Khan Noonien Singh, commonly shortened to Khan, is a villain in the fictional Star Trek universe. He was one of the "Augments", a group of genetically engineered supermen, born in the early 1960s as the result of a revolutionary eugenics program conducted by a group of scientists trying to create a new, artificially improved breed of men and women: smarter, faster, stronger than ordinary human beings, a super-race to take command of the entire planet.
Designed and facilitated by a group of world renown biochemists and geneticists, the top-secret Chrysalis Project involved manipulating chromosomes of human embryos using techinques that appeared to be far beyond what humans were capable of at the time. Essentially its goal was to improve the human race artificially by editing out "bad" influences in genetic structures and adding in "improvements" which would maximize the potential mental and physical development of the subject embryos, which would create a race of superhumans. The designers focused on increasing intelligence, strength, endurance, respiratory capacity and the cardiovascular system. The Chrysalis project endeavored to give their genetically enhanced creations full rein of the planet. To do so, the engineers of this project also genetically enhanced the bacteria streptococcus, making it a volatile flesh eating entity. In order to infect the worlds populous, Russian ICBMs were procured as implementation vehicles. Free from any governments authority, Chrysalis was a private consortium that answered to no one, having complete autonomy. Chrysalis had its headquarters located in the Great Thar desert, thanks to its remote location, the Chrysalis endeavor was completely isolated. The main complex was hidden beneath the ruins of an ancient Rajput fort.
The genetically engineered Augments of the Chrysalis Project were mentally and physically superior to ordinary men and women. They were five times stronger than the average person, their lung efficiency was 50 percent better than normal, and their intelligence was double that of normal humans, which gave them superior analytical capabilities compared to ordinary humans and an increased capacity for absorbing new information.
What the scientists failed to realize was that creating a superior race also meant creating a superior ambition: the so-called "supermen" felt that their superior physical and intellectual abilities gave them the right to rule over the rest of humanity. To that end, they conspired throughout the 1980s to seize power through the use of behind-the-scenes manipulation, brute force and "puppet leaders" who answered only to them. In the mid-22nd century, Doctor Arik Soong would theorize that a defect in the genomes of the Augments created a problem in the base-pair sequences that regulate the neurotransmitter levels in their brains, causing them to be highly prone to aggression and violent behavior.
The son of the original director of Chrysalis, Sarina Kaur, Khan Noonien Singh was the greatest threat to the world out of all the Augments. Khan strove to create a world that gave equal opportunity to all. To purge the world of governments that did nothing for their people. He considered himself a humanitarian. Khan Singh's presence was felt throughout the world, perhaps most discreetly. He fought against Soviet soldiers outside Lenin's tomb, where he stopped a coup, and maintained the safety of President Mikhail Gorbachev while he was attending the summit at Reykjavik. He was rumored to be all over the Asian and Indian subcontinent, inciting the 1987 pro-democracy uprising in South Korea, fighting alongside the Afghan rebels in their guerilla war against the Soviet Union, personally arranging the mysterious 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia ul-Haq, leader of the Pakistan's military government, returning democracy to India's nearest neighbor and rival. Khan was credited with the so called "natural" death of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The Great Khanate
Aided and abetted by power-hungry individuals in various governments, business organizations, and independent agencies who allowed themselves to fall under his domination, Khan attempted to gain control of the entire planet. In 1992 Khan quietly seized power over much of Southeast Asia and the Middle East through blackmail and strong-arm tactics. Dozens of "figurehead rulers" either answered to Khan or in some fashion allied themselves with him.
He ruled his dominion from what he called the Great Khanate in the remote parts of India. His fellow "supermen" took over key positions of power in South America, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, remote parts of the South Pacific and in isolated sections of North Africa. Khan's Great Khanate was centered in Chandigarh, India and had a secondary command center on Moruroa atoll, "Chrysalis Island", of the Tuamoto islands in the French Polynesia. On June 14, 1992 from Moruroa atoll, a former French Nuclear testing area, Khan launched the Morning Star satellite into orbit, giving him the ability to damage the Earth's ozone layer. On July 10, 1992 Singh held an assembly with delegates from nations in Southern Asia and the Middle East, where he demonstrated Morning Star's abilities and issued an ultimatum, "if I fall, the world falls with me".
On June 14, 1993 Khan held a summit with 6 of his most powerful Chrysalis siblings, where he attempted to unify them to create a new world order with him as the prevailing voice. The summit was a failure as Khan's dream of unity collapsed when the Augments' enhanced ambition caused them to turn on one another, spawing what would later be called the "Eugenics Wars."
