“No,” Robinson whispered while he ran a hand over Blue Steele’s motionless form. He clicked on his COMM unit and firmly repeated, “K-9 unit injured. I repeat, K-9 unit injured at the corner of Main and Parallel.”
“He’ll be okay,” Caleb comforted him glumly. “He’s tough.”
“He has a pulse, and there’s no sign of blood,” Robinson stoically reported. “We have no idea about internal bleeding or breakages. I can’t even tell what happened. Wait – There’s something in his mouth.” Robinson carefully worked out a piece of flannel that Blue Steele had been clutching in his jaw, and he held up pinched between his sleeve.
“Is that evidence?” Caleb asked as he got closer to peer at it.
“I believe so,” Robinson answered as he put it into a plastic bag drawn from his uniform pocket. “It looks like he got a hold of what the perp had been wearing. What do you think happened here?”
“Whatever it was,” Caleb pointed to the holes in the brick building, “it wasn’t pretty.”
“Holy-” Robinson cursed as he looked at the potholes in the side of the building. They went all the way to the top. “What do you think did that?”
“Could it have been our perp? Something about him seems a little off, if you ask me.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Robinson mused as he looked skyward. “We should be able to identify any DNA on this rag. We’ll have it tested immediately while Blue Steele is recovering. Look!” Just as he said that, Blue Steele began to stir. Robinson pet him and talked to him until back-up and vet tech arrived while Caleb and Bandit looked on.
* * *
Back at the precinct, they had more waiting around to do than usual while waiting on the lab results, and Blue Steele’s recovery. Apparently, the tap to the head had been just enough to knock him out, and no permanent damage was apparent.
In the downtime, Bandit wondered if Caleb would take the time now to talk to the Chief and explain his stay of rehabilitation. He couldn’t help but wonder if the surly Chief would buy it, and whether or not he could mandate rehabilitation. Also, did he truly deserve it, Bandit wondered about himself. He tried to remember about his life before his fateful change, but the memories were blurry and half-baked. He felt as he thought he had done a good job. Why was everyone else’s perception of him so poor?
By the time the lab results on the perp were in, Blue Steele was up and walking, and acting like nothing had happened, aside from a few bandages and being under careful watch. While Robinson dealt with his partner, Caleb used the opportunity to beat him to the information.
“His name is Raymond Orville,” the lab tech said while peering at a chart. “He’s a construction worker that disappeared off-site. He was working just above the subway a few days ago, and wife and child filed a missing person report and are worried sick. No previous record. It appears he just walked off.”
“Interesting,” Caleb considered as he took the file. “Thank you very much. We’ll get to the bottom of this.” They left quickly while avoiding Robinson and the Chief this time, and they headed towards the squad car. After they settled in, Caleb cleared his throat.
“So, now that we have a chance, will you tell me what really happened?” Caleb asked while giving his canine partner a questioning sidelong glance.
“That thing isn’t human,” Bandit said hollowly. The horror of watching a fellow canine crumple like that was unsettling, and the feeling of seeing it happen again and again just wouldn’t go away. “Whatever it is, it started climbing the wall, and Blue Steele lunged. When he wouldn’t get off, the perp swung and hit him.”
“I’m amazed that Blue Steele is okay,” Caleb murmured as he threw the car into drive and peeled out of the parking lot.
“Actually, I think that’s on purpose. That thing was climbing a building by punching into the side like it was nothing. If he wanted to hurt Blue Steele, he would have. Clearly, something inside him held back. What if there’s something we’re missing? It’s not adding up.”
“Perhaps,” Caleb considered. “There’s another thing not adding up.”
“Huh?” Bandit looked at him. “What’s that?”
“Why was Blue Steele the one with the evidence, and not you? How did he beat you to the alley?”
“I’m not faster than I used to be,” Bandit retorted, but mentally added, “I think.”
“Probably not, but I know something happened.”
“Fine,” Bandit spat and immediately turned towards the car window. “I hesitated. I held back. I got scared. Blue Steele probably doesn’t have that luxury.”
“Don’t blame sentience,” Caleb cautioned. “You acted like this before your immaculate transformation. Why did you freeze up?”
“I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened the last time I turned the corner into an alleyway,” Bandit pointedly stated. “Or did you forget?”
“I wish I could,” Caleb rubbed his bandages on his head. “That’s no excuse, though.”
“Hmmph,” Bandit pondered. “Well, anyways. We’re moving on. Where are we going next? Did you get the perp’s address? Places where he hangs out? We have an identity now. Let’s use it.” The city flashed past the windows, and Bandit recognized the route. He shot a look of indignation and dismay to his partner. Caleb squirmed uncomfortably in the car before he looked Bandit in the eyes. He had an apologetic look that chilled Bandit to the bones.
“Actually, I made other plans for you. This is for your own good.”