Oswell E Spencer
Oswell E. Spencer was born into nobility in the early part of the 20th Century. As an aristocrat and scholar with a keen interest in science, Spencer orchestrated the birth of Umbrella Corporation and ruled as its Chief Executive Officer, spearheading illegal bio-organic weapons production with a personal goal of creating an evolved race of super humans that he would one day rule over as their god. The key to this plan was the Progenitor Virus, which he discovered in Africa in 1966 with assistance from respected colleagues James Marcus and Edward Ashford. The virus had the ability to bequeath a successful host with superhuman abilities but in its natural state was a little too selective, leaving a majority of its infectees dead. A muted variant was needed to make modern humans compatible and this was the whole purpose of the t-Virus project that dominated Umbrella for over three decades. The corporation’s development of biological weapons was purely for financial gain so this project could continue to be funded in secret until final success was found, and so Spencer waited patiently behind the scenes for other more gifted minds to unwillingly create his perfect virus.
He was an intensely private man and almost never appeared in public even after Umbrella developed into a global corporate giant, leaving his face shrouded in mystery and intrigue. When the t-Virus was perfected enough to earn him billions, he pushed for the research to continue, leaving many prominent figures to wonder just what his true intentions really were.
Little is known of Spencer’s origins other than he was of European descent and believed to be British. The Spencer Family was part of the aristocracy, boasting unparalleled wealth and often socialised with the elites of Western nobility. In his youth he became fascinated with the notion of discovery and the evolution of mankind as a species through eugenics. He was an elitist and strongly believed in his own words that ‘Those who are physically and mentally superior should lead those who are not.’ Spencer’s ambition was unlimited and he would do whatever was necessary to achieve his goals.
His hobbies included hunting and collecting rare antiques and expensive pieces of art. He met James Marcus at a prestigious private school and later launched the ‘Spencer Foundation’; a trust set up to fund and encourage bright, scientific minds of tomorrow. As he grew older his most distinguishing feature was his long, white hair reaching down to his shoulders and his unshadowing self-confidence. Although part of a noble family, Spencer was too focused on his career goals and never took a wife nor bore any children. Despite being an intellectually gifted man and with a sound acumen for business, he was never a leading scientist himself and was happy for the work to be done by others, but he would always be there in the background to reap the benefits of their endeavours. He was extremely calculating and had a gift for exploiting others.
Thanks to his influence and connections, Spencer was able to acquire a rare copy of Henry Travis’s infamous Natural History Conspectus; an extensive set of encyclopaedias documenting the flora and fauna of Africa. In its pages he read about the Ndipaya people and their worship of the flower they called Stairway to the Sun. This flower was described as being able to enhance the natural abilities and traits of certain individuals, leading Spencer to foresee a potential in this plant that could have profound implications for the future of mankind.
He later shared this hypothesis with James Marcus and his good friend and fellow nobleman, Edward Ashford. The three of them would often sit long into the night at Spencer’s European villa with cigars and brandy discussing and dissecting their ideas, planning for a future where they would stand on top of the world. By this time, Spencer was thinking of relocating from Europe to America and had hired famed New York architect George Trevor to design and construct a mansion in the deepest recesses of Raccoon Forest in the Arklay Mountains. Strangely, Spencer had requested the estate be fitted with all manner of secret rooms and security traps, assuring Trevor that cost was not an issue. The architect overlooked these unusual requests, instead looking upon them as a challenge of his design skills and estimated the mansion would take five years to build. Many physical aspects of Spencer’s European villa were incorporated into the design. As Marcus and Ashford theorised some more, they began to see a truth behind Spencer’s ideas. Initially they believed his claims about the Stairway to the Sun to be nothing but rumour, but Marcus himself had already concluded that the possibility of a virus having the ability to alter DNA did likely exist and was waiting somewhere in the natural world to be discovered. They decided to plan an expedition to Africa to try and recover this flower and on December 4th 1966, they finally discovered the Progenitor Virus. This discovery was the first step for Spencer to achieve his ultimate aim of immortality.
