"Confession of a Soldier" is a series of promotional short stories published prior to the release of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War through its official Japanese website. The stories are comprised of eight diary entries by Belkan soldier Michael Kohr who recounts his experience in the Belkan War and his run-ins with the Galm Team.
This page hosts an English translation of the original Japanese text using a combination of an Electrosphere.info translation, online translations, and other minor fixes.
April 13, 1995 Weather: Fair
Five days have gone by since I arrived on the battlefield. It's been five months already since I enlisted and started this journal, and I'm still not used to writing it. After all that intense training, I'm finally here! To lay down my body—for peace and Fatherland—it's just all so wonderful! It's supposed to be April, but the mornings near the border are cold as they ever were. It was freezing at 6 o'clock roll call this morning, but the sky was a clear blue. The mission of the unit I belong to, the Belkan Army 8th Armored Division, 3rd Infantry Unit "Tollwut Hund" (it means mad dog!), is mainly defense, and to master the enemy on land.
Everyone agrees that the Tollwut Hund company are the most competent, bravest, toughest guys in the Belkan military. And even among us is our leader, Captain Erhardt. He's the mighty man who, with just three men and their Panzerfäusten, made a nighttime surprise attack against an Ustio tank force and obliterated them. He's usually a very gentle, talkative man, who's always quietly telling us stories about the son he left behind in his hometown.
Whenever he talks about him, he gets a warm, friendly look in his eye. Yet, once he's on the battlefield, they become the cold eyes of the tiger hunting his prey. His look is so sharp it could pierce iron plating, and even his voice when he calls out makes you shrink back.
Quiet chatter. Like always, I had dinner by the side of the tent together with my comrades, surrounded by warmth. Tonight's main dish was grilled chicken and boiled potatoes. Rations, of course. I was a bit obstinate at first, but you know, fact is, they grow on you once you get used to them. Maybe I'm just a bit closer to being a real soldier.
Our rations are the staple foods, coffee, cigarettes, and caramel for dessert: 10 items all totaled. A full course in the middle of the battlefield will wash a day's tiredness and tension away.
I'm reminded of camping as a child, eating dinner surrounded by warmth with my comrades under the starry heavens, and I get a nostalgic feeling. Night has fallen, and it's still chilly outside. In another 30 minutes it'll be bed time. Tomorrow our company is headed to reinforce the defense of Route 171, a major highway in Southern Belka.
April 15, 1995 Weather: Clear
As we approached our destination at Route 171, great plumes of black smoke robbed my sight. The countryside was smothered with the smell of gasoline and the fragrance of gunpowder. "The smell of the battlefield gets me going more than my mom's own cooking," a sniper called "Cowboy" murmured, stroking his G3 with his tar-covered fingers.
Some hours before we made it to our destination, a group of Ustio aircraft raided the Belkan forces in the area around Route 171, and dealt a devastating blow to the units stationed there. At present, we are hidden in the middle of the woods some 50 km away, unable to approach our destination at Area D27 to relieve the defense. When we got here, there were soldiers, young ones who'd returned from the front, soldiers who were supposed to relieve the defense just like us, soldiers being carried away to the medical tent, howling, radio messages with no answer...
Intense images crossing so quickly in front of me. First time I laid eyes on the sight, a fierce nausea assaulted me, my face sheet white, and before I knew it, I'd fallen to my knees on the spot.
The face of the captain who'd come back from the front was covered in soot, and even though the glint in his eye was all I caught, it shined with anger like a red moon in the night sky. He grabbed me by the rough of the neck and screamed at me to tend to the wounded soldiers.
I hastily wrapped bandages with my unaccustomed hands, carried off wounded on stretchers to the helos, helped my comrades drink on their cots, and with sunset near, we completed setting up camp.
Right now I'm wiped out, my hands covered in blisters from three hours of continuing to dig trenches, my throat raw and swollen up in pain, and even my appetite has disappeared.
Tonight I thought I'd stay by myself. The use of light and fire has been restricted to avoid a repeat surprise attack by Ustio. A guy from my unit named Franz brought over chocolate when I sat down on my cot to drink my hot coffee.
