|First appearance||Wing Commander I|
|Last appearance||Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi|
Mariko was a native of Sapporo, Hokkaido, a 3-generation military pilot. Her father was Major Tanaka Shun, who died in the brutal McAuliffe Ambush when she was only 4 years old. She joined the armed forces not to avenge her father, but as a mater of family tradition and duty to Earth. But she would quickly learn that the war against the Kilrathi is one that has to be fought and won if the human race was to survive.
During her initial training, her Japanese pilot instructors called her Kami.
On her third year at the Academy as a Midshipman Third Class she gave a brief orientation to the incoming 201st Plebe Class 1200 students including Carl T. LaFong, Michael Anthony, Christopher Blair and Todd Marshall. She had a tension with Marshall after his delayed arrival for the shuttle to Hilthros and boasting to her. Shortly before the shuttle arrived to Hilthros, Mariko gave the "plebes" the official plebe handbook.
She was engaged with Philip of the Medical Corps working in the Epsilon Station. Once they visited Earth together and it was the first time he was seeing the homeworld. When she was assigned to the TCS Tiger's Claw, he visited her on the carrier.TCS Tiger's Claw and she was a 1st Lieutenant. She was one of the pilots who escorted Diligent back to the Tiger Claw, as Black Lion One along with Hunter. She later flew with Knight on patrol before the jump through Charybdis. She is standing behind Angel, when Hunter hands his gun to the Wing Commander. She was briefly transferred off the Tiger's Claw, and replaced by Sinatra. But she returned later and is discussed in the 2654.110 issue of Claw Marks.
She also flew with Christopher Blair, after he 'returned' to the Claw, after he got re-acquainted with the crew. Spirit was a defensive young Japanese woman -- and the pilot was assigned to Blair's wing on his first mission back on board. It was at this time he had the chance to really get to know her.
During the incursion to Kilrathi space, she heard in the newscast that Epsilon Station was attacked by the Kilrathi and worried about Philip. Since they were obligated to keep comm silence while in Kilrathi space, she tried to stay calm until they'd return to Terran space.
She was assigned with the Star Slayer squadron. With LaFong she flew a Raptor in the Jotunheim system as Beta Wing and escorted the last surviving Drayman-class carrying Reavers back to the Claw. As Alpha Wing, they engaged a communications Dorkir-class and then destroyed Fralthi-class which set up an ambush for the Claw. Flying the Rho Wing, she and LaFong responded to a distress call, and it turned out to be the "phantom" ship TCS Gwenhyvar, a trap by the Kilrathi. This engagement brought an end to the myth
Still worrying about Philip, she arranged with Peter Halcyon to change the duty roster and put her on duty a whole week. Although she had a voucher for a planetary shuttlecraft to Firekka, she believed she was too distracted to enjoy the planetary leave and played her ticket in a seven-card stud with Hunter, Iceman and Puma.
When the arrival of a Kilrathi cruiser was detected entering the system, Puma was assigned to fly with Spirit in Raptors. They came out of the asteroid field and found an ambush of 2 Fralthi-class heavy cruisers, and fighters launching from them. They began a dogfight but Spirit soon saw there was no way out and ordered a retreat. Puma was reluctant because he was on one's tail and Spirit launched a missile against the Kilrathi fighter, disappointing Puma who lost his kill. About a dozen fighters came out of the cruiser and moved against them and the two pilots sped at the asteroid field to lose them during which Puma was shot dead.
Spirit 'burned toward the asteroid field to lose them. Flying in pure instinct, she dodged and weaved a path through the rocks, which the Kilrathi on her rear could not avoid. She swung into the thickest of the asteroids, managing her speed to be able to dodge. Just then she saw that Hunter was coming to her help. A Heat-Seeking missile from the Kilrathi fighters was closing in on her engines and she came to a hard stop killing the engine, and the missile flew past her. A fighter was after her so once the engines roared back into life she hit the afterburners and put the asteroids between her and the Kilrathi fire. The Kilrathi tried to flank her, then one of them broke formation to close on her tail to which Spirit yanked in a hard turn and let fly a Friend-or-Foe missile at one of them. Meanwhile Hunter fired at the last Kilrathi who tried to avoid and crashed into an asteroid. The two pilots left before the other Kilrathi found them.
