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"So whats it like?"
"Um, fast. Heh, I'm honored though, to be an archangel." I replied to the recorder laying on the table.
"So whose the fastest then?" The answer to the reporters question was immediate and unanimous from my squad-mates.
"Little sis here." Smart alack brother of mine...
"Auri, obviously." I smiled sheepishly, feeling my cheeks flush red. My smart-ass brother, Clancy grinned at me.
"Why are you honored, Aurora? You hardly ever engage in combat, and when you do, 99.9% of the time it's to run away." The human reporter directed his question at her.
"Because, like the first Archangel, we were built to break records."
"The first?" He asked quizzically.
"She refers to an aircraft, the Blackbird. That jet was developed under the Skunk Works top secret code-name: Archangel. Not many people know it, but we're direct descendants of that jet." Her brother replied. Ludlam nodded from across the room.
"You're honored to take after a machine?" Aurora felt her blush deepen, but she stoically replied.
"The Blackbird is anything but a machine. She does things that the human mind has troubles wrapping itself around. 90 thousand foot altitude, unknown top speed, standard cruise speed of mach 3.2. As successors, we fly higher and faster, but if it were not for that jet, we not only would have lost the cold war, but the void war as well." Aurora said, "I am deeply honored to carry the title that so called 'machine' carried as well, inanimate or not. It was as much a marvel as we are today." She starred the reporter down, whom gulped under her unwavering golden gaze. Unlike most squad leaders, Aurora commanded absolute respect from not just her comrads, but from everyone else to, without introduction, and without raising her voice, or arguing her point. She believed so strongly and passionately in her ideals and morals that none could convince her, and it showed.
The reporter shook his head and moved on, "How did you start in the Archangel program? All of you."
Aurora, being the leader, started, "I had followed my brother into basic, following his lead. It was there I took on a bet with my training instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Bower. She was unimpressed with my stubbornness, and called my so called 'bluff'. The bet was I could break the sound barrier. So I did. Got a week worth of deserts for it too." the reporter opened his mouth to ask a question, but Aurora headed him off, "How did I do it? I free-fell from 120 thousand feet. That's our operating altitude now."
The Human stared. The rest of the dragons, all shadow dragons, answered in suite. Two had beat their Training Instructors in speed races, my brother is almost as good as myself, holding the second highest top speed. Carre had , unusually, submitted photographs of Tajon Ranch, the apparently small facility that was now a declassified military base, to the base commander. The photographs had impressed him apparently, because he was inducted only a month later.
In total there were eight dragons in the room. All had broken the mach 4.2 limit that separated supersonic speeds from hypersonic speeds. Aurora however, was in a class of her own. On one occasion, while outracing Avila Darkdaughter herself, she had breached Mach 6.15. Her brother, not to be outdone, had tried matching her speed, but only met with failure as he had turned to violently while aiming for the pacific ocean, and scalded himself with instantaneous scale disintegration, causing him to abort. He spent four months in medical recuperating from what was essentially an almost instantaneous internal third degree burn.
"We have to be careful, otherwise we could be ripped apart mid flight. Take this as an example. An average dragon, in a steep dive, won't snap their wings open instantly to try and stop themselves. Why? Because the wind resistance and G-Forces would tear their wings from their body. Now imagine doing that at mach 4+. You wouldn't rip yourself limb from limb, you'd simply burst apart."
All the dragons showed signs of what they affectionately called, "heat rash", where too much of an open face into the direction of travel simply burns their scales away. Lulam had half his face blasted away when he unwittingly turned his head to sharp to get a better look at his target on an operation. Clancy still had scars from his record breaking attempt. Aurora however, was almost awe inspiring. Her skin, which she had the reporter feel the back of her paw, was as smooth as a newborn hatchling.
"I've exceeded our normal operating speed so much that I've lost count how many times the engineers have shouted at me for ruining equipment. I don't have a death wish, far from it, I just like to go really really fast. Every time I exceed operating limits, super-heated gas gets to close to my body. It's like a really cold candle touching all of your body, all the time, it's uncomfortable, but dragons can withstand it. I don't have scars, but my skin is so soft, because it can't get hard and rough from usage. Every time I go up, I burn off all the blemishes. Kind of like how a flame will clear up acne." Carre was smirking.
"Whats it like flying alongside your leader?" Aurora smiled broadly, and snickered, but otherwise stayed silent. Clancy spoke first:
"Like having a Gnat buzzing around your head." His sister slugged him. Carre spoke up after the laughter had died down.
"Strictly speaking, we don't fly together. We are each our own individual unit, and are encouraged to beat ourselves at our own records, rather than each other. It doesn't help though, opening the world records book, and seeing your leader under "Fastest Creature Alive". Dragons are naturally prideful and competitive. And this is a very competitive program. We are not only expected to perform at our best, we need to perform at our best if we are to survive.
After the questions ended, there was to be a flight showcase. Aurora strapped into her armor, while the reporter tuned up his camera, Adjusting the focus and shutter speed. Archangel 01 was to do some sighting runs, and then 5 super-high speed passes, at or exceeding her operational speeds. The reporter would be taking the pictures from an ancient business jet, what was called a Beachcraft Starship, a white fined vessel that looked like a vision of the future from the later part of the twentieth century.
When at altitude, the female was silent. She went through her equipment, making sure everything was working then properly, and then startled the reporter by saying a quick prayer, to the drakonian God, whom they called the Ancient. It sometimes surprised the reporter how much the drakonian religion was like the Christian religion.
