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Sawtooth Mountain Pass, Marine Support Base

The concrete hangar doors laid open and Lieutenant Commander Tommy walked past the parked Valkyries undergoing maintenance by a crew of techs. He paused to admire the squat hunching ragged look of the birds and walked towards the office at the end of the hangar.

He entered the side office and found Captain Blake and Chief Matt had already gathered around the office desk. "Sir!" He quickly gave a salute.

"At ease, Commander. Here, take a seat," Blake gestured Tommy to an empty chair while pouring a bottle of whiskey into a glass and passing to him.

"Since this is an unofficial meeting, so I brought some drinks," Blake grinned and the three of them toasted. "Cheers!"

"So what's the meeting about, Sir?" Tommy asked after taking a swig of the whiskey.

"Well, it's about the formation of the Air Force of course," Blake replied as he took out a tiny display stand and placed it on the desk before switching it on.

A holographic 3D model of a biplane appeared, slowly rotating above the circular display stand. "This is a World War One British Aircon DH 2 biplane model," Blake said. "Designed by Sir Geoffrey de Havilland who later formed the De Havilland Aircraft Company which built and designed one of the most successful multi-role combat aircraft of World War Two, the de Havilland DH 98 Mosquito which frame is built almost entirely out of wood and they also built the first commercial jet airliner in the world."

"I abit of a history buff and I got a hobby of 3D holo kit modeling old planes," Blake explained. "I am thinking of using this as the base design for our first aircraft here. The DH 2 runs on a pusher configuration and its design is very maneuverable and relatively easy to fly. Historically, its engine is prone to stalling but we should be able to fix its stalling issues."

"Isn't it too primitive?" Tommy raised his eyebrows as he took a sip of the whiskey. "It looks flimsy, won't a monoplane tracer design be better?"

"Well compared to everything we have, yup very primitive," Blake agreed, as he poured another round of whiskey. "But considering the technical knowledge and resources we have, this is a good learning and starting point for our people to learn how to build and design aircraft."

Chief Matt nodded, "Cap, has a point here, we know how to maintain the Spacebus turned Valkyries and UAVs due to that was what was taught and we have the manuals. But straight up building an aircraft? Well, frankly I doubt anyone has the proper expertise on building one. Not to mention knowing the Cap, he plans to build our aircraft using metal-wood and metal-metal bonding techniques."

"Even me, if you ask me about building you a car, I could still wing it, but a whole aircraft? It's gonna be hard," Chief Matt admitted, "This design here at least looks similar to ultralights which some of my boys have some experience on, it will be a good learning lesson for everything on this project."

Tommy nodded, and picked up the holo kit, examining the plane. "So the wings are made out of some kind of fabric?"

"Well, for the frame we can use wood and nano carbon tubes while the wings we can opt for using our limited salvage stock of carbon fiber polymer or even treated leather," Blake said. "Matt will work with his guys in coming out a way to use wood as the main material to replace metals such as aluminum and other advanced materials which we have no way to produce."

"The elves appear to be quite proficient with woodworking techniques and hopefully we can work something out," Matt grinned next. "If not, we try magic. The aircraft will be a twin seater pusher engine design. With a wind resistance and weight reduction runes, and at least a 200 horsepower engine, it will be more than enough for our current needs."

"I plan to have the aircraft with a proper canopy instead of an open-air top, the forward gunner will be more like a ball turret carrying dual heavy machine guns while the aircraft primarily carry cannon or rocket pods," Blake said. "But of course only after we get a prototype up and flying than we see what we can do to upgrade it to more modern standards."

"And with fixed wheel carriage, we won't even need a proper runway for them to take off and land, as long the field is flat and without any foreign objects and debris littering the field," Blake grinned.

"Sir, that is a lot of guesswork and ifs," Tommy pointed out, "We don't even have a combustion engine yet!"

"Haha, I know, that's why we are drinking now!" Blake joked before looking serious, " Look, Chief Matt here already have plans and designs for a nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine rated around 200 horsepower."

"We already successfully built a prototype five-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, roughly rated at 100 horsepower and tested it," Chief Matt said next, "We used methane and ethanol fermented from potatoes as fuel for the prototype and it somewhat worked,"

"What we lacked was a sustainable fuel source as using potatoes currently just to make fuel will dip into our food stocks greatly," Chief Matt continued, "But now we found out that Dragonite crystals are similar to our fossil fuels, and it is more efficient and cheaper to produce compared to using and producing methane or ethanol."

"So now the more powerful nine-cylinder engine can go into testing phrase once the fuel has been refined and tested," Blake finished.

"Well I chose the DH 2 is also because it can be built by hobbyists in their own garage," Blake smiled, "I got the exact specifications and plans, that came along with the holo model kit."

"I want you in this project not only because your the Air Force Commanding Officer, but also due to your previous experience in flying monoplanes," Blake asked, "How're the dragons?"

"I see," Tommy nodded, he had some prior experience in flying monoplanes in the past. "I am currently coming out a doctrine for dragon combat with Blue Thunder and a training manual for integrating dragons into the whole combined arms doctrine."