Spirit attented Puma's funeral with tears in her eyes. She felt responsible for his death and guilty for not being able to make him obey her orders. Hunter attempted to make her feel better. Angel walked with her to the barracks.
When the KIS Ras Nik'hra declared its defection, Spirit and other pilots flew solo patrol to locate it. The TCS Holmen boarded it but then it reported that it was under attack by the Fralthi KIS Kraj'nishk. Spirit moved to their location as did Bossman and Hunter. The Fralthi launched a Jalthi, and Spirit proposed to fire into its launch bay so that no more fighters launch. With Bossman's orders, she and Hunter punched in the afterburners, and dodged beneath the Jalthi just as it opened fire. With Hunter playing decoy to the Fralthi's guns, Spirit accelerated twisting and turning toward the launch bay and launched Dumb-Fires, just as a her right wing was hit, destabilizing the main gyros. Another burst hit her while she spun uncontrollably trying to tilt away, tearing away one of the wings. Once she recovered control, she headed straight for the Ras Nik'hra. There, she met with Major Kristi Marks. Hunter sucessfully destroyed the Kraj'nishk and reunited with her on the Ras Nik'hra. He saw that her cheek was bruised and kissed her exuberantly, causing her to blush, and surprise to the 2 Kilrathi defectors who where there.
Kilrathi presence increased in the system, and patrols were more frequent and intense. She flew with Iceman as Delta Wing, the wide patrol beyond the jump points. Eventually the Claw had to retreat back to Confed space; Hunter sat next to her, late as usual, in the briefing coordinating their retreat.
After the observations, Spirit escorted TCS Tsiolkovsky to their jump out-system. She received the final report from Epsilon Station, confirming that Philip was captured by the Kilrathi as a prisoner of war. Spirit grew angry and vengeful of the Kilrathi, more than she had been about her father's death.
When Ralgha nar Hhallas offered to defect to the Confederation, Prankster and Spirit flew Raptors as Omicron Wing to escort the Fralthi-class KIS Ras Nik'hra to formation with the Claw, which they protected against another Fralthi, the KIS Kraj'nishk.
Later they flew as Beta Wing to prepare the Claw's withdrawal to Corsair. They protected one of the Firekkan Drayman-class evacuation transports led by Captain Larrhi as its jumped away. Then they protected the TCS Austin on its way out.
She started fantasizing of being a commando and saving Philip. After many years, nothing was ever found about him and was thought to be dead. This left Spirit to better herself as a pilot and fantasize about saving him.
Vengeance of the KilrathiEdit
Spirit was transferred to the TCS Concordia, and one of the few pilots that survived from the loss of Claw. She was happy to see again LaFong (abd Christopher Blair who's own history would mirror LaFong's for the next couple of years) who temporarily stayed to the Concordia assisting in its defenses. Spirit and Angel expressed their condolences about Shadow's death, and recollected some of their past memories onboard the Claw. In the Niven system, Spirit was assigned patrol duty; she requested to Angel to have LaFong as her wingman, but this was denied as Geoffrey Tolwyn didn't allow him to fly combat missions. Later she participated in a hand of Five-card draw and introduced Prankster to Stingray and Hobbes. After McGuffin's murder she informed LaFong about it.
After Dallas's death Spirit was next to Stingray lamenting his wingman and tried to calm things down between him and Ralgha, whom Stingray accused for being a spy. The next day she confessed LaFong that she still thinks of Philip even after 10 years, still believing he is alive on a Kilrathi planet, and sometime be able to rescue him.
Soon the murderer of McGuffin sent her an e-mail revealing that Philip was not dead as she feared but was actually on board the space station of Heaven's Gate. She was coerced to defect, threatened with Philip's slow and painful death, but she refused.
While playing a game of cards with Angel and Doomsday, LaFong felt that something was wrong about her. After insisting, she told him about the mysterious e-mail, but she would need time before reporting it. She then was interrogated by Tolwyn and Angel and temporarily grounded. Pilots wondered about this, and Stingray suggested she was a member of the Society of the Mandarins. Intelligence intercepted the traitor's message which reported to the Kilrathi contacts that Spirit was not persuaded to betray the ship, but Tolwyn had reservations, saying it could be a trick to mislead them from a possible betrayal.
