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Awesome / Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

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Unmarked spoilers ahead.
"All aircraft, form up on Trigger! Nice and tight!"

  • Mission 1, which is Trigger's first combat sortie. As the planes are taxiing to the runway, Trigger's squadron card flashes across the screen. After the IUN squadrons take off, Trigger breaks formation and charges towards the Erusean heavy bombers before they can open their bomb-bays. After dealing with the escorts, Trigger wipes out the bombers themselves, leaving only burning wrecks falling from the sky.
  • Mission 3, with a touch of Nightmare Fuel added for good measure. After what seems like a routine battle with Erusean F-16 and F-4 Phantom II fighter jets, one of the two Arsenal Birds comes lumbering out of the clouds, and wreaks havoc on your squadron and your allies. You're then given the task of trying to shoot out the huge aircraft's propellers, all while a swarm of MQ-101s and a hail of hundreds of missiles launched from below and above the Arsenal Bird's wings are trying to take you down. At the same time, your friends are being menaced by an unknown pilot...
  • Mission 7 has the first direct encounter between Trigger and Mihaly. While the other Osean pilots are trying to withdraw, Trigger goes and dogfights with Mihaly inside a rugged mountain canyon in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. The reaction of the Osean pilots transitions from shock to amazement as this seemingly disgraced convict is going toe-to-toe with Erusea's top ace and surviving. Mihaly in turn, expresses to his squadron mates that he is excited to finally have a Worthy Opponent that could test his skills in battle.
    • Champ may be an egotistical ass, but his shootdown at Mihaly's hands has a moment for him; he managed to pull a Pugachev's Cobra on Mihaly. Considering that Champ was flying a refurbished MiG-29 that was likely older than he was - a jet that boasts quite impressive maneuverability, yet still pales in comparison to Mihaly's Su-30SM - it's quite an impressive feat and a testament to his physics-defying skills. Too bad he just wasn't skilled enough to take down Mihaly. Even then, however, unlike many other pilots who found themselves in Mihaly's sights, he never once showed any fear towards the ace and went down swinging against an opponent he had no chance of beating.
  • If Mihaly manages to hit you with a missile in Mission 7, the following conversation takes place:
    Mihaly: "Missile hit."
    Sol 2: "Is he down?"
    Mihaly: "No, he managed to take it in a non-critical area. I'll teach you how to do that when we get back to base."
    • Conclusion? Trigger managed to pick up a skill that even the majority of Sol squadron was unaware of, with no outside help.
  • Mission 9: After completing their mission, Spare Squadron is suddenly ambushed by a flight of Erusean drones masquerading as Osean F/A-18Fs and using allied IFF designations. With the Spares being picked off one by one and unable to discern friend from foe, Tabloid orders all the surviving Spares to gather around Trigger and tells Bandog to register all fighters around Trigger as friendlies. The player is then treated to an amazing shot of Spare Squadron flying in formation with Trigger above the mountains before proceeding to combat the drones while also dodging long-range burst missiles from the Arsenal Bird, all the while the mission's titular music, "Faceless Soldier" starts up and the game's main Leitmotif plays as soon as you're in control of the plane. This is the defining awesome moment in the 444th Squadron arc; no longer are they the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits they were earlier in the story arc, they are now Osea's choice unit for missions where they cannot risk regulars but still want a job well done. Because of this feat, Trigger and the rest of the Spares are pardoned and allowed to rejoin the Osean military as actual pilots.
  • Mission 10, if only for its final part; as the mission starts to wrap up, an agile craft flies into the area. And by agile, we mean agile: The damn thing zooms around like it's hopped up on cocaine, being able to dodge missiles and shoot them down with its only armament, a main gun. Once it's destroyed, Cyclops Squadron shows up, revealing that it was a Erusean prototype drone that they were tracking, and the LRSSG's briefing officer later admits that he didn't think anyone could take it down. This likely plays a major part in Trigger's transfer to Strider Squadron as its new lead.
    • In the same level... but not advised as you'll fail the mission doing so, one can earn some much-needed catharsis by shooting down Colonel D. McKinsey's plane, Roper 1. Not only does the game give you 1,000 points for doing so, AWACS Bandog gives a rather deadpan reaction:
      AWACS Bandog: Roper 1 lost, along with the mission. Not that it was a load worth protecting.
