|This article, Nimue, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "Killers aren't born, they're made. The quality of the killer in question depends on the time and effort their forger invests in them."
- ―David Kahn
- "I don't have a past and I don't have a future. Killers like me don't need those things. All I have are the skills he gave me and the expectations he had for me."
Nimue was a genetically modified human created by the Syndicate criminal organization as part of the Knight Project. Unlike her fellow operatives, Nimue was not a true of Tobias Lensky and was instead created from modified strains of DNA from Lensky and the supersoldier Vinh-030. As a girl Nimue was handed over to the mercenary David Kahn for training. Under Kahn's expert guidance, she became an extremely proficient assassin, well-versed in virtually every method of killing imaginable. She would become one of the Syndicate's most lethal operatives, honed into a living weapon to carry out the criminal empire's bidding.
Conception and Early Life
- "Gentlemen, these operatives could very well be what saves our war for freedom from petering out and dying in the face of our enemy's overwhelming strength. Since we can't fight their fire with our own fire, we'll fight them with needles. And let me tell you, needles can be very painful if you jab them in the right spot."
- ―Redmond Venter explaining his plans for Project Knight to a gathering of Humanity Liberation Front officers
Along with her brothers and sisters, Nimue was a part of the aftermath of the renegade SPARTAN-III Simon-G294's defection to the Insurrectionist group known as the Humanity Liberation Front. After discovering that his newest disciple was none other than one of the UNSC's fabled Spartan operatives, an ambitous officer within the HLF, Redmond Venter, hoped to use Simon to gain more influence with the HLF's leadership. Unfortunately, Simon and Venter's prized A.I. were lost and presumed dead during a large-scale UNSC assault on the asteroid base where they were headquarters. But even with his two greatest weapons lost, Venter refused to be deterred and began using DNA samples he had acquired from the genetically enhanced Simon in order to develop chemical augmentations of his own. After years of recruiting scientists, gathering funds, and performing experiments to build his "Knight Project", Venter's branch of the HLF finally produced a batch of test-tube babies who had been imbued with the home-grown augmentations during their fetuses' development. Out of fifty total fetuses, only twelve survived incubation and the resulting infants were immediately spirited away to a hidden HLF facility where they would spend the first years of their lives.
- "Come on, little freak, let's see how you do!"
- ―Peter Collins instigating a "sparring match" with Nimue
Nimue spent the first three years of her life under heavy guard at the HLF facility. Although their combat training had not yet begun, Nimue and the other Knight children were subjected to a educational regimen that aimed to hone their physical and mental capabilities from as early a stage as possible. Given daily doses of drugs meant to further enhance their developing bodies, the young children were all capable of communicating fluently through spoken or written word by the time they were three years old. Although they were constantly kept together, very few bonds or friendships were formed amongst the Knight children during this time period, as their rigorous education and testing forced them to focus only on their training. One person Nimue would remember from her time at the HLF facility was an older boy named Peter Collins. Peter was actually a clone derived from Simon-G294's genetic tissue and was being raised by Venter to be his personal lieutenant in order to fill the gap left by his progenitor's apparent death. He had been "born" slightly earlier than the other Knight trainees and enjoyed using his larger size to hurt the younger children. Nimue learned to hate and fear Peter and developed a loathing for him that would resurface later in her life when she met his genetic "father."
Once the Knight children reached the age of four, Venter and his lieutenants decided that they were ready to begin their extensive combat training. However, he had also decided on an even greater ambition for one of his developing assassins. While he was confident that his hand-picked cadre of Insurrectionist and mercenary instructors would be able to forge his Knights into highly capable operatives, he knew that he lacked both the funds and the facilities to produce soldiers that could match the caliber of the UNSC's Spartans. In order to make up for this deficiency, Venter wanted a "trump card": an agent who could stand amongst the best killers the galaxy had to offer. The HLF officer envisioned a perfect assassin who could locate and kill anyone he wanted dead, be they politicians, soldiers, or even his rivals within the Insurrectionist cause. But the training of such an operative would take skills far greater than the ones Venter currently had at his disposal. Fortunately, he knew of just the person who could make his dream a reality: David Kahn.
