James Welthammer is a freighter captain and disgruntled Imperial subject, with links to both the Imperial bureacracy, and to the criminal underworld.

Captain Mal wishes he was this cool.

Main TimelineEdit

Early HistoryEdit

He was born in 2244, a year after the Third Civil War ended. Luckily, New Paris was spared most of the carnage that occurred during that fracas, so James had a nice happy childhood to start with. He grew up in the Earth Federation under the Five Acts. His father was a military officer who died in the Vin Shriak War, and his death plus the resulting poor economy that cost his mother her job left the young James impoverished at age seven. She later got a job with the Federation Bureaucracy, and while they were never rich, James was able to get a decent education and grow into a healthy, clever young man. In school he met his lifelong friend Ian Samothrace, and the two quickly became inseperable. When Samothrace went to university, James went along with him.

Education and TrainingEdit

In their sophomore year, however, the Caal invaded. James spent the first month of that school year cowering in the basement with his mother as the Caal invasion fleet passed through the New Paris system en route to Avalon without attacking. His mother was deeply impressed by this deliverance from certain doom, and like many residents of New Paris, saw this "New Passover" and the subsequent defeat of the Caal by Vin Dane in the Battle of Avalon as proof of the new Emperor's divinity. While she became a devout follower of the Cult of the Emperor, young James was more cynical and skeptical. Although he took a workstudy job as an intern at the Imperial Services Bureau alongside his friend Ian Samothrace, bureaucratic paper-pushing and university study were not for him. When the semester was over, he left university and transferred to a flight school on Mars, learning to be a shuttle pilot and making training runs through the lunar-debris rings of Earth to land on the few surface spots cool enough to walk on.

He later entered the Merchant Marine as a navigator on a small freighter, but the increasing Imperial restrictions on trade and space travel annoyed him to no end. One day, he walked into a seedy bar, ordered eight shots of vodka, and downed them one after another. He threw the final drained shot glass down to the floor, and announced loudly to the entire bar that, because the jump gates were all being shut down, and it would soon be Imperial Transports or nothing, he was sick and tired of this crap. He slapped his identification down on the bar, announced his name, cursed the name of the Emperor, and strode angrily out the door, and off to find some sort of resistance movement to join.

His whereabouts and adventures after that are as yet unknown.

Season Eight Alternate TimelineEdit

One day when he was 7, his father didn't come back from work. Within a week, James remembers cowering in some dark pit with his mom because some little grey guys were coming to kill them. (This was the Vin Shriak invasion that wiped out the Federation.) A month later, the young Welthammer was shoveling alien carcasses off his lawn while unseen forces were fighting in the skies above his world. Soon enough, the Middle Kingdom had declared victory and claimed his home.

He spent his formative decade under Asian rule, meeting Ian Samothrace soon after the VS War. They went through school together, getting into trouble, chasing after girls, and somehow graduating. Instead of going to college like Ian, he was disgusted with Imperial life and joined the merchant marine. Nine years later, he owned his own ship. He kept in touch with Ian, doing some odd jobs for him, and even supporting his election campaign into the Imperial Senate. James never asked for anything in return, but Ian never forgets a promise or a debt, and they continued to be good friends.


James resents the Asian domination of Imperial politics, as he is a bit of a megalomaniac and would prefer to rise to a position of power, but finds his ambition stifled by the social and ethnic divisions of the Middle Kingdom (he doesn’t hate Asian people, just the fact that other ethnicities are restricted). As a result of his bitterness he refuses to recognize many of the social traditions and ceremonies, he does not speak the pi-yin language unless it is necessary, and he does not bow to others unless in an apparent position of weakness where refusing to do so would place him in immediate danger of life and limb. Other than this stubbornness, he is outwardly polite and proper with others. Despite his resentment of the Imperial norm, he is loyal to the Middle Kingdom, and does not support any of the other nations, nor resistance groups.

Perhaps the only reason Jim has managed to avoid incarceration for his openly disrespectful attitude is that he has strong connections in the Imperial government. One of his good childhood friends is now a power player in the Middle Kingdom administration, who is more than willing to pull strings for Jim, who does what favors he can in return. In one memorable incident, James was put in irons and his ship impounded after refusing to kow-tow to a planetary governor, who quickly reversed his position upon receiving a stern communiqué from the Capital.


In addition to handful of crewmen that serve aboard Jim’s Pelican Light Cargo Hauler, the “Resolve”, Jim also employs a squadron of soldiers that travel with him. Commanded by one John Shrak, the squadron is fiercely loyal to Jim’s ideals and leadership.

During the Mars Rebellion of 2269, The Resistance (Tech Infantry) supported a revolt by Martian colonists (the biggest inhabited planet in the Sol (Earth) System) by sending in the Tech Infantry. Major John Shrak (53 years old) was in charge of one of the battalions defending the place. The Middle Kingdom, with its usual subtlety, blockaded the planet, then sent in the Bugs. Shrak and his fellow troopers did a brave job, but let's face it, the Bugs were too many. Ian sent James on a quick mission to pull out the few Civil Police that were left standing and you met up with Shrak. Disgusted at the genocide that was happening around, he got the cops AND as many of Shrak's people as he could stick in the cargo pods. A quick jump through the digital gate (he had clearence to get out the cops) got him to Avalon and the Archimedes Orbital Station (the slum in space) before your life support crapped out from the overloaded demand for air. With his men saved, and with the Resistance on the run, Shrak figured that he A) owed James B) was a marked man C) had no other pressing plans and signed up for James' ship, as well as six other guys from the survivors.

James gladly keeps the soldiers around, but except for keeping himself handy with a blaster and helping in the occasional fight, the squad doesn’t see as much action as they used to. The squadron consists of 7 people: Shrak, his secretive but undeniably competent lieutenant William Tiller, Steven Harvern, Samuel Moore, Jacob Peterson, Robert Jenkins, and Jonathan Hawking.

Connection to Ian SamothraceEdit

Ian Samothrace is one of the Imperial Senators from the New Paris System, growing up with James Welthammer. New Paris was and still is a suburban star system of the capital, even though the capital has shifted. Ian is in charge of the Police Committee, which is in charge of the Civil Police throughout all the worlds of the Middle Kingdom. He is also in charge of Treschi's secret police force, which balances out Imperial Security and the Imperial Regulators.

Behind the ScenesEdit

James Welthammer was a Player Character from Season 8, and his squad of mercenaries were based on characters his player created while playing with LEGO blocks as a child. James also was heavily inspired by Han Solo from the Star Wars movies. Amazingly enough, the Season Eight stories about James and his crew of former soldiers from a losing side in a war flying a small space freighter around the space empire who won that war, running smuggling rackets and committing petty thefts, and eventually picking up a Doctor who was a fugitive from the oppressive government with a connection to a secret project involving brain surgery and mind control, was written BEFORE anyone involved had seen Firefly. Honest. His adventures in Season Nine were chronicled in a series of comic strips by his former player. His Actor Avatar is Michael Weatherly.

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