|This article, Eskander Bahram, was written by Specops306. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Born on in 2479 and raised on Eridanus II, Doctor Eskander Bahram, codenamed "OXFORD" by the UNSC, was a talented polymath, studying in numerous fields, ranging from engineering, chemistry, quantum physics, psychology and biotechnology, and others. Under better circumstances, he could have done much to improve the quality of life of billions. Unfortunately, in 2487 his family moved to Eridanus II during one of the early flare-ups of the Insurrection, and his parents were killed in the crossfire, leaving him orphaned. Raised in an orphanage, bullied mercilessly for his strange accent and appearance, and only being accepted into the prestigious Rishard University thanks to a scholarship granted by an Insurrectionist front company, Bahram came to resent the UNSC, though not purely for personal reasons, and turned his talents to seeking a way to cripple, if not totally overthrow, it.
By the time he finished his studies in 2525, though, humanity was fighting for survival against the Covenant hegemony, and the Insurrection's power was already waning. Hoping to forestall its inevitable collapse, Bahram joined, and quickly gained attention for his radical ideas and methods. Throughout his career, he has worked largely on biological research, ranging from attempting to duplicate the SPARTAN-II augmentation procedures, to his work on Project CHISEL and ACCRETION, often under the auspices of the UNSC, though always grudgingly, and viewed his apprehension by SHOGUN for his participation in both projects as being thrown to the wolves. After the end of the war, Bahram would be revived from cryonic suspension by Codename: DRACULA and find his way to Project VENATOR.
- "Do you really think I am from New Jerusalem? Do I look Arabic or Jewish? Do I sound it? Or can you accept that even your precious ONI does not want to admit that there are secrets even it does not know?"
- ―Dr. Eskander Bahram
According to colonial records, the Bahram family were among the first to leave Earth for the newly founded colony of New Jerusalem, part of the Iranian diplomatic delegation, originally sent to be part of the joint colonial government. Although initially strongly pro-Earth, later generations would give voice to the growing pro-autonomy sentiment, and lead the breakaway movements that objected the CAA's increasingly callous treatment of the colony, imposing laws that ignored local conditions. Eskander's father was the last of these, leading the mainstream Autonymous New Jerusalem Movement, a peaceful protest organisation. In 2486, the organisation was accused by the CAA of numerous terrorist acts, such as explosive attacks on Earthbound shipping, CAA and CMA personnel, and pro-Earth government officials, though the ANJM denied any involvement. As the attacks increased, the group would lose all credibility when a breakaway chapter declared its responsibility. Ashamed at the violent methods his group had turned to using without even his knowledge, he resigned and left New Jerusalem, disillusioned at the colonial autonomy cause, taking his family to Eridanus II, where he hoped to find work as a colonial legislation legal aide.
Unfortunately, the transport they arrived on was one of the first targets of the Eridanus Secessionist Movement. The ESM differed from even the violent chapter of the ANJM in that it perceived all external influences as infringing on their rights to self-autonomy, and regarded even other colonial immigrants as "other". The transport was warned to divert by a makeshift orbital patrol of converted yachts, and hit with an EMP missile. Meant as a warning shot, the ship took the hit amidships, disabling all internal lifesupport systems. Young Eskander could only watch as his parents and other passengers slowly suffocated as the ship's air turned toxic. He would have followed them if not for a boarding action by the nearby UNSC Corvette One-Eyed Wanderer, which rescued the few survivors and removed the dead. Now orphaned, both the colonial government and the UNSC had trouble deciding what to do with him, since technically he was not yet a citizen of Eridanus II and his family had also renounced citizenship with New Jerusalem. Eskander was placed in the care a local orphanage, where he would spend the rest of his childhood and teen years. Attempts were made to rehouse him with foster parents, none successful - would-be foster parents claimed that Eskander exhibited fluctuating emotional states, ranging from violent range to cold clinical detachment, making it difficult to form relationships. Eventually, Eskander himself asked not to be resettled, although officials questioned his motivations. He was the victim of excessive bullying, caused by his strange accent, antisocial tendencies, and his unnerving habit of finding out the most intimate details about his fellow orphans and humiliating them strategically with the knowledge.
