Security Level: 33
Online Name: Comrade Ivanova
Country of Origin: Russia
Origin of Powers: Science
Powers: Illusion / Empathy
Movement: Super Speed
Favored Attack: Phantasom
Favored Defense: Superior Invisibility
Hated Nemesis: Crey Industries
"Things have a funny way of not working out the way one expects, don't they, torvarisch? Eh, I suppose it is the same for many of us, those who have ended up in this state...with powers and responsibility. Undoutedly some of us were groomed for it, born with it, dreamed of it in every waking moment of our lives, to be something more than ordinary, the type of citizen who could do more, make things better, change the world in way the whole of humanity would recognize and admire.
I really was not so much one of those people, at least not in the traditional sense, not in the past.
Well, to speak the truth, I have lied a little bit there. I did want to dazzle the world once, show them all what I could do, but not as a hero, not as the person I am now. But dreams change, just as people do. My tale, such as it is, is a story of change...taking the basics of one dream long broken and turning it into a vision of something new, something that in the end, is far more important and far less selfish. Once I hoped to bring glory to myself primarly and pride to my people and country secondarily...now, I seek to serve the people first, and if they know my name, so be it.
My name...my name is Oksana Ivanova. I was born in the great city of Moscow on the sixteenth of November in the year 1977. I was the youngest of two children, having an older brother name Yuri who had a love of classical music and plaything the violin. My mother was a school teacher, my father drove a truck. There was nothing extrodinary about us, in fact, we were as ordinary as anyone could be. At least when I was a very small child, that is. But as I have already stated and come to know all too well, things change.
I was five when the first changes came. Like many children, I attended what many Americans would call a day-care, a preschool, a program run by the state to look after the children of working parents. There were many of us there...we played and sang and did the same things all small children do. My mother taught across the street at the prepatory school, the same one Yuri attended. Every day we would walk the seven blocks from our appartement to the schools together, there and back, in all kinds of weather. We would wave to the baker and butcher on the corner, and on occassion mother would stop and chat with them on the way home, talking about things such as politics, the weather, the grocer's wife and her latest escapades, why there never seemed to be enough toilet paper, and of course, us. It was our little ritual, our tradition, and though it seemed like a simple thing then, even a bothersome thing, now I realize how very special it was. Things changed, and when they did, the walks were one of the first things to go.
As I said, I was five and in the state school. It was spring when they came, the recruiters, as such. They came every year and watched us play, sometimes asking to see specific things; kick the soccer ball, skate on the pond, run around the yard, do a cartwheel...well, it was that cartwheel that changed my life forever, for better or for worse. You see, those people who came to see us were from the Soviet Athletics Committee, the people set with the duty to seek out children who possessed superior athletic talent and bring them in for evaluation and training. It is no great secret that throughout the entire existance of the Soviet Union, they and their athletes dominated the Olympic and World Sports stage, and it was a matter of great pride, both personal and political. Well, due to that one cartwheel, my fate, or so I thought, was set in stone. That night one of the Committee's representatives came to speak with my parents. To this day I do not know what promises passed between them, I was busy teasing Yuri about his music, but that very night my things were packed and I left my parents home to attend a school where gymnastics became my life...gymnastics and schoolwork and a strict diet. I still saw my parents on occassion, and Yuri as well, but at that moment my life and family changed to include coaches and doctors and other girls just like me...girls who destined for gold medal greatness.
It was not so bad, really. The food I cannot complement, but the company was pretty good and I did actually grow to love the sport I had been chosen for. We had strict rules; up at six to train, followed by a small breakfast, some schooling, more training, the dance classes, then lunch and a rest, then more training, then dinner, then bed at ten. Day in, day out. Weekends were filled with competitions and critques by judges and coaches, and my family came often to watch me. I had two events I excelled at, the vault and the bars, and two that seemed to be my personal bane, the floor and the beam. To some, this would not seem so bad, but for us, gold on one event was good, two better, but winning an all-around gold made you a legend, and winning Olympic all-around gold ensured that your name and your face would be on every newspaper in the country, perhaps around the world, and your talent and beauty would inspire countless other girls who wanted to be just like you. I wanted that more than anything, and I worked to see it happen. Extra hours spent in the gym, even sneaking down to practice while the other girls rested or socialized, every routine painstakingly perfected, practicing over and over again. And my work paid off. I took the all-around gold at the junior European Championships in 1989, along with the gold in vault and bars, and my name was indeed in the papers. Fans of gymnastics throughout the world spoke of my chances of winning it all, or at least a lions share of medals in the 1992 Summer Games, and I intended to do it. I intended to make myself famous...a Soviet Sports Superstar of the first order.
