The New World, The Old Kingdom of Foral, ???
Blue Thunder was enjoying the look on Saphia's face when she tried the dried rations for the first time. Suddenly, he jerked his head around, his nostrils sniffing the air suspiciously before he roared out a warning, "CONTACTED!"
Stamford and the rest were taking having their rations when Blue Thunder's warning came. They dropped whatever they were doing and whipped out their weapons, each one of them taking aim at four directions. "Where?"
"We are surrounded!" Blue Thunder whipped around and growled at the trees while Saphia looked around in confusion. Blue Thunder seeing Saphia's confused reaction, quickly shoved her to a tree that could give her some cover. "Saphia, stay down!"
Suddenly dark crossbow bolts came piercing through the foliage at Blue Thunder who quickly rolled over, showing his armoured spine and tucking in his wings and head. The crossbow bolts harmlessly bounced off his most armoured part of his body and the figures in leather and plate mail came screaming out of the trees.
"CONTACT LEFT!" Stamford yelled as he snapped his submachine gun at the charging enemy. His compact weapon rattled loudly as he fired in short controlled bursts. The heavy .45 rounds of the SMG easily punched holes through the leather mail armour wore by the assailants and lifeless bodies toppled down. "Blue! Hold the right!"
Blue Thunder gave a roar of acknowledgement, as he used the bulk of his body as a barrier. His deadly spiked tail whipping in a low arc and smashed away half a dozen enemy warriors who came into his range. More crossbow bolts came flashing towards Blue Thunder and crew, most of which missed or were unable to pierce through Blue Thunder's thick scales, but still some managed to penetrate Blue Thunder's defences which blood slowly dripped out.
A crack of lightning slammed into Blue Thunder's neck, making him yelp in pain as the magic melted his scales and scorched the flesh underneath. Blue Thunder roared out in anger and sucked in his tummy before he breathed out a column of flames right back at the mage.
The crossbow wielders and the mage screamed as Blue Thunder's flaming breathe washed over them and ignited the surrounding foliage. Blue Thunder's rage attack stunned the rest of the assailants as they paused in their attack and stared aghast at the carnage.
Suddenly, draconic roars burst out from above and half a dozen Razorwing dragons broke through the canopy of the thicket. Blue Thunder faced up and answered back their challenge by spitting a fireball right into the centre of mass of one of the medium weight dragons as it struggled through the thick branches and trees.
It screamed as the force of the fireballs slammed it back into the canopy and smashing through some of the thinner branches. The rest of the Razorwings landed and under the urging of their riders, they charged at Blue Thunder.
Stamford and the rest ran out of the way of the dragons and continued to engage the rest of the assailants who had renewed their vigour. Bodies dropped as bullets found their target and the attacked faltered and the survivors' morale broke.
With the enemy forces in retreat, Stamford turned his attention to Blue Thunder who was facing off five Razorwings. The trees around their battle long been smashed off their roots, and the earth churned up by the massive beasts. The battle was like some kind of Jurassic movie with the dragons snapping at each other, whipping tails and slashing with their claws and wings.
Blood spattered across the destroyed landscape as a Razorwing took an opportunity attack at the back of Blue Thunder. Its dagger length claws ripped a patch of scales and flesh off Blue Thunder, making him roar in pain and anger. In response, he flicked his mighty tail at the attacker, smashing the Razorwing into the stumps of a broken tree, dazing it.
The rest of the Razorwings leapt in at this moment of distraction. Their powerful jaws attaching themselves onto Blue Thunder's flanks and neck. Despite the differences in their weight groups, the combined weight of four Razorwings was enough to pin Blue Thunder down. The five dragons tumbled onto the ground and Blue Thunder fought tooth and claw for his life.
Stamford seeing the situation turning sour, quickly ordered, "Engage those dragons! Keep them off Blue Thunder!"
The .45 rounds were not powerful enough to outright kill the Razorwings, only enough to cause pain and annoyance. A couple of the Razorwings were even too enraged and frenzy that they ignored the shots fired by the UN aircrew. They continued their attacks on Blue Thunder while the rest turned their attention on the aircrew.
Stamford raced across the ravaged landscape and thankfully found their heavy weapons still in one pieced, removed from Blue Thunder's harness mounts and laid out on an oilcloth ready to be cleaned when they had made camp. He quickly grabbed a can of ammunition and slapped it into place and racked the bolt back.
He braced the MG - 1 against the top of a fallen tree trunk and squeezed the trigger, sending a long burst right at the trio of dragons chasing after the rest of his crew. Red hot tracers intersect the leading Razorwing and bullets riddled its flanks, blowing bits of flesh and blood all over the forest.
The Razorwing stumbled down and thrashed about in pain while its rider who had climbed off its back before the dragons' fight, came running over, screaming something incoherent. Stamford gave him a short burst of .338 and the rider slide to a halt next to the dying dragon.
He switched targets, giving the other two dragons a hearty dose of lead before he grabbed another can of .338 ammunition to reload. By this time, Blue Thunder had more or less emerged the victor in the rumble. He had one of the Razorwing's neck in his jaws and with a mighty jerk, he snapped the vertebrae of the crying Razorwing and tossed its limp body to the side.
