This is fanfic that came to mind while I was writing another fanfic. The story is about Cipher after the events of Ace Combat Zero and how it affected him.
Part One: Zero
So this was it huh? Everything that I did lead up to this. Sure when I had came down there were people waiting to congradulate me, the rewards would be pretty damn good as well, but it sure as hell wouldn't change anything that happened during that pointless war. I had one friend killed by another and then moments later I killed him as well, and for what? Money? Power? Fame? None of these would change the fact that on that today I had lost both of my friends and I was left with nothing. I guess it's fitting for a man like me. Cipher. Zero.
But perhaps, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. It began, or ended, on a cold snowy day...
Tower: You are cleared to land. Welcome back Cipher!
I had just landed back at Valais Air Base. In one day I had defeated an Ace squadron, prevented nuclear disaster, stop a terrorist group, and seen the death of the only two friends I had. One hell of a day huh? Anyways, when I had landed I gave my debreifing and went to my quarters to be alone. I could hear the people around wanting to meet the "hero" that I had become before some of the higher ups made them go somewhere else. After that I was about to fall asleep when I heard a woman calling outside the quarters.
Woman: Cipher? Cipher? Are you in there? Where's PJ?
Crap. I thought to myself. It was PJ's girlfriend that he said he was going to propose before...it happened. No one must had told her what happened yet. Shit, I did not need this right now.
PJ's Girlfriend: Where's PJ? You must know where he is.
Just go away. Just go away. I kept saying to myself. Why the hell couldn't someone have said something to her sooner? I'm not cut out for these kind of things.
PJ's Girfriend: Cipher, please tell me where PJ is.
Eventually I said screw it and open the door. The poor girl look liked she was about to cry and with the news I was about to give her, that was surely going to happen.
Cipher: PJ...PJ didn't make it.
PJ's Girlfriend: What? *Sob* But...but...
She wasn't able to finish her sentence. The poor girl just fell on her knees right there crying. I didn't know what to do, so I just asked a passing soldier to take her somewhere else to call family or something. Before she left all I could tell her was that "I'm sorry" and that there was nothing I could do to save him, then I just went back to sleep.
Part Two: Ace Combat
It wasn't long before I was back to work. People like me were in high demand these days and I had been hired for another job, this one taking place in Usea. The man who had hired me said they were looking for the top aces of the world for this one and that the rewards would be worth while. I still was bitter about the events of the Belkan war but I was also tired of sulking around in bars trying to drown my sorrows. It was time to get back to work.
Scali Island, June 12th, 1996
I was waiting in the breifing room with about a dozen other pilots from around the world when the man himself, Robert Taylor, along with some other individuals from the FCU came to greet us. Robert Taylor was the man who had reclaimed this island in 1995 while I was a fighting in the Belkan War. It was considered a great start to taking care of the terrorist, or revolutionaires, depending on who you talk to around here. This was in part of thier top squadron know as "Phoenix". So why were we here? Well while you'll never find it in any offical history books, but after thier great victory in Scali, the "top aces" of Phoenix Squadron were all shot down by the enemy ace squadron "Adze", meaning our job was to take the place of the former members of Phoenix squadron. After the nice speech and breifing from the men of the FCU we were to take off in the Phoenix squadron aircraft. I wasn't a fan of the color scheme of the aircraft, nor seeing my F-15 like that, but paint can be changed, and the money is good.
AWACS Night Eye: This is AWACS Night Eye to all pilots. Today is a test of your operation abilities as you were told in the breifing. Several bombers have been located in the area. The lucky few of you that got to come out today will evaluated by command and myself upon completion of the mission. Our top ace of the day will take the name "Phoenix" and lead the squadron against these terrorist that have been plauging southern FCU all this time.
Cipher: Roger that Night Eye.
Hal: I'll take em' all down!
Sergio: I wouldn't hold your breath Osean. I'll be the one to take the name "Phoenix".
Juliette: The name "Phoenix" belongs to the FCU and I intend to keep that way. Sorry boys.
We had quite the group here. Hal was an Osean Ace who had served in the Belkan War just like me and decided to become a mercenary afterwards. Sergio was a Estovakian mercenary pilot who had been flying since the 80s, and Juliette was a pilot from the FCU that had been assigned to the Phoenix Squadron due to wanting to join on the operation and the fact the FCU thought they could save a few bucks instead of hireing another merc.
Jack: Were going to be the ones that take the Phoenix right sir?
Then there was Jack. The FCU co-pilot assigned to me. Didn't like the man. Talked to much.
Cipher: Jack, we're going to take down our assigned targets and complete our objective. I'm not interested in this little competition between the other pilots.
Jack: Oh, but come on man! I've heard about you! You could fly circles around these guys. If anyone should be the lead pilot it should be you!
Cipher: Just be quite and focus on the mission. I've got visual on the bombers.
I then flew towards my first target. I didn't do anything special, just unloaded a few missiles into the first target before the escorts could really react. I could overhear the enemy over the radio using a custom system called CIPHER, after me of course, that allowed me to overhear everything in the local airspace, friendly or not.
AWACS Night Eye: First target down for Cipher. Pick up the pace or the rest of you won't have a chance.
Jack: Bingo! Yeeeehaw!
Cipher: What was that!?
Jack: Oh, sorry. Got a little too excited.
Cipher: Well could you not do that again?
Jack: I'll try. To be honest though this is actually my first time in an actuall battle. Spent time in patrols and me and my old buddy-
Cipher: Jack. Be quite.
