Abd-al-Qadir ibn Asad (Arabic: عبد القادر بن أسد), also known as The Lion or simply Asad, was a famous military contractor and head of Lion's Claw, a Private Military Company that was active for a number of decades and gained a reputation for its effectiveness. Asad gained a reputation early in life as a surprisingly competent soldier and fought personally in a number of battles in spite of his limited formal training and was a well-known mercenary by the time war broke out with the Covenant. Even with the threat of the Human-Covenant War, he emerged as the head of one of few PMC's to survive intact, having taken a number of contracts from the UNSC towards the end of the War.
However, with the massive crackdown on the Insurrection and companies seen as potential rebel suppliers in the months following the end of the Human-Covenant War, Asad was forced to retire. He would live off the funds amassed from his years as a mercenary for some time, occasionally working as a military advisor for the UNSC when needed. He would emerge from his retirement in the late 2550s to work for the Office of Naval Intelligence, first for a one-off job and later as a full-time contractor as the Created conflict began.
Abd-al-Qadir ibn Asad was born on the colony world of Troy in late 2488. Of all the Human colonies, Troy was regarded as one of the worst places to live, with overpopulation and poverty leading to a massive surge in crime by the late 25th century. Abandoned by his parents at an orphanage in Troy's capital city shortly after his birth, Abd's early years were fairly happy in spite of the sub-standard conditions of the orphanage. Children were regularly abandoned there and adoptions were fairly rare, with the facility relying almost entirely on its meagre funding from the CMA to survive. A number of the older children were forced into work to bring in money, so luxuries were a rarity for a young Abd, who often fought with the other kids and was something of a bully. Abd saw his first taste of real violence at the age of seven, when he and his friends witnessed a violent mugging down the street from the orphanage that left a man dead for nearly two hours before the police arrived. This senseless violence greatly disturbed him and had a profound effect on his life.
The crime on Troy would only worsen as the years went on, partly in thanks to the rising Insurrection across the colonies. A black market flourished on the colony thanks to terrorists smuggling in weapons, which in turn led to the drug trade and even Human trafficking flourishing on Troy. In 2498, a number of armed men came to the orphanage looking to buy the children for 'adoption'. The staff who resisted were shot while the others were paid off. Forty children were taken in one night, including Abd and many of his friends. They were subjected to harsh cruelties as they were divided up and sold; some were taken offworld while others were kept and abused by their captors on Troy. Abd was in the latter category, and endured several months of pain and torture before he was told of his new occupation; a 'Pit Boy'. He and a number of other boys were taken to underground arenas in the inner city and given machetes, with orders to fight to the death. He and the others were branded with symbols on their backs to denote their position as slave fighters. Many, Abd included, were injected with drugs beforehand as bets were placed on the fighting children. Terrified and not in the right state of mind, the ten year old killed several other children in brutal arena fights, and was rewarded for his ferocity and vigour. One particular arena the young boy excelled in was 'The Pit', where armed with only a wooden staff Abd came out on top following a bloody melee with a dozen other competitors. He and the other 'Pit Boys' were sold to new owners after hefty bets were placed on them by their wealthy benefactors, as the children were supposed to become more deadly as they grew older. Faced with what would be a life of battle, the mentally-scarred Abd prepared to accept his fate as an arena fighter.
The boy would participate in these horrific bloodsports for several months, soon learning that giving the patrons a show and winning fights would lead to food and rewards, while the maimed or dying losers would be executed. On the night of one particularly large fight in an abandoned fuel refinery, a number of soldiers burst into the facility and began killing all those who resisted. Rather than await his rescue, Abd simply continued on with the fight and murdered the other child, stabbing him repeatedly with a knife as the massacre continued around him. It soon became clear that the soldiers had butchered every single person in the facility, barring the slave children. Abd was disarmed and taken to safety by a man in black armour, who promised him that no one could hurt him now. Following his rescue, Abd spent two months aboard the UNSC Hopeful under medical supervision, slowly recovering from his horrifying ordeal alongside the other surviving children. After some time, they were transported to a new, better-funded orphanage on Ganymede in the Sol System. There, they were given therapy to help deal with the horrors they had faced and properly educated; Abd and many of his brethren were illiterate when they were taken into care.
