Star Dog: Earth’s Last Shield 1.7

Bandit didn’t know what he should expect when Caleb pulled back into the precinct parking lot, but he had more of an upbeat attitude. Whether he still believed it was all part of the concussion, he didn’t feel like asking.

He knew better once other people were around that he would have to keep his new sentience to himself, otherwise it would cause him a world of trouble. He wouldn’t just have the pound to worry about, as Caleb had playfully threatened. As they got into the lobby, Bandit veered toward the Chief’s mahogany door, ready to hear Caleb’s uplifting story of second chances, but instead his partner gently guided him away to an officer at a desk.

“Marjorie, hi,” Caleb leaned in and flashed the middle-aged woman a charming smile. “What do you have for me today?”

“Nothing you’d really care for,” she smirked cynically without looking away from her report she was typing. “However, Robinson and Blue Steele were just called out to a disturbance downtown. It’s at the flower shop on Main and Parallel, you know, that quaint little shop. What’s it called?”

“The Littlest Lotus?” Caleb’s eyebrows raised in recognition, which elicited a snort of derision from the senior officer.

“Of course, you’d know,” she smiled wryly. “They might be able to use some back-up.”

“We’re on our way,” Caleb replied, ignoring the dig. “Let’s go, buddy.” Bandit rushed to his side and stayed there as they made their way back to the squad car. Once they were out of view and earshot, Bandit spoke up.

“You’re oddly competitive about this,” Bandit panted as they trotted towards the car. “Isn’t this supposed to be about cooperation? You know, working as a team to bring down the perp?”

“That’s a great ideal,” Caleb admitted as they got into the car and he adjusted his mirror before pulling out, “but that’s not the kind of sentiment that will make me Detective before I’m thirty.” The tires squealed as they pulled away and headed downtown. Grism City flashed past in all of its glory, and Bandit took the time to admire it all. He appreciated it on a level he couldn’t have accessed before, and he felt an odd sense of melancholy. The sudden jolting of crossing two lanes of traffic to make it onto the overpass shook the canine out of his reverie.

“Easy does it,” Bandit warned as his splayed forelegs braced against the dashboard.

“Nobody likes a back-seat driver,” Caleb muttered.

“I’m in the front seat,” Bandit corrected.

“But not the one that matters,” Caleb countered as he guided the squad car gently down the ramp exiting the overpass. The flower shop was within sight, and Caleb pushed on the gas.

“What’s the rush?” Bandit turned a subtle shade of green at the acceleration.

“What if Robinson really needs our help?” Caleb proposed unconvincingly, side glancing at his new partner.

“I’m sure your intentions are purely noble,” Bandit muttered as they arrived on the scene, and Caleb considered him.

“Don’t you want to outshine Blue Steele?” he asked.

“Of course,” Bandit admitted. “Although I don’t think it’s that simple. He already has greatness in his bloodline: Sarge. As for me, well, let’s just say I don’t.” Caleb was on the verge of questioning him further, but instead he shared a tidbit of information he had picked up.

“Honestly, I don’t know much about German shepherds, but I do know that his coloring is considered a fault by breed clubs. His coat is a dilution – a recessive gene – right?”

“I don’t see how that matters,” Bandit replied nonchalantly, and Caleb sighed and thought to himself, “Me neither, but it matters greatly to the right people.”

“Okay, dog mode,” he reminded as they exited the car at the scene.

Robinson and Blue Steele were positioned at the entrance of the store with another squad car and a crowd started forming. Two officers were continually pushing civilians back, and Robinson was speaking into a megaphone directed at the flower shop. Like the jewelry store, it appeared vandalized. Caleb rushed forward to ask if it was another hostage situation like earlier, but shattering glass interrupted him. It was the same gray-skinned, flannel-clad perp as before, and the look in his eye was even more pained and wilder than before. Without halting, he rampaged through the pitiful blockade and weapons were fired at him. The sound of bullets embedding in concrete could be heard, but the perp didn’t slow down.

“Send the dogs!” Robinson shouted as he let Blue Steele loose, who took out like he was shot out of a cannon, and after a moment of confused hesitation, Bandit followed suit. Admirably he caught up and was running neck and neck with Blue Steele, and Bandit looked at him out of the corner of his eye. While they were on the same team and heading towards the same perp, it felt like a race. It led into another winding alley, and Bandit was more cautious this time. He sorely remembered last time, but Blue Steele surged ahead.

The perp stared at the side of a building for a moment, and then he punched it, and then punched higher up with his other arm. His fist sunk into the brick like it was foam, and in this way he began scaling the side of the building. He wasn’t fast enough, and Blue Steele jumped and grabbed a mouthful of flannel. The canine hung pathetically like a rag doll, growling as the pair ascended higher.

The incessant growling must have gotten to the perp more than anything physically annoying, because a free fist swung down and clocked the canine across the skull, and with a yelp he fell and collapsed into a furry heap beneath the fire escape. Bandit rushed forward and sniffed and licked the silent mass, but the blue-coated canine didn’t move.

Perhaps he might never again.


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