Chapter Five: Mal
The good thing about riding was the ability to weave in and out of traffic. It may be frowned upon by the cops, but fuck them. Melbourne city traffic at this time of day was for shit and he didn't have the time or patience. Dragons flew overhead with their cargo, heading to the various dragon ports located atop city buildings.
Mal had just cleared the edge of the city when he noticed a black SUV several cars back also weaving in and out of traffic. Mal's heart rate kicked up a notch and he put on a burst of speed, he didn't know if this car was following him but he didn't want to take any chances.
He turned down a side road that he knew connected back up to where he was going and continued to check his mirrors. When he saw the black SUV turn behind him Mal knew he was their target.
All he had to do was get back to the Hangar. Unauthorised personnel weren't allowed on site. Most Hangars around the world were locked down tighter than a military base. Mal sped down the street, only slowing slightly when he turned back onto a main road. The sounds of horns honking behind him and the screeching of tires let him know he'd come close to being hit.
He didn't have time to stop and apologise to the other drivers. Mal revved the engine and took off. He heard a crunching behind him and looked in his mirror briefly. The SUV had hit a car as it came through the intersection. They weren't stopping either, just backing up and taking off again, their front bumper mangled.
The light ahead of him flicked over to red and Mal swore. He quickly looked both ways before calculating his odds of making it. There were two cars already stopped at the light, Mal rode right up between them and he shot through the intersection, narrowly missing getting clipped.
"Fuck," he swore. More horns were blaring at him.
Mal was just thankful there were no cops around at the moment, the last thing he would be stopping for was blue and red flashing lights. The cops in this city could go fuck themselves for all he cared.
He checked his mirrors and sighed heavily when he saw the car following him stuck in traffic. Mal took off, he had to move his ass and get back to base. He took a few more back roads before he thought he was safe enough to get on the M1, which would take him back to Glen Waverly where the hangar was located.
Mal broke the speed limit the entire ride back, checking his mirrors constantly the entire time. He didn't like the feeling of being followed and not knowing why. He had a strong suspicion it had something to do with Anya, but he had no idea why. He really needed to talk to his team and see if they could help him dig through all this shit. Mal thought he spotted the SUV again just before he took his exit but couldn't be sure, it was a fair way back and there was more than one black SUV on the roads. He hated how paranoid he was feeling right now.
Five minutes later he was pulling up to the gates of the Hangar. The two men who came out of the security station both grinned at him. Mal came to a stop before the gate and pushed the visor up on his helmet so they could see it was him.
"Hey Mal, how's it going?" Jerry asked as he waved to someone back in the station to open the gates.
"Good man, I'm in a bit of a hurry, flying out in…" Mal paused and checked his watch. "Shit, five minutes."
Jerry laughed. "Cutting it a little close this time aren't ya?"
"Yeah, you know me." Mal paused a moment as the gate finished rising. "Hey listen, can you do me a favour?"
"Depends on what it is, but I can try."
Mal chuckled lightly, "Nothing bad I promise. If you see a black SUV with a busted front end get close to here in the next half hour could you take the plate for me?"
Jerry looked at him suspiciously. "Everything okay?"
"I don't know. Can't really talk now. Gotta run."
"Okay. I'll see what I can do," Jerry said as he and Toby, who had remained silent, stood guard, weapons ready, until Mal passed through the open gate.
"Thanks, man. I owe you one." Mal pushed down his visor and took off. He didn't bother heading to the parking structure, there was no way he had time to park his bike and get back to the field in time. Instead he turned left and headed around all the buildings and the massive dragon hangars until he reached the back field connected with the Himalayan Divers. He could already see the other members of his team out on the large grassed field with the dragons.
Someone had thankfully taken the time to saddle Nidhogg for Mal. He pulled his bike to a stop and jumped off. He removed his helmet and threw it to one of the apprentices along with his keys.
"Can you get that put away for me?" he called over his shoulder as he raced onto the field. He didn't hang around waiting for an answer.
"Talk about cutting it close," Darel called to him as he laughed. Darel was the only aboriginal on their team, his name meant blue sky, so he'd told Mal when they met. Said it was a sign he was meant for this job. Even though the man was a rainbow serpent shifter and snakes didn't fly, Darel refused to let that stop him. The man loved what they did. Mal had to agree.
"Yeah, but I'm here now, your ass is safe."
Darel flipped him the bird as Mal came to a halt in front of Nidhogg. He reached out to pet his dragon. Stopping for only seconds to let his friend know he was here and they were about to get to work. Mal ran his hand all the way down Nidhogg's neck until he reached the saddle. He climbed up and settled himself in the hand-tooled leather seat.
Hank called over to him from where he sat atop Nidhogg's father. "Everything okay?"
"I don't think so, but we can talk about it after." Mal had to get his head off what had just happened and onto what they were about to do. He checked the saddlebags behind him to make sure everything he needed had been packed. He hated that he wasn't here to do it himself so he knew, but that couldn't be helped.
"Okay. Let's do this," Hank called.
Mal quickly hooked up his radio headset so he could talk to the others in flight, then applied pressure with his feet. The power under him was unlike anything else Mal had ever felt as Nidhogg braced himself and then leaped into the air, his wings snapping out and catching the air as he pushed them higher and higher into the sky.