The National Predator Pride Week was an important event. It was a way of celebrating differences by giving attention to all of the predators out there, big and small. To let them know that they were an important part of society and that they would always have a place in the world.
It was a time of the year when there were all kinds of events prepared, most of it to generate inclusion and to raise the morale of the predators, as well as to encourage the acceptance by the much more numerous prey population.
Among the most popular events of this week, was the Pred-Pride Show. An initiative that reunited artists of all kinds, species, and orders to perform. It was an event that showed that somethings, like the taste for music, would transcend the barrier of species, and to encourage for predator and prey to gather side by side so they could see their favorite artists, and realize that, deep down, they had a lot in common.
Of course, there were some among the population that did not agree with the idea of inclusion and acceptance. They saw it as something that should not happen, and they wanted to fight it with all that they had. Some examples were more known than others. In recent times, the most famous of them had become the one known as "The Night Howler Conspiracy", an attempt to shatter the relationships between predator and prey by using fear and striking in the city of Zootopia, the symbol of coexistence and peace between species.
Luckily, this nasty plot was brought down by two heroes, a prey and a predator, who worked together to put the responsible behind bars and return the peace to the city. Since then, the mammals were working hard to help continue the building of the acceptance and the understanding between the many mammals of the world, and that was why the following two Pred-Pride Shows were bigger than the previous ones.
This one, said to be the biggest yet, was made exactly in the city of Fangtropolis. A city that had a great population of predators within it, exactly to encourage others to give attention to this city, that showed, just like Zootopia, that it was possible for predator and prey to live together and in peace as friends.
That was why so much had been invested in this year's show.
Frank looked over as he could notice that the crowd was waiting anxiously for the show to begin. The wolf himself was quite anxious for it, as it was normal to be when something really great is about to happen.
A buzzing on his ear broke him out of his daydream, and he could hear a familiar, feminine voice on his head.
"Frank? Do you copy?"
"Oh, Gilda!" Frank said, speaking on his mic as he held the earpiece in his ear, to better hear the voice of his supervisor.
Gilda Pelton was a female bear who was in charge of the news crew that had been assigned for this mission. She was the kind of mammal of who you would not wish to get on the bad side, as she could be quite ferocious and fearsome when things were hard. She knew when to speak up and when to raise her voice to impose respect and to let others knew who was in charge, making her the perfect mammal to direct crews. Of course, she was not antisocial, by any means, she was actually the best person you could hope to meet, as long as she was not in a bad mood, and you did nothing to piss her off. Everyone of the crew respected her, and they also had a decent amount of fear of her.
"Frank, this show is crazy! It hasn't even started yet and camera four has gotten two antelopes trying to climb on the stage!" Gilda spoke, and Frank could only smile at this.
"Yeah, this show is going to be huge." He admitted as he looked at the crowd, his own camera mammal, a zebra girl, was sitting next to him as she took a few sips of some mango juice. She looked rather bored as she looked around.
"Yeah, actually, we are needing a better angle from the crowd, that is why I'm calling you." Gilda said to him through his earpiece.
"Oh, so you are hoping that we can get a better angle from our camera?" Frank said, turning to the zebra, who looked back at him. "Well, it might be a little hard, but I'm sure we could capture some good images. Still, it could be better to use some of the other cameras, right? I mean, they are right above the crowd in many places?"
"Yeah, no." Gilda said to him before she continued. "I was thinking of images from the helicopter. I have been trying to contact Henry, but he is not answering. Do you think you can contact him from your end?"
This made Frank stop, as the smile vanished from his muzzle.
He did not answer right away, and this caught the attention of the bear on the other end of the radio.
"O-oh You you are looking for Henry?" Frank said, his voice stammering a bit, as a forced smile appeared in his muzzle. The zebra looked at him, and she could not help but chuckle a bit at the face the wolf was making.
"Frank " Gilda's voice came once more, this time in a more serious tone.
When Frank heard that tone, he knew the situation was serious, and he suddenly saw himself thorn between two basic instincts: one side, his instinct of loyalty, that told him to cover up for his friend; on the other end, was his own sense of self-preservation, that was screaming at him, for everything holy, not to try and lie to Gilda.
"Frank..." Gilda's voice came once more "Where. Is. Henry?"
The helicopter moved through the air as they got closer and closer to the glowing thing.
It was already a few hundred meters in the air, nearly as tall as the buildings close, and it continued to glow as it got higher and higher. As they got close, they could notice that it was somewhat spherical, unlike any kind of aircraft that any of them knew. Not only round, the thing was nearly perfectly spherical, and the whole form glowed almost as if it was mini sun.
"What is that thing?" The antelope camera mammal asked as they moved closer. Henry really wished he could answer that, but he had no idea as for what the object was. However, he felt that it gave him a certain feeling, now that they were close. A feeling of being small and meaningless, as if that thing was much bigger than himself, not only in size but in importance. That, and also the feeling that he somehow wanted the thing for himself
They got closer to the orb. Suddenly, the whole helicopter jolted. Henry and the antelope quickly grabbed for something so they wouldn't fall, and the pilot had to make a little effort to get the helicopter back at normal.
"Hey! What was that, dude?" Henry asked annoyed, "Are you piloting this thing right?"
"It wasn't me!" The cougar said as he checked on the equipment. "Something went wrong with the equipment for a moment, but it is normal now."
"Okay," Henry said, as he looked back at the thing, which was still rising in the sky. "Can you get us closer?"
"Not without knowing what that thing is." The cougar said firmly. It was obvious that he would not be taking any chances. He might not be the most experienced pilot around, but he knew well enough not to get too close to something airborne and unidentified.
Henry looked at the orb, and he was trying his best to try to figure out what it was.
The cougar pilot suddenly took a hand to his ear, as his radio buzzed, and someone talked on his ear. The cougar turned to the two in the back and said:
"Frank is on the radio!" The two looked at him. "He says for you to turn your earpiece back on, Gilda wants to talk to you!"
Henry groaned. That was the kind of thing that he wanted to avoid, and the exact reason why he had turned it off, so he could later use the excuse that there was a flaw in the equipment that prevented communication. He even made his camera mammal turn his own off, but he forgot that the pilot also had one.
