Khan Noonien Singh

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Khan in 2267
Khan in 2285

Khan Noonien Singh (or simply, Khan), was the most prominent figure of the genetically-engineered Human augments of the late-20th century Eugenics Wars period on Earth, considered even over three centuries later to have been "the best" of them. Reappearing with a following made up of Augments in the 23rd century, Khan become a notorious enemy of James T. Kirk, as well as a warning of the danger in attempting to create "supermen" through technological means.

20th Century Origins

Records of the period, including Khan's origins, are vague. He was the product of a selective-breeding and genetic engineering program, based on the eugenic philosophy that held that improving the capabilities of one man improved the entire Human race. Augments produced by the program possessed physical strength and analytical capabilities considerably superior to ordinary Humans, and were created from a variety of Earth's ethnic groups. Khan's background was suspected to be from the northern region of India.

Khan would live up to the axiom coined by one of his creators, "superior ability breeds superior ambition". By 1993, a wave of the genetic "supermen" including Khan, had simultaneously assumed control of more than 40 of Earth's nations. From 1992 to 1996, Khan was absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth's population, including regions of Asia and the Middle East. Considered "the best of tyrants," he severely curtailed the freedoms of his subjects, but his reign was an exception to similar circumstances in Earth history – lacking massacres or internal war.

In the mid 1990s, the Augment tyrants began warring amongst themselves. Other nations joined in to force them from power in a series of struggles that became known as the Eugenics Wars. Eventually, most of the tyrants were defeated and their territory re-captured, but up to 90 "supermen" were never accounted for. Khan escaped the wars, and their consequences, along with 84 followers who swore to live and die at his command. He saw his best option in a risky, self-imposed exile. In 1996, he took control of a DY-100-class interplanetary sleeper ship he christened SS Botany Bay, named for the site of the Australian penal colony. Set on a course outbound from the solar system, but with no apparent destination in mind, Khan and his people remained in suspended animation for Botany Bay's (nearly) 300-year sublight journey.

23rd Century Return

The USS Enterprise discovered the Botany Bay in the Mutara sector in 2267. The boarding party's arrival triggered Khan's stasis unit to revive him, but the ancient mechanism faltered. The decision of Captain James T. Kirk to remove him from the stasis chamber, and Dr. Leonard McCoy's subsequent ministrations, saved Khan's life.

Twelve of Khan's stasis units failed during the voyage. Kirk, taking the Botany Bay in tow, left the remaining 72 sleepers for disposition a nearby Starbase following their leader's successful recovery. The Botany Bay's undocumented departure, and the fragmented records of the period, initially obscured the identity of the sleepers from the Enterprise crew. However, Khan's incredible recuperative powers led Kirk to suspect their genetically-manipulated nature.


While Kirk and his officers contemplated the history of their guest, Khan began his takeover of the Enterprise. Khan escaped to the Botany Bay, and revived his followers. Re-boarding Enterprise, he took control from engineering and cut life support to the bridge. With the crew subdued and Kirk held hostage, Khan asked the officers to spare Kirk's life by joining in his quest to take the Enterprise to a colony "willing to be led" by himself. The officers' refused to go along with Khan's plan, and found a way to release Kirk. Once the Augments were disabled, the prospect of imprisoning and rehabilitating the Augments seemed a waste. Instead, Kirk granted an opportunity for Khan and his followers: to colonize the dangerous but habitable world of Ceti Alpha V.

Second Exile

Along with Starfleet-issue cargo containers, Khan and his people settled in to life on their new world. Only six months after their landing, a cataclysm on the planet shifted the system's orbits, causing massive environmental devastation on Ceti Alpha V. Khan's ingenuity and the meager shelter of the cargo containers kept his people alive while most of the indigenous life perished. Over time, Khan lost twenty of his people.

Neither Kirk nor Starfleet followed up on the colony's progress. The starship USS Reliant, attached to Project Genesis to find a suitable testing ground, arrived at the apparently lifeless world in 2285. An away team beamed down to survey the planet they assumed to be Ceti Alpha VI, where they were captured by Khan. After torturing his captives, Khan demanded to know the nature of their mission and the whereabouts of James Kirk.

Khan's Wrath

Khan and his followers hijacked the Reliant, and marooned the crew on Ceti Alpha V. With knowledge of the potential of the Genesis project, he baited the Kirk and the Enterprise, luring the man to Regula I.

When Khan himself arrived at Regula I, he tortured the station crew members for more information on the Genesis Device. Those that were uncooperative were slaughtered. Using the USS Reliant, Khan led a surprise attack on Kirk and the Enterprise, though he did not win the battle. Limping back to the space station, Kirk found the Genesis Device, though Khan quickly stole it away, marooning Kirk in the process. A surprise hail from Kirk, alive and taunting from the bridge of the Enterprise, threw Khan into a fury. Ignoring the consequences of engaging his enemy on the level playing field of nebula they had both entered, Khan spurred the Reliant after Kirk.

The Battle of the Mutara Nebula was the last action of Khan's life. Kirk's experience finally trumped Khan's will: unused to fighting in a starship, Khan thought of the battle in terms of sailing ships, rather than submarines. After Kirk's new strategy allowed the Enterprise to catch Khan off-guard by descending and then rising to attack Reliant from behind, Reliant was lamed and adrift, and Khan's followers were dying or dead. Rather than surrender, Khan activated the Genesis Device, hoping to take Kirk and the Enterprise along with him to oblivion. Unfortunately for him, the Enterprise managed to repair the damage and escape before the Genesis Device detonated.


  • A few geneticists believed Augments like Khan could be created without exhibiting the more vicious instincts that Khan shown.

  • Khan's theft and premature detonation of the Genesis Device alarmed the Klingon Empire, who mistakenly believed the device was the result of the Federation's development of an "ultimate weapon", increasing tensions between the two powers until the Khitomer Accords of 2293. Immediately, a group of renegade Klingons tried to steal the "Genesis torpedo" for themselves, but were unsuccessful.

  • Khan and his augment brethren were considered so dangerous that even four centuries later, genetic engineering was banned throughout the United Federation of Planets in order to avoid creating another tyrant like Khan. A black market in the genetic manipulation of children with limited abilities continued, however, resulting in the enhancement of humans like Dr. Julian Bashir.