Danica Thysla was born in Detroit, Michigan in october 1972, the only daughter of a woman by the name of Draga Thysla, who refused to tell Danica who her father was. (Though given Danica's natural coloring, it would be fair to assume that he came from somewhere south of the equator.)
It was soon obvious to them both that Danica had a strong bent towards technology. From an early age, she'd take objects apart and put them together in new and interesting ways. Draga was not very surprised, since she came from a long line of scientists herself. She discreetly enrolled Danica in school. That wasn't much of a success at first, since Danica, when bored, would start creating experiments, sometimes with explosive results. However, eventually, Danica was placed in higher classes, where she had to actually work for success. Which kept the explosive mishaps to a minimum.
During the Day of the Destroyer in 1988, Danica was badly injured, spending some time in a coma before awakening in early 1989. It was late in the year before she was able to fully focus on her schooling again.
Battle of Detroit
In 1992, she was freshly graduated from university with degrees in robotic engineering (a master's) and genetics (master's as well) when Dr. Destroyer started his attack on Detroit. In the chaos, Danica was nearly killed, only the intervention of the many superheroes of the city saving her from death. As a result, she was completely obsessed with self-defense, and began building her Tesla Armor. Constructing such things does not come cheap, however. And it was while seeking funding she fell in with, of all organizations in the world, VIPER. After all, under the circumstances, very few legitimate organizations wanted to hire someone with her particular skill set.
VIPER as a whole does not play around. Like all other possible recruits, Danica underwent very rigorous testing before being allowed into Adder Branch, which is where they put the technical specialists. While she didn't quite match the physical requirements, VIPER, as it tends to do in such situations, overlooked that fact. As long as she otherwise qualified, after all, the physical limitations could be fixed. VIPER had never been above a little genetic fiddling on its agents at any rate.
And so it was. For the first time since first grade, Danica found herself able to ditch her glasses. She put on muscle, becoming stronger and faster. She also found herself buying into VIPER's ideals.
Though being thrown into a nest can be very much described as being thrown into a pit of vipers, Danica managed all right, getting by on technical ability, not to mention the ability to keep her mouth shut when need be. VIPER didn't need loose-lipped agents, after all. This was one area where Danica's lone wolf tendencies actually worked in her favour. The Nest Leader soon figured out that the best thing to do was to stick Danica in a lab, give her a task, provide enough coffee, and then wait for the inevitable result. Sometimes she even came up with a result before you asked her.
Even with the inevitable hard work, Danica was pleased enough, as she was allowed funding to make her creations, and even better, colleagues to work with. One of these colleagues was a woman by the name of Frances Dedyson. Frances and Danica worked together often, Frances becoming the closest thing Danica had to a friend. The biggest project they worked on together was Project Ageless, a project to grant immortality. Since a certain power armor wearing sociopath had managed to lose the Serpent Lantern, the Council of Thirty were aging normally, and getting desperate.
To serve Project Ageless in the best possible capacity, Danica was given the schooling necessary to upgrade her genetics degree into a Ph.D. Though she would have preferred to focus on robotics, genetics was what VIPER wanted. At this point, she didn't question such things.
Danica also worked on Project Paragon, VIPER's project to create natural champions, trying to find genetic factors behind success. She requested transfer to Project Spearhead, which had to do with the development of superweapons, forty-two times, but was denied each and every time. (The Nest Leader mostly threw her requests away. He wasn't going to let some dark-skinned woman get anywhere in VIPER.)
Relations between Danica Thysla and Alexander Dracoulides, best known as Draconis, were decidedly chilly, due to a clash of egoes.
VIPER as an organization was not entirely scientific, however, a fact that frankly upset Danica. Especially as Frances was getting more and more interested in the sorcerous side of things. This led to a vicious break between the two.
At this point, Danica wanted to leave. But one does simply not leave VIPER. Frances saw this as her opportunity for revenge. She captured Danica, letting mostly everyone else believe she was dead, and began experimenting on her former colleague.
