Cheeseburger Gothic

Super Hornet vs a Dragon

Posted May 30, 2014 into Book Extract by John Birmingham

I'm buried deep in the editing of Dave Hooper 2 (The Last Temptation of Dave) and the writing of Dave Hooper 3 (unamed, so far) at the moment.

I need a little pick-me-up to stay at it, so thought I'd release a teaser into the wild.

The scene below comes from book 2. Dave and his Scooby Gang are flying across the US to a showdown with... well... I can't tell you. Spoilers.

But all you need to know is that by book 2 there are dragons in the air, causing a shut down of all non military aviation.

(I dips me lid to Orin for the very appropriate image below).

Extract. The Last Temptation of Dave.

"What is it?" asked Boylan, finally becoming animated as he synced back to reality. "Is it dragons, Dave is that what it is? Because I'm not ready for dragons. I prepared myself for giant pig demons and carnivorous monster dogs. Not dragons. Not on a plane. I can't do dragons on a plane, Dave."

"I think it's dragons," Dave confirmed. "Look."

And soon almost everyone was pressed up against the windows on that side of the plane, either shielding their eyes from the sun and staring out of the window next to their seat, or moving seats to do so. Everyone except Emmeline, who remained asleep, and Compton who had followed the instructions to strap himself in and was now craning around, looking very unhappy with his travelling companions.

It took a few seconds to find the aircraft against the background of the mountain range.

"Over there, near those lakes," said Igor, and Dave had them. Two bright geometric shapes, metallic flashes picked out in the morning sun, moving impossibly fast and straight amidst the visual clutter and chaos of forest and rock.

The Super Hornet, an arrowhead of the Gods, left the Warthog behind. Dave tracked its flight path for a moment then extended ahead a few miles, squinting with the effort to pick out whatever they were chasing. It didn't take very long; a plume of bright orange fire lit up the tree line well ahead of the fighter.

dar Drakon.

From this distance the torrents of beast-fire looked a trifling thing, like a barbecue flaring up in someone's backyard. And yet he knew that the arc of super-heated bile could reach out the length of a city block and was hot enough to crack rocks and melt sand into glass. Trees would be exploding down there, their sap flash boiling to vapor, detonating like a string of bombs dropped on the side of the mountain.

The Boeing turned in its holding position and they lost sight of the creature. Everyone hurried to the other side of the plane.

"Oh come on now," shouted Compton, still firmly strapped in, but nobody was paying attention. Even Joy had found herself a spot to view the battle from down near her station at the rear of the plane. Dave ended up crouched next to Heath who didn't need any superpowers to find the creature again, or the two human aircraft screaming towards it.

"At 10 o'clock," he said, pointing into the middle distance, where Dave saw the flying tank they called the Warthog and, by extending its flight path, the Super Hornet. It seemed that the very moment he locked eyes on the jet fighter, twin puffs of smoke appeared under her wings, as two small points of light appeared to detach themselves and speed away.

“AMRAAMs?" said Dave.

He’d read that in a Tom Clancy book.

Heath didn't turn away from the window and neither did Dave, but he sensed the officer nodding. "Heat seekers," he said. "Air-to-air. Pilot must've got tone. We'll see soon enough."

It did not take long. To Dave's untutored eyes, as quick as the jet was traveling, the missiles seemed to move away at two or three times its speed. He followed the burn trail all the way down to the slowly circling figure of the dragon. It must've been miles away, but he was certain he could see the great leathery wings as they flapped slowly carrying the monster across the forest canopy. It was possible, he thought, that he could even make out the great tail, although he had no hope of picking out details like the giant spikes at the end, with which a dragon could impale up to two or three Hunn warriors with one vicious swipe. He wondered how much detail the others could make out, but none of them were complaining.

“Praise God and pass the ammunition,” said Zach, just before twin explosions bloomed silently around the Dragon. Dave flinched, expecting to hear its death shriek, but of course he never would. It was miles away and they were safely sheltered within the insulating steel and glass tube of the Boeing. When the fire died away there was nothing to see. It was gone, but the A-10 pressed on anyway, and after a moment Dave saw long, fluorescent strands of light reach out from the tip of the plane to rake at the mountainside where, he presumed, the Dragon had fallen. The pilot poured on the heat for at least ten seconds, and fired rockets that followed the line of tracer fire into the burning forest.

