Okay, I'm here, hands up for those want more ST: answer is, sorry, still no word from my Beta.

This Fic is written solely out of boredom and Ace combat hype, for those that not familiar with that game, it's okay, this fic also include the worldbuilding aspect of the original game, even if some of the cast is replaced and plot being altered.

Also, no I.S., but Tabane does have her important role and quirks, and the title still a plot point by itself.

Also, unlike canon, AC4 and AC5 story happened around the same timeframe in this fic. The main character of said AC5 is Dan "Blaze" Gotanda, while the star of AC4 is Ichika "Mobius One" Orimura. Most of the cast of AC5 is unchanged, either way, the same for Yellows in AC4.

Be warned: some of your beloved characters will be portrayed as antagonist, but since we're talking about war, yeah… no joy. I'll try to stay neutral and portray them as sympathetic, though.

It will be tied to ACZ/AC0 as well, but mostly as backstory for few characters.


Infinite Stratos

-Unsung War of the Shattered Sky-

Disclaimer:

Izuru Yumizuru & Okiura

Namco

And everyone else!


Operation 01: Birth of Mobius One

September 19th, 2004. 1300 Hours, St. Ark Gulf.

The situation was hectic around the 6th ISAF Navy Fleet, no, it was a grave situation, the three flights sent to intercept the enemy failed their task, and now, the fleet is all but alone.

Ensign Ichika Orimura huffed as he recounted all the system, which has been checked throughout in the very little time he had, nothing wrong, as the young naval aviator find.

"Flaps, rudder, engine, landing gear, weaponry, all check"

The communication operator responded accordingly "[Catapult voltage, check, deck cleared, Mobius One, you have control]"

"[Launch and evacuate immediately, wiseasses!]"

"Mobius One, Take off"

Catapult lock released and the enormous metal bird dashed across the starboard, its engine screaming, echoing across the entire deck like a howling beast showing its pride and glory. Accelerating from zero to double-hundred miles per hour in the span of seconds, only few, if any, land object can comes close.

And then it was set free toward the blue sky, sea underneath it splashing as if it welcomed the pilot.

It was an exhilarating experience for him, his first combat deployment ever. Ever since the swift advance by Erusea, the undermanned ISAF began to pick any combat worthy personnel they can grab their hands on, with the greenest of them being reserve force.

In this case, He IS a reserve, meaning situation get so bad that he had to be sent.

His aircraft sliced through air with no elegance, but still one splendid sight of its former glory as finely-aged multirole jet fighter, having numerous reputation and records in its name.

He had to take off in a 2001-batch F-4 Phantom II (Also known as Double ugly, Flying Brick, Lead Sled and many other derogatory yet affectionate nicknames), a plane so outdated that it only exist to test whether making a generation 3 jets using post-Belkan War engineering technique is viable and cost effective.

His train of thought disturbed when the fritzes in his radar screen getting worse and worse.

"[Altitude restriction cancelled. Mobius One, your mission is-]"

His radar became total ripple, his radio is not much better. The enemy has been detected just before, now he doesn't know anymore.

Landing gear and flaps retracted, reducing air drag significantly to allow it fly faster.

"Tower, what's the matter?"

"[ECCM, RESTORE LINK!]"

"[Negative, the jam… Strong! We can't-!]"

And then, only silent, static buzz.

"You've gotta be kidding me…"

Ichika saw it, the black cloud of harbinger; no less than 20 Entendard and 4 Nimrod flew at slow speed, while on slightly higher altitude he recognized multiple Electronic Warfare Aircraft, covering the whole group from possible detection.

His moment of lenience didn't last long as CIWS and RAM howled, delivering a wall of shell and missile. Ichika looked behind in awe at the sheer firepower delivered by a single carrier, and specialized warship supposed to deliver more?

Aegis escort 'White Devil' opened its VLS hatches, guided lance launched from battery toward the side area, all ship in the fleet made a desperate countermeasure against the merciless assault…

And yet...

There's too many to be deflected immediately, Ichika's grip on his control stick tightened as he watched a missile slammed right onto the plane onboard the deck, many more breached the hull mercilessly.