But, things change.
I was fresh off the Junior European win, still full of myself and happy with the world when the change came. I was competing in Berlin, it was not even a really important competition, looking back on it. I could have easily watered everything down, just gone through the motions, even skipped the meet altogether, but that had never been my style and I was up on my best event, the vault. This was MY event. I owned it in every way, and doing it without everything I had...well, such things just do not happen. I saluted the judges, smiled to the crowd, and prepared to do my trademark medal winner, a full-twisting Yurichenko, stuck landing a garuntee. Only this time it was not...it was anything but. I landed wrong. I landed badly, and if the sickening snap my knee made was not enough to alert everyone of that, the way my bones were sticking out surely was.
I was rushed directly to the closest hospital in Berlin. Compound fracture to the femur and a knee that was little more than gravel. The pain was excruciating, but not nearly so aggonizing as the sudden, harsh realization that my gymnastics carreer was over, done, finsihed. This was the kind of injury no one ever came back from, the dread thing we all whispered about in the dark, for even if you could do the sport again, the time spent in casts, surgery and rehabilitation promised you would be so far behind your peers that you would never catch up again. I was thirteen and my life was over. I sat there in that hospital in Berlin and cried, and it had nothing to do with the pain.
Two surgeries to repair my knee and set my leg later, I was back in Moscow, back at home in the appartment with my mother, father and Yuri. There would be more surguries, more pain, more little trivial things like walking and climbing stairs to come, but I did not care. I did not care about any of it. All I wanted was out...out of the cast, out of the house, out of my life. I wanted no part of the life I now had and no chance of regaining the life I so wanted. I went through the motions of living...I ate, saw doctors, slept...but I did not smile, and I did not love, and I did not care. I sulked through the next year like an automoton, the whole of my misey chained in my soul like the weight of a dead star. Yuri went off to play violin for the Bolshoi, an amazing accomplishment in its own right, and I did not care. My pain, my loss, was the only thing that mattered. When the girl who had been my best friend at the training school took the gold in the 1990 World Championships, all I could summon for her was venom. That title, those medals, should have been mine. Instead I had horrible scars and a limp.
But then again, things change.
I was seeing yet another doctor, again, when the woman came to see me. Her name was Elena, and like me, she had once been a great gymnast, destined for glory and gold. And like me, she'd lost it all when she had broken her back. At first I wanted nothing more than for her to go away, to leave me and my misery alone, but she would not do it. She kept coming to me, talking, and hoping that I was listening. I have to admit I resisted doing so as best as I could, but there was something about her, something that was just so charming, so caring and funny, that soon enough I did listen, and I did hear. She assured me there was still a place for me in the world I so loved, as a coach or a judge, one who could help the next greats along their way. I was still too young, still in school, but the world of gymnastics was not going anywhere. For the first time in over a year there was a smile on my face and a bit of hope in my soul. I could do that, I could be a great coach, a teacher. From that moment on, my attitude changed. I saw the doctors and therapists that worked to put my leg back together and I did not complain. I appoligized to Yuri. I threw myself into my school work, and I wrote my old friend the World Champion and gave her the congratulations she deserved.
In short, I was Oksana Ivanova again, alive and in love with the world, looking to one day become one of the many keen eyed and dedicated professionals in the Soviet Sports System. As I entered the brunt of my teenage years things were actually turning out better than I expected. My leg was almost completely healed, and my grades were good, so much so in fact that I was told I might have a future in Sports Medicine, a chance to help people like myself. Sure Doctor Ivanova was not as alluring as Olympic Champion Ivanova, but it was still good, still important.