"Nothing left of that sucker but loose meat," said Igor, standing up and returning to his seat. And indeed there seemed to be little left to see. The two aircraft were returning, and Dave lost sight of them as the Boeing came around to resume its original heading.

73 Responses to ‘Super Hornet vs a Dragon’

Adam_Denny is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Really good (two thumbs up.) In the real world, a Warthog or Super Hornet would have anything biological for breakfast, but that's the thing about magic - you get to make it up as you go along.

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LennyMack is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Genuinely hilarious (Praise God and pass the ammunition) and that's definitely going on the buy list.

I am deep into my own editing and that gave me the pick up I needed too (thanks).

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Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool JB,
But no EMF/P from a Dragon?
Those fuckers could take out a city with a small fart.

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Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
What I mean is there are biological systems reliant in EM for survival.
A large system would have a 'large EM' capability.

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
The real question JB is when do we get to read the books?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
March, April, May 2015.

MickH ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool!
Thanks!

insomniac asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
just paper or electrons as well?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
As well. With extra 'lectrons for some spin off ebook goodness

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
One a month for three months in a row? Cool! Has anyone ever done that before?

insomniac would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
Green Day did three albums in 4 months. Does that count?

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted June 2, 2014
Count!

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted June 2, 2014
You could say that it is the serial monthly publication of a single large work, in which case, it is closer to how things used to be done.
Actually, I think the whole thing is just a stunt to show up George R R Martin. Poor George, why does everyone pick on him?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted June 3, 2014
Because he is fat. Fat people get picked on incessantly.

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tqft is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Am ready to spend on these. Waiting.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
I don't can't tell the splodey things apart, either. Looking forward to this too.

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MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
I wonder what Dragon steak tastes like?

yankeedog mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
Chicken, of course.

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Chaz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014

Mick: smokin!!

JB: there was a front cover of Dragon Magazine form the late 80's (I think ) showing the inside of a Hornet cockpit as the pilot was about to engage a dragon

<img name="CiECYzm7tLKESM:" class="rg_i" style="width: 142px; height: 184px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: -2px; margin-left: -1px;" src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtlzd8xLwbgy-c5KWdwigosok_WzZ4PS5BNhOfRzC_jIT6HkE3" data-src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtlzd8xLwbgy-c5KWdwigosok_WzZ4PS5BNhOfRzC_jIT6HkE3" data-sz="f">


Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014

Dragon...Magazine...


There's a sub-culture that I never knew existed.


;-)

Blarkon would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
I linked to the original Dragon mag pic as well as this when discussing it with JB. It was from Dragon #143 (Mar 1989)

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Legless mutters...

Posted May 30, 2014
Point of order.

Now we've always been told dragons are reptiles. And reptiles are cold blooded. So how the hell is the sidewinders locking on to it? Admittedly - they could be locking on to the flames generated - but those flames would be in front of the dragon. The greatest heat source would be where the dragon isn't.

Think about this for a minute JB. It could make for an interesting plot twist.

You have a fucking *HUGE* flying dragon. And a multi-million dollar high-tech jet loaded with sidewinders. The pilot can see the dragon but the plane can't! It's sidewinders are blind. Radar guided munitions are useless against it as a dragon would have fuck-all of a radar signature. So you're left with mark-1 eyeball and cannons.

I think it would be kind of cool to have the jets all but defenseless against dragons as the weaponry can't see the bloody thing.

Mind you - the A-10 with it's 30mm cannon would turn it into dogmeat. You could also swap the sidewinders to be Mavericks in optically-guided mode and they would hit the fucker. But sidewinders? No.

Cheers

MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Not sure about the RADAR signature Legless. Something that big would have one.

Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Fa18s have a 20mm Vulcan on board too. Just sayin!

Legless mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
Yeah - I was wrong about that. Be interesting to to see how a radar guided missile would cope with a dragon though. It might have a hissy fit of the target is too big. Or it might just bore in to the center of the signature

But sidewinders are heat guided so they may still be borked...

