Chapter Six: Mal
That's One Pissed Off Dragon
Franae was the youngest of the dragons, but she was coming along nicely. She had her entire family with her, helping to teach her the ropes. Darel also adored her.
The wind rushed over Mal, his hair was messily flapping in the breeze. He hadn't had the time to stop and put it up in the bun he usually wore when they were called out. Mal was also thankful for his sunnies. The other five member of the team all had their protective goggles on. As soon as they stopped and it was safe Mal would be rectifying both situations. He was glad he'd had his jacket, otherwise he would probably be very uncomfortable shortly.
"So what's going on?" Mal asked when they'd levelled out.
"A firedrake has been spotted in the botanical gardens. The Drake is aggressive and has already set small parts of the gardens on fire."
"Shit," Mal swore. He wondered if they would ever come to the end of finding rogue dragons. If they did, that would mean Mal and his team would be out of a job, so he quietly hoped not.
Most rogue dragons liked to keep to themselves. It was when they started to encroach on urban areas that they became a problem.
Hell, Mal had heard only last week about a Jenny firedrake that had nested in Central Park in the middle of NYC. The entire city had been in an uproar about it. Unfortunately, the only thing they could do was to leave her there. A mother protecting her young was a dangerous creature indeed, and not one to be messed with. New York was in for a long year. Especially as the Jenny wouldn't be the only one. The Drake had to be near too.
Thankfully Mal hadn't had this situation happen on his watch yet. He wondered what the dragon found so perfect about Central Park, most dragons liked solitude when nesting, the middle of NYC did not fit that bill.
The day was perfect for flying, a cloudless blue sky, the temperature wasn't too cold, even up high like they were. There had been days in the past where it'd been pissing down with rain and freezing. They'd all been miserable as hell by the time they'd returned back to base after those call outs.
They flew over houses and buildings, cars just tiny moving spots down below. Up here Mal could almost forget about the last couple of weeks. The thrill he felt every time he climbed on to the back of Nidhogg hadn't lessened in all the years Mal had been a Ranger.
Today, that thrill was dampened by his loss. Anya had always been afraid of heights and couldn't understand how Mal did what he did for a living. They'd had many discussions, read arguments, about his job. Anya was an accountant and Mal couldn't think of a more boring job in his entire life. He would hate being stuck behind a desk all day, staring at a computer screen. Not for the first time since receiving that message did Mal wonder just what the hell his sister could have found. She dealt with numbers all day for crying out loud. Mal needed to find some help to dig to the bottom of it.
His attention was snagged by the smoke rising in the distance. It wasn't great billowing stacks of it, but enough they could see it clearly. Hopefully the firries had been called and were on standby for when they had captured the Drake and transported him out of there and back to the Hangar.
They flew over top, assessing the situation, Hank's voice in their ears directing their movements.
Tharos let out a thundering screech as he spotted the firedrake down below, followed by one from Nidhogg. They all slowly descended, circling the enraged animal. Mal wondered what had happened for this guy to be so damn angry. Some species of dragon were just vicious by nature, but by no means did that account for all dragons, only a very small percentage of them.
Mal reached behind him, into the saddlebags and pulled out the gun, which had been loaded with some extra strength tranquilisers. There was no way this guy was going to be coming with them willingly. He spotted Svana doing the same thing. Dragon hides were tough as nails, but there were a couple of vulnerable spots on them. If you could get right in one of the joints, where legs met belly or where wings met back, they were the best places. Mal was the sharpest shooter on the team, thanks to his years in the military.
The others were all there to help distract the animal, stop him from causing any more damage than he'd already done and help get him in a position where Mal and Svana could get a couple of shots off.
They didn't want to hurt the poor thing, just knock him out and then take him back to the Hangar where he could be examined and hopefully trained for future work.
Nidhogg lowered his large body to the ground, Mal notched the rifle against his shoulder and looked through the scope. The other four Rangers and their dragons were trying to calm the animal, but that didn't seem to be working, if anything this dragon seemed angrier than when they'd arrived. He was quick too. Several times Hank and Darel had had to move swiftly to avoid being injured.
Flame was met with flame, the ground under them a blackened charred mess. Jaws snapped at one another and claws clashed. Wings flapped frantically, making it hard to get a shot off. Mal tried nonetheless, He raised his sunnies so he could see properly and tried to block out all the noise, that in his ear and going on around him. He lined his sight up on the spot he wanted and took a deep breath. On the exhale he squeezed the trigger and compensated for the slight kick in the gun.
He'd hit his mark, just. Mal was usually a better shot than that, his head really wasn't in the game right now. The dragon cried out, then moved faster than Mal thought was possible. By the time he realised what was happening it was too late. Nidhogg screeched as he collided with the red dragon. Mal felt like he'd been hit in the chest with a two by four as he went flying.
The last thing he remembered as he hit the ground was thinking that he might get to see Anya again sooner than he'd thought, then everything went black.