“Mi-chan, I have to go.”
I want to scream “NO” at the top of my lungs. I want to throw myself in front her. I want to bar her way. To kneel at her feet and beg her not to leave.
But I know her well. And as much as I know she cares for me, I know also that when she makes up her mind she will not be stopped. So instead I screw up my courage, smile and try unsuccessfully to hold back my tears.
“Have a safe flight. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Her power surges like a giant wave. I feel it wash over me. My skin tingling, my hair splaying out behind me. She turns her head to look back at me - one final glance - giving me that gentle, reassuring smile that I already miss. My breath stops as she holds my gaze for a moment. A moment that seems to stretch into eternity.
Then the moment breaks.
She turns her face forward once more but I can still see her expression clearly. Her smile has become fierce and wild. Eyes sparkling with anticipation.
I have known her my entire life. We have shared so many things throughout our lives. Our deepest feelings... our hopes... our dreams... But I have never seen this side of her before.
She is a trapped, wild thing yearning for freedom.
Yearning for the skies.
I am startled from my thoughts by a sudden metallic ‘clank’ as the clamps holding her Striker Unit in place are released. I had only glanced away for a brief moment, but in that brief moment, she is gone.
I follow the path of her flight. Her arms spread to embrace the wind, a flurry of cherry blossoms in her wake. Even as my heart is breaking, I can’t help but smile. She looks so very... happy.
A wild thing, returning to the skies long denied her.
Suddenly I realize that this - this - is the part of herself that she was unable to share with me. She had told me all about her time in Britannia with the 501st Joint Fighter Wing. The friends she made... the battles she had fought... the fears she had overcome... But she never talked about flying.
Although I believe I always knew when she was thinking about it. On bright sunny days, with skies of deepest blue and alabaster white, I would find her alone on her favorite hill, her eyes focused far away from home - a hint of tears, welling up but never allowed to spill over.
In every other way, she was the same Yoshika I had grown up with, the same Yoshika I loved with all my heart... But since she had returned from the war it felt like there was something, some part of her, that was always unsettled.
Her form is now fading in the distance and I can’t help but think that now she is where she truly belongs.
Now she is free.
"Be safe my Yoshika-chan. Be happy. And please think of me occasionally, as you will be in my thoughts."
"I’ll be waiting for you."
"I’ll always be waiting for you.”
~ fin ~