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DATE OF BIRTH
|Political and Military Information|
- "Everyone dies."
- ―David Kahn
If you want to kill someone, hire a hit man. If you want to kill someone closely guarded, utterly secluded, or completely untouchable, hire David Kahn.
Indisputably the best mercenary and assassin-for-hire in the galaxy following the, David Khan rose out of a brutal past to fight during the Human-Covenant War and gained both prestige and infamy following the conflict when he began selling his considerable skills to the highest bidder. Responsible for countless successful mercenary operations and for the assassinations of innumerable politicians, dignitaries, criminals, and warlords, Kahn was a relentless hunter willing to take on any job, no matter how impossible the task might seem. As cunning and meticulous as he was lethal, Kahn was as respected and feared by his employers as he was by those who sought his death or incarceration.
Aside from his highly successful career as a solo freelancer, Kahn was also the father of the Spartan Cassandra-G006 and instrumental in the training of the Humanity Liberation Front's operative Nimue, devoting over a decade to her instruction and upbringing.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 The Fighter
- 1.2 The Operative
- 1.3 The Mercenary
- 1.4 The Professional
- 1.5 Project Knight
- 1.6 Training Nimue
- 2 Personality and Traits
- 3 Equipment
- 4 Quotes
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Behind the Scenes
"Thank You For Making Me Strong"
- "It's a pattern, an inescapable fact of life. The nature of men is to create monsters. And it's the nature of the monsters to destroy their creators."
- ―David Kahn, reflecting on his childhood.
The boy who would become the most feared assassin in human history was born Hector Thornhill on the successfulworld of in late 2468. His well-off parents, Michael and Jennifer Thornhill, were surprised and delighted to find that their infant son exhibited excellent physical and mental development over the first few years of his life; Hector was walking unsupported after only seven months and speaking coherently within a year and a half. But in spite of their child’s immense gifts, Michael and Jennifer’s domestic relationship was not a positive one. A retired colonel, Michael was demanding and emotionally abusive towards Jennifer, who reacted to the strained relationship by developing an alcohol dependency in the months after Hector’s birth. When Hector was only two years old, Jennifer walked out of the marriage completely and left Michael to raise the young boy on his own.
In spite of the domestic troubles, Hector continued his impressive development. When he was old enough to begin his primary education he easily surpassed his classmates both academically and physically, displaying an aptitude in particular for reading and critical thinking. But the confidently intelligent front that the young Hector adopted disguised the strained relationship between the son and his domineering father. Jennifer’s departure had done nothing to temper Michael’s abrasive personality and he was unrelentingly oppressive towards Hector, pressuring him to excel and succeed at everything he did. While Michael never physically abused Hector, he constantly subjected him to brutal verbal attacks whenever the boy failed to live up to his Olympian expectations. Unable to win Michael’s love, Hector continued to push himself forward, participating in as many extracurricular activities as he could in order to stay away from his home—and his father. In order to bolster his own self-esteem in the face of Michael’s emotional abuse, Hector grew distant from his peers and looked down on them for not matching his own potential.
Hector’s success and arrogance made him plenty of enemies amongst his classmates. Groups of other boys sought to humble him by ambushing him on his way home and delivering group beatings on the street. Hector held his own during these fights, but the other boys’ superior numbers meant that he always wound up on the losing side. When Michael learned of the beatings, he paid for private lessons with dozens of martial arts instructions—the only time he ever spent money on his son’s education. As with everything else, Michael demanded excellence from his son in these lessons. Things came to a head when a sixteen year old Hector faced down twelve older boys by himself. In the ensuing fight, he hospitalized all twelve of his attackers. Michael approved of Hector’s “success,” which brought father and son closer than they had ever been. However, Hector soon faced suspension and criminal charges for injuring the other boys. An enraged Michael blamed Hector for “throwing [his] life away” and attempted to physically beat his son. But Hector easily overpowered his father, breaking Michael’s nose and forcing him out of the room. Shocked by the loss of control over his son, Michael spent the rest of the day sulking and drinking. That evening, he attacked Hector with a knife in a drunken fury, cutting him severely on his arms and chest. During the scuffle, Hector wrestled the knife away from his father and unflinchingly embedded it in Michael’s throat. Numbed by his father’s violence, Hector thanked Michael for making him strong before removing the knife and killing his father.
"I Want To Be Something More"
- "I am sorry. Sorry I didn't kill him a year ago. The world's a better place without him."
- ―Hector speaking to a psychiatrist regarding the death of his father.
The ensuing police investigation into Michael's death exonerated Hector of all wrongdoing--the evidence clearly showed that the killing had been done in self-defense. However, the now-orphaned teenager was flagged for suspected mental health issues and placed under psychological examination the moment he entered Eridanus's underage ward program. The doctors who tested him were surprised to find the young man in what appeared to be a perfectly sound state of mind, responding candidly and intelligently to all the questions put before him. Nevertheless, every psychologist also noticed a disturbing lack of remorse on Hector's part for the killing of his father. Hector had convinced himself that Michael had deserved to die and that he had done the rest of humanity a favor by killing him.