Sighing in defeat, he turned his earpiece once more back on, and soon, he was saying:
"Hey, Gilda! Heard you wanted to talk to me."
"I'm going to cut off your tail, slow-roast it and them feed it to you."
She was not yelling. This was a very bad sign.
"So how things going?" He said, with a smile on his face, trying to keep his cool, and the bear on the other side said:
"Your job was just to hover over the crowd and gives us some images from above. Only that. Only THAT!" Gilda snarled from the other side, and Henry actually flinched at this. "But of course! You had to 'pull a Henry' in such an important event like that!"
Henry kind of disliked that expression that they had invented especially based on him back at work. Still, he had to defend himself from this tirade while he was still allowed to talk.
"It was for a good cause!" He said in his defense. "I saw something-"
"I gave you a job!" Gilda shot back, cutting the German shepherd in the middle of his explanation. "Could you, at least once, do as you are told!?"
"It looked like a good story!" Henry said, "I'm in the chopper, near the center, and there is a huge thing happening!" He said, as he looked at the thing. "Like, REALLY huge! Around sixty feet diameter!"
"What in the world are you talking about!?"
Henry looked at the camera mammal, as the antelope continued to look at the glowing sphere. Henry tapped him in the shoulder, calling his attention. He gestured to the thing as he mouthed "get on the camera". The antelope obeyed, and he was getting the camera ready, while Henry continued to talk to Gilda.
"We are sending some images now. Take a look for yourself!"
As he said that, the antelope had the camera ready and was getting the glowing sphere on the camera. There was a silence as the images were captured and transmitted back to the crew, and then, Gilda's voice came once more.
"What the heck What is that thing?"
"Beats me," Henry said, as he continued to look at it. "I noticed something glowing and I decided to investigate. We are kind of close to it, and we are still not sure of what it is, but it is moving up, and id doesn't looks like any kind of craft I've seen."
" could could it be related to the Show?"
"I don't know." Henry said, "I don't really think it has to do with the show, but it does looks like a story. Don't you think?"
There was a silence, and the thing continued to rise in the air as if it was a giant, glowing balloon. Henry said once more:
"I want to cover it."
"What?... Wait, you mean right now!?" Gilda's voice said, and the dog agreed.
"Yeah! I mean, why not?"
"Because you are supposed to be covering the show! We all are supposed to be covering the show! This is what this is all about! This is why they sent us here!"
"What, so I ignore this!?" Henry said in outrage, "The mysterious glowing sphere thing that is floating in the middle of one of the most famous cities of the country? Something that could be part of a very important story and that we just stumbled upon before even the local news? This is not what reporters do, and you know it, Gilda! Our job is to go after the news and let others know about them, and what better time than now, when we are live on a national scale?"
There was a silence following his words, as Gilda seemed to be considering what he was saying. After a few moments, came her voice once more through the radio:
"If we do transmit this thing in national scale, and it turns out to be nothing "
"I'll take full responsibility." Henry said with no hesitation, "I'll even cut my own tail off so you can give it to the boss."
Another silence, and after a while, a sigh of resignation from the other side of the radio.
"You will be on air in sixty seconds. Be ready."
"Man, when the show is going to start?" Pronk asked loudly, as he was sitting in front of the TV in a chair, with a can on his hand and a bowl of popcorn on the other.
"Maybe it will start when it starts!" Bucky replied, as he was laying on the bed, with a book on his hooves, which he was trying to read.
"Why these things are always so late!?" Pronk complained.
"Because all of the artists are either nocturnal or insomniac!" Bucky said, "Or maybe because they know that the people who like to watch it are guys who enjoy being awake until late as if they had nothing important to do in the mornings!"
"Oh, shut up!"
"No, you shut up!"
"Hey, are you two gonna be at this all night?" Judy's voice came from the other side of the wall. "It will be hard to listen to the music if you do!"
"Sorry! We will tune it down!" Bucky said, "See, you are bothering the neighbors!"
"You were yelling too! So stop trying to push it all on me!"
Bucky was opening his mouth, ready to give a reply, when the TV said:
"Here is Frank Howlen from the Pred-Pride Show, with breaking news from our helicopter crew!"
The two were distracted from their squabbling as they looked at the TV, looking at the wolf reporter who was looking back at the camera.
"Just moments ago, our aircrew noticed something unusual form above, and they went to investigate. They are in the local right now, and we will pass to them at this very moment. Henry, it is with you!"
Henry was composed as the camera was pointed at him, and as soon as he knew that he had his cue, he started to talk:
"Thanks, Frank. Yes, we were up here covering the event when something called our attention, and we decided to investigate " The antelope glared at him, the dog ignored and he continued to narrate "Well, by looking over, you can see what we are seeing and, I gotta say, it is quite a sight "
As he spoke, the antelope turned the camera and focused it into the object. It was still raising in the air, and it continued to shine as bright as before.
"As you can see, the object is rather spherical, with sixty, maybe seventy feet in diameter." Henry said as the helicopter flew around the object, as it continued to ascend. "It is floating around seven hundred feet above ground level, in the center of Fangtropolis, and it is still raising in the air."
"Now, we are still not sure of what this object is, but it is quite a sight." Henry said, "By the way that it is rising in the air, and by the shape, we could even say it could be some kind of balloon, or similar object, but it is too soon to "
Henry was stopped in mid-thought, as suddenly, the air started to vibrate around them. Henry blinked as he could feel that vibration, bigger than the one of the helicopter's blades, passing through his chest and through his body. He took a few moments to register this feeling before he realized that it was coming from the sphere.
"Wait, I I think that something is happening with the object " Henry said as the sphere was now glowing brighter. Nearly twice as bright as it was before, so much that now it was kind of painful to look directly at it, and it seemed as if it was pulsing, or more accurately beating somehow
Suddenly, the helicopter jolted, and this time the puma had to struggle to recover control over it.
"Henry? Henry!" Frank's voice came from the radio, as the helicopter recovered control, and Henry and the camera mammal both recovered enough to recompose themselves.