Known as one of the deadliest mercenaries and assassins to have emerged within the galactic underworld since the end of the Great War, David Kahn already stood within the ranks of the most lethal individuals in the galaxy and as such was the perfect candidate for training Venter's ultimate assassin. However, Venter knew from personal experience that Kahn was a fiercely independent agent who would be reluctant to take on such a long term task and would charge extremely highly for his services. Unwilling to let his dream die, Venter gambled everything by having one of his agents arrange for a large amount of funds from the main branch of the HLF to be transferred to his own private accounts. Such an action, if discovered, would undoubtedly have resulted in Venter's immediate execution, but he managed to deflect the guilt and privately contact Kahn for the job.
At first, the infamous mercenary was skeptical about the job, particularly since it would sidetrack him from pursuing his always-lucrative contracts and because it involved training a young girl in the art of the kill. However, Venter's illicit money transfers had given him a hefty amount of monetary bargaining power. He offered Venter a contract of ten million credits up front, a well-stocked and secluded location for him to conduct the training, and twenty million more credits once the job was completed. With one of the highest-paying freelance jobs in mercenary history staring him in the face, Kahn could hardly refuse.
While these negotiations were going on, Venter was testing his Knight children to see which one showed the most promise as an agent. While all of the candidates had been honed by their assigned drugs and their education, he knew that only the best of them would be able to withstand the training a man like Kahn would put them through. Ultimately, Nimue's fate was decided on the practice mats of the HLF facility--the only home she had ever known. She scored the highest in a series of agility and reflex tests that Venter's scientists put the candidates through and proved through simple psychological evaluations and exercises that her I.Q. was among the best in the candidate pool. Selected for the "honor" of becoming Venter's perfect assassin, Nimue was removed from the group of children she had lived with from the first moment she had opened her eyes and was shipped to a remote colony planet on the UNSC's frontier where the HLF had constructed a hidden bunker to house here and Kahn. Nimue's real training was about to begin.
Training With David Kahn
- "It's great that this job is paying me so much. Really, it is. And the equipment my new terrorist friends are forking out, that's wonderful as well. Living accommodations couldn't be better; nothing's homier than a battle plate coated bunker, especially with these ten-foot thick walls. The only things they didn't get me were a cargo bay full of books and holo-guides to tell me how the hell I'm supposed to turn a toddler into a killer like me. I'm really running low on ideas on where to begin... I guess I'll just start by beating the shit out of her until she learns how to do the same to me..."
- ―Excerpt from the private diary of David Kahn
While he had some experience in instructing others from times spent teaching at mercenary camps, David Kahn was as poorly prepared to train a four year old girl as she was to begin living with him as his pupil. Although Nimue's life spent living around armed men prevented her from being terrified of her new teacher, she was still intimidated by him and did her best to avoid him during her first weeks alone with him. For his part, Kahn was extremely worried about how he would carry out the first years of her training. He knew that in order for his methods be effective he needed to submit his new charge to a harsh training regimen from the very beginning, but he also feared that putting too much pressure on the girl at such an early age would break her entirely and render her useless as the assassin he'd been hired to create.
In the end, Kahn took a middle road. He began the training by drilling Nimue in various forms of martial arts, working to develop her unarmed fighting skills before he instructed her with weapons. Successful completion of their drills together was rewarded by extra rations and praise from Kahn. However, any failures would result in Kahn beating his charge to a bloody pulp before denying her rations and forcing her to do more exercises in her weakened state. In regards to these punishments, Kahn more than lived up to his merciless reputation. While the mercenary was internally conflicted by his actions, he never allowed his misgivings to affect the administrating of his harsh discipline. But he always allowed one thing to stay his hand from punishing Nimue's failures: if at any time during his savage beatings she managed to fight back and hit him, he would immediately cease attacking her and provide her with the rations he would otherwise have denied.