Carried out through mostly covert operations, the war did result in massive casualities that the legitimate Earth governments publicly said were rogue terrorist incidents or natural disasters. During this time, in their eagerness to assert their self-proclaimed destinies as rulers of the Earth, the Augments sparked civil wars and unrest all over the globe, in Eastern Europe, Liberia, Somalia, Peru, Haiti, Rwanda and elsewhere. Though the public-at-large was aware of the majority of such events - most never knew that the events were in fact all related to one another. Indeed, the public was kept entirely ignorant of many of the related "battles" of the so-called Eugenics Wars and even Khan himself was not known to the majority of the planet's inhabitants.
Apart from his intellect, strength, and ambition, one of the attributes that made Khan so powerful and dangerous was his magnetism. He inspired complete loyalty among his followers, and they believed he could lead them to greatness. While it was true that there was little freedom on Chrysalis Island, there were also no massacres. Even those who were against him had an admiration for what he had accomplished. Eventually, after learning the secrets of the Chrysalis Project, Khan redeveloped the flesh eating streptococcus that his mother developed and prepared to devastate the planet with its presence. On September 5, 1995 Chrysalis Island was attacked by a joint Russian-American strike, a nuclear device destroying Khan's Doomsday weapon.
With his weakened arsenal and with the major superpowers of the world now aware of Khan's plans of genocide, air strikes from American B-52 bombers and a ground assualt from the Russian Spetsnaz eliminated Khan's henchmen and palace. On January 10, 1996 Khan and 83 of his fellow Augments escaped Earth aboard a stolen protoype vessel of the DY-100 sleeper ship "Botany Bay", which was developed using technology reverse-engineered from the Ferengi ship that crashed at Roswell, and launched from the secret American facility nicknamed "Area 51." Khan headed for outer space with the dream of someday ruling a world of his own making. On board the ship, the crew were cryogenically frozen to allow them to remain in suspended animation.
Khan's ship drifted far from Earth and was not discovered until 2267, when it was found by the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701. An away team led by Captain James T. Kirk discovered 84 bodies cryogenically frozen in specially designed compartments, although 12 of these units had malfunctioned, leaving 72 people still alive, 30 of whom were women. The ship's historian, Lieutenant Marla McGivers, was particularly fascinated by Khan. Lt. McGivers surmised that Khan was probably a Sikh from Northern India, while the Enterprise’s engineer Montgomery Scott noted that the others were of various racial origins, including European, Latin, and Asian.
Captain Kirk was forced to release Khan from his cryogenic chamber when the reanimation sequence malfunctioned and he nearly died. Khan was beamed straight to sickbay, where he amazed Dr. McCoy with his recuperative powers. Upon awakening, Khan grabbed McCoy and put a knife to his throat. Khan did not divulge anything about himself beyond his name, claiming fatigue. Meanwhile, as if by reflex, he began plotting how to take over the Enterprise. Before Kirk found out exactly who he was, Khan had asked to study the technical manuals on the ship. Kirk readily granted Khan's request, which gave him knowledge of how to take over and operate the Enterprise. McGiver’s fascination for Khan soon turned to infatuation. Later, Khan used this infatuation, getting her to help him beam back to the Botany Bay and revive the rest of the Augments.
With the help of Marla and his revived crew, Khan took control of engineering and used what he had gleaned from the technical manuals to shut off life support to the bridge. Kirk found that Khan had anticipated every contingency for retaking control of the ship, and the bridge crew faced imminent suffocation. After passing out, they found themselves alive, but Khan's captives. Khan stated that he was surprised how little improvement there had been in human evolution in the last 200 years. He still considered himself superior and that it gave him the right to rule other people -- only this time his target was not merely Earth, but the Galaxy.
But Khan still needed help in selecting a planet with a population that would be willing to be led by him. He decided that the best way to convince the Enterprise crew to cooperate would be to put Kirk in the ship's compression chamber and slowly let out the air, forcing the crew to watch until they agreed to join Khan. Fortunately, Marla could not stand by and let her captain be killed, so she rescued him. Spock had just been escorted, and with his help, Kirk flooded the ship with neural gas. It neutralized Khan's men, but Khan escaped to engineering. Kirk then engaged Khan in a hand-to-hand fight, losing badly until he Khan was knocked out by Kirk when the captain hit him over the head with a metal rod.
