Archive > zarpaulus > Non-vore > Fanfiction > Zootopian Eclipse Ch. 4
After a month of retraining and acclimatization to her new sleeve, including a crash course on the differences between Old Zootopia’s laws and the hypercorporate Species Consortium’s, Judy was assigned to rotating security duties around the business districts of Valles- New Zootopia. It would give her a chance to see the largest domed canyon-city on mammalkind’s designated new homeworld, while also allowing potential FauxFur customers maximum visibility of the morph she modeled. She had to admit it was less degrading than parking duty.
One week into her assignment Judy was emplaced at the door to one of FauxFur’s clinics. A dozen mammals of different shapes and sizes passed by her without comment, a couple staring at her as she scrutinized their AR passes, but pointedly trying not to make eye contact with her. Close to noon she noticed a small family of russet-furred bunnies walking slowly in her direction, discussing something among themselves. Curious, Judy examined the family, a mother and father and three kits of different ages, she knew that urban lapines often used hormonal therapies to reduce litter sizes, if they didn’t simply get neutered after one litter, but they also spoke and acted like country bunnies. The father and the oldest kit, a teenager from the looks of him, also seemed to walk more stiffly, as if they’d developed arthritis decades early. She scanned their AR passes, the father had one identifying them as arriving for Genetic Service Packs.
[Skye, what are Genetic Service Packs?] She asked her muse.
Less than a second later Skye replied, [they appear to be sleeved in Ruster morphs. As Mares will be fully terraformed eventually the less expensive Ruster phenotypes have Planned Obsolescence built into their genomes. Without tri-monthly gene therapies known as “Genetic Service Packs” their musculature begins to degenerate. Such Rusters are also usually sterilized, requiring potential parents to order their children from the parent company.]
[And the kits are born with that condition? That’s horrible!] Judy’s face momentarily twisted into an expression of disgust and fury, before she remembered where she was and how she was supposed to look affable. She listened to the family’s conversation, pulled up a map to the gene therapy suites and called over to them. “Excuse me, sir, ma’am? If you’re here for GSPs I have directions.”
The father tried to object but his wife practically ran over towards her. “Oh bless you, we normally go to another clinic closer to our terraforming station but it was closed down earlier this month.” As she came closer Judy was once again struck by how much taller she was now, the other rabbit was maybe half her height.
Was this what Nick felt like around me? She wondered. No, he was always that size, it was right for him. Judy held out an AR file with step-by-step directions to the GSP clinic that would work even if their access to the local Mesh was restricted. As the mother took the file Judy decided to add another set of files. “Oh, your kits will need access passes too.” She tagged all five of them with icons that would give them priority access to the elevators and moving walkways on their route.
The teenager examined his icon for a minute with a suspicious look. “What, is this some kind of publicity stunt?” He asked loudly.
“Huh?” Judy exclaimed, confused. “No, I was just trying to be nice, is all.”
“So you feel sorry for us, do you?” He accused. “The heroic bunny cop gets a shiny new morph but you pity the poor rednecks with bodies that are literally falling apart, is that it?”
Judy was trying to formulate a response when the youngest of the family piped up. “You’re really Judy Hopps?”
Judy looked down at the kit, who couldn’t have been much older than six. “Yes, yes I am. What’s your name?”
“Sally.” The kit replied. “If you’re Judy Hopps, what are you doing guarding a clinic?”
“Well,” Judy said. “This sleeve was pretty expensive, I have to do what Direct Action and FauxFur want me to do until I’ve paid it off.”
The teenager cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at her while his middle sibling tried to hide behind their mother and the youngest asked another question. “How much does it cost to be so tall?”
Judy’s face fell at the question. “I’m contractually obligated to say that in 18 months FauxFur’s first production series will be ready for purchase at 50,000 credits per unit. But personally, I think that if you ever have that much money you’d be better off buying a couple of premium Rusters for you and one of your siblings.”
“Oh,” the kit looked a little disappointed. She and the rest of her family walked off following the route Judy had given them. As they left Judy noted that one of the passers-by on the other side of the street had stopped to watch the whole exchange. A scruffy coyote who didn’t look like he was coming over for gene therapy. He saw her look his way and walked off in a smooth motion that looked strangely familiar. Judy made a note to watch for him again.
Kitsune: She spoke to a family of redneck bunnies today, looked like the size difference between her Fury and their Rusters made her feel a bit dysmorphic. Teenager seemed like a bit of a young Leosoomian and maybe some of his statements got her feeling uncomfortable too. Seemed pretty nice to them though, except when the indenture forced her otherwise. I’ve got XP.
