|Olena Kovalenko (Scenesys ID: 1837)
|School of Hard Knocks
|Date of Birth
|22 Sep 1995
Somewhat closed-mouth about her past and true occupation (thief, mercenary, vigilante assassin), Olena Kovalenko is a recent immigrant to the states ostensibly working as a courier in Starling City, and sometimes NYC. A stranger in a strange land, she displays a guarded nature that suggests she's slow to trust fully. Once she's learned that trust, however, her loyalty is unparalleled.
* 1995 - Born to a Ukrainian factory worker and a teacher in Kalush, Ukraine.
* 2005 - Displays an early affinity for science and technology, but also for athletics -- particularly running, obstacle courses, and anything to do with hand-eye coordination.
* 2010 - Mutant abilities begin to manifest, however, they're subtle enough that no one actually realizes that's what's happening. She picks up a bow in a phys. ed. class and proves to have a natural aptitude for it.
* 2014 - Becomes one of the youngest Olympic archers to win a medal on behalf of Ukraine. Stripped of her medal months later when mandatory government testing reveals she is a mutant, thus rendering her participation in the Olympics illegal.
* 2015 - Kidnapped by an international mutant trafficking ring, thanks to information sold by a high-ranking government minister. Meets her best friend, Tetyana Balanchuck, when they are subsequently smuggled into the US together by Tetyana's cousin, who was working for the traffickers and betrayed her because of her mutancy.
* 2019 - Escapes from the organization to whom they were sold and enslaved in the US with the help of another mutant who had been secretly helping them learn to fight and better use their abilities. Tetyana apparently dies during their escape. Olena finds a bow and starts taking her revenge on the men responsible and anyone associated with them. Eventually ends up in Starling City, chasing down the money-men in charge of the smuggling network and doing some freelance work on the side.
* 2020 - Ukrainian and Eastern European immigrants aware of her exploits, though not her identity, dub her "Tin'ova Strilka" (the shadowed arrow) -- eventually shortened to simply "Strilka". The name sticks. She continues her hunt for the ultimate Powers-That-Be behind the trafficking ring that led to her best friend's death.
Hers is not a firey, explosive anger. Oh, no. Olena possesses a laser-focused, patient anger that lends itself well to her carefully planned, well-executed mission of vengeance (justice, if you ask her). That anger fuels her. She converts fear into anger. She converts uncertainty into anger. And then she hides it behind a mask of quasi-normality... or at least a guise of indifferent youth.
As an athlete -- particularly from Eastern Europe -- Olena developed a disciplined, focussed mind that allows her great determination when she needs it. (Some would call it stubbornness.) While this doesn't necessarily give her a greater strength of will than other people, it has allowed her a certain amount of psychological resilience when attempting to overcome setbacks or accomplish difficult tasks. Further, just as she can block out everything around her to focus on hitting a target with an arrow, she can use that disciplined focus to block out or otherwise ignore stimuli that might otherwise distract her from her goal. The one major exception to this is anything related to or that reminds her of her time in the captivity that shaped the last several years of her life, which can shake her focus even under ideal situations.
Thoroughness, in Olena's world, does not mean slow. She is smart, intuitive, and able to think much faster than many others -- again thanks in many ways to her mutant perceptive abilities. If not, she'd have died several times over by now. Quick wits and quick reactions keep her alive.
Olena is, for her caution and mistrust, a naturally inquisitive person. She wants to *know*, wants to find the answers and understand. Not content just to absorb knowledge secondhand, she wants to be right in the thick of things, doing and learning for herself.
Once Olena decides to trust someone, once she decides something is worth her loyalty, she will literally go to the ends of the Earth and beyond for that person or cause. She is not unquestioning in her devotion, but she is absolutely whole-hearted about it. However, if that loyalty is betrayed, it will never truly be won back.
Once, Olena was a happy, confident child. Then, she was kidnapped by mutant traffickers because of something the government did, hauled halfway around the world to a land that was supposed to be the "land of the free", but turned into five years of sheer hell. Thus, her young adulthood has pretty much been one betrayal after another. So, yeah. She's pretty sure most people lie as easily as they breathe. She certainly can.
Olena, due in many ways to her mutant perceptive abilities, is excedingly thorough in her planning, in her observation skills, and in her attention to detail. She often sees things other people miss and has incredible patience when it comes to investigative work... and pursuing an important goal.
Olena's mutant gene has heightened her sensory perceptions to metanormal heights. Every other mutant ability she has stems from this one physiological fact. She receives a wider array of sensory input and processes it far faster than normal, which results in a prescient awareness level of even the tiniest shifts of states in her "immediate" environment. (Immediate, in this case, meaning about half-a-mile distant.) Basically, the difference between how Olena perceives the world and how most people perceive the world is the difference between a silent film from the early 20th century and living in an immersive Star Trek holodeck simulation... but applied to all 5 natural senses.