Once Khan and his followers, who now included McGivers, had been rounded up, Captain Kirk faced a dilemma. He felt it would be a waste to confine Khan and his followers to a rehabilitation colony, but they could not be allowed to go free. He therefore dropped all charges and specifications against them, including against Lt. McGivers. Instead, he chose to deposit them on Ceti Alpha V, a rough but habitable planet where they could start a new life.
Kirk had offered Khan a world to conquer, knowing that this would be a challenge great enough to keep him busy for the rest of his life. Spock, however, wondered at the "seed" Kirk had planted in their Galaxy, and what it would be like in 100 years time. In fact, it turned out to be far sooner than that before Khan once again crossed Kirk's path.
Reign in Hell
For approximately six months, life on Ceti Alpha V was harsh but fruitful for Khan and his people, as they worked to tame the wild planet. But then the sixth planet in the Ceti Alpha system exploded. This caused Ceti Alpha V to move position, until it eventually occuppied an orbit similar to that of the missing sixth planet. The stresses of the gravimetric shockwave resulted in major climactic changes and earthquakes.
Once the planet had stabilized, huge amounts of dust in the atmosphere caused surface heating, turning the planet into a desert wilderness. High-velocity winds made the air choking and barely breathable, leaving only a limited atmosphere dominated by craylon gas. Some of the colonists managed to survive, but the greatest hazard to their existence proved to be not the unrelenting hostility of the environment but the one other surviving species: the Ceti eel. Over the following 17 years, 20 of Khan's people, including his wife, Marla McGivers, were killed by these creatures.
The Wrath of Khan
In 2285, almost two decades after Khan and his people had arrived on Ceti Alpha V, the crew of the starship U.S.S. Reliant NCC-1864 conducted a close-range sensor scan of the planet as part of the top-secret Project Genesis, and they mistakenly believed it to be Ceti Alpha VI. Khan, angry and vengeful that Kirk never checked up on their settlement, abducted the Reliant's captain, Clark Terrell, and its first officer Pavel Chekov when they went down to the surface, and he then implanted Ceti eels into Chekov and Terrell's ears, rendering them helpless to his suggestions. Khan then took control of the Reliant, hell-bent on revenge. His second-in-command Joachim argued that there was no need to take on Kirk as they had a ship and could go where they pleased, but Khan was obsessed with proving his superiority.
Once Khan had learned about the Genesis Device, he had Chekov contact its creators to instruct them to hand over the device on Kirk's orders. Khan knew that they would contact Kirk to try and prevent this and that this would bring his enemy to him to find out what was going on.
When the Enterprise reached Regula I, Khan was able to to launch a surprise attack, as Kirk was not expecting the Reliant to fire on them. The Enterprise was crippled, and Khan contacted them so that Kirk would know who his adversary was before he destroyed them. Fortunately, Kirk was able to buy time by promising to beam himself over to Khan's ship with all the information regarding Project Genesis. This gave Kirk the chance to tap into the Reliant's command prefix code and lower and lower its shields before he gave the order to fire.
With both ships badly damaged, they were forced to withdraw to carry out repairs. By the time partial power had been restored on the Enterprise, Khan had managed to get his hands on the Genesis Device, and his ship was also in far better shape than Kirk's. In order to even the odds, Spock recommended that they enter the nearby Mutara Nebula where static discharges would interfere with both ships' shields and sensors.
On board the Reliant, Joachim was reluctant to follow the Enterprise into the nebula as he knew it would negate their advantage. However, when Kirk contacted them and issued a personal challenge to Khan, the genetically enhanced madman could not resist the opportunity to prove his superiority and ordered his ship to follow the Enterprise.
Both ships scored direct hits on one another as they blindly maneuvered around each other, until Spock noted that Khan's tactics indicated only two-dimensional thinking. Kirk ordered the Enterprise to move downward before coming up behind the Reliant and firing multiple torpedoes. The Reliant was completely disabled and all the crew were killed, except Khan, who refused to accept defeat. He was determined to take Kirk with him, and in a last desperate effort he activated the Genesis Device.
Eloquent and powerful to the very end, Khan reveled in the idea that the Genesis Project would ultimately kill Kirk. He died believing he had achieved his final victory, but Spock sacrificed his life to repair the Enterprise's engines, and Kirk and the rest of his crew were able to escape the detonation of the Genesis Device.
As rash as they seemed at the time, Kirk's actions during the Genesis affair ultimately enabled him to save the planet Earth from the effects of the alien space probe of unknown origin that wrecked havoc on Earth's ecology in 2286. In that respect - though he would never know it, and likely would not have appreciated it if he had - Khan's final series of ruthless acts ultimately helped ensure the survival of the planet which he had sought to dominate so many years before.