Ace Combat Infinity - Ground Heroes

Author's Note

This is a story that I had thought up while playing it's namesake. It is a work in progress, and will undoubtedly go through a few revisions before it is complete. Rather than following the aces in the skies, this will follow the brave men and women of the U.N.F., showing the side of the war that you never get to see. There will be some spoilers to the game's campaign so if you don't want it spoiled I would recommend playing through the campaign first. Comments, ideas, questions, suggestions, etc. are all welcome. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it. - Laevanhunter

First Deployment

"In war the heroes always outnumber the soldiers ten to one." - H. L. Mencken

May 1, 2019 - 07:00 U.N.F. Training Grounds, North of Tokyo

We all stood in line, facing the drill sergeant for roll. Today the air of the entire camp felt different, we had been training for months and today it was finally going to pay off for some. Word around the camp was that some of the U.N.F. brass were going to start moving us to active combat. No one was quite sure what was going on save the officers, and they weren't saying anything.

"I'm sure you have all heard the rumors spreading, as I myself have heard plenty of them." The drill sergeant started, "Well today we can finally put these rumors to rest. A convoy will be coming soon to pick up the most prepared among you to join the Pacific Fleet in an offensive against the Sons Of Troia terrorist organization. The fleet has plans to move out of Tokyo Bay at 1000 hours. You all have half an hour to prepare, those who are chosen will leave, the rest will remain here for further training. Dismissed!" We all gave a salute before running to the barracks to begin packing.

Thankfully my bunk was right next to the door, so it didn't take long to reach my stuff, which is more than can be said for some of the poor sods here. I pulled my duffel bag out from under my bunk and began to pack what all I thought I might need. Uniform, check, backpack, check, journal, check. Looking through the small dressers we were issued I began to find things I had nearly forgotten about, such as a small hand-mirror I had brought with me.

Looking into it, I realized just how long it has been since I got a good look at myself. My once long brown hair was now quite short, not nearly a buzz-cut, but the best I could do with scissors. My once pale skin was fairly tanned, making my blue eyes stand out even more than they used to. I shook my head violently, now was certainly not the time to be admiring a mirror! I threw it into the bag along with a few other things I thought I should might need. All in all I spent about five minutes packing, including when I lost myself in thought.

I stepped outside so as to be able to be out of the way, and to get some fresh air. It was rather quiet outside, at least compared to in the barracks. A few officers walked around from barracks to barracks checking on how everyone was doing. I leaned against the wall and looked towards the sky, a slightly overcast grey obscuring the blue sky. Leftovers from Ulysses most likely. I was only four years old when the disaster hit, but I can still remember it like yesterday.

A loud commotion from the front gate pulled me out of my daydream. I looked towards the gate to see a rather large convoy being let through the gates. "Still about fifteen minutes early? What's going on?" I whispered to myself. A HMMWV drove ahead of the convoy and stopped outside the officer's barracks, and two U.N.F. soldiers got out, rushing inside. I watched curiously, not quite knowing what was going on. Not even a minute passed before the soldiers came back out with the drill sergeant, the latter running towards the nearest barracks.

"You! Standing against the wall!" One of the soldiers called to me, "Are you ready to leave?" He asked.

"Yeah, I suppose I-"

"Good, you're coming with us, the convoy has to be leaving in two minutes." He said, not even letting me finish. I followed the two men to the HMMWV, and got in the back. From inside I saw the sergeant and a few other officers rounding up those who were ready from the barracks and loading them into the other trucks in the convoy. Within a minute all those who were ready were loaded up and the convoy going back out the gate, the HMMWV leading as it had when it drove inside.

"I'm is Sergeant Coleman" The driver said, looking at me in the rear view mirror. "Sitting next to you is Corporal Burk, and up next to me is Private Vahlen. Sorry for the rushed meet & greet, but as you can tell we are in a bit of a hurry." I looked aside, not sure how to respond.

"You going to introduce yourself missy?" the corporal asked in a thick Irish accent. "T'would be rather rude not to"

"My name is Ellen Daeshaert. Err, I'm Private Daeshaert." I said, still trying to figure out what was going on. "Why is the convoy so rushed?" I asked.

"Fleet's departure has been changed, 0900's the new time. Don't ask me why, I think the brass' just getting paranoid again, but you never can tell." Private Vahlen answered. "Even had the roads cleared for the convoy, that's the only reason why we can drive so fast and NOT get in a wreck."

I took in what the private said. If the departure time was changed that probably means something is wrong, just what I don't know. I might just be paranoid, but it doesn't sound good in the slightest. No one talked for the rest of the ride into Tokyo. It may just have been the air, but no one in the HMMWV felt like talking anymore.

The Pacific Fleet

The drive through Tokyo was a swift one. The convoy kept at a constant speed of around 112 kilometers per hour. The roads were cleared and cordoned off, so there was no traffic. It also helped that it was nearly a straight shot to the bay.