Abd would remain in the orphanage for several years, becoming withdrawn and isolated as he entered his teens. Many of the children from Troy bore heavy mental and physical scarring from their ordeals, with a few committing suicide while in care. It was during this period that Abd met Omar Afiz, who had also been a 'Pit Boy' several years before. The two became friends over their mutual interests in mathematics and science, and occasionally spoke about their horrific childhoods to each other. While the pair were friendly enough, they developed a rather nasty violent streak when dealing with other children, often getting into trouble in school in spite of the fact that they excelled in class. They would often get into fights with others for little to no reason as a way to vent and cope with how they had been treated in the past.
In 2503, a man named Viktor Perrin visited the Ganymede orphanage to speak with Abd and the other children from Troy. Describing himself as wealthy businessman and philanthropist, Perrin had formed a charity dedicated to helping children who had suffered severe abuse or grown up around war, something that was becoming more and more common in some of the more violent Outer Colonies. As their case had been one of the more brutal and well-known in recent memory, Perrin not only gave the orphanage a generous donation, but offered to personally adopt some of the children to raise and give a proper chance at a future. Naturally all of the children, Abd and Omar included, wanted this and each spoke to Perrin about what kind of future they wanted. After three days of deliberation, the man announced that he would adopt three children from the Ganymede Orphanage: Abd-al-Quadir ibn Asad, Omar Afiz, and Kira Reyes.
Naturally, Abd and the others were delighted to be finally leaving the orphanage; in the company of a millionaire, no less. Perrin and his wife took the trio from Ganymede and moved to his estate near the Martian city of Losantiville. It soon became clear that Perrin was not quite who he claimed to be in public, however. His 'wife', Charlotte, turned out to be just a high-ranking executive in Colonial Security Services, a Private Military Company founded and owned by Viktor Perrin. Due to an increasingly negative perception of the UNSC as warmongers in the Outer Colonies, they had recently turned to philanthropic and humanitarian work to improve their image; Perrin's adoption of the three children was little more than a publicity stunt, at least at first. While they were waited on day and night by hired maids and private tutors, Perrin was rarely around and the trio grew close over the next few years. In 2506, Omar confessed to Abd that he was attracted to Kira; despite being adopted siblings, they had no blood relation and their sheltered lifestyle meant that she was the only girl they regularly interacted with. Abd, who saw her as more of a sister, was disgusted and ended up informing Viktor after an argument. Omar was harshly disciplined, though Abd was then punished as a lesson for ratting out his 'brother'. The next day, Perrin decided that the pair, who had almost finished their schooling, could work for his company within a couple of years.
Despite a number of minor fights, Abd and Omar remained close friends, and the latter dropped his feelings for Kira. Instead, they strove to prepare themselves for their future as part of Colonial Security Services by becoming incredibly fit and strong; Abd remained fairly wiry and quick, while Omar gained some mass and relied on strength as well as speed. Viktor also allowed them access to his private firing range, where they slowly learned how to use a number of civilian-cleared weapons, and even some military-grade equipment that was not strictly legal. It was here, however, that Abd surpassed his adoptive brother in nearly every way, not only by having a remarkable aptitude for combat but by demonstrating his skills as a quick thinker and a tactician. Upon Abd's 20th birthday in late 2508, Viktor formally introduced him to the company. As their birthdays were only a few weeks apart, the brothers decided to join CSS together in November of that year. Upon joining, they were taken to a company-owned facility on Asphodel to be trained.
Despite being Viktor Perrin's adoptive sons, Abd and Omar faced a brutal regime as part of their training to join the PMC outfit. Many of their fellow trainees were well aware of their background and made things especially hard for the pair during the eight-week process. They often stuck together and protected one another, and emerged as the top-ranking recruits upon their 'graduation' into the company's ranks. Once again, however, Omar was second best. The news arrived several weeks afterwards that members of Kira's biological family had contacted Viktor, wishing to take her in after missing her for years following her parent's deaths. The two were allowed a week's visit back to Mars to say their goodbyes. Abd wished his adoptive sister luck with her new life - she had been studying to work in astronavigation with the distinct possibility of joining the esteemed Prowler Corps. On their last night in the mansion they had grown up in, Abd heard a commotion and upon investigation, found that Omar and Kira had had a fight. From what he could garner, Omar had professed his love for her and had made some attempt to force himself upon her, which had clearly failed if his black eye and bloody nose were any indication.
