The Let's Play Archive

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

by nine-gear crow

Part 18: Missions 17 & 18 - Operation Point Blank & Zero, December 31st, 1995

“The Valley of Kings”

Mission 17: Operation Point Blank – December 31st, 1995
Epilogue & Credits
Closing Interviews – Espada 2, Soldier & Mercenary Versions

Overview: Backed by a full wing of fighters from the Osean Air Defense Force, Cipher and PJ make a daring run through the Mund Valley to Avalon Dam to destroy the launch control module for the V2 nuclear superweapon and prevent A World With No Boundaries from causing a nuclear holocaust. However, one last enemy ace blocks the way...

Yo Buddy, you still alive?

Guest Commentator: Who else would I have on for this mission other than my very own Solo Wing Pixy, Blind Sally—and by that I mean we are probably also going to wind up killing each other one day in a frozen nuclear hellscape.

His body of LP work speaks for itself, because I literally cannot find the words to describe it. He’s currently LPing the Tau campaign of WarHammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade; an LP that just will not die apparently.

I know that only three people read these posts, but whatever, just be forewarned that the write ups that follow spoil the fuck out of the final boss, so if you haven’t seen the end of Zero yet and want to go into the finale blind, then stop reading RIGHT HERE and watch the video first.

This is your last warning.

Okay, I’m gonna assume if you’ve scrolled down this far then you’re all in for spoilers or you have some kind of wicked impulse control problems. Either way, you’re fucked now, so let’s get to the ’ing!

The mythical island home to the supernatural forces of the Arthurian myth ruled over by the Lady of the Lake, and, at one point, by Morgan Le Fay. It formed a binary with Camelot in terms of the realm of man and the realm of nature or the divine, serving as an analog to the afterlife. It was the place where Excalibur was forged, and where it was returned to after Arthur’s death.

It was also, according to some versions of the Arthurian myth, the place where Arthur was spirited away to following the Battle of Camlann and the death of Mordred. Because in some versions of the myth, Arthur never actually dies, he only appears to, and is instead placed in a kind of mystical sleep to recover from his wounds and will one day re-emerge to reclaim the throne of Britain. This is where the “future” part of The Once And Future King comes from. See? Arthur’s not dead, he’s just hiding!

The Avalon Hydroelectric Dam was built along the Mund River by the Belkan Federation in the 1980s by the Belkan Army Corp of Engineers with a total energy output of 126 kWh. Construction lasted 8 years and ended shortly after the Belkan Federal Law Review of 1988. Advertised as a civilian infrastructure project, the construction came under fire from the international community when Belka refused to disclose what it meant when it claimed Avalon would be a “multipurpose” facility in its project outline to potential international investors.

What Belka didn’t tell the world was that the majority of its underground facilities actually housed covert intercontinental ballistic missile silos and launch facilities. Avalon was intended to function as a key component of Belka’s nuclear triad, designed to be a both a first and second-strike capable facility in the event of a nuclear war with Osea, Yuktobania, Sapin, Erusea, or Emmeria. So closely guarded was Avalon’s true purpose that Osean Intelligence only learned of its launch facilities on December 31st, 1995, when an Osean spy satellite stationed over Belka to monitor for violations of the post-war arms reduction treaty detected draining of the Mund River and the emergence of Avalon’s launch silos from beneath the dam’s receding waters.

In addition to the hydroelectric and launch facilities, the Avalon complex also housed an airfield ostensibly designed to receive supplies for its continued operation. The airfield was also appropriated by A World With No Boundaries when then seized the Avalon facility and made it their base of operations.

Avalon makes a reappearance in Ace Combat Infinity as part of the game’s loose storyline between missions. This version of Avalon Dam is located in Russia, or rather part of Russia that now belongs to the rogue nation of the USEA Federation. Much like Zero’s Avalon, Infinity’s is also a covert ICBM launch facility which the player is tasked with disabling before USEA can launch a warhead from it.

So like I said in the last update, this is the spot where things get a little tricky to form a cohesive narrative due to a rare burst of direct mission-to-mission alternate continuity. Depending on your Ace Style and who you fought in the Round Table in the previous mission, whoever is controlling the V2 launch procedure in this mission will change.