The media circus regarding the death of Michael Thornhill soon ground to a halt and Hector faced less and less scrutiny as the months went by. Still completely unrepentant, Hector was not surprised when no foster home could be found willing to take him in. He was quite content within Eridanus's well-funded orphanage system and without Michael's oppressive influence he was free to conduct himself as he pleased. Still highly competitive, he remained isolated from most of his fellow orphans while instead cultivating a tentative interest in the arts and sciences. Despite these beginnings of refined sensibilities, Hector had no interest in pursuing a career in academics. The stigma surrounding his background would doubtless prevent him from entering all but the most middling of universities and condemn him to what he saw as a life full of mediocrity and easy victories. Instead, he had his sights set on a different challenge entirely: the's burgeoning .
Hector's push for enlistment was a challenge in and of itself. The Navy's recruit screening program blocked his candidacy on three separate occasions due to his "questionable record." With no one within the system to grant him waivers for his security checks, Hector pressed on, scoring exceptionally high on the Navy's stringent entrance examinations time and time again until one center's recruitment personnel finally relented and allowed the troubled youth to be inducted into the military. Hector treated the subsequent months of training in the same manner that he'd treated the rest of his life: as a personal challenge to excel and rise above everyone around him.
- Main article: Duties and Desires: Part 2
"Let's See What You Can Do"
After completing the navy's basic training course, Hector immediately pursued his dream of joining the UNSC's special forces as they struggled to counterin the . Impressing his superiors with a natural talent for firearms and CQC, Hector easily passed the grueling entrance requirements. His early years in the navy's special warfare division (NAVSPECWAR) formed the core of the skills he would hone to lethal perfection as his career progressed. By the age of twenty-one, Hector's single-minded determination to excel and succeed had cut through any reservations the Navy might have had about his role in Michael's death. By the age of twenty-one he had been fast-tracked through NAVSPECWAR's specialized officer candidate school and received his lieutenant's commission in 2489. However, he owed much of his rapid ascension to agents of the , who had watched his growth since entering the special forces with great interest.
In late 2489, the newly minted Lieutenant Thornhill was approached by agents from ONI's secretive Section-III division. Seeking volunteers for the relaunch of the top-secret ORION project, the agents offered Hector a place in the UNSC's first super-soldier program. Eager to advance his soaring career further, Hector agreed. Unbeknownst to him, ONI had been grooming Hector to become one of their own black operatives since his special forces career had begun. ORION was the culmination of their preparations. The program's initial testing in CQC and basic combat skills offered Hector a challenge unlike he had ever experienced. In the months of combat testing, he rose to the top of the heap and was rated as the first amongst over a hundred of the finest special forces solders the UNSC's military had to offer.
In the meantime, Hector found himself assigned to more special warfare missions targeting the Insurrectionist movement. Paired with another aspiring officer, Felix Martel, Hector was sent after several rebel officials and ringleaders. During this time he developed a friendship with Martel, taking the younger officer under his wing and alternating between instructing and competing with his capable new partner. Their partnership came to a head in late 2490, when they were assigned to head up a team targeting a rebel information broker named David Kahn. Searching for Kahn on the Outer Colony Taradia, Hector and his team operated discretely for several weeks before he was recalled by NAVSPECWAR. Project Orion was getting underway.
"I Feel Great"
The ORION project's principle goal was to implant its volunteers with a series of performance-enhancing augmentations that would render them the UNSC's first "supersoldiers." Along with his fellow volunteers, Hector spent several months recovering from the procedure and growing accustomed to his improved strength and reflexes before being transferred back to rejoin Felix. However, his ONI superiors had sent him back with an updated briefing: although he would still work towards finding and killing David Kahn, he would do so in a way that would allow him to disappear, leaving enough evidence for his comrades to believe he had died. Then, with Kahn dead, he would assume the information broker's identity and use it to cripple the colonial rebel network from the inside.
Although he had grave reservations about such a risky and difficult mission, Hector felt that he had come too far in ONI's service to turn his back on it now. Reunited with Felix in Taradia's Three Gates City, he joined his friend and their Marine support team as they assaulted rebel strongpoints. However, he quickly diverted them from their objective and had them join him in hunting for Kahn. His plan was to be captured by Kahn's forces, then gradually present himself as a potential defector to gain the broker's trust. Recklessly separating himself from Felix and the others, Hector allowed himself to be cornered and subdued by the rebel troops.
Hector's plan worked better than he could have hoped, as Kahn took it upon himself to personally "question" the captured special forces operative. Drugged and interrogated by Kahn, Hector had to rely on all of ONI's counter-interrogation training to avoid revealing his mission as he was forced to relive his harsh childhood. Painting himself as an ambitious power-seeker, he succeeded in convincing Kahn to prolong his incarceration long enough for the UNSC's assault on the rebel strong points to begin. Breaking free of his captors, he cornered and killed Kahn before escaping with copies of many of the broker's computer files. The first part of his orders fulfilled, Hector vanished amidst the chaos without making contact with the UNSC. For all intents and purposes, Hector Thornhill was dead; his life as David Kahn had just begun.
