Dragon Hunters (Writing Contest Entry)

The Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit, or in French: L’Unité Interarmées d’Intervention du Canada.

In the grand tradition of Canadian Special Forces, it was a completely non-indicative name. In civilian terms, we were metaphorical dragon hunters. Our remit was investigating and neutralising weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive. Never thought actual dragons would be a possibility though.

That all changed in the 2020s with the emergence of the Samudr Virus. One thing to bear in mind was that we were amongst the biggest geeks and nerds in the Canadian Forces; add that to our jobs and we just ate up any and all data about it. Being able to invoke ‘National Security’ to gain copies of any data helped. As more and more data arrived though, and the gravity of our situation became apparent, we prepared for the worst.

When the Phoenix Project revealed themselves to the world, the announcement surprised us; but not their existence. While the public dismissed them as crackpots or a Russian hoax, we poured over every rumour with renewed vigour to get a handle on them.

The Moose Creek outbreak happened that same year. While I wasn’t part of the team that responded, the aftermath was our first taste of the horrors to come. I couldn’t help thinking that the outbreak and the Project revealing themselves were connected.

The arrival of The Mist, while concerning, didn’t initially worry us to any great degree. Then samples of it were collected and it was shown to be a strain of the Samudr Virus. However, when we sent our grave concerns and requests for more equipment up the chain of command, all we got in response were accusations of fearing mongering and imagined threats.

As yet more data rolled in and successive governments failed to act, we began to debate alternative ways of protecting our country. Should we have the spies contact the Project or the nascent Firebird Initiative? Should we request information, or should we also give information? What if they refused? What if the spies refused? What if the politicians found out? The morons would have us strung up as traitors for trying to do our jobs despite them, while they buried their heads in the sand.

We were still trying to figure out some answers to these questions when the world was turned upside down. There were many theories as to why it was called ‘The Big Egg Incident’ but personally, I think is was because someone laid a big one and everyone involved got their faces covered in it. Though, admittedly, there could have been a large monster egg involved. We do live in interesting times.

Unsurprisingly, the government didn’t react to the appearance of hostile, potentially alien, life capable of using weaponry. On the other hand, at least it was actually getting discussed and debated somewhat sensibly in the Chambers, which is more than could be said for other countries. Some countries were still blaming each other for it despite the Samudr Virus being more complicated than anything ever seen before by man, let alone created.

A few months later we were called in to respond to an outbreak at the Naikoon Provincial Park on the north shore of Haida Gwaii; a corporate retreat of some sort. This outbreak was nothing like the Moose Creek outbreak though; in the few hours it took for us to arrive at Masset several people had died and many others were missing. In our paranoia, we deployed like it was a combat mission in Iraq, not a mission in Canada.

When we arrived my team was ordered to collect environmental samples along the gravel beach. My team consisted of 10 soldiers: a soldier each to monitor the environment, collect samples, package the samples, and document the samples; 4 buddies assigned to protect the others and to assist in decontamination plus our robot and her handler. Our robot was a Big Dog who helped us carry gear and carried the chemical sensor systems.

It was a disaster.

While collecting samples, we were ambushed by snipers. Four of my team died instantly; a fifth suffered a through-and-through leg wound. The rest of us took cover behind our Bid Dog. The robot handler was struck in the arm as he took cover. As our medic tended to the injured, I called for support while my buddy returned fire. We quickly learned the entire unit had been ambushed.

With no backup coming, my buddy and I laid down suppression fire as best as we could; we grabbed and used every magazine that we could safely retrieve. We were down to single bullets and pistols when reinforcements finally arrived.

As we were evacuating the wounded, I got a clear look at several of the enemies we had killed: they were the same monsters from the ‘Big Egg’ video.

It has now been six weeks since the ambush. Of the 50 of us that had deployed, 38 have died. The word is that our Commanding Officer is going to be scapegoated, and nothing will be done to better prepare ourselves from a clear threat. As I sit here, feeling like a lamb led to slaughter, I have to decide what I’m going to do. Being Lawful hasn’t worked, so now it is time to be Good. The question is: what is Good in the real world?