A mutant is a human born with a genetic condition that grants them an extra-normal ability not possessed by mainstream humanity. This condition is caused by a gene complex known as the "X-factor." Although mutant powers vary greatly, telepathy, personal flight, the ability to project energy and enhanced strength, agility or senses are common mutant powers. Most typically, mutant powers manifest during puberty and, for some mutants, several years of self-discipline are needed before they can control their powers.
Human mutants were created by a star-faring race of humanoid aliens called the "Celestials." Approximately one million years ago they came to Earth and performed genetic tests and experimentations on Earth's highest lifeform, the nascent human being. Testing the versatility of human genes, one of their experiments was the implantation of a dormant gene complex which would one day permit benevolent mutations of phenomenal capacity in humanity. The gifts endowed by the presence of this X-factor can be minimal, to phenomenal; such as the abilities of any well-known powerful mutant hero or villain, for example, many of the X-Men, or former members of the Brotherhood of Mutants.
The first recorded mutant on Earth was Selene, shown to have been active during the Hyborian Age (roughly 14,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C.) Apocalypse followed millennia later, born in 30th Century B.C. Egypt. As Apocalypse went into hibernation, only a handful few mutants emerged such as Sabretooth, Mystique, Wolverine, and a few of others. As the 20th Century A.D. came into view more and more mutants were being born. In recent decades, with the advance of the Atomic Age, mutants have become more prolific in numbers, possibly due to the minute worldwide increase in radiation levels.
Currently is estimated that from one in 25,000 to one in 10,000 persons are mutants (numbers depend on the area, mutants tend to congregate in cities). An estimated 20,000 mutants live in the United States, and 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide (and some studies place the number at twice that).
The x-factor creates an exotic protein that interacts with gonadal steroids, stress hormones, behavior-related neurotransmitters, immune system messengers, and other biochemical characteristics to produce chemical signals that modify the expression of susceptible genes. The exotic protein functions as a type of "genetic enhancer" within the physiology of mutants.
For example, the powers of mutant Erik Lehnsherr could be explained by the fact that all humans have genes that allow the subtle sensing of magnetic fields (similar to abilities found in sharks) that having been magnified by the exotic protein in Lehnsherr, has endowed him with the ability to expertly sense and modify magnetic fields. Similar explanations extend to all mutants. While the information in their genes that dictates biological characteristics has remained the same, the set of actual physical traits exhibited has been altered and enhanced through the exotic protein modifying genetic expression.
Because the specifics of the biochemical characteristics that interact with the exotic protein are dependent upon a person's environment, individual genetic structure, and even emotional and psychological state, the specific chemical signals produced are different in every mutant. As a result, the expressions of what specific susceptible genes are altered and enhanced and how they are altered and enhanced are different in every mutant. That's the reason every individual mutant has a different extra-normal ability.
The x-factor gene complex responsible for the expression of mutant abilities specifically involves two genes, each of which has two forms, or alleles. To be a mutant, a person must have at least one of each of the dominant alleles. A non-mutant who is an "x-factor carrier" may either have two recessive "a" alleles, or two recessive "b" alleles.
- A - mutant gene 1 (dominant)
- a - non-mutant (recessive)
- B - mutant gene 2 (dominant)
- b - non-mutant (recessive)
These combinations will make a mutant:
These combinations will make a non-mutant "x-factor carrier":
Mutants born from two non-mutant x-factor carriers are produced if one parent has two "a" alleles and at least one "B" allele, while the other parent has two "b" alleles and at least one "A" allele. Because of this, they could produce mutant offspring:
AAbb x aaBB, for example, would produce all mutant offspring of the type AaBb.
Aabb x aaBb would produce mutant offspring in the proportion of one in four:
- AaBb = mutant
- Aabb = x-factor carrier
- aaBb = x-factor carrier
- aabb = x-factor carrier
Aabb x aaBB or AAbb x aabB would have a one in two chance of having mutant offspring.
