|Exodus (Joint Venture)|
|Real Name||Bennet du Paris|
|Alias(es)||Witch Knight, Champion of the Witchbreed, Ben Paris, Paris Bennett, The Mutant Master|
|Affiliation||Brotherhood of Mutants (founder/leader), Factor Six (former leader)|
|Base Of Operations||Avalon|
|Universe||Joint Venture Universe|
|Unusual Features||Dark, pinkish-red skin|
Squire of the Round
Bennet du Paris' story begins in the late 5th century AD, as a humble squire to one of the Norman Knights of King Arthur's Round Table who made pilgrimage to Camelot, to ally with Arthur alongside their greatest champion, the legendary knight Lancelot du Lac. A humble and pious young man, Bennet seemingly had no desire but to serve the powerful and just. However, Merlin, the Sorcerer Supreme of the era and Arthur's court wizard, sensed something different about the boy -- a great power that slept within him. Merlin knew it was not magic, but had no name for the phenomenon, as Western European society had no concept of mutants yet.
On the eve of Bennet's first trial for knighthood, Arthur's son Mordred, the sorcerer-knight, led an army and laid siege to Camelot. When it became clear that there was no salvation for the city, Merlin sent the young man to the nearby island of Shalott, once home to a powerful Faer who had loved Lancelot from afar. However, Bennet's latent mutant powers catalyzed themselves, and he could psychically feel the deaths of nearly everyone he cared for. In an anguished attempt to silence the voices, Bennet willed himself into a comatose state, where his mind could convalesce and suppress the horrific memories of what he had seen and felt.
A Knight of the Lionheart
Bennet, having driven himself amnesiac, wandered the world for six hundred years, unconsciously using his telepathy to make himself invisible while he poached or stole to survive. He took great offense to the persecution of witches, as magic had saved his life, and used his own "magic" -- his mutant powers of telepathy and telekinesis -- to save people accused of witchcraft from horrific deaths. The few people who did remember him from this time built him a legend as a "witch-boy" with strange skin and an even stranger presence. Bennet took lovers of both genders during this time, but never stayed in one place for long, moving on before he could form lasting attachments. It never occurred to him to wonder why he did not age, simply believing it to be another of the blessings given him by Merlin.
Finally, in the 12th century AD, Bennet found himself again in England. Witnessing King Richard I's comparatively benevolent treatment of the Jewish, a highly disenfranchised minority, Bennet swore his allegiance to the king and, seven hundred years after the fall of Camelot, proved himself a knight at last.
Witch Knight, Black Knight
Bennet was one of the many knights who accompanied Richard I on his Crusades to the Holy Land, despite misgivings -- after seeing the monarch show benevolence to one religion, the knight could not fathom his desire to wage war on another. His bafflement was shared by Sir Eobar Garrington, the Black Knight, who wielded an Ebony Blade forged by Merlin. Recognizing the link to his long-forgotten past, Bennet revealed his long history to Garrington -- the first being to whom he had ever related his tale -- and the two became fast friends. Though Bennet fell in love with Garrington, he never acted on this feeling, instead choosing to keep it to himself. The Black Knight and the Witch Knight, as Bennet had come to be known, deserted the Crusades together to experience more of the world as brothers-in-arms.
Exodus from Akkaba
Bennet and Garrington eventually found themselves in Akkaba, a small Egyptian town hidden on the edge of the Valley of the Kings. There, they heard legends of "The Tomb of the First One," a temple (in actuality, a Lazarus Chamber) belonging to the great Pharaoh known as Apocalypse. During this time, Apocalypse was in one of his regenerative states, and had been so for long enough that a cult had begun to grow around him, that "any who awakened the sleeping Grey King" would receive power beyond their imagination.
Garrington, possessed of the Ebony Blade's power, viewed it as a curse. Bennet, on the other hand, had always felt he could do and be more than he was. In addition, the long-lived Witch Knight felt a kinship with the ancient Pharaoh. So while Garrington slept one night, preparing to depart for more temperate climates, Bennet crept out and began following the Paths of the Dead, a pass between two sheer cliffs that supposedly led to the Tomb of the First One.
The journey took far longer than Bennet had anticipated. Eventually, possessed of neither food, nor water, nor adequate shelter, he persevered through strength of will alone, despite winds howling through the canyon and sandstorms that, in the narrow dimensions of the pass, threatened to flay his flesh from his bones. Despite his longevity and his power, Bennet grew to doubt his survival. Finally, exhausted, scorched, and half-starved and dehydrated, Bennet found his way into the Tomb, where he came face-to-face with the sleeping form of En Sabah Nur.