Much to Abd's surprise, Omar tried to get him to side against Kira, becoming increasingly frantic and irate as the weight and potential consequences of the situation dawned on him. Kira merely stated that she pitied Omar, and wished to have no further contact with him. When it became clear that Abd would not only refuse to side with him and stated that he had no choice but to call for Viktor, Omar attacked the pair with a knife. However, he was quickly disarmed and suffered a broken arm and nose. He was then restrained for over a day a a furious Viktor returned to Mars from Asphodel. Upon learning of what had happened, their father had Kira transported away to her family several hours early and furiously berated Omar. However, his complete refusal to hand him over to the authorities as Abd suggested led to yet another argument, which ended in Viktor knocking Abd out with a single bunch. When he awoke, Viktor informed him that Omar would have his wounds treated and be assigned to another team within CSS for the time being. His protests firmly silenced, Abd returned to his new unit and tried to forget about the way he had parted with his siblings.
For a year and a half, Abd performed excellently as one of CSS' most talented squad leaders, helping to shut down an Insurrectionist cell on Circumstance that even the UNSC hadn't been able to pinpoint and successfully helping in the restoration of several war-torn towns on Mamore in an operation that nearly crippled the Freedom and Liberation Party. Shortly after the CSS pulled out of Mamore, however, the group detonated a nuclear weapon on the planet that killed two million people and injured over eight million others. Though Abd was horrified at such an act, Viktor used this atrocity as propaganda to point out how the UNSC and CMA seemed incapable of stemming the tide of Insurrectionist groups that were popping up across the Outer Colonies. While some of the other operators within the CSS privately objected with Perrin's actions, the steady stream of contracts and excellent pay quickly silenced dissenting voices.
It was in mid-2511 that Abd ran into his first real problem as a CSS operator. He and several other units had been deployed to Bhuj, a colony with a massive population and a bad crime epidemic. Though it was not quite as bad as Troy, Bhuj reminded Abd of his homeworld and even walking the planet's streets set him on edge. Colonial Security Services had been hired for two purposes: To provide security for a local politician who intended to put an end to the corruption and crime on Bhuj, and to wipe out a prominent crime syndicate with Insurrectionist ties that wanted the politician dead. Abd's team pursued the latter objective for three days, storming hideouts, drug dens and raiding unlicensed ships with possible gang affiliations. The local gangsters were no match for the well-armed mercenaries, who in spite of their strongarm tactics were brutally effective at purging the colony, stepping closer to taking down the syndicate's inner circle. On the fifth day, they received word from a contact that the group intended to bomb the local parliament building to take out their target before escaping Bhuj.
What ensued was a brutal chase through the streets of the capital as several more CCS teams worked in tandem with local law enforcement to stop the group. Abd led his own team through the city's lower levels, working from a well-informed tip that pinpointed the syndicate's base of operations. Though the tip was true, the gang was expecting company and had stockpiled enough weaponry to put up a fierce fight for a number of hours. Several operators died and though Abd called for reinforcements, he decided to push ahead, killing well over a dozen men with surprising lethality. He was eventually ambushed by three men, who rushed him with melee weapons as he reloaded. Abd killed the first two, only to lose his weapon to the third. After a brief struggle, he managed to take the man's machete and killed him with it. This action triggered flashbacks of Abd's childhood days as a Pit Boy, and sent him into a blind rage. After heavily mutilating the body, he proceeded to single-handedly wipe out every last man and woman within the hideout, taking fourteen bullet wounds in the process. He was found kneeling amidst the corpses, clutching the bloody machete and crying. The secondary team was led by none other than Omar, who despite their last encounter comforted Abd and helped to recover as he was taken to a nearby dropship to receive medical attention. As the only person who understood and also lived through the hellish conditions on Troy, Omar let his grudge slide and remained with Abd within a hospital for three days before he regained consciousness.