"I'm fine! I'm fine." Henry said as he looked up at the thing, as the helicopter was forced to move down, and now they were circling beneath the glowing sphere. "Yes, there is definitely something happening!"
The sphere of light was pulsing now, and it was possible not just to see but to feel it. A sound, subtle but constant, was in there as if the hum of an engine or a beating of a heart.
Henry could notice it in the place where he was, and he was not the only one.
On the nearby buildings, and on the ground bellow, other mammals could notice the presence of the glowing thing. Mammals were looking through the windows of their homes at the glowing thing or coming out to look, some of them were even snapped out of their sleep by that thing.
Matter of fact, that thing was now shining so bright that even the people from the show, at eight miles away, took knowledge of its existence, as they turned their heads to look at the glowing thing in the sky, and the way that it pulsed.
However, who was the closest was still Henry and his team, as they were so close that they could feel the pulsing of the great thing on their bones, as the hum seemed to be getting stronger. Almost like an engine charging and slowly starting to work.
"There is some kind of sound coming from the sphere." Henry said as the antelope continued to have the thing in focus, and the dog was now trying to find the best possible words to describe what was happening, even though it was hard.
"As you can see, it seems like the sphere is charging, or something " Henry said, as he shielded his eyes with his arm and looked way. "As if it was getting ready to " He was about to say but trailed as something in the ground caught his attention. It looked like some sort of red light.
Henry looked at that red glow, which in seconds started to grow brighter as if it was a small star. Henry barely had time to manifest surprise, when the red glow shot up from the ground and rose in the air like a rocket. It passed by the chopper as it went up, its movement rocking the aircraft slightly.
Henry was able to look up in time to see the red dot fly straight to the sphere.
"Something something just passed by us and " Henry tried to form words, but he didn't have time, for, at that moment, all hell broke loose.
A loud sound came from the sphere, different from anything that Henry had heard, but the closest thing that came into mind was a scream of pain. A flash of red light mixed with the golden of the sphere. The two glows mixed, forming a strong, intense orange coloration, and then, in a second, it dimmed. No not just dimmed though like it was being choked out. Upon closer inspection, with the sphere, Henry could see where the red light had impacted with the sphere because it was where a black spot had appeared on the once flawless surface. In fact, if Henry strained his eyes he could see that the black color was spreading over the surface of the Sphere and he could hear the scream like sound grow louder. In a blink of an eye the black spread all over the orb, like it was alive and seeking to destroy the golden light. Once the last bit of light was extinguished the screaming sounds stopped completely, choke off like the owner of the scream has died. Now in front of the helicopter stood a black sphere looking like a dark sun. Henry was about to comment on the change of event but he never did because the sphere itself exploded.
The giant sphere seemed to rupture itself, as the red light projected outwards to all directions. The explosion was so strong that the shockwave caused the windows of nearby buildings to shatter, causing the glass to rain down on the streets. Some buildings actually shook. Comets of red light projected out of the explosion, flying across the sky, and some of them actually hit the buildings. Red bolts of lightning came from the sphere as it was destroyed, and they hit the clouds, right before the force of the blast blew the clouds themselves away.
The chopper was caught by the strength of the explosion, and suddenly, it was spinning in the air, as the pilot tried to recover control over the craft.
Judy gasped as the explosion took care of the image, right before the image went off the air, static taking its place.
"Oh, my gosh! What happened!?" The bunny cried out, while she and Nick both stood on the edge of the chair, both of them unable to take their eyes off the screen. On the other side of the wall, Bucky and Pronk were not much better.
"What the heck was that!?" Pronk yelled.
"How am I suppose to know!?" Bucky shot back, as they both had their eyes glued into the screen.
The explosion was so intense that many of the mammals who were in the street could feel it, and it was what was needed for many of them to start to run and scream.
Eight miles away, at the Show, many mammals were looking at the place where the orb exploded. They were not close enough to be on panic for the thing exploding, but they were still able to feel the explosion, and this was enough for many of them to be worried.
Frank, in particular, was worried once he saw that the thing had exploded when the chopper was close to it, and now he was unable to see it.
"By Fenrir's fangs!" Frank cried out. "Henry!" He reached out for his earpiece and was trying to contact his friend. "Henry!"
"What in the entire Hell was that!?" Gilda's voice came through the earpiece.
"It exploded!" Frank cried out back at her. "The thing just it just exploded!"
"What about Henry?"
"I don't know!"
Frank felt frantic, and he continued to try to contact him. "Frank? Frank, are you there!? Do you copy!?"
"Henry! Henry!? Do you hear us!? Henry!?" Gilda called, as she too was trying to contact the German shepherd.
Suddenly, a buzz, and a familiar voice came through the radio.
"I-I'm here! I'm here! W-we are okay! I think "
Frank let out a sigh as a wave of relief had washed over him. Henry was fine.
For a moment in there, Henry actually thought that the helicopter was going to fall from the sky and crash on the ground, but the cougar who was piloting was able to recover control over the craft, and now they were hovering, as the orange glow of the explosion continued to shine down on them.
"I expect a raise after this!" The cougar screamed as he made his best to remain calm and have the craft under control.
"Me too!" The antelope screamed, holding to the camera as if it was the only thing that had kept him from crashing in the ground.
"Henry! Henry, you idiot!" Frank's voice came through the radio. "I thought that this time you had actually got yourself killed!"
"Hah! As if!" Henry said confidently, trying to sound brave, but he felt like he had almost wet his pants. "It is not yet that you guys got rid of me!"
"Guys, we are all happy that Henry is okay, but we are still live! Henry, tell us what happened! Look at the camera and tell us what happened!" Gilda said in a no-nonsense tone.
"O-oh! Right!" Henry said as he recomposed himself, and he looked at the antelope, who was still shaking. "Come on, dude, it is still a story!" Henry said, and the antelope glared at him. "I'll compensate you somehow, I promise, but now we gotta tell mammals what is going on!"
The antelope looked at him for a few moments, still shaken, the antelope was now pointing the camera back at Henry.