We weren't even in the bay when the fleet came into view. Even with the reconstruction many of the buildings around here were shorter than the ships. I was distracted from the fleet only by the deafening silence in the HMMWV. Looking at the Burk I saw he was thinking the same thing.

"So... Corporal, have you ever been on a ship before?" I asked.

"Aye, was on a carrier for a short time, put aboard by chopper. I prefer air travel m'self though."

"Got a little seasick last time didn't you Burk?" Private Vahlen said with a short chuckle.

"What ever you say German." Burk snorted.

"Everyone out, cut the chatter too, try to at least act organized. It would be good for the recruits - you included" he said, looking at me "if we showed them how things are supposed to be done." Sergeant Coleman said. He got out, with all of us following behind. We all moved in a line, being sure to look as if we were all more organized than the crowde of recruits that I had been with until today. They were unloading and forming somewhat organized mobs.

"Sergeant Coleman, U.N.F. Special Forces, is the Lt. already on board?" the sergeant asked one of the crewmen. He went from his relaxed posture to a short salute before responding.

"Sire, Lieutenant Bertz is waiting on board, you'll find him below deck." The sergeant turned to us about to speak, but was cut off by shouting.

"Everyone on board, we have unidentified aircraft in the air, possible hostiles." The loudspeakers on the ship echoed into the bay. Everyone began to run for the ship, the mobs losing any semblance of order that they had once had. The officers pushed their way through the crowd, trying to yell over the many voices that were coming through. The crewmen did their best to assist the officers in quelling the crowds, but even their help wasn't enough.

We stood aside to avoid being trampled, and in our wait we heard to explosions. There was a sudden silence before the crowd began to scream, pushing and shoving to get aboard. Multiple aircraft flew overhead, some in formation, and others not.

"Who's fighting? I can only recognize some of those aircraft." Private Vahlen yelled over the din.

"JASDF for one, and two planes with 'em I couldn't tell you." Burk called back.

"Let's go, the ships are leaving" Sergeant Coleman called, and started to push a path for us through the crowd. A rocket from one of the hostile aircraft hit a nearby building. We broke free from the temporary paralysis that hit the crowd and ran aboard. The remaining people on the gangplank didn't take long to follow suit.

"Everyone from the convoy is aboard!" A crewman yeljled, and the call was put out again and again by the crew, relaying it from ship to ship and inside to the captains. I looked back at the trucks, now completely abandoned and standing alone among the empty buildings. Turning back I saw that we couldn't get inside the ship, because the crowds were trying to push their way inside in sheer panic, so we stood of to one side once again.

Suddenly a plane fell from the sky, hitting the water not far from the ship and scattering debris as it went down.I made my way to the end of the ship that it went down near, and looked over the railing trying to see it in the water. I saw the wreckage of the plane for only a few moments before I was sent flying. The entire world erupted into a cacophony of noise and a blaze of fire. Everything turned grey as I was barely able to stay conscious.

"Jesus Christ!" someone in the distance yelled, "People get them out of..." the voice trailed off into the white noise. Shouting echoed everywhere, and I felt someone lift me from under my arms. Everything moved as a delayed blur, with more explosions rattling my ears. I looked toward the sky and watched as yet another red ball of light filled the sky.

"The last one..." was the last thing I heard before slipping into darkness.

Welcome To Special Operations

I awoke feeling dazed, and not quite sure where I was. "Hurry, go get your Lieutenant, it looks like she's coming to." a distant voice said, followed by rapid footsteps leaving the room. "Just stay awake, you were almost dead and we don't want to lose you." the same voice said, only closer this time.

"I heard our recruit has finally come around." a new voice said some time later. Looking around I saw the world was becoming more clear as I waited, enough to see that I was in an infirmary. I tried to sit up, but my arms gave way and I fell back on the bed. "Careful private, take it slow, you have been unconscious for nearly a week and a half."

"A... Week and a half?" I asked groggily. "AM I alright at least?" The world began to clear enough for me to see that there were three people standing over me.

"We are unsure for the time being, but there was no damage that shouldn't heal." the man in a navy medical officer uniform said with a japanese accent. His face betrayed worry, regardless of what he had said. Looking at his name patch I saw his name was Akira Hiroshi.

"Your name is Maria right? We'll have to get you a new uniform." I quickly looked down, alarmed for a moment. I saw I was wearing a patients robe, rather than the U.N.F. uniform I had been wearing.

"Worry not, it was one of the nurses you changed you into that, no need to worry about that." Officer Hiroshi said. I breathed a sigh of relief, I would not have been a fan of a random man changing my clothes while I was unconscious. Not that a random woman is much better though.

"Any E.T.A. on her being on her feet doc?" the man who was wearing the two bars on his arm asked. His name patch said Adrian Bertz. He had an air of authority about him that seemed to make everyone listen to everything he said. He was a somewhat tall man who seemed to be around thirty, with short black hair and a clean shaven face. He also had tanned skin which made it impossible to tell exactly where he might be from.

"Perhaps a week, maybe more, maybe less." Hiroshi responded. The Lieutenant shook his head, then looked at me.

