Gene grew up in the Utopia Gregaria star system, where both of his parents worked as controllers in the stardocks used for fitting out warships. Like many residents, Gene was encouraged to pursue a career path to the shipyards, but the young boy dreamed of visiting the stars. Excited about the prospects, he enrolled in pre-academy and later academy, earning a commission in the Crimson Blade. He had little fear of death, and was well known as an efficient and passionate soldier.
Gene had never acquired a specific specialty, but had not qualified for command school. He spent most of his time as a junior officer bouncing around various ships where he typically worked as an assistant to higher-ranking officers. He was also well known as a good training officer, helping new crew mates learn the ins and outs of life aboard ship.
During the Succession Wars, he was involved in several major battles, including the Battle of the Don't Pass Line. Less than a year after the battle, Gene's ship was hit by a Kamian raiding party, and his incredible story begins.
Gene was serving aboard the G.S.S. Peace, a cutter running point for a battle group, when the ship was hit. The Kamians struck hard and fast, and as Gene (the only survivor) reports: "There wasn't really time for anything. They didn't even get a chance to sound general quarters, the order to abandon ship came so fast.".
The only crewman to reach an escape pod, Gene spent four and a half months alone in space. With very careful rationing he made the meager food supply--meant to support six people for only a week--last almost the entire time. The pod was damaged and he had no read-outs of where he was, nor the ability to control the small vessel. They had been passing by a solar system on an FTL cool-down pause at the time of the attack, so his pod carried considerable speed. Unannounced to Gene, the capsule's automated guidance system used that speed and a small available fuel supply to home in on an inhabited planet.
With the internal displays damaged, Gene's first indication of a problem was an auditory alarm. He piled in to a re-entry couch and tried to figure out what was happening. The pod landed without issue, and, half starved and beaten, Gene found himself stranded, on what he presumed to be an uninhabited planet.
Fortunately, he had landed amidst lush surroundings, and had little difficulty surviving. For the next five years, Gene lived alone in the wilderness, convinced that he was the only sentient being on the planet. He descirbed it as a difficult life: food was available but not overly plentiful. Water was not a problem, fortunately, but there were some hard times. Eventually he began to cultivate small gardens and taught himself techniques for preserving food to get through the winter months.
After five very difficult winters, Gene decided to finally abandon his escape pod and look for a more temperate place to live. The pod's electrical systems had failed long ago, and as far as he could tell, the beacon never worked. He left behind a hand-written note and took what supplies he could. For five years, the pod had been of little value to him; even as shelter it was not of much use. He'd only stayed with it in the hopes of rescue.
After months of travel, Gene made a rather startling discovery. In his time on the planet, the only man-made objects he had seen were his pod and his own tools. Yet, like stepping out of a dream, he saw it. While walking in thick forest, he found a road. A single, paved, well-maintained road.
He followed this road to a town, and while remaining as inconspicuous as he could, learned he had lived these past five years on a civilized world called Fangora by its inhabitants. They had no space travel of their own and were largely isolationists, refusing offers of trade or contact with the outside world. Notionally, the planet was a member of the Alliance; but had no formal contact with them in thousands of years. The planet had semi-regular contact with the Foundation, but nothing remotely formal.
This did not help Gene, much. He considered contacting the authorities, revealing himself, and asking to be returned to the Crimson Blade. But as he discovered, the recent Kamian advances had soured what little diplomatic relationship the world had with the Foundation. It was likely his request would be ignored, or, worse, he would be jailed as a spy.
For another three years, Gene lived on the margins of Fangoran society. He spent much of his time outside of the city of Lekket, still living in the wilderness, but going in to town regularly for supplies. He made friends with other transients and even traveled for a bit. But living out his days homeless on an alien planet was not a pleasant thought.
After years of hard work and determination, Gene established an identity for himself and was eventually able to secure employment and a permanent residence, and a happy marriage to a local woman. He'd worked his way up from destitution and made many friends in the process, all the while concealing his true background. So far as anyone on Fangora knew, he was Gene Cur, who had grown up poor and lived on the streets for some time, and had finally made a life for himself.
Precisely when his long-term plan began to take shape is unclear, but as Gene put it, "I never, not once, gave up hope. For a long time it was just 'evade and survive', but once I started to have a place to live and a job and spending money, I started to think more about rescue. I didn't want to die here."
Gene had begun his climb from destitution by working at a homeless shelter, while living there himself. When he became successful, he continued to donate his time. He'd gained some notoriety as a community organizer when he became involved in local politics. His campaign put some distance on it, but he still became known as "The Mayor from the Streets" (despite never actually holding the position of mayor).
He spent twenty years in different elected positions before securing a seat on the world council. By then he'd been on Fangora for 33 years, and no one - not even his wife - knew his true history. On the World Council he had significant political influence, the other councilors knew he could secure a sizable percentage of the lower-class vote on nearly any decision, so he used it to curry favor, carefully maneuvering towards his pet-project: to normalize relations between Fangora and the rest of the verse.
He never pushed the issue, simply made a well-reasoned argument, to anyone who would listen, that Fangora had much to gain by maintaining contact with the outside world. Eventually, other councilors relented, and the centuries-old communications equipment was brought out. In short order, a diplomatic envoy from the Foundation was dispatched.
This part of the plan was uncomplicated. Given his involvement in spearheading normalized talks, Gene was part of the delegation that met the envoy. Gene simply walked over to the commanding officer, saluted, gave his true identity, serial number, and requested permission to board their ship. This happened in full view of the delegation, all of whom were understandably confused. Still, the commanding officer agreed to take Gene aboard the small lander while they confirmed his identity, and later that day he was brought aboard the ship.