I graduated from my studies and at age 17 enrolled at Moscow University to study sports medicine. I had a life again, and a goal, and it was good. I was ready to start medical school when another thing changed. A big thing. A thing that would change the world and my life forever. The Soviet Union fell. Stopped. The changes had been coming, but really I had been too sheltered, to focused, to see it coming. To me, it was a sudden thing. A dreadful thing. A change I did not want. I was a party member after all...all athletes and those who served with them were. Even the doctors. Suddenly the huge machine that was the Soviet Sports program was limping along like I once had. The money was gone. The support was gone. The hospitals and giant training facilities were falling into debt and ruin. We had to make due with what we had, old equipment and second rate medics, and it was awful, even for a second rate medic like me. I was hired as a trainer right out college, for the real doctors fled when the money ran out. It was an accident waiting to happen. And of course, accidents did happen, including the one that changed me again.
I am still not exactly sure what all occured, truthfully. The lead up was easy enough, one of the young gymnasts who trained at our facility, a girl obsessed with glory and gold, had an incident. She was rushed into our decaying clinic in the midst of a heart attack, though we did not know it at the time. Apparently, she had weight issues and had become annorexic in order to maintain her position in the program. In any event, there was flurry of activity, x-rays and IV's, needles and stethoscopes, and then the defibulator and an explosion.
The offical write up was faulty wiring. All I know is I woke up in a real hosptial along with the girl and the two other surviving medical personal from the Sports Clinic. We were the lucky ones. Two others had died.
So once again I went home, back to my parents apartement in Moscow with no job, no money and no hope in a country which no longer had a place for someone like me. The new Russia, while still my mother, had no place for a daughter of the old Order. I spent a lot of time staring and my old European Gold medal and wondering what it would get me if I sold it...after all, the government I knew was gone but the shortages remained. And my knee ached. It was that ache that let me know things were different yet again. Changed.
In a way I could not imagine.
It was in that Moscow appartment, with my aching knee and my now aging parents that I realized the accident had changed me. When things hurt, I concentrated on making them feel better and they did. My knee, my parents stiff joints, everything. I did not know why, and I did not dare talk about it, but sure enough I could heal people. I had become a doctor of a different sort. I also noticed that when I was pannicked or distressed I could fool people, fool themselves into beliving that they were hurt, or could not see me...this I only discovered after an attempted mugging by the criminals of the new Russia... and it was then that I openned my eyes and really saw truth.
Something in that lab had changed me. Made me something more than normal in a way I never could have imagined. I immedaitely went to my fathers old chest, the one he kept my grandfathers memoriblia in. There I found what I was looking for. Amid his photos from his military serivice from WWII, his records and newsclippings and papers I found it...The stories about the heroes of old, the real heroes, with names like Hammer and Sickle and Pravada, strong symbols of a strong Russia who had changed the world and helped save it in the process. Back then, they had given the world someone to believe in, and for better reasons that a silly medal. The world needs people like that, after all. I sat there for hours, reading the old papers and staring at the old photographs, wondering...
Maybe I could do something like that...maybe...
I left the apartment that night, seeking more information about these old heroes, about what they had done. I spent hours in the library, reading and making notes, pouring through old newspapers. It was there that I found the article that gave me faith, gave me fire. There was a picture, a grainy old photo on newsprint that featured Sickle and my grandfathers unit in Poland....I could easily recognize him, for while he had died when I was a baby, my father had always kept his portrait in our home. I began researching then, matching names and faces from the photo. Most of the men had died, but not all....
I found the name and address of one Oleg Karpov, WWII veteran and comrade of my grandfather. His hobbey was archiving heroes. I went to him, I showed him what I could do. I remember the small smile on his face and his breif, grumbled words.
" ' Go to America, Comrade Ivanova, there you will find what you are looking for. Paragon City, where your kind are needed the most. The others have gone, and more will follow. Do things right, and the Coalition will find you."
And so I have come."