Blue Thunder dipped his wing and did a sharp swerve in mid-air, dodging the raking claws of the smaller Empire dragon that dove down from above. He retaliated with a sweep of his tail as he turned away, his barbed end scored a small gash along the back of the squeaking dragon.
A couple of crossbow bolts slammed against his flanks from his blind spot, his hard scales managed to deflect the bolts away, the pinpricks irritating Blue Thunder more than damaging him.
"Evade! Evade! Coming from under you!" The loudspeakers crackled to life and Blue Thunder came to a sudden hover, and a shadowy shape darted up before him, missing him by meters. "Get to safety!"
Blue Thunder growled as the attack that nearly gutted him and glared at the insolent dragon that circled back for another attack. He stayed hovering on the spot and sucked in the air into his lungs, filling it up and his chest glowed slightly.
The Empire Dragons and their riders seeing him starting to glow, yelled out in warning, and they started to split, making themselves as small as a target as possible.
Blue Thunder spat out a ball of fire at the nearest Empire dragon and dove downwards, aiming for the small clearing over the river where the rest of the Marines had gathered. His fireball barely touched any of the dodging dragons but it distracted them long enough for him to disappear into the canopy of the forest.
Lt Joesph peered out from the cover of the trees, seeing the Empire dragons circling in the sky and cursed. "How did they find us?"
Crew Chief Stamford frowned, "They must have spotted Blue Thunder while he was hunting and coming within sight, his harness must have given him away since there is no one else here that uses gear like that."
A crash came from the undergrowth and the men all spun around, aiming their weapons at the source of the noises and a draconic snort soon poked out from the trees and rumbled, "It's is me..."
"Blue!" Stamford ran out, gesturing at the Marines to hold their fire. "Are you okay?" He came up next to the panting dragon.
"Am okay..." Blue Thunder replied, "Just slightly tired and... hungry!"
Stamford looked worriedly at the condition of Blue Thunder. He had burnt up a lot of calories just flying over and also in the short combat in the skies. They have some food for Blue Thunder, but the plan was supposed for Blue Dragon to forage his own food, while the rations for Blue Thunder were to be used in an emergency, like now.
"Alright, we are gonna feed you," Stamford said, "Any injuries?"
"Not sure," Blue Thunder replied, as he craned his neck over his own body trying to see if he was wounded, "But there is a bad itch at my back..."
Stamford nodded, waving for the rest of the crew over. "Get his rations, and give him a once over, check if there are any injuries on him."
The men nodded and went off to work, Stamford climbed onto Blue Thunder's harness and started to inspect the harness's condition and also for signs of injury. As he stood on his back, he could felt waves of heat emitting out from Blue Thunder's body.
"You wanna go lay down at the river there?" Stamford asked, "The trees should provide some cover for you."
"Sure!" Blue Thunder nodded and started to make his way over to the river where it was covered by the trees. He half sank himself into the water and moaned in bliss, "Much better!"
"Chief!" Dek yelled, gesturing him over to the rear of Blue Thunder's back.
"What is it?" Stamford came over and saw what Dek was pointing at. A stubby crossbow bolt had stuck deep between two overlapping scales. "Damn. Get the first aid kit over!"
"Blue! You got a crossbow bolt in your ass!" Stamford yelled, and Blue snaked his head back to try to see. "You just hang tight there, we will get it out!"
"Oooo, no wonder it itches!" Blue grumbled. "Get it out quick!"
"Hold on buddy," Dek said, as he came back with a first aid kit that looked more like a toolbox. He removed a large pair of pliers and clamped the jaws onto the bolt. "On three... two... one... and... Ahhh!"
He pulled the bloody bolt out in a long pull, the wound sucking at the glittering arm length long bolt. "Annnd... It's out!" Making Blue Thunder gave a grunt of pain.
Thick glistering dark red blood started to flow out from the wound. Stamford took the bucket of water from Barkley and poured over the wound, washing the blood away and with a flashlight, he peered into the wound. "Looks clean, not poisoned."
He took the package of clotting powder and dumped all into the wound, before stuffing a wad of gauze on top of the wound, underneath the scales. He took the offered roll of duct tape and started taping the gauze against Blue Thunder's scales, making sure it was tight.
"How are you feeling?" Stamford asked, as he hopped down to the riverside, and started to wash his arms thick with dragon blood.
"Hungry..." Blue Thunder grumbled. "Butt is not so itchy now."
"Good," Stamford climbed up the river banks, "Here eat some rations first."
Blue Thunder looked at the small pile of blocky cardboard colored ration bars and made a face, "I want meat!"
"Eat this, for now, you big baby!" Stamford shook his head and smiled, "Its high in calories, chock full of whole grains, honey, fats, and all the vitamins a growing boy like you needs!"
Blue Thunder sighed and started munching away at the blocks of ration bars sadly.
Leaving Blue Thunder to his meal, Stamford went back to find Lt Joesph with Sergeant Tyrier in a discussion. They both waved him over, and said, "We need to move soon and fast. One of the dragons have gone back to report, I am not sure if they spotted us in the forest."