Metal walls torn up from the inside out like wet tissue paper, an exploding wet tissue paper. Ichika watched the horrific scene as some fleeing crew crushed by an abandoned aircraft parked on the deck, the sound of metal meeting squishy flesh might be unreal, but in his mind, it might as well be.

It's too far for him to see the detail, but even he could feel the pain himself.

Another ship bursting out one by one due to domino effect of the explosion, the deck is on fire and the salvo simply didn't stop at the carrier. White Devil slowly but surely dove onto the ocean, defeated.

Ichika is enraged, is it even necessary? That there's no survivor from the slaughter?

Ichika screamed as loud as he can, and fire his first missile. As heat-sekeign missile, Sidewinder's main problem is unable to lock target properly, and thus, Ichika simply turn of the radar and shoot blindly, the missile then search the nearest target: An Entendard.

What made him back to his senses is a light-induced morse code from below, from the last destroyer that hasn't been damaged considerably. Those people… they really want Ichika to know his mission.

GET OUT ASAP

CALL RESCUE

As the destroyer finally met its end, 6th Fleet is no more. Ichika hit the afterburner and climb as fast as he could, before disengage and sail toward the mainland.


A lone, blue colored F-4E soaring across the airspace of Newfield Island at modest airspeed of 400 knots, as if it glides, opting for maximum fuel efficiency.

25 ton behemoth is a gas guzzler, and greatly outdated nowadays, but even then, there's still many exist in service, just like many other out of same era, most of which are hodgepodge of old design and new internal parts.

15 km south of its position, lightweight E-2 is patrolling around the southern region of North Point, apparently they contacted it first, meaning there's really no closer airfield… or a functional one. He couldn't see the lightweight watcher properly, but it's out there.

"[This is AWACS Sky Eye, please identify yourself]" a female voice was heard first, it's soft, sounded like someone in late teens, and yet firm and proper as a soldier.

2nd Lieutenant Ichika Orimura, Callsign Mobius One, replied with slight nonchalance "This is Mobius One of 6th ISAF Fleet, 118th Marine Defense Squadron, I've lost my entire flight, has my flagship sunk, and running out of fuel soon… "

Understatement of the year indeed. He is pained and saddened, but he can't show it, not here, not now.

"[Hang in there Mobius One… Aikawa, would you please?]"

"[Affirmative, he is a reserve naval Aviator in Flagship Tamahagane]" came the other voice. Odd, because normally, only one voice can –or rather SHOULD- be heard, preventing confusion in the heat of battle. "[Mobius One, can you inform us the current sitrep?]"

"Please inform this to the HQ-"

Ichika began to tell the nutshell version of his departure, which he managed to finish in 30 second. His voice is heavy, but clear as a sunny day in North Point.

"[Message sent, and the rescue team will be sent after we finished the current objective. We'll guide you, Mobius One]"

"Please highlight me about this 'current objective' of yours"

The original operator spoke again in monotonic, no-nonsense tone "[We identified a massive pack of bomber heading toward the mainland. Multiple AWACS has been sent, including us, as forward screening. We also send as many intercepting team as we can, but the enemy is attacking from all axis]"

"It's seems that Air Force has their problem as well"

"[Indeed, our early warning system is sabotaged, this is the reason our response become so sporadic and unorganized]"

Figures, enemy really aiming for overkill before ISAF can properly regroup, those facist bastard… Ichika thought, at the very least, redundancy in area search might help.

"… I can see them on my radar too. Who is the closest one to intercept?"

"[42th Reformed Tactical Flight Hanagumi… following suit is Navy Maidens from the East]"

Indeed, Ichika could even see a faint, black cloud composed of bombers of all sizes and types, as well as their escort fighters. However, the latter seems to be undermanned, there are mostly eight of them at best.

The sight of them still menacing as ever, they carry enough munitions to level a small city, did they really wanted to crush their enemies' morale to the ground and then pound it some more?

"The escort is very light isn't it?"

"[It's the reason of why the bomber ran freely… we… don't have enough angels in the air that enemy simply countered our ambush]" a slight hesitation heard on her voice, Ichika could understand why. They're just as desperate as he is, losing comrades one after another without having any chance to retaliate.