Glitter: Good to hear that she still has a soft spot for cubs. Though, this possibility of dysmorphia might pose a problem. I want you to keep observing her for a couple months.
Kitsune: Not the worst mission you’ve given me.
Over the next month and a half Judy noticed that same flowing gait on a dozen different morphs, ranging from Splicers to Pods, covering species from pachyderms to rodents. She saw someone who moved that way almost every day at least once on her patrols, no matter where she was assigned. After the first month it seemed to click in her mind, she was being stalked by a single person with access to a wide range of pods, but who might that be?
Most individuals wouldn’t be able to afford daily resleeving, even if he, and she was certain that he was a he despite wearing a few female sleeves, was merely renting rather than buying them. So unless he was some rich kid with a fixation on her it was unlikely he was following her for his own purposes, he was probably working for some larger organization providing an expense account. That left three possibilities: first that he could be a journalist, plausible given that she’d already spoken to dozens of reporters already since her resurrection. Second most likely was that he was a spy sent from corporate to keep tabs on her, that could prove problematic, she’d already been written up once for providing that family with special access passes, too many bad marks on her record and she’d be looking at a few extra years on her indenture. The third possibility she didn’t like to entertain, but, as Skye searched for and failed to find any information on the first two it started to look more and more likely.
Two weeks after concluding that she had a stalker, Judy requisitioned a shock baton, a laser pulser, and a full coverage suit of body armor.
She was patrolling the entertainment district that day, given the criminal element her precautions seemed reasonable. She spent three hours sidling past holo-ads for virtual casinos, Pleasure Pods waiting outside their brothels for potential clients, and AR samples of the year’s popular films. Eventually she spotted him, wearing a doe Splicer and pretending to be interested in one of the casinos.
Now was the time, Judy pretended to notice something in a nearby alley and ducked into it. Upon entering she looked around and spotted a ledge three and a half meters above the ground that could provide cover, with a few quick leaps and bounces off the walls she was crouched up there in wait.
The stalker came in a few minutes later, looking around in confusion, quickly turning to desperation as he frantically searched for his quarry. Judy saw her chance when he bent over to examine a sewer grate. She leapt down, landing expertly behind him, and tapped the end of her pulser on his shoulder.
“Don’t move.” She cautioned as he tensed up. “You’re going to answer a couple of questions for me, and then I don’t want to see you following me again.”
“What?” The doe exclaimed. “What are you talking about?”
“You’ve been following me for over a month.” Judy stated, prodding the pulser into him again. “You might change your body, species, and sex, but you still walk the same way. That much resleeving isn’t cheap so who’s footing your bill?”
“I…” he looked crestfallen. “I don’t know, exactly, it was all anonymous. Could have been anyone really.”
“Not anyone.” Judy replied. “There’s only so many organizations with that sort of money who would be interested in me. So, who do you think it was? Direct Action? The Bigs? Nine Lives?”
She noticed a shudder at the name of the last gang. “No, I would never work for them. Not ever. It may have been one of the Big family, they’re certainly rich enough.”
“One might hope.” She said in response. “But you don’t know for sure. And you wouldn’t want those monsters to have information on some little bunny cop now would you?” Judy caught a hint of his eyes rolling so she pressed a little harder. “So here’s what’s going to happen. In a couple seconds I’m going to withdraw the laser, then you’re going to leave and tell your client that you’re dropping the gig and we never see each other again. Understand?”
The one in a deer morph nodded. Judy withdrew the pulser and holstered it as he walked away. “Hard as ever Carrots.” He commented.
“Wait, what did you just call me?” Judy asked, shock creeping into her voice. With a start, the deer ran out across the street before she could ask anything else.
Kitsune: She recognized me.
Glitter: What?!
Kitsune: Well, I don’t think she knew who I was, exactly, but she figured out that I was following her this whole time. She learned my kinesics, my body language that passes from sleeve to sleeve.
Glitter: Do you think you can continue the mission?
Kitsune: Only if you can get me a sleeve with Gait Masking ‘ware. Otherwise I’d have Fst_Nml take over.
Glitter: He’s already running overwatch. I have a Shaper available.
Kitsune: A Shaper? I’ve been looking for one of those, sure I’ll take it.
Ozma field report: Subject Carrotfarmer.
The target has identified the suspected enemy agent that was tailing her. She displayed a level of kinesic recognition not previously documented in this subject. This combined with the information supplied by the fork we obtained and her actions during retraining lead us to suspect she is indeed infected.