  • Mission 11: Taking out the support columns of the platforms at two of the locations on the map and watching them sink into the sea, taking out anything beneath them, is a sight to behold, especially after the 444th's missions.
    • There also happens to be extra dialogue for shooting out a strut before Wiseman does, which is no mean feat as they're not marked at first and it's not made clear that they're valid targets until Wiseman blows one up.
      Long Caster: What just happened?!
      Wiseman: He destroyed a structural support. That's remarkable skill.
      (After Long Caster marks the supports as targets.)
      Long Caster: Make like Trigger and serve up a sandwich.
  • Mission 12: The Oseans are attempting to reactivate the last intact Stonehenge turret in an attempt to shoot down the Arsenal Bird Liberty while fending off a massive Erusean assault. However, just as it is about to fire, the survey team is found killed by Erusean agents, forcing Stonehenge's crew to aim and fire the railgun at the Arsenal Bird manually. After Trigger slows down the Arsenal Bird by destroying its main propellers, Stonehenge manages to line a shot that goes clean through the Arsenal Bird's microwave shield and hits it directly at the center, cleaving it in two and turning the tide of the war in Osea's favor.
    • The fact that Major McOnie, whose targeting program was pushed to shoot the flying armory on its own, was able to manually aim and fire the Stonehenge cannon without it pushes the overarching theme that in the chance of machine failure, the human element is still important.
    • Much like the destruction of the Chandelier, the eighth and final turret of Stonehenge shutting down finally puts to rest the last of the Ulysses-era superweapons.
  • Mission 15: Trigger and the Oseans launch a furious operation to take back the Erusean capital of Farbanti. Then comes the second encounter between Trigger and Mihaly, where Wiseman volunteers to serve as a decoy to help Trigger out, even though it ends poorly.
    • In the submerged area if you take out a building next to the ships, the building will collapse on top of the ship, taking it out.
  • Mission 16: Seeing how the satellite network has completely collapsed, it is practically impossible to tell who's on who's side as the Osean, Erusean Radical and Conservative factions are firing at each other and even themselves. So, Trigger must identify allies and enemies by carefully locking on to each unknown target for a few seconds before launching a missile, leading to a tense atmosphere as the player conducts an Escort Mission while frantically searching for much needed allies within the city.
  • Mission 18: You finally have your final showdown with Mihaly, who's flying in a brand-new X-02S Strike Wyvern that is equipped with the Electromagnetic Launcher capable of one-shotting anything unfortunate enough to be caught in its path. After a grueling battle, Trigger finally emerges victorious, and Mihaly accepts his defeat gracefully, confident that Trigger is a worthy successor as the top ace. It's even better if you read the manual Aces At War: A History 2019. Mihaly is said to be the instructor of none other than Yellow 13. Let that sink in for a moment, you just shot down the guy who trained Yellow 13, and he's flying in a superplane to boot. Even better, if you get hit by his EML while at 0% damage, you won't die, you'll just go to 99% damage. This then results in everyone freaking out that you're still fighting with a plane that's barely holding together.
  • Mission 19: It's the signature "furball" mission of the series. A coalition force of Oseans and Eruseans put aside their difference and work together to fight the Erusean radicals and their drone army at the space elevator. It culminates in Trigger, with a little help from Avril and Princess Cossette, finally managing to shoot down the Arsenal Bird Justice at long last.
    • One notable moment of awesome is in the introduction cutscene for the mission. An Osean Hornet requests for someone to clear his tail of a pursuing fighter, and the plane that answers his request is an Erusean Flanker, who delivers the line, "Let's show him what Eruseans—no, what fighter pilots can do!" and blasts the enemy away with a pair of missiles. The two planes fly in formation for a moment, something that would have been unheard of earlier in the war, as the Osean Hornet thanks the Erusean Flanker, and the two dive right back into the furball.
