he pulled up alongside the passenger door. Not surprisingly, the blue eyes of the arctic vixen met his through the tinted glass, looking non-too-pleased with the turn of events caused by the ZPD’s arrival. He gave an annoyingly friendly wave of his paw, which caused her scowl to deepen before he motioned for her to stop.
He hadn’t really expected her to stop, though he did expect the muzzle of the tranq gun that emerged from the gun slot just under the window. He dropped back as a few rounds were quickly squeezed off. They were still using non-lethal means, though he had to wonder if that would continue in the future. Because he knew that this wouldn’t be his only run in with the ZIA if they were this intent on keeping whatever they were hiding bottled up.
Knowing that his final disk explosive might not penetrate the armored hood and having no more SMG ammo, he swung around to the driver’s side. The wolf driving glanced in his direction, then did a double take when he saw that Jack was holding up the brass disk explosive. He waited until he was sure it had been seen before he narrowed the gap, his knee almost brushing metal before he loudly slapped the disk onto the door and pulled away quickly. Obviously having seen what the disks could do, the driver panicked and slammed on the breaks. The squeal of tires filled the air and the flickers of red and blue filtered through the white smoke caused by the sudden friction of the stop, which came less than a quarter mile from the bridge.
Coming to a full stop just ahead of the truck, Jack dismounted as both doors swung open. The brown wolf in a neat black suit spilling out of the driver’s side and stumbling onto all fours as he tried to escape the explosion that would never come. Before he was able to realize that it had already been too long, Jack closed the distance and drove one foot into the back of his neck, pinning him head first to the asphalt. The snarl was easily ignored, as the flailing paw that tried to reach back to swat him away was grabbed by the thumb and twisted until resistance stopped with a yelp of pain. He pinned the arm with his knee and grabbed the other one with similar results.
“Be a good little predator and stay down,” the rabbit hissed from behind the helmet as he zip-tied the wrists together, “or next time I put an explosive near you, I’ll be sure to arm it.”
He caught the movement in the corner of his eye mainly because he knew she was there already. Swiftly rolling off and yanking the body of the still squirming wolf onto his side, he allowed the larger predator to take the first two darts. Letting the soon limp agent drop, the bunny slid his helmet off quickly and rose as the rifle was leveled on him again. Flinging his headgear at the barrel of the rifle as she fired again, it took the next shot for him and forced her to swing the weapon to deflect the oncoming projectile. But the time she leveled it again for the next shot, he was on her. Very literally. She stumbled back when she was forced to take the full weight of his impact as he went air-born and landed with his feet in her belly and his paws wrestling for control of the rifle.
To her credit, she managed to stay on her feet even as the wind was knocked out of her. Icy blue eyes narrowing in anger as she twisted around sharply, forcing one of his feet free and making him lose his grip long enough for one paw to end up at her hip. She drove him back, using the fact that he was fully supported by her to slam him into the armored car with a snarl, his paws slipping free as she drew back. He raised his eyes when she leveled the rifle on him, a pleased and rather feral grin spreading over his muzzle when she pulled the trigger.
It didn’t even click, making her eyes widen as she looked down at it and then back at him as he raised one paw, the rifle’s bolt dangling between two fingers as he drew himself to his feet. The look of surprise was replaced with frustrated determination as she unshouldered the rifle, tossed it to the side, and reached for her sidearm. This time, the surprise was muted but no less satisfying when she found the holster empty. Wide blues rested on the gun now swaying lightly by the trigger guard on one of his fingers. The shock slowly melted into a slightly bemused and impressed smile.
“I should have listened when they said not to underestimate you,” she murmured, her eyes following his paws as he released the clip, ejected the single bullet from the chamber and tossed those plus the rifle bolt under the armored car. Getting them back would require crawling under to get them and, unlike the movies, placing yourself on your belly to retrieve a lost weapon was always a very stupid idea. “Here I was thinking I had caught the great Jack Savage off guard.”
“Oh, you did,” he replied as they started to circle each other, both pairs of eyes following the other as they drew close range weapons. “Under normal circumstances, you might have kept that advantage for a few days while I worked out a plan. But you tried to break a promise I intend to keep after my plans were already turned to shit by not just one, but two savage mammals.”
He drew a pair of paw-held tranquilizers, popping the caps off of both as he watched her draw a stun wand from her belt. The snap of electricity as she tested it was enough to make his ears twitch as he considered the best line of attack. His own state of irritation made it hard to think about the well-used, safe, and often time-consuming path of wearing her down a bit first.
