Southside Protector: Chapter 8

Daniel headbutted Kennedy again. When he felt her go slack, he punched her a couple of times to ensure that she was out. Convinced that she wasn’t playing possum, he flipped her onto her stomach, pulled her hands behind her back, and reached for his restraints. That’s when he remembered that he didn’t bring them. The plan was for them to fight the dragon. Human restraints do nothing for that so they left them behind.

The roar of the dragon brought his focus back to the problem at hand. He didn’t have the time to think of an improvised solution, but the only way to be positive that Kennedy wouldn’t give them any more trouble was to kill her. As mad as he was at her for siding with the dragon, he wasn’t ready to go that far. That feeling might change if he discovered that she had indeed killed Nikki. If he found that Nikki was dead, he wouldn’t hesitate to dish out Kennedy’s punishment; the death penalty.

Daniel picked her up and dragged her over to the armored vehicle. She groaned right before he slammed her head against the metal plates three times. On a normal person, that action would have crushed their skull. On a person infused with the Protector serum, he was afraid it wasn’t enough to keep her out of the rest of the fight. It would have to do for the moment.

He looked back to see what had happened behind him while he was dealing with Kennedy. Robbie and Emmeline were still keeping the dragon occupied, though the dragon had dropped to the ground from the top of the parking and appeared to be more angry than usual. Then, he saw why. The RPG had blasted the tip of its tail off. That made him smile. That’s when the question became whether he should go after the RPG launcher or check on Nikki.

He shook his head. After hearing the question in his mind, he realized that there was no question. Saving lives came first. He had to check on Nikki.

The problem was that she was laying close to where the dragon now stood. If he went to her, he’d put himself in the dragon’s reach. Daniel only one surefire way to distract the dragon, so he activated his earpiece to talk to Calrian back at Protector Center.

“Yeah, boss,” the young man said before Daniel spoke to him.

“Send in the fire drone and have it drop its payload on the dragon.”

“That’s really original. Maybe you should spice things up by trying something different.”

“And maybe you should shut the hell up.” Daniel knew that his Collector would likely keep running his mouth, so he kept talking to prevent it. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At least tell me you have the drone on standby like I asked you to.”

“When have I ever not done as you asked?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?”

“Bite me. The drone should be there in five seconds.”

Daniel turned off his earpiece to cut off any further conversation. As soon as he did, he heard the approach of the fire drone. Unfortunately, the dragon heard it too. The dragon’s head whipped side to side until it saw the drone. He needed to protect the drone from the dragon. Or did he?

The more he thought about it, the more he realized that it would be better for the dragon to be chasing after the drone. That way, its attention was off of him and he could get to Nikki without having to walk through a cloud of flame retardant chemicals. He clicked his earpiece back on long enough to tell Calrian to have the drone pilot to evade the dragon, but not to drop its payload until he got Nikki out of there. Once that was done, he yelled out to Emmeline and Robbie, “Protect the drone!”

They both did as he asked, though both of them appeared to be baffled by his order. That didn’t matter. All that mattered was the dragon believing it to be a real order, and it did. It lunged at the drone in a frenzy, but the pilot kept it just high enough that the dragon couldn’t reach it. With its wing injured, it probably couldn’t fly up to get the drone either. The important thing was that the lunge left an opening for Daniel to rush in and get Nikki out of the way.

Age had started to wear away at his enhanced abilities, but Daniel took off with the speed of a young Protector. He wasn’t about to lose another colleague. Not if he could help it.

When he reached Nikki, he didn’t break stride. He grabbed onto her arm and pulled her close without ever slowing down. Daniel activated his earpiece again and told Calrian to have the pilot drop the chemicals. After making sure he was far enough away, he put Nikki down to check her vitals. She wasn’t breathing, so he rushed to find a pulse. Just looking at her, she didn’t appear to have any injuries. That meant that either her armor was covering the wounds, or they were internal.

Daniel found no pulse in her wrist so he moved up to her neck. Still, there was no pulse. He pulled out a syringe of adrenaline, took the armor off from her chest, and stabbed her with the needle, hoping to hit her heart. Checking again, he still found no pulse.

She was gone. Even though he didn’t want to admit it, Nikki was gone.

Rage built up inside of him. Laying her down gently, he stalked over to the armored vehicle. Kennedy was still on the ground. He grabbed her on either side of his face. The urge to twist her head until her neck snapped was almost overwhelming. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Daniel actually considered it for a few seconds.

That wasn’t who he was, though.

Instead, he slammed her head again to ensure she wouldn’t wake up. By then, the drone had dropped the chemical package. A cloud hung over the area he had pulled Nikki from. The dragon had used its powerful hind legs to jump out of the cloud. It was dangerously close to Emmeline now. He’d already lost one fellow Protector. He wasn’t about to lose another one.

Looking around for the RPG launcher, he saw that it was likely in the cloud covered area. After the last fight, and the beginning of this one, Daniel was becoming familiar with this area. He was pretty sure he could find it quickly, despite the limited visibility. A pained grunt came from Emmeline as the dragon connected with a swat from its front legs.

“Robbie,” Daniel shouted. “Save her!”

Robbie’s weapon wasn’t very effective against the dragon, but at least he had one. Until Daniel retrieved the launcher, he was weaponless. Taking his best guess, he plunged into the cloud. About ten feet in, he tripped over something and fell flat on his face. Whether it was luck or skill, he didn’t know, but when he grabbed the item he had tripped over, he found that it was the launcher.

The dragon shrieked, but he didn’t know why. The sounds of battle could no longer be heard. The cloud was still too thick for him to see outside it. He could feel the heat coming from its breath. Daniel knew it was close. It seemed foolish to use his shot before he could visually acquire his target, but the heat was getting worse. The dragon’s mouth was coming closer to him. If he waited until he had a clear shot, it might be too late.
With an image of his daughter in his head, Daniel fired the RPG and hoped for the best.

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