Franz, who'd styled his hair in a mohawk before we left for Route 171, talked with me about his anger at Ustio, and his desires for revenge. The subject drifted, and in the end we laughed at all the usual bullshit.
During our regular conversation, Captain Erhardt clapped his hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't be so shocked at all this. Learn to overcome the situation." He also told me that "a powerful force to retake Route 171 has already been organized, and headed to the front."
As I write this, a fierce anger and hatred for Ustio wells up within me.
"These are the assholes who came tails wagging to the major powers for their own country's profit, brought down the international community on us, and menaced their neighbors,"
"These are the assholes who are resisting the times,"
"These are the assholes who've sent their best friends to their deaths,"
I'll never forgive such dirty bastards.
From time to time I'll hear the sound of an Ustio reconnaissance plane in the skies above, and my frustration and anger will grow even more.
We'll beat Ustio. Count on it.
April 27, 1995 Weather: Sunny
Where do I even start writing?
I don't even remember the last few days in much detail in the first place. Have my eardrums been ruptured? Even the clamour sounds so far, far away.
On April 24, 1995, I experienced my first real battle, inside the Futuro Canal in southern Belka. Immediately after the order cancelling the Route 171 operation came down, we were redeployed to the naval station at the Futuro Canal. I think it was afternoon.
Tremendous alarms sounded inside the port. I was taking a break on the wharf at the time, idly watching the tide roll away. The battlefield was a different world—a serene deception which was broken in an instant by that terrific klaxon. Fear and anxiety pierced my very bones. That was my first sensation.
A frenetic atmosphere covered the facility. Soon we'd gone to general quarters, and when we'd done it, a moment of silence.
What broke the silence were the piercing sounds of jets and machine gun fire and, as if in response, continuous explosions.
My memory gets hazy from here.
The color of blood and flames. Rising black smoke. Rosenberg scared to death, firing his heavy machine gun at random. The emptiness in dead soldiers' eyes. Sounds of impacts. Explosions, splashes, cries, screams, angry shouts...
In the midst of this storm, I ran around carrying 10mm ammunition. I think that's right.
A bullet whipped past my helmet from a fighter's strafing run and nearly ripped me to shreds. If I said I wasn't scared I'd be lying my ass off, but all the same, I wanted to get on a heavy machine gun and knock down that damn fighter with my own two hands. I felt an inexpressible excitement. How long the battle went on, I do not know. Before I knew it, the sounds of explosions from the fighters had disappeared, and the only sounds echoing in the port were groans and cries. A fighter with one wing painted red soared far overhead where I stood.
He seemed to be taking it easy, as if to mock us.
They say there was a large-scale air battle near the border a few days before the battle. Two enemy planes entered B7R and took one of our military's ace units head on, or something. It seems the enemy aircraft were knocked down by our aces, and quickly ran back to base. That's the story.
The prospects for restoring the facilities aren't good. The enemy could strike at any time. I don't know what mission we'll take, or even if we'll remain here. I only know one thing right now, and that's that I'm on a battlefield.
May 14, 1995 Weather: Sunny
The invasion of the Belkan homeland by the Ustio-Osean Federation coalition begins. Our forces at the Futuro Canal have been dispersed after the last attack. The Tollwut Hund company has also left the naval station, and we are now concealed in the vicinity of the river. As we retreated, we managed to scrape together two 50 caliber heavy machine guns, a 40 mm grenade launcher, a light armored vehicle, and a number of RPGs, as well as each of our standard gear.
Frankly, this equipment is a bad joke.
The enemies who robbed us of the canal are now sending in personnel and assault vehicles from their ships with the intent of taking the Belkan homeland by storm with their numbers and mobility. I'll worry about my mom back at home if they should advance into the mainland. There's been a lot of operational redeployments, and we can't even receive letters.
The personnel of the Tollwut Hund company are made of eight: our commander Captain Erhardt, the captain's right hand man Lieutenant Meyer, Corporal "Smile" Piper, former pro football player Corporal Berger, Private "Cowboy" Schneider, Private Rosenberg who runs a women's underwear shop out of his home, Private Franz who's the same age as me, and me, Private First Class Kohr.
