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Saturday, April 30th, 2016 10:35 am
Good job breaking it Judy.

Exorcist Blues (Wilde Spirit Remix)

Summary: Judy Hopps wants to be the first exorcist in a long line of rabbit mediums. But this is a dangerous ambition in a Zootopia were the spirits of animals don't move on after death. Judy will have to deal with guardian spirits, dark spirits, and worst of all, fox spirits.

Or: A Zootopia remix in which Judy Hopps is an exorcist that specialises in hunting dark spirits. And Nick Wilde is dead, but not gone.

Spoilers: Entire movie, since this is a remix
Rating: T
Genre: Gen
Warnings for: Supernatural elements, mythical beings and vague references to the Chinese Taoist religious system. Implied off-screen character death
Disclaimer: Not mine as I'm not smart enough to think of the collars storyline.

When Judy caught up with Assistant Mayor Bellwether she was trying to get into Mayor Lionheart's office. Bellwether was telling one of the ancestors at the door, "I need the Mayor to review these very important documents - "

"Didn't he tell you to clear his afternoon?" the lioness spirit snapped back, her tail swishing in agitation.

"But he has this meeting with Herds and Grazing and there are these files - "

"He told you to clear his afternoon!" A conveniently placed tail swish sent files clattered to the floor. In the commotion, the spirit took the chance to disappear back through the door.

"Oh mutton chops," Bellwether muttered as she tried to pick up the files. Judy could understand. It seemed that Mayor Lionheart and Chief Bogo were rather alike in personality.

Judy got Bellwether's attention by handing her a file. "Assistant Mayor Bellwether? We need your help."

Bellwether glanced at Nick behind Judy. "It seems spirit guardians are popular nowadays."

"Oh he's not with the ZED. Actually our request today has nothing to do with the ZED. We need access to the traffic cameras, and it'll take too long to go to the police."

"I can definitely help with that. I'm so glad you remembered us little folk need to stick together. Let's take all this down to my office."

Files gathered, Judy expected to be ushered into a nearby office. But Bellwether led them down stairs, and more stairs, and finally to a corridor with many doors. Bellwether pushed open the nearest one and started tossing files into drawers. "Alright, you can come in now Judy."

When Nick tried to follow, he flinched back. "Ow. Threshold."

Bellwether shut a drawer. "Oh I'm sorry I can't just invite spirits in too. These wards take some time to undo."

"These?" Judy glanced at the door frame. "I thought you just had to touch these with your aura - " Then Judy remembered how her own mom got when Judy pointed these things out. "Oh sorry. You should know better."

"It's alright. It's been a while since I set these up. I might be making it sound more difficulty than it actually is." Bellwether took out her bell and rang it, which made her aura creep away from the door and leave it clear.

"That was tingly," Nick commented as he stepped into the office.

Judy really wanted to tell him to cut it out in front of the Assistant Mayor, but that was also on the list of things not to say in front of the Assistant Mayor. "Let's help Assistant Mayor Bellwether with the files, shall we?" said Judy, making sure to emphasise Bellwether's title. She dumped part of her stack on Nick.

"That'll be really nice of you," said Bellwether as Judy put some files into the drawers. "I'll go set up the computer."

By the time Judy and Nick had squared the files away, Bellwether had called up a few programs. "Traffic cameras was it?" Bellwether asked.

"Yes." Judy came to stand by Bellwether's shoulder, with Nick on the other side. Judy assumed he had stopped using his powers to stay corporeal, but when she looked she found him touching Bellwether's wool. "Hey!" she hissed. "You can't do that!"

"Sheep never let me get this close."

She really couldn't take Nick anywhere with polite company. She'd barely managed to bat his hands away when Bellwether looked up and asked, "Where to?"

"Rainforest district," Judy replied, then glared at Nick as Bellwether looked back to her screen.

"There! Traffic cameras for the whole city. Oh this is so exciting actually, I never get to do anything this important."

"But you're the Assistant Mayor."

