Judy heard something, voices maybe, it was hard to tell. She could make out blurred figures at the edge of her vision doing, something. She tried to reach out with her arm, but it didn’t respond, she hardly even felt it.
“We’ve… brain… tivity!” One of the figures said something, she could make out some of it but it was like her brain was fading in and out of consciousness multiple times a minute.
“Scan! Now!” Another voice added and the IRPF officer heard a faint humming sound in the background.
Then, all of a sudden her senses returned. She felt a warm, wet sensation across her entire body, her fur being swept along by invisible currents. Judy concentrated on her right arm and sensed it there, she tried to lift it and it slowly lifted towards her face. Her vision was swimming, but she could just barely make out the figures standing over her this time. One of them was dressed in the attire of a Progenitus surgeon, while the other two, a bull and a very large spotted cat, were in IRPF blues.
“Chief? Ben?” She tried to speak their names but her lungs felt like they were filled with gelatin and she couldn’t get a word out. Starting to panic she reached up for Clawhauser but her raised arm hit a glass surface between the two of them.
“Judy?” The cheetah, his voice distorted by the liquid, leaned over the glass and stared straight at her, why did he seem so far away now? “Can you hear me?” The bunny nodded, slowly. Clawhauser turned to the doctor, “can you get her out of there?”
“I’m already on it.” The surgeon tapped some icons on a smart surface and Judy heard a drain “clunk” open behind her. A semi-viscous gel retreated from the tips of her fingers and she felt air pump slowly into the chamber. The air finally reached the tip of her muzzle and she sputtered, expelling gel from her upper respiratory tract and only then did the glass retreat, giving her an unobstructed view of her boss and coworker.
Chief Bogo was the expression of stoicism, but his eyes gave just the barest hint of concern. Whereas Clawhauser almost had to be physically restrained to keep from picking Judy up and crushing her in a bear hug, as it was he settled for draping a towel over what the bunny realized was her entirely naked form. Both officers showed signs of recent battle, the bull had a couple of new scars down the side of his face while the cheetah’s entire right side was covered with a padded bandage.
The disoriented bunny looked around her as soon as she could sit up. She had lain in a metal cylinder with a glass cover similar to the Pulse Pods used for cosmetic surgery and tissue regeneration, but this thing wasn’t like the sleek and stylish apparatuses one saw in the commercials. This device was connected to a massive array of bioreactors and other assorted machinery that she couldn’t even begin to identify, likening it to a Pulse Pod seemed like comparing an industrial manufacturing complex to a BuySpot. Judy tentatively looked back up at the two, the last bits of gel spilling from her lips as she croaked “Chief, Ben? What happened?”
The chubby cheetah suddenly broke out into tears as he wrapped his arms around Judy and held her a little too tightly for her comfort. “Oh Judy!” He cried, “I screwed up!”
Judy, grimacing, looked at Clawhauser in confusion. “What are you talking about? How did you screw up?”
“He blames himself for letting your original body sustain too much damage for recovery.” Bogo answered for the blubbering cat. “You needed a full body replacement, for nearly all intents and purposes you were already dead when we found you.”
“Dead!” Judy was in shock. She had heard that recently deceased corpses sometimes held enough of an intact brain to scan a viable pattern that could be imprinted into a clone, but she’d never known anyone who had actually gone through such a process. Clawhauser had undergone body replacement, she knew, but his old body had been alive at the time. She started to wonder if that meant she wasn’t the same bunny who’d gone in for the surgery when she suddenly remembered someone. “Wait, what happened to Nick?”
Bogo raised an eyebrow quizzically but Clawhauser froze. “He, wasn’t the fox who was carrying you by any chance, was he?”
“Yes, he was actually. Did you see what happened?”
The cheetah hesitated before answering, “he handed you to me and told me to get you out of here. There was a mob of crazed Vectors right behind him and he was passing out from exhaustion. He told us to leave him behind.” Clawhauser’s tearmarks ran wet again, “I’m sorry.”
The chief chimed in once more. “We’re still sorting through the refugees from the incident, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up, there weren’t enough ships for everybody.”
“Refugees?” Judy inquired. “What happened to the station? Did you manage to stop the signal?”
