Noa was born into the Great Khans sometime around 2229, in the period before the separate raiding bands began to coalesce into one single, unified tribe. Having adopted what they believed to be the lifestyle of ancient Mongol warriors, the Khans roamed New California as a lawless invading force, pillaging or burning as they went. Within this insular upbringing, Noa was taught to always put the interests of the tribe before outsiders; to respect the rule of strength; and, above all, to shun the authority of the NCR and its allies.
Despite this, Noa found herself drawn to some of the Followers of the Apocalypse humanitarians who infrequently visited the Khans to render essential medical care, as well as trade for goods and information. Based out of the Los Angeles Public Library, the Followers were largely tolerated by the Khans due to their unparalleled knowledge of Old World scientific procedures. Despite this, the Khans still strongly discouraged their members from forming relationships outside the tribe. Noa would therefore sneak into Los Angeles to visit her boyfriend, the Followers medic Eli Colley, with the two of them finding increasingly inventive ways to give their respective factions the slip.
By 2246, the Followers had begun sending scouts into the Mojave wasteland in order to study its tribal cultures; a programme that would inadvertently led to the formation of Caesar's Legion in 2247. Eli Colley was one of many selected to go on such a pilgrimage, wholly unprepared for the hostile terrain that awaited him. Shortly afterwards, a seventeen-year-old Noa discovered that she was pregnant with Eli's child. Realizing that the Khans would never accept a child with a Followers father - particularly given the renewed cooperation between the NCR and the Followers ahead of the Mojave Campaign - Noa left the tribe and travelled to the former state of Tennessee, where Eli had left instructions to find his mother if anything were to happen to him.
Under the gruff, no-nonsense care of Josephine Colley, Noa gave birth to a healthy baby daughter, whom she named "Blessing" in honor of her father's Old World religion. The pair remained in Tennessee for several years, with Josephine doing her best to give Noa a formal education. Eventually, it became clear that Eli would never return from the Mojave - whether he had died in the attempt or been captured by the newly-established Caesar's Legion, nobody would ever know. Unable to feed three mouths on what was essentially a frontierswoman budget, Noa made the difficult choice to leave Blessing with her grandmother, and seek more rewarding work as a salvager in the populous northwest.
In the years since, Noa led a largely itinerant existence along the eastern coast of the New England Commonwealth, working from Maine down to the edge of New Jersey. Focused mainly on recovering scrap washed up from the North Atlantic, Noa adopted a Spartan lifestyle for herself in favor of sending caps back to the Colley homestead. Years often passed before she was able to return to Tennessee, and her relationship with her now-adult daughter suffered as a result.
Noa was exploring the ruins of a pre-war suburb in Massachusetts in 2287 when she came across a lone stranger sheltering in one of the dilapidated structures. The woman, a sole survivor of the experiments in nearby Vault 111, had been mortally wounded by a group of raiders, and was now in the process of enduring a long and drawn-out death. She told Noa about the mysterious group of strangers who had broken into the Vault and murdered its sleeping inhabitants, before ripping the woman's infant son from his dead father's arms.
Immediately upon exiting Sanctuary, Noa was attacked by a group of Institute Coursers who apparently knew all about her chance meeting with the dying woman. It seemed obvious that her conversation with the Sole Survivor had now marked her down somewhere as a person of interest. Realizing that her family back in Tennessee were now at risk as a result of her actions, Noa had no choice but to follow the only lead she had: that of the Sole Survivor's missing son.
A note on Ships: Noa's relationships were surprisingly hard to pin down, presumably because she doesn't let anybody too close. Her initial assessment of Cait is to be wary; despite all appearances to the contrary, Noa usually tries to avoid taking on other people's problems. Despite this, Noa/Cait is my endgame ship, and has a decent amount of give-and-take: Noa helps Cait find a sense of stability and a loving family in the wake of her trauma, whilst Cait's history forces Noa to come to terms with her guilt over not being there for her own daughter. Noa keeps most people at a remove, but that doesn't preclude the possibility of flings with other like-minded nomads who understand her situation well; they're rare, but they do happen.