"Oh I'm more of a glorified secretary. I think Mayor Lionheart just wanted the sheep vote - "

"Smellwether!" Lionheart's voice came in over the intercom.

"Ack, that's a fun little name he likes to use." Bellwether was smiling, but Judy felt her own was coming out forced. "I called him Lionfart once, he did not care for that - "

"Are you hiding behind your wards again?" Lionheart demanded.

Bellwether pressed the comm, "Yes s- I mean no sir, I'm not hiding behind my wards."

"Good, then you can follow my ancestor to see about cancelling my afternoon."

"Oh dear, I better go. I hope you find - "

A lion ancestor chose to open the door just then. "Hurry up, Leodore's waiting!'

As the door clicked shut behind the two, Nick wondered, "When she tries to go to sleep, does she count herself?"

"Oh shush." Judy took Bellwether's seat and started clicking through the traffic cameras. "There we go!"

The cameras, even enhanced, had recorded Celia Manchas as just a silhouette of a jaguar without any details of her aura. Even so, Judy felt a shiver go down her spine at the memory of the black aura she'd felt then. Judy's binding spell did not turn up on the screen, but the way the jaguar spirit was moving it was clear she was restrained by something.

That was why when the wolves appeared, she was unable to avoid the net they threw at her. It must have been made of the same type of rope that Mr Big had used to catch Nick and Judy earlier, because they were able to pin Ms Manchas down. One of the wolves made a gesture, likely to undo Judy's binding spell, and then they bundled the spirit in the net into the back of a van.

"These have to be the Nighthowlers," Judy guessed.

It was a good thing that Nick had suggested the cameras. Judy didn't think her scrying would have let her see the details of the van heading onto the ley on Highway 90. The van followed the ley for a while, then disappeared.

"What? Where did they go?" Judy flicked between cameras on the 90, but saw nothing.

"That's where the leys of 90 and 21st Street meet. Try the cameras on Cliffside."

Judy toggled the cameras and found the wan again. "Protesting and now teaching me? You know, I think you'll make a pretty good guardian."

"How dare you," Nick said in mock anger.

"Without you I wouldn't have figured out Nighthowlers were wolves, or where they took Ms Manchas."

"You don't need smarts to be a pet ghostie. And you need to make doubly sure the spirits are here before bringing in the Big B." Nick tapped the screen where the wolves were driving into a huge gray building. "Time to head all the way to Cliffside."

The angle of the traffic cameras didn't show that the building at Cliffside had been built over a waterfall.

"That's why the spirits haven't escaped," Judy mused as she checked the spiritual energies of the building. "The running water dampens their powers." She glanced at Nick, who ears were already flattened back even at this distance. "You don't have to go in. With the ley, I think I'll be fine."

"I'm not sure I'll be any safer out here than in there Carrots. Let's get this over with."

He really didn't have to come. Judy felt the boost to her powers as she drew closer to the building. She was strong enough to do this alone. That was why Judy didn't comment on how close Nick stuck to her as they crept up to the guardhouse. This was where the first set of wards started, though thankfully there were no thresholds at any point. Breaking a threshold would be more complicated than undoing the wards. The wards would be no cakewalk either - Judy had to tug the protective energy apart without attracting the attention of the wolf in the guardhouse just inches away.

The more immediate problem seemed to be that the wolf had somehow sensed them. Even with the shield Judy had put up, the wolf kept sniffing the air. Every time the wolf's snout turned their way, Judy's heart skipped a beat.

Nick made some complicated gestures, and then attempted to run off. Judy managed to gesture for him to stay. It had been a while since she'd attempted to modify her voice with glamours to impress her siblings. She was satisfied when she tried on the glamour and her voice came out as a perfect wolf's howl.

Triggered by the howl, all the wolves started howling. Since there was no need for secrecy now, Judy slashed through the wards with her sword as she went along, making it all the way to the side of the building.

"Clever bunny," Nick remarked. His grin was infectious and Judy found herself smiling back.

The moment didn't last long. Even with the wards down, the best way into the building was over water. "Can you handle that?" she asked, pointing up to the waterspout that was the best way to enter the building."

