Blood ran freely from Kennedy’s nose. She also had some dripping from the right side of her mouth and a cut on the left side of her forehead. That would probably be enough to keep most people out of a fight, but Protectors weren’t most people. They had training, and physical enhancements, that nobody else in the world had. Protectors could take and dish out more punishment than any other people on Earth.
That particular fact was both a blessing and a curse for Daniel Carter at this moment.
It was good because it allowed him to survive the punishment that he’d received at the hands of the dragon. Well, the legs of the dragon, he thought. Although, if Emmeline was to be believed, he reminded himself, the dragon had sat on him, so perhaps ‘the ass of the dragon’ would be more apt. The more he thought about it, however, he didn’t ever want to tell people that he’d received punishment from a dragon’s ass, so he decided to stick with ‘hands of the dragon’.
Now that he’d cleared that up in his mind, he turned to the curse part of the equation. That part was how that same Protector enhancements allowed Kennedy to recover from the beating he had given her and attack his ally Robbie. At the moment, Robbie was still alive, but he was hurt pretty badly. Kennedy stood over him with a knife. She reached down and, with the extra strength of a Protector, picked Robbie off the ground to use him as a human shield.
Daniel didn’t hesitate.
She had positioned Robbie well, covering most of her body, but there were still a few small spots left uncovered. Hoping to end this faceoff with Kennedy before the dragon could stop him, Daniel fired his laser weapon at one of the tiny openings. The shot whizzed past Robbie’s leg and took out Kennedy’s kneecap. Because it was a flexible joint, the Protector armor that they wore didn’t cover the entire knee. His shot hurt her.
Kennedy shouted in pain, but maintained her grip on Robbie. The Eastside Protector fell down on top of her, but rolled away when they hit the ground. She tried to keep him in place, but Robbie had moved just enough to give Daniel a small window to shoot her in the face. He pulled the trigger.
The image of what his shot had done to her burned itself into his mind and he stood dumbfounded for a moment before he heard Robbie call out to him. He didn’t register the words, but he noted the tone. It was a warning. Daniel tried to leap away, but he wasn’t fast enough. Once more, the dragon swatted him with one of its powerful legs.
This one didn’t hurt as much as some of the others had. Either he was becoming numb to all the pain that was coursing through his body at the moment, or the dragon was weakening. Still, a weak dragon was still more powerful than every criminal he had ever faced combined. His entire back landed roughly on a surface that felt harder than concrete.
When his head stopped spinning enough for him to get his bearings, he found that he had landed on top of the Protector’s armored vehicle. Turning his neck sent waves of agony coursing through him, disproving his going numb theory. He needed to see where the dragon was, so he did his best to push past the pain. Daniel got his eyes on his target, but found that his vision was blurry from tears of pain.
Through the moisture, he saw the dragon stomping towards the closer target, Robbie. The Japanese man had propped himself up against a chunk of the parking garage that had fallen down. His laser weapon shot repeatedly, but the shots weren’t as accurate as they normally were. The wound Kennedy had inflicted upon him must be worse than Daniel thought.
There would be no easy way to end this fight, he saw. He had to do it, though. He had to stop the dragon before anyone else got hurt. An image of his daughter, Tatiana, filed his mind. It was the memory of the first time he ever saw her. She was five years old at the time and he couldn’t believe that he had a hand in creating something so beautiful. No matter how many lives he had saved as the Southside Protector, he knew that being her father was the greatest thing he would ever do.
Daniel thought about Tatiana. He thought about Nikki, Emmeline, and Robbie. He thought about all of the other people in Cincington that would get hurt if the dragon wasn’t stopped. Before he could talk himself out of it, Daniel picked himself up off the ground. He dropped down to the ground. Grabbing a couple of things out of the armored vehicle, he ran straight toward the dragon. It was about to stomp down on the injured Robbie, so he shouted out to get the dragon’s attention.
***** ***** *****
Emmeline slowly made her way back to the fight. When she had first put Daniel in the medical bay after his fight with the dragon, she thought that his injuries were caused because of the decline of the Protector serum’s potency that had been occurring due to his advancing age. After taking a hit from the beast herself, she knew better now. That dragon was easily the most powerful thing that any Cincington Protector had ever faced.
She finally got close to the scene, and had walked most of the hurt off, when she was transfixed by what she saw. Robbie was seconds away from being squished like a bug under the dragon’s foot. Daniel was rushing at the beast like a madman. The Southside Protector’s pace was slowed by a very noticeable limp from the multitude of hits that he had absorbed, but that didn’t seem to bother the hellbent man.
“Hey dragon,” Daniel shouted. “Eat me!”
In spite of his injuries, Daniel leapt higher than any Protector that she had ever seen. The dragon turned its head in time for Daniel to smack right into its snout. For a second, he seemed frozen in place, but Daniel began to fall back to the ground. He never made it there. The dragon opened its mouth and caught Daniel with its tongue. “No,” Emmeline cried as it closed its mouth around him.
She knew exactly what the plan was. She had seen old movies that had something similar happen. Sure enough, a few seconds later, the dragon’s throat exploded outward. Pieces of it flew out in every direction. Robbie rolled away as fast as he could to avoid the falling body parts. He barely missed getting hit by the body. The dragon’s head, which was no longer attached to its neck, fell to the other side.
Emmeline rushed forward. She knew what she would find when she got there, but she had to make sure. As she expected, right next to where the dragon’s neck wound, she found the lifeless body of Daniel Carter, the Southside Protector.
She wanted to cry, but the time for tears would have to wait for later. Robbie coughed weakly off to her left and she knew he needed her help. As she hurried to his side, she activated her earpiece. “Calrian?”
“What’s going on?” he asked. “The video feeds aren’t very clear.”
“You need to get ready.”
“Get ready? For what?”
“Because you’re now the new Southside Protector.”