Kibwe had returned home a changed man.
Kibwe had always wanted to be a pilot. From an early age he made airfoils from balsa and drove his parents to distraction with his attention to detail, his constant entreaties to be taken to the airport at Mtwara and, when he was older, his insistence on visiting the spaceport at Beira.
By the time he was seventeen, he already had a pilot licence and was operating trips around the countryside in a twin-rotor electric speeder. Three years later he was the lead pilot on an aerial search and rescue mission to Northern Europe.
Northern Europe had received the worst of the violence of the Conquest Wars as atomic, biological and chemical weapons destroyed city after city, town after town. The farmlands of eastern europe were burned, the industrial heart of western europe was razed to the ground. The people who survived, the few who remained in the north, were forced to eke out a miserable existence in the cold and barren tundra.
The mission lasted only two weeks, rescuing four people from the ravages of the wastelands formerly known as Belgium. The experience was traumatic. Four malnourished and diseased people from a community of hundreds of thousands. During the rescue they had to be careful of becoming prey to some of the other desperate inhabitants – warlord remnants of the old military, murderous cannibals and even other rescue parties, especially those from the recovering United States.
Kibwe was changed. He had witnessed horrors that his young 22 year old mind was having trouble comprehending. And he would never go north again. Instead he fixed his eyes upon the stars. He began training to join an Explorer vessel.
Eyes scarred by inhumanity, the only way is off.