Olena can dodge, weave, and block like nobody's business thanks to the milliseconds -- sometimes full seconds -- of lead time her perceptions give her. She's most effective at that when she's in "the flow", however, which can heighten her reaction times to a metahuman level that's tough to beat. She doesn't actually have super speed or superhuman acrobatic abilities. Her best running speed is that of an Olympic athlete, providing she's diligent about training. She reacts faster simply because she perceives faster.
What Olena calls 'potik' (the Ukrainian word for "flow"), most English speakers would call being in a state of 'flow'. Whatever it's called, Olena can create a zen-like, almost meditative state for herself that allows her to "see" the ebb and flow of movement and energy around her in hyper-real time. When she's fully focussed, her mind processes the details so quickly and clearly that she instinctively reads the complex patterns of interaction between bodies at rest and those in motion within the space around her. This allows her to unerringly manoeuver the path of least resistance between two points, which makes her seem much faster than she actually is. Usually, she needs to concentrate at least for a moment for it to kick in, but, given her experiences in the past, a good jolt of adrenaline can also activate it.
Note: Where Olena's "Trajectory Manipulation" allows her to alter the trajectories of projectiles she uses or intercepts, "Potik" characterizes her own physical spatial navigation. It's not quite "bullet time", though it seems much like it. However, things don't slow down for her. She just instinctively sees where paths open up and uses her "Meta- Reflexes" to take advantage of the new directional options.
Olena's hyper-perception and resultant hand-eye coordination lend her remarkable ability with trajectories. If it can be thrown or fired from a hand-held weapon, she can make it hit exactly where and how she wants it to, simply because she can perceive all the forces that act upon it and adjust accordingly on-the-fly. This ability applies to more than just projectile weapons. It applies to any body in motion that's within the extent of her perceptive range. She instinctively "sees" the motion path without having to think about it. (Incidentally, this makes her a real shark at the pool table or dart board, too.)
Note: Of course, while this gives her an incredibly high accuracy rate, it doesn't 100% guarantee a hit every time. There's always luck or a last nanosecond of change she can't quite compensate for -- especially where superhumans are involved.
Olena is recognized as an Olympic-class archer and (thanks to the scandal that surrounds her) is known by name, at least, to most true afficionados of the sport. While her notoriety isn't an advantage, her skill certainly is. That said, her archery skill is often enhanced by her "Trajectory Manipulation". She's had the training to be an Olympic champion -- which is about physical stance and coordination (things not covered by her naturally increased senses), but that training has always been boosted by her perception bonuses. Nevertheless, without the basic form and technique, the best eyesight in the world is still useless.
Beyond archery, secret training she received from a fellow mutant in captivity covered a wide suite of hand-to-hand and melee weapon techniques. Thanks to her perceptive abilities, she picked up the fighting skills very quickly and can now hold her own in most fights. Unless, of course, she's facing down one of the top ranked martial artists in the world -- or, you know, someone with superhuman strength and speed. Those are advantages she can't easily beat.
Per force of her determination to bring down the men who enslaved her and others, Olena has become very good at sussing out hidden information and has developed decent skills in areas such as stealth, misdirection, information brokering, investigation, interrogation, disguise, and disembling. That said, she's not the best out there. She's just a little too blunt and forthright to be quite as smooth as some of the more advanced techniques require.
Born in western Ukraine, Olena speaks Ukrainian and Russian fluently. She also has a smattering of Polish and, thanks to her Olympic career and recent years in the States, a good familiarity with English. Admittedly, this advantage is more valuable in Eastern Europe than it is in America, but you never know when it might come in handy. Especially when hunting down Eastern European mutant traffickers.
Differentiated from "Free Running" by its lack of ornamentation or excessive acrobatics (Olena isn't really an acrobat, though she knows a few tricks), Parkour is best characterized by its emphasis on efficient, direct movement. Its practitioners look for the straightest, quickest path between two points, even if that means surmounting obstacles such as buildings or walls in the way. Olena learned about the sport as an adolescent and was drawn to it because it so neatly reflected the way she saw the world when in her state of "potik" (flow). In a word, it was fun. Then, she did it because she enjoyed it. Now, she does it because putting herself in "potik" allows her to forget all the rest of the crap she has to deal with.
Olena has begun collecting a list of helpful contacts, ranging from snitches to information brokers, fences to forgers to fixers, and a loose collection of folks who either feel they owe her some sort of debt or favour -- usually because she's dealt with some sort of problem for them (intentionally or not) -- or feel she's providing a necessary service to the community by 'taking out the trash', so to speak. Most of these folks aren't the movers and shakers in the criminal underworld, but they're people enough in the know to keep her pointed in the right direction... and who can give her some idea of where she can pick up a contract or two if she needs it, or help her dispose of the more lucrative of her on-the-job 'aquisitions'.
