Allow me to introduce myself; my name is William Henry Watson. My friends call me Bill and I hope that by the time you finish reading my story, you will think of me as a friend as well.
I was born on 11 March 2410, in Valdosta, Georgia, United States of America. I am about 188 cm tall and weigh about 85 kg. I have reddish-brown hair, blue eyes and what has been described as a medium complexion. Even though I am not muscular by any stretch of the imagination, I do spend time in the weight room on a regular basis and, as a result, Ive got a toned body. I dont want to sound conceited, but I have been told by several women that I am more than a little attractive.
I have three siblings, one younger brother, Daniel, and two younger sisters, Alexandria and Mary. Youd think, with three younger siblings, Id be a bit of a bully; but my parents wouldnt allow me to bully any of them. Their reaction was, Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone to bully you?
When I was growing up, despite my attempts at bullying my younger siblings, I was a rather small child, skinny would be a better description. As a result of my size, or rather a lack of, I was the victim of bullying. This bullying did wonders for my lack of self-esteem. Because of this victimization, my father started training me in the martial arts from the age of seven, with training in karate, aikido, judo, and jiu-jitsu. From there, I graduated at age nine into more advanced martial arts of sword fighting, including usage of the epee, katana, and the Scottish Claymore swords. I became extremely proficient in the usage of all these martial arts. Plus, learning these martial arts also taught me to control my emotions. They taught me to not react to the bullying but to think things through and react from a well thought out and emotionless attitude. While I was learning the aforementioned martial arts, I also learned archery and shooting firearms, including pistols, rifles and shotguns. I practiced my martial arts and shooting daily and, soon, my abilities with the pistol and rifle were second to none and my skeet abilities were amazing. I once recorded 500 birds in a row. My father once told me that the reason he paid for all my training was because he wanted me to be a member of the United States Olympic teams. When I was fourteen years of age, I won a place on the Olympic team in the three sports in which I was most proficient, fencing, martial arts, and shooting. I won the following medals in order, Gold, Bronze, and Silver. I dont know who was prouder of my accomplishments, me, or my father. I do know that the international community was more than a little surprised that an American could win Gold in fencing since it has always been considered a European sport.
Do I sound like a superman? Believe me, I'm not; I'm an over-achiever. The reason for this is because I became addicted to something very early in life, praise. The more praise I received; the more I wanted. I received the most praise from my father. He was more than a little effusive in his dispersal of his praise. When I, or my siblings, would fail at something we were attempting and would feel like we had disappointed him, my father would say, "Did you give 100%?" When we would reply in the affirmative, "Then, I'm not disappointed in you. If you give it your all, you've met my expectations." Because I wanted to exceed his expectations, I became the over-achiever I am.
I started pilot training at the age of ten. I started with gliders, then graduated to biplanes, monoplanes, multi-engine propeller planes, and then jets. I loved the freedom that being a pilot gave me. It also helped me to think in three dimensions. An ability that helped me greatly in the near future, although at the time, I just thought about how free it was to be able to leave the crowds behind and soar through the clouds. However, this type of thinking almost cost me my life one day. You'll read about it in its entirety shortly. However, the condensed version is this. I had a desire to set a civilian altitude record and I altered my private jet to make the flight. Shortly after my 16th birthday, I flew my jet to an altitude of approximately 65 kilometers. I looked up, saw the stars and knew I had achieved my goal. I would have been fine, except that, due to a lack of oxygen because of my altitude, my jets engines flamed out. There was also not enough air for the controls to bite enough for me to control the jet. Fortunately, because I had studied all the pertinent information that applied to my attempt, I had made necessary and important alterations to my jet to allow me to control the roll, pitch and yaw. However, despite these alterations, I was still at the mercy of the craft and atmosphere. Unfortunately, as many a pilot has learned since the early twentieth century, neither of these is very merciful. Sixty-five kilometers is a long way to fall, so I chose to stay with the jet until I knew it would be safe to bail out, or I could restart the engines, preferably the latter. For those of you who have never experienced the sensation, falling over forty kilometers in silence is one of the most eerie feelings you can experience, especially when you know that if it wasn't for the alterations, you'd be in a nosedive from which recovery would be difficult at best and impossible at worst. I kept my hand on the controls and pulled back hoping against hope that I could keep the nose up enough to prevent my craft from reaching terminal velocity. Finally, at about twenty-five kilometers, I tried to restart the engines and was successful. Keeping the nose up allowed air to enter the engines slow enough to allow for a restart and regaining of control. The results were twofold. First, I saved my life from certain death. Second, my desire to go into space became an all-encompassing desire.