If you’re playing on Knight, like we are for the LP, then you face Wizard Squadron in the Round Table, and Sorcerer 1 will be running the show at Avalon. If you’re playing on Mercenary, like ACES’s Genocide Asshole Cipher run is doing, then you will face Sorcerer Squadron in Mission 16 and Wizard 1 will be on the ground for Mission 17. If you play on Soldier then you will face Gault Squadron in the Round Table, and… Sorcerer 1 is also at Avalon.

Yeah, that’s the kicker. I said the game really undersells the fact that Anton Kupchenko is the big bad of Ace Combat Zero, and I meant it. He never appears at Avalon, and is never even mentioned or hinted at even existing in a Knight or Mercenary run. He is effectively summoned into being by a Soldier Cipher.


As for trying to square the circle of “okay well how was Sorcerer 1 in the Round Table and Avalon at the same time?” The answer is: “it’s a video game, I don’t give a shit.” For argument’s sake though, we’ll just assume that Palmer was rescued from the Round Table and whisked away to Avalon in time to oversee the V2 launch by, oh… let’s say… Moe.

This section will focus on the real world references to the V2 missile. For the in-universe write up, please see the “Superweapons” section.

The V2 superweapon of Zero was named after the V2 missile developed by Nazi Germany near the end of World War II. Because Belka’s all about rockin’ dat Nazi style . The V2 was the world’s first long-rage guided ballistic missile, and was intended to eventually carry a nuclear warhead, had the Nazi nuclear program proved successful, which it thankfully didn’t.

The V2 was one of several Vergeltungswaffen, or “vengeance weapons,” designed for long range retaliatory strikes on Allied targets. It was also the first manmade object to cross the atmospheric boundary known as the Kármán line and enter space. Following the war, the V2 was repurposed by the Allied countries for both peaceful and weapons development purposes, and the majority of its development staff including Wernher von Braun surrendered themselves to the United States, where von Braun would go on to develop, among other things, the Saturn V rocket for NASA which put a used car lot on the Moon.

So then it’s presented with just a touch of irony by Project Aces that on our Earth, our V2 heralded the arrival of the age of the intercontinental nuclear menace, while on Strangereal’s Earth, their V2 sounded its death knell.

So what the fuck is a MIRV, I hear some of you asking. Well, MIRV (pronounced like the name “Merv”) stands for multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle; a two-stage ballistic missile sabot that, when it reaches the apex of its firing arc, separates into smaller projectiles each of which having their own independent reentry vector and target. So instead of one warhead, you now have potentially a dozen raining down upon you. It’s basically the ICBM version of a shotgun shell and one of the biggest, nastiest fuck yous in the realm of nuclear weaponry because just one MIRV is capable of taking out an entire country’s worth of people.

The V2 in Ace Combat Zero is a MIRV weapon with eight nuclear warheads, for reference.

Another one of the “big ones” in the canon of “HEYGUYSDOYOUKNOWABOUTKINGARTHUR?!!!” Morgan Le Fay is Arthur’s half-sister by his mother’s previous marriage (you know, the one Uther and Merlin broke up with a little bit of “I’m pretty sure that’s technically rape, guys”). Depending on the version of the Arthurian myth you go with, she plays a wide variety of roles, from an openly antagonistic villain to the Knights of the Round Table, to a stand-offish potential adversary and occasional ally, to just, well, not even existing. Some versions of the myth see her reconciling with Arthur near the end of the saga, while in orders they remain hostile right up to Arthur’s death.

In just about every version, she is a powerful sorceress estimated to be on par with Merlin himself, perhaps even surpassing him in terms of power and skill, hence why she’s such a deadly and eternal thorn in Arthur’s side. She was entrusted to Merlin’s tutelage around the same time as Arthur was when her magical talents were discovered. But while Arthur was an exemplary and humble student, Morgan became power-hungry and impatient and her and Merlin had one hell of a falling out. She would then spend most of the rest of her life scheming to bump off Arthur and take control of Camelot for herself, even playing a role of sorts in the rise of her nephew Sir Mordred.

In earlier versions of the myth, she was a simple enchantress and healer associated with the Isle of Avalon, appearing only at the end of the legend when Arthur is spirited away to the island to enter his eternal-ish healing sleep.

It is speculated that she was inspired by The Morrígan, the Irish goddess of fate and death, who herself (or themselves—The Morrígan is often depicted as a trio of goddesses, similar to the Greek Fates) is a whole other can of worms and references.

