Portrayed by Tatyana Maslany
Full Name Olena Kovalenko
Age 24
Height 5'5"
Build Waifish and wirey
Eyes Brown
Hair Brown
Factions None
Occupation Mercenary Adventurer
Alignment Neutral

Claim to Fame

Once an internationally recognized "young Olympian to watch", Olena Kovalenko's Olympic career was cut short amidst allegations of doping that, as far as the international sports community knows, ultimately landed her in an unnamed "rehabilitation center" somewhere in her native Ukraine. It was an excuse. In fact, she's a victim of her nation's "metahuman development program", sent to an "advanced training facility" — which turned out to be a euphemism for a meta/mutant concentration camp/indoctrination center. She escaped and, consequently, a is now a militant meta/mutant rights advocate and freedom fighter.


On the Olympic circuit, years ago, Olena Kovalenko was considered both a prodigy and an intense competitor, but she was friendly and out-going among her peers. Since her disappearance from the world stage, however, little is known about her.%r%rThe vigilante Strilka is sometimes referred to as the Angel of Death in Ukrainian and Russian circles. The only upside to becoming her target is that the deaths she deals are rarely prolonged. It is the only hint of mercy about her.


Olena Kovalenko is a mutant. She was born just outside the city of Kalush in Ukraine to a factory worker and a teacher. At 18, she won the Olympic gold for archery, beating out the favoured South Koreans in a surprise first-appearance at the games. She lost the medal scant weeks later, however, when government testing revealed her mutancy — hyper-perceptive abilities that gave her enhanced senses, almost precognitive reaction times, and flawless aim. Consequently, the government a) framed a doping scandal around her (meaning she was nationally and internationally disgraced and the South Koreans were given the gold after all), and b) shipped her off to a "rehabilitation facility". Of course, the rehab center turned out to be a concentration camp where superhumans were shackled, experimented upon, and subjected to myriad forms of abuse, deprivation, and humiliation in an effort to discover what made them tick and break down their personalities so that they would become far more highly suggestible, and thus controllable.

She spent three horrific years in that facility, hidden in the forest outside Ivakhnivtsi, a small town halfway between Ivano-Frankvivsk and Vinnytsia, before she was transferred to a secret "state development district" run by the Ukrainian military. There, she was conscripted into a supersoldier program based upon indoctrinating and controlling superhumans through psychological and physical conditioning — among other things.

The government's goal was two-fold: It wanted to control superhumans, turning them into willing weapons by brainwashing them, otherwise dampening their powers if they couldn't be controlled and thus eliminating the threat they posed; and it wanted to create sufficient propaganda around their so-called "Meta Development Program", by showing supposedly happy and well-adjusted superhumans willing to support their homeland unquestioningly, as upstanding civic defenders, so that both their native populace and the international community wouldn't question their activities. (Of course, the brutal side of their 'training and development' processes is, to this day, kept very tightly under wraps.)

The development district to which Olena was transferred was near Pryp'yat', just south of the Belarus border. There, she and the rest of the conscripts were sorted into 'cohorts' according to their strength, potential, and ability sets. She was subjected to invasive psychic scans (to prove and ensure her loyalty to "The Program"), intensive training in a wide variety of weapons and technology, and punishing correctional measures for any infraction — real or imagined.

Ultimately, after about two years of this, Olena and a handful of others — including a young woman she'd met and befriended in Ivakhnivtsi, Tetyana Balanchuk — managed to escape. They blew up half the compound to do it, and fled north into Belarus to avoid the Ukrainian army (not to mention the cadre of loyal metasoldiers sent with them). The escapees ultimately decided to split into smaller groups and take their chances whichever way they could, thus presenting smaller targets. Tetyana said she had cousins in Minsk. So, north Olena and Tetyana went.

They were pursued most of the way. Oleana's perceptive abilities kept them a step ahead of most of their pursuers. Tetyana's ability to change the temperature of her body and thus melt the weaponry of anyone that did get close enough to fire at them kept them safe in the heat of the moment — though every scar the girl received from it left its mark on both their psyches. Nevertheless, they ultimately reached Minsk, and what they thought was the safety of Tetyana's extended family.

Unfortunately, Tetyana's cousin, was as fearful of metas as any government official in Kyiv. He sold them out. Only, instead of selling them to the government, he took his (metaphorical) thirty pieces of silver from a man who specialized in a unique form of human trafficking — providing indentured mutant services to anyone willing to pay.

That, of course, wasn't what the girls were told. They were told his contact would get them out of Europe, get them over to America — land of freedom… All they had to do was pay for their passage.

Of course, it's not like the girls had any money. But they were assured that could be worked out on the other side of the ocean. There were people that liked metas and were willing to give them jobs. Land of opportunity, America, after all. Land of superheroes.

Truthfully, especially looking back on it, Olena didn't really believe them. There was something about the way their hearts fluttered in their chests and mircobeads of sweat gathered on their brows, not to mention the suppressed signs of arousal in the contact man, that put her off the whole scheme. But, she couldn't… wouldn't abandon Tetyana, who had become so much like a sister to her by this time they regularly referred to each other as such. And she was tired of running. She just wanted to stop. If they could stop in America, so much the better. So, reluctantly, she accepted the deal.

Weeks later, they arrived in New York City and the new lives they'd been promised — lives that ended up looking remarkably like the ones they'd just fled. Or, just possibly worse, since they were now in a foreign land where Tetyana didn't speak the language at all and Olena spoke it haltingly at best. They still had no money and no ID. And the jobs they had been promised were… not quite what they'd hoped.

They were effectively slaves yet again, pet mutants brought out to do tricks (some demonstrating their abilities, others… of a different sort) by trakhaty vyrodky that made the sadistic camp guards look almost friendly in comparison.

As fatalistic as she had learned to be over the past several years, Olena finally broke. She finally got truly angry. It wasn't a hot, raging anger. It was a focused, smouldering anger. The kind that burns for a very, very long time and fuels feats of great, patient vengeance. Anger at the stupid, selfish humans and the brutish, short-sighted government that tried to kill her — that probably succeeded, she was sure, in killing her mother. Anger at the manipulative vyrodky that had tricked them into this predicament. And, most of all, anger at herself for not doing more to prevent it.

But that was the crux of it, wasn't it? She really had no one to blame but herself. All of which leaves her where? Stranded and imprisoned in a foreign land with nowhere to turn for help and a whole lot of hurt to repay. Good thing she shoots so well. That can settle a lot of debts…

Character Details

Olena was a happy child. Focused and disciplined, too, but happy overall. Indeed, things didn't really go south for her until she was frog-marched into the metahuman detention center for processing. The years she spent being 're-educated' took their toll on her. No longer 'happy', she is, instead, 'driven'. Haunted, even. Still focused and disciplined, however… and that has kept her from excesses others in her position might otherwise indulge.

Most people would see her as a quiet, somewhat serious young woman, who's a bit distant, a bit guarded, but not particularly off-putting. In many ways, she appears unremarkable, and she likes it that way. She likes to think of herself as an observer — but she's far less detached than she likes to think she is. She's ultimately too inquisitive, too sensitive to what's happening around her to just let things be.

Everything she does has some sort of internal justification — even if it simply boils down to "screw you, you bleedin' bastard" — though mostly, it boils down to "I'll do whatever I have to do to survive. And if I happen to be able to wreak a little revenge in the process, so much the better."


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Stories At The Library
July 27, 2014: Alexander meets Olena in front of the NYPL.
(log: 20140727-stories-at-the-library | tags: phobos strilka | posted: 28 Jul 2014 20:57)

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