Legless swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Just thought that a Hellfire laser-guided missile might be a good bet as well. Illuminate the sucker and let rip. Who couldn't love a missile called "Hellfire"?

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cold blooded or not, they breathe fire.

I'm not a big fantasy guy myself but most of the expository material on internal organs for dragons and the like usually have some sort of mechanism for sparking the flame plus organs which are responsible for generating the fuel. Further, with lighter than air gases, those could be used not only for the fire but also to assist with flight.

Thus, cold blooded or not, I suspect the dragon has a significant heat signature.

Other dragons are often purported to be covered in metallic scales, perhaps as a way to protect against other dragons.

Finally, Early Warning Radar during the Cold War used to detect flights of birds, prompting a freakout at NORAD more than once. If it can detect flights of birds, then I suspect it can detect a dragon the size of a 747.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted May 31, 2014
Historically not all reptiles have been poikilothermic. Comparisons of the distribution of blood vessels in the bones of dinosaurs and living animals show that the dinos more closely resembled the homeothermic mammals. Predator:prey ratios support this as does the modern view that birds are indeed the descendants of dinos, if not simply actual living therapods. Birds must be warm-blooded or homeothermic in order to generate sufficient energy to fly.

It could thus be argued that dragons are more likely to be at least partly feathered - wings, body and tail - and partly scaled - head and neck. This would give them better aerodynamic properties, help retain body heat and frankly look absolutely spectacular. I don't believe anyone has ever used feathered dragons in fiction?

Now since the largest known flying creature (off the top of my head at 2 in the morning) was Quetzalcoatlus (sp?) which was about the size of a small Cessna, a dragon would need some pretty fierce metabolism to generate enough energy. Their internal temperature might thus be very much higher than a mammal's and easily provide a target for infrared heat seekers. The feathers on the other hand,might not show up too well on radar but i guess birds do. And it's goodnight from me.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted May 31, 2014
Ahh, the benefits of a misspent Holocene.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014

Given that there has to be some kind of reaction - probably a catalytic one involving stomach gases - in the mouth of the dragon in order to produce flame and the flame is that intense I would expect there to be a lot of residual heat in the head region for some time after it's flamed.

That would probably give enough heat for a lock-on. It would also depend on the sensitivity of the seeking mechanism. Reptilian in the draconic sense doesn't necessarily mean cold blooded. Traditionally they like cold remote mountain tops and the like. That implies some kind of internal heating mechanism.

Legles has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
Fair points Anthony.

But I still think it would be kind of cool to have the first encounter of a Hornet and a dragon where the jet is loaded for bear and suddenly has an "Oh shit!!" moment when the pilot realises that he can't lock on to something the size of a football field...


Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted May 30, 2014
Superheated farts. Next question?

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Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
Hooray!! Some splodey stuff for a bit of change from bashing Abbot and his evil pig demon minions. Although I am sure BWS will be able to poetically reflect his hatred of the Rabbit and Rabble. I thought the A10s were retired but I defer to the googling fingers of you all.

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Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted May 30, 2014
PS. Please take my money now.

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted May 30, 2014
I'll be saving the nickels and dimes. Looks great!

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
No matter, F18s have a 20mm Vulcan on board for just such an emergency

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014

In FP there was an article about taking out Godzilla with a MOAB.

Dragons to manoeuvrable for that but mavericks or SLAM's would give them a worry and of course a GAU-8 would ruin their day IMHO


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Legless puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2014
I'm spending waaay too much time on this but it looks like I'm wrong about the sidewinders as well. This topic has been discussed in depth before by other authors:

http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/07/Poundingitintotheground.shtml

So because the dragon has to flap like crazy just to keep itself airborne it's going to be generating huge amounts of heat so it will have a significant heat signature.

Now I'm off to do some real work and stop thinking about how to take out mythical flying beasts with modern weaponry.


John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
ROFL.

Legless mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
Yeah. I'm well aware of the irony. I waste productive work time to discuss how to take down a dragon and you're paid to think of ways to take down a dragon.

Bastard.

Want to swap jobs?