In modern media, portrayals of Morgan run right across the character alignment grid, usually depicting her as either a straight up villain or a potentially dangerous wildcard ally of convenience to Arthur and co. Although an increasing number of works have begun to portray her in a more positive, even heroic light as of late, and literary scholars of the modern era have gone on to claim Morgan Le Fay as a literary feminist icon, being a complex and evolving woman of equal or even greater power to her male counterparts within the stories she appears.

In the context of Ace Combat Zero, her name is appended to the boss superplane ADFX-02 and its player-controlled sister the ADFX-01. While the Morgan isn’t the most powerful plane in the game, it is the most powerful plane in existence from a timeline perspective, just as Morgan herself was the most powerful human being of Arthur’s time. Its abilities are also gamechangers, both in a gameplay sense, and an in-universe sense. With the Morgan, Ace Combat enters the age of the superplane, and things are never going to be the same again.

We also get through her name a “how we got here” reference to Pixy. Morgan’s full name, Morgan Le Fay, effectively means “Morgan of the Fay” or “Morgan of the Fairies,” and what’s another word for a Fairy? Pixy.

It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

The namesake of Belka’s Project Pendragon is of course Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father and predecessor as King of Britain in the myth. He is also the stepfather of Morgan Le Fay, Moraguse, and Elaine. By and large, Uther is kind of a blur in the Arthurian mythos, a character who exists to bring Arthur into being. Certain modern works like the BBC’s Merlin television show have fleshed him out a little more as a character, but his two big moments in the Arthurian myth are banging Igraine disguised as her original husband Gorlois to sire Arthur, and then kicking the bucket so that Arthur can ascend to the throne and become king himself. Beyond that he’s usually described as being a boilerplate strong, wise, and just king. Boring boring boring.

Certain takes on the Arthurian myth play up the bastardry angle to Arhtur’s birth, as thanks to Uther’s glamour fuckery, Arthur was not legitimate at the time of his conception and birth. In some versions of the myth he is later legitimized when Igraine weds Uther, but in others he remains a bastard, at worst case an unacknowledged bastard (as is implied by the Disney Sword in the Stone film), who then proves his paternity and by extension is claim to Uther’s throne by pulling Excalibur from the anvil Uther thrust it into before his death. Uther had stipulated that only his rightful heir would be able to pull the sword from the stone. Cue royal bastard.

Arthur’s bastard conception by Uther also serves as a prefiguring to his fall and death and the end of Camelot. The reign of Camelot began in effect with a bastard birth brought about by deception (Arthur), and so too did it end with a bastard birth brought about by deception (Arthur fathering Mordred with a woman he didn’t know at the time was his half-sister Moraguse, and Mordred later tearing Camelot asunder and killing Arthur in a bid for power).

To tie this back to Zero, the V2 MIRV is referred to in-game by characters as “The King” (disputably, I’ll cover that in the Arthur section), so it’s only fitting then that the device that symbolizes Arthur in the narrative in all but name was birthed from a project that carried the name of his father.

The medal awarded for completing the secret special objective of Mission 17 is referred to as the “Gold of Annwn”. In Welsh mythology, Annwn is a loose analog to Avalon, where it functions more as straight afterlife paradise closer to Heaven, Valhalla, or Elysium. It appears primarily in the Mabinogi cycle of Welsh myth, which served as the inspiration for Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain. In the Prydain books, Annwn, stylized as Annuvin, served a far grimmer role, becoming basically a Mordor analog as Alexander reinterpreted it from being The Land of the Dead, to The Land of Death, and its ruler Arawn, is shifted from a more neutral to friendly portrayal to an openly antagonistic one to the heroes of the series.

The emblem of the medal “The Gold of Annwn” depicts a fairy, or more aptly, a pixy, in reference to its connection to Avalon, and to its connection to Larry Foulke.

Header image shamefully stolen from The Black Cauldron, because fuck it, why not, it’s an underrated Disney flick and it’s tertiarily related to my point.

“Zero” by Keiki Kobayashi, Takanori Goto, and the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra is pretty much any Ace Combat fan’s undisputed favorite song from any of the games’ soundtracks and if you disagree with that I will fight you goddammit. This track closes out the game and plays over the fateful final duel between Cipher and Pixy.

