All Cheats were spent on skill points. She's the most practical impractical little troublemaker ever.
for her speech color.
Short and brutal. She wears the somewhat shredded, repurposed-military surplus gear common to the so-called "Red Punk" movement of what was once known as Russia. Her hair is trimmed and teased up into a wide, white-bleached mohawk which she occasionally frosts with faint traces of sea-green. Her default expression is a somewhat cruel and unpleasant-seeming moue - not quite a frown. She is restless, almost never still.
Her skin is the sort of pale that is common to certain north-eastern Europeans living near the arctic circle, which makes her tattoos strikingly visible. She has quite a few of them, some crude, some moderately well-done, but none done with the sort of precision one would expect from modern computer controls (or even good tattoo equipment). Only her face is unmarked...Well, except for a single black dot high on her cheek below her right eye.
Even in cold weather, she tends to wear coats and shirts with the sleeves torn off so that her tattoos are visible...Not to mention her well-developed arms. The girl clearly works out, and despite her small size moves with audaciously contained power. Her favorite coats are an archaic, powder-blue, Cossack cherkesska, on the back of which someone has stenciled a relic of a bygone era, an old ballistic missile submarine, and a fur-lined black naval greatcoat with a WW1-era Tsarist eagle adorning the back in white paint below the old Stalinist label "штрафбат" - "Penal Battalion". Lizka inevitably has a weathered telnyashka beneath her coat - the old Russian navy blue-and-white banded shirt - and any of several pairs of variously shredded military trousers, most of which have been so savaged that they barely reach the tops of her many-strapped-and-buckled, cracked, black leather boots.
The nature of Russian prison tattoos is such that she has much of her history written on her body, there in plain sight for anyone who knows the old codes to decipher. A meticulously carved spider resting in its web covers most of her right shoulder and upper arm. Wrapping the broad expanse of her left bicep is what looks to be a traditional Russian Orthodox iconic painting of a saint - if saints played cards and were in the habit of discarding an ace-high straight in clubs. On her forearms are entwined expanses of rose-studded thorn-vines...A heart is tangled in the left bramble, transfixed by a syringe. The three outer knuckles of her left hand each have a small orthodox cross on them, and the outer three fingers of her right hand are tattooed with decorative 'rings' just below the knuckles. A small scarab graces her left palm, and the word "мир" her right. Someone with expert knowledge (or the right database and plenty of time) could deduce that she has served three tours in the Zona, two as a youth offender, that she was the only underage criminal in her ring of thieves, was a drug addict, was convicted for armed robbery, and is both an orphan and an Anarchist.
...And there are bound to be more tattoos on her that aren't showing.
Little Ylizaveta was born in the old city of Archangelsk, by the Dvina on the edge of the great White Sea. She remembers looking out across the frozen ocean as a little girl, and the long, white nights of summer when the sun never truly set...And the tall, imposing figures of war machines, striding around the city and being built in the massive factories beside the ancient harbor.
The bugs came when she was barely six. The bugs came, and her father left. A few days later, she and her mother were uprooted in a panic, swept away in a human tide with all the others. She remembers the pressure of the crowds, the constant crying, and the scent of railcars filled with fear.
Where she truly grew up was in the terrible old city, Volgograd. Once Tsaritsyn, once Stalingrad. The city of desperation. The city of forlorn hope. The eater of men. It was overwhelmed with refugees. Tracers snapping up into the night sky, the looming shadows of mechs around the feet of the great statue atop Mamayev Kurgan. And the people. The people filling the streets, sleeping on every step of every stairway, carpets of people huddled together for warmth at night, rising in the morning to twist into long lines seeking rations or escape from the embattled city. The city of terrible hunger. It ate her mother soon after they arrived, and Ylizaveta never saw her again. Aleksei, the man who rented them a tiny space, barely a closet, never seemed to remember to turn her out into the crowds and snow.
In time, the threat became a bitter joke. He would come and go, bringing small crusts of food and tea. Never speaking of what he did. Only sometimes, sometimes, telling tales of what the city had once been. He left each night, returning with the dawn, then spending much of the day staring out the narrow window towards the distant sussurus and faint thunders of the war on the horizon. He never told her what happened to her mother. In time, she resented him, and she stole out on her own into the terrible city.