- "I don't know what kinds of twisted cocktails you and your goons pumped into her, Venter, but you've given me one hell of a little monster to build up here. Sometimes she scares even me the way she just absorbs everything I tell her and then throws it back at me, and sometimes she even throws in some improvements of her own. But of course, the real tests are still a ways down the road."
- ―David Kahn in one of his weekly reports to Redmond Venter
Nimue's pre-birth augmentations and the enhancement drugs that were still being provided by Humanity Liberation Front agents gave her the physical abilities to handle Kahn's brutal training: she was many times faster than ordinary human children many years her senior, was already nearing the reaction timing of a UNSC Spartan, and her bones were gradually being hardened to allow her body to withstand harder impacts that might otherwise kill her. Nevertheless, Kahn was skeptical of the HLF's over-reliance on their drugs and ran Nimue ragged every day in order to further develop her endurance and physical capabilities. After nearly half a year of constant drilling, he also began sparring with her in order to test her comprehension of the skills he'd been teaching her. While she was nowhere near ready to have a chance against such a mismatched opponent, Kahn held back in order to evaluate her skills while teaching her valuable lessons about fighting a much larger and stronger opponent. Although he never let her win--these failures were the only ones that did not bring punishment with them--Kahn was amazed at how quickly Nimue was grasping his instructions. By the time she had turned six, Nimue hardly ever failed at her drills and Kahn, while continuing with the unarmed combat training, also began instructing her with various ways to implement knives as well, thus beginning her first real training with lethal weapons. Furthermore, he started exposing her to a variety of poisons in order to gradually build up immunities to them.
- Nimue: "I can't... I can't keep going!"
- David Kahn: "You think the enemy'll let that excuse slow them down when they're on your trail? If you keep letting a little pain get to you then you'll die in the mud like a worthless piece of trash trash."
- I'm not trash!: "Then get up and prove it before I have to come over and fix things so you really can't go on!"
- — Nimue, age eight, and David Kahn during a ten-mile run in the woods above their bunker.
See also: Sparring Match
Four years after beginning her time under Kahn's unforgiving tutelage, Nimue was already well on her way to becoming the assassin Venter had hoped for when he set her apart from his other Knight subjects. Although her mentor continued to punish every failure with physical beatings, Nimue remained remarkably unfazed by the brutality through a combination of precautions Kahn himself took to avoid mentally scarring his pupil and through an iron resilience that she herself possessed. Her unceasing drilling, day in and day out, continued, but Kahn also began to instruct her in combat tactics and a variety of battlefield skills, such as explosives proficiency and electronics skills. Nimue was less of a natural at these than she had been with her unarmed and knife combat training and would spend the next many years struggling to grasp many of the advanced concepts he taught her.
Although his observations of Nimue had taught Kahn much about how to exercise moderation in how he punished her, he continued to answer failure with beatings and ration denial. One of her harshest punishments occurred at the start of her training with firearms. Beginning a buildup that would eventually see Nimue targeting sentient individuals for assassination practice, Kahn ordered her to kill a stray dog he had procured from a nearby town and brought to their bunker. When Nimue refused, her mentor beat her into a bloody pulp while lecturing her on the need to be utterly merciless when it came to killing. Denied food for several days, Nimue found herself fearing Kahn for the first time since her early days with him. Although she did her best to hate him and even began planning an escape attempt, she stopped when she realized that all she really wanted out of life was her teacher's praise. The next time she was ordered to kill the dog, Nimue complied and resolved to strive harder to please Kahn.
- "You'll have to become an expert at everything I teach you, not because you're afraid of me or what I can do to you but because you know that without that expertise, you'll be dead in minutes once you hit the field for real."