"Dragons have great eyesight for hunting," Stamford said, "They can spot a goblin hiding in the bushes at 100 meters away, so I am certain they must have spotted us already."
"Than all the more reason for us to move out now," Tyrier said. "Delaying longer will only allow the enemy to come closer."
Lt Joesph nodded, "Yes, but we need to do something about them." He pointed to the sky, "If they keep following us, the enemy will still know where we are."
"HQ says, at least two hours or more for any aerial support," The Marine radio operator said. "The wind is against the planes, that is why it takes longer to come here."
"Damn, two hours?" Tyrier cursed, "A lot can happen in two hours!"
"Well, we can rig up Blue for aerial combat," Stamford suddenly spoke out. "He does have mounting points for machine guns. We can take down those medium weights before the Empire returns here."
Both Joesph and Tyrier looked at Stamford, "You are confident to take down those medium weights? Not to mention if the enemy reinforcements come, you guys got to take the risk of fighting more than two dragons!"
"Well, Sir, isn't this why we signed on?" Stamford grinned, "The risk and the fight!"
"Well said," Lt Joesph nodded, "What do you need?"
"It's all good, I will get my crew to load up and secured for combat," Stamford replied, "Head towards Point Blue while we are distracting the dragons, so even if we fail, at least you guys can get away, just that we can't medivac any wounded now."
Joesph and Tyrier nodded, "Godspeed!"
Dek attached the machine gun support into place at the back of Blue Dragon's harness near the tail of his spine, snapping the MG-1 into place and loading the drum magazine in. He ensured that the spare ammunition secured against the harness was properly stored and settled down into the bucket seat, with the machine gun aiming at the aft, or the tail of Blue Thunder.
Stamford double checked the rest of his crew making sure everyone is secured and ready. Three machine guns all manned, one on each side of the shoulder of Blue Thunder and the remaining gun at the tail. He checked his shotgun, making sure it was fully loaded and properly strapped against his body and yelled, "All green! Clear for launch!"
Blue Thunder gave a grunt and made a run towards the open canopy, the Marines yelling their support as Blue Thunder bounced off into the open air, and with several flaps of his massive wings disappeared from the view of the Marines.
"Contact left!" Barkley manning the left shoulder gun yelled into the comms, and Blue Thunder banked left, and head towards the two dark specks in the skies, going for the kill.
'Here they come!" Stamford yelled, "Watch your arcs of fire! I want no one to shoot up Blue! Especially his wings! Make sure your guns are arc locked!"
Blue Thunder sucked in air and spat out a ball of fire directly at one of the Empire Dragon which weaved right, dodging the fire ball and Private Luth manning the right gun opened up with the MG-1, spewing 8.5 mm tracers directly in the path of the surprised Empire dragon.
The new 8.5 mm rounds traveling at 807 meters per second missed the flying dragon, but Luth using the bright tracers as a guide managed to correct his aim, firing in the path of the dragon. The 19 grams bullet hammered into the body of the dragon, ignoring the tough scales and torn through muscles, bones, and flesh like paper.
The whole engagement lasted four seconds before the Empire dragon flew past and out from the arc of fire of Luth's gun. But that four seconds had sent 34 rounds fired from the machine gun into the Empire dragon, which over 20 had stricken the dragon.
A stream of dark liquid could be seen trailing the dragon, as it flopped over to the side and spiraled down to smash into the canopy with a mighty crash, sending wyverns flapping away in flight from the trees.
"SCRATCH ONE DRAGON!" Luth yelled excitedly as he leaned his body over, watching the downed dragon doing a cartwheel among the thick canopy before disappearing into the forest. "Woooo hoooo!"
"Good kill!" Stamford yelled back, as he kept his eye on the other Empire dragon who seemed to hesitate after seeing the death of its brood. "Go for the last one while it is still confused!"
Blue Thunder growled happily and flapped his wings harder before keeping his wings in and stooped down towards the startled Empire dragon, with his claws out. The men onboard yelled and whooped as gravity seemed to disappear and they went diving down like a roller coaster ride.
The Empire dragon tried to get out of the way back was just a second too slow. Blue Thunder's full body weight of 33 tons slammed onto the left wing of the panicking Empire dragon, snapping the shoulder off, while the T-Rex sized talons of Blue Thunder gouged against the flank of the screaming dragon, its rider, and small crew staring in wide-eyed horror visible even in their dopey looking crystal goggles.
The screaming Empire dragon tried desperately to flapped its wings, but only its right wing function, its left dangled uselessly and with its life-blood pouring out like a tap, it folded inwards and fell from the sky, together with the screams of its crew.
Blue Thunder did a slow circle over the area, as the Empire dragon slammed into the Uncharted Forest, the canopy barely able to soften its death fall, and a small hole appeared in the sea of trees and small flying wyverns burst out angrily from their nests.
"Good kill!" Stamford yelled again, to which Blue Thunder gave a pleased grunt. "Wait, what is that?" He pointed to the horizon in the distance as he narrowed his eyes, and quickly pulled out his field glasses, and saw several specks approaching them in the air.
"Oh, noes!" Blue Thunder mumbled, "More Empire!"