"May the dogs of hell be as kind to you as they have been to me."
-- Aaron Spyker's final words to Rook Bowman just moments before he commits suicide
Ryan Marshall Knox, more commonly known as Aaron Alexander Spyker, Phantom during his earlier years, and initially as Zinoviy Ozpin, was one of three founding members of the international private military company known as Cerberus Contracting. Succeeding the company's original Director and his long time friend, Rook Bowman, Knox became Cerberus' second acting head. Shortly after his ascension to Director in 2023, Aaron disappeared for nearly two years, leaving the company in the service of his sister, Melina Ozpin. Upon his return in 2025, the operators gladly accepted him once more as the Director.
However, revealing that the entire disappearance of his old friend was but a ploy to test the loyalty of the organization's members, Aaron returned to his rightful place as Deputy Director while Bowman once again accepted his position as the Director.
Aaron Spyker stands tall at around six feet with a medium build and overall average physique. His eyes are a bland grey color, the reason for which being unknown. Atop his head is short black, graying hair, though the man is only forty-seven years old. Years of stressful thoughts and constant struggles have brought his overall appearance to that of a much older man.
Aaron Spyker has always been a scarred man; following his return to Cerberus as the Director, his physical health has visibly deteriorated. Seemingly irreversible nerve damage curses his right leg, making it a nearly impossible task to walk without the assistance of a cane, or, in some cases, adrenaline-inducing stimulants which temporarily restore functionality to the leg. In addition, Director Spyker's left eye has been completely ripped to shreds. In the absence of near-immediate medical attention, it became unlikely that the socket would ever hold a fully functioning eye ever again, though he has refused, on multiple occasions, to undergo surgery which would implement a cybernetic eye in its place. To that end, Ryan dons a simple black eye-cover which hides the empty socket.
Born to Oscar and and Gwenda Ozpin while on a trip to the United States of America in 1980, Zinoviy was quickly put up for adoption in the states due to unready parents. Soon thereafter, the orphaned infant was picked up by Sandra and Alexander Knox, who would go on to name him Ryan. Growing up without the knowledge of his adoption, Ryan was an exceptionally bright and talented individual; a lover of the sciences and even somewhat of an athlete at heart. For his entire school-time life, he had been an only child. However, that would change in October of 1998 when his parents gave birth to Cassandra, who would go on to become part of his inspiration. For Ryan, his new sister was his own child, one who he had an overwhelming desire to protect and care for. And, this, for the most part, was the case; even while travelling down the route of marriage to his high school sweetheart Natalie Locks and making preparations for a child of his own while still studying at college under the United States Military's ROTC program.
After attending college for a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, Knox was already married to the love his life, Natalie. Life moving quickly, his parental focus would be forced to change from his young adopted sister to a more reasonable individual; his own newborn daughter, Vanessa Knox. However, his initial time with her would be inevitably short. Under the military's ROTC program, Ryan was unfortunately brought into service by the United States Army, his athletic and mental skills qualifying him for a position in the Green Berets. Losing nearly all communications with his new family, he became increasingly more desperate to be with them once more.
Moving back and forth between the United States and several Middle Eastern countries as he participated in covert operations in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, tension began to rear its ugly head between the men and women of Lieutenant Knox's unit. Being without contact with his family for as long as months at a time had an effect on him, and he simply could not take it any longer. Which is why one night, while once again stationed in the United States after a successful raid on a Mujahideen compound, the stressed Lieutenant became engaged in a heated argument with his unit's commander, Captain Block. The argument ended in a brawl, with the victor being Ryan; unfortunately, in the process, he had unintentionally murdered his opponent. With no foreseeable way of getting out of this unscathed, he ran, able to slip away into the Virginia black night unnoticed. Now deemed a murderer and a traitor to the United States, he had little choice but to make an attempt at a new life.