Project Ozma to field agents: Subject Carrotfarmer.
Prepare to abduct target. Be ready to act on our command.
Judy didn’t see any sign of her stalker for the next two weeks, but she kept hold of the equipment just in case. It was a fairly peaceful half-month, with only a couple incidents with petty troublemakers, up until one night at the monorail station.
The building was pressurized and the trains entered through sealed tubes that separated the vast open space into sections, but the teeming mass of mammals reminded her of Old Zootopia’s Grand Central station. She wondered idly if it was still standing back on Sky Ark, whether any of the trains had survived the antimatter bombs and orbital kinetic strikes intended to slow down the TITAN war machines.
A group of maintenance mammals, two wolves and a wolverine, ducked into a hatch near Judy’s post. For some reason, she took a particular notice of them, though she couldn’t quite say why. She listened as they closed the door behind them and started banging loudly on something. Eventually, she heard something very large and metallic crash and one of the wolves poked his head out shortly after. “Hey, you there,” he called over in her direction. “Think you could give us a hand with this?”
Judy looked back at him quizzically, “I’m not supposed to leave my post.”
“It’ll only take a minute.” The wolf pleaded. “We just need some help lifting this one thing. You have muscular augmentations right?”
The 1.3 meter tall bunny looked down at the toned muscles of her still new arm, even after a quarter year it didn’t feel quite right. With a sigh, she replied. “I suppose I might as well get some good use out of this thing.” She walked off towards the door and followed the wolf in.
The tunnel was surprisingly spacious, it looked like a grizzly bear might be able to stand up without hitting the ceiling. She was starting to wonder why they didn’t just bring a bear with them. “How much further is it?” She asked.
“A ways down still.” The wolf replied. “A section of pipe came loose in the basement levels.” He pointed up at a half-meter wide pipe running along the wall by means of explanation. They went down what felt like two floors before catching up to the other wolf and the wolverine. Judy’s guide stepped aside for her to pass and she took a look around, no sign of a fallen pipe anywhere.
“Where’s the problem, here…” As soon as Judy stepped past the wolf moved to block her exit and a quicksilver-like fluid flowed up from under all three “maintenance” mammals’ collars. The wolverine started to reach into his pocket.
The wolverine drew a slim weapon and fired straight at Judy’s heart.
Judy leaped into the air just as the wolverine fired an electrolaser stunner into the space her body had occupied milliseconds earlier. She didn’t stop to think how she had seen the attack coming as she bounced off the wolf next to him, sending him reeling as she flew into the open air.
[Activate neurachem.] Judy mentally triggered the streamlined neurons and amped-up neurotransmitters of her bioengineered sleeve and time seemed to slow down. She drew her pulser and fired a stun bolt at the wolf who’d led her down as his hand inched towards his own weapon. The first laser pulse generated a plasma sphere on the glittering surface covering his head, and the second pulse detonated the plasma with the force of a concussion grenade.
The wolverine managed to raise an arm to shield his eyes from the blast. Then, moving with what looked like normal speed to Judy’s accelerated time sense he snapped off a shot at her again. Counting on him to be disoriented, the rabbit failed to twist out of the way in time and caught the electrified beam on the leg. She crashed into a twitching heap on the floor.
“You’re not the only one here who managed to get themselves a Fury, little bunny.” The wolverine snarled, keeping the stunner trained on her paralyzed form. “Orders were for a live capture if possible. But now I’m starting to think we should be going for as loose a definition of “alive” as possible.” He flexed his claws, now covered with the quicksilver that was rapidly hardening into an armored bodysuit, and began to reach for her neck.
Judy tried to will her numb limbs into moving again, only managing a few weak twitches. She looked around in desperation for some way to escape her situation, the wolf she’d stunned was still dazed but the other had sprung back to his feet and was walking closer to her, presumably to help his compatriot tear her cortical stack out. The bunny found her hand still locked around her pulser like a vise and she concentrated, trying to will her fingers to move. Slowly, her thumb inched the setting switch from “stun” to “kill”, only for a smartmetal coated paw to push it down to the floor.
The wolf standing on her started to laugh in amusement at her helplessness, only to be cut short by the barks of gunfire. He toppled over as tungsten-carbide darts tore through his thin nanotech coating. Judy gasped under the weight of the dying wolf on top of her, feeling jolting back into her limbs she strained to lift him off of her body. She heard a second burst of gunfire take out the other wolf.
The wolverine turned his electrolaser in the direction of the kinetic shots. In the moment he was distracted Judy managed to swing her own laser out and strike him with a burning pulse that seared into his nanoarmor. The liquid metal shifted to cover the burn and he swung out at her with his claws.
