Southside Protector: Chapter 3

His knee drove down into the man’s ribs. This was the part where he’d normally hear them snap, but all Daniel heard was a small grunt. That was not good news for him. It meant that the man would be a lot tougher than he originally expected him to be. He still had no doubt that he could beat the man, but it would take more than his enhanced physical skills.
Daniel reached for his laser weapon, but the fire bomber swatted him away before he could grip it. He found himself flying backwards through the fire and slamming hard into the concrete wall. His vision blurred for a moment as pain ran rampant all over his body. Even during practice sessions with other Protectors, he had never been hit that hard and the Protectors practiced at full strength. Whatever this man was, he was stronger than Daniel.
The man stepped back into the fire. “Join me,” he bellowed mockingly. “Let us see who can withstand this trial by fire.”

Daniel’s mind raced for what to do next. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been the least powerful one in a fight. That’s when he heard a familiar buzzing sound, and it was music to his ears. The source of that noise likely wouldn’t take care of the problem completely, but it might buy him enough time to pull out his laser weapon and use it before being interrupted.
Just over the man’s head, he saw it flying toward him. The Fire Squad drone flew over top of the circle of flames. If the man noticed it, he showed no indication. He likely didn’t view it as a threat. “I’ll join you,” Daniel replied while getting back to his feet. “First, though, I’ve got to get rid of that not so fresh feeling.” The man stared at him blankly. “Drop your payload,” he ordered the drone after he frowned at his humor being unappreciated.
Normally, the Fire Squad drone would have dropped it by now, but the pilot probably held off when they saw a live person in the fire. Given that the flame retardant chemicals in the payload were also lethal to humans with prolonged exposure, the drones never dropped them with people that close. Daniel was a Protector, however, which meant that he could override that decision. Once the drone picked up his voice giving the order, the chemical pack dropped from its bottom.
It landed right on the man’s head and burst into a cloud of white powder. Daniel used one hand to cover his mouth and nose, to limit how much of it he breathed in, and used his other to draw his laser weapon. There was too much powder in the air for him to see the man, though. All he saw was the white cloud. On the bright side, the powder had done its job and had put out the fire.
From inside the cloud, he heard a hacking cough. “What is this filth you have dropped on me?” More coughing followed. Just as the powder was starting to dissipate, and the man was coming back into view, he hollered, “What have you done to my breath?”
Another coughing fit erupted from the man. This time, when he was finished, something came out of his mouth. Daniel’s vision was still partially obscured by the powder, but it appeared to be another marble. This one also looked to be transparent, but there was no fire inside of it. The man started gagging, as if he was trying to vomit, but nothing was happening. “No,” the man screamed.
Daniel wasn’t going to wait any longer. His view was good enough that he knew where the man was standing, so he pulled the trigger on his laser weapon. Red hot energy shot out of it and streaked at the man. It hit him in the chest, right above the heart. The man staggered and dropped to one knee. Daniel wanted to hurl immature insults about the mating habits of the man’s mother, but held his tongue. That shot should have killed him, but all it did was knock him down to one knee. This wasn’t right.
“I am impressed by your weapon,” the man said with a smile. “That actually hurt me, and it has been some time since I have been hurt by one who was not one of my kind.”
There were so many questions going through his mind, but he couldn’t ask them. The man looked like he was going to continue talking, but he couldn’t let him. Daniel pulled the trigger twice more. One shot went for the man’s chest, the other raced towards his face. With inhuman speed, the man juked to his left. The laser shot missed his head, but the second one still hit. It just hit the shoulder instead of the chest. The man spun around, but managed to keep his balance.
“That thing’s attack burns hotter than my flames do,” the man commented. “It would probably be more effective against someone who was not built to withstand the heat.”
Again, Daniel heard a gagging sound and knew the man was trying to bring one of the fire marbles to his throat.
“Drop another one,” he ordered the drone.
The drone did as instructed and quickly flew away, its entire payload spent. Once more, the entire area was covered in a white cloud of powder. Daniel lost sight of the man. Still, he fired his laser weapon repeatedly in the classic ‘spray and pray’ technique. The gagging sound turned into angry grunts, but he couldn’t tell if it was out of frustration or pain. After a few more shots, the battery pack on his laser weapon ran out. He took the old one out and replaced it with a new one.
Before he could shoot again, his breath was suddenly, and forcefully, expelled from his body. Daniel’s chest felt like a truck had hit it, something that had actually happened to him on more than one occasion. Then, he felt weightless and knew that he was now falling off the parking garage again, taking another five story plummet to the ground below. His back hit the ground first and his head hit a split second later. Even with his enhanced durability, a shot to the head like that hurt like hell.
He shook the pain out of his head and looked up. The man stood on the ledge and looked down on him. “It is time to end this, Protector.”
The man jumped off the ledge. He felt another jarring impact on his chest. His eyes had involuntarily closed when the man jumped, but they were open now. And Daniel didn’t believe them. As he sat on top of Daniel, the man’ body convulsed and began to change. It got bigger and bigger until only a hand was holding Daniel down. The man’s skin disappeared and was replaced by shiny red scales. The man’s face and neck elongated and razor sharp teeth as tall as Daniel formed in the man’s mouth.
Only Daniel knew he couldn’t call it a man anymore. It was something that couldn’t exist, yet it was right on top of him. He was face to face with a dragon.
The only thing he could think of to say in that world changing moment was, “You’ve got to be shitting me.”

6 comments on “Southside Protector: Chapter 3

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