Cities in Peril

When Calatonia and Zootopia are in danger of facing an illegal recession, ZPD Officers Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde bring in Johnny on the case. But when he goes undercover, will he stay focus on the case or get distracted and put his families and friends and the cities into risk?

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8. The International City Competition

Despite their persistent efforts, the Zoopotia police was still nowhere close to discovering the mastermind behind the virus.

            “This is unacceptable!” Chief Bogo roared at the police. “This has got to be the slowest virus mystery solving in the history of Zoopotia! This virus has been going on for months and all your guys have given me are just theories! No proof, no leads and no facts! Zootopia is going down and it’s all because we can’t do our job! Now, get to work!”

            The police went back to work as quickly as they could.

            Judy and Nick saw Johnny entering the station and they went to him.

            “Please tell me you’ve found something useful, Johnny,” Judy begged. “We could really, really use it.”

            “Sorry, Officer Hopps,” Johnny said. “I know I’ve been living with my mother for a week now but I’m afraid I haven’t found much. My mom did let me use her laptop in her study to my intern homework and I took a peek on her email account but none of them have any leads or clues to the virus we’re searching for. I’m really sorry.”

            Both Judy and Nick looked disappointed.

            “Well, thank you for your efforts, Johnny,” Judy said.

            “Well, I need to go to the International Cities Competition now,” Johnny said. “I’ll still keep eyes peeled.” Then he walked out.

 

 

Johnny hurried to the stadium and headed into the dressing room of Gazelle and her band. He was relieved that he was in time to change into his uniform. Gazelle, Sasha and Monty were very unsure about the white pants, orange jacket and light blue boots he wore but they went silent after he told them his clothes were from Miss Palm herself. Besides there wasn’t enough time because they were due to go on in fifteen minutes. So they headed to the stage.

            As they waited for their turn to go on, they watched someone else performing on the stage with an electric guitar. The singer was short and was wearing black dress. Johnny thought that she looked very familiar. Then her singing made him recognize her even more. It was Ash!

            Johnny didn’t recognize the song Ash was singing. It must have been one of her recent written songs.

            “What is Shorty over there singing?” Sasha asked.

            “I can’t say because I can’t understand her,” Monty said. “Besides she doesn’t stand a chance with us, especially with Gazelle.”

            Johnny actually enjoyed Ash’s song. He found it very catchy. If it were up to him, he would rather perform with her instead with Gazelle. If only it wasn’t for this mission. Then he remembered the mission so he stayed focused.

            Ash’s song finished and she bowed three times to the applauding audience. Then Johnny noticed her coming towards him and the band. He quickly turned away and looked like he was checking the lights or something. He didn’t want her to see him because he thought she might felt betrayed by him if she saw him with Gazelle’s band instead of her.

            He turned left to see her walk past him. He was relieved that she hadn’t seen him. Then he went out with the band and they played Persistence Is The Greatest Strength Ever. When it finished, the band was greeted by thunderous applause.

            Then the stage manager, a brown stallion, approached. “Okay. Those were really great performances, weren’t they? But I’m afraid that only two competitors can make it to the next round. Let’s see. We’ll have Gazelle and her band for Zootopia.”

            Gazelle and her band were greeted by massive applause.

            “And last but not least: Ash from Calatonia.”
            Johnny started to worry when Ash walk back on the stage. She waved back to the crowd and then she was shocked when she saw Johnny. All he could do was wave back sheepishly.

            “Okay, Ash,” the stage manager said. “Got another song in you? Let’s hear it!”

            Everyone cheered as Ash approached the microphone. She started to sing another song. She seemed to be playing well and then she seemed to act like she was struggling and no one could even catch what she was singing though she kept on playing. She got scattered applause when she finished. Knowing that she had lost, she ran off the stage. Johnny wanted to go after her but it was time for his band to play. They played Try Everything. They got more thunderous applause and Zootopia won the competition.

 

 

At backstage, the band was feeling good about their success. Monty was carrying the giant golden trophy.

            Gazelle noticed Johnny looking very sad. “What’s up, Johnny? We won.”

            “I know and I’m grateful to play with amazing talented guys such as yourselves, but I just wish my family was here. My dad’s in prison and my mom’s in a late business meeting.” The truth was he was feeling guilty if Ash seeing him made her ruin her performance.

            “Well, I say it’s their loss and our gain,” Gazelle said. Then she kissed him on the lips.

            Johnny seemed to like it. Then he saw Ash looking shocked at him again and running off again.

            “Sorry, Gazelle,” Johnny said. “Something I need to take care of before we celebrate with Sasha and Monty. Be right back.” Then he ran off.

            “Okay, Johnny. Don’t be too long.” Then Gazelle joined Sasha and Monty.

 

 

Johnny reached out of the fire exit door and saw Ash crying on the steps.

            “Ash, what’s up?” he asked.

            She didn’t turn to face him. She wouldn’t even face him when he went in front of her.

            “Look, if I’ve upset back on the stage, I didn’t mean to. I never expected you to be here.”

            Ash finally turned to face him with tears still pouring out of her angry eyes. “Why? Because you didn’t know the other singers before you and your overrated girlfriend went on or is it because you think I’m not good enough at all?”

            “Gazelle is not my girlfriend,” Johnny protested. “You know those cops you saw me with back in Calatonia? Well, I’ve been here the whole time on a secret assignment for them and – ”

            “You know, Johnny?” Ash snapped. “The more you lie, the more you insult me.”

            Johnny was starting to get fed up with Ash. “I am telling you the truth. I don’t know what it was that upset you but I’m really starting to lose patient because you’re not – ”

            “I’m just jealous of you getting ahead in life and me not getting anywhere! You’ve got plenty of friends, your father, plenty of careers and a celebrity girlfriend. What have I got? Nothing!”

            “My dad is a criminal who forced me to become someone I didn’t want to be!” Johnny snapped. “I haven’t got a paid job either and I – I – I don’t even know what I’m doing here! I don’t know my purpose in life!” He turned to see Ash was not on the steps anymore and walking away. “You know, Ash? I’m starting to see why you can’t keep a boyfriend!” You’re just like them!” He started to walk away.

 

 

Molly greeted her son very happily when he returned to her mansion. Unlike her, he was still too upset to celebrate his success tonight.

            “What happened at the concert?” she asked. “I heard you won. Was it your outfit?”

            “No, I’m very happy,” Johnny said. “It’s just something happened between me and a friend.”

            In the lounge, he told his mom about his fight between his friend Ash and how he regrets the last thing he said to her.

            “I say, who needs her?” Molly said. “I know this is not the right time to tell you this, but there are plenty of ladies out there who are looking for guys like you. And here’s a bit more advice: if you can’t find one, it’s better to be single than live with someone who will just stress you out. I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made with your dad.”

            Then she went up and left Johnny to think about everything: his internship, his letting down of helping Judy and Nick, betraying Ash and what his mother said.

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