It is unknown what transpired between Bennet and Nur in the tomb, but when he emerged, Bennet's already-powerful mutant abilities had been augmented, the man transformed into the being known as Exodus. Calling himself "the Herald of Apocalypse," he confronted Garrington, doing battle with his onetime friend, presumably as a final test of his worthiness of the power Apocalypse had granted him. However, Garrington prevailed, and Exodus fled, the two former friends parting ways for good as Bennet du Paris bid goodbye to the last vestiges of the values he had learned in Camelot.
Champion of the Witchbreed
Over the course of the following centuries, Exodus became a darker version of what he had been before -- a self-proclaimed champion against injustice and savior of the disenfranchised. However, his methods in doing so often proved destructive, even sadistic, eliminating whole villages for the sake of one lone victim, regardless of guilt or innocence.
In particular, Exodus became "Champion of the Witchbreed," people born with strange or unusual abilities. Sometimes considered changelings, sometimes the children of witches or demons, these individuals were particular targets of the ire of "normal" humans. For better or worse, Bennet would no longer hide in the shadows and watch the centuries turn.
He carved a bloody swathe across Europe and Asia, before he was defeated in the 15th century by Yao, a Sorcerer Supreme much like the one who had saved his life all those centuries ago. The "Ancient One" took advantage of Exodus' inexperience with his fantastic new power levels and sealed him in a Crystal Coccoon of Morpheus. The Ancient One sent the Crystal Coccoon to the New World, where he hoped it would never be discovered, that the 'Witchbreed' might remain asleep in stasis until the end of time.
20th Century - The Mutant Master of Factor Six
Exodus, of course, did not remain asleep.
The Ancient One had assumed him a sorcerer like himself, as the world still had no concrete concept of mutantkind, and thus did not know that his powers had nothing to do with magic. Thus, despite being unable to move or access his telekinetic abilities, Exodus eventually did awaken, and when he did so, he found his telepathy unimpeded by the Crystal Coccoon.
With nothing else to use but his telepathy, Exodus began to gather information about his surroundings. By reading the minds of those outside his hidden prison, Bennet learned of the modern world and its ways and customs. Moreover, he learned the truth about the Witchbreed he had dedicated his immortal life to protecting -- that they were mutants, their gifts genetic in nature, rather than magical. After learning of Darwinist theory and evolution, Exodus became convinced that mutants were in fact the superior race, destined to supplant humanity as cro-magnon had supplanted the Neanderthal, and that his lifelong, sacred duty had in fact been to ensure the dominance of mutantkind.
Now galvanized into a new mission, Exodus began using his powers to search for mutants who could further his cause. Beginning with the illusionist Mastermind, the "Mutant Master" began psychically contacting mutants from around the country and offering them Faustian bargains in exchange for their services. As he did so, and felt his confidence in his abilities growing, Bennet found his abilities themselves grew, to the point where he transformed one of his recruits, Frederick Dukes, in a similar manner as he himself had been transformed, turning the one-time "Blob" into the mutant known as Stonewall.
Over time, Exodus, as the Mutant Master, formed the mutants he found into Factor Six, the first organization of "evil mutants" in the modern era. By making promises and bargains, or simply stroking the egos of his subordinates, Bennet formed Factor Six into a formidable fighting force without one of them ever laying eyes on him. He even managed to assume physical control over one of them, the Irish ex-Interpol agent Banshee, thanks to the specially-designed neural override suit that gave Exodus complete control over his body. Using this in conjunction with his telepathy, Bennet could "possess" Banshee, and relay his instructions and lead Factor Six in person, despite still being trapped in the Crystal Coccoon of Morpheus.
The Fall of Factor Six
Factor Six did not go unopposed, of course. Their most frequent, persistent, and successful adversaries were Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. The feud that grew between Factor Six and these two mutant vigilantes would result time and again in a stalemate.
Finally, the Mutant Master had had enough. Discovering the rough location of Xavier's home, Exodus ordered Factor Six to attack Salem Center, New York. Although he did not know exactly where to strike, as Xavier had not yet opened his Institute for Higher Learning, Exodus decided to make certain by having Factor Six destroy the entire town and kill every one of its inhabitants.
These orders split Factor Six evenly between three factions. Unuscione and Mastermind were all too willing to comply with the order and slaughter humans. Vanisher and Stonewall were uncertain -- they had signed on to make their lives easier, not to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocents. And lastly, Morph and Banshee had never wanted to hurt anyone in the first place.
