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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 12:50 am 
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Jake paused as he considered his options. Æquitas was in a bad way, Kunja was in about as good of shape, and Jeb had ended up taking a nasty blow at the end as well. Frostfell had taken an extended beating, but as a heavyweight he could take it, and Hermeticus himself was fine, it was his captain that there was concern with. He could lie, but that would cheapen the question.

"Most of 'em are tired and a bit bruised, but they'll be fine. Our Flagdragon was the one that took that blow from the Divine Wind though. It's tough to say for him. My Kunja is pretty beat up too," he paused, and despite it all managed to put on a smile. "But he'll be fine, take a hell of a lot more than that to bring him down." There was a crack in the confidence, a worry in the throat that gave it away.

"But we'd do it again, he and I. In a heartbeat." He paused for a few seconds. "I'll leave ya be now. I just... wanted to say I was sorry."

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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 11:57 pm 
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Flinder dropped to the ground, hard on all fours. His crew jolted in the harness from the sudden shock, but he didn't seem to notice. Instead, he hung his head, breathing hard, and not making eye contact with anyone.

The crew disembarked rapidly, glad to be alive and out of the nightmare, but still focused enough to proceed in their post-flight routine. The harness would need serious repairs, after being raked by the Stuka and having the topgun explode on it. Allen started coordinating the crew's efforts and taking inventory, yelling updates back to Flinder.

Flinder didn't acknowledge him. His vision-madness had cleared the moments the Stukas vacated the airspace, but his head was now overwhelmed with other things. Shame, that he had lost his head and fallen out of the fight. Doubt, in his abilities. And most of all, grief, for the members of his crew that had perished, and for the great imperial dragon that lay dead on the field.

For even though his uncontrollable fits were gone, he was tired, and felt waves of emotion cascading around him. This tumult was ultimately drowned out by the feelings radiating from the Russian Duchess standing next to the broken dragon. It was not just grief, but despair, and it burned through Flinder's mind, combining with his own feelings until he wasn't sure which were truly his.

He squeezed his eyes shut, which closed himself off from the ruckus of flight and ground crews moving about the field but did nothing to stop the waves of emotion. He whimpered low to himself and buried his face in the matted, bloody grass.

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Last edited by Avian Obscurities on Wed May 13, 2009 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 3:11 pm 
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Hermeticus was in his clearing, head curled on his forelegs, still covered in blood and dust from the battle.

His ground crew were doing their level best to remove the armor, most of his flight crew were dead or in the hospital...including his Thomas.

The great dragon never moved from his place, only wanting to sleep...praying to whatever god dragons prayed to, for his friend to be alright.

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:06 am 
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"Yesterday," said Admiral Tolkien, "I would have agreed with you."

"It is impossible," said Commander Dowd with absolute certainty lodged in his voice. "There's one breed in tha world can use the Wind, and there's nae more'f 'em. Even the Incans ne'er found oot how't was done. There's just no way..."

"Commander," said the Admiral, "the evidence is incontrovertible, and sitting before our eyes. If the Stukas did not deploy the Divine Wind, then I invite you to explain to me what it was that they did use."

"Adm'ral," said Dowd, "I'm tellin' ye, you cannae breed the Wind into a dragon like that. There's just nothin' to breed it from. Every Air Force in Europe's been tryin' ta get the Wind into a dragon for fo'r hoondred years."

"Commander Dowd," said Tolkien, losing his patience, "those Stukas just killed a Crimson Angel with a single pass through the use of sonic cavitation weapons. I am aware of nothing else on this Earth that could do that save for the Divine wind. If that weapon is not the Divine Wind then it is a sufficiently sophisticated facsimile that it might as well be and it does us no harm to assume that it is."

Admiral Tolkien turned back to Captain Reynolds.

"I have to return to Uxbridge and brief the Prime Minister and Marshal Dowding. I've had every DT and ground logistics unit in Hampshire redirected to this place, and I've arranged for the Lifeguard Cavaliers to escort the Grand Duchess to London. Is there anything else you require before I go, Captain?"

*-------------------------------------------------------------------*

"We will not blame Britain."