"So the glowing sphere that we were watching has exploded." Henry said as the camera was focusing on him. "It seems that, something came from the ground and hit it, and it caused some short of explosion." The dog explained as he gestured. "As you can see, the explosion is still well, it is still over us, as the flames seem to be wait, something else is happening "
The antelope looked ready to faint as he turned the camera back to the explosion. The red glow was still intense, projecting outwards like a cloud of flames and smoke, but something was happening to the fire. It looked as it was being sucked back in as if the explosion was now sucking its contents back.
It took only around ten seconds, and soon, the red light died down as it was sucked into the center.
Said center, was a ball of pure blackness, so black that the night sky looked bluish against it. Henry looked at it, and he was able to describe what he was saying.
"Now we are seeing a new ball wait no, it seems like some kind of black hole." Henry said, "As strange as it sounds, it is like someone has well, I don't know how to describe, it is like the explosion has punched a hole in the air." Henry said, and as he spoke, suddenly, a gush of wind came outwards from that hole, as if it was a breeze coming out of it into the open air.
Henry was unable to describe after that, for at that moment, a feeling crept on his chest. The fur on his back and on his tail all stood on end. His instincts told him to turn around and run as fast as he could and not look back.
His instincts told him to escape from that place. Every instinct that he had was telling him to turn tail and run. As if his very soul knew:
Something horrible was about to happen.
And it did.
Something was leaking from the hole.
At first, it was trickling, but the flow increased as more and more leaked. Until it was a waterfall.
Henry and the antelope could only look as the cascade of black muck leaked out of the hole and in direction to the ground.
It connected with the ground, and the muck started to pool and to spread as it continued to come from the hole.
"By my ancestor's fangs Guys, do you see this?" Henry said as he looked down. "There is some kind of black mud leaking from the hole! What in the world is that!?"
Down below, some of the mammals who had come out to see what was going on looked as the black slime came, nearly in waves, as it leaked across the streets and soon it was reaching the mammals. The mammals immediately wanted to move away from it, but some of them were not agile enough to avoid the thing.
It came around them, touching their ankles and tails.
And immediately setting them alight in red flames as they ignited with the mere contact.
The mammals who saw it immediately started to run, screaming as they tried to get away from the mud. However, the mud was coming in waves, and it was soon proving to be faster than some of the mammals, who were hit by the mud, and immediately ignited into flames, screaming as they were swallowed by the flames, disappearing from sight.
Above, the helicopter was flying above the streets, and they were able to capture images of what was going one down there. Images of the mammals running from the mud, and being set alight and swallowed by it as soon as it touched them, were captured by the camera, as the antelope has wide eyes as he looked at that, and Henry was not better.
"Oh God! OH GOD!" Henry nearly screamed as he saw that happening down there. "T-the mud is it is flowing across the streets and the mammals! Oh, god!" Henry cried out as he saw a couple of elephants just be set in flames and flail about as the mud had reached them. They flailed a while, before falling in the ground and being swallowed by the wave of black mud.
Mammals continued to run. A coyote was running, but she tripped and fell to the ground. The other mammals passed desperate by her as she tried to get up. She looked at the passing mammals, but none of them stopped to give her a helping paw. She barely saw the mud approaching, until she looked back with horror, just in time to see the mud raise like a wave and envelop her like a dark, thick blanket.
The mud continued to slide forwards into the city, catching not only the mammals but what else was in it's path. Trees would start to burn into red flames as soon as the mud touched them. Mailboxes and streetlights would start to burn and to melt under the touch of the mud. Even vehicles were affected, as the cars started to melt under the effect of the mud, but they were resilient enough not to be immediately destroyed by it, as a result, the cars were floating into the mud just like they would over water during a flood. In some of the said cars, there were even mammals, who had climbed on them in a desperate attempt to be safe from the mud that they were unable to outrun. However, these attempts were useless, as the cars would either sink into the mud or be turned around and tumble over due to the flow, causing the mammals to invariably fall victims of the same fate as the others.
The mud moved forward, like a cloud of devouring locusts, destroying what was on its path. Mammals would start burning nearly immediately after being touched by it. The red flames would involve their bodies and burn through their clothing and fur easily, and soon it would reach the flesh beneath it, and start to burn away nearly immediately. Those who would not be swallowed by the mud right after catching on fire would be able to run a few dozen feet while they screamed before they would fall to the ground and desperately claw their own bodies in a feeble attempt to put the fire out, but it was useless. These flames were too hot, and they seemed not to go out easily. Besides, any stop that they made to try and put the flames out would only cause them to be caught by the tide of black mud, which would not stop moving, and would only get faster and faster, as more of it poured from the hole in the air.
It was still spreading. And spreading. It didn't looked like it would stop anytime soon.
It was truly horrible.
And it was not over yet.
The mud continued to spill out of the hole, as it formed a tide in the streets, filling everything that was on its path, destroying anything unlucky enough to be on its way. Be it mammals, trees, things on the streets. Even the buildings themselves weren't safe, as the mud was able to eat away through the rock and the metal, chipping and melting pieces of the constructions as it passed by them, even though they were still strong enough to stand where they were as it swept across them.
All the while, the helicopter was still in the air, capturing images of what was going down for everyone to see. The one's inside were only able to look helplessly at the surreal scene of destruction going on beneath them.
Henry was speechless as he looked at the horror going on down there. Still, something stirred to continue to talk. Something stirred him to take the microphone near his muzzle and to continue to speak.
"T-this is Henry Dogbert, on the center of the destruction!" He was able to speak, his voice sounding disembodied to his own ears as he saw the mud continue to take the city of Fangtropolis. "The mud is still spreading! It is coming in tides and destroying everything on its path! It is so horrible! It is spreading and will take the city! It It will reach the Show! If you are in the show, you gotta run, before it gets in there! You gotta run now! Everyone in Fangtropolis who can hear this! You got to run! Run now! Before its too late!"
As Henry finished these words, a building nearby shook. The mud had eaten away at its foundations, making it weak. Soon, the whole thing was crumbling down, in a rain of rubble that fell on other constructions, and splashed into the mud as they ignited in red as soon as they touched it.
