Chapter 4:

Chapter 4 "Hunting Hunters"

America Stranded In A Fantasy World

 “Hunting Hunters”

June 23rd, 2040: Somewhere in the ‘Atlantic’ Ocean: Task Force: Pioneer.

Fleet Admiral Jameson Wilkins couldn't help but feel anxious about the mission ahead of them, it sure didn't help that this was quite possibly the largest naval task force the navy had ever created since the second world war. Six carriers; two being Gerald R. Ford Class, surrounded by forty-four other vessels ranging from cruisers to destroyers including attack submarines, with amphibious assault ships in the rear.

“Sir, was it really necessary for the top brass to put six carriers in this group? I’ve been hearing some of the crew talking about how annoyed the control tower guys are.” Jameson looked over at the curious young seaman.

“We aren't on Earth anymore seaman, can’t be too careful now. Besides, we need the room for the ten or so thousand of our brothers and sisters stranded. Are you suggesting that we should have packed lighter?” Jameson joked, leaving the seaman uncertain how to act.

“Ah--I--N-No not at all sir! I was just wondering since we have a combined total of nearly four hundred aircraft, won’t the skies get a bit crowded?” The young man asked, making Jameson laugh.

“You're not wrong in thinking that son, I can already see the controllers ripping their hair out should an all out sortie be called. Not to mention trying to coordinate all fifty vessels in this fleet.” The two laughed, but even to Jameson seeing a fleet this massive was imposing. It did seem a bit excessive. Standing on a lookout point above the bridge, Jameson could see the entire fleet. This was more of an invasion force than a diplomatic escort. The moment was interrupted with the clattering of boots on metal. Climbing up the steep staircase another officer joined them.

“Lieutenant, something I should be aware of?” Jameson raised an eyebrow before they both saluted.

“Sir, radar from multiple vessels have been tracking an unknown contact in the air for about ten minutes.” Jameson didn't need to hear more. He quickly raced down the stairs and into the command deck where multiple people were crowded around the radar man.

“Fleet Admiral on deck!” One sailor shouted, making everyone shoot up from their seats.

“At ease! What do we have?” Jameson walked over to the radar station.

“Sir, we have been following a contact about one hundred nautical miles and is fluctuating in altitude, biological in nature.” The radarman responded.

“What makes you say that?” A nearby captain inquired, a question many here wanted to be answered.

“Because no mechanical aircraft can pull the insane altitude fluctuations this is doing.” Handing Jameson a clipboard it had a graph showing the altitude changes and one could argue they were tracking a rollercoaster with what was happening.

“Alright, get a squadron in the air to investigate it. I don’t need a dragon deciding to make a meal out of a vessel.” Stifled laughter echoed through the command deck.

Seeing the danger of the situation, Jäger Squadron was chosen. Being battle-hardened from the campaigns in stabilizing Africa during the first resource war, along with all having F-35Cs as their aircraft made them the best option. Onboard the USS Gerald R. Ford the squad sat in the briefing room.

“This should be fun, to finally get to see if a dragon’s hide is really as tough as a tank's armor.” Michael formed a wicked grin.

“Why does everyone think it’s a dragon? Every time the damn radar lights up you all go to the extremes. Last time it was an oversized whale, now this?” Hanna rolled her eyes, making Michael raise his arms.

“Hey you never know, maybe that whale grew wings! Anything is possible now.”

“Oh god don’t even start. I still need to use bleach to scrub my eyes from what I saw inside your bunk.” Robert shivered. The trio was soon greeted by their squad leader, Jackal.

“Alright listen up, shit just got real. Whatever this thing is, it has the speed of a fighter and the maneuverability of an apache. We are to get eyes on this contact and determine what it is. Should it be hostile we will neutralize it, questions?” Jackal's serious expression scanned the three, with Hanna raising her hand. “Go.”

“Will we be armed with only air to air?” Hanna’s question puzzled the other two.