Jake Collington was a captain, a soldier, an Australian to boot, and the Grand Duchess knew it. She was no neophyte to the concept of nobility, and she knew that the Australian captain had likely enough meant what he said honestly. The ones who would come later, the Admiral hanging back across the field, the British officials who would be waiting for her in London, they would express their regrets in flowery terms, but they would not mean them. They would ask as to her condition, and beg her to tell them if she required anything at all, all so that she would tell them the answers to the question that they were not asking. The question Jake was not asking, but that he would eventually, if he had half a brain. The question all of Britain would soon be asking.

"I will tell the Tsar what you have done here," she said, and her voice was dead and hollow, like the voice of some ethereal prophet explaining the future in simple, declarative statements. "But we will not go to war. Not even for this. The Douma will not permit it. The Sindreon will resist. Russia cannot fight Germany, they will say. Not even..." her voice trembled and she paused so as to re-master it. "Not even after this. They will say... that she died of... natural causes, I think."

She inhaled slowly and sharply, and her steel-blue eyes seemed to freeze over from within.

"But we do not forget," she said. "Any of it. We do not forget what was done here. Not what you tried to do for us... and not what they did. This... we do not forget. Not ever."

The Guard commander said something in Russian, softly, and the Duchess nodded slightly without turning her head. "Go to your dragon," she said. "And... please... tell the others who fought here that... we do not forget what they did."

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 4:59 am 
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"Sir," said Nathan urgently, "it isn't just the Stukas. Somehow the Germans did the impossible and to them, that's old news. The Stukas are mature now. That means they succeeded at doing whatever it is they did years ago. Sir, I doubt they've been resting on their laurels. They would have started working on something bigger and better. Their next uber dragon breed might be smashing their way out of eggs right now, or worse."

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 5:14 pm 
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"But we do not forget," she said. "Any of it. We do not forget what was done here. Not what you tried to do for us... and not what they did. This... we do not forget. Not ever."

The Guard commander said something in Russian, softly, and the Duchess nodded slightly without turning her head. "Go to your dragon," she said. "And... please... tell the others who fought here that... we do not forget what they did."

"We'll get 'em, ma'am," Judith spoke clearly, having walked up behind Jake as he and the Duchess talked. "We'll get Tott-n-cough, n' all them twisted monsters." Like Jake, Judith was not an ambassador, not a general, not even British. She was just a back-woods redneck hick with a long streak of honesty and over-large sense of What's Right. The flash in her eyes showed she wasn't making empty promises. Blood-feud had just been declared.

"We'll get 'em .. fer both o' you."

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:47 pm 
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Jake opened his mouth but then paused. He'd been about to explain that if the Germans were willing to attack her now, they were just biding their time to attack the Russians, but he stopped himself. She already knew that, and he wasn't going to insult her intelligence.

"I can't say I understand why they won't ma'am. But thank you for your words."

Jake took a few steps back and slipped his hand in Judith's for a few seconds, squeezing it before he let go, looking around at the British officers that were around. "I've gotta get back to Kunja and make sure he's ok."

Jake bowed to the Duchess quickly and then ran back towards his dragon.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:05 am 
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Admiral Tolkien did not say anything immediately, but turned his head back to Galadriel, who had approached wordlessly and was sitting behind the 11 Group Commander.

"The Stuka is unlike anything we've ever seen before," he said. "Even the Opium Wars never produced a shock like them. If they're actually just the tip of the iceberg as far as the German breeding grounds are concerned..." He didn't need to finish his sentence.

"Even if they don't have something worse," said Galadriel, "if they manage to breed the Stukas in numbers they can blast the RAF from the skies."

"And give themselves the air cover they need to invade," agreed the Admiral. "But unfortunately, at this stage, there's little we can do. Without major re-enforcements from the Dominion, or the entry of another belligerent power into the war, our best hope is to bleed out the Luftwaffe formations facing us and look for opportunities to counter-attack."

"You don't think it's time for Crossbow?" asked Galadriel. She and the Admiral seemed to have forgotten that there were any other people present.

The Admiral shook his head. "We don't even know the location of the primary German research breeding grounds, let alone have the capacity to strike them. I'll speak to Marshal Dowding, but in the absence of information as to where to strike, we can't spring Crossbow yet."

