I was one of the first to be born in the Martian Mining Colony in 2027 (Earth time). The weak gravity made me tall. The scarcity of decent food made me lean -- and hungry for something better in life. The work there was hard and my father was killed in the tunnel explosion of '35. My mother died shortly thereafter, probably of a broken heart.

After that my rearing became sort of a community project. Rules in the Martian Colony were rather relaxed and by 14-years-old I was piloting shuttles and crude ore ships all over the planet. What I really wanted was to fly off to almost anywhere that wasn't Mars.

As the corrupt United Nations World Government tightened their grip on Mars and as acts of rebellion by the miners increased, I became certain that my destiny was to be elsewhere. At sixteen, armed with letters of recommendation and a H.S. diploma, I applied for and -- amazingly -- got a scholarship to the Seattle Space Academy on Earth. I kept my nose clean and, probably because of all my previous experience, I graduated First-in-Class at the tender age of 18.

The UNWG tried to recruit me but having seen their unpleasant side on both Mars and Earth, I declined. Instead, I finagled my way into possession of an old rust-bucket of an asteroid claim ship and went in search of my fortune. All of us, the scattered rock jumpers, dreamed of finding that one chunk of asteroid filled with... Gold? Diamonds? It was a futile, ridiculous enterprise, I know.

I kept in touch with my buddies back at Mars Colony and learned that the UNWG were starving them out of basic supplies such as food, petroleum and medical goods and equipment, in hopes of subduing their leaders. I also learned that R.J. Hamilton, via Stelco, was sneaking in shipments -- for free! -- of the needed goods. Apparently there was quite a libertarian streak to him and he sided with all who were against the World Government.

By this time, 20-years-old, dead broke from my foolish quest within the asteroid belt, I sent a desperate proposal to Stelco and R.J. I pointed out that I knew Mars and the colonists. I knew the asteroid belt, and I was crazy enough to act as a supplies runner. To my surprise, Hamilton himself contacted me and took me on.

For the next four years I made the run from Stelco's Titan and Saturn orbitals to the Mars Colony, dodging UNWG forces, slinking or speeding between the rocks in the asteroid belt, coming in undercover of night, with no lights, often with no radar that would have alerted the UNWG cruisers. Coasting in with jets mostly off except to make quick corrections and for braking, landing in the Mars Colony's hidden fields in the mountains bearing precious supplies, relying for safety on some instinct -- or mental illness, more likely -- that I couldn't name.

Then in 2051 -- I was 24 at the time -- R.J. told me about a new project of his, a plan to leave the whole mess of the UNWG and the solar system behind and to go in search of a new world...

Return to Colony: Alchibah