“I have my orders,” she said with a shrug as she moved around him, swaying her tail slowly in time with her hips in a way that, oddly, made his eyes want to follow it. “But you are awfully cute when you’re…”
Frontal assault it was, as an insult that normally wouldn’t have phased him sent a bolt of anger right down his spine and sent him charging towards her. She might have thought she was expecting it, might have been trying to goad him into it. But she was obviously not ready when he dug his foot-claws into the asphalt and launched himself towards her with a single strong jump.
She managed to avoid taking the brunt of it only by swinging out with the wand, missing catching his leg with the crackling blue tip by a few inches when her side-step made his foot slam into her shoulder rather than her head. The impact sent her spinning, and even as she staggered to recover and face him again, he lashed out with one of the tranq-sticks. She ducked down and rolled to the side, gracefully avoiding him but he knew she was already unbalanced. Her only moves were avoidance as he pressed and pushed further, his muzzle twisted into an almost predatory show of long teeth as he kept the distance between them so short that she couldn’t utilize what would normally have been a reach advantage over his smaller build.
The vixen dropped her guard suddenly, something that most might have seen as an opening but he saw as her trying to arrange the battle to her advantage by allowing him in. He took the feinted opening, seeing the attack coming. Her open paw strike was easily deflected, allowing him to twist around when she drove the wand towards his belly. Her growl of frustration was cut short when he drove the tip of one of the tranqs into her exposed thigh, following up when she tried to stagger away. The bunny tackled her bodily, shoving her back onto the asphalt by the rear wheel of the armored car. He straddled her belly, pressing his legs into her sides to keep her still as he raised the remaining stick.
That narrow muzzle was turned into a slow, lazy, almost pleasant smile as drowsy blue eyes turned up to him. When her paw released the wand, letting it roll away, he stayed his own hand but kept it raised. Her tongue slid out over her lips as she chuckled, her voice weakening as she relaxed under him.
“Well,” she whispered, that predatory gaze meeting his for a moment before she rolled her head to the side. That long, lean, and warm-under-his-hips body stretched out before him as if she were settling down for a nap rather than falling under the effects of the drugs running through her system. The motion and the simple beauty of the body partaking in it caused a faint twinge in his sheath that he ignored when she met his eyes again. “I guess that answers my question, Agent… Savage.”
The drunk tone faded further until she fell limp, her eyes drifting closed. He waited a full ten seconds with his paw raised and ready before he relaxed, breathing out slowly as his eyes raised to the armored car. Attention shifted when a large ZPD cruiser pulled up beside him, a slight chuckle escaping him as Chief Bogo stepped out. The scowl on the Cape Buffalo’s muzzle and constant twitch of his ears were more than enough to tell Jack that he was less than pleased with the outcome of the evening.
“You told me you would watch over my officers, Jack,” he rumbled, stopping as he looked over the scene before him.
“Oh, well,” Jack replied, rolling his shoulders in an easy dismissal as he drew himself to his feet. Still not fully over the anger, and now dealing with minor arousal - which he blamed fully on the intensity of the fight - he wasn’t entirely in the mood to be chewed out. “You caught me, Chief. This high-speed chase through the city was just my way of letting them get away with Wilde. I didn’t send Hopps to the ZPD, knowing exactly how you would react to learning that he had been taken. And I thought after I subdued the one responsible for his kidnapping, that I would just leave him in the back of the armored car, wander off, and have a drink to celebrate how much I didn’t let them get away.”
The closed-mouthed, flat-eared, but silent look of exasperation from Bogo was enough for Jack as he slipped the remaining tranquilizer into its sheath. He stood facing the much larger mammal with a now blank expression, both folding their arms over their chests in obstinacy.
“Thank you. For the backup.”
“Thank you. For not letting them get away.”
They both grunted at the same moment, which led Jack to smirk and sigh as he turned his gaze to the vixen and the ZPD cruisers that surrounded them. “I suppose we should start clean up. We’ll need a containment team to get Wilde to a safe location. I’m afraid he’s gone full-savage. He may need to be sedated so he can be…”
He stopped when he heard the familiar snarl of a fox, loud and clear. Both mammals turned to see Judy already standing in the wide open rear of the armored car. There was a look of determination in her eyes and the keys, which he assumed she lifted from the unconscious wolf while he was distracted by Bogo, in her paw. She didn’t even seem to notice them as she pulled the large door closed, the snap of the locks engaging as clear to his ears as the sound of Bogo shouting for her to stop.
“That makes three times tonight I’ve been caught off guard by the obvious,” Jack murmured to himself as he reached up to rub the bridge of his muzzle when a headache started to form around the worry. “Fuck me, I need a vacation.”