Entrance to University
Eskander did well in the Eridanus II educational system, with his teachers noting a keen interest in mathematics, obscure literature, and physical fitness, speculating that he buried himself in his work as a way of compensating for his treatment by his peers. When he graduated secondary level education, he was awarded a scholarship by the Strange Foundation to study at Rishard University on Reach, where he moved to in 2487. Initially, he had applied to study towards a Bachelor of Mathematics, but soon expanded this to include other fields, including pharmacy, physics, liberal arts, social sciences, kinesiology, medicine, engineering and psychology, eventually graduating in 2525 with doctorates in psychology and physics. During this time, he expressed little sympathy for the CMA, and later the UNSC's, suppression of the Insurrection, occasionally declaring secessionist views himself, though never carrying through with them to a degree that would have earned him the attention of authorities. Records show no evidence that he participated in any of the student demonstrations or riots of the era, but in hindsight this should not be surprising - all his qualifications were merely training for his eventual goal of crippling the UNSC strategically in the long term.
Eventual investigations into his history would discover that the Strange Foundation was one of many front companies for the Eridanus Secessionist Movement, a supreme irony - Dr. Bahram had been put through university by the very organisation that denied him a normal life. Whether this fact has any bearing on his Insurrectionist sympathies remains unclear, though it would certainly explain some discrepancies in his history.
Approaching the Insurrection (2525-2540)
- Main article: Project PERSIAN (Labyrinth)
- "Do you think I enjoy doing this? Do you think I enjoy hurting you?"
- "Good. You are not a fool. You will find that I have little patience for fools."
Dr. Bahram disappeared after university, leaving behind almost no traceable presence. From what has been pieced together, Bahram seems to have operated covertly for his early career, providing superior rumbledrugs to various criminal and terrorist organisations throughout the Epsilon Eridani system, managing to attract the interest of a number of high-profile leaders while simultaneously maintaining his anonymity. When he met with a representative of the Insurrection, it would be from a position of strength - in charge of a respectable trafficking network, with personnel of his own, including ex-military mercenaries for security and protection of his operation. Bahram was approached by an Insurrectionist cell, ostensibly to supply them with his version of the rumbledrug exclusively. During the meeting, however, Bahram deduced using few supplementary information that he was meeting with Ulysses Lee, a UNSC Rear Admiral, and concluded that the meeting was a trap, signalling to his men to shut down the meeting. Staging a surprise assault, Lee's men were killed or captured, and Lee himself held at gunpoint. To Bahram's surprise, Lee insisted that, despite his status as a respected UNSC flag officer, he was a genuine Insurrectionist, and that Bahram's talents were being wasted. Suspicious, but convinced, Bahram agreed, ordering his men to stand down.
The transition from freelance operator to fully integrated Insurrectionist would be swift, and most of his own men would also make the transfer, being included on the Insurrectionist payroll. While Bahram's improved rumbledrug would now be exclusive to the Insurrection, to the outrage of many of his former clients, it would be only a minor contribution compared to his first known major project - PERSIAN.
Details of PERSIAN are classified TOP SECRET (November Black), and even today, the investigation is still ongoing, especially considering the number of dead or unaccounted personnel who were never interrogated or debriefed. Precise details will never be known for certain. Originally conceived as an Insurrectionist supersoldier program by a number of different Insurrectionist organisations, primarily Tauri 111's United Rebel Front, Bahram was proposed by Admiral Lee to head the project. Impressed with his supply of performance-enhancing drugs, Bahram was brought up to speed on Insurrectionist information on the SPARTAN-II Program, limited to say the least, and the bare bones of the early project. Initially intended to augment rebel paramilitary soldiers, Bahram rejected this path, arguing that the results would not justify the expense, complexity, and risk they would need to undertake. Despite misgivings, the overseers approved his eventual plan - the recruitment from orphanages or their abduction from their homes of candidates who matched specific genetic criterion necessary to accept the genetic, muscular, neurological, skeletal and cybernetic augmentations he proposed. Perhaps hoping to emulate , Bahram would personally visit a number of candidates before their recruitment/abduction, talking to them himself to gauge whether they had the traits he sought. While this initial phase was planned for, he also set about recruiting other personnel - trainers and handlers, security and logistics, transportation and armament, many of whom were brought on from his previous projects. Surprisingly few of these would succumb to later interrogation - ONI suspects the use of psychotropic drugs to inhibit creativity, effectively making them unquestioningly loyal and obedient but uncreative.
