|Mistra - disbanded|
Portrayed by None
|Affiliations:||Formerly the US government, turned independent|
Mistra was a 'black' program run under the aegis of the US government. Using a combination of psionic conditioning and strict and often brutal military training, it took mutant teenagers and turned them into supersoldiers, latter-day Spartans capable of tackling whole conventional armies.
- VULCAN: The thinktank that consulted on the creation of the program. One of its members was Gideon Faraday, who facilitated his nephew Nathan's conscription into the program.
- The Directorate: Shifting in membership over the years, the Directorate included Colin MacInnis (prior to his departure from the program) and Carmella Ruiz. They ran Mistra day-to-day, giving orders to the operatives and planning operations. Corruption and ambition among the directors led to them quietly cutting ties with the US government and taking Mistra rogue in later years. Three directors survived Youra, including Ruiz; all were later executed.
- The Operatives: Mistra's conditioned field operatives never numbered more than one hundred. There were two types of operatives, distinguished by their conditioning. First-generation operatives were the elite, the 'true' Spartans; their conditioning was far more intensive, focused towards producing the perfect soldier. It created a disassociated tactical personality that served effectively as a battle computer, and provided mechanisms by which the operatives could shut down their own emotional responses. Both types of conditioning including post-hypnotic suggestions known as 'obedience imperatives' that caused operatives intense pain if they attempted to disobey an order or resist their tactical personality's input. They also included various anti-interrogation triggers, and all operatives who were not feral were psionically implanted with feral-like instincts, meant to force them to see themselves as pack animals. Second-generation conditioning was far less intensive, however, and was utilized primarily because it was effective on older subjects (first-generation conditioning had a one hundred percent death rate for anyone over the age of fourteen). The candidates for second-generation conditioning were taken from prisons and mental facilities, as opposed to the first-generation candidates, who were younger and generally more stable. This led to serious problems among the operative base, especially after Nathan's escape. In the two years prior to Youra, Mistra returned to first-generation conditioning, which had an eighty percent death rate even for those of the correct age. A few dozen operatives survived Youra, mostly second-gens left in vegetative states due to the shattering of their triggered conditioning.
- The Staff: Mistra required a significant number of support personnel, from security teams (the operatives did not provide security for Mistra facilities), to medical and services personnel, to conditioning teams comprising various telepaths and empaths who provided their services to Mistra as civilian contractors. The death toll among the support staff on Youra was also very high, but a number survived. Some who had been off-island at the time escaped entirely and would reappear from time to time engaged in similar activities, such as the two ex-conditioning team members extradited by the X-Men from Mauritania.
Mistra was formed in the late 1970s after a report was presented by the VULCAN thinktank discussing the potential of making productive use of mutant children in government custody. The project was kept strictly off the books, run out of a desert facility in New Mexico. Homeless or orphaned mutant children with useful abilities were quietly transferred to the facility and put through psionic conditioning prior to beginning their military training. Most died, unable to survive the rewiring of their minds.
Nathan Dayspring was among the second group of potential candidates, and was marked early on for a leadership role. As they developed a larger base of field operatives, Mistra began to dispatch them on various missions ranging from solo assassinations to a mass deployment into Kuwait in the early days of the Gulf War. The existence of the program remained largely secret outside a very select group (which rarely included the serving President).
Trying to build up the operative base further, Mistra switched after ten years to a less intense form of conditioning that allowed them a wider selection of candidates. The instability of many of the second-generation operatives created deep divisions at Mistra due to the pseudo-feral conditioning. The experienced first-generation operatives saw their younger counterparts as loose cannons and threats to the 'pack'. It was during this time as well that Mistra began to cut ties with the US government, a gradual process that involved launching unauthorized operations and making contacts with other governments, groups and individuals willing to pay for their services. MacInnis protested this shift in purpose but was in the minority; he would attempt to work from within to undermine Mistra, but his cover was eventually blown entirely. The problems among the operatives only worsened when Nathan left, leading to constant attempts by the Directorate to reclaim him and repair his conditioning.
One of the most violent of those attempts happened at Columbia University, leading President McKenna, who had been unaware of the program's existence, to form a taskforce to investigate and hopefully dismantle Mistra. The X-Men remained deeply involved with the matter as well, rescuing Nathan when Mistra finally recaptured him and subsequently making contact with MacInnis, who had continued his anti-Mistra activities for years. Using information he provided, they would later rescue Kyle Gibney from a conditioning facility and Mick Foley when Foley tried to run after his conditioning was damaged. After an adversarial beginning, they finally came to terms with MacInnis, agreeing to share information and encouraging him to make contact with the government, which he did.
When MacInnis and his team of freed operatives rescued a group of children heading for another conditioning facility but crashed in Northern Canada as they were being pursued, the X-Men mounted a rescue mission. One of the consequences of this mission was that Morgan, the field leader who had replaced Nathan after his departure, was freed from his conditioning and brought back to the mansion. He later joined MacInnis at his new base in Galicia to provide his team with effective tactical leadership. Six weeks later, when Mistra tried to regroup on the island of Youra, the X-Men, MacInnis and his team, and US special forces launched a joint operation to take down Mistra for good. It was successful, although the death toll was close to catastrophic among the Mistra operatives and high on the other side as well.
The government taskforce continued its work for some time, reuniting children rescued from Youra with their parents, ensuring the surviving operatives received proper medical and psychological attention, and bringing the surviving Mistra directors and staff to trial. It was during the cleanup part of the investigation that Nathan was told that his father, Saul Morrow, was alive. A few guilty parties escaped, or were not on Youra when the assault was carried out, and have reappeared from time to time.
The Mistra file is mostly closed, but never forgotten. The X-Men would later deal with a spin-off program, Taygetos, that they dealt with as conclusively as they did its predecessor.
X-Men Mission: The Empty Quarter
Shiva (via flashback)
Formerly socked by: Alicia