- ―David Kahn to Nimue
The training continued as Kahn continued to pound combat principle after combat principle into Nimue on a daily basis. Although harsher exercises like the dog-shooting one were rare, this did nothing to soften the ever-hardening training regimen that Kahn put Nimue through. Daily activities for Nimue now included physical and endurance tests, martial arts drills, and firearm usage and maintenance all alongside whatever other subjects Kahn was teaching her at the moment. After Nimue turned ten, Kahn began recruiting local thugs from nearby towns to spar with her. Her smaller size, speed, and agility gave her a natural edge over the untrained toughs she was pitted against and she regularly sent her sparring partners to nearby hospitals with broken bones and internal trauma.
It was also around this time that Kahn began attacking Nimue himself on a regular basis. Without warning, he would kick and punch her, expecting her to anticipate his blows and fight back. By the time Nimue was twelve, Kahn had begun slashing and throwing knives at her, and soon after this he began shooting at her as well. Although Nimue quickly adapted to this savage new twist to her training--she soon learned to obtain and prepare her own food, as Kahn slipped subtle poisons into almost everything he gave her--many times her reactions proved to slow to immediately counter the results. In an effort to further improve his charge's self-sufficiency, Kahn refused to treat the injuries Nimue sustained in these encounters and forced her to deal with them herself. As a result, Nimue developed many scars across her body, particularly on her back, before she was able to anticipate and counter Kahn's assaults entirely.
- "The first kill's never easy, not if your a regular person, a psychopath, or someone who's been training for it all your life. And it'll be even worse for a kid. I'll need to inch her through this; only baby steps here. Otherwise she'll just fall apart and I'll have lost her completely"
- ―David Kahn
See also: First Kill
As Nimue neared thirteen, Kahn decided that it was time to accelerate her training. Nimue had already killed several animals--ranging from the dog Kahn had had her executed to the planet's invasive deer population that she had hunted--and aided him in several of his contracts, but Kahn knew that in order for the training to be completely successful he would have to introduce her to hunting her future prey: sentient beings. Having been warned by several HLF scientists not to plunge her into the killing too quickly, David introduced holographic facsimiles of humans and aliens for Nimue to "kill" during her daily weapons exercises. In the meantime, he also began hunting for assassination jobs from the galactic underworld's slew of criminal middlemen.
Deciding that it would be best if Nimue's first kill was an alien rather than a human being, Kahn took out a contract on an officer in the Fallen, a large group of violent Sangheili separatists. His employer was the criminal organization known as the Syndicate, a human-run group that had managed to spread throughout most of the inhabited galaxy. The officer in question had used Fallen resources to raid Syndicate operations on Sangheili worlds and the Syndicate wanted to send the Fallen a warning message without sparking an underworld conflict with them. After being provided with the location of a weapons deal the Fallen officer was making with a group of Sangheili mercenaries, Kahn and Nimue traveled to the undeveloped jungle world of Guinea IV to make the kill.
After being fully briefed on both the planet's hostile environment and their target, Nimue personally selected the she and Kahn would bring with them as well as the weapon she would use to make the kill: a compact but powerful M45A Marksman Rifle. She then proceeded to spend the next four days slogging her way through Guinea IV's thick jungle while Kahn shadowed her, providing no help as he watched her adapt to the difficult terrain. After enduring a hike that would have challenged even full-grown UNSC Marines, fending off attacks from the planet's larger predators, and evading the patrols that were monitoring the weapons deal, Nimue reached the point that she had designated to be her shooting position and set up for the shot. After lying in position for the entirety of a sweltering night, she located and killed the targeted official as the deal took place in the valley below. Although he needed to step in and aid his exhausted protege as they made their escape, Kahn considered the mission a complete success and began looking for more opportunities to field test Nimue's lethal capabilities.
Having proven that she could be relied upon to both assist with and personally carry out assassination contracts, Nimue suddenly found herself taken to various locales within the galaxy's seedy underbelly as Kahn accepted more and more job offers for himself and his new "partner". The contracts ranged from assassinations to mercenary work on the battlefields of small planetary brush wars. It was only shortly after the mission on Guinea IV that Nimue killed her first human and when she began showing discomfort at the notion of killing members of her own species, Kahn decided to harden her to the realities of the violent life she was being brought up to lead by taking her to the slums of urban centers and having her hunt down and kill murderers, rapists, and other criminals that Kahn felt were worthless trash. His ultimate goal in all this was to ensure that no human feelings of pity or regret would interfere with Nimue's judgement when he finally turned her over to the Humanity Liberation Front and she had to face the UNSC's highly trained professional troops while fulfilling the tasks they put to her.