    • Let us take a moment to fully appreciate the showdown with the Arsenal Bird. The mission immediately goes to shit when it enters the scene: Not only does the Alpha Strike fail to even scratch the monster, but it immediately counters with a laser that cuts a swath through the assembled naval forces, and launches its squadron of drones to pin down the aerial forces. Even when you manage to score some solid hits on the thing, it just repairs the damage and throws up its shield so you can't even get close to it. The music takes a darker turn as you're more or less reduced to dodging drones and missiles and hoping for a miracle, while Cossette can be heard desperately trying to sabotage the power supply and Count is reduced to yelling at the Arsenal Bird for all the good it does. And then...the shield flickers. There's a brief pause, so tense that even the music seems to be holding its breath. And then the shield goes out. The drones begin falling. The music triumphantly starts back up and the battle is back on.
  • Mission 20: You're in for one of the most intense dogfights in the series as you combat the two super UCAV ADF models, Hugin and Munin, and try to stop them from starting a Robot War that will threaten the entire planet. Both drones possessed the skills of the top ace Mihaly with none of the human restrictions, and they actively emulate Trigger's moves during the battle in order to improve themselves further. Those drones can shoot down whole squadrons on their own, yet Trigger can still go toe to toe with them. It culminates with one of the toughest tunnel flights in the series as you and Count pursue the last drone into the undersea tunnel that leads to the space elevator, evading closing shutter doors along the way. After finally shooting the drone down in an enclosed underground chamber, Trigger finds a way out by flying up the elevator shaft itself, which is essentially a tunnel flight vertically. And what do you get as a reward for finishing the game? Captain Kei Nagase herself appears to thank you for saving the elevator so that she - the captain of the spaceship Pilgrim One who has just come back from a seven-year expedition into deep space - can land the ship safely at the elevator.
    • Hell, can we talk about the freaking intro? As Trigger's about to take off from the Admiral Andersen, we get another squadron introduction; declaring his nickname, the Three Strikes, as the name of the combined force facing off against the twin super drones, independent of all nations, both Osea and Erusea's flags crossed out, leaving only Trigger's insignias, and then ending with a flash of the phrase 'The Sky is Connected' and NATION, crossed out by his so-called sin lines; not just the claw marks he uses in place of them, but the originals. Mobius 1 may have been the first to have his own proper squadron, but he never had both the ISAF and Erusean pilots backing him, and he definitely didn't have the audacity to turn a symbol of his 'crime' into one that instilled hope.
    • The timing of Operation Hush, starting at 7:00 AM, is also symbolic in its own right; either the coalition shuts down Hugin and Munin right then and there, or else it will be humanity's final dawn. Fortunately, Trigger, after a heated fight against the twin drones while basking in the morning sun and a pursuit leading all the way up to the Lighthouse's nigh-stratosphere, saves humanity's future. For now.
  • The first DLC mission holds absolutely no bars. Framed as a mission to escort an Osean landing fleet to capture the massive submarine Alicorn, it quickly becomes a furball rivaling that of Operation Daredevil. Between holding off aircraft and ground targets trying to take out the fleet, you battle with pilots of all kinds, from advanced Su-57 stealth planes to Glamrock Squadron, a group of old salt "Cowboy" pilots who whoop and holler in their ancient F-4 Phantoms even as you shoot them down, and friendly ECM planes fly with you to provide a boost to targetting and missiles. And then enemy ECM planes along with Mimic Squadron show up. Everyone involved, friendly and enemy alike, seems to be having the fight of their lives in this battle, even as comrades fall around them and missiles and bullets fill the skies.
  • The trend continues in the second DLC mission, with you and only three wingmen launching a surprise attack on a massive Erusean fleet at Anchorhead. The city is filled to the brim with tough, hard-hitting warships, AD Tanks, SAM sites, Aegis Ashores packed with CIWS networks, assault helicopters, and most likely half of Erusean Air Force gathered within one single location, and you have to fight them all. Halfway through the mission, you also have to dodge ballstic missile attacks from the Alicorn by evading or destroying the targeting UAVs that come after you as well, while also having to deal with other enemies that will not hesitate to gang up on you. Additionally, Trigger can optionally go after the helicopters carrying key Erusean officers fleeing the city. If you manage to get them all, then it means Trigger singlehandlely decapitates the Erusean High Command. After getting through all that, you have your final showdown with Mimic Squadron, who jammed your targeting systems with a very strong ECM and will mess up your interface so that your missile alerts won't warn you of their incoming missiles until it's too late to avoid them while also dodging missile attacks from the Alicorn at the same time, and you won anyway. It certainly qualifies Trigger as one of the deadliest ace pilots in Strangereal for everything he achieved in this mission.