“We were able to destroy the radio transmitter before anyplace else got a clear signal, but most of Longbow heard it.” Chief Bogo admitted. “Full evacuation protocols were initiated, we think there’s still thousands of affected Vectors on board and no corporation is willing to clear them out.”
Judy looked around. “So, where are we?” It was too large a room to fit on a ship, except maybe a dreadnought or something, and she didn’t think there were any Pulse stations near Jupiter.
“Ganymede,” Bogo replied. “A Pulse corptown near the equator, they offered to reconstruct the “heroine of Longbow” for half price and throw in some “upgrades” for free.”
“Upgrades?” Judy didn’t feel any stronger or faster, and she couldn’t discern any changes to her senses or new abilities. But as she was evaluating herself she suddenly realized something she should have recognized before. “Hold on, weren’t you two taller before?”
Nick’s eyes fluttered open, that in and of itself was a bit of a surprise, he wasn’t expecting to open them again after that mauling he’d received. What was more surprising was how grainy his sight seemed, he could almost make out pixels in his field of view. While he was puzzling over these circumstances he heard some heavy footsteps coming from his right, he tried to turn his head to look but his neck seemed to be held by some sort of brace, instead a familiar-looking polar bear swiveled a tray over Nick’s bed.
Kev’n deposited Mr. Big on the table and stood off to the side while his boss spoke. “Nic’las, we meet again.”
“Sorry to disturb you.” The fox’s voice sounded raspy as he spoke. “Where am I?”
“My personal yacht,” Nick remembered that Big owned a Spyglass cruiser which was usually parked in Jupiter’s ring, and which he used as an unregistered casino among other things. “During the evacuation one of my people recognized you and picked you up. After what you did to help my daughter’s savior and your attempt, futile as it may have been, to save Longbow it would have been improper to just leave you there to die.”
“Judy,” he remembered handing her limp body to the armored officer before the mob had overrun him. “What happened to her?”
“According to their press releases, Pulse has offered to provide a new and improved body for her. Now, you’d understand that kind of thing is a bit beyond my powers, even with all the extra bodies I may have in storage.”
“Yes,” Nick said weakly. “It’s a shame Vectors can’t swap bodies like Cogs.” As he was saying that his vision faded partially, a section of his field of view turning to black pixels for a second. He tried to lift his arms, his right arm felt numb and something was holding it down, but his left responded and swung into his field of view.
“There’s a feed in your right arm,” Mr. Big explained nonchalantly when the tray shook slightly with his attempt to move. “We couldn’t risk you accidentally dislodging it.” Looking up towards Nick’s raised arm he changed subjects quickly. “Ah, yes, Cogs. Funny thing, isn’t it? Cut off their power supply and the Core loses all trace of the memory and personality of the person it once was. While Vector brains can be recovered for hours after the heart stops. Yet, while a Vector body rots into uselessness mere days after death, a Cog’s metal and plastic corpse remains usable for years to come.”
Nick shuddered as he gazed at the articulated bronze appendage attached to his shoulder and realized what the rat was insinuating. Carefully, he brought his hand over towards his face and tentatively brought a metallic finger to meet his cheek. He cringed when it met an unfeeling stiff surface, but as his hand splayed out he realized it was just his neck brace. Just above the brace he encountered a thin layer of fuzz and he sighed in relief.
“No, Nic’las, your heart was still beating, if barely.” Mr. Big continued. “The same couldn’t be said for poor Officer Hopps, but fortunately Pulse was able to transfer her brain pattern in time.”
“She’s okay then?” The now slightly less organic fox asked and the Spyglass patriarch nodded to confirm. “That’s something at least.” He gestured with his inorganic arm and thought. “I presume there’s a price for all this?”
Mr. Big just smiled.
Three weeks later Judy was in one of the exercise yards near the hospital, adjusting to her new body. The Pulse biocrafters responsible had retained most of her original genome, but they’d edited out the mutations that resulted in her prior morphism. At 5’ 4” she was still a bit on the short side for a standard Vector, but the difference from her old body was immense and just learning not to collide with door frames had taken several days. The biocrafters had also activated the special traits hidden in her genome that she’d inherited from her distant animal ancestors. In addition to the spring-loaded legs she’d received from her lateral mother they had given her the reclamation surgeries Pulse’s brochures referred to as “Reclaimed Auditory” and “Iron Stomach”. She’d been puzzled by their choice but the nurse she’d spoken to had claimed that her genome had an affinity for those three in particular.