Four inch-long scythes ripped for her center of mass.
Judy ducked the swipe and kicked at the wolverine’s kneecap. He twisted in time to limit the damage and telegraphed another slash that the bunny easily dodged again. She leapt upwards to strike him on the jaw and forced him to stagger back.
As soon as there was half a meter separating the two of them a storm of bullets shredded the wolverine. Judy glanced over to see a small canid figure holding a bucking holdout railgun pistol until the magazine ran out. With two swift motions the figure popped the clip out and inserted a second.
The bunny turned back to the bullet-riddled wolverine, starting to teeter over. She returned to her erstwhile savior as he began to take aim again. “That’s enough! He’s dead already.”
The mysterious canid watched the metal-clad mustelid collapse before holstering his gun. “When you’ve seen the scat I’ve seen, you learn to make sure.” As he started to walk over to the nearest wolf Judy noticed that he walked with an irregular stagger, as if he were unsure of his footing.
“Are you alright?” She asked.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. He hit me with the shock-beam but my jacket is insulated.” He drew and unfolded a memory polymer knife before crouching down next to the corpse. To Judy’s shock he plunged it straight into the back of the dead wolf’s head.
She dashed over, yelling “what are you doing?” as she reached to stop him.
The odd canid looked up at her, “getting their stacks so we can find out who sent them, obviously. Or at least I would if this sleeve had a stack,” he dug out a chunk of flesh and spinal column and showed it to her, no sign of cyberware. “It would seem their employer didn’t want to risk them blabbing. But maybe their leader with the big expensive Fury wasn’t beholden to the same security precautions.” He stood back up and started to walk towards the wolverine.
Judy moved to keep in front of the stranger as he walked. Glancing down, she started to notice that his gait was shifting in slight ways, tendons and muscles in his legs actually changing shape. Looking back up at his face it seemed like some of the bone structure and fat deposits were migrating and his fur was slowly turning from gray to red. To her knowledge, those sorts of changes on the fly required three different types of implant, one of which was illegal. “You’re using gait-masking nanoware, aren’t you?” She suddenly accused.
He shook his head in a show of annoyance. “I knew I should have waited for the transition to finish before coming to help you.” Something in Judy’s head clicked as she saw his body language up close, through the mask he presented some small bit slipped through that she recognized instantly.
“You again!” Judy shouted. “You liar, you said I’d never see you again! I am bringing you in for harassing a state employee and possession of…” She paused, her ears catching a minuscule click from the supposedly dead wolverine behind her.
The wolverine plunged his claws into her back and yanked her into his waiting jaws.
The wolverine exploded in a ball of white-hot plasma.
The wolverine dissolved into a seething boil of disassembler nanobots.
“Move!” Before any of the potential futures she visualized could come to pass Judy leapt into the stranger, throwing them both to the floor two meters from the corpse moments before its’ head exploded. Shards of bone and steaming gray matter rained down on the two of them. When it seemed to have stopped Judy shrugged the animal debris off her armored bodysuit and dared to open her eyes, finding herself gazing up into the increasingly vulpine mammal’s strikingly familiar green eyes.
The fox turned away with a start, glancing back at the headless carcass. “Emergency farcaster,” he assessed wryly. “Antimatter powered so… single-use as you can see. Got away.” He sighed.
Judy decided then that she had enough of this mysterious mammal. First he had stalked her for two months, then after warned him to stop he continued with the aid of banned nanotech. After that he killed two mammals, possibly permanently, without even batting an eye. And now he was annoyed that the third mammal he’d shot had killed himself to avoid capture? She gripped him firmly on both sides of his head and rotated it to face her directly. “Who. Are. You?!”
As she shouted her anger and frustration were converted into an electric current that flowed down her arms into the canid’s skull, probing his brain for the answers she sought. One spark found something and streamed back into her, carrying with it the name she was looking for. Nicholas Piberius Wilde.
“Nick?” She whispered, unbelieving. Why would he do all this? Why wouldn’t he simply speak to her if he wanted to re-establish contact? Didn’t he remember that he could trust her?
Her sparks of consciousness searched for the times they had tested each other’s trust in them over their decades as partners. The confession in the gondola, the press conference, the Bellwether hustle, the Sahara Square shootout, all she found were wisps and fragments of memories intentionally forgotten. How could this happen? Why would he forget?
“I thought you said you would take care of all of them?” He was asking the holographic avatar of an AGI psychosurgeon who represented themself as a large glowing brain.