Eventually, this decision led to a fracturing of Factor Six during the final battle with Xavier and Magneto. Morph switched sides, and even helped Magneto free Banshee from the neural-interface costume that had given Exodus control over his body. Stonewall and Vanisher disappeared in the middle of the battle, Vanisher's teleporting powers effecting a tactical retreat to parts unknown. Finally, Mastermind and Unuscione were defeated by the combined forces of Xavier, Magneto, and the two traitors, and carted off to a top-secret prison for superhumans founded in the aftermath of World War II.
However, the defeat had done for Exodus what countless victories had not; it galvanized him. Finally deciding to take matters into his own hands, he located Stonewall and psychically dominated him, using his superhuman strength to shatter the Crystal Coccoon that had held him prisoner for so long. Now able to move and act freely for the first time in centuries, Exodus released Dukes from his control, wiping his memory of the events so that he could approach him more freely as himself at a later date, once he decided on the proper approach to leading a mutant revolution.
The Brotherhood of Mutant Liberation
~To be disclosed~
Exodus is an Omega-level mutant, with highly advanced psionic powers, further augmented by the technologies and sorceries of Apocalypse.
Telepathy: Exodus' first power, and the one he resorts to most often, is telepathy. He can read minds, astrally project his consciousness outside his body, communicate across vast distances with words or images, link the minds of others through his own as a kind of "psychic switchboard", create psychic illusions, and influence the minds of others in various ways. He can also attack people's minds with "psi-bolts", which can stun, disorient, paralyze, cause intense pain, and even kill.
While telepathy is common in the Joint Venture Universe, each telepath takes a different approach to the use of their powers, practicing different specializations and excelling in different things. Exodus' specialty is in psychic intelligence -- the ability to telepathically absorb knowledge from those around him. He is adept at acquiring knowledge through all but the most sophisticated psi-shields, though his offensive powers are often blunted by those same shields.
Empathy: In addition to his telepathy, Bennet possesses empathic powers that enable him to sense the feelings, sensations, and emotions of others. He can also affect these emotions, the way telepaths can affect thoughts. Exodus often finds this ability as useful, if not more so, than his telepathy.
Telekinesis: Exodus is a supremely powerful telekinetic, able to lift upwards of 100 tons with minimal strain. He can raise powerful telekinetic barriers, shoot blasts of concussive telekinetic force, agitate molecules to simulate pyrokinesis, levitate or fly, and control molecules to such an extent that he can change the shape of objects around him practically at will.
Healing/Regeneration: One of the unique powers granted him by Apocalypse, Exodus possesses the ability to heal himself or others, presumably through a specific application of his telekinesis. The full extent of his healing abilities is unknown, but he did successfully cure Morph of an unknown degenerative disease that was threatening to destabilize his physical form to the point of discorporation, despite knowing nothing of the disease itself.
Teleportation: Exodus can open wormholes through which he can travel instantaneously from one point to another. The maximum range or duration of these is not known.
Power Enhancement: Like Apocalypse, Exodus can take other superpowered beings and enhance their powers to insane degrees. While Apocalypse's process often enslaves those he enhances to his will, Exodus, either by choice or circumstance, allows the people he enhances thus to retain their free will.
Intuitive Intellect: A by-product of his ability to psychically gather information, Exodus has the ability to instantly grasp information as he receives it. This includes translating new languages, mastering new skills, understanding complex machinery despite being over a millennium-and-a-half old, and the quick processing and storage of information through mental transference.
Longevity/Immortality: Perhaps in part due to his regenerative powers or his telekinesis, Exodus is functionally immortal. Despite being over 1600 years old, he retains the physical fitness, prowess, vitality, and appearance of a man in his early 30s.
Psionic Vampirism: To sustain his power levels, Exodus must periodically 'feed' upon the psionic energies of others, absorbing their mental energy in a manner similar to the way he absorbs knowledge. While this does not seriously hurt non-psychic victims, instead leaving them comatose for a period, other psychics often find themselves temporarily or permanently stripped of their powers. He often prefers to use this against homo sapiens or non-telepathic mutants, as psychics who detect what he's doing to them can often defend themselves. Failure to absorb psionic energies results in a weakening of his own power.
Confidence Empowerment: Exodus's mutant abilities are completely dependent on confidence, either his faith in himself or the faith others have in him. Thus, his powers are enhanced when he, or others around him, believe in the strength of his abilities, but similarly, when suffering from a lack of faith in himself or surrounded by skeptics who do not believe in his powers, he is weakened considerably. Typically, his ego keeps him well-powered, but a skilled enough telepath or empath who can breach his shields can often instill at least temporary doubt in himself, thus weakening him.