It was a matter of time until other buildings would follow, as the mud would eat their foundations until they crumbled like houses of cards.
As the mud continued to flow, it bubbled and slushed over itself as it flowed. The surface moved and twisted with the rhythm of the flow. However, the flowing was more than just that, as the surface took shapes, the mud gathering and twisting as it took shapes, firstly at small mounds, and then as roughish limbs and even faces, as they gurgled and moved.
Soon, the forms made by the mud were getting more and more defined, as the shapes stretched out of the mud, forming arms. The faces stretched out of the mud, forming heads, and these heads opened their mouths, packed with teeth, as they let out screeches and roars, as if of great pain or great fury. All the while the mud continued to flow across the city at an increasing speed, as it moved outwards from the center to the outskirts of the city. Naturally, it was moving in a spread out direction from its epicenter, as a result, it was moving to overtake the whole city, which meant that not even the area where the show was taking place was safe.
Henry's warning was heard by his team, and even if it wasn't, anyone in the show could notice that something was happening. When the first building collapsed, it was enough for all hell to break loose, as mammals started to run and to scream as they were trying either to run away or to reach their vehicles as fast as they could.
All mammals in there were moving out, both the crowd of fans and the performers of the place. All of them ready to get on stage and sing, the artists found themselves rushing or being rushed as to get away from that place as fast as possible. Among them, the voluptuous Gazelle, who was walking accompanied by her four tigers, as they were aiming to get into a vehicle and rush away from there.
Even the reporters were getting ready to leave.
"Guys! We need to leave, now!" A seven feet tall bear of dark-brown fur and in red clothing screamed from a news van. The rest of the team rushing to save what they could. "Oh, just leave it, is not worth your lives!" Gilda screamed to the guys, and soon, they were giving up and rushing to the van.
"Come on! Come on! No time to lose!" She screamed. "Where the hell are Frank and Jasmine!?"
"There they are!" said a beaver from the crew as Frank and Jasmine, his zebra camera mammal, where both running as fast as they could to the van.
"Guys! Come on! We have to go now!" Gilda screamed, and the two mammals continued to run.
Right after them, came the first wave of the mud, and now, it was even more terrifying, as outstretched arms and deformed faces were coming out of it as it slides forward. These appendages actually stretched, as they moved forward like a chameleon's tongue, grabbing or biting at mammal that was in range.
The ones who were not fast enough to run were either grabbed by a clawed hand or bitten by a demoniac head in the tip of an elongated neck, right before they were pulled back by them, landing right into the mud, which continued to ooze forward.
Frank and Jasmine continued to run as fast as their legs could carry them, and they were almost reaching the van when Jasmine tripped and landed on the ground.
"JASMINE!" Gilda screamed in worry and fright, causing Frank to stop in his tracks and look back, seeing the zebra on the floor, the camera a few feet head of her.
Jasmine was trying to get up, as the mud continued to move their way. At that moment, a deformed face forced in the mud and shot forward in direction to the zebra. She had time to turn her head and look in horror as that thing was coming her way.
She screamed in horror as the outstretched jaws approached her, but they never made contact. Frank had moved forward as used the fallen camera to slam as hard as he could into the head. The impact reduced the camera to broken pieces, but it was enough to make the head turn back and sling back into the incoming mud, merging back into it and vanishing.
Jasmine was panting as she looked in a fearful daze, and was only brought out of it by the voice of Frank, urging her to get up and run, while he held her by the arm and helped her back on her hooved feet.
Soon they were rushing to the van, and Gilda was already waiting for them.
"Come on! Come on, guys! We don't have time! We gotta hurry!" She said as she took Jasmine's hoof, and started to help her into the van. Frank was coming right after, but suddenly, his whole body went stiff and his mouth was open into a mute scream as a gasp escaped from his throat.
Another hand had come from the mud, and it had grabbed his ankle. The contact of the black claw with his bare fur was generating smoke, as the area of contact was glowing red as the mere touch was enough to burn deeply.
"Frank!" Gilda roared her distraught, trying to reach out for the wolf, but it was too late when another hand came and grabbed him by the head, immediately pulling him backward.
The wolf flew in the air as the hands pulling him like slings back to the mud. The poor wolf was already involved in red flames way before he slammed into it, splashing and sinking out of view, nothing more than smoke and the smell of burned fur and flesh left behind.
Gilda was speechless, her mind unable to process what she had just witnessed, and Jasmine was not better, both her hooves covering her mouth, as her eyes were wide in horror. However, they were snapped out of this by the rest of the crew, who remembered them that the mud was still coming their way. Soon the van has its doors slammed shut, and it was speeding up away from the mud, just as it was coming in waves to where the van was just a moment ago.
The van was now speeding across the road, joining other vehicles that were moving away from the mud, leaving behind a stage that was supposed to carry on a show at that night, but which was now being swallowed by a tide of black mud. Everyone was running from there any way they could, most of them through a car or other vehicle, but some were lucky to actually manage to escape from there through the use of the use of the helicopters in the place.
The ones going through wheeled vehicles were speeding the most they could as the mud continued to gain terrain. Some of the vehicles were not fast enough, and they got caught up by the mud, as the vehicle was swallowed by it, melting and catching on fire, dooming the mammals that were inside.
This was not limited only to the place of the show, as the mud was spreading radially from the center to the outside of the city, and all around, the ones who had not been caught by the fire yet were trying to escape the best way they could. Of course, it was difficult, as the mud was coming in tides, and even some of the cars were not fast enough to get away from the mud. Not the mention that many mammals were trying to drive to escape from the mud, and the result of all of these cars trying to get out was that some of them ended up getting in the others' way. That meant that there were crashes, cars skidding to avoid hitting each other, and some were being pushed. The result was pure mayhem in the streets as every mammal was trying to save itself and their families, and the mud only got more time to claim even more victims in this chaos. Matter of fact, the chaos was claiming victims of its own, beating the mud in that aspect.
Smoke was rising from the streets. Screams could be heard through the night air. The stench in the air, the stench of death.