Admiral Tolkien turned back to Captain Reynolds. "Captain," he said. "We need information about where these things came from. Stukas don't conform physically to any known German Breed. It's like the blighters materialized out of whole cloth. We don't even know if the Germans bred them, or if they had them imported from Japan or some damned place. The only way we're going to find these things out is if we get our hands on a Stuka."

"Different breeders and breeding grounds have... signatures," he explained. "Just as a gunsmith can trace a rifle back to the factory it was built at, if we can simply get a full anatomical workup of a specimen, then we can at least narrow down where the damned things were bred and therefore where we can expect whatever other monsters the Nazis are planning to employ might be gathering. Frostfell nearly took two today by himself, with neither crew nor guns to aid him, and he'll get the OL for it or I'm a subaltern. But needless to say, no other dragon has ever driven a Stuka from the field before. Not even our Coppers." He paused, glancing over at the dead Crimson Angel. "And now, I suppose, we know why..."

The Admiral stepped forward, looking Captain Reynolds in the eye to ensure that he understood the seriousness of this order.

"In a year of fighting against six different air forces, there has never yet been a single Stuka slain or captured by an allied formation. The mightiest dragons in Europe have failed to do even as much as Frostfell did today while unarmed and half-blind. Accordingly, I am giving you this directive. Whatever the cost, by whatever means you can, I want you to bring us a Stuka, alive if possible, dead if necessary. Until you do, we are at risk from the very threat you just spoke of."

"John," said Galadriel, skeptically. "Is it wise to divert a Wendigo from the front lines to go chasing down dragons that appear whenever they choose?"

"We've no need to," said Tolkien without turning around. "Tangmere has proven itself much more resilient than any of us had dared hope, and I seriously doubt that the Luftwaffe will forget what they did today any time soon. All we need to do is maintain them in the thick of operations for the time being, and I have every faith there will be no need to go hunting for Stukas."

"You don't?" asked Galadriel.

"Of course not," said Admiral Tolkien with a smile. "Give them a chance, and the Stukas will come to them..."

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:34 am 
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September 12th, 1940

After months of increasingly bitter fighting all across southern England, Aldertag, the Day of the Eagle, has come and passed. The entire might of the German Luftwaffe, hurled against Britain's embattled defenders in a mailed fist of dragonscale and artillery shell, was intended to draw the last remnants of the RAF into the air to be destroyed and pave the way for the long-planned invasion. While the might of the Luftwaffe remains unbowed, the murderous casualties that Luftflotte 2 and 3 sustained on that bloody day three weeks ago have put paid to the notion that the Germans will be permitted to simply walk across the channel. Though the cost to British dragons and men was high and bitter, it is slowly becoming clear that the Allied victory on August 20th was more decisive than the RAF thought, for not even the strongest and most fearsome formations of the Luftwaffe were enough to overwhelm and destroy the relay-chained forces of the RAF, whose dragons were expertly husbanded until the proper moment.

Right in the thick of things has been the mixed Allied squadron at RAF Tangmere. Rapidly becoming the fire brigade of the entire RAF position in the south, it was Tangmere's dragons who engaged the most powerful German units in the air on Aldertag, blunting their effectiveness, inflicting disproportionate casualties on the enormous German strike force, and permitting the remaining RAF forces to break through the weakened German formation and tear at the very guts of the Luftwaffe squadrons. Not only that, but the dragons and men of Tangmere Squadron even managed to drive off an elite SS formation of Stuka and Wendigo dragons, whose apparent objective was nothing less than the assassination of the Grand Duchess of Russia herself. Though Vinoslivijia, the Sindreonic guard-dragon of the Duchess Anastasia, was slain in the battle, the Duchess survived, and has returned to Russia by ship. What developments this will lead to politically between Nazi Germany, Great Britain, and the Russian Empire, are still unknown.