"Am I Two Someones Or No One?"
The secretive nature of the real David Kahn's operations allowed his replacement to quickly assume his role as the rebel underworld's information broker. Constantly moving from colony to colony, "David" capitalized on his predecessor's reputation to gather information on various rebel groups while feeding them tidbits of anti-government intelligence supplied by his ONI handlers. Blaming the sudden drop in the quality of his services on losses sustained during the Taradia battle, Hector quickly supplied ONI with the information it needed to eliminate several Insurrectionist ringleaders; several of these assassinations were carried out by Hector himself, who proved to be incredibly adept at navigating the colonies' criminal elements.
Very little is known regarding the exact details of Hector's time as ONI's mole. With the Insurrection gaining momentum and popularity throughout the colonies, "David Kahn" was in high demand from both sides, with rebel groups in desperate need of his services and the UNSC military eager to capitalize on its intelligence breakthrough. Hector walked on the edge of a knife, forced to balance his mission of derailing Insurrectionist operations with the need to disguise his true allegiance and keep "Kahn"'s underworld reputation intact. Remaining unseen and isolated, he was constantly traveling from colony to colony, spending years at a time suspended in cryosleep as he moved on to each new mission and target. For all intents and purposes, Hector Thornhill became a non-entity, a man removed from society and time itself as he carried out his missions with lethal efficiency time after time with no end in sight.
Such a violent, lonely existence undoubtedly had a profound effect on Hector's psyche. Despite the effectiveness with which he carried out his bloody work, the rebellions and terrorist activities continued to grow in size and brutality. ORION's double agent coordinated and carried out the destruction of countless militia groups and terror cells only to see dozens more emerge to take their place. Just how and when Hector Thornhill lost hold of his mission and purpose is unknown, but in the early 2520's his ONI handlers lost all contact with him. While some believed he had finally been unmasked and killed, no intelligence could be found to support the theory that he had been executed. The agent known as both Hector Thornhill and David Kahn had simply ceased to exist.
"Let's Get Down to Business"
But ONI's best operative was not dead. Discarding the name "Hector Thornhill" completely, the agent severed all ties with the government and assumed the mantle of David Kahn permanently. No longer seeing any point in offering up his talents for ONI's exclusive purposes, David reinvented himself as a mercenary and assassin for hire. The remnants of his intelligence network allowed him to gain a firm foothold within the underworld community and he quickly built up a reputation as a lethally effective hired killer. The first record ONI ever found of David Kahn's new profession was uncovered in late 2521 when his name was dredged up during ainvestigation as having been one of several hired guns contracted by a colonial governor to assassinate political rivals. Over the course of the next few years he took on numerous contracts throughout both the Inner and Outer colonies, mostly working for politicians or organized crime organizations to eliminate rivals or other unlucky individuals who had incurred his employers' wrath. Although most of his known hits are recorded as being successful, Kahn was considered to be little more than a well-traveled hit man during this early stage in his career; although some in ONI suspected that Hector Thornhill truly had gone rogue, many others believed the name of David Kahn had been taken up by another criminal following Hector's execution. David stayed constantly on the move, traveling from sector to sector as he moved from one contract to another. Kahn spent many years in cryosleep during the long Slipspace jumps his travels entailed. The cryosleep kept him relatively young, and each time he emerged he found that the galaxy had changed very little while he had been asleep. With his beliefs on the nature of human society validated, Kahn considered himself above what he saw as endless political and economic squabbling. He continued to take every job he could, honing his skills with each mark he put down.
The onset of the Human-Covenant War in early 2525 proved to be a horrific shock for the human community at large but did very little initially to hurt the availability of jobs within the UEG's colonial underworld. With information on the Frederick King. Knowing of Kahn's past identity as Hector Thornhill, King offered Kahn a place within Project BRUTUS, an ONI black operations program that used elite operatives to counter Insurrectionist activity and Covenant incursions. Realizing that ONI was aware of his activities and that BRUTUS was his best chance to help fight the Covenant, Kahn accepted King's offer and entered BRUTUS as "Agent 20". Although he maintained his criminal contacts and continued to take side contracts from time to time—activities that ONI pointedly ignored—Kahn became one of BRUTUS's key assets, moving throughout the colonies and deploying against Insurrectionist and Covenant targets with what was becoming his trademark in lethal efficiency.limited by ONI's information control, Kahn and many other humans believed the threat would be resolved in short order. But as the Covenant's offensives intensified and human colonies began to fall one after the other, it soon became clear that this new war threatened humanity's very existence. Though the criminal underworld benefited greatly from the climate of panic and fear, Kahn saw in the Covenant a struggle worthy of his full dedication and skills. In 2527, Kahn was approached by an old face from ORION, Agent
Project BRUTUS's Agent 20 proved to be both highly capable and resilient, proving himself one of the few exceptions to the notoriously short life expectancy of a BRUTUS operative. Once again an instrument of the Earth government, he specialized in eliminating corrupt officials and individuals deemed harmful to the UNSC's war effort. His BRUTUS activities also brought him to the front lines of the Covenant war, where he provided support for other special operations forces or performed highly sensitive missions for ONI. One such occasion saw him fight alongside elements of the famedduring operations on . During the Arcadia deployment, Kahn took a fancy to the "helljumpers"' and began wearing variants of the armor in a habit that would carry on through much of his career.
