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Mike's ancestry included Finns and Native Americans and he spent a great deal of time as a child with his grandmother, an Ojibwa. As an adult, he joined the United States Marines, and served during Operation Desert Storm as part of Marine Force Recon. His two tours of duty, in addition to his rural upbringing endowed him with valuable skills, including hunting, wilderness survival, combat experience, tactical experience, and leadership. Deciding not to pursue a career as a Marine, he learned to fly and took a job as a pilot with Steelhead Air Taxi, a private charter flying service.
Mike was assigned to transport the Larsson family, to their vacation home in Montana. Enroute, the Change occurred and the plane shut down. Havel managed to execute a controlled crash into a river. Everyone survived the crash, although Mary Larsson, the mother of the family, was severely injured. Mike recovered his rifle and his survival pack from his plane before it sank out of reach.
Mike learned that his ammunition did not fire. He led the Larssons to a ranger cabin several days walk from the site of the crash landing. Upon arrival they found food, dry clothing, and a bed for Mary.
Mike walked south with Eric Larsson. When they reached a major highway, they realizeded that the Change had not affected only his party. They encountered white supremacists who had enslaved three members of the Hutton family. After freeing Angelica and Luanne Hutton, Mike and Eric followed the supremacists, who had pursued Will Hutton into the forest and caught up with them only after they had arrived at the ranger cabin. Mary Larsson had already been murdered. A fight ensued. All the supremacists were killed. Astrid Larsson shot one with her bow.
When Mike, the Larssons and the Huttons assembled back at the highway, they all discussed the situation and all agreed to follow Mike to the Larsson estate in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Enroute they recruited additional members, notably Pamela Arnstein, who knew sword-fighting and taught her skill to the others.
Mike held a war council attended by representatives of the major nations in the Willamette Valley likely to have to face the Portland Protective Association in a war. He was unable to convince anyone of the urgency of the situation.
Mike and Signe posed as ranchers from the vicinity of Bend to entrap a bandit named Crusher Bailey who had been wreaking havoc in the border country between the Bearkillers and the PPA. The two were in a pitched battle with Bailey and his gang when they were rescued by Sir Nigel Loring, Alleyne Loring and John Hordle.
After hanging Bailey, Mike met with Sir Nigel and Juniper Mackenzie and learned about Norman Arminger's attempt to acquire chemical weapons and about Clan Mackenzie's having captured Mathilda Arminger.