Aside from its distinct use of the flamenco guitar and castanets, it’s also famous for its choral interlude. But what isn’t as well know about that AMAZING choir section is that the lyrics are actually lifted word for word from another favorite track among Ace Combat fans; Ace Combat 5’s game-closing “The Unsung War.”

I won’t detail what those lyrics are because that’s all yet to come from our perspective and contain some heavy thematic spoilers for 5, but given the inescapable pairing between Zero and 5, I find it highly appropriate that Zero the song is calling back to, or rather calling ahead, from our perspective, from the deeds of one great demon to another.

So, hey guys, do you know about King Arthur? Well, just in case you don’t, let me tell you about him.

It’s actually kind of funny how Zero throws nearly every Arthurian reference you can thank of at you, famous and obscure alike, yet the name “Arthur” is never once uttered or printed anywhere within it. That’s like doing a game loaded with Biblical imagery, allusions, and references, yet never once mentioning the name Jesus Christ. …wait.

So yeah, Arthur, son of Uther of House Pendragon, First of His Name, King of the Britons, and the Andals, and the Rhoynar, and First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. Yada yada yada. I’ve kind of covered the broad strokes of the Arthurian myth across just about every other referent entry in this LP that even if you didn’t know Thing 1 about Arthur coming into this LP, you probably have a decent image of him by now, so there’s not really that much to talk about that doesn’t involve us all falling down the rabbit hole and going through The Once And Future King and Le Morte D’Arthur chapter and verse.

In Zero itself, there are two candidates for who/what fits the moniker of “The King” that the Aces of the previous mission all mentioned incredibly obliquely. Fans are divided evenly on what the reference is to, some say it refers to the V2 missile, while others claim it actually refers to Pixy. I can see where both sides have a point, but I’m in the “Arthur=V2” camp here. Giving the V2 the nickname “The King” is in keeping with a long real-world tradition of naming big fuckoff weaponry after people or positions of authority. See Russia’s Tsar Bomb, the single most powerful (known) weapon on the planet. While the V2 might not be as out and out powerful as that, it’s probably capable of killing a lot more people due to the fact that it’s a MIRV weapon.

The other option is Pixy. Sorcerer 1 claims he and his AWWNB cohorts “raised the King” to see humanity into their new age of peace and understanding in a world with no boundaries. Now, again, this could be seen as a reference to V2, because a nuclear holocaust that wipes out a quarter of the planet is one way to create a boundaries world. Because dead people have no concern for boarders or boundaries, amirite? But beyond that, this phrase can also mean that Kupchenko, Bristow, and Palmer had groomed Pixy to be AWWNB’s “designated survivor,” who would go on to continue their work in the post-apocalyptic world and become its king. You know, typical boilerplate short-sited world-ending anime villain shit. Welcome to Ace Combat, the pool is deceptively shallow in places.

Though as we see over the course of the game, Pixy’s attachment to AWWNB and its ideals wasn’t really as strong as the Asshole Triumvirate thought it was, and he eventually pulls his head out of his ass to become a decent person. Add in the fact that there’s no real other imagery or elements of the Arthurian myth that point to Pixy outside of Morgan, I just find myself having a hard time buying him as the Arthur figure of the game. Sorry.

If anything, Kupchenko should have been the Arthur figure of Zero, but I’m not going to litigate a 10 year old game with Project Aces via an LP, so what can you do.

Regardless of whether or not the Arthur reference is pointing to Pixy or the V2, the situation we find ourselves in in this last mission ends up pointing to one last unacknowledged Arthurian reference, this one pointing directly at us, the player. Or, more to the point, to Cipher, who’s the one who takes down both Pixy and the V2.

And who’s the one in the Arthurian myth who ultimately brings down King Arthur?

The traitor knight who slays Arthur and is responsible for the breaking of Camelot and the Round Table at the end of many versions the legend. Mordred is also, in many versions, Arthur’s bastard son with his half-sister Moraguse, conceived during a fateful encounter where neither were aware of the other’s true identity.

Arthur later learns of his true identity and paternity and kind of has to stand back and accept him into the Knights of the Round Table when he pledges his service to him with a hearty shit-eating grin. He’s also kind of a sore spot around the kingdom because he’s the closest thing Arthur has to an heir on account of him and Guinevere never having kids of their own (or in some versions, where they do, Arthur kind of… murders them for no reason… yeah). It’s made even more awkward by the fact that Arthur also kind of reluctantly and almost accidentally begins grooming Mordred to be his successor.

