Ilka was an only child, spoiled by her parents. Things changed when her parents divorced, leaving only a portion of each parent's time and attention. Ilka was too young to understand the feeling of loss that she was suddenly burdened with, no matter which parent she was staying with. She didn't blame her parents, or even understand where this feeling was coming from. Throughout her childhood, Ilka never shook this feeling, casting over her a constant state of pouting.
Despite her mood, Ilka was a bright girl. She maintained excellent grades and was often at the head of her class. In college, she was drawn to classes in psychology, though she could never put her finger on the reason. Ilka immersed herself in her studies, and took more psych classes than required. While she learned more and more about human behavior, she became less involved with social activities on campus. Friends from high school stopped trying to get her to come out with them. She didn't join any clubs or attend any sports or events.
Yet despite all her self-imposed seclusion, she met Rick. The cloud over Ilka's mood lifted. She and Rick were great together. Though very different, the two were perfect compliments to each other. She was quiet, studious, reserved; he was the boisterous, brave, life of the party. Everything was wonderful until Rick shipped out overseas. The official story is that his death was the result of a helicopter crash during a routine training exercise. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. With Rick gone, the cloud over Ilka returned.
Now, Ilka has a high-clearance position, keeping appointments with generals' wives, and special ops soldiers. She's fantastic at her job, and generally unhappy with life. Recently, she has been asked to observe and interact with a machine that goes by the codename "Nation." The scientists involved believe they have digitally captured the thoughts and memories of four fallen soldiers. Ilka finds this ridiculous, and an insult to the fallen heroes.