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Somewhere in the Great Ocean Plains

"Stop dancing you... piece... of... SHIT!" Sergeant Sath of the 1st Armored, MAW Unit Zero Two could hear the pilot at the forward compartment cursing and swearing away as the MAW literally was dancing its way to ruin.

He could hear the internal rock structure of the MAW cracking loud and the sad shrieking of the joints as the damaged components rubbed together by the malfunctioning spider tank. The MAW made another few more jerky dance moves before burning out one of the radiators and spewing out smelly coolant fluid.

The MAW stopped and settled down on its haunches and the compartment hatches opened up as the crew and passengers inside spilled out, choking on fumes and burnt circuits.

"Now what?" Drake asked as he hopped down the broke down MAW and watched with envy at Slow who was riding his ASAG in a relaxed manner. "I don't think we can call for a tow truck out here in the middle of no where..."

Sath looked at the sad appearance of the MAW, with its external armor plating torn or badly warped. Bits and pieces of its internal stone structure were peeling off or crumbling away. He knew that the poor girl was on her last legs, having carried them so far.

"Hows the radio antenna?" He asked his crew who was fiddling on the top side of the MAW.

"Not looking good," His crew yelled back. "If we had some duct tape, maybe we could tape the broken mast back together..."

"Anyway, try your best," Sath sighed. "And see if you can get a broadcast out to Orwell's Point. If worst comes to worst, activate the emergency beacon, hopefully, some of our boys in the air can spot us."

"Great... now we are stuck in the middle of no where..." Drake slumped down tiredly on the grass.

"And we don't even know where the hell are we at..."

-----

On approach to Imperial River Flotilla, Shard River

"Angel One to Dragon One, what's your sit rep over?" The lead pilot of the wing of twelve A/F - 1 Cobras called out on the wireless.

"Dragon One, currently grounded and under cover, over," Blue Thunder's radioman, Dek quickly replied. They had hidden under the canopy of the forest for the night and had set up the radio antennas over the canopy while waiting for reinforcements to radio in.

"Angel One, Roger, Angel Flight en route to your AO in one five mikes, over," Angel One reported.

"Dragon One, copy that! Be advised, there are three zero surface Tangos and two two Bandits," Dek reported. "All medium weights!"

Angel One, roger that! Three zero surface Tangos and two two Bandits in the air!" The wing commander of Angel Flight confirmed.

"Dragon One, also beware that Dragon Two has being captured and is onboard one of the forward Tangos," Dek continued his report. "Please take caution to not fire blue on blue, over!"

"Angel One, affirmative, friendly POW onboard one of the Tangos!" He swallowed back his nervousness before relaying the information back to his whole flight. "

"All Angels, be aware of Bandits in the AO!" He spoke as calmly as he could. "Two two in the air and three zero surface Tangos!"

The rest of the flight gave their affirmative and they continued on in a three four plane diamond formation.

"Beware of blue on blue, Dragon Two is POW onboard one of the Tangos!" He warned everyone.

Not long, they clearly spotted the Imperial Flotilla coming down the wide snaking river. "Alright, Angels, Wing One and Two will commerce attack on surface targets! Wing Three keep an eye out for bandits in the area!"

"Roger that!" The pilots of Angel Flight were made up of freshly graduated pilots and despite most of them having fought in the old cold steel armies, it was the first combat flight for all of them!

The two leading diamonds of biplanes broke formation and dived down, their pilots disengaging the safeties on their weapons.

"Wing Two engage from the rear! Wing One, follow my lead!" Angel One commanded and the four Cobras of Wing Two broke off and charged around towards the rear of the enemy ships.

Wing One and Three stayed high using the sun as a cover while they waited for Wing Two to circle to the rear of the enemy. Once Wing Two was in position, Angel One gave the order and both Wing One and Two dived down while Wing Three keep watch from above for the enemy dragons.

"Angel Four to all, friendly spotted!" One of the Cobra pilots reported. "Friendly onboard Tango Three, counting from the front!"

Angel One looked down and counted the ships from the front to the third vessel and saw a vaguely draconic shape lying on the deck. "Roger, all units check your fire!"

Angel Flight were loaded with the onboard twin .50 caliber guns and the two hardpoints were equipped with 20 mm cannon pods. Angel One took the lead and aligned his crosshairs on the leading ship and the target soon grew larger than his 'X' of his gun sights.

He held down both the red colored trigger on his control stick and the whole little biplane shock wildly as his forward mounted .50 calibers and the gun pods fired. Smoke and flames burst out from the front part of the Cobra as he hosed a stream of lead down onto the target.

"Guns! Guns! Guns!" He cried out in excitement as he watched his shots connect with the ship he was targeting.

He barely had to lead his guns as the ship was powered by oars and the current, which moved the ship rather slowly. He only had to angle his plane up slightly to the center of mass of the ship before he pulled his plane up to prevent ramming his plane into the ship.

He caught sight of his rounds and shells blowing large holes off the deck of the smoking ship before the view changed to the clear blue skies.

"Woooo hoooooooo!"

