Ellen Knowles is 24 and deeply disturbed. She was born in a hole in the ground, and taught the ways of warfare from the time she could walk. Her duties were simple: Hell would come to earth, and she would lead the way.
Both the "Upstairs" and the "Downstairs", the Higher Planes and the Lower Planes, made use of Proxies to do their fighting in the physical world. They were not unlike the flawed shells that your faceless nemesis employs in concept, except the idea was to take a soul and enrich it for your purposes, as opposed to breaking it down into a fighting, terrorizing drone.
The truth of the matter is that Nick is a Shaman, like any other Shaman on earth. It's just that anyone who took part in the conflict that we keep coming back to was on some level changed and altered to better suit the "side" they found themselves on. Nick received the most changes on record, six that he is aware of, and a seventh that he is not. Well played Ben and Amy. Can you guess which one is the one he is unaware of?
To return to the point of this discussion, Ellen Knowles was changed into something brutal and dangerous. Unfortunately, despite her enhancement, she was not made any less human.
The first kills were the easiest, as always. After all, she did not have to perform them. Ellen was a young, cute girl, and made the perfect distraction for a number of operations. She reminds me of my youth in fact.
The first person she killed for the purposes of her masters was an elderly priest in North Philadelphia. She had gotten to know him by posing as a young drug addict at a homeless shelter that he had worked in. She had grown to like him. She killed him in the confessional using a knife. She moved through the screen separating them and slit his throat in one smooth motion.
Ellen Knowles spent the next day crying into her pillow, pretending that she was sick. She was not supposed to know fear, pain, or remorse. This display would be catalyst for her departure for the ranks of the demons. After all, subordinates around her had found out about her weak heart. That meant that she was weak, and that meant that she could be replaced by someone ruthless enough. One of them in particular had his very specific opinon about her. This underling there was born without conscience or humanity.
Throughout all of this, Ellen's life only made sense on the Astral Plane, where she met her old nemesis Nick Dwyer and found peace in her conflict with him. When they fought to the death again and again, they felt the conflicts of a different life where the world made sense. It was a release, and that was supposed to be that.
Ellen was not with her comrades on the day they went to collect The Presence. She had awoken that morning, bound to an operating table. The underling without conscience I alluded to had smelled weakness in her, and known that her immense power could be a boon to someone willing to take it. Nothing a ritual involving heart surgery without anesthetic could not accomplish.
This underling, this weak little gremlin, was mere inches away from taking power from a legendary warrior. But there was one thing he didn't know: this was after Ellen had saved Nick Dwyer from Rogue Nemesis. And Nick had been seeking a good match after that.
Imagine Ellen, laying on that table, sluggish from drugs and livid with fear. She knows she was the strongest person in this group of hell-bound men and women, and she knows that all of those years of cooperation, friendship, and backstabbing have finally lead to a knife in her own back. She knows she will die, and she knows that the underling will take his time. He wants Ellen to suffer slowly, to know that she was not worthy of the power she wielded, to know that he was truly superior. The truth is, that gaining her power was merely a side benefit. The underling just wanted an opportunity to tear into her piece by piece.
The first cut is a slow, shallow thing along Ellen's arm, barely enough to prick the skin. The underling wants her to anticipate. He wants to see her slowly become more and more frenzied as she realizes that there will be no one to save her. He wants her to know the power he has in this moment, and that he will slowly, carefully exercise it on her again and again until she is nothing.
As the underling warms up to the task and begins the second cut, he does not notice the amalgamation of armor and weapons behind him. It does not see the thing in the patchwork armor. Nothing is uniform, and everything is sharp and bleeding something black. Ellen sees it. She smiles up at underling like the predator she is.
Underling is shocked by this, he steps back uncertain as to what is happening, and the restraints on Ellen suddenly come undone.
Ellen hears Nick's voice in her head say, "Now we're even."
There is not much else to say. Ellen killed the underling slowly, and precisely. She slowly broke his fingers, one by one. She did everything to him that he wished to do to her. And then she discarded him.
She left her "family" of fellow killers and monsters, aware that she was also a monster, but a different kind of monster. One that wanted a normal life.
She would never have a normal life. What she would have is ten years of psychological counseling and an inability to connect to others around her. She is not demon or human. And she is not at fault for the fate of The Presence.