Jack Bain was born in Boston to a Scottish-American family. Jack’s grandfather had parlayed Civil War heroics into a successful business career, making the “Boston Bains” a respected family. Jack made his family proud with his acceptance to West Point in 1912 and bitterly disappointed them when he washed out in 1913. Jack, it seemed, was too much of an individualist to fit into the military lifestyle. He and his friend Liam Carmichael, another West Point washout, decided to head to Paris for a change of scenery. The two used their cadet uniforms to bluster their way into society parties and became well known in the pre-war social scene in Paris.
When the Great War started, the two friends at first kept out of it. They assumed the war would be over by Christmas and then the parties would start again. By early 1915 it was clear that the war was not ending. They returned to the United States, so they’d be on hand when American joined the fight. American isolationism was strong, however, and this did not come to pass. By the end of 1915 the two friends decided to return to France and fight under its colors.
They arrived early in 1916. Through their contacts, they heard about the imminent formation of an air squadron made up of American volunteers. The two applied for acceptance into what was then known as the Escadrille Américaine. Liam was accepted but Jack ran into an unexpected problem. The officer in charge of his interview was the father of a girl Jack had jilted in 1913 and he remembered Bain all too well. His application was denied. Jack convinced Liam to stay with the squadron, as flying was much more prestigious. Liam reluctantly agreed, joining the squadron that was soon known as the Lafayette Escadrille.
Jack meanwhile sought out the French Foreign Legion. If they wouldn’t let him fight in the air, he’d fight on the ground. The legion, starved for replacements, gladly accepted him. He received his baptism of fire at the Battle of the Somme and fought with the legion until the end of the war, when it assaulted the Hindenburg Line. After the war, he was sent to Africa to serve out the rest of his five year enlistment. He fought in the legion’s Moroccan campaigns and ended his time in the legion as a captain. The very traits that had made him unsuitable for the peacetime military had made Jack an outstanding combat officer.
Once he mustered out, he traveled to Cairo. He assembled a small group of ex-legionnaires and hired the group out to provide security for archeological digs. It was on one of these digs that he fell into a buried chamber and discovered the artifact known as the ankh of light. He should have turned it over to the archeological team. He should have, but for reasons he’s never been able to articulate, he didn’t. This has caused him no end of trouble.