    • Even Count gets his due; if the Twins are being too troublesome for Trigger to get a bead on, he pulls Trigger aside, using a secret TAC frequency to lay out his scheme of how they can work together to take Mimic down. For players doing the mission chronologically, it comes across as the pivotal moment in which he truly starts to show Character Development and becoming Trigger's comrade rather than just his wingman. He does have a brief lapse in the later standard missions before Operation Daredevil, but his ability to take charge of Cyclops following Daredevil can possibly be credited to his development. Project Aces even makes sure to have enemies briefly pull back their attacks during Count and Trigger's conversation, adding a more cinematic twist to the moment.
  • Húxiān giving Brigadier General Clemens a much needed punch in the face during the debriefing for SP Mission 02 when it's revealed that Clemens is a traitor. "Quick fists" indeed.
    • Immediately before that, Clemens desperately begging the Vice Chief of Staff of the Osean Armed Forces that he isn't a traitor and his idiotic plan falling apart as Lieutenant General Shepard throws him under the bus.
  • And it ends with SP Mission 03, "Ten Million Relief Plan." It's a frantic search for the Alicorn as SACS pilots try to destroy the patrol planes launching bouys to designate the position of the sub, interrupted by jamming devices and a even more frantic flight to catch it before it escapes. When it surfaces, Torres' crew starts putting their all in to shoot down every single Osean aircraft against them, using everything from SLUAVs (making their way back from the original Scinfaxi-class) the main railguns, and barrier drones using a variant of the Arsenal Birds' APS, all the while the mad captain's speech fills the radiowaves.
    • As the fight with the Alicorn drags on, David North, having found out that the advertising drones in Oured are the terminal guidance system Torres relies on to make a clean shot with his nukes, quickly contacts the nearest airbase in order to use the air force's EW aircraft to jam the entire region, disabling all radios and making drone control and terminal guidance impossible. David then remarks that it's "crude, but effective," alluding to the pre-mission cutscene where he discusses how Osea could simply murder Trigger once the war's over and he becomes a risk factor.
    • If Trigger manages to take out the Alicorn's two railgun turrets, Torres gets royally pissed off, ordering the Alicorn to specifically target Trigger and ignore all other aircraft. That's right. Every SAM, every VLS, every CIWS, ship gun, and AA gun left on the vessel is now pointed directly at you as you charge the beast head-on.
    • When Torres is finally backed into a corner, he attempts to fake out a surrender, only for David to call his 'bluff', noting that the guidance system for the nuke had been disrupted. Torres continues forward regardless, regaling the LRSSG with a story about how he hit a ship thirty kilometers away in a storm, forcing Trigger into crippling the massive central railgun before it fires on Oured. And the man still refuses to give up, even sinking part of the Alicorn when the Trigger breaks the elevation of the railgun in that shot in order to finally see his plan to fruition. A mad visionary to the end.
    • In a subtle twist, after Torres does his faked-out surrender leading into his Motive Rant and Osean Command is still ordering all pilots to stand down, the cutscene ends with Trigger, independently of where he was before the scene, positioned for an attack run on the Alicorn. So, basically, Trigger took control away from the player for a moment to set up the run, essentially saying, "Fuck that! This ends today!" by continuing the attack.
  • The post-debriefing cutscene for it hands one to Trigger, as well. David, in his closing statement of his report, wonders if a singularity/hero like The Dreaded Three Strikes could be left alive. Alex counters with one fact: That all operations with Trigger have a remarkably elevated survival rate.
  • A general one to Trigger for not losing it after the borderline insane false conviction he went through, toughing it out for months in a penal unit, quietly doing his duty and when exonerated from wrongdoing, turning the symbol of his imprisonment to his moniker.