Agent: Illya “Stix” Stechkin
Agent Number: 13
Security Clearance: Level 4
Birthplace: Western Siberia
Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond
Ht: 70" Wt: 175
Current residence: CLASSIFIED
Specialties: Percussion, explosives, automatic weapons
Special Training: CLASSIFIED

Strengths: Fiery aggressiveness, decisive, energetic nature tends to propel those around him
Known weaknesses: Tendency to over-react to perceived threats, leans toward violence when provoked, occasional “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality

Alone on the Tundra

Illya “Stix” Stechkin’s story reads like a sordid Russian novel -- partly, in fact, because Stix has led a sordid, Russian life. Born and raised on the frozen tundra of Siberia, he learned at an early age what kind of limits to which a man (or toddler) can be pushed and the hardships the human spirit can overcome. Isolated from the rest of the world, the cold, barren arctic landscape was all he knew. Another thing he knew, from the time he was old enough to articulate thought: he had to get the hell out of there.

Illya’s birth came during a particularly tumultuous time for his family. His mother Helga, feeling a strong sense of urgency to join his father Nicolai in the Underground Resistance, decided to entrust baby Illya’s upbringing to her parents. The Stechkins’ illegal freedom-fighting activities took them all over the former Soviet Union, with danger as their constant companion -- no way to raise a child. Believing Illya would be raised as she was, in a loving, nurturing home by strong, dignified folk who told stories around the fireplace of their ancestry’s glory days, Helga set out into the night to join The Cause with her husband. What she had know way of knowing was that her parents were rapidly setting into senility.

So as it was, Illya spent his formative years virtually alone and confused, leaving the squalid little cabin only to trudge through the snow to fetch another jug of that special potato cider from the nearby village for the old couple. It was a bitter existence, to be sure.

Where were the kindly neighbors and social workers, you might ask? Well, they just didn’t exist here, Jack. But things would soon make a turn for the better -- Illya’s salvation came knocking late one winter night. Illya wasn’t quite sure what could be causing the noise from the door, seeing how he and his grandparents had never had a visitor before.

Faces from the Past
He crept to the door, much like a cat intrigued by a game of Pong on the television set. (Neither of which existed here, either.) But being a sharp lad, despite living on a diet of rotten potatoes, goat cheese and the aforementioned potato cider, he reached for the door knob and stuck his head into the brisk evening air, where his parents stood!

At first he didn’t know who they were... just a couple of vaguely familiar faces he recognized from a weathered photo on the cabin wall, which his grandparents often threw goat feces at. According to them, the young couple were the “evil twins who stole the spectacles from the phonograph and ran away through the drain.” This story always puzzled Illya, especially since he had no idea what a phonograph was, and the cabin had no running water. Besides that, the couple did not look blood-related, so Illya had his suspicions.

His mother was horrified when she saw her little Illya and the conditions he was living in. Tears burst from her eyes when she saw his skinny, skinny frame, and on the spot she called him “my little Sticks.” (He would later change the spelling to “Stix.”) His parents decided then they must take him on their trip to The Promised Land -- America.

It seemed the Stechkins’ faction had been sold out by informants and was splitting apart faster than the wrapping on a four year-old’s Christmas presents. Nicolai called in some favors and secured stowaway passage on a train to Europe and a freighter to the United States. Stix wasn’t sure what was going on, but he knew it had to be better than Siberia. He tossed one last bottle of potato cider to the old couple, waved goodbye, and never looked back.

Have Nervous Tic, Will Travel
It was during the month-long journey west that his mother taught him volumes concerning etiquette, history, culture, and of course, the three Rs. His father taught him everything he knew about guerrilla warfare and automatic weapons. Although Stix thought it was great to finally be out of the Siberian cabin and learning so much, the journey was sheer hell for the parents.

Apparently, while Stix had spent his early years staring at knot-holes in the cabin walls and drinking potato cider, he had developed a tap-tap-tapping habit to help release his energy. Try as they might to ignore it, Helga and Nicolai were creeping towards insanity in the 4x6' crate listening to the constant tap-tap-tap.

Nothing could stop him, it seemed -- it was even beyond Stix’s own conscious control. His parents kept feeding him information in hopes it would drown the incessant rat-a-tap-tapping of his boney little fingers. Stix soaked up the knowledge like a dry sponge. The more he learned, the more he tapped. And the more he tapped, the more the information spewed forth.

The New World
Eventually the trip was completed, but the journey was just beginning for Stix. The ship docked in ########### on the Gulf of Mexico, and when the Stechkins finally got out of the crate, they were overwhelmed -- especially little Sticks. That great fiery ball in the sky -- could this be the same distant, cold white light in the skies over Siberia? The hot grains of white on the ground were certainly different than the white grains on the tundra.

And the water! Warm, crashing waves in hues of blue and green he’d never seen before! What really caught his eye, though, were the young girls he saw frolicking on the beach -- he’d never seen babushkas dressed this way before. Stix would soon become acquainted with another sensation he’d never felt before -- third degree sunburn. But for now, the world was a new place, and Stix had a new outlook on life.