“No, the Fleet Admiral wants us armed with a mixed load of weaponry. For all we know a dragon could have the armor of a tank. Hanna will have a laser guidance system while the rest of us will have a mix of missiles. ” With her question answered the room was quiet for a few seconds before all four marched out and made their way to the flight deck.

On the deck, their jets were already being prepared for them. Jackal's tail had its signature three raptor claws tearing through it, Hanna went with a white rose, Robert had simple tallies for his kills and Michael kept his blank as he couldn't make up his mind on what to have.

“Jäger One to Overwatch radio check.” Jackal said while doing his pre-flight checks inside the cockpit of his aircraft.

“All clear Jäger One, When ready signal shooter and happy hunting.” The controller replied.

Lined up on the launch deck, Jackal gave the shooter the thumbs up with the shooter returning it. After a few seconds, the jet launched down the deck and quickly ascended. Putting himself into a holding pattern around the fleet, Jackal waited for the rest of his squadron to form up.

When everyone was up in the air they rapidly climbed to the average height the contact was at. The dense cloud cover around them was a mixed blessing for both sides. The four black stealth jets tightened their formation.

Jackal’s radio crackled to life. “Overwatch to Jäger One, You are now inside radar contact.” They were on their own now.

“Understood Overwatch. Alright everyone, keep your eyes open and find this thing.” Lifting his visor, Jackal swiveled his head from side to side, the massive clouds around them made him uneasy.

“The hell? My radar is acting up.” Robert fiddled with its settings, trying to get a clean picture on it.

“Same here, and I’m not getting anything on it.” Michael added

“Probably interference with the clouds around us, and I wouldn't be surprised if the contact bailed when it heard us” Hanna replied.

“Can’t have, every carrier in the fleet had this thing on screen. It’s here, we just need to--” Jackal didn't finish his sentence as he realized he hadn't looked up yet. Snapping upwards he spotted a white mass rapidly approaching them.

“Shit above! Break, break!” Jackal yanked his flight stick hard left and up while everyone else did their own evasive action. The creature raced past where Hanna would have been if she didn’t follow Jackal.

“Fuck that thing is fast!” Michael blurted out, his heavy breathing was easily heard through the radio. The massive creature unfurled its wings and started to gain distance from them.

“Stay focused! Robert get on its tail, Michael, start shadowing above us with that camera. Hanna and I will assist Robert.” Jackal flipped his jet upside down to see that Robert was already giving chase to the creature.

“Damn, this thing is a white dragon!” Robert whistled. “Shame it’s gonna become another tally on my tail.”

Heating up one of his AIM-132s, Robert lined up his scope on the dragon, only to have his visor display ‘No Target’.

“The fuck?” Robert looked down at his infrared camera and his eyes widened in realization. “This damn thing is ice cold, I can’t lock it!” Before he could switch to radar lock the dragon tilted its wings up, causing massive drag and making Robert speed right past.

“Did-did it just perform a cobra maneuver?” Hana exclaimed. This was starting to get interesting...

Robert didn’t have time to answer as he looked behind him to see the white dragon chasing him now. Slamming his throttle as far it could go, the jets after-burner roared to life. “Could use some help here!” Robert whipped his jet to the right with the dragon in pursuit.

“Alright, let's see how you like American-made lead. Fly straight Robert.” Jackal dove onto the dragon. Lining up from behind, Jackal gave a short burst as the twenty-five-millimeter cannon could only hold a measly two hundred rounds. The bullets found their mark, scoring multiple hits on the dragon's back, causing it to let out a screeching roar.

“Well looks like you succeeded in pissing it off.” Hanna scoffed, stalking the dogfight from above she watched Jackal go near vertical, leaving the dragon to continue its chase after Robert whose after-burner was now at full power.

“Hey guys? Is it just me or are the clouds getting denser and darker?” A nervous Michael questioned, and he was correct. The movement of the clouds around them seemed to speed up, turning into towering walls of dark gray threatening to consume them with the occasional lightning strike inside them. Looking back at the dragon, a bright blue and white aura began emanating from it.