Because, fuck it, he’s my kid, and Guinevere just ain’t puttin’ out any more now that she’s hanging around with Lancelot all the time, and who gives a shit if the brat’s been hanging around with his Auntie Morgan an awful lot lately, I mean what’s the worst she’s done lately, am I right?

Things come to a head when Arthur amasses his army to pursue Lancelot and Guinevere to France after the two abscond together. Arthur leaves Mordred in command of Camelot as steward, but Mordred seizes the opportunity and proclaims himself king in Arthur’s absence. In other versions, Arthur heads to France to fight the Roman Emperor Lucius Tiberius, again leaving Mordred in command of Camelot. He also proclaims himself king in these versions and goes the extra step with his “NO FUCK YOU DAD” powergrab and forcibly marries Guinevere too. There are also some versions that say Mordred and Guinevere wed willingly and that she was in on the plot to dethrone Arthur because she was all aboard the “anybody but Arthur” train by that point in their marriage.

Either way, Arthur hauls ass back to Britain with as many knights as he can muster (Lancelot included in some versions) and meets Mordred’s forces in a final battle at Camlann. The battle sees the final ruination of Camelot and the end of the Round Table as all but seven of Arthur’s knights die on his side and every knight who swore fealty to Mordred on his side die as well. In the midst of the battle, Mordred wounds Arthur with a poisoned blade, a wound that would later prove fatal, and Arthur kills Mordred on the spot shortly thereafter.

I’ll be the first to admit that the reference isn’t exactly water tight, and actually works better if the roles were reversed and Cipher was our Arthur analog instead of maybe Pixy. Yes, Arthur comes in like a force of nature and destroys AWWNB’s Camelot and “kills” both their potential kings before their reigns could even begin, but it makes more sense to look at Pixy as Mordred and Cipher as Arthur in a post-game perspective. Cipher kills Pixy’s career as a pilot instantly, but the reciprocal wound Pixy leaves on Cipher is a lot slower acting and only after some time has passed does Cipher disappear from the world like Arthur does, off the mythical otherworld of forgotten history, now a legendary figure himself invoked only by storytellers.

*This flag is semi-canonical. See below for details.
Full Name: The Republic of Delarus (conjecture)
Capital: Unknown
Continent: Usea
Head of State: Prime Minister (conjecture)
Government: Democratic Republic
Real World Analog: Belarus, Romania, Ukraine

A mid-sized republic on the Usean continent between Osea and Verusa. It lies on the doorstep of the continent’s local superpower Erusea, and as such found itself caught up in both of the continent-spanning wars that engulfed Usea in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was also the nation that hosted the internationally supervised asteroid defense installation known as the Stonehenge Turret Network or STN. Though Delarus was one of the nations that remained neutral during the original Usean Continental War of 1998, it nonetheless found itself a battlefield during the conflict as the Erusea-backed rebel forces of the North clashed with the FCU-led Allies of the South. During the so-called “Shatteried Skies” conflict of 2004/05, Delarus was the first nation invaded by Erusea in its bid to establish dominance over Usea and depose the FCU as the continent’s defacto governing body using Stonehenge as its main offensive weapon.

Brett Thompson managed to track Larry Foulke, the one-time Solo Wing Pixy, down for a headlining interview in an unnamed, war torn town on the Delarus-Erusea boarder. Foulke, now a ground soldier for the Usean Independent States Allied Forces (ISAF), was in the town as part of a peacekeeping detachment helping the local citizens to rebuild following the recent Erusian surrender declaration.

We will be seeing a little more of Delarus in Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies coming up in the near future.

As for the flag and the map. The borders are accurate, but that’s just someone’s best educated guess as to where Delarus lies on Usea because Usea is a giant fucking mess of conflicting canon. The flag meanwhile is a simplistic recreation of a very tiny and blurry flag that appears in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, the Strangereal “canon-friendly” remake of Ace Combat 2 for the 3DS. It’s never stated which Usean nation that flag belongs to, but the architecture its flying over looks very similar to what we see of Delarus here in Zero, so I’m making a judgement call here. It’s probably wrong, but I don’t think anyone really cares about it, so whatever.

