Classified: Alexander Branch Interview

State your name and date of birth for the record

Um, I’m Alexander Branch and I was born May 8th, 2162.

Where were you born?

Main Sea City, Mars.

What is your current occupation?

I’m sort of in the wind, I suppose. Slumming it.

Slumming it?

Basically just sightseeing, ma’am.

And what did you do before you decided to go sightseeing?

Shit, I was a soldier in the Service.

And by Service, you mean—

Oh, uh, sorry. The United Nations Service Marines. I was just a Private.

Was?

I left the Service.

You deserted.

[silence]

Tell me about your theft of the 9-Series Twin Jet.

The Cherrybomb? I didn’t steal it. [sighs] Minkowski wanted me to take it.

Minkowski?

The Cherrybomb’s AI. She wanted to get away from the military, so I helped her.

Putting the blame on a computer is not going to help you, Private. What was your last post before you deserted?

The Ceres Lookout.

And your assignment?

Monitoring nearby asteroids for alien activity. I mean, not alien-alien, but folks from the gas giants. Farters.

Why did you desert your post?

I never understood why we had a lookout. Technically, everything in the system belongs to the United Nations. And it’s not like it’s the first thing standing between inner and outer systems. Even then, the impracticality of securing something so large and vast means we were almost entirely useless.

Answer the question, Private.

We were gearing up to go to Ganymede for a peacekeeping mission, but usually just meant killing the side the UN didn’t agree with.

And you disagreed with that.

Pretty much.

You wanted to aid the enemy.

No. That’s not it.

Then what was the reason?

I joined the Service so that I can see the system. It was the best way a poor kid from Mars would be able to do that. But, every time I ended up in someplace new, it was already drenched in blood. Reminded me too much of home. That and leaving the Service was like surfacing after being underwater. I was able to breathe fresh air. So yeah, I deserted. But it’s not like I could really enjoy the sights. You guys were always around the corner, always a few steps behind. I couldn’t relax. But, hey, I was free.

[silence]

What’s going to happen to me now?

It depends entirely on you. Where is the boy?

Shit.

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