But while the veteran mercenary had worked to make Nimue immune to all possible flaws, he had failed to indoctrinate her in the Insurrectionist ideology. Not believing in the Insurrectionist cause himself, Kahn had never considered the movement's doctrines to be important in raising an assassin. Therefore Nimue never saw any reason why she should devote her life to supporting Venter's Humanity Liberation Front with attacks on the UNSC and instead developed a deep bond with Kahn, the man who had raised her and trained her almost all her life. Having spent so many years idolizing and looking up to her mentor, Nimue saw no other worthwhile path for herself other than that of a mercenary and assassin--the only professions that she had any experience with. She never suspected that Kahn's only role was that of a paid instructor; for his part, Kahn had failed to predict that he himself would begin to see his charge beyond the parameters of what he had been paid to accomplish and now viewed her as both a daughter-figure in his otherwise empty life and as a legacy that he could leave behind after he had finally passed on.
- "Make me proud."
- ―David Kahn to Nimue just prior to their separation.
That being said, Nimue was stunned when, after a series of grueling assassinations, Kahn announced that her training with him as over and that she would be retrieved by agents from the HLF and prepped for her first missions against the UNSC. At first not believing Kahn, Nimue assumed that this was another test and ambushed the agents who came to take her away from the bunker she had grown up in. The confrontation quickly escalated and Nimue wound up killing five Insurrectionists before being subdued by several more. A conflicted Kahn finally chose to intervene and killed the remaining operatives. Knowing that a vengeful Redmond Venter would pull out all the stops to hunt his pet project down, Kahn explained the situation to Nimue as best he could before ordering her to run away and survive on her own while he served as a decoy for Venter's agents. Still confused at the sudden turn of events, Nimue obeyed Kahn and fled into the nearby city, still half-hoping that this was still another exercise.
A week later, Nimue returned to the bunker to find that the HLF had torn the place apart looking for her and Kahn. With no trace of Kahn to be found and her childhood home in rubble, a fifteen-year old Nimue finally had to accept that she was now alone in a dangerous galaxy. Reeling from the loss of the only person she'd ever had to care for, she vanished into the galaxy's underbelly and would not lay eyes on Kahn for several years. The year was 2568.
- Felix-116: "You bastard... you took a child--a little girl--and turned her into one of us. For money. For a damn legacy.'"
- David Kahn: "And because of that, she'll survive a hell of a lot longer than she would have in this shithole of a galaxy. I gave her a purpose, and now she'll be greater than I ever was."
- ―Felix-116 confronting David Kahn after learning of the details regarding Nimue's childhood.
Nimue's constant exposure to violence was a constant source of concern for David Kahn, the very man responsible for bringing it about. He feared that her training would push her too far, cause her to have a mental breakdown and become a psychopath or be too traumatized for further training, either of which would make her useless as an assassin. However, the girl's outlook remained remarkably positive in light of the grim and often savage childhood experiences she went through. Much of this can be attributed to the highly positive light in which she viewed her mentor: even during her harsh physical punishments at his hands, Nimue never stopped idolizing Kahn as both a teacher and a father figure. Another contributor to her ability to cope was her own strong willpower and desire to succeed at all costs. But while she formed a strong bond between herself and Kahn and throughout her life proved herself capable of selfless acts of compassion, she still had trouble identifying with others and remained quiet and withdrawn in almost all manner of company. Nevertheless, she was absolutely ruthless in combat and dispatched enemies with an aggressive efficiency drilled into her by her years of training. A few years into her solo career, Nimue acquired a small number of friends and learned to open up more with them as they helped her find new ways of looking at the galaxy. She became very protective of these companions, but remained highly mistrustful of everyone else.