“Shit, we need to end this now. Hanna, get your laser marker on it. My radar can’t get a clear sight picture.” Jackal commanded, heating up an air-to-surface missile.

Not wasting a single moment, Hana deployed her laser marker pod and had it track the dragon. This time, Jackal's weapons system didn’t hesitate to lock onto the laser. Launching a SPEAR 3 missile, it screamed towards the dragon. Hearing the odd noise, the dragon stopped pursuing Robert to face the missile, only to have it slam into its stomach. The white dragon split into two halves with a shower of blood and flesh following it down into the ocean. The gathering storm around Jäger squadron started to dissipate back into the soft white clouds they originally were.

“Well, guess that was our first encounter with fantasy.” Hanna smirked behind her visor.

“And judging by what was happening with the clouds, magic too. Michael, you get all of that on camera?” Jackal looked up to see his jet just barely outside the clouds.

“Every single second of it. Thing was a goddamn freak of nature; spiky scales and generally looked more demonic than anything.” Michael replied, relief in his voice.

“Makes one think what else we have to fight. If a simple dragon can be immune to thermal imagery along with weather manipulation...I kinda feel bad for the marines.” Jackal chuckled.

“You’re joking right? Those crayon eaters haven't shut up about wanting to see what a javelin will do to those land reptiles the C.I.A sent us images of. That being said, I’m interested in seeing what the natives think when a formation of B-52s level a castle.” Robert pondered on his own question.

“Level it or straight up obliterate it and everything around it?” Michael and Robert laughed at the idea with Jackal simply smiling.

“Jäger squadron to Overwatch, target has been neutralized.” Jackal radioed back to the fleet.

“Overwatch to Jäger squadron, affirmative. RTB and prepare for debrief.” The controller responded. Jäger squadron formed up again; making their way back to the fleet.

Upon landing back on their carrier Jäger squadron was swarmed by the crew for answers on what happened. The commotion only broke up when the Fleet Admiral himself stepped onto the deck.

“So, what did you see?” Jameson formed a smirk on his face.

“Well sir, we are proud to say that we are the first squadron to take down a dragon!” Robert boasted, quickly followed by yells and cheers by the crew; even the officers got involved.

“Well done pilots, I suppose a celebration is in order.” Jameson cracked a smile along with the rest of Jäger squadron.

Later that night the crew onboard the USS Gerald R. Ford held a massive party below deck, with Jäger squadron sitting on top of their jets, chatting and laughing with the other pilots and crew. Fleet Admiral Jameson watched from a catwalk above.

“Sure is nice to see cheery faces again.” A voice announced itself to his right. A black-haired man in a suit smiled at the party below.

“It sure is ambassador Aaron. Why aren't you down there having fun?” Jameson questioned, Aaron scoffed before turning his attention to him.

“It’s not my place, and I need to prepare myself for tomorrow. First contact with a foreign power in this world. It’s...exciting, yet I’m terrified.” Aaron lifted his left hand showing Jameson that it was trembling. “Seems my nerves are getting the best of me.”

“You’ll do just fine Aaron; the white house picked you for a reason. Besides, this fleet will do most of the talking when it shows up right outside the port of that city. Speaking of diplomacy, what do you plan on doing once we reach the city?” Jameson raised an eyebrow, he was only there to make sure Aaron did not get himself killed.

“It’s really simple. Find who is in charge of the city, ask for an audience with the ruler, and request for diplomatic talks to open. The president wants me to secure an export trade deal with them so we can finally get some money flowing. Our medical supplies should be a nice incentive.” Aaron smirked. “I'm just glad the ‘Technology Failsafe Act’ didn’t put too much strain on what we could export.”

Jameson shifted his gaze back to the party, a grim reminder of cheerier times before the transfer.

“The nation is scared, Fleet Admiral. This operation hinges upon us and us alone. We can’t mess this up.” Aaron's face grew serious. Leaving Jameson to simply nod in agreement.