"You'll probably need to carry me. Do you have a bag on you?"

The bags on Judy's belt that carried her exorcist tools were just as useful for carrying spirits. Judy juggled bells and mirrors and small stones around until she'd emptied out a bag. "Does this work?"

"A tight fit, but it'll do." Nick disappeared, and a moment later the bag she was holding open pulled itself shut.

Judy secured the bag to her belt, and started to climb.

When Judy let Nick out of the bag in the building itself, he shook himself off and looked around. "You bring me to nicest places," he drawled.

"That's rich. You brought me to a naturalist club," she shot back. She opted for the non-magical means of lighting the place with the light from her phone. Metal rack beds had been shoved in messy stacks against the walls, along with equipment. "It looks like this was a hospital."

Nick had wandered over to a door and reached a cautious paw for the handle. At the last minute, he changed his mind. "You're the exorcist. You open it."

Judy glared, but opened the door anyway. On the other side, a half circle of talismans and mirrors had been set up. The marking on the floor suggested there'd been a full circle, but the circle was open now.

Nick pushed aside Judy's ears and peered over her head. "OK, all clear," he said, as if Judy couldn't see for herself.

"The ritual items are newer than the beds," she remarked as they stepped into the room proper. The aura on them was fresh too, though it was from a badger she'd never met before

"Carrots." Judy found Nick standing by some claw marks.

"Tiger claw marks," she noted from the aura.

"Yeah, but where - "

Suddenly something jumped out at Nick, only to slam into a shield triggered by wards. Behind the shield, a tiger spirit snarled at the two of them.

Wards blazed with power down the entire corridor. Judy headed down it, and found herself surrounded by spirits on all sides, including Ms Manchas. All of them had aura that was boiling black, and she was very glad the protective shields were working.

And there, right at the end of the entire row, was Mr Otterton.

He didn't immediately jump against the shield, so Judy tried to talk to him as she had heard her mother talking to agitated spirits. "Mr Otterton? My name is Judy Hopps. I'm an exorcist and your wife sent me to find you. Will you be willing to follow me back to her?"

Only then did the otter spirit throw itself at the shields with a snarl. Judy and Nick shrank back. "Looks like he's in no hurry to get back to the missus," said Nick, slinking back to the middle of the corridor.

"Not including Ms Manchas, all 13 of the missing guardian spirits are here," Judy realised. "But they're not in any particular order, so what could be the purpose of keeping them here?"

It seemed they would find out soon enough, as two bright auras appeared on the other side of the door.

Throwing a glamour over herself and Nick to divert attention away from them, Judy tugged them both to a free section of the wall. The door opened to reveal the very much alive badger and Mayor Lionheart, minus his retinue of ancestors.

Judy had a phone. It wasn't the newest model, but it had a touchscreen and had survived the spiritually dense Hopps ground as well as phone calls from Judy's parents. Most importantly, it could make video recordings of the very incriminating conversation where Lionheart pretty much admitted he had contained the spirits here.

Unfortunately, it was also a phone and it chose to ring after about five minutes of incriminating conversation. No glamour could mask that.

Lionheart and the badger left, closing a circle behind them.

"Argh!" Judy pounded on the door, but it remained shut and conveniently prevented Judy from breaking the bit of the circle she could see outside. She tucked her phone into a pocket and behind the strongest shield she could call up, then drew her sword. "Nick, some help please."

"Carrots. What part of over running water did you forget? My powers are pretty much out of juice."

Judy dredged up every little thing she'd heard about running water from her Academy trainers and her family. "It's just a matter of aura. You can't use your luck because your aura is being suppressed. Here, use some of mine." She concentrated her aura in her free paw, and pressed it into Nick's.

For a moment, Judy's aura hung heavy between them. Then his grip tightened and she felt a tug -

The door clicked open to reveal the line of the circle and the wolves waiting beyond that.

Judy brought her sword down to slash the circle open anyway. The dispersed power from the circle sent the wolves skidding back and left a convenient gap from them to escape. They ran.