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Adam_Denny mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
If you were playing it straight, it would be interesting how the gatling guns on the Super Hornets, and especially the Thunderbolt, would impact on a creature large enough, that comparatively they could be considered anti-personnel weapons. High velocity, they would cause massive shock trauma to the dragon. Only then, what if especially the 30mm depleted uranium shells fragmented, and lodged in the dragon's wounds. Even if it survived, wounds that were irradiated like that wouldn't heal.

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JG reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Cool. Good to see that Boylan's in there. Guess you'd be pleased about that, professor/PNB?
JG


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
That depends on whether John makes me tall and gives me hair.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
Mmm. Not so much. But you're prominent occipital crest gets a cameo.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014
Then I am quite pleased. My occipital crest has always been a "babe magnet" and, in the days when I was "on the market" - so to speak - the pickup line "hey, beautiful, wanna feel my head?" was wildly successful some of the time.

NBlob mutters...

Posted May 31, 2014
Where "Some" = more than or equal to 0

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted May 31, 2014
It worked once or twice, but only with women into that Neanderthal role playing fetish that was fashionable back in the mid 1980's. Boy, am I glad that didn't catch on.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2014
Once they've done capping the dragon, let the F18 and A10 loose on herds of hobbits. Cap the fkn lot of the fkn smug little pyney fuckers.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2014

You'd appreciate Mary Gentle's novel "Grunts!". Orcs who acquire a cache of 1960's Marine Corps weaponry along with a geas which slowly turns them into a Marine style force (but still Orcs) and a couple of particularly repellent little hobbits and forces of good who make the current government look nice.. Lots of violence and mayhem and dead hobbits and elves all over the place; also very funny.


Classic line "Pass me another elf, Sergeant. This one's split".

Therbs reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Now that is something I'd love. Hobbits getting their come uppance.

Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
We're all a bit worried about Pink Squad

Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 2, 2014


Thanks for that Anthony. I just grabbed an e-copy from the Big River - less than USD5. :)

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted May 30, 2014
That was great. All I can say is shut up and take my money

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Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014

Can you have a look at what got Warren Ryan and David Morrow suspended from the ABC please? I can't believe this country anymore. Morrow got suspended last year for making an innocuous joke, that we make among ourselves, black and white together, here all the time, which related to how hard it is to spot a blackfella when the lights go out unless they smile. Now, fair enough, I can understand how people that haven't lived among blackfellas may think that a blackfella would find this offensive. Not the ones I know. In fact they've got some pretty good jokes about whitefellas themselves.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014
Best way to fight Dragons would be Macross Valkyries (Robotech Veratech Fighters).

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Justin would have you know...

Posted May 30, 2014
sign me up!!!! but I hope it has dragons beating up on the airplanes as well.....

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virag0 ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
Who gets to clean up the carcass? I mean 800 tonnes
of dragon meat is going to go off pretty quickly.
That job doesn't make it in the book, I'd bet ;)

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 31, 2014
It will now.

Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 31, 2014

Giant ants to help with the clean up?

I really really want to read this series. How about a case of Red Bull and a bucket load of amphetamines? We could all contribute to a 12 month home delivery coffee service?

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Chicom Mick mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2014
JB,

Thanks for the read. Solid extract. My favourite bit - "He'd read that in a Tom Clancy book". Classic reference.

I really must get me a copy….. after I get Protocol, of course.
I'll let you get back to it.

Regards

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HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2014
COLD FKN STEEL!....BRING THE RAIN...GUNNA GET SOME...FROM FKN ORBIT!.

NOTHIngs as satisfying as filleting a dragon with an oversized Gerber!

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Dan reckons...

Posted May 30, 2014

I have only one thing to say..

write faster!

Can I get you a coffee? Will that help?

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andrewmagoo19 would have you know...

Posted May 31, 2014

Legless - valid point re the Sidewinder needing a heat source to home in on, but later marques can also follow a laser dot generated by a targeting pod, or a point designated by the pilot in his helmet display.



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Dirk mumbles...

Posted May 31, 2014

“Praise God and pass the ammunition,”
I think the term is Praise the Lord, ... and pass the ammunition.

Second why not go for the use of 70mm/2.75" Hydra or 5" Zuni rockets? Specs are on wiki, and there are multiple types of warhead to choose from. You would have 7 hydra's or 4 Zuni's per loadpoint, instead of 1 AAM.

Murphy mutters...

