Simon Ashcroft is a freelance agent.
When we first run into him, he is with DevWorld Security, a for-profit organization that existed primarily for the mission of protecting their clients whenever and wherever they travelled in the West African country. The primary region of operation is the very large expanse of Nigeria, especially its more violent and unpredictable River section. It is run by former police sergeant Ndulu Adebayo.
The company survives but resources (mainly money) is tight, as shown by the unrepaired air conditioning in their Land Rovers which in that neck of the woods is a decidedly unpleasant situation. Ashcroft has learned the hard way, though, that sweltering heat is one of the lesser challenges to his line of work regardless of where he operatres and he has over the years worked in a lot of different place, all of them having their own set of problems and all of them filled with people who want to end his permanently.
"There was already a long list of the individuals who were no longer counted amongst the living because of his actions. He had murdered too many foes in his past, and regretted each one. Despite having only ever killed in self-defense, or for the greater good as defined by his employers, he hated what his actions said about the kind of man he was. He liked to think of himself as honorable and compassionate, but how could he see himself that way when he committed such acts? Feeling conflicted, he knew he wasn't the same man he had been when entering the intelligence services all those years ago."
In another instance, Ashcroft muses, "His profession seemed to have turned him into a brutal operator - a trained killer of 'bad' men, but that wasn't who he was inside, it wasn't his personality. The problem, as far as he could understand it, was that he was starting to care. He didn't want to be a murderer, and yet life kept throwing him circumstances where he had to make a choice . . . himself, or the other guy? It would always be the other guy, as long as he could help it, because he had a desperate desire to keep on living, despite the battering his conscience kept enduring."
Simon Ashcroft had once been an intelligence officer with the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, more commonly known by its acronym ASIS. Before that he had been a lieutenant with the Australian Army. Over the course of fifteen years, across both services, he'd operated throughout Asia and Africa on numerous covert operations, until a harrowing disaster in Afghanistan left him with no choice but to leave the service, and enter the private sector.