This near-death experience and the traumatic reliving of his dark memories left Abd vulnerable, but gave him time to reflect on his experiences and recover. He never spoke to Omar, who departed the moment he woke up, though Viktor visited him shortly before he was discharged from the medical unit. Abd's adoptive father congratulated him on wiping out the Bhujian Syndicate and assured him that their group had been stopped before they could do any serious damage. He had prepared an official statement for Abd to read to the media, though no mention was to be made of what truly happened to him. He was fairly content to play up the part of the hero for the media, though Abd still felt as though he had been used by his father. By mid-2512, Colonial Security Services had contracts across the Outer Colonies and was richer than ever, though an official inquiry by the UNSC into the PMC's growing influence meant that Viktor Perrin had to tone down operations for several months while inspections were made to ensure that they were operating by the book. Abd was privately summoned to the training facility on Asphodel, where Viktor swore him to secrecy. Shortly after, Omar and several other veterans arrived and were eventually allowed into a previously-unseen area of the base. Viktor revealed that while CSS made millions from military contracts, much more could be made on the side via drug trafficking; namely 'Rocket', a designer drug used to help fund the war efforts of the legendarily elusive United Rebel Front. Due to the upcoming inspection, Viktor needed manpower to move their Rocket-making facilities to a more secure location.
Abd did as ordered, and over the course of a single night they were able to load a warehouse-sized drug plant into several transport freighters before transforming said warehouse into and impromptu vehicle storage bay. The equipment was then escorted to a remote area of Dwarka, far from prying eyes. Afterwards, Abd privately spoke to Viktor, voicing his doubts about the operation and stating that should it ever be traced back to him then the entire company would collapse. Paranoid, Viktor threatened to kill Abd if he ever informed the UNSC, though his adoptive son reassured him that he would never betray his own father. Though he was satisfied for the most part, Omar took this opportunity to secretly tell Viktor that Abd did intend to inform on the CSS, and could not be trusted. Citing his willingness to inform authority figures in the past, Omar slowly but surely turned Viktor against Abd, who was content to keep the operation secret. In December of 2512, a meeting was held between members of the CSS and several representatives of the United Rebel Front on Dwarka. Unbeknownst to all parties involved, one of Viktor's CSS operatives was actually an undercover ONI agent, and sought to stop the deal even as his cover was blown. Though the man tried to reason that his already-activated beacon would bring ONI's forces swiftly down on the attendees and that surrender was the only guarantee for survival, Viktor immediately shot him and a bloodbath ensued between the confused parties.
In the end, only one URF member escaped, while Viktor, Omar and Abd were all that remained of their side's force. Convinced that Abd was involved in some way as the agent had originally served on one of his combat teams, Viktor and Omar shot Abd several times in the back before fleeing the scene in their shuttle. Though badly injured, Abd attempted to crawl away before passing out from blood loss. As he lost consciousness, he caught a glimpse of black-armoured soldiers moving in around him.
"I'm giving you a second chance you don't deserve. Make yourself useful."
Following MASQUERADE, Abd spent three months in a coma and was kept aboard the UNSC Hopeful under the watchful eye of King's agents. His wounds were of such severity that he had actually died twice during the emergency procedures that had extracted shrapnel and other foreign objects from his body following Perrin's suicidal attack. In addition, the lower portion of his right leg had been amputated below the knee after sustaining heavy damage and injuries to his neck rendered him to unable to speak for several weeks after awakening from his coma. During this time he was near-helpless as he underwent physical and mental therapy to assist in the recovery process, and had no clue on what had happened to Colonial Security Services or his friends.
It was not until August of 2513 that Frederick King finally came to visit Abd, who was talking coherently once more and walking with a rudimentary prosthetic. While initially angry at the ONI agent for not coming sooner, he eventually calmed down as King informed him that the remainder of his team had gone back to their respective lives with the exception of Markus Jensun, who had gone AWOL and disappeared into the Outer Colonies without a trace. Furthermore, most of the surviving CSS members had spent the last few months in an internment camp on Reach or were now unemployed. It was here that King gave Abd the opportunity to begin a new Private Military Company of his own, stating that the man's own experience with the CSS would help him fill the current void in the industry.
Abd was understandably dubious about the offer, though after some time King managed to sway his opinion on the matter by offering to provide him not only with the former contractors of the CSS, but Perrin's own fortune, which would have otherwise been moved towards the CMA's now-dwindling military funds. Furthermore, those in Perrin's old support network who had not been arrested following MASQUERADE or had taken plea deals would also be put at Abd's disposal. When asked why he had chosen to be so generous, King explained to Abd that the Office of Naval Intelligence wished to create contacts outside of the UNSC's military for some time, and that in exchange for more or less dominating the private security market in the Outer Colonies, Abd's company would more or less have to comply with any orders provided by ONI. Knowing this, Abd accepted and signed a contract with King, who assured him that a number of lawyers and accountants would sort through most of the paperwork for establishing a PMC while he focused on securing contracts and reforming his fighting force. Disliking the name 'Colonial Security Services' for its seemingly-innocuous nature, Abd chose to name his company 'Lion's Claw', wanting to make it clear to all that they were a military force to be reckoned with.
