1st Lt. Tanaka Marike goes by the tag of Spirit - a rough translation of Kami, as she's called by the Japanese pilot instructors responsible for her initial training. In the cockpit, 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.
A native of Sapporo on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Tanaka is a third-generation military pilot. Her father, Major Tanaka Shun (affectionately remembered as Go-Devil), died twenty years ago in the brutal McAuliffe Ambush of '34.
The 24-year-old ace explains, "I did not join the armed forces for revenge. I have no fantasies of personally gunning down the pilot who killed my father. It is a matter of tradition and duty. The tradition is my family's, and the duty is to the Earth...I am often asked if I think of myself as a modern samurai. The answer is no. I am a military pilot, not a feudal retainer. But there is nothing to keep a modern pilot, Japanese or not, from trying to adhere to the best elements of the warrier-codes of the past: The code of the samurai, the code of the knight-errant, any code of honor and service.
Captain Ian St. John, or Hunter to the spacecrews, is one of the best pilots in the service, and has racked up an impressive number of kills in the years he has been stationed on the Tiger's Claw. He's known as a seat-of-the-pants flier, and Kilrathi opponenets tend to be baffled by his unpredictable, spontaneous flying style.
The 27-year-old native of Brisbane, Australia is sometimes accused of excessive independence and a casual attitude toward regulations. "Maybe so," he explains, "but I'd never leave my wingleader hanging. However, every [expletive deleted] thing we're given - ships, weapons, training, an' standing regs - is there for us to push to the limit, an' maybe a little further, if we're going to get the job done. Notice I say 'push to the limit' an' not 'break.' Maybe there's not much of a difference, but it's usually the difference between dusting a furball an' sucking vacuum."