Following their defeat on Aldertag, the Luftwaffe has begun to redeploy for the long term. With Reichmarshal Goering's personally-choreographed assault having been blunted and driven back in disarray, the Germans have apparently abandoned the notion of invading Britain this year. The English Channel has become stormy and restless, as it always does in fall, and rumor has it that the proposed German invasion of Britain has been suspended indefinitely, the troops earmarked for the assault redeployed elsewhere. Luftflotte 2 and 3 remain in place on the coast of France, and despite the losses they have sustained, still badly outnumber the RAF. As their formations recover from the battering of the 20th, they have begun launching attacks not against the RAF, but against London and the other cities of Lower England, intending to simply bomb Britain into submission. Dragons from RAF Essex, Dover, and City of London take to the air nightly to try and disrupt these attacks that have reduced much of the Capital to rubble and ruin.

Meanwhile, the war continues to rage on other fronts. Squadrons of German U-boats have taken to the Atlantic to try and sever the supply lines connecting North and South America to Britain. The British convoys fight a deadly game against these underwater predators, supported only by the occasional long range scout dragon operating from Belfast or Newfoundland. German surface raiders prowl the seas as well, dodging heavier British formations as they try to pick off merchant vessels with their powerful guns. Meanwhile, news of further fighting continues to filter back from Africa, where the Western Desert Force in Egypt is battling the Italian 10th Army operating out of Libya, and from Malta, already under nigh-constant attack from both the Italian Air Force, and the German 4th Air Fleet.

None of these events however have much concerned the men and dragons of Tangmere. With their opponents every bit as beaten and exhausted as they are, they have been granted a priceless reprieve to recover themselves from the battering they have sustained. Replacements are still too few, both in crewmen and in dragons, but the squadron has managed to pull itself more or less back together, and apart from the occasional patrol over the Channel or southern England, very little has been going on. With the Germans tied up in night attacks on British cities, Tangmere squadron's nominal role, that of frontal defense against invasion, seems to be no longer the matter of imminent importance it previously was. And yet no orders have yet come down to indicate what the Air Admiralty has in mind for this unique formation of Allied dragons.

No orders, that is, until today, for word has arrived that Admiral Tolkien is expected to arrive in Tangmere in a few hours, along with none other than Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding and, most curiously, Admiral James Somerville, commander of the Royal Navy's "Force H", a powerful striking fleet based normally out of the British fortress at Gibraltar. Why such a senior naval figure is coming to Tangmere is a question nobody knows the answer to, but rumor has it that some sort of urgent mission is being prepared, in which RAF Tangmere is to play a vital role.

All Captains are ordered to assemble for briefing at 0900 hours in the officers' mess.

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
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Last edited by General Havoc on Thu May 28, 2009 11:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 9:02 pm 
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Jake had spent the first week in the hospital, keeping a watch on Kunja as he recovered from the fight. He spent maybe 8 hours asleep in the first three days. After that, Kunja was out of the worst of the trouble and was simply being watched to make certain he would be ok. Jake had taken to reading though, reading with a fervor that seemed extremely un-Jakelike, as he would pick up the book and not put it down for hours. Jake was devouring every book he could find on Albatros' fights as well as other aerial maneuvers and famous battles. Once the first week had passed, Jake and Kunja were eager to leave, but the draconarians would hear none of it and insisted that Kunja stay for an additional two weeks.

One week later the draconarians were practically throwing Kunja out. Several medical beds had suddenly gone missing, never to be seen again, as well as three cabinets of medical supplies, and while they could not connect any of it to the Australian duo, they decided it was better to release them.

Kunja and Jake did not, unfortunately, return to Tangmere in style. Kunja was still too weak to fly so the duo had been driven in, much to the chagrin of both. After their triumphant return and considerable time spent bragging of their feats in the last fight, Jake and Kunja went back to the books until they were well enough to fly again. They flew easy at first, not risking risky maneuvers until they knew they could do them. The last week, Kunja and Jake were out every morning to run their exercises with a flare that only they could produce.

The day before, the Australian duo had finally been put back on active duty and could do nothing but rejoice, and now some new challenge has reared its head for them to crush.

Jake was already up at 0600 hours, having gone on his morning run with Kunja. He returned an hour later and took it easy reading and spending some time with Judith before he finally got ready for the meeting. He was about as well dressed as he ever was for these kinds of meetings, which meant of course that he was presentable, barely. Just a minute before the meeting was set to start, Jake came ambling through the door.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:19 pm 
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"So," rumbled Frostfell, "the brass is coming. Gibraltar navy brass at that."