Her parents had been shocked at her new size and she had to explain, quite frantically, that she hadn’t been consulted when her replacement body had been designed and the company had made assumptions. Once she’d explained her new situation her mother explained her new abilities as matching the ones she herself had naturally as a lateral. She expected the legs and hearing but the gastrointestinal alteration had been a mystery until she’d found out what she could eat now, and realized why her mother wouldn’t have wanted to talk about it before. There’d been a time in Bonnie’s life that her family had been too poor to afford decent food and she’d turned to eating grass and houseplants illegally, nowadays she was a bit ashamed of it though after trying some Judy had to admit that grass tasted better than ration blocks.
Judy was vaulting the high jump from a standing position when her boss came onto the yard. Hearing him open the door the newly enhanced bunny landed with as much grace as she could manage and stood at attention.
“At ease, Lieutenant.” Bogo said. “Making progress with your rehabilitation?” He inquired.
The bunny officer momentarily paused at the reminder of her new rank but forced herself to relax. “They say I should be ready for active duty in another week. But personally I think I could handle it now.”
“Just take it easy.” The former chief of IRPF Longbow responded. “The higher ups want you assigned to one of the new towns being set up for the refugees, and it’s only half finished now.”
“Is that why you’re visiting, sir?” She asked. “To discuss my new assignment?”
“You know I don’t waste time with idle chatter.” Bogo affirmed. “I’ll be in charge of the IRPF precinct so I can continue to keep an eye on you, and there’s one more thing I thought you should know before the official briefing.”
“And that would be?”
“You’re getting a partner.” At Judy’s quizzical look he elaborated. “The higher ups don’t want people to get the impression we’re taking sides in the whole Pulse/ASR rivalry, so they want to pair you with a new recruit with a few mechanical parts.”
“Seriously?” Judy asked. “They still see me as a PR gimmick?”
“Everything the Megas do, overtly, is about Public Relations. You should have learned that by now.”
Judy sighed audibly. “I suppose that’s true,” she conceded. “So what else can you tell me about this partner? Is he a Cog or a cyborg?”
“Cyborg. He’s actually a refugee from Longbow who lost an arm and an eye in the chaos. Signed up as soon as he got his prosthetics. You have your Toggle?” Judy nodded and Bogo drew out his own case. “I’ll give you his file now.”
Chief Bogo attached Judy’s Toggle to his Toggle case and copied the personnel file to it. Then he handed the small chip back and turned to leave. Judy found her own case and opened her new partner’s file. Her eyes widened in shock as she recognized the photo on the first page.
A week later Junior Officer Nic’las Wilde stepped into the passenger seat of his partner’s new police cruiser. The heavy-bodied SUV with a milspec engine was a far cry from the disposable cart she’d been driving when they first met. “So, how’s the new ride working out for you?” He asked.
Lieutenant Judy Hopps glanced over at the fox next to her, she caught a glimpse of bronze plating between his left sleeve and glove, he wore mirrored shades over his black prosthetic eye. “Not bad, how’re the new parts working for you?”
“Aside from the occasional desire to drink motor oil, not bad.” Nick joked, as he considered his prosthetic hand. Testing the mechanical joints. “Seriously though, this feels a little stiff and it took some practice to get used to the difference in vision between my two eyes.”
“It’s all new,” Judy admitted, “for the both of us.” She looked out into the Ganymedan landscape before them, they were in the equatorial regions but she still spotted snow on the horizon. To the right was a forest of trees even taller than those on Mars, with leaves as wide across as houses to try and grab some of the sparse sunlight that made it out this far. One of the trees had a scaffold running halfway up the trunk, a geomat converting the soil beneath into a house resembling the apartment blocks back in Longbow’s rainforest district. “New bodies, new world, and new opportunities for all.”
While the bunny was feeling philosophical, a newly printed sports car zoomed past them at speeds far in excess of the recommended limit. Her partner blinked at the lingering afterimage in his artificial retina and tried to remember where he’d seen that license plate before. “Guess some things stay the same, I think I know that guy.”
“Well then, think we should go after him then?”
Nick grinned and flicked the switch for the siren and lights, and his partner hit the accelerator to chase after them.