The Externals are a mysterious organization of immortal mutants loosely affiliated with the X-Men. This is the Joint Venture Universe version of the group.
The Original "Twelve"
In the early 1980s, a set of prophetic stone tablets were uncovered in an ancient Mayan ruin detailing "The External Twelve," a group of people with extraordinary powers and lifespans destined to either cause, or save the world from, a great calamity. Translators give these "Twelve" titles based on their role, and many scholars speculate that all of them are genetic mutants or mutates in some form or fashion.
- "Birth" (I) - supposedly the oldest sentient being alive, someone present at the dawn of recorded time, who will persist until the end of the world. As the oldest living mutant currently known of is Selene (see "Corruption"), speculation about whot his could be runs rampant, with many people guessing it might not be a native of Earth at all.
- "Corruption" (II) - A being whose lifespan is sustained through evil and parasitic means, often compared to folkoric vampires. It is widely speculated that this could be a reference to Selene, the oldest known living mutant, who sustains herself via psychic vampirism.
- "Conquest" (III) - One who will assume the throne of a great kingdom by force, whose name will be synonymous with both revelation and destruction on an unimaginable scale. This is most commonly believed to be Apocalypse, who was known to the Mayans following his departure from Egypt.
- "Betrayal" (IV) - A being who rose to the highest heights before being flung into the darkest depths for a single act of unspeakable treachery. The being this refers to remains unknown at the present time.
- "Sin" (V) - Like the beings associated with Corruption and Betrayal, "Sin" refers to a once-holy entity who became twisted by personal desires while remaining blind to their own failing. The reference is vague enough to be applicable to several long-lived mutants, but the current prevailing theory is Exodus, leader of the Brotherhood of Mutant Lberation.
- "Energy" (VI) - A being who is, or will be, the catalyst for a massive influx of great power into the world. As with Sin, the reference is vauge, though a boom in the population of "Witchbreed"...what would later be known as mutants...in the 14th century suggests an early "proto-mutant" as the most likely candidate.
- "Machination" (VII) - A master manipulator, a being possessed of both ruthless intellect and depthless depravity, who schemes and pits others against one another to achieve their ends. Despite not having been born a mutant, Mr. Sinister is widely considered most likely to inherit this title.
- "Mystery" (VIII) - A being with no face or body of their own, who exists by emulating others, one steeped in intrigue and hidden in shadow, both legendary and forgotten at the same time. Given her past identity as the great detective Sherlock Holmes, signs point to this being a reference to Mystique.
- "Forgiveness" (IX) - While most of the Twelve are associated with "neutral" or "evil" concepts, there is one considered to be unequivocally good, an immortal who will undergo the most terrible of suffering and still retained a sense of kindness and compassion. Who this is remains unknown, though scholars have jokingly made comparisons to Christ. (Most Christian religious authorities, of course, have denounced this thoroughly, most perceiving the notion that the Biblical Christ could have been a mutant as blasphemous in the extreme.) Despite this mostly-in-jest theory, the true identity of this External is unknown.
- "Peace" and "Passion" (X & XI) - two figures often depicted as one, either as brothers bound by loyalty and companionship, rather than blood, or as bitter enemies locked in endless combat. Both are depicted as being one with the natural world around them, with a closer kinship to the beasts of the wild than with mankind. While there are any number of long-lived feral mutants, such as Wolverine, the exact identity of these two specific figures remains unknown.
- "Rebirth" (XII) - The figure least referred to in the prophecy, though she carries arguably the most important role, as it is her power that catalyzes all of the others and causes or stops the great catastrophe. It should be noted that this is the only one of the original Twelve Externals to have a specific, set gender, though that does little to narrow down the identity of this mystery woman.
"And the Rest": Other Immortals
There are many mutants with a long lifespan as part of their mutation, either actively or potentially. Even more have achieved longevity through outside means, such as magic or technology. Not every immortal is an External, but every External, both major and minor, is confirmed by the prophecies to be immortal, or at least long-lived.
Outside of the Twelve in the original prophecy, there exist other External titles that feature in other "legends", though not as prominently:
- "Rebellion" - a distinctly different entity from "Revolution", but sometimes confused with the other.
While some of these immortals have strong candidates, it is unlikely they will be known for certain until and unless they fulfill the criteria of their respective prophecies.