"Even with your aura, I don't think we can push our luck to make an escape." Nick had gone back to floating, leaving Judy to tug him along by his paw.

"Not if you use a door," Judy agreed. "But we can use a window."

"A window? Is this the vines all over again?'

"Don't be silly. There weren't any waterfalls then."


There was no time argue to argue. The wolves were now in purist, and the window was right in front of Judy. She let go of Nick, and leapt.

Fine, maybe it was the vines all over again. Judy found herself in free fall, wondering if a shield was enough to keep her phone intact or if she should have opted for something else -

She hit the water, and it completely drowned all her senses. What made her so good at tracking also left her vulnerable to the whims of the water that had its own power. It wanted Judy next. The water was older and more powerful and she could easily let herself be washed away by its flow and cease to be.

But someone was calling her name.

"- Judy!"

Summoned back, she burst through the surface of the water and she was Judy Hopps again. A wet, swimming Judy Hopps, but the water and she were two separate things now. Above the water Nick was barely managing to float, but once he saw she was fine he dashed to the shore to wait.

Judy joined him, immediately checking her phone once she'd got to shore. It powered on fine, and Chief Bogo picked up on the third ring. She'd never been so glad to hear his gruff voice, and almost talked over him to tell him. "Chief Bogo, we've found the otter spirit sir."

Standing between her fellow exorcists and Nick while trying to decide who was eyeing whom with more suspicion kept Judy so busy she did not realise a press conference would be happening right until she was standing at the edge of it.

"I didn't think exorcist work would result in a press conference."

Despite being in the range of her aura to keep the other exorcists at bay, Nick didn't seem to mind. "It's Zootopia. We abolished collars because a bunch of spirits made some noise. Spirit related news is big news."

Realising how important the press conference was did not help Judy's nerves. "I've never done a press conference before."

"Alright." Nick stopped lounging and went into teaching mode. "The trick to press conference is to answer their questions with your question and then answer your own question."

Judy only wished she had Nick's confidence. "You should be up there with me. We did this together."

"Do I look like an exorcist? No I do not. Being dead makes that difficulty."

"But we did work well together."

"Was that what it was?" Nick pretended to look confused, but when Judy punched him in the arm he laughed and admitted, "Yes, I guess it was."

That gave Judy the confidence to broach a topic she'd been thinking about. "I know how you feel about pet ghosties, but I really enjoyed working with you. Instead of letting my fellow exorcists side eye you every time you helped me out, I thought, well, maybe we could make your help official."

She pulled out a permit. "I noticed Finnick didn't have a permit for you, and do you know there are two Nicholas Wildes in the system? But if that's you and if this is something you want. I'd like you to be my guardian. Please."

Nick took the permit and stared at it for a long time. Was there something else she was missing? Judy ran through the things her mom had told her when she was trying to get Judy to take Great Uncle Albert with her to Zootopia.

"I'm also told it's traditional to give a gift to a new guardian, but I didn't have time and I don't have anything else on me so here." She handed him the carrot pen. "I'll get you something better later."

Nick seemed undecided about which one he wanted to look at more. Finally he said, "You wouldn't have been too off. The older Nicholas Wilde is my father."

This time he let her take his arm and didn't pull away as he had in the cable car. "I'm glad you told me," Judy said.

"Exorcist Hopps?"

"Assistant Mayor Bellwether?" Judy let the sheep lead her away from Nick.

"I heard you don't have any press conference experience. I'm here to see if you need any help. Us little folk have to look out for each other."

"Oh yes. Yes! I really should have looked for you first. You must have given many press conferences before."

"Not as many as Mayor Lionheart, but I do think I know a thing or two! See, what I find the most useful is to go back to my roots."

"My roots?"

"Yes. All the lessons that our parents taught us, those are the things that stick and come right from the heart. In your case, they're especially useful. I'm sure your parents had a thing or two to share about spirits. You do come from a talented family."

"They are quite the experts on spirits," Judy had to admit.