The V2 nuclear MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) intercontinental ballistic missile was the crowning achievement of the South Belka Munitions Factory’s Project Pendragon next-generation weapons development program. Designed by Project Pendragon chief Dr. Anton Kupchenko, the V2 housed eight independent nuclear warheads in a single missile and was capable of striking multiple targets across the planet upon reentry once at an optimal deployment altitude.

The ultimate goal of the A World With No Boundaries terrorist organization was to cause a civilization destroying anarchy on the North Osean continent by destroying its centers of government with the V2’s warheads in a single cataclysmic attack.

First concieved of by Kupchenko in 1985, the V2 was to be the centerpiece of Project Pendragon, having been deemed more “practical” by the Belkan government than some of the other potential designs Kupchenko’s team had been shopping around such as the XB-0 Hresvelgr heavy command cruiser. For much of the late 80s and early 90s, its existence had only been a rumor, but following the liberation of Directus, Ustio, the Allied Forced recovered documents from the Belkan occupation headquarters in the city detailing the V2’s existence. This lead to the Allied attack on the Glatistant fortress complex, as Osean Intelligence believed there was at least one V2 unit hidden along the Hydrian Line. Their suspicions proved in correct, however, as no nuclear weapons of any sort were recovered from Glatistant.

Following the Belkan surrender on June 20th, 1995, the lone V2 warhead produced by Project Pendragon was stolen from the South Belka Munitions Factory storage facility it was being housed at and transported to the Avalon Dam ICBM launch facility by A World With No Boundaries personnel. In the six month stretch between the armistice declaration and the Christmas Day attack on Lumen, Kupchenko and the former Project Pendragon staff members who’d joined him in A World With No Boundaries hastily completed the remaining work on the V2 to get it operational before its intended deployment against the nations of the Osean continent on New Year’s Eve of 1995.

The intended V2 launch was overseen from the ground by former Osean Air Defense Force Captain Anthony Palmer, but when the launch control facilities at Avalon were damaged by Cipher, Larry Foulke, aka Solo Wing Pixy would oversee the launch using a set of redundant launch controls installed about his experimental ADFX-02 Morgan. When the Morgan was shot down by Cipher, the launch controls for the V2 were also completely destroyed.

Following the signal interruption from the loss of the Morgan, the V2’s failsafes initiated and the missile detonated harmlessly in the lower atmosphere over Avalon.

The aircraft designated “Morgan” actually refers to two distinct planes developed by the South Belka Munitions Factory in the late 80s to early 90s as part of Project Pendragon. Designed to be the first in a series of next generation, highly advanced fighters, the Morgan was, for a time, the single most powerful fighter craft on the planet.

The original ADFX-01 prototype was developed first, but later mothballed alongside the ADFX-02 test type airframe following the cancellation of Project Pendragon in the early 90s. Developed after the initial successful test flights of the ADFX-01, the ADFX-02, later flown in combat by Larry “Pixy” Foulke, was designed with a reinforced airframe and increased thrust and weight capacity. Compared to the ADFX-01, the ADFX-02 was capable of flying with all three of its specifically designed special weapons equipped at once. The ADFX-01 was only capable of flying with one of the three at a time.s

These special weapons were the Zoisite Tactical Laser System (TLS), a scaled down, external piggyback-mounted version of the Excalibur chemical laser weapon for use over short distances; the Hypersthene Multi-Purpose Burst Missile (MPBM), a highly volatile polynitrogen accelerant and tungsten shrapnel ballistic missile capable of destroying any target in a 2,500ft blast radius; and the Morganite Electronic Countermeasure (ECMP) pod, an internally mounted component designed to put out high levels of electronic interference to prevent an enemy plane or SAM installation from establishing a missile lock on the Morgan.

The ADFX-02 was ultimately shot down by the mercenary Cipher over the Avalon Dam complex in Mund, Belka. Though its pilot was able to eject before the plane crashed to earth, its airframe was damaged beyond all hope of recovery by the Allied Forces upon impact.

However, the unused ADFX-01 was recovered by the Ustio Air Force’s 6th Air Division from Avalon following A World With No Boundaries’ surrender on December 31st, 1995. It was later transported to Valais AFB in Ustio where flight engineers from the Republic of Ustio and the Osean Federation attempted to reverse engineer its designs to glean potential insights towards creating their own slate of advanced fighter craft.

It was later handed over to the Osean Air Defense Force following the conclusion of the Ustio engineers’ work on it and the disappearance of its only test pilot, the mercenary known as Cipher.