"I would like to see you try to be on your feet within a few days private, we have a mission coming up and I want you on it. There should be enough time for you to recover, but I would also like to find a place for you in the time we have as well."

"Why me?" I asked, somewhat confused as to why I would be picked."

"I want to see how you react in combat, and I try my best to bring every asset availiable on any mission, be it a weapon or a soldier. If you want you could think of it as your trial by fire." He nodded his head to me, then the doctor, turned, and left. The third person who had been at his side stepped forward after he left.

"Sorry for being so quiet, I want to tell you good luck." His name patch said Evan Collins. "As the Lt.s second in command I hate to see any of our people hurt. In his place, allow me to say - welcome to the U.N.F. Special Forces. I'd say you are more than tough enough to be with us." he reached out his hand, which I wearily grasped and shook.

"I must agree with Sergeant Collins, your shock induced coma was a better result than many had. The explosion that merely knocked you unconscious killed thirteen others." Officer Hiroshi said. "Call me superstitious, but I think you might just have a guardian angel."

With that the two left me to rest, and it was only a matter of minutes until I was sound asleep.

Finding My Place

"Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, is a person explained."

- Thomas M. Cirignano

   May 14, 2019 - 10:00 Aboard The Pacific Fleet

I spent another three days in the ship's infirmary, with the occasional visit from the different members of the team. After spending a total of thirteen days in the infirmary, Medical Officer Hiroshi finally cleared me for duty. It took me a few minutes to get on my feet, but quickly found my balance.

"Glad to see you on your feet Private. If you feel ready I want you to report to Sergeant Rivas, he'll test your eyesight." Lieutenant Bertz said when I walked into the team's quarters.

"My eyesight sir?" I asked confused.

"Yes, I want to know what kind of role you could be good for." That was all the response I got. He refused to elaborate any further and waved me off. I began to look for the sergeant, finally being told he was up on deck by a crewman.

After a bit of wandering I was able to find the sergeant on the front of the ship. He stood against the railing with a pair of binoculars in his hand and a smirk on his face. "It took you long enough. Vahlen already told me what the Lt. wanted."

"Took me long enough, what do you mean by that?" I asked.

"Vahlen found me five minutes ago, and he was sent two minutes after you. You ARE a rookie, so I"ll cut you some slack though." He turned his back to me and looked off at the ships to our right. "So here's the test, I'll look through my binocs here and find a person, and then you have to find them based off how I describe 'em."

I nodded and waited for him to find someone. It didn't take him long, after about a minute he tossed the binoculars to me. "You're looking for a tall black man in a U.N.F. air force uniform, curly black hair, shades, and he's towards the middle of that ship." He said, pointing towards the nearest one. I started looking for the man he described, and it only took me about thirty seconds to find him.

"Found him, he's walking across the deck in a pair of leopard spotted sunglasses." I said, and looked at Sergeant Rivas. He nodded and smiled.

"Nice one private, I left the detail on how the sunglasses looked out to see if you could find it, good job." he gave a short laugh before continuing "Now it's your turn, find someone, describe them, and I'll see if I can find them based on your description."

I started looking for someone, trying to find a person who would be just right, without being too ambiguous. After a few minutes I found someone I thought was just perfect. "Bald white man, about five-three, U.N.F. naval uniform. Light blue eyes, somewhat slouched standing posture." I said, handing Rivas the binoculars.

"Very good description private, it didn't take me long to spot your target." He said after a minute of looking for him. "Could have been better if you had specified what ship he was on, but still not bad." He put the binoculars in one of his pockets and walked back to the front railing, and looked off to the ocean again.

"So, how did I do sergeant?" I asked. The sergeant just stared off, giving no response. His dead silence chilled me a little, and left the sounds of the ship as the only noise. "Sergeant?"

"Go below deck private, I'll speak to the Lieutenant later." There was a coldness to his voice. I wasn't sure if I had said or done anything wrong, but it was unsettling. I decided that listening would be the best idea, rather than staying here and bothering him more.

"Yes sir, thank you sir." I said before turning and leaving. I was just starting to walk away when I heard his voice behind me.

"You passed again private. Perfect scores on all three tests." I turned to him, confused again.

"Three? I only took two I can think of." I said, my voice betraying just how confused I was.

"Yes Private Daeshaert, all three. Go report to Bertz, tell him what I said, he'll understand." I nodded, thanked him again, and left the deck. As I walked back below and to the team's quarters I wondered, just what did he mean by all three? All I could do was guess he had hidden one in his questions somewhere, but I couldn't tell where.

I returned to the quarters and informed Lieutenant Bertz of what the sergeant had said. "So I judged you correctly. From now on, you are assigned to Sergeant Rivas as his spotter. Congratulations on finding your place on the team Private Daeshaert." the Lieutenant looked at me and smiled. "I'm sure that having you on the team will be a large help to our operations, welcome aboard." He reached out his hand, offering a handshake which I took.

"Thank you sir, I won't let you down." Was all I could find the voice to say.

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