Frances had gotten a very, very strange idea. VIPER wanted to capture Grond, right? And one of the hardest problems was to get the thing to stand still long enough to do anything. But Frances thought that if she could create a female match for Grond, he might actually cease his foolish bouncing about the desert, if only for a few moments longer than usual.
Danica was Frances' guinea pig for these experiments. Large amounts of mutagens, radation, cybernetics and a bit of brain surgery. Couldn't have her be smarter than Grond, after all. As a side effect, Danica became pretty much immortal, since she does not age anymore. In addition, perhaps not surprisingly, since it was a VIPER experiment, Danica gained green scales over most of her body, though she otherwise, apart from sharp claws, seems as human as ever.
However, Danica eventually broke free, before the experiment was entirely complete, and stole back her old Tesla Armor. She fought her way out of the lab, and somehow found her way to Millennium City, where she, much reduced intellectually, decided to become a superhero. She took the name Lady Zalantae, since as far as she could tell, Danica Thysla didn't really exist anymore.
By now, thanks to Frances' betrayal, Danica was definitely disillusioned with VIPER. Especially as she had realized some of the higher ups at the Nest knew what had happened to her. And they didn't care. They let it happen.
At first, she spent some time in Millennium City, where she met the Champions, but she soon learned that her unstoppable fury at the sight of VIPER caused problems. Facing the possibility of jail time, she relocated to Vibora Bay. No VIPER there. And no Ironclad. During her time in Millennium City, she developed a bit of a crush on Ironclad of the Champions, but unfortunately, the Dorvalan doesn't really know that she exists. Would he even care if he did? Better to be in Vibora Bay, then, fighting the undead.
I know there are people who would consider Albert Zerstoiten the Antichrist. Theologically, he isn't. I think. Hopefully.
Danica's attitude towards Albert Zerstoiten can best be described as very conflicted. On one hand, she hates what he did to her hometown, on the other, she greatly respects his scientific mind. Before her mutation, Danica owned a complete set of Zerstoiten's writings (the published part, anyway) and a Destroyer-shaped plushie which tended to sit on her desk. She's replaced the lost plushie with a rather crude one she cobbled together herself. It does shoot actual lasers, though.
(In addition to the Destroyer plushie, she has a selection of VIPER action figures. Some even have all limbs intact and no melted parts.)
The mad geneticist Teleios might just be Danica's best hope of undoing her mutated state. The mutations have proven remarkably resistant to most treatments used in the Burning Sands area. The biggest problem would be finding him, though. Or a sufficiently knowledgeable Teleioclone.
Danica's greatest goal is to undo the damage done to her body and mind, and restore her former genius. Even as she saves the world, she's increasingly frustrated about the fact that she can't really create anything new anymore. She can keep her old Tesla Armor running, but that's pretty much it. She had all these wonderful robotic ideas, which are at this rate never going to be completed.
Not to mention that she wants to be rid of her cybernetics, as she absolutely detests them. In her book, the combination of cybernetics and mutation makes her a monster.
Her second goal is to make VIPER pay for what was done to her. Though she would prefer a more subtle approach, since her mutation she flies into a rage at the sight of members of VIPER, which frequently ends messily. This causes Danica no end of frustration.
Thirdly she would like to deal with her little Grond problem once and for all. She can't go anywhere in the desert without Grond showing up. Fortunately, thanks to her jetpack, she's been able to stay out of his giant grabby hands. Even so, Danica would like that particular nightmare to end.
