Marianna Maletrov has known nothing but Croquet from the day she was born. She was the product of two of the Soviet Union’s best players, planned by the state. Before she could crawl, she was inducted into the secret Soviet Program known as the “Mallet and Sickle”. Since adopting the Communist doctrine, the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic had strived to prove their superiority to the world in every arena: science, industry, and croquet.
The Mallet and Sickle Program was designed to breed a perfect athlete, unbeatable both on and off the field. Their ideal was a Croquet playing Super Spy, who would not only win, but would be able to “deal with” any threat to complete Soviet domination.
The program was beyond the capacities of the human body, and every subject put through it perished. The director of the project was obsessed at ensuring the Soviet grip on the Croquet world was as strong as Russian steel.
Marianna presented a challenge for the program as she regularly exceeded expectations and machine tolerances. Scientists and other test subjects were routinely injured when handling her. On her 11th birthday, the day of her final test, an explosion obliterated the facility and every member of the scientific team. Maletrov made her way across the frozen wastes of Siberia where she was indoctrinated into the CroKGB.
The Russians were a force in the world of Croquet before, but with the addition of Maletrov, they were unbeatable. For five years, a Soviet Athlete took home every ICA championship, every Olympic Croquet medal, and every Croquet World Cup.
Things looked bleak as corporations began to back Soviet players, and import Russian coaches. Economists began to call it, “The End of Capitalism”. Even with the US military tied up with Communist “containment” in South Asia, they couldn’t rectify the severe economic shifts occurring in the world.
Maletrov was dispatched to key locations to participate in ParaMilitary Croquet matches, to reinforce the absolute dominance of Russian Croquet.
America’s last chance came with the Winter Olympic Games, with a rag tag team of extraordinary individuals. Marianna and her team dismissed the American team, relaxing and reading poetry before the match. Unfortunately for Marianna, it was the greatest underdog story in the history of croquet, and the Americans pulled off the impossible. The “Miracle on Grass”, as it was later dubbed, spelt the end of Marianna Maletrov’s croquet career. Marianna didn’t have to guess at the consequences of her failure, as her hotel room burst into flames later that night.
By then, Marianna was long gone. The Soviet Union would see to her destruction at every turn, and without their protection, foreign governments sought to bring her to justice for a long history of assassinations. She cut all ties and went underground, working for independent contractors, shadow governments, and mercenary organizations. The world was in turmoil, and the effects of her loss rippled outwards, and though Marianna had made many enemies, there was no doubt that few could rival her specific skill set. To stay off the grid, she never worked for the same groups twice, and she didn’t bat at an eye of killing her employer should the need arise.
Just like in her youth, she was a dangerous and unbeatable, a live wire on a short fuse. At every moment, though, she was free. Never tethered, never caged, nothing could ever entrap the deadly Marianna Maletrov. . .