Although Marcus in particular seemed full of enthusiasm for the unique properties the virus possessed, Spencer simply offered a false impression to his colleagues that the virus would make them all even richer. This view disgusted Marcus who saw so much more than pure financial gain and was greatly upset at his friend’s apparent lack of understanding. However, this was feigned ignorance on Spencer’s part who secretly had the biggest plans of them all. His charade was further played out when he revealed a desire to form their own pharmaceutical company. To his colleagues, it appeared all he was after was more money.
But he needed the advent of Umbrella to fund the ongoing research into the Progenitor Virus. Progenitor only reinforced Spencer’s belief that the future evolution of the human race could be artificially sped up by the forced use of viruses. Now he needed to unlock the secrets of Progenitor so he could test out this claim, again recalling his core belief that those who were intellectually and physically dominant should lead all those inferior.
This became his guiding principle and this survival of the fittest doctrine was at the root of his power which increased and become more sadistic with each passing year. This was to be the ultimate goal of the company he would come to call Umbrella.
Using what few Progenitor samples they had left due to cultivation issues, Ashford, Spencer and Marcus all began independent research into the virus to create successful variants. This later became the ‘t-Virus’ project.
In 1967, a few months after the completion of the Spencer Mansion in Raccoon Forest, Spencer invited architect George Trevor and his family over to stay, intending them to become the first human test subjects for the Progenitor Virus after two differing variants were produced, designated Type A and Type B. These variants were developed to try to stem the mortality rate of the naturally poisonous Progenitor Virus that in its pure form was fatal to almost everyone exposed to it. Trevor’s wife Jessica and their daughter Lisa were administered these virus variants. Jessica’s body couldn’t cope with Type A and she was disposed of. Lisa however, absorbed the Type B virus and remained alive. When George Trevor himself arrived a few days later. Spencer told him his family had to leave suddenly as a relative had taken ill. He explained his vision to create a grand pharmaceutical enterprise named Umbrella and that he wanted to use the mansion as a guesthouse and summer retreat for company VIPs. Because Trevor was the only other person besides Spencer privy to the secrets of the new mansion, Spencer had him captured and taken down to the labs. But because Lisa had reacted positively to Progenitor Type B, there was no need to inject Trevor. Spencer instead decided to play a twisted little game and allowed him to escape his cell, launching a facade that was purposefully designed to testout the security of the mansion.
Although Trevor was hiding out for days, Spencer ensured there was only oneplace he could possibly end up and had a custom gravestone made up bearing Trevor’s own name, waiting at the end of the trail. Sure enough, Trevor’s body was found by his makeshift grave and he was disposed of on November 30th 1967. His death ensured no one but Spencer knew all the secrets of the mansion estate and the planned work that was to be conducted there.
In April 1968 Umbrella was formed, yet just a few months later Edward Ashford died in a laboratory accident involving the Progenitor Virus, though Spencer had secretly planned the ‘accident’, seeing Ashford as apotential threat to his planned takeover of the company. He knew Alexander Ashford did not possess the skills necessary to complete his father’s t-Virus research, and thus the Ashford’s gradual decline was Spencer’s gain.
But he still had James Marcus to contend with and their relationship became embittered over Umbrella’s formation. Marcus had recently requested to head back to Africa to gather more Progenitor samples and Spencer had already authorised the release of funds to begin construction of Umbrella Africa and try to forcibly remove the Ndipaya from their lands. But at the last moment he requested that Marcus remain in Raccoon City so he could keep a close eye on his rival. He disguised this act by offering Marcus the position of Director at the new Executive Training Facility in Raccoon Forest with the promise of state of the art research facilities. To the delight of Spencer, Marcus accepted and would remain in Raccoon City where he could be constantly monitored.
Instead it was Marcus’s student, Brandon Bailey, who went to Africa in his place, and this was just another ruse on Spencer’s part to split up a potentially dangerous partnership to his own plans.
In June of 1969, Umbrella Africa was completed and a regular supply of Progenitor became available. Bailey took office as facility director and began sending samples back to Marcus at the Training Facility. Marcus threw himself into his work, determined to regain the respect he deserved as one of Umbrella’s founders. But this was again part of Spencer’s grand scheme which he had meticulously devised from the very beginning.