The prize of PERSIAN would be the capture of a live SPARTAN-II supersoldier, Randall-037, captured on New Venezuela after his dropship was shot down by Covenant anti-aircraft plasma artillery. Randall was the only survivor, and was quickly extracted to a waiting stealth dropship before the site was bombarded from orbit by a UNSC THOR kinetic strike in the hopes of destroying the body and gear. While his MJOLNIR armour was mostly destroyed, enough of it survived to be analysed by PERSIAN researchers. Bahram would concoct an elaborate experiment, the first of many in his observations and studies of Randall during his captivity, dressing the medical room as a UNSC hospital and with the staff posing as UNSC personnel. Recovering quickly, and seeing through the elaborate deception, Randall made his first escape attempt, calmly observed by Bahram who tracked him through the station, watching as his highly-trained security personnel were overcome by one man. Eventually stopping his rampage personally by allowing him into a hangar and then sealing it off, he threatened to vent it unless Randall complied - although Randall would have accepted this option, Bahram had also placed the child "candidates" in there with him, threatening their lives. Unwilling to condemn the children to prevent his own capture, he allowed himself to be recaptured, this time placed in a secure cell.
Bahram would return to Randall repeatedly over the next nine years to interrogate Randall or simply to observe him. Occasionally, as a test of the Spartan and of his own brilliant planning, he would allow him to escape, only to recapture it. The information gathered over nearly a decade, though sparse, would provide a complex psychological profile of a Spartan, one he could loosely apply to the rest of his kind, improving his candidates' ability to fight them. The candidates themselves were put through a gruelling training regimen in imitation of that of the SPARTAN-II Program, and indoctrinated in Insurrectionist ideologies - that by proxy, the UNSC was responsible for their predicament, that the UNSC cared nothing for their parents, that the UNSC had brought about the war between humanity and the Covenant. The process was far from perfect, as evidenced by Miranda Talavera, but it was effective enough that the PERSIAN operatives would serve under URF command after their "graduation". Bahram would oversee the augmentation process personally, especially the augmentations devised personally by him. Of the fourteen candidates selected for augmentation, only three would survive the procedure, a ratio that Bahram would nevertheless deem a success.
Project CHISEL (2540-2548)
- Main article: Project CHISEL
- "Always the same problems. The test subjects confirm what I already suspected - that there is no feasible short-term method for implementing the augmentations required. At best, it will take a decade for them to fully take. At worst, they face rejection, a lethal option. It is as Halsey thought - the only viable candidates are prepubescent. But, of course, you already knew that."
- ―Doctor Eskander Bahram
- "Of course I did. And you knew that I knew. It's good to know where you stand with someone, don't you think?"
- ―Codename: DRACULA
Throughout the course of the war, elements of ONI had steadily been taking more and more desperate steps to try to find a counter-agent to the Covenant's technological sophistication. Early on, it was decided that, since humanity had little short-term hope of countering the enemy's advanced technology, it would compensate though the use of superior special warfare operators, an attempt to duplicate and mass-produce the unprecedented but successful SPARTAN-II Program. The SPARTAN-III, TROJAN and VOLSUNG Programs were far from the only projects that tried to do so, and they were far from the only projects that benefited from knowledge gained from Project CHISEL. Even with his history of anti-UNSC sympathies and Insurrectionist collaboration, these semi-rogue ONI factions recognised Bahram's ingenious development of performance enhancement agents and put him to work on the project. Though entering its tail-end years, Bahram would leave an indelible and distasteful mark on the project. The experimentation on "undisirable" elements on Troy is well documented, and began long before his arrival to the project, but under his tenure expanded into abduction of genetically profiles colonial refugees that went unrecorded due to either the appalling lack of documentation or due to bribery of law enforcement and military personnel, actions for which Codename: SHOGUN would once again bring him to justice for.