The remaining Razorwing limped back weakly from Blue Thunder's stare as its natural survival instincts took over. It flattened both its body and wings on the ground in submission to Blue Thunder's strength, while its frightened rider screamed for it to fight.
The distinctive rattle of a SMG ended that rider's tirade and Dek and rest, covered in leaves and soil joined Blue Thunder at staring at the prostrating dragon. Saphia sneaked a peek out from behind a tree from which she had been hiding and watching the battle, let out a soft sigh of relief. She slowly joined the group surrounding the trembling dragon.
"What now, Boss?" Dek asked as he gave the huffing Blue Thunder a once over of his wounds. "We got a dragon prisoner..."
"Finish it," Stamford ordered coldly as he carried the MG over. "It's crippled and we have no room for prisoners."
Blue Thunder growled and he suddenly snapped his jaws forward, gripping the wounded dragon by its neck and breaking it. Once the deed was done, he slumped on his hindquarters and let out a loud groan. "Ow... I am bleeding..."
"Of course you are, you big pussy!" Stamford let out a relieved sigh. "Dek, set up a MG and keep watch. Luth, check the bodies! Barkley, tend to Blue Thunder. I doubt those assholes will be back for another round but still keep alert!"
"Yes, Sir!" The men called out as they got to work. Blue Thunder had plenty of wounds, mostly caused by bites and slashes. In many places, his scales were torn off or broken, exposing bloodied flesh underneath. Stamford quickly found Blue Thunder's aid kit and carried it over to Barkley who was shaking his head at Blue Thunder's wounds. He was thankful that they had taken off the aid kit and was treating his injuries before, or the first aid kit would have been likely destroyed in the fight.
Already, Blue Thunder's harness was shredded and broken straps dangled here and there. Pouches holding spare equipment were ripped and its contents either damaged or thrown off somewhere. Stamford gauged that they had to take out the spare harness and make repairs if they were to ever safety ride on Blue Thunder.
Surprisingly, while they were treating Blue Thunder's wounds, the quiet black dragon had come up next to Blue Thunder and was even licking at some of his wounds. Stamford sighed and pushed away Saphia, "Don't let his wounds, it might cause infection later!"
Barkley carried over a few ration cubes that did not get destroyed in the fight and piled them next to Blue Thunder. "Eat some, and r regain some of your strength!"
Blue Thunder gave a weak grunt as he laid down with his body spread out. He picked up one of the ration cubes and started chewing softly, his eyes closed as fatigue swept over his body. As Stamford and Barkley worked on Blue Thunder's wounds, Saphia crept over closer to Blue Thunder until she was leaning against his flank which Stamford shooed her away as she got into their way.
"How did they find us?" Barkley asked as he rolled duct tape over a bandage patch to keep it in place. "They clearly knew where we are if they could ambush us the first time."
"And now, they could even find us so quickly in this thick forest!" Barkley remarked. "Something isn't right! Could... it be that Intel guy sold us out?"
"Possible, but unlikely..." Stamford shook his head as he washed the wound. "Intel won't spend a million gold crowns just to pull something off like this."
"I suspect..." Stamford stopped his work and looked at Saphia who was hovering nervously over their shoulders. "Our culprit is right here..."
"Her?" Barkley frowned as he too stopped his work and stared at Saphia who gave them a confused look. "How?"
"They must have put a tracking spell or something on her," Stamford said as he stood before Saphia. "As for what spell..."
"It's the damn collar!" Barkley hissed. "It's the only thing that came along with her from the auction house!"
"Yes," Stamford nodded as he stared at the crystal encrusted slave collar at the base of Saphia's neck. "The auction house has no qualms in selling us out..."
"Shit!" Blue Thunder let out a curse as he tilted his head over. "Those bastards will pay for this treachery!"
"Don't waste your strength!" Stamford shook his head at Blue Thunder. He dug inside his pocket to remove the crystal controller for the collar around Saphia's neck. When Saphia saw the controller in Stamford's hands, she flinched back and even tucked in her tail in fear.
Stamford frowned as he weighted the controller in his hands before he gestured to Saphia. "Stay!"
He approached the clearly frightened dragon and hesitated for a moment before he inserted the controller into a slot and turned it like a key. With a loud click, the slave collar snapped out and fell off. He backed off quickly, unsure if the black dragon without the control of the slave collar would attack them or take the opportunity to run away.
Stamford kept his hand close to his weapon as he eyed the black dragon and watched her closely for her reaction. To his relief, the black dragon appeared to be delighted at the removal of the slave collar as she reached up to give her neck a good rub and did not show any intent in attacking or running away,
Instead, she waddled her way and laid down next to the napping Blue Thunder, and even took a few bites of the ration cubes. Stamford gathered up the slave collar and controller and placed them inside a bag. "Alright, if they have some kind of tracker, this would be the culprit."
"We better hurry up," Stamford added. "It's best we find another spot to rest... The enemy will be back and the stench of blood here will draw more trouble to us if we linger longer!"