Because he wasn’t sufficiently scientifically gifted himself, Spencer had manipulated Marcus’s desire to prove himself with his research, exploited his bond with Brandon Bailey and then waited patiently for his machinations to bear fruit in the form of a new breed of t-Virus, a weaponised variant of Progenitor.
Whilst he waited for Marcus to do his work for him, Spencer turned his attentions back towards his own personal plans. He had visions of creating a new race of advanced human beings over which he would rule as a ‘god.’ This new race would be birthed by successful adapters to the muted Progenitor Virus, something he was banking on Marcus to perfect. He devised a secret plan with one of his most trusted researchers, a man named Dr. Wesker, in which a group of uniquely gifted children would be selected and taken from across the globe.
They would be indoctrinated and subliminally programmed with Spencer’s values and traits before being sent out into the world to acquire the best possible educations in their chosen fields. There they would be watched from afar by Umbrella until they were deemed ready for the next stage of the test. This plan became known as The Wesker Children or Project Wesker, named after the researcher assisting Spencer. The program was highly classified and neither Marcus nor any other company officials were ever made aware of it.
One of the first children taken was a blonde haired, blue-eyed boy named Albert.
Throughout the 1970’s, Spencer helped Umbrella grow by reaching out to other prestigious noble families, offering executive positions in return for financial aid. His focus in expanding his empire and driving forward the Wesker Children in secret offered significant distractions whilst James Marcus’s personal research at the training facility was advancing nicely. But their working relationship had deteriorated further and Marcus was now devising his own plans to overthrow Spencer. Following Edward’s death, Spencer had moved quickly to acquire his share of the company and Marcus privately suspected he was seeking total control of Umbrella. He knew he needed to come up with something drastic to stop Spencer’s relentless march to power and by January 1978 he had created the perfect tool not just to stop Spencer in his tracks, but to potentially overthrow him for good… the first successful t-Virus prototype strain.
However Marcus was completely unaware that Project Wesker test subject no.13, otherwise known as Albert, was making secret reports about him back to Spencer alongside fellow student William Birkin. Spencer was alarmed by these reports; students going missing, Marcus spending so much time locked away in his labs and most disturbingly of all, his success ful creation of a new base virus type. Spencer knew that Marcus would be a major stumbling block in his bid to achieve his own goals and knew he would one day have to take steps to subdue this threat. Wesker and Birkin smuggled a sample of the new virus out of the training facility and Spencer immediately had his best men go to work on it at Arklay Labs, but their research was way behind what Marcus had already achieved.
When Marcus formally announced the creation of the Tyrant Virus in the summer of 1978, Spencer used the evidence provided by Wesker and Birkin to forcibly remove him from power. Damning reports proving that Marcus had used illegal human testing on company students for his research was enough to get rid of him once and for all. As a bonus, the t-Virus proved to be ground-breaking and Spencer had all of Marcus’ research transferred across to Arklay and placed under the guidance of new chief researchers; Albert Wesker and William Birkin, who had been rewarded for their loyalty. Marcus himself was left alone at the now abandoned training facility, stripped of all the assets he needed to further his research. But because he had such a brilliant mind, Spencer left him alone to see what he could come up with during his years in exile.
Over the next few years, Spencer wanted the t-Virus exploited and improved to create the ultimate human biological weapon, desiring the virus to have an infection success rate of 100%. However, this proved impossible as Birkin and Wesker concluded that no amount of expe rimentation could get past a 10% natural immunity capacity. This alone was enough for Spencer to deem the t-Virus not viablein its current guise as a weapon that would infect an entire populace – a weapon he needed if his own personal goal of a superior human race was ever to come to fruition.
Throughout the 1980’s William Birkin created several differing variants of the t-Virus to improve on Marcus’s original work and this allowed for the development of successful B.O.W.s such as the Hunter. In 1988, primary t-Virus research was completed allowing the Tyrant program to begin. This ensured Spencer could finally make his move and with his usefulness now at an end, he had Wesker and Birkin assassinate James Marcus whilst seizing full control of Umbrella in the process. This was also the year Birkin discovered the G-Virus within the body of Lisa Trevor after Spencer had pulled a few strings to get them a sample of the Nemesis Parasite from the European 6th Laboratory.