Stonehenge huh… Mobius One thought, the god forsaken salvation of humanity, now it's under Erusian control and is the reason of why ISAF decided to retreat very quickly –and still suffer massive casualties.

Well, he really don't want to lose the final chance to have a home to stay, death seems to be an acceptable risk. He is a soldier; his job is to protect his homeland and its people, no more and no less.

"Request permission to engage"

"[Then what about your fuel supply?]"

"Worry about that later, I have just enough to make interception run, and I'm carrying five missiles that should be ditched anyway if I want to stay longer" he said.

He didn't do this out of spite of revenge, well, he hated the Erusian for their aggressiveness, but he joins this war not to eradicate their population and spill their blood, painting the land with flame of destruction and hatred, but to survive and bring independence to his homeland.

Some say jet jockey likes talking high, they we're right. But as proven again and again, ever since aviation has been founded, from 1910 Osean War, 1937 Continental War, 1957 Verusean Civil War, 1995 Belkan War, 1998 Usean Rebellion, etcetera, Air Power is the point of dominance.

"[… HQ has informed us that they need every single fighter they can use, you can proceed]"

"Roger that Sky Eye, Mobius One, engaging"

Its monstrous engine ignited, though not entering afterburning state as of yet. Their enemies as of now are no less than fifteen bombers and eight fighters, apparently, highly maneuverable Mirages.

"[Mobius One, be careful of ricocheting SAM]"

"I'll keep that in mind, Sky Eye" he can be at ease at least, that he wasn't alone. He has a guiding AWACS, and ground support. At the very least, betting on his last gallons of fuel are worth the effort.

Indeed, streaking brutally toward the black cloud is multiple surfaces to air missiles. The escorts acted as makeshift weasels and quickly intercept these missiles, acting as bait. The sky is lit by munitions and countermeasures, flares and chaff alike.

One of the jet bombers struck right in the fuselage, ripped apart by resulting air turbulence. The rest quickly accelerate and separate from the older, propeller-driven bombers.

They become Mobius One's sole prey.

"[Mobius One, you're too close]"

He knew that he could just point and shoot, after his targeting system get a lock. However, that won't do, there will be too many survivor.

So, he opted to go close, really close.

As in, having a gun lock instead. Burst of medium caliber shell torn the left wing of one bomber as the formation spread out, it spun out of control and then explode violently as it touched the surface.

"Fox 1"

The second B-52 also bursting out as his Sparrow missile struck the engine proper, destabilizing its flight enough to force a crash landing (though the crew seems to survive).

Two of the escorting Mirages chose to go after him instead, and he instantly get into their lock.

"Bastard" he pulled an Immelman Turn, even though he knew those Mirages are more agile and soon followed, still tailing him with a lock. His RWR blaring loudly, like a stereotypically hysterical dumb woman in old horror movies.

As they said, the lighter one won a knife fight unless noted.

He once heard that most of the bulks of Erusian Air force are indeed, composed of cheap, light fighter, some specialist teams are exception, such as renowned Yellow Squadron and their Flankers. And of course, the bombers.

But it's not his plan to fight those Mirages. His only target is the B-52s and them only. He took the third one successfully with a missile and shell burst. Of course, this piss off the escort team and they waste no further time, they slow down and push the button.

"[Warning: Missile]" sound echoed in his cockpit as a pair of short ranged missile tailed him with intention to kill; he clenched his teeth and burst out, taking the fourth bomber with a sidewinder and a sparrow. Missile still closing fast…

"Break! Break!"

Dodge successful, or rather, the missiles detonated too far to deliver any meaningful damage. Ichika use enemy's own bomber as terrain cover, such suicidal tactic either means overconfidence or desperation, and Ichika has both in his disposal.

More missile followed suit, just like cannon shell.

Miss again.

"Break… what the-?" Ichika muttered as he managed to shake out of their attack point, it became painfully obvious what contrary to his expectation, the pilots seems haven't pulled the light fighters' true potential yet. Otherwise, no way in hell he could get out of their chase with moderate effort.

He delivers flares just when he's closing the fifth one, so close he could feel the resonance of air distortion caused by the proximity. If he could hear the Erusian bomber crew talking, they probably scream at him as nuts.