Anyone who was still in the streets of the city could hear it. Be them hidden in the ceiling of a three-store building, on the window of a taller building looking down, or on the helicopter that was still hovering over that scene of destruction.
Channel 8 helicopter just had to move to avoid the debris from yet another building that was collapsing from the mud eating away at its foundations. The cougar pilot did his best to avoid the things from bringing the helicopter down on that destruction, the mere thought of it making him prefer that the helicopter would explode and they all would die before falling into the mud. Meanwhile, the antelope and German shepherd on the helicopter were still looking down on the destruction, capturing images and still transmitting it on a national scale.
"T-there are no words to describe what we are seeing in here!" Henry said as he looked down on what was going on down there. His ears flat against his skull, his expression one of horror as he looked at it. "The mud is taking over Fangtropolis! It seems to be taking the whole city! The mammals It is a nightmare down there! Is hell!"
As they spoke, the helicopter was flying rather close to the ground, around ten meters, and the mud underneath it started to bubble up as if it was sensing the movement up there. Arms and faces started to form in the mud, and they gathered, intertwining with each other, forming a greater body out of mud, until it formed an arm big enough to grab a car as if it was a toy.
This hand shot forward, stretching to the helicopter, its claws outstretched as if to grab the thing.
The antelope was the first one to notice it, and his eyes widened in horror as he cried out:
"By the horns!"
Henry looked at him, and only then, he noticed the hand shooting in their direction, ready to grab them. His expression one of horror as that arm closed the distance to reach for the helicopter, clawed fingers ready to wrap around the chopper and crush it.
However, this great hand didn't manage to grab the chopper, for, at that moment, a flash of red lightning struck it. The red bolt heated the mud in the span of a second, making it bubble up and explode in a second, resulting into the claw exploding. The shock, combined with the sudden scare of the pilot, granted the chopper to move back from that explosion as globs of black mud flew everywhere. Most of it fell back into the rest of the mud below, but some of it actually landed on the chopper, and actually inside of it.
Some of it landed straight into the camera, as the antelope holding it fell back and scrambled as he tried to resume his footing. When he did recover, he saw the black mud, smoking and eating away at the camera. Screaming out in fear, the antelope threw the camera away as it catches on red flames.
It fell out of the chopper, and the flames enveloped it as it went down, until it landed with a disturbing sound into the river of black mud sloshing beneath.
The pilot was recovering of the scare when a sizzling sound made him look and see that some of the mud had landed on the glass of the chopper, and was eating through it as if it was some kind of acid. Now, the puma had faced a lot in the moments that he had been in there, but that was officially the last straw the pilot could take.
"Okay, screw this! I'm out of here!" He said as he controlled the chopper to make it turn. He didn't care if there was still a "story" in there, or if his bosses would fire him. Heck, he was probably going to quit as soon as he would get to safety. He was taking that chopper out of there, and nothing was changing his mind.
The chopper moved across the air, now moving definitely way from the city and from what was going on down there.
The mud continued to flow, as it was covering all of the streets below, from the center until the outskirts of the city, bubbling and churning as columns of smoke came from the nearby buildings. Some of them were actually on fire, something that the mud had induced. Others of them were ready to collapse, and some did collapse, as the mud had eaten away their foundations.
Not a single mammal was left alive in the streets, as the ones who had dared to get outside were swallowed by the mud, and the ones who had hidden in the buildings were meeting their fate as the buildings would collapse.
The proud city of Fangtropolis was now destroyed. A broken shadow of what it was just minutes ago. All of that done by the mud that now was flowing across its streets, all coming from that hole that had formed into the air. Said hole that continued to spill out the black mud in a waterfall.
However, something started to happen to the hole.
It started to tremble and to get out of focus. As if it was becoming less tangible, less material, less real. The hole started to shrink, and so was the flow of mud that was coming out of it. The waterfall of mud was becoming thinner and thinner, as its source was waning. It reduced in strength, reduced to a trickle of what it was moments ago. The mud was then coming out in spurts, like the water coming out of a hose after the source is dry. Finally, the cascade of mud stopped, as the hole from which it was coming had vanished, not a single trait left behind indicating that it had even existed at all.
As the cascade had stopped, the flow of mud would invariably stop as well. The flow of it across the streets became less intense, slower. The mud was now not moving as much as it was before. The cars that were racing to escape the mud would take a while to notice that the tide of black material had stayed behind and that it was actually stopping.
It took minutes until the mud had completely stopped and settled down. It rested in the streets like a layer of black tar that had covered the whole city, as more buildings collapsed from the effects that the mud had on them. In these events, their fall would cause mud to sprinkle to all sides, but other than that, it seemed that the mud had stopped.
Some of the mammals who had been running from the mud actually stopped as they noticed that it was no longer advancing. Among them, the car that was transporting Gazelle. She was among the lucky ones that had managed to completely escape that horror, along with most of her crew, and also her entrusted dancers. As her car stopped, and she stepped out, she let out a breath that she had been holding, seemingly since the moment that hurry had started, and she rested her hands on her knees to support herself, as she took deep breaths.
The smell of destruction reached her nostrils, and she looked up. From the road on the cliff that her car had stopped, she could see the city. Or what was left of it. It was enough to make her cover her mouth in horror as she stared at the destruction. She felt wetness forming in her eyes, as she backed away from that scene.
She felt a paw landing on her shoulder. Soon, she turned around and buried her face in the chest of whoever it was. It was one of her dancers. She could feel his scent, it was Tyson, he was always the one who was in there to offer her a crying shoulder, and now it was no different. She began to cry on his chest, unable to hold back her tears.
Soon, more vehicles were stopping in the same place, and the drivers and passengers were coming out to breathe, and to look at the destruction the black mud caused.
Those were the expressions on the faces of every single mammals who looked at that destruction. Gilda just came out of the Channel 8's van that had stopped along with the other vehicles.
The rest of the crew was spilling out, all of them still dizzy for all of the events that had unfolded. Gilda could hear someone sobbing, probably Jasmine. She also could hear someone throwing up, but she could not tell who. She was too busy trying to process all that had happened. To understand what had happened.