"To Hell With This"
But his return to the UNSC's service saw Kahn once again troubled by the personal doubts that had prompted him to abandon ONI in the first place. As lethally effective as he proved time and time again, his activities never seemed to have any lasting impact on humanity's increasingly desperate struggle with the relentless Covenant armadas. Steeped in constant violence, Kahn fought against bouts of nihilism and depression and became more and more detached from both his missions and fellow humans. Reflecting on his life, David began to feel increasingly certain that for all his ambitions and efforts to advance himself, he had accomplished nothing of value with anything he had done. With his lifelong devotion to bettering himself through violence suddenly in question, David saw no reason to continue plying his lethal skills as either an ONI operative or an independent contractor. During a mission to eliminate an independence-minded political candidate on the colony of Illios in 2539, David once again severed all ties with his ONI handlers and vanished into one of the colony's metropolises.
In his efforts to rediscover his own sense of purpose, David once again took up the name of Hector Thornhill and began taking on odd jobs as a civilian on Illios. It was here that he met Dara Engel, a young factory worker attempting to get by within the colony's struggling economy. "Hector" and Dara encountered each other several times at the factory where Dara worked and after a few months they began living together. Hector had never been involved in a romantic relationship before; so much of his life had been spent in pursuit of honing his own body and skills that he had rarely taken the time to get to know others. Dara opened up a new world for the assassin-turned-laborer and for nearly a year he was content to forget about his violent past and the war that continued to rage against the Covenant. Careful not to divulge too much information about his past, Hector bolstered Dara's factory pay with his own earnings as well as pay drawn from the funds he had accumulated while working as a mercenary. Together, the odd couple managed to make it through Illios's poverty-stricken metropolis. After living with Dara for nearly a year, Hector was alarmed to learn that his lover had become pregnant. Pathologically averse to family life, which reminded him of his own troubled childhood, Hector began to question the new direction he had chosen for himself.
- "Enough playing house, David. Time for you to come back inside."
- ―Alexander Redford
In early 2540, Hector was approached by fellow BRUTUS operative Alexander Redford, who had been dispatched to return the wayward agent to active duty. Alexander's appearance both reminded Hector of his former ambitions and stoked the assassin's ego: his skills were important enough to ONI that they wished to use him again. Though Hector still cared for Dara, he agreed to return to BRUTUS and sever ties with her. Leaving a sum of money behind, Hector abandoned Dara and left Illios with Redford. The decision to leave the pregnant Dara weighed heavily on Hector's mind even as he re-assumed the name of David Kahn and once again took on missions for BRUTUS. Part of him knew that he had betrayed his lover's trust and affection; out of a life of constant violence and unflinching brutality, the decision to leave Dara Engel and her unborn daughter was a choice that not even Kahn's harsh code could justify and would weigh heavily on him long after he had slipped back into the role of a merciless killer.
BRUTUS's work had not diminished in the time David had spent off the grid. The war with the Covenant continued to rage with no end in sight while rebel and criminal elements took advantage of the chaos to expand their own capabilities. Haunted by memories of Dara, David gladly threw himself against the underworld targets assigned by BRUTUS. He quickly re-familiarized himself with his old skills and once again left a trail of bodies in his wake as he eliminated target after target. The years of violence became a blur as David fought to forget his brief attempt at living a normal life and immersed himself in the world of assassinations and black operations. In 2549, BRUTUS loaned him to an internal affairs division operating under FLEETCOM and ONI's joint jurisdiction. The division was part of a government crackdown on the many "magic bullet" experimental programs that ran rampant amidst the fear and desperation of the Covenant war. In attempts to forge weapons to turn the tide against the alien aggressors, the UNSC had inadvertently created a system of bureaucratic and legal loopholes that enabled renegade military programs to drain funding and even partake in criminal activities without government restriction. As part of an initiative to curb this corruption, David was assigned to the Hound Unit, a military black operations unit that was the backbone of the new oversight committee. The Hounds' primary target was an experimental AI and weapons development program known as Project FREELANCER.
