|2630 - 2666.356|
Mariko on the TCS Tiger's Claw, 2654.
|Place of birth||Sapporo, Japan, Sol System|
|Place of death||Heaven's Gate System|
|Service/branch||Terran Confederation Space Force|
|Years of service||2653-2666|
|Relations||Shun Tanaka (father)|
Tanaka Mariko (田中真理子), aka "Spirit", was a Terran Confederation fighter pilot assigned to the TCS Tiger's Claw. She was born in Sapporo, Japan, Earth in 2630. Mariko was the daughter of Shun Tanaka and a third-generation fighter pilot. She joined the Terran Confederation Space Force out of family tradition and a sense of duty to Earth. She began her flight training in Japan, where she was given the nickname "Kami" by local instructors. Her callsign "Spirit" is a loose translation of "Kami."
Mariko Tanaka was began service with the Terran Space Forces in 2653, eventually serving on the Tiger's Claw during the Vega Sector Campaign. Although a pilot of few words, Mariko was pleasant company and proved herself to be an able pilot. Mariko was known for her skill with defensive piloting, an ability to avoid incoming fire and a penchant for waiting until she was close to a target before firing. She received her 10-Mission Performance Service Ribbon as a lieutenant in April 2654, which was reflected in that month's Comm Relay. She was also included in that month's Pilot Profiles.
Mariko was a close friend of Christopher Blair and Jeannette Devereaux during her service on the Claw. She flew with distinction during the Vega Sector Campaign and participated in Operation Thor's Hammer and the Siege of Firekka. During the action at Firekka, her fiancé Philip, an officer in the Medical Corps, was taken prisoner by the Kilrathi during their attack on Epsilon Station.
During 2666, Mariko received a message from the traitor claiming that her fiancé was still alive despite being captured ten years earlier, and was on the Heaven's Gate Starbase. The traitor blackmailed her, urging her to join the Society of Mandarins so that Philip's life might be spared. Even though the Concordia was preparing to destroy the star base, Spirit refused to tell anyone else about the message. The only one who knew was her old comrade Christopher Blair, whom she forced to remain silent on the matter.
Later, Mariko flew with Christopher Blair on a mission to destroy the Heaven's Gate Starbase. However, Colson had sabotaged her fighter, and the ship exploded, crippling it beyond recovery. Her gunner, Meron, was immediately killed in the blast. With her Sabre losing air pressure, Mariko flew her Sabre straight into the space station, against Blair's protests. All of her torpedoes exploded on impact, killing her and destroying the star base. Her fiancé Philip, who was on the base, also died. Her last words to Blair were, "Tengoku de omachishi te imasu", which means, "I will wait for you in heaven."
Zachary Colson was later captured by Blair after his allegiance to the Kilrathi was discovered. Mariko's murder was one of the many crimes he was charged with. Blair would ultimately avenge Spirit's death by killing Colson when the latter attempted to return to the Kilrathi.
Mariko Tanaka from the Vol. 1 No. 4 issue of Claw Marks
Mariko Tanaka as seen in Super Wing Commander
Alternate History (The Real World)
Both Claw Marks and the Movie novelization list Spirit's name as 'Tanaka Mariko' which is consistent with Asian naming conventions which place the family name first. Freedom Flight mirrors what often happens in North America where to avoid confusion, the names are reversed, and as such she appears in the novel as Mariko Tanaka.