Back in the city, the mud, once stopped flowing, could finally start to settle and to dry out. As it did, the mud cracked and broke as it hardened, as pieces of it shattered. These shards broke down even more until they became black dust. Eventually, even this dust itself vanished in the air, as it was carried by the winds and disappeared from sight. Soon, the mud was going to vanish, and no trait of its existence would be left behind. Save for the damages that it had caused to the city, and to the broken spirits of the survivors.
The chopper continued to fly, as the puma was now looking for a safe place to land. From up there, he was able to catch a commotion in a road near a cliff, as many vehicles had stopped in there, and many mammals were out of them. Among the vehicles, the puma could see the van of Channel 8.
Soon, the helicopter was landing in the grass near the road, calling the attention of many, including the news crew. As soon as Henry and the antelope set foot out of the chopper, they were surrounded by members of their crew, who kept asking them if they were fine. Henry felt a bit overwhelmed, especially when Gilda came to him and pulled the German shepherd into a very tight hug.
Gilda was not the kind who gave hugs. So Henry knew that this whole experience had affected her deeply. The fact that she was hugging him strong enough to make him worry about his spine was proof of that.
After the hug was over, Gilda had gone to answer her phone, as someone was calling her back from the office. Probably the boss. Henry was left to walk back to the crew, and he could see just how heavy everything was. His camera mammal was behind the van, emptying his stomach, as he finally was able to take in all that had happened. The puma was looking very edgy, and he seemed ready to run back to the chopper and make it fly until the next city.
The rest of the crew was not much better, as they all looked gloomy, and Henry could not blame them. He was positive himself, but even he could not think of anything to say that could possibly put a good spin on what had just happened. He could not understand what had happened, but he knew that it was something that should not, not in a million years, have ever happened. He just knew it.
The sound of an angry voice broke him out of his trance:
"Are you freaking serious!?" Gilda's voice came, and Henry turned to look at the bear, as she was talking to her phone. "We almost died out there!" She said angrily, and she was pacing back and forth as she talked into the phone, and the one on the other side talked back to her.
There was a discussion, or so it seemed, as Gilda heard what the person on the other side said, and after a while, she finally sighed, seemingly in resignation, and she turned off.
Gilda walked back to the crew, a somber expression on her face, as she stood and looked at them. She sighed, and she said:
"Devin " She spoke, looking to the tiger who had been comforting Jasmine. "Please, go get one of the backup cameras ready." The tiger hesitated for a moment, but he nodded and went inside the van. The bear turned to the dog, who looked back at her with his hazelnut-colored eyes. "Henry, the boss wants us to give special coverage of the aftermath of this. You will be on air in a few "
Henry looked at her. He was not the kind to refuse a job. Especially if it was a chance to be on live. However, after everything that had just happened
"Gilda I I think I can't "
The bear turned to look at him, and she walked in his direction with slow but sure steps. Henry was just around five feet tall, and so, Gilda knelt in front of him to be on his eye level.
"People are scared." She spoke to him. "They need to know what is going on. They need to know that some survived. They need to see what is happening." Her tone didn't truly have emotion, but it was steady and calming in its own way. "We need to let people know. That is our job."
Henry looked back at her and seeing her expression really made him quite troubled. He saw that she was dead serious as she spoke that, and the fact that she was being so nice instead of telling him to "suck it up and do it!" was enough to convince him that she was really shaken.
"I-I know, Gilda." The black and brown-furred dog said. "But I just came back from the center and That was It was too much for me I need a break " He said, looking down before he looked up: "Can't Frank do it?"
Her expression changed nearly immediately, even though it was very subtle. She looked away, and for a moment Henry could swear that he had seen a tear rolling down her cheek. All of sudden, Henry noticed that the mood around seemed to have shifted just with these words. Some of the crew were not looking at the ground, and Jasmine now was sobbing.
Henry blinked, as he looked at each one of the members of the crew, seeing how their mood had changed just after that simple suggestion. It took him a few seconds, but he finally noticed just what was amiss in the scene.
"W-wait " Henry said, looking back at Gilda.
" where is Frank?"
Nick had to hold Judy back. He had to hold her to prevent her from bursting through the door, getting into their car and driving all the way to Fangtropolis.
"Nick, let me go!" The bunny said as she tried to get free from the fox's grip, but Nick continued to hold her.
"Carrots, calm down."
"Let me go!" She said, "I gotta go help!"
"How?" Nick asked her, making her look into his eyes as she spoke to her. "By driving a hundred miles to another city, so you can just stay in there and watch as that thing rains in the city? Or to jump into the city only for that thing to swallow you up as well?"
There was silence, broke only by the heavy breathing of the bunny, and by the static of the TV, that had gone off air in the moment of that strange explosion, leaving the fate of the mammals in the helicopter an incognita to who was watching.
"I I'll think of something when I get there!" She said, renewing her struggles. But Nick held onto her. "I have to go, Nick! I'm a cop! These mammals need help! I need to go and help-"
"Judy, you can't help them!" Nick said, so firmly that it made Judy flinch. She looked up to him, as he took deep breaths. His face was a mask that she was so familiar with. However, she could see past this mask. The strained tone on his voice. The curling on the corners of his muzzle. The way his hands trembled slightly as his claws were coming out.
"You can't help them " Nick said again, and this time, he was looking down. "None of us can help them " The way his voice strained, the way his shoulders were shaking
Judy was able to get out of her own despair as she saw Nick like that. She looked at him, and she said softly:
"We can't help them " Nick said once more, his voice more strained.
"Nick please, calm down " Judy said, and Nick raised his face, to look right at her.
Not a word was exchanged. They both only stared at each other's eyes for a while. Judy's cheeks were still wet because of the tears. She got closer, and she hugged him. She once more began to cry silently, and Nick did the only thing he could think of: he hugged her as tight as he could and dared.
There was nothing more than the sound of the static of the TV and of Judy's silent crying. Until
"Here is Nolan McGrowl, from Channel 8, with breaking news!"
The sound of TV went mostly unnoticed, as both mammals only continued to hug each other.