The armor she now wears consists of remnants of her old power armor. Sans metal "jumpsuit" and boots, due to the installed cybernetics. Long, glowing tubes extend out of the skin on her shoulders, arms and thighs, each transporting some strange, sticky glowing blue fluid that has been shown to consist partly of liquid Draysha and partly of other things, mostly combat drugs. There is a finite amount of the fluid, leading to Zalantae needing to refill it periodically with whatever she can get her hands on, to keep it efficient. This has actually worked out for the better, as the slow replacement of Draysha with other things has functioned as weaning her off the stuff, hopefully before too much long term damage took place. At the very least, her hair and eyebrows have grown back. Not that anyone could tell she'd lost either in the first place. Due to pride and vanity, she used wigs (including smaller eyebrow-shaped ones glued in place) to cover up the loss. Even now, she has a couple of extensions woven into her hair until it completely grows back to its original length.
In addition, instead of the pre-mutation glasses, a visor has been bolted over Zalantae's upper face. It functions as a heads-up display, tied into the cybernetics and power armor, showing the state and efficiency of each part. Efforts on Zalantae's parts to tie it into the Internet have been unsuccessful.
In addition there are cybernetics beneath the skin that give her increased reaction speed. Leading to the slight problem that to her, everyone else is a bit slow.
Though it is technically not a part of the armor, she's taken to wearing a tall tophat with a green feather in it. Supposedly she won it in a fight in Vibora Bay.
What's common knowledge about Zalantae is mostly her registration, which doesn't contain much. Her real name isn't known, for two reasons. One, she hasn't been able to conclusively prove to any authorities that she's actually alive and who she says she is in the first place. Two, if her birth name became publicly known, someone might be able to tie her to VIPER, which could land her in Stronghold.
If you look really closely, you can find mention of her real name. Usually mentioned as something she can't prove is right.
So what is known is her codename, Lady Zalantae, and the fact that she's a power armor wearing mutant specializing in electrical attacks. She's enjoyed limited success, and might have been able to make more of a name for herself if she hadn't had this regrettable tendency to badly injure members of VIPER she comes into contact with. It would also be easy to discover that she's not happy with her mutant state or her cybernetics. Unfortunately any effort to remove either mutations or cybernetics have been unsuccessful. However, the mutations have been mildened somewhat, as shown in her feet, which are starting to resemble normal feet more and more, unlike the twisted claws she started with.
VIPER Aptitude Test Answers
(Zalantae's answers in bold)
VIPER Aptitude Test Part 1
Your personality can best be described as: A) Duplicitous B) Malicious C) Ruthless D) Psychopathic
Your governing philosophy is: A) Nihilism B) Anarchy C) Irrationalism D) Sadism
Your preferred method of dispatching an enemy: A) Firearm B) Explosives C) Bare Hands D) Piano Wire
Preferred extralegal activity: A)Sabotage B) Terrorism C) Contract Killing D) Mail Fraud
VIPER Aptitude Test Part 2
Your current legal status: A) Third Striker B) Stronghold Escapee C) Parole Violator D) Parking Violator
Your preferred assignment: A) Interrogator B) Torturer C) Assassin D) Henchman
Check any enhancements you are willing to volunteer for: A) Genetic Alteration B) Mental Enhancement C) Radiological Exposure D) Omicron Infusion
How did you find about VIPER?: A) Gang Leader B) Cell Mate C) Internet D) Easter Egg in Video Game
VIPER Aptitude Test Part 3
The role of VIPER is to: A) Rule the World B) Crush the Weak C) Exact Revenge D) Profit
The person whose evil inspires you the most: A) The Supreme Serpent B) Your Nest Leader C) Ripper D) Dr. Destroyer
Superheros are best described as: A) A Nuisance B) A Menace C) The Enemy D) Excellent target practice
VIPER's most dangerous enemy is: A) UNTIL B) PRIMUS C) The Champions D) <Name>
(To be expanded)
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul Zalantae believes this fiercely, and it's the source of much of her discomfort with her cyborgization.
Unwilling Roboticisation Well, unwilling cyborgization, anyway.
Yes, her name was Senka for a while, until my boyfriend pointed out to me that it's too close to something in Finnish. Hence the change back. Unlike Bioware, I check for such things.