As a member of the Hound Unit, David served under First Lieutenant Redmond Venter as they launched a series of raids on several of FREELANCER's illicit suppliers. Most of these black market dealers were members of the Syndicate, a crime organization that David had often fought for as an underground mercenary. Aided by the Freelancer operative turned mercenary Agent Georgia, Venter and his superiors hoped to isolate FREELANCER director Dr. Leonard Church and uncover enough evidence that even Church's friends within the UEG and CAA could not protect him from prosecution. Acting on information provided by Georgia and a mole within the FREELANCER program, Agent Connecticut, David spearheaded a sting operation on the colony world . Raiding a Syndicate smuggling vessel, David and the other Hounds recovered a cryo-storage unit containing a that was meant for delivery to Church. Although Venter wished to dispatch the specimen to a secure facility, he was instead reinforced by a battalion of local defense troopers and ordered to use the cryo unit as bait to lure Church's operatives into a trap. Though Venter, David, and the other Hounds saw their superiors' orders as flawed and shortsighted they dutifully fortified a skyscraper in the city of and waited for the Freelancers to arrive.
As the Hounds had feared, the ensuing Freelancer assault tore through the colonial defense teams guarding the skyscraper. As Venter and the others tried to contain the Freelancers' rampage David and fellow Hounds Grace Hart and Levi Groves were assigned to head off a second Freelancer strike team trying to attack from the street level. Using information fed to them by Connecticut, Kahn led the Hounds in ambushing and incapacitating the enemy team. But the situation in the skyscraper quickly took a turn for the worse and the Hounds could only watch as a light MAC round fired by Project FREELANCER's mobile headquarters Mother of Invention obliterated the skyscraper and facilitated the escape of the renegade strike team with the cryo unit and the codes needed to access it. Abandoning the still-raging firefight to pursue the fleeing Freelancers, David and the other Hounds engaged in a brutal battle on Côte d'Azur's highway. In the melee that followed, David pitted his skills against those of the Freelancers in close combat and succeeded in critically wounding Agent Maine, shooting the large operative repeatedly in the throat. With the rest of the Hounds incapacitated, David attempted to flee with the codes but was chased down by Agent Carolina. Unable to shake the persistent Freelancer's pursuit, David's attempt to stand his ground against Carolina was quickly cut short when a civilian truck knocked him off the highway and left the Freelancers free to retrieve the codes. The defeat at Côte d'Azur came as a shock to David, who had regarded the Freelancer operatives as unprofessional amateurs given an edge by Church's experimental armor. Unused to losing, David resolved to personally kill Carolina as the Hounds regrouped and prepared to continue its shadow war against the renegade program.
While Venter led a small colonial detachment to secure a scrapped York and Washington; their brawl was cut short when Agent Maine joined the battle. Although David disregarded the maimed agent in his desire to reach Carolina, Maine was hungry for payback of his own and attacked the distracted Hound. David was caught off guard by Maine's approach and in a test of brute force even his Orion augmentations could not match Maine's monstrous strength. Maine ended their rematch in a matter of seconds, knocking David unconscious with a vicious blow to the head.and extract Agent Connecticut, David and the other Hounds traveled to . Setting up shop in an abandoned shipyard near , they rendezvoused with a detachment of soldiers from the local defense forces with the goal of establishing a headquarters from which they would intercept future Freelancer attacks. The Hounds were soon joined by Venter and Connecticut, but once again the Freelancers were a step ahead of their opponents. A strike team led by Agent Carolina hit the shipyard in a surprise raid that caught the Hounds off-guard. Eager to even the score with the rogue agents, David hurried into the fray in the hopes of encountering Carolina once again. Instead, he encountered Agents
The rest of the Hounds fared little better as the battle wore on. The Freelancer commandos tore through the shipyard's defenses and by the time the Freelancers withdrew Agent Connecticut was dead along with several of the Hounds and nearly all of their auxiliaries. A dazed Kahn awoke and in spite of his injuries managed to drag two of his fellow Hounds, Levi Groves and Grace Hart, to safety. Thoroughly humiliated by his quick defeat, David feared that he was beginning to lose the edge that had kept him at the top for so much of his life. Meanwhile, with Connecticut dead and with his superiors pressing for the Hounds to produce results, Venter began working closer with Agent Georgia, relying on the ex-FREELANCER to help take the fight to their enemies. Through Georgia's underworld contacts, the Hounds took charge of a contingent of private military contractors and prepared to raid the Mother of Invention. Though Kahn itched for a chance to avenge his pride he realized that the Hounds were woefully outmatched and quietly arranged to be transferred away from the losing feud and off to other BRUTUS assignments.
"Because I'm The Best"
- "When I take a contract, I see it through to the end. I don't care how well hidden the target is or how many goons, aliens, or genetic freaks are between me and him, because I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. That is what makes me different from the others in my line of work: they have limits; I do not."
- ―David Kahn speaking to a dubious employer.