"Not too long ago, in the city of Fangtropolis, where the fifth Pred-Pride Show was going to happen, there was an unprecedented event that resulted in the destruction of the city. We are trying to obtain more news on the subject, and meanwhile, we will pass by our crew that is in place. Here is McGrowl from the studio, what is happening there?"
The image changed to a German shepherd of black fur and with a brown muzzle and neck. His ears were somewhat droopy, and he had a strained look on his face, but it was hidden behind a professional and objective façade.
"Studio, this is Henry Dogbert, covering the aftermath of whatever it was that happened." The dog said. "As you can see behind me, most of the city of Fangtropolis has been destroyed-" Behind the dog, the ruins of what once was a proud city. As he spoke, another of the buildings came crashing down, causing a sound that the camera captured. This caused the dog to flinch, but he held his composure. "By an event that started roughly at midnight"
The two mammals in that room continued to watch, both of them more quiet than it was normal to them.
Bucky and Pronk now sat on the same chair, both snuggling closer to each other, with upset expressions on their faces, as they held hooves. None of them said a word as they just snuggled and looked at the TV.
Benjamin had been anxious to get home and turn on the TV when he got off the work. The prospect of being able to see Gazelle perform in the Pred-Pride Show was something amazing to him, so he was more than happy to get ready for it.
He got home, got off his uniform, took a quick bath and changed into some very comfortable clothes, including an "I Love Gazelle" T-shirt.
Soon he was sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and a can of soda nearby, happy and giddy.
However, it all changed when the tragedy started to happen.
Benjamin could hardly believe his eyes. That destruction. That horror. It could not be. It just could not be.
"The events that caused this " Dogbert continued to narrate, but there was a pause, as he started to try to think of the right words to speak. "I I guess that there is no better way of describing it they were not natural "
As the dog said these words, images flashed through Ben's eyes.
A twisted grin in a cheetah's face.
Someone holding his paw.
A whole car flipped.
A motionless body in front of him.
Ben let out an upset squeal as he bent over, grabbing his own head with both paws. His breath was fast and hitched. His pupils were shrinking, as his heartbeat got faster and faster.
As he was about to slip, he felt something land softly on his shoulder.
Blinking, the cheetah looked up, to see two pairs of glowing red eyes looking at him.
"The city has been nearly completely destroyed." Dogbert continued to narrate the events. "It it is hard to estimate the number of victims that were made by this event. But it is safe to assume that there were many loses we we have lost a member of our crew Frank Howlen has vanished during the events may his soul find peace "
"I know! I'm seeing it!" Bogo said as he paced back and forth while talking on his cellphone, passing right in front of the small television on his desk. "I was watching, okay!? I know how bad it was!" Bogo said as he hung up on his cellphone, and the phone on his desk was ringing. A second later, his cellphone started to ring again.
More and more mammals were calling him to talk about had happened in Fangtropolis. Bogo was being overloaded with calls, and he tried to deal with all of them as he tries to understand what had happened.
"Whatever was the event that caused this destruction, seems to have ended. However, the damage that was made has remained." Dogbert continued, as a vixen looked at the television.
She was probably around her late forties or early fifties, but she still looked healthy. She had the fur of her body a soft shade of russet, with black on her ears and white on her under the muzzle and down her neck. She was wearing just nightclothes of soft pink as she was watching the news, one paw on her chest while the other was clutching the side of her body.
"The hole in the air, from which the black mud originated, has closed." Dogbert said, he gave a pause, and then he said, "Yes, you all heard it right. I said it once, and I'm saying it again: what happened here tonight was not a natural event. It was it was supernatural Some of you might think I'm crazy for seeing this, but this is what I think, and no one will change my mind."
As the dog spoke, Sophie Wilde tensed into the chair as he looked at the TV. The paw on her side clutched her body tighter, as if that part of her body was in pain
There were a lot of things that the Hopps family liked. Among them, there was the fact that they loved music. Some of them even had their own bands. Of course, they were not going to miss a performance of music on a Saturday night.
The cheerful bunch of bunnies had reunited in front of their giant screen TV in their living room, looking forward to a great concert.
Of course, none of them could predict that what was supposed to be a night of fun and music would turn into one of tragedy and horror.
Kids were crying as they were guided back to their rooms by adults, and even the most cheerful of the bunch was now looking somber as they saw the aftermath being transmitted on TV.
"There are no words to describe how big of a tragedy this is." Dogbert continued to the camera, as his voice was transmitted to a giggle fo bunnies who looked at the television, many of them still trying to even understand what had happened.
There was a long moment of silence, as the dog pondered on the next words that he was going to say.
" I I was never a religious dog but may the gods help us." He spoke, sounding very serious as he spoke that. "To help us get through this, and to move on with our lives Fritz, Fenrir, Minos whatever gods that there are out there help us get through this darkest hour Back to you, studio "
Many bunnies were talking among themselves, some of them were crying, some of them only looked somber, and some of them were guzzling down cans of booze as they tried to get wasted.
Among them, Stu was sitting on the couch. He was left speechless, his lips quivering as he watched that.
"Ohh, sweet cheese and crackers " Stu said, his lip quivering more. "Bonnie, do you believe " Stu started to say as he turned around to Bonnie, who was sitting by his side, only to find out that the seat was empty.
Bonnie was in another part of the house, and she was picking up the phone.
She dialed, and placed the phone close to her ear, as she heard the sound that signaled that it was calling.
"Pick up. Pick up. Pick up." She said, as she waited for someone on the other side to answer, and as soon, as they did, she said:
"I want to talk to Antonius."
There was a pause, and she said: "This is Bonnie"
"Oh, just quit it! You know very well who I am!"
Bonnie's ears perked, and then they fell flat, as she took a hand to her face, frowning, and she let out a groan.
"Yes it is Helga." She said in a whisper, looking over her shoulder to know that no one was listening. "Now pass me to Tony. I gotta speak to him " Bonnie spoke. Any of her children, grandchildren, or her own husband, who came across her now and took a look at her face, would see her more serious than they had ever seen in their lives