Lera was nine when she was diagnosed with a neuropathy that included the slow degeneration of muscles and the loss of sensation in the limbs and extremities, Born three years after the Chernobyl disaster in the irradiated city of Gomel, Belarus, she grew up around children already suffering from birth defects. Her diagnosis was the realization of her fears, so when her parents encouraged her and her younger siblings to be physically active, she pushed herself even harder, determined to keep her body in peak condition to weather the neuropathy. She could not be sick if she stayed healthy, her young mind reasoned.
All three Melnikova children grew up playing sports, with Lera excelling at those requiring agility and finesse but there was always the knowledge that the neuropathy would worsen unless someone found a more permanent solution. She decided that someone was herself.
Lera moved to Novosibirsk to study at Novosibirsk State University and graduated, with a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. She remained at NSU in the Biotechnology and Virology Laboratory, her research uncovering treatments for a variety of pathogens and neuropathies including her own through drugs and self dissolving nanites. While she hadn't found a cure, she had found remission.
Lera might have stayed in Academia had she not received a visit from the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Russian Spetsnaz operators and special agents faced the ever-growing danger of exposure to hazardous materials including organophosphorus agents like VX gas. For the first time in her life, Lera began thinking outside of her own concerns. Her research had saved the lives of perfect strangers, and now they were reaching out to her, sending grateful postcards and photos and letters. She could have a greater impact still., Lera jumped at the chance to work with Spetsnaz volunteers in a variety of conditions as she adapted the nanobots to their high-performance physiologies. Quickly, she came to enjoy the sense of competition, camaraderie, and the mental toughness of the Russian Special Forces members. She joined the Army with an eye on becoming a Red Beret herself, on the front lines of saving lives as a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) specialist.
Serving in the Russian Army, Lera rapidly proved herself physically and mentally tough enough to try out for the Spetsnaz. It was a brutal course, culminating in Close Quarter Battle (CQB) knife training with Kapkan. A misstep and a flourish from Kapkan, however, opened her face from brow to cheek, but Lera went for a series of bone-breaking punches to his nose and ribs before the pain overwhelmed her. They spent the night in the med tent, neither of them speaking, but enjoying a new, unspoken respect between them. From that day, forward, she'd earned her moniker, Finka or "Knife."
Lera became the Spetsnaz CBRN Specialist, joining the Vympel Unit under the FSB and using her nanobots to help her unit survive hot zones; she was one of the only people capable of tailoring the nanobots to specific operators.
Her work in restructuring Russian battlefield protocols in the handling and neutralization of dangerous payloads earned her notice, and she became the goto expert when it came to joint exercises with other CTUs. Six invited Lera to help Rainbow Six put together a CRBN unit of their own with Olivier "Lion", Flament as her first pick.
Lera discovered that her neuropathy was slowly growing resistant to treatment. The old fears returned, every ache and pain analyzed and scrutinized as she pushed herself even harder to peak performance. She constantly tweaks and modifies her formula to stave off twinges and numbness that she imagines might be the onset of decline. She pushes herself to the point of throwing up after workouts with IQ and Valkyrie, though only Valkyrie understood that punishing limit of physical fitness. Lera is unable to distinguish between the disease and normal fatigue and is driven by her fears and made, excellent by them in the same maddening moment. She is not young anymore, though, but more desperate than ever to hold on to her life. She is trying to find a new treatment while keeping it a secret, but Doc knows and is closely monitoring | her condition in case it begins to affect her performance. She has not shared this with anyone else, not Kapkan who is her no-nonsense mentor, and not Tachanka, 'with whom she drinks and flirts.
- Russian Army Spetsnaz
- CBRN Specialist / Vympel Unit
- Sussex Incident
- Libyan Decon Project
- Lassa Fever Outbreak
- Zika Virus Infection
Lera has also recently taken to creating a wall of letters and photos in her workspace, a reminder that her treatments are more than just about helping herself. But she's still afraid that the neuropathy might get ahead of her.