Star Dog: Earth’s Last Shield 1.15

“Excuse me?” Caleb said a little too loudly, and Bandit shushed him. Caleb noted to remember this day as the day he got shushed by a cocky canine. “What do you mean you want to be switched off of me? I thought we’ve been through this already.”

“We were, but we came to the wrong conclusion.”

“Look, I know today was tough, but that doesn’t mean -”

“Does it mean that I’m not cut out for this? That I’m not competent enough to protect you?”

“Do you really think that?” Caleb countered with a firmness in his voice. “We’ve talked about this. You did good today under a stressful situation. No one expects perfection. You’re a living creature, like the rest of us. You’re not a machine, and we all understand that.”

“I may not be a machine, but being just as good as the other dogs isn’t good enough anymore. I’ve been either gifted or cursed, but either way, I have to do something about it.”

“So, what? You want to go into rehabilitation again? Do some more exercises at the Academy? It worked out great the first time,” Caleb hotly retorted, and Bandit stiffened.

“No. While we were there, I saw there were some openings for mentor dogs to help train new recruits. It’s a side program for retired police dogs – usually. I’m sure they can make an exception until they get a more permanent placement,” Bandit explained.

“Would that be you?” Caleb raised an eyebrow.

“At least now I’m choosing it, rather than being ambushed,” Bandit replied even saltier than Caleb had been.

“I thought that would be easier on you.”

“I’m sure it’s easier that way for all the unenlightened canines – less time to suffer.”

“You know that’s not how I meant it.”

“You might as well have. Look, this isn’t forever. I just need to take a beat. I almost cost an entire family their lives – in one way or another – when I missed that woman.”

“So you’ll let one mistake keep you from doing the right thing? What about Orville? He’s still out there, and he doesn’t care if you need a break,” Caleb hissed through clenched teeth. His nostrils flared and his brow was furrowed as he crouched down to Bandit’s level.

“What do you expect me to do about that?” Bandit said with frustration clearly edging his voice. His shouted question almost sounded like a bark. “What do you expect a dog to do against that one ton monstrosity? Talk to it? That’s all that’s different about me, and it’s not enough to bring down something like that. I’m sorry I’m not Wonder Dog.”

“No, the real Wonder Dogs are staying on the force, and when that call comes in, they’ll be on the scene. Where will you be?” Caleb asked with a glare in his eyes that if looks could kill would have left Bandit as a pile of ashes. The young policeman turned on his heel and walked briskly on his way out the door, nearly stomping all the way, past the other officers who were staring in disbelief. His rage billowed around him like a barrier, and even Christine watched noiselessly as he pushed through the front doors and left the precinct in a huff.

Bandit paced around his partner’s cubicle for a few indecisive strides, and then he took off after him like a rocket through the lobby and scrambled at the door with canine paws to push it open. He stumbled out onto the warm sidewalk, and he didn’t spot Caleb right away. He looked to his left and right and spotted Caleb to his left, walking briskly towards the crosswalk, which just turned for pedestrians to cross. He was wearing his uniform underneath a larger jacket, and his hands were shoved in his pockets and his angry visage stalked forward with misplaced purpose. He was so busy deep inside his angry thoughts that he didn’t notice what Bandit did.

The city bus was hurtling down the street towards the intersection, and Bandit could feel from the vibrations that it had no intention of stopping.


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