On the Brink
Former soldier, survivor, cybernetically-enhanced.
Hulking brute, bullishly strong, even before cybernetics replaced lost limbs.
Jack was a typical American citizen—a poor, desperate, Georgia kid scrambling for just a chance in the impossible contest against all the world’s other desperate and poor. Jack was an excellent athlete, but at a time when excellent athletes were a dime a dozen. Education was the gateway to any future, so Jack secured loans and headed off to the University of Georgia.
At the university, Jack had to compete with students from all over the world, struggling to get into classes. With his relatively modest grades (budgets for American schools had been savaged for decades to help finance the military), Jack barely managed to qualify for a simple business degree program.
While at the university, Jack met Anna Schultz. They dated off and on for nearly three years. When Jack finished his degree and enlisted in the Army, Anna accepted his marriage proposal.
Jack’s obligations took him all over the world for the next few years, but he was always able to come home to Anna. Eventually, they agreed they were ready for a child, even though Anna’s pay as a nurse was even less than Jack’s military pay.
Anna gave birth to Jesse, and suddenly all the strain and worry that had made marriage a challenge seemed to slip away. Jack felt recommitted and happier. Jesse was exactly what they had needed without even realizing it.
On Jesse’s fifth birthday, Jack received notice he was shipping out to Dubai. Four months into his first six month stint, he and his platoon were ambushed by rebel forces. A bomb killed most of Jack’s squad and ended his career. He spent a year going through surgery after surgery, then physical therapy, and finally getting used to his new cybernetic reality.
Although Jack felt like a monster, half the man he’d once been, Anna was there for him. She was his rock. When Jack was bitter, Anna was patient and loving and giving. Her love only made Jack feel less of a man.
A year after his release from the military, Jack took a few hundred dollars from their meager savings and bought a ticket to the stars. He half-expected, maybe even hoped, he would die before reaching the first colony world . . .