Nimue was outwardly quiet and stoic, rarely speaking unless spoken to. Although this silent professionalism lent to her reputation as a cold, efficient assassin, she was inwardly traumatized by the constant violence she endured on a daily basis. The loss of Kahn, who's stabilizing presence had allowed her to endure his violent training, forced her to confront the killing head-on, and she often had nightmares about the people she killed. Nevertheless, she eschewed outside attempts to help her deal with the trauma and believed that allowing others to influence her would make her weak and unworthy of her idol, Kahn.
- "Don't go around putting your faith in people, Nimue. Because no matter how hard you want things like friends or family, they'll always manage to disappoint you."
- ―David Kahn
- "Just because you were raised in a bunker by a killer doesn't mean you have to spend your life alone."
- "Everything that I know, everything that I can do, everything that I am... I owe it all to that man. My father."
- ―Nimue reflecting on David Kahn.
When she was first taken to live and train with David Kahn in the bunker supplied by the Humanity Liberation Front, Nimue was completely intimidated by her formidable instructor and was reluctant to speak or even come near him. This fear was compounded by his use of physical punishments to deter her from making mistakes during their exercises together. However, as her skills improved and she adapted to Kahn’s harsh methods, Nimue began to grow closer to the veteran mercenary. As the only adult—or even, for the most part, human being—that she had regular contact with, Kahn became both an all-powerful authority figure and a stand-in for the parents that Nimue had never had. She craved his praise and attention and feared angering or disappointing him—not so much for the physical pain that always accompanied failure, but for the terrible sense of guilt she felt whenever she wasn't able to please him. Kahn, for his part, came to view Nimue as more than just a piece of merchandise he was being paid to train. He saw her as both his legacy, which would keep his reputation and skills alive long after he himself was dead, and as the child he had never been able to have. It was this dual attitude--both proprietary and paternal--that prevented him from doing anything to incorporate Nimue with an Insurrectionist worldview, a deficiency that would eventually result in Nimue's decision to choose the life of a paid mercenary like Kahn over that of an Insurrectionist assassin. Both Kahn and Nimue were privately devastated by their separation, though neither felt it wise to allow the galactic underworld to become aware of their relationship.
- "This makes, what? Four jobs you've messed up for me now?"
Several of Nimue's early jobs brought her into conflict with fellow freelancer Mordred and his artificial intelligence companion Diana. Nimue beat them out of several contracts, much to the mercenary duo's ire. Mordred--who would ironically form a short-lived partnership with David Kahn shortly after Nimue began working in earnest--strongly disliked Nimue for her interference, but would ironically hire her on to help him evade the Interspecies Union and Path Walker forces who hunted him in the aftermath of the C329t Incident.
Nimue met the ex-SPARTAN-III Cassandra-G006 while she was looking for mercenary work in the slums of the Outer Colonies. Cassandra would recognize the isolating effects of Nimue's brutal upbringing and reached out to her, offering her shelter within the underground medical clinic she worked in. In doing so, Cassandra became Nimue's first true friend and often attempted to pull her away from the violent lifestyle she'd been immersed in. Although Nimue refused to give up the role of assassin that Kahn had groomed her for, she repaid Cassandra's kindness by acting as security for the clinic whenever she wasn't contracted.
- All of the Knight children were named after characters from the Arthurian legends. Nimue's designated name refers to one of the Ladies of the Lake who was an apprentice to the wizard Merlin.
- Throughout Nimue's training, David Kahn would often tell her "bedtime stories" before she turned in for the night. These stories usually consisted of the veteran mercenary recounting some of his many violent exploits to an entranced Nimue, who knew almost every one of them by heart by the time she finished her tutelage under him.
Behind the Scenes
- Nimue's childhood of training with David Kahn was inspired by the childhood of Cassandra Cain, one of the Batgirls from DC comics. Almost all of the images of Nimue are derived from cropped scans of Batgirl comic pages, though her post-training life is radically different and entirely of the author's creation.