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                             Flak Trap                            
   Stepping out onto the tarmac from the hangar, the sun rising over the

hills glinted off of the flight helmet in his hand. "A beutiful morning." he said to himself gleefully. 1st Lt. Roger Lake of the 44th FedCom aerospace squadron was in a good mood , after two months of the heaviest fighting he's seen and numerous raids-turned-bloodbaths into the Draconis Combine's territory , an expedition finally captured their headquarters , triggering the collapse of the Draconis Combine. At a treaty hearing in New Avalon , leaders of the Draconis combine , Federated Commonwealth and the Smoke Jaguar and Nova Cat clans , divided the Draconis Combine into sections for each of the two clans and FedCom. The Combine's army surrendering their arms and turning their few reamaining units to the their conquerors. With a powerful Warden at command of the Smoke Jaguar Clan , they made a truce agreeing to help FedCom and other Inner Sphere armies against the other Clans.

  On the first day since the Treaty of New Avalon , Lt. Lake was

assigned a patrol of the new front along the Smoke Jaguar's territory. "Hornet Squdron to your craft , Hornet Squadron" said the calm female voice over the basewide Com. Running to his craft , he hopped in and suited up, his small 5' 8" frame easily slipping into the cockpit. He taxied out of the hangar , tech crews scurrying out of the way , onto the runway."Hornet Sqaudron flight of four , takeoff at runway 09 , over." he radioed the tower. "Hornet flight cleared , good luck Roger." said the controller and good friend of Roger , Keith McMichael. "Hornet flight check in." he said over the tactical frequency. "Two here" , "Three checking in" , "Four's okay". "Okay guy's lets rendevous with the jumpship".

  An hour later , Roger's magscan picked up the ship. "Okay gang , 

single file formation , 25 percent power." he said to his squad , giving them proper instructions for a hangar approach. "Good morning Hornet Flight this your friendly neighborhood dropship , the Monarch , how may we help you?""Hornet flight of four reqesting docking space for the ride to the front ,over.". "Okay Hornet Flight , request granted , docking bays 18 through 22,welcome aboard.". The four Wasp II aerospace fighters entered and docked without a hitch.

   Later in the briefing room ,a nice lavishly furnished room with a 

nice view of the planet the ship was orbiting , the four pilots met with the Briefing officer. He ran over the basic outline of the mission and their flight path.Soon the PA system ordered everyone to their chambers for the jump into hyperspace. Lake went to his chamber and climbed in. He was nervous , he hated hypersleep chambers , he didn't know why but he did. As he shut the door an activated the chamber he heard over the PA , good night and enjoy your ride , thank you for flying monarch.

   Roger woke with a start. His ears were ringing and his head hurt from the sleep. His wingman , 1st Lt. Paul Ropich , was standing over his  

chamber. "Wake up sir , he launch in 45 minutes." he said. "Crap , my chamber must've screwed up , I should've been awake one hour ago." He got up and dressed , stopped at the caffeteria for a hurried breakfast consisting of eggs and coffe , but it tasted more like cardboard and swill.He met his flight in the hangar bay. Tech crews were already prepping the ships , and the ordinance cart bringing their weapons. " Good morning , Sir , running late are we?" said 2nd Lt. Nick Bianco , one of his flight members. "Shut-up and suit-up , mere underling." said Roger jokingly. Finally they were all suited up and ready to go , as were their craft: The Wasp II. Each carried eight AMX-12 missles for ship-to-ship use , and four ASD-4E strike missles, not to mention the built in AC-5. They weren't going in unprepared , treaty or no treaty. He strapped in and cleared them out the of the ship , as he and his flight cleared the bay doors , he got a radio message , " Hornet flight , this is Monarch control , be advised of a Jaguar Millenium Class warship about 8 km to your 9 o'clock , copy?" Roger was worried , a Millienum was a very large ship used for assaults. " Yeah , I copy Monarch , after we do the recon run on the base we'll swing around and check it out , over.". "Copy all Hornet lead ,out.". " Hear that guys? stay sharp on this one , as we run on the base look for signs of an invasion force.". He guided his flight through a turbulent flight into the atmosphere were it was late evening , the sun just setting. " The base is just a few kilometers ahead , slow down , dont activate any weapons systems, and waggle your wings a couple of times to show 'em were friendly." Roger was worried even more now , as they neared the base he saw large groups of equipment. "Looks like a whole Regimental Combat Team , Vultures , MadCats , Thors , My god. ..Dashi's! , thats one damn strong force…" "Sir!" , interrupted Ropich , "Missle batteries targeting us , my threat receiver is flippin' out! , I think we'd better…" he was cut off as his ship exploded into a bright orange ball of flame." Evasive Manuvers! Get the hell out of here , NOW!"He launched a pair of ASD-4E's at a battery and pointed his craft toward the stars , hitting full afterbuner. Missle and lasers shooting all around him , he took a hit to the wing but stabilized. " Fighters , incoming!" he heard over the intercom. He picked up 12 Sharks coming out of the warship. "THE WARSHIP!" he screamed over the radio as barrage after barrage of lasers came out the sky from it. He popped into a thunderstorm and had a quick chance to rest , the lightning blocking the scanners of bloodthirsty enemies. The Clans weren't supposed to act like that , they were an honorable race. He was sure that he wasn't fighting clans , but had no proof , he couldn't risk another run on the base to confirm. He tensed as he saw a ship come up in front of him … a wasp. It was Nick Bianco. They were the only ones left. He didn't have to worry about the Jumpship , there was an intergalactic treaty covering that , which simply stated that none shall attack a jump ship. He made up his mind , using visual signals , he told Bianco to break for the jump ship. He was going to confirm who was attacking. Like a bat out of hell , was Roger out of the clouds , redirecting power to his engines , pushing it for all it was worth , he took several hits , crippling his craft , by the time he was over the base , He glanced down and saw it , gleaming red , a coiled dragon. "Draconis…." 2nd Lt. Nick Bianco looked over his shoulder at his flight leader running on the base , his craft just broke out of the clouds , he caught sight Roger's ship and watched as it sped over the assault force , Nick's radio came alive and he heard "Draconis" as he saw his flight leaders craft disintegrate into thousands of pieces , getting hit by an LRM-20. As Nick exited the atmosphere , out of danger , he radioed the Monarch. The Draconis Combine was not dead. Paul Ropich was. Josh Witten was. Roger Lake was.

Brendan Meara , 1/18/95

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