We're hiding in the desert after abandoning the Futuro Canal, but so long as we have no official operational orders from headquarters after our retreat, we're stalled here in the middle of the sand. Franz has made contact with HQ over the radio, but the guys up top can't decide on their next move after our unexpected defeat at Futuro. "In the meantime, conceal yourself at the mouth of the river, and fire on coalition forces coming up the river"? Is the brass kidding? If we laid traps for enemies navigating up the river in warships, fighters from the carrier would fly out here and burn us alive, and that'd be about all we could do.
Captain Erhardt told us, "There's no need to obey stupid orders," and forbade us from firing whatsoever.
We found the perfect cave to hide temporarily in the desert hills. We monitor coalition forces landing from our base here and maintain regular contact with headquarters.
Anyway, we've gotta get out of here soon.
We don't have enough food and supplies.
A shame, because the number of enemies coming up the river has been increasing by the day.
Why is it that headquarters sends no aircraft?
If we made an all out attack with all our forces again...
Suppressing my desire to shoot something, today I once again watch the enemy through my scope.
May 18, 1995 Weather: Rain
It was an ordinary day on the battlefield, salting my fried egg at breakfast, when I was roused by the sound of the Pavehawk's rotors. Until I saw that black helo approaching at low altitude, being on this battlefield was joyless. Quite a bit had already passed since we requested relief over the radio. I'd even thought headquarters had forsaken us. I didn't want to just die of starvation, and I didn't feel like there was any point in being here.
The work of the helo crew that saved us was prompt; they gave an impression of being true pros at their job.
The longer a helo remains stationary in the sky, the easier it is for an enemy to attack it. The longer their rescue takes, the longer they have to remain stationary. If, in that moment ,a surface-to-air missile targets them, it's the end of the line. GAME OVER.
One of the relief crew gave out chocolate bars, and that nostalgic taste was sweetness enough to make me remember that I'm still alive. Overcome by an indescribable joy, I embraced all my comrades when we arrived on the base's helipad late that night.
Only Captain Erhardt did not break his hard expression. He had a conversation with a superior officer waiting for our arrival.
Phew, now I can sleep at ease. I'm gonna take a shower, eat roast beef to my heart's content, drink a gallon of milk, tuck into bed, and when I wake up tomorrow morning I'll write a letter to my mom.
That's what was going through my head.
When we arrived at the helipad and I saw the expression Erhardt had walking away from his conversation with his superior, I had a bad feeling.
No, I already had some idea inside the Pavehawk.
"About 5 hours from now at 0600, the Tollwut Hund company will join Operation Brandfleck and head directly for Tauberg in accordance with orders issued from headquarters. Our movement to the destination will be by helo, and we will link up with the Belkan 8th Armored Division immediately on arrival. We will meet up at heliport D-2 at 0530, 30 minutes before operations commence. You are at leave to use the period until 0530 for your own ends. As for a description of the Doris AFB facilities..."
When I arrived on the battlefield, I believed that what awaited us at the end of the war was victory.
Only, now I'm thinking I don't want the end of my personal war to be a meeting with my own death.
But that's all I can seem to think about.
There's no way I can say anything like that to my comrades, but I think the truth is surely that they're thinking the same things right now.
I want to come back alive.
I just want to come back alive.
That's the only feeling on the battlefield right now.
May 22, 1995 Weather: Rain
A place I rode to in my dad's car to hunt deer when I was a kid.
Entering the forest as the sun was beginning to rise, I take a breath and walk on.
I continue downwind without a word, hiding behind the deer, who is sensitive to sound and the smell of humans.
I was ten the first time I pulled my rifle's trigger.
The taste of the hot chocolate I drank with my dad sitting on an old decaying tree was extraordinary.
When the military facilities in Tauberg were constructed, my dad participated in the movement against it.
It was in Tauberg I learned from my father the art of living with nature, sometimes forcing it to yield, and overcoming it.
Ten years have passed since then, and I now once again return to Tauberg.
My dad is no longer by my side, and even the targets I aim at through my scope have changed.
We deployed to Excalibur by helo, and I was just amazed at this installation's modern equipment.
Excalibur appears to pierce the heavens in this place where at night you can hear wolves howl on the other side of the fence. This landscape is some kind of strange.
Operation Brandfleck is some kinda operation to lead the main enemy force into firing range of Excalibur to utilize its chemical laser's power of annihilation to the utmost, and destroy the enemy in one fell swoop. We're ready.
