Zander was a star Jump Ball player in high school, though his team lost to Johnny Rico's team in their final game. After finishing school, he joined the Federation Fleet Academy and trained to be a pilot, later becoming a flight instructor aboard the Rodger Young. Much to his delight, Carmen had also joined the Fleet Academy and became his student.
Shortly after the Federation's declaration of war against the Arachnids, Zander encountered Rico aboard a fleet battlestation in high orbit above Klendathu. Carmen had recently broken up with Rico over video message and Rico blamed Zander for her decision, attacking him in a fit of jealous rage.
Some time later, Zander and Carmen led the mission to rescue Rico and the Roughneck Squad when the Whiskey Outpost on Planet P was overrun. During the counterattack operation, the Rodger Young is destroyed but Zander and Carmen manage to escape in a life pod. However, they wind up crash-landing in the side of a hill and find themselves inside a Bug nest.