"So you'll be able to share with Zootopia what they taught you! That's what helped you solve that case, wasn't it?"

Was that what it was? Before she could make sense of that question, Assistant Mayor Bellwether was leading Judy towards the stage. Chief Bogo had vacated the stand with its mess of mics. Judy stepped onto the little step that had been added for her benefit, and looked out at the crowd.

Immediately the questions came fast and furious. At first Nick's technique seemed to be working well, but then someone asked, "As an exorcist, can you explain why these spirits are so dangerous?"

"Yes. Yes I can." She remembered what she had been told in a grove when the moon was just a sliver in the sky. "There are things that come easier to certain spirits. These spirits have skills that make it easier from them to hurt and disturb others. They're known as dark spirits because they've experienced violence that makes them prone to violence themselves."

"But how do you know whether a spirit is dark."

"Animals have powers based on the type of animal they are. The same goes for spirits. The spirits we've found are the types that are capable of violence."

"So you mean tigers? Jaguars?"

"There'll be a formal press release later with all the details," Assistant Mayor Bellwether cut in. "No further questions."

Judy was rather glad to be led away from the suddenly shouting crowd. "Was I OK?"

"You did fine." Then Judy was free to join Nick Again.

She hurried over to him, hoping he could help her make sense of what just happened. "That went so fast! I didn't have the chance to mention you, or anything about how we - "

"Oh I think you've said plenty."

She couldn't feel his aura anymore with how tightly it was held against him. She tried to find some hint in his expression for his behaviour, and was strongly remind of how he was just after she'd refused to give him the pen, back when they were looking for the car. "What's wrong?"

"There are things that come easier to certain spirits? The spirits we've found are the types capable of violence?"

For all he'd asked that quietly, it still felt like an accusation that Judy had to dispel. "I'm just stating facts! Didn't we talk about spirit powers when we were trying to outwit Ms Manchas? She had the ability to evade - "

"And a fox spirit doesn't?"

"Nick, you're not like them."

"Oh there's a them now."

"It's true! You're not that kind of spirit!"

"Fox spirits aren't capable of being violent? Then tell me, how did you get those scars on your face and that bag for hexing foxes in your pocket?"

Judy touched her cheek. Her Dad had made sure it never scarred her physically, but he had mentioned the scars did linger at the soul level. Were those what Nick had been asking about when she was scrying? "That was another fox spirit. It had nothing to do with you."

"You know where I've heard all this before? Back when I was collared, mammals would say to me Nick you're so nice I wouldn't put a collar on you. It's just all these other predators we have to be worried about. So now you're trying to tell me that hex bag is for all the other violent fox spirits." His aura had started to seep into the air around Judy and it was no longer the comforting presence it had been when they'd faced down Chief Bogo. "You aren't afraid of me? You don't think I could go dark?" He was coming closer now, and Judy had never been aware he could loom. "You never wonder if I might hurt you?"

He flashed claws and Judy reached for the most effective thing she had on her person.

Then he was Nick again - a cold distant Nick, but his aura wasn't the oppressive force it had been a moment earlier. Judy found her hand was on the hex bag her parents had made specifically to hurt foxes.

Nick huffed. "Bad things happen when they get to huh," he muttered, so softly only Judy's rabbit hearing let her catch the words. But he was loud and clear when he said, "Probably best you don't have a violent spirit as your guardian."

He shoved something back at her. At first Judy thought it was one of the bags Nick had charmed for Flash, then realised it was the permit, with Nick's aura added to it. Fox-touched, and just lacking Judy's aura to make it official.

But just because an old enough spirit could touch the material world, it didn't mean the spirit itself had to stay solid. Nick had already made his way through the crowd simply by floating through whoever got in his way.

"Nick! Nick!"

She tried to pursue, but the crowd pressed in too close for her to zig and zag around them.

"Exorcist Hopps! Did that fox spirit just threaten you?"

"No. No he's my friend," said Judy, and tried not to choke on the emotion of that word.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 |...| Part 6


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