"Yes," said Nathan as the Wendigo flexed his wings.

"Are they going to send us to dance with the Italians?"

"Don't know," said Nathan.

"We should be getting a hunt mission on those Stukas. Of course if mister pure and proper had managed to hit the right bloody dragon, we would already have one."

Nathan couldn't argue with that call. "Still angry you didn't get to kill any of them?"

"Bloody hell," said Frostfell. "I tangled with Bluejackets, Stukas, Wendigos, and Jotuns and I didn't put a single one of them in the grave."

"You tangled with all of them and didn't end up crippled or dead," said Nathan. "With no crew and no guns."

"I was this close to turning one of them into wormfood," said Frostfell. "Or wyrm food."

Nathan groaned. "That's a bad one."

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:50 pm 
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While Jake had spent the first week in the hospital with Kunja, Judith had split her time between Jebediah and Jake. Trying to get the stubborn Aussie to fall asleep had been a chore, but she'd found a couple tricks that worked. Although she wasn't going to let him forget how he fell asleep with her rubbing his shoulders.

Then Jake found the library, and got sucked into studying everything he could about Albatros. By this point Jebediah had been cleared for short patrols, so he and Judith were forced to give Kunja and Jake time alone. The conversation when they got back was rather one-sided, unless they got Jake talking about what he'd last read. While it was interesting, it was also obsessive.

Judith was still wondering how the medical beds and medicinal supplies went missing, although Jebediah seemed to have a smirk on his face when it was brought up. What the old SmokeDevil might know or suspect didn't matter that much, as the Aussie duo returned to Tangmere in triumph and things started to get back to normal.

Jeb and Judith still flew shore patrols as Jake and Kunja devoured every book and manual they could find on Albatros. The first flights Jebediah had convinced Judith not to attend, to let the two men share that in private. Still, Judith tried to keep an eye on them as Kunja got his strength back.

The day Kunja and Jake were put back on Active duty they literally did somersalts. That evening was one of the first times in a couple weeks Jake put the books down, as well. The day of the Big Brass Meetin' (as Jeb called it), things were seeming to get back to normal...

... which meant that Judith had been dressed and inspection perfect a full 30minutes before Jack even started getting ready, and Jebediah had tactfully suggested she head to the meeting first.

Once she was out of earshot, Jebediah whispered to Jake "She's lik' her ma... dress'd n' ready fer church an' hour afore... and 3 hours after church gossipin' wit' the rest o' the biddies."

When Jake did saunter in, Judith not only had saved him a seat, but had a cup of coffee on the table waiting for him, as usual.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:56 am 
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Nathan strolled into the officer's mess and fingered his collar. He almost never wore the damned dress uniform and the collar was a little too tight. Screw it. He found a seat and sat down.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:46 am 
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Thomas walked into the officer's mess, dressed in his uniform as normal. It was the first time since he had gotten out of the hospital that he appeared in the mess with the others, time since the doctor's declared him fit for duty had been spent with Hermeticus, and training the few new crewmen that had been sent to replace those lost.

He beelined to a chair, only giving the nod of greeting that was customary before sitting in the spot, and waiting.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:43 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:07 am 
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The officer's mess was already full of officers. Not merely the various officers of the dragons and ground crews at Tangmere, but also the brass emblems on the green and blue uniforms of truly high ranking officers. Admiral Tolkien was there of course, and Captain Rankin, but with the Admiral stood a man in the full golden-braided dress uniform that distinguished a Royal Air Marshall. Mustached and with an extremely haughty looking face, this was none other than Air Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, the commander in chief of the entire RAF, member of the War Cabinet, and the architect of the RAF's prime strategy in what the newspapers were already calling the "Battle of Britain". Reputed to be an arrogant and difficult man to work with or for, he was nonetheless, the mastermind of the British strategy in the air, and responsible for what was now clearly the first strategic victory that Great Britain had so far won in this war. He was known to be cautious with his dragons and men, husbanding them, employing Fabian tactics to commit them to battle under very precise circumstances. Some officers thought him timid. Others thought him a masterful defensive tactician. None thought him diplomatic.