Just three days after the official end of the most destructive war in human history, David Kahn once again dropped out of contact with his ONI superiors. At first, BRUTUS was too caught up in the chaos brought on by the war's end to look into this sudden desertion and Kahn's disappearance was swept under the rug. But not three months after the war's end, a string of high-profile assassinations swept across the Inner Colonies. All of the victims were powerful individuals, with ties to the UEG's civilian government, military forces, or criminal organizations. Though attributed to the rise in organized crime that surged after the war's end, ONI analysts were quick to realize that these assassinations—all carried out against highly guarded individuals with very little evidence left behind to implicate the killer—were highly similar to Kahn's preferred modus operandi. After several ONI agents met their ends at the hands of this shadowy killer, BRUTUS was finally charged with eliminating its former operative. After three consecutive BRUTUS agents were killed when sent after Kahn, ONI elevated Kahn to a priority one threat, on par with many top-tier rebel leaders and Covenant warlords. But after Kahn slaughtered four ONI hit squads, the last of which composed of members of the burgeoning program, the organization made an incredibly rare concession of defeat by removing Kahn from the the priority threat list—along with the databases of most other government agencies. Kahn had struck a quiet, off-the-books deal with the fearsome intelligence agency: in exchange for his agreement not to overtly interfere with ONI operations, he became a ghost, free to carry on as a freelance killer without fear of reprisal from the intelligence community.
David wasted no time in setting up shop in the revitalized galactic underworld and refilling his old niche as an elite gun for hire. With most police forces overstretched from refugee influxes and reconstruction projects, many local governments were happy to hire the likes of Kahn to help keep wanted criminals in check. Likewise, the slow rebuilding of the UEG's colonial infrastructure opened a new door for humanity's various criminal syndicates to forge new underworld empires and David soon found himself playing an instrumental role in the rise of the formidable Syndicate as the most powerful criminal organization in history. Another burgeoning market existed amidst the confusion of the Covenant's dissolution, as former client races such as the Kig-Yar or Unggoy beckoned in waves of human missionaries, con men, relief workers, criminals, and mercenaries. One job taken by Kahn in 2555 had him assassinate a Sangheili warlord who had set himself and his warriors up as rulers of a small colony of Unggoy. Kahn infiltrated the warlord's compound and eliminated almost every warrior in sight with a sniper rifle before killing the rest in a furious firefight that gave the human mercenary a fierce reputation in the eyes of the Unggoy and Sangheili alike.
Although he was not adverse to taking jobs from Insurrectionist clients, Kahn's "live and let live" agreement with ONI hindered his ability to consider them a truly constant source of work and he rarely took rebel contracts that were not cleared with him by Syndicate middlemen. A rare exception to this unspoken rule was an up and coming officer in the Humanity Liberation Front faction named Redmond Venter. Ruthless and ambitious, Venter was not intimidated by Kahn's steep fees and relied on him as a key tool in order to eliminate his enemies both without and within the HLF. Years later, Venter's experience with Kahn would lead him to offer the mercenary a job that would radically change the course of his life.
- David Kahn: "You've brought in all of your specialists. You've hired the best sharpshooters, close-up men, and commandos on the market. It's obvious that you've made sure all your bases are covered with this project. So why the hell do you want me to take one of these kids away from the main pool?"
- Redmond Venter: "Because you're the absolute best, Kahn. I want you to take this girl and raise her as your own. Teach her everything you know. Make her the best. Make her better than you."
- ―David Kahn and Redmond Venter discussing the former's adoption of Nimue
Around 2560, David was once again contacted by Redmond Venter. Venter had by now become a highly placed and funded officer within the Humanity Liberation Front, and had recently spearheaded a new project that he hoped would both increase the HLF's effectiveness against the UNSC and give him enough clout to rise even further within his organization's leadership. This project was Project Knight, and its goal was to create rebel supersoldiers akin to the UNSC's Spartans. Using DNA samples retrieved from a Spartan traitor, Venter's scientists had managed to replicate some of the chemical augmentations undergone by the SPARTAN-IIIs. Although these drugs would not be as potent as those used by the UNSC, the HLF hoped that with the right training their "Knight" operatives could become superb operatives in their continuing resistance against UNSC control.
Augmenting close to a hundred test tube babies conceived through the DNA of several HLF operatives and mercenaries, Venter's scientists turned the "batch" over to Venter and his hand-picked cadre of HLF and mercenary trainers after three years of flash-learning and development. Though the HLF-brewed augmentations were far less effective than Venter had hoped, the one hundred Knight trainees were still in peak physical condition and he decided to go ahead with the project. However, he singled out one young girl--assigned the code-name "Nimue"--who was deemed to have the fastest reflexes and reaction times of all the trainees. Venter saw in the project an opportunity to quietly build a small army of skilled operatives that were more loyal to him than to the HLF as a whole, and wanted to ensure that at least one would not be affected by any parts of the training that were going to be influenced by his fellow HLF leaders. In order to create the "perfect assassin", Venter decided to contract the best assassin money could buy in order to train her.
David was initially skeptical of the deal, especially since it involved taking in and raising an three-year old child for an indefinite amount of time. However, with a ten million credit contract (in addition to an additional twenty million once he delivered the finished "product") riding on the job, he accepted and allowed himself to be taken to a remote colony world where the HLF had quietly assembled a small bunker complex for him to live for the duration of Nimue's training.