But that ain't his problem, two missile detonated right between him and the bomber, damaged both of them. He's more bothered by it, but at least he could still fly. The damage is significant, but not critical.

And get another bomber kill; he could proudly call himself an ace now. He still has some bullets in his cannon, but he doubt he have the required skill… of his aircraft can pull any more crazy feat after such damage (it's less agile to begin with), and if he has enough fuel to even LAND for that matter.

Knife fight is really out of option without any meaningful support.

"Mobius One here, I'll need to bail out soon"

The two Mirages scrambled apart and spun like mosquito, only to be taken out shortly after despite their effort. The reinforcement has come in form of three planes, and oddly, two of them are in underpowered F-5s. These are even smaller and lighter than Mirages, for crying out loud.

Fortunately, Ichika identified that those Tiger IIs are carrying modernized weaponry, so they're almost even. Besides, some people commented that Tiger II are a better dogfighter, Ichika not sure if it's true.

Besides, the flight lead rode an F-16. In some aspect, it's better than the Mirages, though not definitely.

After analyzed enemy's capabilities, Ichika made a conclusion that three planes might be just enough.

"[This is Asagao, Mobius One, can you hold a little longer?]"

Ichika might be a newbie, experience wise. He however, understood why. They need as much manpower as they can, sometimes, number really matters. Even if his Phantom is unarmed, that means one extra target for the enemy.

His IFF has been updated. Asagao is the lead, and behind her is Tsubaki and Hinagiku.

"Ah, I think I could for two minute or so…"

"[Granted, Tsubaki, Hinagiku, let's split when I gave you the cue]"

The three planes kept their formation as six bandits approaching from all direction, Ichika tailing them just fine, knowing that this three-plane team has a plan.

They split later and engage, the two Tigers purposefully stay together, doing a synchronized maneuver.

Ichika soon founded that one of the tiger is piloted by an even worse newbie than he is, this is gonna suck… he thought, but at least it won't kill him in the short run.

The lead pilot however, he certain is an ace.

It was low altitude combat, should be dangerous except for the best pilots, and Ichika knew it very well.

Ichika has hundreds of illegal flight hours in a prop plane, something his sister pound on him to no end. That experience includes this kind of insane stunt, flying under 200 feet altitude on top of a forest for example, but there are massive difference between lightweight private craft and two-dozen ton supersonic killing machine.

His awkward ground-skimming attempts however, bear him some tasty fruit; his enemies simply didn't dare to get into same path as him. When one of them does, the SAM sites are there to eat the poor sap.

"Gotcha"

Ichika managed to sneak behind the fleeing Mirage, using the SAMs as distraction, he got another gunkill. Well, another SAM got it, but Ichika did enough damage to make difference.

Hinagiku on the other hand, perform like someone straight out of piloting school, just enough to survive with the help of an ally. Tsubaki managed to destroy one of the bandits, making it two, with the one shot down earlier.

Tsubaki seems to be the more competent of two.

Simply proving how much of an ace however, the flight lead Asagao taking out three Mirages in a succession.

Hinagiku shot down the last one, Ichika think it might be sheer luck, but not really. Hinagiku doing it like the good book say, enemy just too slow to react accordingly.

"It's less about us perform amazingly and more about those bandits sucks" Ichika noted to himself, seasoned pilot won't be caught off guard easily like that.

Ichika's anger arose when he remember how his pals in the reservist force has been slaughtered before taking off, humiliated that enemy simply outnumber them.

Still, his conscience told him that Enemy had sent their better pilot somewhere else, probably facing a comparable force of ISAF ensemble. For that, he really thankful, he will be damned if he actually has to face two experienced Erusian pilot in Mirages within visual range.

His eyes stumbled on the fuel meter, and he began to panic when his engine began to cough.

"Dry as a thirsty camel, I'm going down fast"

"[Sky Eye here, they'll guide you to a place where punching out is safe]"

"Thanks for the heads up"

The canopy is blown and a sudden rush of air made him choke a little, compiled with the high-g he experienced as his seat blasted upward away from the falling plane, the behemoth dove toward lifeless hill and slammed the cliff at the speed of sound.