Today however, his arrogance was not on display, for today he was among the captains of RAF Tangmere, one of the few pleasant surprises that Britain had had so far in this war. He was flanked by orderlies of various sorts, some of whom held cases of black velvet, and while Vice-Admiral Tolkien and Captain Rankin saluted the incoming Captains crisply as they entered, he only nodded, waiting for all of them to arrive.

When they had, he spoke briefly, and to the point.

"Gentlemen," said Sir Hugh, heedless, as was the tradition in the RAF of the female captain among them. "As you no doubt are aware, we have stopped cold the German attempt to invade this country, in no small part due to the extraordinary efforts made on the part of Tangmere Squadron. Each and every one of you has performed with exemplary dedication, skill, valour, and gallantry, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that Britain and the British people owe you a great debt for your exceedingly valiant service to this nation. Normally, these sorts of things are done in a more formal setting, but as war waits for no man, I have decided to forego protocol, and inform you of the following."

The Admiral drew a folded paper from his pocket and unfolded it to read aloud.

"By order of His Majesty, King George VI of Great Britain, Ireland, India, and the Dominions, the Royal Air Force squadron 'Tangmere' is hereby recognized for actions of meritorious gallantry in the face of superior enemy forces on the date of August 20th, 1940. In recognition thereof, His Majesty hereby awards Captain Judith McClung, United States Army Air Force, and Captain Thomas Thibodeaux, United States Army Air Force, the Distinguished Flying Cross, for acts of valour, courage, and extraordinary devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy. His Majesty also hereby awards said Captains' dragons, Jebediah and Hermecritus, the Star of Ascalon, for exemplary valour, fully in keeping with the best traditions of the Royal Air Force."

Two orderlies stepped forward with open medal cases containing the awards. The Distinguished Flying Cross was the third most senior award given to RAF officers, a two-inch cross-fleury with a laurel wreath and RAF symbol monogrammed into the center, surrounded by crossbars engraved with dragon wings and sewn to a ribbon of white with imperial purple stripes. It's companion award, the Star of Ascalon, was named for the dragon of St. George himself, upon whom he rode when he slew the fabled beast in ancient times. Applause from the various officers present broke in at this stage, and the Air Marshall waited until it was done to continue.

"By further order of His Majesty, the Royal Air Force also recognizes the particular actions of Captain Jake Collington, Royal Australian Air Force, and Captain Nathan Reynolds, Royal Canadian Air Force, and that of their dragons, Kunja and Frostfell. In recognition of particular acts of extreme and meritorious gallantry in the face of the enemy, Captains Collington and Reynolds are hereby awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Kunja and Frostfell are hereby invested with the Order of Llyfelys for their actions in defense of the realm and people of Great Britain at extreme risk to their lives."

Two more orderlies stepped forward with the relevant medals. The Distinguished Service Order was a silver-gilt golden cross, enameled white, and edged in 24 carat gold. In the center, mounted within a wreath of laurel, sat the Imperial crown, with the Royal Cypher of King George VI on its reverse. The second-highest order for gallantry in the RAF, ranking only below the Victoria Cross itself. It's companion, the Order of Llyfelys, was a medal named for the great Red Dragon of Wales, awarded to dragons who proved themselves (in the estimation of their superiors), to equal their mythical ancestor in gallantry, skill, and dedication to their sovereign.

Captain Rankin, as the unit commander of Tangmere, took each medal in turn, and personally pinned it onto the uniform of the four captains so-decorated, shaking their hands one after the next as he did so, to the applause of all of the officers and men present. Yet the ceremony was brief, for plainly this was not the only reason that Marshall Dowding and his officers had arrived.

"Normally," said Admiral Tolkien, "these awards would be presented to you and your dragons at a formal ceremony. Unfortunately, the exigencies of war make that nearly impossible. There has been a sudden shift in the situation at sea, and we have some need for urgent haste. Tangmere has proven itself a far more resilient force than we had expected, and I'm afraid the reward for such excellent service is to be called upon again to solve a very tricky, very... problematic situation that has developed in the last 24 hours.