David quickly dedicated himself to Nimue's training with the same level calculated dedication he had shown all of his previous contracts. The girl reacted poorly to her sudden confinement with the large, intimidating mercenary and spent their first few weeks alone together hiding in various spots of their new bunker home. David was impressed by the young child's ability to hide so effectively, but 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, David 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. He rewarded successful completion of their drills together with extra rations and praise, but any failures on Nimue's part would result in David beating her to a bloody pulp before denying her rations and forcing her to do more exercises in her weakened state. In regards to these punishments, David more than lived up to his merciless reputation. While internally conflicted by his actions, he never allowed his misgivings to affect the administration of his harsh discipline. However, 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.
Personality and Traits
- "They say I'm a selfish man, a greedy man. They say that I should devote myself to some cause or other, instead of remaining a freelancer, but why should I? The Covenant is broken. I did my part in that fight just like we all did, and now humanity's the one standing on top of the ashes. The UNSC's an organized mob of power-hungry politicians and swaggering militarists, backed up by the industrialists and the masses kept in line by fear and petty favors. The Insurrection died a long time ago, though that doesn't stop the rebels from scheming up their next bloody comeback. The Syndicate understands power; that's all that matters to Powell and her lackeys, that and money—I have to say I respect them for that. And as for me, I'm a killer in a galaxy that's always begging for someone to feed it more blood. I didn't make the galaxy the way it is. I just live here. And so I'll keep taking jobs for whoever has the money, and I'll live longer and happier than any fool who pulls a curtain over the truth and pretends there's some righteousness to serving one empty cause over another"
- ―David Kahn
In his youth, Hector Thornhill was brash and outspoken, carrying a chip on his shoulder alongside a burning desire to surpass those around him. Though this pushed him to excel in his early military career and training as an ORION operative, it kept him aloof and isolated from his peers and prevented him from forming many lasting relationships. Upon assuming the identity of David Kahn and immersing himself in the galactic underworld, the man who had once been Hector was forced to reevaluate his place in the galaxy. The enforced isolation of his new life of violent subterfuge reshaped the once-cocky special forces operator into a grounded and introspective man. The post-war Kahn had seen his own species brought to the brink of extinction and had faced death more than enough times to become keenly aware of his own mortality. With no family or friends to guide or direct him and mindful of how insignificant his life would most likely become on the grand scale of human history and the galaxy at large, Kahn set out to build a name for himself that would live on long after he himself had died. This desire would drive him to earn a reputation as the best mercenary, bounty hunter, and assassin in both human and Covenant space. Until he accepted the job to raise and train Nimue, all David cared to concern himself with was maintaining and expanding his fearsome reputation.
The decade he spent tutoring Nimue forced David to reevaluate his priorities. For the first time in his career he had someone other than himself to look out for and (eventually) to care about. Realizing that he could establish more than just a reputation as his legacy, David sought to make Nimue the greatest assassin the galaxy had ever seen, surpassing even himself and those trained by the UNSC and thereby creating something concrete that would live on after he himself died. This ego-born ambition would often come into conflict with the conscience that David was slowly developing in response to his paternal feelings toward the young girl. His emotions also conflicted with the harsh methods he employed to train Nimue, but he assuaged his guilt through the justification that he was preparing her for the "survival of the fittest" nature of the galaxy they lived in. Although saddened by the separation brought on by Nimue's resistance to the HLF's designs for her, David was satisfied that he had done all he could to prepare his charge and was made proud by the independence made plain by her choice to resist the Insurrectionists sent to retrieve her. The years with Nimue softened David enough to make him rethink his previous dislike of having companions during his jobs and inspired to pursue brief partnerships with other mercenaries Nimue left him. The combination of Nimue's influence and the short-lived partnership made David a much more personable man when dealing with his few close associates, although he did his best to maintain the cold demeanor he'd once possessed at all other times.
With David only able to maintain sporadic communication with Nimue and his partnership with Mordred dissolved, he has mostly returned to his old ways of operating as a lone agent but occasionally agrees to work with other mercenaries if he feels a contract warrants it. He maintains an air of cold detachment when performing jobs and is willing to use any means necessary in order to fulfill his contracts so long as they adhere to his loose code of honor. Attempts to buy him off always fail, as he is both too proud to accept and too wary of the damage it might cause to his ever-precious reputation.
Mental and Physical Abilities
Although many deride men of David's profession as uneducated thugs and criminals, David himself is possessed of a sharp mind and uses it just as much as he uses weapons to both plan and execute his contracts. While lacking much knowledge of classical subjects aside from what he has picked up during his spare time, he is well-versed in the use of almost any weapon system imaginable and maintains a working technical knowledge by maintaining much of his gear and even performing some upgrades to his ship personally. His time as a partner to Mordred and Diana improved his computer skills greatly, as the A.I. Diana was always causing trouble in David's ship and he often attempted to lock her out of the system (he rarely succeeded). Aside from his first language of basic English, David can communicate coherently in several other Earth-based tongues as well as a few Kig-Yar and Sangheili languages.