When her prayer was finished, Aurora did a couple of sighting runs at slower than mach speeds, her ramjets drowning out anything that could be heard on-board. Siting runs over, she put the pedal down, and went for it. Her first pass was a relatively tame mach 2.14. Even still, she was moving so fast the reporter missed his shot. The second pass was at the previous archangel operating speed, mach 3.2. The third was at her normal operating speeds, at least what was claimed was her normal operating speeds, at mach 4.2. That pass nearly gave the reporter a heart attack. She passed closer than the other ones, and when the sound and pressure wave hit them, the plane shook, and the sound difference, from nutty quiet and then the boom, nearly deafened everyone on-board. Her fourth pass was ridiculous, Mach 6.13, so close to her top record. She passed even closer, and the shockwave actually shoved them sideways. The sound left the reporters ears ringing until she was ready for her final pass.
"Mr. Randomness" I was still snapping my fingers next to my left ear, trying to get it to work.
"You asked me what it's like being an Archangel. I kind of gave you a cop-out answer. I'll tell you the truth about how much I love this. I look down now, I'm at 150 thousand feet, ready to dive down towards you for my final run. I see your jet. I see my base, I see all of California, all of the western half of the former US, all of mid-realm and to the east. I can see across the Atlantic, see Great Britain and Lord Pyrrus's great empire, Ignis et Glacies. I have a view of around 2 billion people right now. During the Void War, they cried for a savior, and so, eventually, they shall again. I am an Archangel, a messenger from God, bringing enlightenment and peace to the world without ever firing a bullet, baring my teeth, or sharpening my claws. I am truth, justice and mercy. I am speed, incarnate, and it is my duty to protect and serve. That is what it's like." As she finished, there was a high pitched screech, and the dragoness passed the aircraft at a speed that boggled the senses. Had I not been ready, I doubt I would have seen her. She passed within ten feet. Amazingly, I caught her on film, but even at a ten thousandth of a second shutter speed, she was a barely discernible spec in my viewfinder. The shockwave hit us, and I cried out as my head pounded, and the plane flipped completely over, 360 degrees, the metal groaning in protest from the wave. The visual effect was a triple cone, water vapor trailing from the speeding angels speck as she screeched into the distance, ramjets cackling madly at me. As the plane righted itself, I looked up to find the readout we had been reading her speed at. All it said was "Error"
A technician told me later their instruments must have malfunctioned, because they measured up to Mach 10, and they had gotten similar results...
Art from Insane Randomness? Noooooo.
Well, actually yes. A new character(s), actually. Omega squadron, being spec ops, needed some form of intel deliverance. Ta-bloody-da. A dragon with a jetpack...
Ok, so that might seem a bit nerdy, but if only modern day scramjets can reach mach 6, then something had to be done. I'm going to be a bit more nerdy, and describe how any of this is possible. The first is the engine. I did some research, like I always do. It's a hybrid Scramjet, using a small turbojet (think model airplane size) to accelerate gases at near supersonic velocities into the ramjet. It has a scramjet afterburner, which makes reaching those speeds possible. Flying at them though is a whole nother story. the SR-71 blackbird, known from project Archangel, yes that is the actual name of the development project, hits temperatures of 3000 degrees Fahrenheit at speed. Everyone goes on about how the F-22 and F-35 are state of the art cause they have supercruise abilities. The SR-71 had them in the 1960's. Eat that. The SR-71 also had a hybrid ramjet/turbojet, although the ramjet was made into the intake nozzle. At speed, the intake produced 52% of the thrust. It actually wasn't operated by the USAF, but by the CIA.
I could litterally talk about the Blackbird all day long, it is a stuperb aircraft, and by far my favorite airplane. However, this dragoness flies faster, higher, and further. Like the SR-71 she uses cameras as her weapons, using them for surveillance. This includes ultra-high speed video cameras, standard optical zoom cameras, infrared, ultraviolet, microwave and radio-wave cameras, as well as standard video cameras, with high intensity optical zoom. Instead of flying directly over her targets, she flies to the far left of them. Range and speed are her defense. By the time any offensive action can be taken, she is long gone. Considering she covers, at "standard" operating speed of mach 4.2, 1400 meters a second, this is not an exaggeration. AT those speeds, she would experience something of the equivalent of 4500 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the speeds, the higher the temperature, up-to a point. To withstand those temperatures, her armor deflects most of the shockaves and pressure waves away from her, but ambient temperatures are still at around 1k degrees. Hence "heat rash". By contrast, most fire dragons breath their element at probably around 10k degrees F. As reference, the temperature in the photoshpere of the sun is 10k degrees F, and the sunspots are even cooler, meaning a fire dragon, aptly named, breathes fire capable of disintegrating weaker creatures. However, dragons "Only" gain major burns from this. Tells you how strong they are. The armor on the other hand is exotic and expensive, and was difficult to explain away. titanium would melt, or at the very least bend, and even carbon fiber oxidizes at those temperatures. I wanted to pull the "Because Science!" card, but I kept at it. It's made of a carbon aerogel, which is simple. It means that a gel of carbonite crystals (diamond) was created, and then the moisture was drawn out, leaving an extremely porous, yet extremely strong substance that insulates heat, and can withstand high pressure waves, with out bending melting or fracturing. Industrial synthetic diamond was used for carbon, for it's strength and heat resistance. Not impossible, just unlikely...
tl;dr Catch me if you can...
Aurora Garnette (C) Insane Randomness
The world-building here is incredible.
Please tell me this is part of a larger fiction.
Please tell me this is part of a larger fiction.
Indeed it is, though that world is being re-written right now.
The phrase 'Speed-Demon' comes to mind....
Hmmm, she's not a demon, I think of her as quiet, in stark contrast to her brother, whom won't shut up.
New art ....
From IR ....
From IR ....
'Twas unfortunate that the Blackbird was decommissioned.
But inevitable. Hopefully the rumors of the Aurora spyplane are true. I'm confident they are.
... this is new...
... this is new...
Zoinked into favorites folder because yeah...