Marshall Dowding nodded and turned to a man behind him, a man in a uniform not green but indigo, with the anchors and chevrons of a naval Admiral. Not just any Admiral, but Admiral James Sommerville, whose picture had appeared in many newspapers as he was commander of Force H, the British striking force out of Gibraltar. What he was doing here, and what the Navy could possibly want with RAF Tangmere was a question that had no apparent answer, and yet the Air Marshall and Vice Admiral Tolkien stood aside as Admiral Sommerville waited for the congratulations and the cheers to die down before explaining his purpose.

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There were advantages to having to wear a mask because your face was a devastated wreck. Nathan didn't have to conceal a look of wry amusement. It had been decided from above that the dragons and captains would get tin and by God they would get tin, even if Nathan had been in hospital during the famous battle. Of course, the rest of his service record was pretty good so at least it wasn't embarrassing.

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Outside the building, where a PA had been set up to carry the Admiral's words to the dragons, who like their captains had been bathed and dressed in their finest to attend Galadriel, Æquitus, and the other visiting Dignitaries. Still, dragons were dragons and a bit less formal as they sat around listening to the Admiral's praise.

"Now, tha's right purty," Jebediah drawled as the armourers screwed the Star of Ascalon onto the breast plate of his harness. Proportional to a dragon, the medallion would be just as visible on them as the matching award was on their Captains.

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Some captains received their awards with the proper amount of gravity and dignity. Jake was not one of those captains.

He managed to keep himself from whistling in awe at the sight of the medals, he could not help himself from grinning like an idiot as it was pinned to his chest however. He shook Rankin's hand vigorously and looked around at the other captains, still grinning like a fool.

Outside, Kunja was smirking as he looked over at Jeb. "It is. Not as pretty as mine, but don't feel bad," the smirk turned into a grin. "If you keep it up you might be as good as me some day."

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Frostfell was somewhat conflicted over the medal. On one hand it was by damage done and results achieved that he judged himself and other dragons. On the other, here was public recognition that he was one of the most lethal beings in the air and that appealed to his vanity.

So it was with good grace and proper solemnity that the Wendigo accepted the award. Now he just needed to down a Stuka, that she-dragon, and Ragnarok and everything would be as it should be.

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Jebediah snorted. "If ya try ta be a bit smarter, ya might live ta see my years som'day," the Smoke Dragon retorted. Jebediah was still young for a dragon, but 40yrs was still a lot more experience than Kunja or many of the other dragons had.

"Still, it looks a might tiny on Frostfell... if t'weren't so much gold on it ya'd not see it."

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The great white wyrm smiled. "That's the universe's way of telling you that paying attention to the Wendigo's teeth and claws is more important than paying attention to his tin. Although it is a nice piece of tin."

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Jebediah gaze Kunja a sly wink as Frostfell boasted (rightfully). Before he could say more, Admiral Tolkien spoke again, still being clearly carried by the PA system.

"So they giv' us a ree-ward, then want us ta do more?" Jebediah asked, rolling his eyes. "Iffen it's at sea, Judith's gonna be sick as-a dog."

Æquitas didn't quite manage to hide his smirk at the Smoke Devil's antics, while the other Senior Dragons simply pretended to ignore it. The Naval Admiral would be explaining shortly.

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Slowly the applause died down, the salutes were finished, and quiet descended over the the briefing hut and over the assembled dragons outside. The men and dragons could appreciate their new finery as they desired, but there was serious business at hand.

Marshall Dowding nodded to the naval admiral beside him, and the man stepped forward, surveying the assembled captains and plainly not liking what he saw. Whether it was distaste at the eclectic collection of crews present, inter-service rivalry, or some other matter was unclear. But he cleared his throat, and began his briefing.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, "my name is Admiral James Sommerville, commander of Force H, Gibraltar station. I am here because of an extremely serious situation that has arisen in the last 48 hours, one which Admirals Dowding and Tolkien assure me that RAF Tangmere is capable of rendering great assistance in. I do not need to remind you all that the information we are about to show you is classified top secret, and may not be repeated to anyone outside of this covert."