The ADFX-01 airframe is currently in the possession of North Osea Gründer Industries GmbH.

Aircraft featured in Mission 18, Zero:

Manufacturer: South Belka Munitions Factory
Role: Multirole
Manufactured: 1995
Status: Prototype destroyed
Primary Operators: Belka
Quick Facts:

Developed from an experimental aircraft of the South Belka National Weapons Plant, this all-weather multi-purpose aircraft's attack and defensive capabilities far exceed that of any other fighter.

Missile: 84
TLS: 7

Tracks featured in Missions 17, Operation Point Blank, Mission 18, Zero, and the Epilogue:


For this final mission, we unlock a whole slew of medals for beating the game, though the Ace Style medals are only unlocked one or at the most two at a time during a particular run.

Medal: The Gold of Annwn
Awarded for: Completing Mission 17 “The Valley of Kings” after destroying all the gun towers at Avalon.
Description: Awarded for destroying the enemy fortress at Avalon.

Medal: Knight Ace
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero in the Knight Ace Style.
Description: Awarded for following the path of honour in eliminating enemy threats as a Knight Ace.

Medal: Soldier Ace
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero in the Soldier Ace Style.
Description: Awarded for superior strategy in battle as a Soldier Ace.

Medal: Mercenary Ace
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero in the Mercenary Ace Style.
Description: Awarded for aggressively destroying enemy assets and inflicting massive damage as a Mercenary Ace.

Medal: Supreme Knight
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero with the Ace Style slider at the farthest extreme of the Knight panel.
Description: Awarded for following the path of honour and pride in eliminating enemy threats as a Knight Ace.

Medal: Supreme Soldier
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero with the Ace Style slider in the exact center of the Soldier panel.
Description: Awarded for superior strategy in battle as a true Soldier Ace.

Medal: Supreme Mercenary *The ACES CURE PLANES Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of War Crimes
Awarded for: Completing the campaign of Ace Combat Zero with the Ace Style slider at the farthest extreme of the Mercenary panel.
Description: Awarded for aggressively destroying enemy assets and inflicting massive damage as a true Mercenary Ace.

Medal: Bronze Ace
Awarded for: Destroying 200 enemies
Description: Awarded for destroying 200 enemies.

Medal: Silver Ace
Awarded for: Destroying 500 enemies
Description: Awarded for destroying 500 enemies.

Medal: Gold Ace
Awarded for: Destroying 1000 enemies
Description: Awarded for destroying 1000 enemies.

Medal: Marksman
Awarded for: Destroy 5 enemies with the machine gun.
Description: Awarded for destroying 5 enemy aircraft with the gun.

Medal: Sharpshooter
Awarded for: Destroy 15 enemies with the machine gun.
Description: Awarded for destroying 15 enemy aircraft with the gun.

Medal: Expert Marksman
Awarded for: Destroy 50 enemies with the machine gun.
Description: Awarded for destroying 50 enemy aircraft with the gun.

Medal: Bronze Wing
Awarded for: S-rank all Normal missions.
Description: Awarded for clearing all Campaign Mode mission on Normal with an S-rank.

Medal: Silver Wing
Awarded for: S-rank all Hard missions.
Description: Awarded for clearing all Campaign Mode mission on Hard with an S-rank.

Medal: Gold Wing
Awarded for: S-rank all Expert missions.
Description: Awarded for clearing all Campaign Mode mission on Expert with an S-rank.

Blair Winthrop
30, Male, Ustio
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Shot Down
F-35C Lightning II
Difficulty: Any (Appears from the north a few minutes after you reach the Dam.)
Ace Style: Any

An Ustio Air Force survivor, he became a sleeper agent for the coup d'etat forces. After the war, he was spared a court martial through an agreement with the Allied Forces. He currently lives in Ustio as a civilian.

Paul Rummenigge
29, Male, Belka
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Killed In Action
Difficulty: Any (Appears inside the tunnel after at least one V2 control device is destroyed.)
Ace Style: Any

A former test pilot for the Belkan Air Force. After the cease-fire, he stole cutting edge weaponry which was later used by the coup d'etat forces. From the surveillance video, it was determined that Rummenigge was the perpetrator.

