Born to a Russian-Ukranian and German-Canadian in Canada, Nikita enjoyed four years of life there before her mother died in circumstances Nikita would never learn about, Her father moved the pair of them back to Russia, believing that visiting family was the best for them in his grief. After six years - giving her the time to resettle, recover, and learn to be happy, she was ten years old when the bombs hit. In the chaos, the crowd dragged her into the Metro with them; and she knew better than to argue or push back against the crowd, lest she be trampled. She was split from her father in the commotion, and when she was pulled into what would become one of the Polis stations, she had no real way of knowing what would become of her.
In the immediate aftermath, she stayed in the infirmary waiting to see if her father would return. She demanded to be there, and in exchange the doctors (overworked and stressed and unable to properly care for a child) put her to work, beginning an unofficial apprenticeship. Years were spent this way, exposed to the trials and hardships of awful injuries - watching folks die to radiation and blood loss. Stitching up their injuries, disinfecting them, dealing with injuries gone gangrenous or bubbling over with pus, or worse. It didn't matter; she learned to do it all, bit by bit. She also earned a living this way until she was about to turn 18. At this point, the doctors began to whisper about testing her, and started teaching her about surgery when, in their words, she "inevitably chooses to be Shudra with us". She didn't want to stay permanently, and after the doctors she worked with mentioned wanting to get her officially installed as a full time doctor, saying she'd learned everything they knew, she knew she had to leave before her 18th birthday officially arrived. She didn't steal, or betray anyone to do so; but she did sneak out in the dead of night right before her birthday, blending in with a group of stalkers that were leaving.
Thus began her first expedition to the surface - an eighteen year old woman, on her own for the first time with a shitty weapon she'd only used in the range, and nothing but determination, a large haul of medical supplies in her back she'd saved up over time, some basic rations and a clothing change, and a mediocre gasmask with a few filters.
Luckily for her, it was just an excursion to a nearby station along a quiet route - though she did end up having to prove her worth when a pack of watchers crept up behind them. She killed a few, but mostly she abandoned that when one of the stalkers went down. She barked out an order to cover her, ran to the man, and began immediately to work on the wound across his neck and collarbone. Despite the awful conditions, she disinfected the wound and used her still-sterile tools to cauterize the bleeders shut and stitch him up, before throwing a hemostatic dressing on top and shoving some ibuprofen down his throat (figuratively). Though he was far slower after that, she'd notably kept him from bleeding out, and made it so that he was able to move of his own volition. It had earned the respect of her travelling companions. They proceeded to explain to her some tips and tricks of the trade - showed her how to do what they did - out of a respect that came from having saved their long-time comrade.
After all was said and done, she couldn't say goodbye to the lifestyle - especially when she was desperate to see if she could find any of her family, or her father, even after all these years. The next ten years were spent much the same way, bouncing between stations, doing short stints in their infirmary to earn some extra pay on the side and keep her skills sharp, and trading what she could gather from the surface; in such a manner, she had gone from a frightened child, to a resolute healer, to a fierce combatant and reliable stalker.
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