Although the project was shut down by Bahram after concluding it had achieved all it could, SHOGUN and his early team would apprehend dozens of high-profile researchers, including Bahram, and tag others that could not be reached for assassination. Bahram himself was tried and convicted by a military jury of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to permanent cryonic suspension due to his status as a civilian, a judgement that SHOGUN protested vigorously.
Project VENATOR (?-2555)
- "They are perfect, or as close to perfect as possible, for our needs. A lifeform that targets sentient life, that can reduce an inhabited colony to a barren wasteland in the span of a few weeks. The perfect tool. The perfect weapon."
Cryonic suspension is legally regarded as a form of death - all lifesigns are slowed to the barest minimum, neural activity is almost undetectable, and any slight malfunction in the life support equipment can result in true death. Its use, therefore, as a form of capital punishment, has always been a contested issue among the UEG populace, though when confronted with previous alternatives, such as hanging, lethal injection or the firing squad method still used by the military, opponents fall silent on proposals of what to replace it with. Supporters also claim that it is more humane, and that if cases of wrongful incarceration come to light, the unfortunate victim can simply be revived.
This latter advantage is also a weakness, given Bahram's resurfacing, many years later, under Project VENATOR. The exact point at which he was stolen from the UNSC's Hague cryonics facility remains unknown, and investigators are still sifting through years of files to track potential culprits, though it is likely a lost cause. The cryonic suspension tank was occupied by a corpse whose identity remains, and likely will remain, unknown, giving the illusion that it was still inhabited by a suspended prisoner. Though it is certainly not beyond Bahram to have forseen his own suspension and arranged for his escape, VORAUSSICHT investigators instead believe that it was the work of DRACULA, arranging his escape for his own ends. Oddly, though, the project that Bahram would be found working for, VENATOR, lacks many of DRACULA's typical indicators, perhaps evidence that the two parted ways. Whatever the case, Bahram
- "I have always known exactly what I am. And soon, so shall you."
- ―Dr. Eskander Bahram.
Dr. Bahram has always exhibited strong antisocial tendencies, ignoring the people who surround him at best or, at worst, humiliating them when it serves his interests, discrediting rivals, punishing tormentors, etc. While he was bullied throughout his childhood and early teens, by the time he reached adolescence Bahram had trained himself in numerous martial arts for self-defence, a fact that seems to have spread quickly, since the bullying reports drop of suddenly. There seems to be no strong relationships in his past, either platonic or romantic, and throughout his tertiary education Bahram preferred to study alone, if at all. Bahram also exhibits clinical psychopathy, marked by a lack or remorse or empathy, shallow emotional response and reaction, egocentricity and deceptiveness. He especially excells at manipulating the people around or beneath him, througha combination of subtle deception, outright blackmail, and psychological mind games. He seems to derive enjoyment from observing people's reactions to his own actions. Bahram has also displayed an unusual obsessive compulsion in regards to "superhuman" individuals, both real and fictional, something that he wrote extensively on while studying for his liberal arts bachelors degree. Since his graduation, and the revelation of their existence, he has almost single-mindedly pursued all information pertaining to SPARTAN personnel, and with Project PERSIAN, attempted to duplicate it.
Bahram also displays both eidetic memory, able to perfectly recall and understand complex writings and objects after a short period of observation, a fact that has helped him enormously in his studies and work. Many of his projects are impossible to understand fully, given the fact that all of the notes he made were kept mentally rather than manually.
- "Yeesh! Hasn't anybody told him that the whole neckbeard thing went out of style after the Amish went extinct?"
- "It's odd. He's from New Jerusalem, but he doesn't really look Arabic or Jewish. He was raised on Eridanus, but he doesn't have the midwest American accent. And he never seems to age. Ever."
- "He's a polymath, but all he seems interested in is...studying things. People, microorganisms, animals, I think he sees us all the same."
- "I think, deep down, down beneath the psychopathy and obsession, he wants to be the best. Maybe that's why he seems so...fixated on the Spartans? They represent something he can never achieve, a target which he can can never reach."