Jeremy Yamashita, a vice admiral in the Interstellar Terran Navy, had heard a news story about what I had done and contacted me shortly after my record attempt. He informed me that the International Aviation Authority had decided to suspend my pilots license. However, because of the admirals request, the IAA decided to make it a temporary suspension. The excuse they used was because I had set the altitude record and survived. (Every previous attempt at reaching 50 kilometers had ended in the death of the pilot.) There were two requirements. First, I had to refrain from flying any type of aircraft for the next three months. Second, I had to accept a commission to the Interstellar Terran Naval Academy in Jacksonville, FL. Since I had a desire to go into space, I readily agreed to the second part and didnt have a problem with the first.
After graduating from high school in Valdosta, GA, on 6 June 2428, I left to go to the ITNA. I was graduated from there on 1 June 2432. I received my orders for star fighter training at Tonojen Naval Base and was graduated on 9 December 2432. My training being completed sooner than normal due to what happened less than three weeks earlier.
Three years after receiving my pilots wings, due to my overly aggressive nature as a pilot and the fact that Im an over-achiever, I was the greatest ace in the ITN with over 70 kills to my credit. I tended to take chances that others wouldn't consider taking simply because of my attitude toward the enemy because of how the war started. Many in the military said that I was single-handedly winning the war. I had received commendations from every official in the Terran Interstellar Federation, especially the President of the Federation, Tyrene Koshuvala. The story you are about to read is the story of the first year of the eight Terran years I was missing from Terran Naval service.
At the time of the story you are about to read, I was a 25-year-old Lt. Commander fighter pilot in the Interstellar Terran Navy. My call sign during flights is Nine Lives; this is also one of my nicknames. I'm not exactly certain how I got that nickname unless its because I seem to get out of scrapes that most people would lose their lives doing. It could also have something to do with the fact that I have always had an affinity for cats and, according to tradition, cats have nine lives.
For as long as I can remember, Ive always been interested in the military. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my father was a member of one of the last totally Terrestrial-based military units, called the International Air Force (1). As a matter of fact, he was a Major General and the base commander of Moody IAFB outside of Valdosta. Even though my fathers career in the IAF had a lot to do with my decision to become a member of the ITN, the events at the beginning of my tale also had a lot to do with my being a member of the Interstellar Terran Navy but Ill get that in due time.
(1)-The International Air Force was created at the end of the Third World War. Its purpose, along with that of the International Navy, International Marine Corps, and International Army, was to prevent local hostilities from expanding beyond the borders of the disputants and becoming another world-wide war. The reason for this was because World War 3 began as a border dispute between two Asian countries that called in favors from other countries around the world. The war lasted fifteen years and cost a total of one billion lives. The international community decided that such a thing must never happen again. An international treaty shortly after the end of the war created the four international military branches. Their purpose was to surround any countries involved in a border dispute and prevent any other countries from becoming involved. Because of the treaty, the international military had the authority to attack any country that became involved in any dispute and, effectively, prevent them from waging war. Ten years after the creation of the international military, its power was tested when a border dispute between two African countries threatened to expand into neighboring countries. The International Army surrounded the two countries and, when a third country mobilized it military and ignored the orders of the army to stand down, the International Army and International Air Force attacked the third country destroying its military power. Because of this proof of the International Militarys might, the disputing countries settled their differences and, from that moment on, no third party got involved in border disputes.