David keeps himself in peak physical condition at all times and will always take time away from more leisurely activities to exercise or practice different forms of combat. Both strong and agile, he is said to be one the deadliest humans in the galaxy outside the UNSC's elite Spartans and is rumored to have even engaged SPARTAN-IIs and IIIs in combat at different points in his career. He is trained in a variety of martial arts and knows how to wield knives with speed and efficiency. His skill with weapons is equally proficient and he is willing to engage at close, medium, or long ranges depending on the situation. His encyclopedic knowledge of both human and alien body structures allows him to both perform competent field surgery and deliver devastating attacks to organic structural weak points. He is somewhat knowledgeable of various poisons, but rarely uses them as he considers them to be less efficient methods of killing than bullets. He has made a point of building up immunities to as many poisonous substances as possible without causing permanent harm to his body. Although comfortable with using explosive as traps and weapons in combat zones, he despises using them for assassinations as they are far too random and clumsy for him to consider them serious tools for that sort of job.
Hobbies and Pastimes
Although the majority of David's time was spent either fulfilling contract missions or in transit to new ones, he would occasionally take time to himself in order to relax and enjoy the exorbitant amounts of money he charged for his services. While he kept the majority of it tucked away in small pockets across UNSC space in the care of various underworld money launderers, making a point to never spend more than a modest some on his own entertainment, David would keep small sums on his person to occasionally indulge in pastimes and hobbies. His most common method of relaxation was spending long hours in seedy bars. During the early days of his mercenary career David cared little about how much he drank and would more often than not be amongst the drunken participants in the brawls that would invariably spring up in these low-brow establishments. However, as his reputation grew David began to feel that it was both dangerous and undignified to drink himself into a stupor so he began to carefully limit the amount of drinks he had in each sitting.
One of David's more guilty pleasures was his enjoyment of musicals, especially those of the ancient "Broadway" variety. Claiming that they both "invigorated and calmed" him at the same time, David especially enjoyed the musicals Les Miserables and The Producers. He was very secretive about this particular hobby and would only indulge in it if he knew he could get away with it unnoticed. Download logs for his helmet's mini-computer showed that he also uploaded a variety of classical music from Earth's ancient history for private listening, and copies of many historical books could be found throughout his personal vessel.
David Kahn's lifetime of combat experience has made him proficient with almost every small small-arms weapon manufactured by humans, and he is known to be extremely adaptable in the field when it comes to retrieving weapons from fallen enemies in order to match the ever-shifting conditions of battle. He is an excellent shot with all manner of weapons, though his preferred firearms are rifles designed for long range engagements and high-caliber pistols for closer-ranged fighting. He has been reported as using conventional military weapons such as assault rifles and submachine guns while operating in a more standard combat capacity. In spite of his distaste for using explosives for assassinations, he is more than willing to set up booby traps using grenades and other explosive charges during the heat of battle.
While by no means preferring fists and knives over firearms for combat, Kahn is still masterful with both when necessary and is rumored to have killed groups of better-armed opponents with his bare hands on several occasions. Were one to analyze Kahn's unique styles of fighting, they would observe a comprehensive and fundamental mind constantly taking note of the surroundings and opponents and adapting its technique and strategies in order to maintain the upper hand.
During most assassination jobs requiring little to no contact with hostile troops, Kahn either utilizes plainclothes or wears a modified "body sheath" similar to the kind worn underneath most suits of full-body armor. It has been rewoven with countless hardened nanofibers that maintain wearer flexibility but can also protect against light small arms fire and absorb kinetic impacts. For more conventional mercenary work that usually occurs during skirmishes and full scale battles, Kahn makes use of a stolen suit of Orbital Drop Shock Trooper armor that he is believed to have salvaged and refurbished during the Great War. Like all ODST suits, the armor can stand up to projectile and plasma impacts while allowing the user maximum protection without hampering body movement. By wearing his modified body sheath along with the armor, Kahn manages to maximize his protection without sacrificing too much movement and flexibility.
- Mordred: "You know... I just figured it out. Why you've always won before. It's because you didn't care about whether you lived or died or whether you won or lost. So you always wound up surviving and you always won."
- David Kahn: "Spare me. I won because I had more firepower - and more brainpower - than you or anyone else did. That's what matters. Nothing else."
- ―David Kahn and Mordred during a terse standoff
Behind the Scenes
- David's original last name was "Wellesley" before the author changed it to the simpler-sounding surname of "Kahn."
- Although initially drawn from Boba Fett, David Kahn's current iteration is heavily inspired by the assassin David Cain from DC comics and almost all of the pictures in this article are derived from images of that character. His training of Nimue is also inspired by Cain's training of Cassandra Cain, though the results and aftermath of the training have been completely altered.