Ezekiel was seated across from Mikhail in a meeting room underneath Xavier's school. They had just arrived after finishing up at the warehouse. Ezekiel typed on his tablet for a moment to bring up Mikhail's information before he said, "I wanted to ask a few things before I tell you about the job. I also wanted to ask about your unfinished business."
Mikhail nodded in reply, so Ezekiel asked, "You had a pretty impressive military career for the past sixteen years, but you were recently dishonorably discharged. What happened?"
His bear face scowled as he said, "You probably have my records, they should tell you what happened."
"They do, but I find that most records tend to obscure the full story most of the time. So I wanna hear what happened from a person who was there instead."
Mikhail gave a grunt before he said, "I was in charge of a small team of metahumans, we were used for missions considered too dangerous for normal people."
Mikhail chuckled which sounded more like a growl before he said, "Most of our missions were pretty much one way tickets. We were dropped in somewhere with no exit strategy in place. We either completed the missions and fought our way out or we died."
Ezekiel frowned as he asked, "That wasn’t in any of the after action reports."
"Of course not, that sorry excuse for a base commander always made sure to cover his tracks. I wouldn't be surprised if he never put exactly what our mission parameters were in any of the reports."
Ezekiel typed on his tablet for a moment and a monitor on the wall turned on with a mission report on it. He glanced at it as he asked, "Tell me about this mission."
Mikhail studied it for a few minutes before he scowled as he said, "That mother fucker… The only thing that isn't a lie is the location and the target. Little to no resistance, my hairy ass."
Mikhail's eyes unfocused for a few moments as he said, "We were dropped into a secluded valley at night with only one ground level exit. Our target was in the back of the valley nestled in a reinforced cave system."
Mikhail shook his head and his eyes became clear as he said, "They sent us in because every weapon they used on the place didn't work. It was actually a fortified bunker and fortunately my team had the ability to get inside."
Ezekiel listened quietly as Mikhail explained how terribly the mission went. Yes they completed the mission, but all of them were seriously injured and barely made it back. But that wasn't the first time that happened, almost all of the missions ended up like. They were sent on missions with impossible odds and somehow made it out alive each time. The only positive take away was that it helped to forge his team into an extremely dangerous and tight knit group.
After a few hours Ezekiel asked about Mikhail's last mission. Mikhail looked pained when he read the report and slowly recounted what actually happened. His team had been given another mission, but this time it really was an impossible task for his team. Someone had leaked the mission info to their target and they used it to create an ambush, an ambush that was designed around his team's weaknesses.
While his team wasn't wiped out immediately, they were forced into a running retreat with some of them wounded. But as they retreated, it just became worse and people started to sacrifice themselves so the others would be able to make it. Unfortunately for Mikhail, his ability to heal rapidly was a gift and a curse. He watched as the people he considered family died one after another all so that the rest would be able to live.
He ended up being the last person alive, but even then he still fell in the end. It was only through some miracle that he didn't actually die. When the people who attacked him finally saw him collapse. They also noticed his body was no longer healing so they left him to rot, thinking he was a corpse like the others. Instead it was just that his ability had been used to the extreme and stopped working. But after laying in a crater for a few hours it started working again.
As Mikhail talked, his voice became more strained till finally he stopped. His head was lowered but Ezekiel could still see his eyes were misted over and unfocused. Ezekiel cleared his throat before he asked, "Mikhail, would you allow a friend of mine to help you out?"
Mikhail's voice cracked slightly as he asked, "Can your friend bring people back from the dead?"
Ezekiel shook his head as he said, "No unfortunately he can't. But he has an ability that is very useful in cases like yours. You can think of it as a very advanced therapy program. It takes things that normally take years to fix only hours at most. You will still have to work through everything and you will be sharing your memories with him. But it helps.”
Mikhail sat quietly for ten minutes as he considered the offer before he finally just nodded his head in reply. Ezekiel then typed away on his tablet for a few moments. Within a few minutes a portal appeared and out of it stepped a pale skinned man with ash blonde hair. He smiled as his pale green eyes took in the two people in the room with him.
He walked next to Mikhail and extended his hand out as he said, “Nice to meet you, I am Inoichi.”
Mikhail glanced up at the man, his eyes still moist. He reached out and shook his hand as he said, "Mikhail.”
“Ezekiel told me about your issue, we can start whenever you want.”
Mikhail nodded his head, so Inochi did some hand signs and then touched his forehead. As they worked on Mikhail’s mind, Ezekiel decided to be proactive. He already had a good idea what business Mikhail needed to finish, so he picked up his tablet and got to work. An hour passed and unfortunately Ezekiel had found nothing new, just the same information he had already gathered.
So he decided to change tactics and sent a message to Tao asking for a ride. After a few minutes a portal opened and out of it walked Mordo. He glanced over at Ezekiel as he said, “The Ancient One said you needed some help.”
Ezekiel stood up as he said, “I need a ride to a few places in Russia.”
He held up his tablet and showed Mordo a military base in Russia as he said, “We need to teleport there and we’ll need to explore a few places while inside the mirror dimension.”
Mordo pulled Ezekiel into the mirror dimension with him before he opened a portal. After they stepped through the portal, they were greeted with the sight of the military base waking up. As Mordo looked around the place, Ezekiel said, “Our first stop is the base commander's office, we need to search that place thoroughly.”
As they walked in the direction of the commander's office Mordo said, “I wanted to thank you for helping Kaecilius. The other masters and I have noticed he is doing a lot better now."
Mordo paused for a moment before he said, "We aren't exactly sure what happened, but The Ancient One said it was because of your help. So, thank you."
Ezekiel nodded in reply as a smile played across his face for a moment before he said, "I’m glad I was able to help, he’s a good man and I didn't want him to suffer a terrible fate."
They stayed silent after that and focused on their task at hand. The first place they stopped came up empty even after Ezekiel hacked into the man's computer. Once finished they made their way to the base's main computer servers. Ezekiel spent another hour going through the base's servers that weren't connected to the internet. Mordo wasted no time and used some spells to look around the base for hidden areas.
When they were both finished they only had two options left. One was to go directly to the base commander and try to get answers. The other was to go to the man's house and search for any clues there. They decided to go with the second option first and teleported directly inside the man's home. As they searched the man’s house they found a few things, the main one being a hidden room in the basement behind a false wall. Inside the room they found a safe, an expensive computer that was heavily encrypted and a few filing cabinets.
As Ezekiel left his tablet alone to bypass the computer's encryption, he looked through the filing cabinets while Mordo used a spell to unlock the safe. The only thing inside the safe was just a bunch of money and the filing cabinets turned out to be not much help either. The computer on the other hand turned out to be a gold mine and also the thing Ezekiel was looking for. On the computer was pretty much every ‘off the books’ mission the base commander had set up.
While some of the missions Mikhail and his team had were legit and sanctioned by the military. It turned out most of them were just the commander using them as guns for hire and only he was making any profit. The most damning was the last file, the one where Mikhail’s team died. It turned out that the commander wanted to retire and didn’t want any loose ends. So he made one last deal to sell out Mikhail’s team and collect a nice bonus at the same time.
Ezekiel frowned as he finished going through all the data. He knew he might find something, but this was not what he expected to find at all. He disconnected his tablet and as he stood up he let out a sigh.
Mordo glanced his way as he asked, “What did you find?”
“Just the dregs of what humans should be.”
Ezekiel shook his head before he asked, “Wanna help me calm down an angry bear?”