When the Concordia reached Heaven's Gate, Prankster with Spirit flew F-54C Epees in the system, first patroling jump points and engaging a Kamekh-class and then escorting a convoy of Clydesdale-class Palomino and Dhalma. There they fell in an ambush but they were assisted by Jazz who was flying in the area. After the debriefing, Devereaux asked to talk to her alone. The next day, Dr. Sayers said that she was not well and would not fly any missions.
Before the attack against the starbase, Spirit revealed to Prankster the story about Philip and the message blackmailing her with Philip's life. LaFong insisted that the officers must know that Philip is in the base before attacking it, but Spirit refused and obliged him not to tell anything to anyone.
She flew in a F-57A Sabre with LaFong with Meron assigned as a gunner to her. When they reached the station, an explosion crippled her fighter killing Meron. As she lost air pressure, she flew straight onto the station, her torpedoes exploding and destroying it. Her last words to Blair were "Tengoku de omachi shite imasu" (I am waiting for you in Heaven). It was later discovered that Zachary Colson rigged Spirit's starfighter with explosives during the assault on the Heaven's Gate Starbase.
Spirit's death took a heavy toll on her friend Colonel Jeannette Devereaux, who almost lost the will to fight due to Spirit's death. It was through comforting her that fellow pilot Christopher Blair started a romantic relationship with her. Spirits death was another sad moment in Blair's life, and another tally to the list of friends lost to the war.
Spirit remains a soft spoken, philosophical, and friendly pilot, lending a sympathetic ear or some words of advice and encouragement. Mariko was a distinguished fighter pilot, her superior flying skills were top-notch.
He was often seen in the Claw Rec Room playing a stringed instrument.
Spirit is known for her deceptive, defensive piloting, her abiliity to sense and avoid incoming fire, and her habit of creeping in as close as possible to a target before cutting loose with ship's weaponry.
Although she did not see herself as a "samurai", she tried to adhere to the best elements of the warrior-codes of the past, any code of honor and service.
Her strength and weakness was that she would never show her pain to her friends.
Behind the scenesEdit
Tanaka is a common Japanese surname with several meanings and spellings, with 田中 (ricefield-middle) being a common one. Although her name doesn't appear in any canonical source in its original Japanese script, a possible spelling would be 田中まりこ.
When Spirit dies in WCI, the following words are said about her:
- "We are gathered here to pay our last respects to a good friend and one of the Terran Confederation's boldest defenders. Lieutenant Mariko Tanaka was one of our youngest pilots but also one of our most promising. Her death robs both our own hearts and the future of the Confederation."
- ― Peter Halcyon
- "Goodbye, Spirit... I hope I can fill the gap you leave."
- ― Bluehair
In Operation: Thor's Hammer, the speech becomes:
- "...and one of the Terran Confederation's boldest defenders. Lieutenant Mariko Tanaka was never loud or angry in her speech but her actions spoke louder than her words. We will all miss her skill and devotion to the Confederate cause."
- ― Peter Halcyon
- "Goodbye, Spirit ... I will miss your soft-spoken advice"
- ― Bluehair
- ↑ Freedom Flight
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Claw Marks (Wing Commander I box package), Pilot Profiles
- ↑ Mike Harrison, Wing Commander I and II: The Ultimate Strategy Guide, The Academy Years
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Enyo series (Mission 2)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Wing Commander I, Midgard series (Mission 1)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 2
- ↑ Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. 6
- ↑ Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. 13
- ↑ Pilgrim's Stars
- ↑ Claw Marks (Wing Commander I box package), Comm Relay
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Enyo series
- ↑ WC4 Guide, pg
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Jotunheim series (Mission 1)
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Jotunheim series (Mission 2)
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Jotunheim series (Mission 3)
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 3
- ↑ Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 4
- ↑ Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 5
- ↑ Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 6
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission b2)
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission c1)
- ↑ Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission c2)
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission 3)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Gwynedd series (Mission 3)
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Niven series (Mission 1)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Ghorah Khar series (Mission L1)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Niven series (Mission 2)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Ghorah Khar series (Mission L3)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Niven series (Mission 4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Ghorah Khar series (Mission L4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission 2)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission L2)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission L3)
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 2)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission 4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Novaya Kiev series (Mission L4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 1)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 1)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 2)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 3)
- ↑ 42.0 42.1 42.2 Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Heaven's Gate series (Mission 3)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, K'Tithrak Mang series (Mission 4)
- ↑ Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Gwynedd series (Mission L4)
- ↑ WC3 novel, pg
"Tanaka" can be seen