Olena has put together a fairly impressive set of equipment, given her precarious lifestyle. She has a carbon fiber bow and a healthy supply of arrows -- most of them for killing or bludgeoning; she doesn't typically carry trick arrows (though that will change, once she has a reliable source to provide suitable options). She has put together a fairly sturdy costume (mostly out of reinforced motorcycle leathers over kevlar stolen off her enemies). She has a few blades, several well-balanced for throwing, and a pair of automatics (light weight pistols that are hold-outs, rather than main weapons). She has also managed to procure a nice motorcycle. (The thug who owned it won't be missing it any time soon.) Most anything else she needs, she can usually scrounge or buy, using funds she's "diverted" in the course of her adventures.
Olena's scruples tend to skew more towards survival than flawless ethics. Consequently, she is quite shameless about taking cash and physical assets from the bad guys she takes down. She tends to leave electronic funds and paper assets alone, but anything that can be liquidated quickly and easily is fair game -- cash, jewelry, weapons, technology, occasionally a vehicle or two. She does
- not* touch drugs, tending to destroy that sort of thing, if she can, but she'll happily take the
ill-gotten proceeds left lying around.
Olena has a serious hate-on for the mutant traffickers and mobsters that dragged her into captivity. (And the government thugs who originally made it all possible, but they're out of reach in Ukraine.) Consequently, she's been cutting a fairly wide swathe through the lower and mid-levels of several key underworld organizations. While she's yet to hit the 'big time', there are already a sizable number of thugs and mid-level mobsters that know the name 'Strilka' and want her dead. Thus, she must be careful not to reveal too much about who she really is.
Olena is in the USA illegally. She was smuggled in by a human/mutant trafficking network, ostensibly with the promise of freedom and a better life that never actually materialized. She has often had to resort to illegal means to make enough money to survive. And, by now, all of her IDs are forged. There's also that Olympic scandal hanging over her head. So, she'll do just about anything to avoid dealing with US law enforcement of any kind. With no reason to believe that anyone out there is likely to help her, she's effectively screwed... in more ways than one.
No One Left Behind:
Despite the fact she often has no choice -- not if she wants to get out alive herself -- Olena is very, very reluctant not to at least *attempt* to free any and all captives, hostages, or other disadvantaged people held by whatever bad guys she's after. This has a twofold effect:
Firstly, she carries a lot of guilt, anytime she can't successfully rescue captives (much of it stemming from her belief she caused Tetyana's death). This sometimes leads her to make bad choices, like lingering longer than she should in enemy territory or challenging the wrong opponent to a fight.
Secondly, it means she can be quite successfully baited and lured into a trap by anyone who figures out her pattern of rescue. Even knowing it's a trap, she has an exceptionally hard time resisting it and will punish herself emotionally for failing to do something if she's somehow prevented from acting.
One of the fastest ways to "control" Olena, or render her powerless, is through the use of sensory deprivation techniques. Her hyper-perception makes it difficult to entirely block out all perceptions, so this is less about blindfolding or binding her and more about placing her in full physical isolation within sensory deprivation tanks or some similar chamber.
Most people exhibit signs of anxiety and can be subject to bizarre thoughts and hallucinations when subjected to true sense-dep. Olena hits that wall a lot faster, thanks to her time in the government program the Ukrainian authorities stuck her in (the source of most of her angst), where she first encountered the technique. In fact, nothing scares her more than a sense-dep tank. (Which means it makes her very, very angry... angry enough to lose control.)
She's also particularly susceptible to the "ganzfeld effect" (a.k.a. perceptual deprivation), also used on her in the program, which is accomplished by subjecting her to constant, perfectly uniform stimuli that have no discernible variation whatsoever. The ganzfeld effect, in particular, can trigger especially bad flashbacks and hallucinations for her, which can be worse than the tank.
Thanks to her mutant abilities (and the fact she didn't realize she was a mutant at the time), Olena was an Olympic medalist in archery. Three months later, she was stripped of her medals and her subsequent world titles in a government-concocted drug scandal that alleged she had been using illegal performance enhancing substances during competition, but had bribed (some said blackmailed) testing officials to look the other way. The fact the allegations were lies, however, isn't known outside of the Ukrainian government. Thus, its effect on her reputation in Olympic and archery- related circles is lasting.
She's never been publicly outed as a mutant and she never had the chance to respond personally to the allegations. Hence, her apparent silence was taken as an admission of guilt.
Consequently, anyone that does happen to recognize her (probably only Olympics or archery buffs) tends to automatically assume she's a liar, a cheat, and a user. Of course, if she were outted as a mutant, she'd still be considered a liar and a cheat (but not a drug addict) because she used her "powers" to give her unfair advantage against "normal folk". So, she's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. Chances are the only people that might understand her predicament without extensive explanation are fellow mutants.
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Olena Kovalenko has 2 finished logs.
|August 28th, 2020
|Olena and Gambit team up despite very different viewpoints
|Two Archers Meet in NYC
|August 22nd, 2020
|Thea Queen nearly gets run over. Olena Kovalenko manages to keep her feet.
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