I've already had the experience of being a marksman here for ten years.
After that, I'm just waiting for the enemy to enter the net.
May 30, 1995 Weather: Cloudy
The trap is one of the oldest ways of hunting, netting results for comparatively little effort.
This efficient method is used even today to exterminate pests like mice and cockroaches.
On May 23rd, in a dawn covered by a thick fog, Operation Brandfleck began on the initiative of Operational Headquarters.
The main goal of the operation was to lure the enemy mercenary unit "Galm Team" into Excalibur's firing range and annihilate them all at once.
There were rumors going around that the Allied Forces mercenary unit known as Galm Team was pretty formidable, and even command HQ was starting to earnestly pursue its destruction.
I only found out that the "plane with one red wing" I saw at Futuro was a fighter belonging to this unit after Excalibur fell.
Tauberg's sword was destroyed by the red winged plane and a fighter seemingly accompanying it, and it was split viciously asunder with a thunderous rumble. The fall of Excalibur was a sight not unlike that of a nightmarish medieval painting.
Threading the laser network and penetrating to the center of the base, Galm Team showered all the missiles they had brought with them over Tauberg.
I was assigned to operate Corporal Berger's self-propelled anti aircraft gun, and I participated in the battle from the woods in the vicinity of Excalibur. Some hours after the operation commenced, the enemy fighter squadrons arrived, and the corporal quickly opened fire.
He was quite excited, expending bullets while continuously screaming obscenities. Some minutes after battle commenced, a small AGM[note 1] struck the ground 70 feet away from our SPAAG.[note 2] Corporal Berger not appearing to notice this, I shouted "VT fuze!",[note 3] jumped from the cabin, and hid in the treads for a moment, while he continued to fire into the sky.
I haven't experienced any other explosion that tremendous up close.
The trees shivered, the SPAAG[note 2] was tossed inches off the ground, and the blast tore my cheeks and ears.
I don't remember anything after that.
When I returned to consciousness, it took some time for me to figure out if I was alive or dead.
Some further hours passed from when I realized I seemed to be alive to when I figured I had to do something. The obvious action was to stand up: to first send thoughts throughout my body, to command my arms to "move," to instruct my legs to "bend," and to slowly begin moving, eyes closed.
I was in the midst of the silence of the forest, with a sensation that a profound amount of time had passed.
Dusk had already set on Tauberg when I found Corporal Berger's dead body.
The parts of what was until a few hours ago "Corporal Berger" were scattered in all directions, and it was impossible to find them all.
Dragging my shrapnel-pierced leg, I slowly began to walk over toward the very center of the base.
As I finally neared the center, there were the corpses of dead soldiers, mountains of rubble, token combat medics walking around, and the smell of gasoline. There was not a single lovely thing.
I ignored the medic calling in a raised voice "are you alright?" and continue walking. I see a tattoo of an audacious skeleton grasping a peace sign on the arm of a soldier on a stretcher.
When I flipped the covering sheets, it was Rosenberg, now a complete mess.
I got a blanket from a medic, and took a seat on top of the rubble.
Perhaps it was an officer, a bald man come from the rear to confirm the situation, whose mouth formed a loose smile as he passed beside me. In grotesquely high spirits, he patted the shoulders of those soldiers lucky enough to survive, and tossed around words of encouragement worth less than shit.
He's a guy who doesn't come to the front for fear of his life. No, he's a clever guy, who happens to have the ability to avoid bad timing and bad places.
I immediately picked him out as seeming to be that type of man.
It's obvious this country won't stop the war.
Perhaps "the trick to overcoming the situation" means the practice of eliminating your natural feelings of humanity, lies and falsehoods, and selfishly surviving. My friends are dead, my immediate family is in danger, and I, having devoted my life to honor and pride and all that shit, can do nothing. That's because I don't believe in this war anymore.
June 19, 1995 Weather: Sunny
War hatches from the egg of patriotism.
All the friends I met on the battlefield, and from whom I became separated, loved Belka.
"Sacrifice all for the sake of the country"
Slogans like that flooded the streets before the start of the war.
We who were born unto Belka were patriots from the moment we came into this world.