"From what we know of the Empire dragon tactics are they group 20 middleweights and two heavyweights into a unit or Corps as Blue Thunder explained to me," Tommy explained, "The heavyweights are the anvil while the middleweight worked as the hammer."

"They will conduct harassing tactics against enemy dragons to force the enemy to close in with them and use the heavies to punch through while the mids flank or distract," Tommy finished his drink in one swallow. "It works well against an enemy whose numbers are lesser than theirs, which is all the time."

"When engaging heavy against heavy, they normally have the dragon exchange long range breathe attacks, like fireballs and stuff then close into crossbow range, which from what Blue Thunder tells me, the crossbow bolts tend to have special spells inscribed on them that hurt a lot."

"The next and final move is boarding action, which the crew on either side jumps onto of each other dragons and try to kill the crew or take the captain hostage which the dragon tend to surrender."

"That sounds like some old school age of sail naval action. Range with cannons and close in before entering boarding actions," Blake raised his eyebrows.

Tommy nodded, "That's why I'm coming out with a new doctrine against the Empire dragons."

"Just hit them from afar before they come into crossbow range," Chief Matt suggested. "Or have aircraft like what the Cap, suggested, gun them down before they can react."

"Yes, Chief," Tommy nodded, "If the first prototypes proved themselves, I will switch to aircraft as the main force while the dragons will be playing the roles of bombers and close air support."

"Apparently autopsy results from Dr. Sharon explains a bit of how dragons with over 30, 40 tons of weight could fly," Tommy shared some information he gotten from Dr. Sharon. "The dragons have these sacs inside their lungs and chest cavities that get filled with hydrogen. Seems like their lungs are able to process hydrogen from the air they breathe in and stores them in sacs like organs in their body."

"The compressed hydrogen proves lift for the dragons and Dr. Sharon believes that is how they are able to breathe or spit fire out," Tommy continued, "And with their innate magical abilities to fly and most likely weight reduction. That's probably how something heavier than a dinosaur could fly even without hollow bones."

"Even the scales of the dragons are almost similar in properties with kevlar," Tommy shook his head, "Anything short of 12.7 mm is not gonna do shit to a dragon."

"I did plan to put 20 mm autocannons on the planes," Blake hinted, "provided we come out with a smokeless propellant soon."

"So to sum it up," Chief Matt downed his drink in one gulp, "It's all magic!"

"Well, yea, in a nutshell," Tommy laughed. "I am starting to not question any weird shit this planet throws at me anymore. I just explain it as magic."

"Yea, but we need to know how these magic can help us," Blake said, "I am not really keen on fighting half a million troops from the Empire. Even if I have a nuke, I seriously wouldn't wanna nuke them."

"Why, Sir?" Tommy asked, curious. "Why not nuke them then everything is solved."

"Have you ever thought that we are here accidentally? What right do we have to meddle with an alien planet's politics?" Blake asked. "How would you feel if an alien race comes and nuke us? Like the Swarm?"

"Erm, all-out war? Either they die or we die?" Tommy guessed.

"You have it," Blake said, "Look at the Swarm, we didn't provoke them and yet they are determined for our destruction."

"In this case, we helped a group of refugees in this planet from another nation," Blake explained, "To us, we might be self-righteous in saving these people, but what other the other side? To them these are rebels, despite all that slavery shit, to them we are the meddling ones."

"So does it make it right if we have a weapon of mass destruction to bomb them for following their culture, beliefs, and ideas that are alien to us as ours are alien to them?" Blake pointed out. "Also the collateral damage? Are we willing to take the blame for killing countless unknowing innocents? And the UN banned the use of nuclear weapons on green planets in the 2061 Peace Accords to prevent events like the Sirius Incident where the Chinese nuked the French colony and kicked the planet's ecosystem into a nuclear hell, wasting 30 years of terraforming efforts."

"Not to mention we lack any means to produce a nuke, or even do perform any nuclear cleanup," Blake added. "Almost all our equipment for that was lost in the rear portion of the ship."

"If that's the case why are we helping the natives?" Chief Matt asked, "Shouldn't we be minding our own business?"

"I wish it could be that simple, Chief," Blake sighed, "We crash landed here without anything except what's onboard the ship, the locals can provide us with food and a workforce for our survival needs."

"If we rejected them, our current food and industrial capabilities won't be what it is today," Blake explained. "Almost 90% of the crew are all city kids, without any proper skills of surviving out in the wild. That's why we need them just as they needed our help. This one of the reasons why I want to make this war with the Empire to be fucking expensive, making each lost so great that they take years to recover and forcing them to negotiate with us instead of sending more troops against us."

"And not only that, we don't have any means of returning home yet, and most likely we will have to stay here for generations, so having the natives integrate with us also helps our objective in surviving in the long run." Blake gave a sigh and stared at the bottle of whiskey. "And the creatures and monsters here, all being hostile and with our fighting force despite being first grade, are very limited, having locals as part of our armed forces also boost our survival rate."

"But to do that, we need to have a war machine capable of crushing any force sent against us. We don't have the manpower or the need to invade the Empire. That's why I am pushing weapons development more than civic development for now." Blake poured another roll of drinks for everyone and gave a toast, throwing back his head and finished the whole glass in one shot.

"Peace through superior firepower, bitches!"

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