Following Marcus’s assassination, Spencer restricted research on the Progenitor Virus to its cultivation grounds in Africa, tightly regulating all information surrounding it. Only a handful of executives with Level 10 status even knew the location of the hidden research centre. Employees transfer red from the centre were kept under close supervision, and director Bailey was a virtual prisoner there.
In 1991 Spencer authorised the construction of an expansive, state of the art research facility to be built underneath the streets of Raccoon City. He also approved Birkin’s G-Virus project.
On a personal level, his visits to Arklay Labs became less frequent and he became something of a ghost working from behind the scenes.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Umbrella had gained a new alley in the form of ex-Soviet Army Colonel Sergei Vladimir. Sergei joined Umbrella in late 1991 and quickly rose up the ranks when it was revealed he was a genetic match for the Tyrant Program. He donated 10 clones of himself in exchange for an executive position in the company. These clones were used to further the Tyrant Program research by allowing Birkin to create a more adaptable t-Virus. Sergei became good friends with Spencer and swore loyalty to him.
By now, Spencer’s health had begun to fade and he found himself largely confined to a wheel chair, only frustrating him even more. He often privately lamented that time was a merciless enemy and arrogantly declared he would cheat death.
By 1995 he no longer visited the Arklay Labs at all and had largely removed himself from the day to day running of Umbrella, removing his face from pubic completely. However, he still made a rare public appearance, and in the latter half of the 1990s he purchased an abandoned military base on Sonido de Tortuga Island, sending many researchers there and later visiting the site and posing for a group photograph to commemorate the event.
In 1998 he authorised the Reclamation Project which was a bid to re-open the old executive training facility closed down since Marcus’s forced removal from power in 1978. Spencer also saw this as an ideal opportunity to put the next stage of his Wesker Children project into effect. All viable candidates were given an experimental t-Virus that would weed out those unworthy of progressing through to the next stage.
When the biohazard occurred at the Spencer Mansion in July, Spencer was initially against the destruction of the estate but realised there was little choice if they were to successfully cover-up the incident. As Operation X-Day was put into place, Spencer ordered a special t-Virus variant created by William Birkin to be passed onto Albert Wesker, but neither Birkin nor Wesker were aware of the intention behind this motive at that stage.
Spencer also saw the potential of the T-A.L.O.S. project, a new prototype Tyrant currently in early development at Arklay. With the mansion due to be destroyed, Spencer called upon the services of Sergei to infiltrate the estate and retrieve T -A.L.O.S. before the S.T.A.R.S. teams arrived. Vladimir was successful in this mission.
In the aftermath of the mansion explosion, Umbrella utilised their mole in the police, Chief Irons, to successfully prevent the authorities from launching a formal investigation into the incident. The only setback was the apparent death of Albert Wesker, for he had been one of the most promising candidates in the Project Wesker program. Only one other now remained, a beautiful woman named Alex.
Some years earlier, Spencer had Alex in a position with Umbrella in the Information Department, even placing her in charge of Project Wesker. He had a portrait commissioned of his two most promising candidates and Alex operated under a pseudonym, with Albert unaware of her true significance. But working alongside each other in the Information Department, they developed a competitive rivalry, just as Spencer envisioned.
As early as August 1998, Alex reported back to Spencer that the experimental t-Virus had proved to be a little too selective and had killed off all the remaining Wesker Children candidates. They were forced to look back at all the propositions who had failed to reach this stage and re-evaluate them. This put the overall success of the program down to 18%. However, Spencer was not too upset and privately believed that Albert was still alive and that one day, when the time was right, he would return to him.
When the biohazard occurred in Raccoon City, Spencer knew full well that Umbrella would not get away with things once again and realised the end had finally come for his company, significantly hindering his progress with the Wesker plan and creating his perfect virus. Despitethe accusations levelled at the corporation, he used his money and connections to hire the best lawyers and prepare false witnesses, yet understood the best he could hope for was to delay Umbrella’s inevitable demise. He took steps to close down the African lab to preserve the secret of the Progenitor Virus source, eliminating any Level 10 employees with knowledge of its existence, including Brandon Bailey.