Eschewing several suggested locations in the Inner Colonies offered by his new staff as a headquarters after leaving the Hopeful, Abd purchased an older Springhill-class mining ship and had it heavily retrofitted to act as a mobile barracks, training centre and HQ for Lion's Claw. During this time he ensured that the newly-recruited contractors underwent mandatory retraining to weed out any attempting to join his organisation solely because of their former CSS affiliations, and made a public statement declaring that unlike Victor Perrin, he would not have his company endorse the trafficking of drugs, illegal materials or human beings, and that they would try to set an example for other PMC's operating in the colonies. By 2514 Lion's Claw had already begun operations on several worlds, mostly smaller Outer Colonies that did not benefit from the UNSC's protection.
Battle of Asphodel
"You want to know the worst thing about all this? I'm enjoying myself."
In June of 2520, Lion's Claw was contracted by the United Nations Space Command to conduct ground operations on the fairly remote colony world of Asphodel. With a growing population of over twelve million, Asphodel had begun to attract he attention of certain Insurrectionist groups, who according to intel from ONI had established bases in the planet's southern hemisphere and were illegally smuggling weapons through rural settlements. While a Marine detachment was headquartered on the planet, their inefficiency at achieving any meaningful victory over these rebels was made worse when their leader, Colonel Nikolas Sykes, defected to the United Front with a group of traitorous Marines and stole most of their garrison's weapons and vehicles. Fearing an outraged response from the UEG Senate back on Earth, the UNSC gave Lion's Claw unofficial orders to wipe out Asphodel's Insurrectionist forces; officially they were only there to train a colonial militia and manage security on government-owned sites. Within a week of arriving, Asad had set up a headquarters in the ruins of the same CSS facility on Asphodel where he had first trained to become a mercenary.
After being forced to fight at an early age, Asad quickly became a proficient melee combatant and was particularly skilled with blades. As his military training was somewhat informal, he developed a pragmatic, rather underhanded fighting style that saved his life more than once over the years. After receiving his prosthetic left hand, Asad would put its weight and strength to his advantage in close quarters. Foregoing the usual combat knives carried by soldiers in the field, Asad would carry a machete not dissimilar to the kind he wielded in the fighting pits of Troy as a child, and proved its usefulness on multiple occasions against both Human and Covenant opponents.
As a career mercenary, Asad was capable of using most Human-made weapons with some degree of proficiency, and soon became acquainted with a number of Covenant weapons taken from fallen enemy infantry. Favouring the reliability of MA5-series rifles over other weaponry, Asad was an excellent shot at mid-range and was assisted somewhat by implants in his cybernetic right eye that gave him improved vision in the dark. While average in strength, his wiry build made him quick on the draw and fast enough to avoid danger when in trouble.
"Don't touch me. Don't ever touch me."
―Asad giving his one and only warning
As a result of the abuse suffered as a child, Asad preferred to keep others at arms length and could not get close to people. He resented any unwanted physical contact and was easily agitated by people who did not keep their distance. While he could maintain friendly relationships with others and was regarded as generally friendly by others, Asad was a deeply cynical man whose sheer lack of belief in anything bordered on nihilism. While he searched with increasing desperation throughout his life for a cause or belief system he could align himself with, he found nothing and eventually resigned himself to live entirely for himself.
Something that Asad himself became aware of as early as his days in Colonial Security Services was that he had acquired a taste for fighting and violence. Over time he had come to greatly enjoy the adrenaline rush that came with combat, something he could never quite replicate through any other activity. Asad fully recognised that this was almost certainly a result of his traumatic childhood, though he never sought therapy for what he dubbed his 'battle addiction', believing it to be his one true pleasure in life. It was because of this that he continued accepting dangerous missions well into his old age, resenting the peace and quiet that retirement had brought on his once-turbulent existence.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia
Asad's full name very roughly translates to "Servant of the capable, powerful, son of the Lion."