Like so many families in Fisherman's Horizon, the lifeblood of the Carpegos family was their fishing business, Carpegos Fishing Co. The owners of their very own fishing trawler called the Easy Street, a bit of a misnomer since the Carpegos' struggle to find success was anything but. The entire Capergos family had a hand in the business, from Zechs' father and older brother, a grizzled captain and skilled navigator respectively, down to Zechs' mother, who was perhaps the most important and practical cog of the machine. She was A no nonsense woman and a competent mechanic. Mira was the one kept The Easy Street afloat. Every week something new seemed to come up, whether it was critical engine trouble or leaks, many joked that the ship was kept together purely by duct tape, stubbornness, and plenty of good fortune. In reality, it was the ingenuity of one woman who poured everything she had into maintaining a ship that she knew would have her husband and sons on board. What greater motivation does a mother and wife need than that?
Zechs' father, Ryker, was widely viewed to be on the opposite spectrum. Whereas Mira was the rock that the family and business relied upon, Ryker was considered by most to be a crude but loveable old seadog. It was the eldest son, Daken, who was viewed as the golden boy and future heir to the trusted family brand name. Tragedy would strike when a rowdy night of drinking kept Ryker from fulfilling his duties on the trawler the next day, leading Daken to take the trawler out with a small crew. A particularly vicious storm and bad fortune resulted in Daken going overboard and falling victim to the perils of the sea, a blow that would cut deep into the fabric of the Carpegos family. Guilt ridden, Ryker became a drunk and degenerate gambler. He threw himself into his work, believing that the only use he was to anyone was out on the ocean, but feeling like little more than an albatross to his own family when he docked. He seemed lost on land, stumbling about town drunk, and usually putting the business itself in jeopardy with foolish gambling habits and failed investments.
As the new hopeful future of his family, Zechs appeared to exhibit the best traits possessed by his parents. Having learned the value of responsibility and hard work at a young age from his late brother, Zechs found a way to contribute to the family business even as a kid. Against his parent's wishes after the tragedy that befell Daken, Zechs successfully hid himself in one of the ship's smaller compartments, surprising his dad and the other deckhands by popping out when the ship was too far out at sea to return. From then on he became a regular on the crew, and earned the respect and affection of the other fisherman by proving he was willing and able to take the same workload they were asked to shoulder.
As much as Zech's loved the ocean and the freedom he felt on Easy Street, that passion for the seas played second fiddle only to his boyhood obsession with SeeD. He'd been present in FH when their Garden landed (see: crashed) in his town. To a simple boy who had virtually no experience with anything beyond his quaint hometown, the exotically dressed and well armed warriors that emerged from the floating Garden were exciting. Their weapons, their demeanor, their clothes, all of it was so strange and new. That little taste of foreign lands was enough to ignite a deep interest in what lay beyond the ocean. When he wasn't working, he was off playing SeeD with his best friend. He'd swing a broken fishing pole around as if it were a gunblade, throw dirt and pretend he was calling on the power of para magic. He knew his role in life was to be a fisherman, an occupation he didn't dread in the slightest, but in his heart something told him he was meant to be a SeeD.
In a town full of pacifists, Zechs' father was perhaps one of the loudest to speak against the idea of fighting. Many found that odd since there were rumors that the inebriated sea captain was a decorated veteran of a war ages ago himself, but with the way he went about one wouldn't have guessed it. He thought of anyone that used force to solve matters as unrefined barbarians, which was funny coming from a man who spent his afternoon's passed out in a beer mug. SeeD were the worst offenders in his mind. They were hired swords that represented the worst of humanity. The fact that his son admired them so only irritated him that much more. He made sure to keep Zechs occupied, giving him chores and all the work he could handle believing that he would distract the boy away from his silly dreams of picking up a weapon and fighting. Ironically, it was Ryker himself who would ensure that his son joined SeeD inadvertently.
For years, Ryker's talent for picking losers in Chocobo races and doomed investments had only partially dented the business. Zechs, the ship's crew, and Mrs. Carpegos all knew that there would come a day when Ryker would prove to be more of a liability than an asset. As Zechs neared his 16th birthday, most of the Carpegos Fishing Co. agreed that they would be better served turning the reigns of Easy Street over to Zechs, who had already demonstrated he was more than able to take the helm even at his age. When confronted with this news by his crew, his wife, and his son, Ryker's wounded ego lead him to try and prove he was still capable of being captain. He did it by taking Easy Street into a storm on his own and with more than a few drinks coursing through his system. In the morning the ship was found wrecked, but thankfully Ryker's was fine other than a sobering hangover and realization of what he had just done.
Without the gil to pay for repairs, the Carpegos' were forced to sell their precious ship to a wealthy outside investor. The new owner was kind enough to keep most of the crew employed, but he decided to provide his own captain, stripping Zechs the opportunity of ever being in control of a ship. Helming a ship on the ocean had been one of his dreams, the freedom he felt when he was sailing was exhilarating, but he knew that unless he found a way to get the ship back he'd never experience that feeling again. His fate seemed to be sealed, he would work in the train yards or on the docks for the rest of his young life. His parents insisted it was life's way of working things out, but he didn't believe that.
If he couldn't fulfill one dream, then he would pursue another one. His father would never allow him to train in warfare, so Zechs didn't even ask. Alongside his friend since childhood, Zechs ran away from FH, stowing aboard just like he had all those years past on Easy Street. This time it wasn't a life of fishing that awaited on the other end, but an opportunity to enroll in Balamb. He went through SeeD candidacy and graduated but wound up requesting assignment to White SeeD where he served a tour of duty for a year before getting assigned back to Balamb Garden as SeeD.