Today is my eighteenth birthday. Today, for the first time, my team and I trained in birdstyle. Today, Anderson gave me this pile of old reports to read.
Today, I left my childhood behind.
At eighteen, most people my age are only just deciding what they want to do with their lives. I know. I've known since I was very young, when Anderson sat down with Jason, Princess, Tiny and I and told us about G-Force and the part we would play.
From that moment, we've been in training, training broken only by the recovery time needed when we were implanted with our cerebonic units.
At eighteen, we're done with our childhood. For the last year, I've been on Riga, attending the Academy there, not only honing my skills as a pilot, but also as a tactician and a Leader.
Leader. I'm not sure that I'm ready for that burden. I know that Jason thinks I'm not, but then Jason's made no secret of the fact that he doesn't believe we should have a designated leader. He'd like a chance at it, but he's already confessed that he wouldn't want to be the leader full time.
Jason challenges me, he always has. It's his constant challenges that make me a better leader of the team.
Those reports have been heavy reading. They called him Gatchaman, and in the end, he and his team didn't return from their final mission.
Those reports have been a lesson for me in leadership. Each time, I can see his mistakes, see where his rash actions lead his team into danger and then caused the death of his own Condor, the person who was his best friend.
The similarities between Ken Washio and myself are frightening, and the difference reassuring.
I read through the reports again, until I get to that final one, the precise handwriting of Gatchaman giving way to that of another. I read of their deaths, how they made the ultimate sacrifice to win.
I read of other sacrifices, and make my decision.
I must put the team before my own wishes. This means that I have to give up the woman I love, at least for now. This means that I have to put aside my own hell-raising instincts. This means I have to make sure I'm strong enough to make Jason back down when necessary.
I have to be better than my team, I have to inspire them to follow me. I have to instil confidence in them and in everybody.
It's a heavy burden for an eighteen year old, but I know that it's a burden I won't give up. It's my job. My duty.
This is my turn to take the burden of Gatchaman, of being the Eagle. The Watch has passed to me.
On my watch, we will not fall.