-----

Titanna was seated inside the superior cabin below decks and were going through several ancient books and scrolls on how to tame a dragon when she heard a strange buzzing that grew louder and louder. She frowned, wondering who was disturbing her study and was about to put away her books and scroll when the whole ship suddenly shook madly and loud explosions and snapping of wood could be heard.

She felt the pop of her magical protection barrier around the cabin almost immediately just as the river barge lurched. She really fell but she managed to grab onto the bolted down table and quickly made her way out of the cabin. Titanna slammed the door open and saw the several beams of light shining through holes in the upper deck.

The deck she was on was filled with smoke and screams of pain and the dying. She ran up the stairs and looked at her fleet in shook, seeing several more of her ships smoking and listing to the side as some strange flying creatures spat angry roars of tiny flames that were more destructive than a ballista bolt!

Her ship that she was on was smoking and she could see the damage more clearly once she was on the top decks. Large gaping holes and bits of pieces of bloody parts could be seen. She was lucky as she had a magical barrier up around her cabin which helped to somewhat protected the river barge slightly.

"What is going on!" She grabbed a nearby pale faced soldier and asked. "Report!"

"Eh, m- my Lady!" The wild eyed soldier stammered. "Mo- monsters are attacking!"

"What manner of monsters are those?" She asked as she tried to peer through the smoke. She could barely see the fast moving creatures in the sky covered by her smoking and burning ships. Sounds of thunderous roars could be heard echoing throughout the area.

"My Lady!" A soldier in a more elaborate armor displaying his officer rank came up to Titanna. "We are under attack!"

Titanna rolled her eyes at the soldier's words and took a deep breath to calm her anger. "Yes, I can see that!"

"Where are the mages?" She demanded. "Get the ballista crews to ready the weapons! Kill them!"

"Yes my Lady!" The officer saluted and ran off rallying the men.

She cursed as she watched helplessly at the strange flying monsters that rain death on her ships.

-----

"Wing Three, to Angel Flight!" The lead pilot of Wing Three called out excitedly. "Bandits spotted!"

The four Cobras of Wing Three tilted over and dived down from a higher altitude to the incoming Imperial dragons flying over to protect the Flotilla, totally unaware that they were being stalked and hunted.

The fast and nimble Cobras that were engaging the ships suddenly broke off from their attacks on the ships. They formed up and flew in a circle, each pair of planes keeping a distance of a few hundred meters to cover each other rear.

The Imperial dragons charged in, trying to get into melee range while the crew onboard fired crossbows and lobbed spells at the faster Cobras.

With their whole attention focused on the circling Cobras, the dragons and their crew neglected to look above them as four more Cobras with the sun at their tails dropped down and fired their weapons.

Suddenly the Imperial dragons started to drop like flies as the wing of four Cobras punched through their formation from the top, gunning down six dragons in a single pass.

The Imperial dragons and their crews panicked and they tried to disengage from their original targets. The circling Cobras suddenly broke formation as one as if they knew what was happening and the nose of the Cobras burst into flames and more dragons were felled.

The aerial combat barely lasted fifteen minutes but the victors were the strange flying creatures which were more nimble, faster and has more powerful magic compared to the Imperial dragons.

Twenty two dragons died that day at the cost of one Cobra which unluckily crashed his plane right into a dragon as the unlucky pilot was unable to dodge the dying dragon.

The remaining Cobras looped around the wreckage of the crashed Cobra, trying to see if anyone walked out of its flaming debris and seeing none, they retreated and returned to base, leaving behind the entire air cover of the Imperials dead and crippled over a dozen river barges and one pissed off female Commander.

-----

Blue Thunder carefully balanced his whole body weight onto the top of the thick forest canopy and sat there watching the one sided battle. "Poor me, soon you all won't want this dragon anymore!"

"What the hell are you up to now?" Stamford grumbled as he watched the battle with his binoculars.

"Well, you hoomans have those powerful flying contraptions!" Blue Thunder sighed. "You won't need old me and Rastraz anymore..."

"What are you talking about?" Stamford turned his attention to the dragon. "Why are you thinking that way?"

"Those flying planes are so powerful... they can defeat two times their numbers and only lost one plane..." Blue Thunder moaned. "You won't save Rastraz... and will abandon me too!"

"Stop being silly!" Stamford rolled his eyes at Blue Thunder. "You are thinking too much!"

"Do you know how much maintenance is needed for those planes after each flight?" Stamford seeing Blue Thunder's sad expression decided to give some comfort to him. "On the other hand, dragons are cheaper to maintenance compared to a biplane!"

"Really?" Blue Thunder perked up slightly. "You won't abandon Rastraz and me?"

"Silly old dragon..." Stamford shook his head and smile. "Ask the rest, see if they want to serve somewhere else!"

"Yeah, why would we want to abandon you?" The rest of the crew grinned at Blue Thunder. "You are our dragon!"

"Sob... sob..." Blue Thunder sniffed and rubbed his wet nose. "Guys... you all... sniff... sniff..."

"Come on, you fat lizard," Stamford patted the side of Blue Thunder's head. "Chin up! How are you gonna save Rastraz if you act like a cry baby? She won't like this side of you, you know?"

"Yeah! Come on, be a man! Do the right thing!"

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