“I did what I could.” The sapient program answered. “If I deleted any more memories your psyche would unravel. Several divergent forks of your Ego did fall apart in fact, you were the most stable result.”
“I remember those rutting bastards mutilating me on life support, sleeving me in feral Howler addicts and throwing me in gladiatorial fights, locking me in a box for a year, raping me!” Nick poked an accusing finger through the psychosurgeon’s hologram. “What worse torments could Nine Lives have done to me?”
The AGI shifted its projection out of Nick’s way. “It would probably be best for your rehabilitation if you didn’t know. But I would advise you find any friends of yours from before you were captured, there’s a strong chance at least some of the memories I erased were entangled with good memories. Your friends might help you recover them.”
Judy stared in shock at what had become of her old friend. What could those Ego-traffickers have done to warrant Nick losing the memories of the times they had together? “Oh, Nick.” She said, “there’s so much you’ve forgotten. If only I could have been there for you sooner.”
Nick’s pupils narrowed as he listened. “What? How could you, oh, oh no.” He started to reach for his pocket as a single word raced across his mind. Exsurgent!
The bunny foresaw the shot and reacted quickly enough that his bullet penetrated her shoulder instead of her chest. Leaping away she stared at him with hurt in her eyes, clutching the wound he’d given her.
The fox leapt to his feet and spun around, leveling his gun at the thing that had been his partner in a previous life. His face a mask of sheer terror at the thought of what she had become.
They stared at each other, betrayal and fear, neither of them willing to make the next move. They stood there for what seemed like ages before the sound of heavy footsteps came thumping down the hall where they had both come from.
Nick stepped cautiously back, keeping his eyes on Judy for nearly a dozen paces before turning and running at full tilt down the opposite direction of the approaching newcomers.
Judy let herself collapse as Direct Action mercenaries in SWAT gear formed a perimeter around the crime scene and a Dr. Bot rolled up to tend to her injuries. What is happening to me?
A couple hours later, Nick laid back on an examination table as another Dr. Bot completed its examination. While it retracted its probes Ethel’s voice, broadcast from her clinic in high orbit, came over the speakers and stated: “No sign of infection, seems we won’t need to kill you after all.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Nick slipped his paws out of the straps that began to loosen automatically with the diagnosis. “You know how ticked our proxy gets when we lose a good sleeve like this.”
“You seem to be taking the news that Judy might be an Exsurgent fairly well.” Ethel noted. “She was your partner after all.”
“She’s not anymore. And there’s no “if” about it. She’s developed kinesics that could penetrate the best nanoware Furotic can design, see a bullet coming before it’s fired, and then she rifled through my brain without even touching my firewalls.”
“Nick,” a teleoperated foam paddle held him on the table. “She might still be salvageable. Glitter’s given me access to a lot of information on the Exsurgent virus and she’s been instanced long enough for Wools-MacLion to run its course and go dormant.”
The fox shapeshifter snorted, “explains why so many proxies and sentinels are willing to give that kind of Exsurgent the benefit of the doubt.”
“Wools-MacLion patients aren’t Exsurgents, they’re just asyncs.”
“Same thing.”
“No,” the otter used the paddle to shove him down and keep him there. “Not every Exsurgent strain results in Psi abilities and Wools-MacLion doesn’t control its’ hosts like the other strains.”
Nick wriggled beneath the foam extension. “Yeah, it just drives them insane.”
“You reported that she exhibited some body dysmorphia, that’s been documented as a result of Wools-MacLion but it’s treatable just like the normal version.”
“Expensively if she stays on this capitalist planet.” Nick squeezed his way out from under his constraint and slid to the floor. As he started to head out he had one last nagging thought. “Hey, do those secret files of yours happen to mention what asyncs can do with memories?”
There was a pause before Ethel answered. “There is a psi-chi sleight that grants the async eidetic memory. There are also gamma-level sleights that allow asyncs to read the memories of other biomorphs and copy their own memories into another mammal. However,” she cautioned, “there are some unverified reports that Exsurgent asyncs might be able to erase memories or implant false ones.”
“I figured as much.” Nick strolled out the door to the remote lab, trying not to contemplate the ramifications of the past day’s events.
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Zootopian Eclipse Ch. 4 By zarpaulus

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Tags: Eclipse Phase Non-Vore psychic Sci-Fi Zootopia Edit

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Judy has her first assignment on a new world, in a new body, in a new life.

Shortly after, she starts to realize that something strange is happening to her, and somebody has taken an unhealthy interest in her.

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