Two mutant parents can even have x-factor carrier children. These x-factor carriers are produced by two mutant parents who have at least one recessive allele of the same gene:
AaBB x AaBB could produce
- AABB (1/4 chance) = mutant
- AaBB (1/2 chance) = mutant
- aaBB ( 1/4 chance) = x-factor carrier
AABb x AABb could produce
- AABB (1/4) = mutant
- AABb (1/2) = mutant
- AAbb (1/4) = x-factor carrier
However, the cross AABb x AaBB would produce all mutant offspring, since only one recessive allele of each gene could be inherited by any offspring:
- AABB (1/4) = mutant
- AABb (1/4) = mutant
- AaBB (1/4) = mutant
- AaBb (1/4) = mutant
The cross likely to produce the most x-factor carriers from two mutant parents is, obviously, AaBb x AaBb, in which the offspring have a seven in sixteen chance of being an x-factor carrier.
If one parent has two a alleles and at least one B allele, while the other parent has two b alleles and at least one A allele, they could produce mutant offspring. AAbb x aaBB, for example, would produce all mutant offspring of the type AaBb. Aabb x aaBb would produce mutant offspring in the proportion of one in four. Aabb x aaBB or AAbb x aabB would have a one in two chance of having mutant offspring.
Alpha mutants have powerful, advantageous mutant traits and no disadvantageous flaws. Perhaps the most feared of mutants, alphas look completely human yet have some of the most powerful abilities recorded. Common belief is that mutants will eventually be formed by all alphas, and therefore alphas are the epitome of mutantkind. Currently it is estimated less than 10% of all mutants are alphas, although given they look human the percentage might be somewhat greater.
Betas are not weaker than alphas in what power regards, but they are not perfect. Along their advantageous mutations they have minor flaws, sometimes merely cosmetic, but that hinders them in some significant way. It is believed about 10% of all mutants are betas.
Gammas are also powerful mutants, having some impressive gifts, but along with those powers they also have major flaws that make their lives hard, often miserable, and many times, shortened. Roughly 10% of all mutants are gammas, and they are usually easy to recognize, as they are often saddled with important physical defects.
Delta mutants lack the impressive powers of alphas, but share their lack of flaws. Deltas are mutants with small abilities of little use under most circumstances. The number of deltas in the world is unknown, but it is assumed they are at least 50% of all mutants, and the number could be far greater because a good number of deltas don't even know they are mutants.
Epsilons are the unfortunate ones among mutants. Epsilons often have minor superhuman traits, but those are overshadowed by crippling major flaws that makes a normal life for them almost completely impossible. It is believed about 20% of all mutants are epsilons, but often is very difficult to distinguish them from gammas.
Omega mutants are those with the ultimate power, the baddest of the bad, the supermen of urban myth. 'Omega' is not a scientific classification for mutants, but a popular label that is usually applied to powerful alphas. 'She is an Omega' and 'I have the Omega power!' are mutant slang terms to talk about how 'cool' someone or his or her powers are. Omega, flatscan (derogative for non-mutant, does not 'spike' in the electroencephalogram to detect mutants), gene-joke (derogative for mutant), etc, are new terms one can hear when mutants are talked about.
Among some subtle psychological and physiological differences with non-mutants, mutants have several extraordinary, almost mystical qualities, besides their superpowers. For instance: it is a proven fact that the presence of 'active' mutants tends to cause others who have the X-factor to manifest their own powers.
This explains the sudden emergence of mutants not by an insulated event here are there, but as a sudden wave of manifestations that shocked the world. At first there was just a handful of cases, young mutants with weak powers, but in a few years major cities all over the world had small numbers of superpowered mutants. Then they began to appear in smaller cities, and finally even in rural communities. It took a while to find out why, but now it is known that there is some kind of synergic effect that triggers the manifestation of powers in people that probably would never have manifested otherwise. As mutants became more common and moved among towns and villages, other mutants became aware of their true nature.
And it seems mutants have a kind of social instinct that pushes them to gather together. For instance: mutant couples are far more common that they should give the small numbers and dispersion of mutants, to the point that they are more common than non-mutants/mutant couplings. There is some kind of instinct that pushes the mutants together that has nothing to do with pheromones or any other known form of communication and that probably is related to the x-factor gene complex. Some sociologists dismiss this latter phenomenon as nothing more than the normal minority group social dynamics, but many now theorize there is some kind of "psychic" connection between mutants.
It is also theorized that mutant powers reinforce each other in some degree, allowing groups of mutant to master their powers more easily and to a greater degree they would when alone. This same synergic effect also seem to make mutants want to form their own communities, often leaving behind their non-mutant families, and foster non-mutant paranoia to a great degree.