The Admiral signaled for the lights to be dimmed and a slide projector turned on, the shutters opened only insofar as it would permit the dragons outside to see what was being shown. With an almost inaudible sigh of resignation, Sommerville gestured for the first slide to be revealed, and when he did, a murmur of astonishment rumbled through the crowd.

"Gentlemen," he said. "This is the Battleship KMS Bismarck."

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The warship that appeared on the projection screen was a monster by any definition of the term. Slate gray she was, and beautiful, with lines like a predator's and a size like a Lord of the Deep, dwarfing everything else in the picture, be they tugboats or smaller vessels of the German navy. Her enormous turreted guns were leveled at the horizon, bookending heaped superstructure that towered above her teakwood decks in riots of smokestack, bridge, and antenna. A man-eater at rest, she sat idly beside a nameless coastline, her cloven bow daunting the small waves that lapped against her, polished and gleaming in the invisible sun, a weapon of war and desolation ready for her chosen purpose.

"Bismarck," said the Admiral, not ungrudgingly, "is the most powerful battleship existent on the high seas. She measures eight hundred feet from stem to stern, and displaces more than fifty thousand tons laden. She can make a sustained speed of 30 knots, and carries eight fifteen inch guns that can hurl a one ton shell twenty miles and strike a target the size of a midweight dragon. She carries a handpicked crew of two thousand men and officers, the finest that the German High Seas Fleet has to offer. In addition to her primary ordinance, Bismarck also carries an assortment of smaller caliber guns ranging from eight inch down to 20mm for defense against smaller ships and dragon attack. She is, simply put, one of the most lethal vessels afloat."

The Admiral took a deep breath.

"And we are going to sink her."

He pressed on. "Bismarck was not expected to be complete until 1941 at the earliest, but several weeks ago, British Intelligence received word that the Germans had contrived to drastically accelerate the process. Bismarck was rated as ready for Sea Trials back in the summer, and exactly seven days ago, she embarked from Kiel in the company of the Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen on what we believe was a commerce raiding mission. Norwegian resistance forces spotted her hugging the coast before she turned into the North Sea, and the Admiralty sortied units from Home Fleet centered around the Battlecruiser Hood and the Battleship Prince of Wales, to intercept her."

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"We deduced, correctly, that Bismarck and Eugen would make for the Denmark Strait and attempt to break out into the Atlantic by that means," said the Admiral as a map came up, "Our task force was deployed there, and encountered the German ships two days ago. Cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk tracked the Germans so that the heavy units could engage them directly."

The Admiral stopped.

"This was the result."

Image

"This picture was taken from the deck of HMS Prince of Wales at six o'clock in the morning Greenwich time two days ago" said the Admiral, "moments before a single salvo from Bismarck struck the Hood amidships and blew her in half. She sank in less than five minutes. Of her crew of fourteen hundred, three were rescued from the water by the Destroyer Electra. All others are presumed dead, including Admiral Lancelot Holland, a personal friend of mine."

Stunned shock attended this announcement. Even officers and crews who had nothing to do with the navy had heard of the Hood, as she was considered the pride of the Royal Navy, a proud warship dating back to the Great War. For her to have been annihilated in less than five minutes with all her crew was plainly a bitter blow, one the Admiral was not taking well.

"Following the battle in the Denmark Strait," said Admiral Sommerville, "Bismarck and Prinz Eugen moved into the North Atlantic and disappeared. Since then we have had every available ship in the Royal Navy searching for her, but without success, until six hours ago, when a Winchester dragon from RAF Coastal command radioed in that she had sighted Bismarck three hundred miles south-southwest of Ireland. Unfortunately, the Winchester was shot down either by Bismarck herself or one of the Lightweights she carries, but the dragon's captain was able to report back her course and speed, and the fact that she appeared to be alone, having shed Prinz Eugen's company at some point. Since then, we've confirmed her position twice more by long range scouting dragon, and determined her anticipated intentions."

Image

“Bismarck,â€

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:01 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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"We'll need a briefing on antiship ordinance and the vulnerable points of that monstrosity or battleships in general," said Captain Reynolds. "The last time I did any antishipping action of consequence was the Great War and it wasn't against the pride of the Kriegsmarine."

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