The Raccoon incident ended what had been a solid alliance between Umbrella and the U.S. Government, and the new administration put in place following the President’s resignation immediately imposed a total suspension of business order on Umbrella. But Spencer’s actions forced the ongoing Raccoon Trials into a stalemate of sorts, as all incriminating evidence against Umbrella had seemingly been vaporised along with the city.
By now, he had more or less removed himself from all responsibility from Umbrella, entrusting Sergei Vladimir to oversee all operations as the unofficial head of the company. All projects and continuing operations were transferred to Sergei’s base of operations in Russia following the closure of Umbrella USA in 1999.
Spencer spent his time trying to salvage his plans and rebuild his dream. He oversaw several revival plans such as the t+G-Virus and T-A.L.O.S. and placed great faith in Alex Wesker, the last of his children, although he was unaware by this point that Alex was plotting her own betrayal and escape from him.
As the new millennium came and went, the court case surrounding Umbrella and the Raccoon City disaster had dragged on and on without conclusion. In 2003 Spencer wrote a letter to shareholders thanking them for their continued support. However, in February of that year, Sergei Vladimir was killed after Albert Wesker had infiltrated his base and caused a biohazard. He also stole all of Umbrella’s archival research files and erased all the databases, deletingforty years’ worth of viral research that was suddenly gone in an instant. Wesker later testified anonymously in court, providing irrefutable evidence that Spencer and Umbrella were responsible for the Raccoon City tragedy.
The FBI and the Russian Ministry of the Interior launched a worldwide manhunt for Spencer, and he was forced to go into hiding. He eventually retreated back to his private estate in Europe, the place where he had first formulated all of his plans more than a half century ago.
The events of the last few years took their toll on Spencer and his health be gan to deteriorate rapidly. Yet even alone in isolation, he still bore a cruel streak and ruthless ambitions of becoming a god, even though the few he still trusted to be around him could see their master’s days were now clearly numbered. In what seemed a last throw of the dice, he turned back to Alex.
Spencer had often regarded Alex as the ‘best and brightest’ of his children and ordered her to use the Progenitor Virus to unlock the secret to immortality. He referred back to Henry Travis’s book and accounts describing how one Ndipaya king had ruled for hundreds of years, also recalling Lisa Trevor and how she refused to perish even when they tried to euthanize her following the end of her experimentation.
He gave Alex and her research team unlimited funding, top of the line equipment, research materials, and an endless supply of test subjects before sending them all off to the facility on Sonido de Tortuga Island. But the one thing he did not have on his side was time. Spencer waited and waited until eventually it became clear he had been betrayedonce more. Reports came back from Tortuga that the experimentation had been a success and yet Alex and her research results had disappeared, along with the last of his money and resources.
Beyond desperate now, Spencer turned to the one person who had not yet abandoned him; his faithful butler and servant, Patrick. Spencer ordered Patrick to administer unspecified variants of the Progenitor Virus to guinea pigs they kept locked up underneath the estate, yet he lacked the required scientific skills and the work proved to be fruitless. Eventually, Spencer cut his losses and went back to the beginning. Knowing he was about to die, he released Patrick from his service, but only after issuing him with one last task to find Albert Wesker. Once Wesker learned of Spencer’s location, it was not long before he came calling as he had been searching for his former master for a number of years. But it was by pure chance that he arrived the very same night as Agents Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine of the B.S.A.A. following Intel they had received on Spencer’s possible whereabouts.
But it was Wesker who got to him first. Spencer was not surprised to see Albert as he knew the subliminal programming drilled into Wesker’s mind at a young age would have led him to seek his master out once more. With Wesker demanding answers, Spencertold him everything, explaining all about the Wesker Children and the use of the Progenitor Virus as a tool to spur natural selection and create an advanced race of human beings, which he would then rule over as god.
The only thing he kept hidden was the existence of Alex. Even after losing everything, Spencer still retained his arrogance and had still not given up on this grand plan, now looking to forge a new alliance with Wesker.
But enraged at Spencer’s arrogance and the revelation concerning his own manufactured past, Albert brutally murdered the old man, bringing down the curtain on a lifetime of cruelty and deception.