Posted June 3, 2014
John McCain could probably answer the zuni question but since he isn't here, I will.

The Navy pretty much stopped using zuni rockets on their aircraft, USMC helicopters not withstanding, after some nasty carrier deck fires in Vietnam. I believe an incident on the Forrestal, where a radio frequency triggered an accidental zuni launch, was enough to have them pulled.

I don't see using a helicopter to go up against a dragon at jetliner altitude. As for the A-10s, they'd probably stick to the gatling.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted June 1, 2014
I thought your use of both spellings, travelling/traveling, was very deft and subtle. You know a society is under stress when even spelling convention consistency is beginning to fracture.

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted June 2, 2014


A nice tidbit of story there John. Thanks muchly.

I'm waiting patiently for these with shekels at the ready.

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Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted June 2, 2014
Dave cracked open a bleary eye and winced at the ripe smell of armpits. If he didn't shower soon he'd be killing Orcs or Demons or whatever the hell the things were just by getting upwind of them. He was just deciding that he hated helicopters, military bureaucrats and several other things, in no particular order, when right on cue came a
standard issue rapping. "Annoying fucking door-rapping, civilians for the shitting of", he thought. "Piss off!"

"Sorry Mr Hooper" said a smug voice, "you're wanted right now in the Colonel's office."

"Fuck the Colonel, I'm having a shower."

"I'm a sergeant Mr Hooper, that would be against regulations. And he said right now."

"So shoot me" Dave mumbled, opening the door and slouching off to the ablutions area for a fifteen minute scalding shower. When he emerged the sergeant hadn't drawn his pistol but his grin implied Hooper's troubles weren't over. "This way Sir", making it sound as if it was spelled c-u-r. Past the office door marked Colonel Weeks was a subdued looking colonel, a three star general and two civilians who looked as if their sympathies should be with the Demons.

"Sit down Mr Hooper. We're here to help you with the dragon problem" said the younger and slightly less oily civilian.

"Great. Would you like a Barrett or an axe?"

"Mr Hooper", said the older one "You know since they started the night raids on our airfields we've lost our advantage in the air. They took heavy losses but they're hard to kill and with their natural night vision being better than our best NVGs, we're barely able to hold our key positions." Young oily chipped in with "And that means the dragons are back to attacking in daylight and almost impossible to bring down!"

Hooper scrubbed at his eyes with palms of his hands and wished he'd brought the axe. "Thank you Captain Obvious, and how is that supposed to help?"

The civilians looked at each other almost with embarrassment. "It turns out that there are, um, unconventional forces available who are willing to help us with the dragons. At least in an advisory capacity. They've had past experience with them and like them even less than they like us. Two, ah, experts have been flown from England to liase with us. On dragon killing."

Dave was at least mildly curious, if nothing else because the three-star looked as if he didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Fine, wheel them in and let's hear it."

The older one nodded. "Show them in Dr Smith". Smith returned with what Dave took to be two children in tow, before he saw their faces. And their feet. Their unnaturally large and hairy feet.

He leaned back and groaned "Oh you are shitting me. You cannot seriously mean we've got fucking Hobbits now?"

A slight pressure over his groin made him look back down. The smaller of the two was standing two metres closer than he had been a second before and holding a viciously barbed black knife lightly against Dave's balls. The knife looked sword sized on the little bastard and like some fantasy piece of shit from a newsagent, but it also looked very, very sharp. "My name" he said in a kind of comedy-Irish accent "is Therbadoc, son of Egfroth. But you can call me Therbs."

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 2, 2014

Fancy that, being taken down as a fkn hobbit by GB. The impertinence and sheer audacity!. Funny as fuck but.

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andyf reckons...

Posted November 21, 2014

there may be a problem. how far would cannon ammo actually make it into flesh before running out of steam/ exploding ?

the 30mm ap- I can see that going a couple of metres in, leaving a decent sized hole. the 20mm flavour, maybe not very far at all. the stuff that explodes will surely be triggered by the scales, it would sting, but not do much, be like being paintballed - at 6000 rounds per min, <owww!>

I would think the best toys would be rockets / radar missiles,

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted November 21, 2014
These are the sort of discussions I'm very much looking forward to having after Xmas.

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