Rainer Walter
28, Male, Belka
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Shot Down
F/A-22A Raptor (Special Plane Colour Unlocked)
Difficulty: Any (Appears on the west side of the Dam if at least two enemy planes have been destroyed in the canyon.)
Ace Style: Any

Graduated from the Kellerman Institution, a Belkan Air Force academy. After the V2 was deployed, he escaped to Avalon Dam. He was detained by Allied Forces and turned over to Osean authorities. He is currently serving time in Oured Federal Prison.

Viktor Metlev
35, Male, Yuktobania
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Killed In Action
YF-23A Black Widow II
Difficulty: Any (Appears east of Avalon Dam after the Mission Update.)
Ace Style: Mercenary

Upon investigation after the war, it was discovered that Metlev had led several to defect from the Yuktobanian Air Force, and his personal history was found to be completely falsified. As a result, the autopsy results did not match any of his records, and the body was returned to Yuktobania as unidentified.

Kira Alekhin
27, Female, Yuktobania
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Shot Down
EF-2000 Typhoon
Difficulty: Any (Appears south of the Dam.)
Ace Style: Soldier

Former member of the Yuktobanian Air Force. She was shot down during Operation Point Blank and was captured by Allied Forces. She became a vital source of information that brought down the coup d'etat forces. Currently, she lives sheltered by the witness protection program.

Yakov Saifullin
27, Male, Yuktobania
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Killed In Action
F-14D Super Tomcat
Difficulty: Any (Appears south of the Dam.)
Ace Style: Knight

Joined the coup d'eat forces after defecting from the Yuktobanian Air Force. According to Yuktobanian records, he exhibited no troublesome behavior and his motives for joining are unknown. He was shot down and killed by the Allied Forces during Operation Point Blank.

Lars Matthaus
32, Male, Belka
12.31.95 Operation Point Blank - Killed In Action
EA-18G Growler
Difficulty: Ace (Appears near the third bridge in the canyon.)
Ace Style: Any

From the communication log of his downed aircraft, the connection between the Rald Party and the movement towards A World With No Boundries was made clear. This led to the downfall of Rald. After the war, Lieutenant General Blauvelt of the 6th Air Division reformed the Belkan Air Force.

And last but not least, our old Buddy:

Larry Foulke
28, Male, Belka
12.31.95 “Zero” - Shot Down
ADFX-02 Morgan
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Any

Joined the coup d'etat forces after defecting from the Ustio Mercenary Unit. It is rumored that he is currently a soldier in a volunteer army but nothing is confirmed.

So that’s it, that’s the complete Assault Records for Ace Combat Zero, the largest one of its kind in the Ace Combat series. 168 enemy special aces spread out across 18 missions, 6 difficulty levels, and 3 Ace Styles. I might have cheated a little bit and shot all of them down with an invincible Morgan with infinite ammo and automatic MPBM reloads that damn near crashed the game just to speed up the process, but I still downed all 168 of these jerks on my own over the course of roughly 4 hours and five loops through the game for the sake of completion.

Barring a final write up on Zero as a post-script at the end of the Post-Mortem nuts and bolts update, we have reached the end of the LP. I can’t believe it, but I’ve just about run plum dry of things to say about Zero, and not a moment too soon either.

Still… This feels a little incomplete though. Like something’s missing…



There’s ANOTHER Assault Record? One nobody’s ever seen before? One that’s exclusive to this LP? Madness! Who could it possibly be?

Dash Rendar
29, Male, Ustio
12.31.95 “Zero” - Missing In Action
F-15C Eagle
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Any


One last batch of production artwork:

Production sketches of the enemy aces in their post-war lives (note Pixy's sweetass ISAF hoodie sadly not realized in-game).

Sketches and CG renderings of the Morgan.

And storyboard sketches of the interstitial war photos from various cutscenes and the Avalon Dam.

Thus endeth this noble and joyous book entitled Le Morte D’Cipher. Notwithstanding it treateth of the birth, life, and acts of the said Demon Lord Cipher, of his noble knights of the Round Table, their marvellous enquests and adventures, and in the end the dolorous death and departing out of this world of them all. Which let’s play was reduced into English by Sir nine-gear crow, Knight, as afore is said, and by me divided into seventeen updates, chaptered and emprinted, and finished on the forums, Something Awful, this eighteenth day of February in the year of our Lord MMXVI.

Enjoy the peace while it lasts.

Ulysses is coming.

3 years, 6 months, 3 days… and counting.