Within a year, she was arrested with a group of older girls and boys who had somehow burrowed and wriggled their way into back of an old building being used as a military warehouse. The medical kits they had tried to sell on the black market had serial numbers that were easily traced. The others were shot, but Ylizaveta was deemed too young, and sent off to what passed for a youth internment camp on the icy edge of the Volga. The children were put to various tasks, day after day. Carrying buckets of earth and rock up from where older children were digging new emplacements; sorting spills of glittering brass, which they pressed into magazines until their fingers bled; cleaning and repairing clothing and blankets for the city's massive refugee population...It never stopped.
After two years, she escaped, back into the nightmare city, simply running like all the rest when a Migou projectile somehow breached the air-defense and destroyed one of the buildings fronting the fence in the youth compound.
She had her first tattoos already, and they marked her way into another small and desperate gang of young criminals. She was free for almost as long as she had been imprisoned before the politsiya snapped her up again. As before, she refused to confess or to blame the others, and despite being a repeat offender, she was still too young to be executed. Little Lizka returned to the youth camps.
Her second escape was by more traditional means. Someone on the outside had made a deal with the guards and the warden. Slavers. Lizka spent a few weeks on the drugs she was given, and then, dimly, remembered yet more fires and explosions.
She dreamed in the drug-haze. Monsters, and fire, and her mother and father.
And she awakened in the tiny room with its tiny window through which the lights and guards along Lenina Prospekt could barely be seen between two other buildings. Aleksei's room. He brushed the spiderweb mark on her shoulder, the tattoo which was a life commitment, and stared at her soberly, before finally pronouncing the only judgement he would ever give over the time she spent missing.
"If you are going to be sneaking about, you had best learn to do a better job."
Aleksei trained her. She ran messages and small packages for him, sometimes to customers, or compatriots, other times secreting them in places that only someone who knew where to look could possibly find. Loose bricks that did not look loose. Corroding statues with holes chiseled in places that were reachable, but invisible from any angle. Gargoyles whose downspouts connected to no gutter. He taught her to steal, and to avoid being noticed, and to memorize and report back what she saw. He was doing something, she began to realize. Something very important to him, that had little to do with simple goals like wealth, or comfort. Perhaps, she decided, it was revenge.
She was willing to help with revenge. He had hurt the slavers (killed many, she later learned). He had rescued her. He was not her father, but...
If there was one thing the city had taught Ylizabeta, it was that you made do with what you had, and didn't cry over what you lost.
After the first year, Aleksei became more withdrawn, suddenly. He went out at night alone more often, leaving her little work other than instructions to stay put.
Ylizabeta was terrible at staying put. Of course she followed him, snuck out past the sensors and the wire and into the old fortifications that were no longer held. And that was how she learned that Aleksei was an Oборотень - a werewolf. Or something. A monster.
But the monsters he was attacked by were worse. They had waited for Aleksei to take something from one of the hidden spots he had taught her about, out here beyond the walls. Perhaps they had not know where he kept it, and had been waiting, stalking him. Perhaps it was coincidence that they ambushed him after he took out the package. But it was no coincidence that he killed five of them. None could keep up with him. The sixth, now. That one managed to get him from behind, while he was busy tearing the fourth and fifth apart. And then it was over as suddenly as it started.
The team of Tagers who had come to meet Aleksei arrived only minutes too late, finding the young girl crying over his body. A body which they could not leave lying.
That was the first time Lizka punched a Tager.
The recovery team didn't have what they came for, but they did have their cohort's body, and they did have a witness. They questioned her for an hour, but she knew that when captured the one thing to never do was talk, especially about what someone else was doing.
When they left, she followed them. Out into the ice, and the deadly realm of the invaders.
They were taking Aleksei.
Eventually, they realized she wasn't going to give up, and she had come too far. She would freeze if they abandoned her this far out. After a quick council, the Tagers decided she'd already seen more than enough...And if she had been Aleksei's ward, well...Then there was one final thing they could do for him.
The Eldritch Society absorbed the young, rebellious girl into its ranks. She was not the most problematic trainee they had ever had...But she was far from the least. They taught her, as best they knew, the truth. And eventually, when they had gained her trust, they learned from her. Learned about Alexei's movements, his tricks, the tiny fragments of carven stotne he had been assembling from the ruins - things which had once been buried under the cornerstones of churches a thousand years old to prevent them from rising again. Things which the war had released.
Eventually, their trust extended into a test. They released her out into the world again, with a job to do.
They released her back into Volgograd.
(FFFFFfffffffffff I just woke up with my face on my keyboard. I will finish this tomorrow.)