Cipher: Thank you.
After all of that I noticed the few fighters trying to get on my six. I wasn't about to let that happen. I quickly pulled up as the fighters were about to finish their turn and flew right above the SOBs, they quickly tried to react but I split them up in the middle of it and got my lock on one of them.
Cipher: Fox two. Fox two.
The missiles shot right out and after that the pilot's fate was sealed. Another kill, but I was alread focused on the other fighter by the time I saw the pilot's aircraft dissappear from my radar. The other pilot was nervous. I could tell. He started flying recklessly in a desperate attempt to evade me. His fear took him over, and with that his life as well.
Cipher: Fox Two.
I didn't feel like wasting two missiles on the guy. Even if it did miss I was sure he'd be buggin out. Then I saw him eject from the plane before the missile was even halfway to his plane. One less fighter anyways...
AWACS Night Eye: Cipher you're starting to lag behind the other pilots. Pick up the pace!
Hal: What are ya' doing Cipher? Don't tell me those stories about you were exaggerated.
Sergio: Maybe Belkans aren't as tough as the stories made them to be.
Juliette: Overated mercenaries. Seems like your skills are just talk.
Ugh. Each one of them pissed me off. I may be one the youngest there but these people were acting like children! I may have been not as fast as the others so far but I was conserving, playing safe, making sure to follow the one ultimate rule of war. Survive. You never knew what woud happen next.
Jack: Hey Cipher, you just going to take that crap from them? Let's take down all the targets now so we can shut them up!
Cipher: We're playing it safe Jack. A pilot is no good if he's dead, regardless of skill. All it takes is one stupid mistake to get shot down.
Jack: Alright then, Cipher. We'll do it your way.
AWACS Night Eye: Here's the current sitrep on the operation. So far Juliette is closest to finishing the mission. Pick up the pace guys.
Hal: Yeah, yeah, pick up the pace. We know!
Sergio: As long as Hal doesn't finish ahead of me, I'll be fine.
Hal: Hey what's that suppose to mean!?
Sergio: Whatever you want it to mean Osean.
Hal: Why you little Stovie...Argh. Enjoy 3rd place Sergio, because I sure as hell ain't going to let you finish the mission before me!
Ignoring the little argument going on I had taken out another target. But for a moment I thought I had seen somthing at the edge of my radar. Another enemy aircraft? At any rate, it didn't appear again so I focused on the remaining targets.
Jack: The final group is ahead of us Cipher.
Juliette: All targets on my end down. Mission complete.
Hal: Son of a-
AWACS Night Eye: Good work there "Phoenix". Return to base.
Juliette. Roger. Returning to base.
AWACS Night Eye: The rest of you better-
Hal: "Pick up the pace?"
AWACS Nigth Eye: Maybe if you kept your mouth shut for five seconds you could've had shot down all your targets before Juliette.
Sergio: Shut you up.
AWACS Night Eye: The same goes for you Sergio.
Jack: The enemy escorts are turning to engage.
Cipher: Won't be able to catch them sleeping on this one. Fox three!
I fired the missles but too soon. The escorts quickly evade and the other bomber had deployed flares. Not a single hit, but the missiles gave me time to prepare my next attack.
Sergio: Mission Complete.
Hal: Dammit, Sergio! I was just about to say that. Ugh, Mission Complete. Looks like Cipher is going to be the number four of the group.
Jack: Well that's that. Let's just take the rest of them out and go home.
Cipher: Fine with me. Fox two!
A clean hit. The pilot ejected as his plane exploded and I had gotten another lock.
Cipher: Fox two! Fox two!
The missiles chased after him. The man managed to get away from the first one, but the second missile I had fired was gaining on him. The missile connected, hitting an engine and neutralizing the threat.
Jack: He's wounded Cipher! Fire! Shoot him now!
Cipher: He's no longer a threat Jack. I'm not wasting missiles on something that can't even fight back at this point.
Jack: You're right. Sorry again.
I then turned my attention to my last target. No escorts to protect him. An easy kill.
Cipher: Fox two! Fox two!
AWACS Night Eye: All targets comfiremd down. Took your time didn't you? Return to base.
And with that, my mission was complete.
1 hour later - FCU Airspace
Jack: So what was it like?
Cipher: What Jack?
Jack: The Belkan War, B7R, all of that.
Cipher: You're like a kid you know that?
Jack: Hey, I'm older than you Cipher. I can tell that much.
Cipher: *Sigh* I guess I can tell you a little once we return to base.
Jack: I'll make sure to get some drinks and food once we're on the ground after the debreifing.
Cipher: Heh, sounds nice.
AWACS Night Eye: Cipher, everyone else is already at base. We're all just waiting for you now.
Cipher: I'll get there ASAP.
AWACS Night Eye: Well I would just like to say job well done. Not quick like you wingmen, but as you said, "A pilot is no good if he's dead, regardless of skill." Make me think about the men you're replacing.
Cipher: That's just how war is Night Eye. People live and people die.
AWACS Night Eye: I guess so. I just wish- Hold on. I've got something on radar.
Cipher: What is it?
AWACS Night Eye: An incoming group of enemy bombers. Dammit they must have been waiting to strike after the operation.
Cipher: How long until reinforcements?
AWACS Night Eye: It might be too late by the time we get them in the air. It's up to you now Cipher! Take out those enemy bombers!