In our earliest memories we were electrified by the speeches of politicians, and for military parades we would line up early in the morning.
We forgot not our gratitude even as we ate our meager daily meals, and when the snow melted, and spring came, we kissed the national flower time and time again.
We didn't stop to think why it was we loved the Fatherland.
My father, my father's father, and his father as well: they all loved this country we call Belka, and in that we took great pride. Countries whose ideals differed from Belka's were the enemy, and it was their destiny to be laid waste. You might call this a chauvinistic mindset, but this was how so much of the Fatherland thought.
I too loved Belkan land from a young age, its trees, its water, I took pride in it all.
I was convinced that this land was the center of the world, that it was everything.
Upon the Belkan Fatherland which had taken my heart fell quietly the nuclear demon.
The fissure between the politicians and the military is final. No, even within the military, we have surely been accelerating towards a state of division and lawlessness.
Those who wish to continue the war on its current path, those who wish to push forward with a quick reconstruction in the postwar era, those who lay down their weapons and desert, and those who are ruled by their own self-interest.
The battlefield and heartland alike had fallen into anarchy.
There are rumors that even the ones who pressed the button were our brothers.
They say that there were several nuclear explosions at the same time. I'd heard the rumors that the military had been developing a small type of nuclear weapon called the "radioactive detonator" over the years. The radioactive detonator is extremely powerful yet quite small, outwardly seeming to resemble an ordinary hand grenade. Its blast radius can be adjusted in increments of 100 yards, and it can be detonated by simply moving a slide-type trigger on the upper part of the detonator.
I bet the wicked are in love with this kind of weapon.
In the midst of the confusion between rumor and truth, I couldn't get in touch with my mother as I usually do. Even as our idiot military leaders try and continue the war, even though politicians benefit and profit from the war, this war is ending.
The outcome is decided.
I have no respect or sense of hope for our country or politicians anymore.
There's no way I could hate my country, but a country is an inorganic thing after all.
I couldn't see how history and tradition had become bound with chauvinistic politics. No, it's that I tried not to see it.
Having seen life and death before my own eyes, now I can see something, even if ever so indistinctly.
Totalitarian ideals lead sometimes to horror.
I've found pride and truth in the fact that I am Michael Kohr, and now I want to bring an end to the war.
A ceasefire with the allied nations and Belka's disarmament are beginning.
The war has ended in point of fact, and the faces of the soldiers are brightening bit by bit.
There are those who rouse young soldiers and call for sneak attacks and guerrilla warfare but there are none who will lend them an ear.
A few days ago, an old soldier named Kurzlinger made trouble. It's said he tried to intimidate young soldiers—my own subordinates—into guerrilla warfare. It seems he encouraged them with a gun to their heads.
Just as Kurzlinger was about to pull the trigger, some soldiers came around to stop it somehow.
Kurzlinger was violent, and naturally hated by even his subordinates. In fact it seems he also had many enemies.
Early the next morning, Kurzlinger's corpse was found in his underwear, tied to a drum can.
Unsurprised at the sight, some more scrupulous soldiers ultimately buried his body in the woods.
The systems and principles which we've had up to now are gone.
The war is over, and when we go back to being civilians, it'll be like we're all in parallel.
There are also some guys who, after returning home, plan on returning the favor of being disgraced on the battlefield with interest with a bullet.
Hatred is an eternal flame kept lit by those who bear those feelings.
"Trying to seem as inconspicuous as possible on the battlefield means to remain concealed, drawing only thin breaths." Maybe it's a dumb thing to say, but maybe you'll remember it when when someday the shells rain again.
A notice has been issued that remaining units are to surrender to the Allied Forces immediately.
Maybe I'm not taking things seriously enough, but when I think about the state of things, it's only natural. That's that.
I'm trying not to think about my mom, or about Captain Erhardt, who's still missing.
I don't give a damn how the Allied Forces rule will go either.
I imagine things can only get better from here on out.
Even after arriving at Anfang and surrendering, I'll have to endure confinement by the Allied Forces a little while.
But just a little more patience. The Allied Forces are human too. Wouldn't do to be unreasonable or anything.
I survived, and the war is over.
I've never been here before, but I'll remember this place my whole life.