He watched the three angels dancing in the sky as his fall slowed down by the opening parachute.

"What a beautiful sight"


Retrieval operation only took as much time as the preparation and departure of rescue Helo, the location is indeed convenient. Hell, Ichika could just walk to nearby city, but opted not to. He glad his Phantom won't cause a forest fire, because there's simply nothing flammable left in his plane.

(Well, maybe the oil is, but that beside the point, it's relatively inert compared to jet fuel)

He wondered… his comrades in the navy, how many of them died, and how many prevailed. Alone in the forest, he began to cry, not ashamed at all in his own state. He cried and cried, until the tear stopped as he heard the sound of propeller slicing through the air, it's the Army's Helicopter.

Inside the rescue chopper, young men and women in dressed in SAR equipment bombarded him with questions. Where he came from, how he can get there etc. Ichika simply replied as far as common sense tell, the detail will be in his military report.

It seems that pilots of the mirages survived, as far as he heard, and held captive. Some of the bomber pilots however… well…

It's not like he hadn't killed before, but still…

His trains of thought all but disappear when one of the crew shook his shoulder, pointing behind and giving a cue that it's time to disembark, Ichika nodded with a smile, carrying his helmet (which has 03 stamped on it).

The unusual cheer followed his arrival, rather than congratulation for his kill streak, more like appreciation for his survival, though it could be for both.

The casualties of ISAF in the previous battles are high and only few people can survive by themselves, much less perform like Ichika does.

So what if he's in ISAF Navy? Who just like any other military branch in the world, has this stupid sense of rivalry with the Army and the Air Force?

"Yo, happy bastard, still alive?"

"If I am one, then what are you?" Ichika replied laughingly, realized the lone female pilot's identity "Bastard" she threw her helmet playfully.

"Oh, want me to cheer you up? If you know what I mean"

"So ISAF actually allow fraternization?"

"Your sarcastic attitude always amuse me, you know"

Black hair, blood red iris, confident and domineering facial expression. What else to note? Except that he's really looking more relaxed and masculine, they're almost identical.

And yet they're supposed to be fraternal twins.

"I figure escaping to mainland will come into this, but not this soon"

As Ichika sat on the nearby bench in the hangar, waiting for the top brass to call him inside, she on the other hand, daringly rest her head on his lap, uncaring that people looked at her with odd expression.

"… hey listen, I knew this might be odd considering I'm talking, but alas, you had done what you can, simply put… I can't even imagine it surviving" She muttered, with all the honesty and humbleness she rarely shown in their interaction. Ichika knew, every time she talks like this, she really mean it.

"… I can cope with that as technical facts" Ichika ruffled her hair "I still however, feel that I should be able to do more"


Yeah, what a bad fic, I'll make a glossary for the terms you might not familiar with, so the notes will be long.

If you're confused, Ichika was in the Navy, Madoka is in Air Force, the rest… will be explained.

Ja ne.


Glossary:

Naval Aviator: Pilot working in the Navy

AWACS: Airborne Warnign and Control System, think an airport tower, and then put it inside a plane.

Break: A codeword for evasive maneuver against missile.

CIWS: Close In Weapon System, advanced turret system that shoot missile mid air.

ECM: Electronic Countermeasure, a way to disturb the opposing party's electronic sensory by deploying a destructive radio signal.

ECCM: Electronic Counter-Countermasure, in a nutshell, a way of fighting ECM by deploying a counter system.

Fox 1: A codeword for launching aircraft-guided missile. Fox 2 is for heat seeking missile and Fox 3 is for self-guided missile.

Flaps: The part of wing extended prior to take off or landing, decreasing stalling speed.

Flight: A team of aviators working together as team, usually four of them. Also referred as Squadron sometimes.

Helo: How Marines call the helicopters, whereas the Army call it chopper.

IFF: Identification Friend or Foe, a system that marks the object inside the battlefield to prevent friendly fire and ease of combat.

Knife Fight: Fancy term for close range, tight dogfight using guns, said to be obsolete, but time and again proven wrong.

RAM: Rolling Airframe Missile, spinning, rapid fire launching system from hell. Supplementing the cheaper CIWS.

SAM: Surface to Air Missile, self explanatory.