History and Culture
Terrigenesis was discovered about 25,000 years ago by the Inhuman geneticist Randac. Upon discovery of the Terrigen Crystals which produce the mists, Randac exposed himself to the vapors they created giving him immense psychic abilities. Randac wanted exposure to the Mists to be mandatory in Inhuman culture. The results were often disastrous. Many mutated into deformed monsters. Others mutated into an to an offshoot race of the Inhumans, the Alpha Primitives. Alpha Primitives are mules of Inhuman society: sterile, stupid, and barely functional other than the menial tasks of keeping the machinery that runs the Inhuman city of Attilan running smoothly. Because of the problems with Terrigenesis, the Genetic Council was charged with the task of managing Terrigenesis to ensure that Inhumans are genetically compatible with the process before exposure.
Terrigenesis creates seemingly random mutations in those exposed, unlocking their genetic potential. Each Inhuman responds to the process differently and varies in both appearance and powers gained. Terrigenesis has become such a key aspect of Inhuman culture that it is considered sacred. Much of the Inhuman religion and culture is centered around Terrigenesis. It is considered a rite of passage for Inhuman children. Upon reaching a certain age, children are put into classes where they are paired up with other children of the same age to learn about Inhuman society, religious tradition, and culture. Graduation is in the form of the Terrigenesis, and is an important moment for both the individual and the entire family. Mutations that are key to Inhuman society may be a cause for celebration for the entire race.
The process of Terrigenesis can be extremely dangerous despite rigorous control on the part of the Genetic Council. Mutations very greatly in function and level of power. Mutations vary in every way imaginable including energy forms, psychic mutations, plant and animal control, sonic control, healing, death, strength, blast powers, flying, elemental manipulation, mutation enhancement, and much much more. Some of the least powerful Inhumans can do little more than change skin pigment. Some of the more powerful can level mountains, kill with a gaze, or more.
The unlocking of genetic potential that occurs in Inhumans during Terrigenesis seems to be random in nature, based on the genetic code of the individual alone. It has been revealed that through Terrigenesis Inhumans fulfill a greater destiny through Terrigenesis. When viewed from a higher level, it is evident that Terrigenesis is not only to enhance the individual, but to adapt for the benefit of society in preparation of the future. When an Inhuman with a mutation that is key to Inhuman society dies a replacement mutation occurs within a matter of three years. Times of strife or conflict, or times of great climate change will facilitate mutations appropriate to the circumstances.
Exposure by those who are not genetically compatible with Terrigenesis can be dangerous for those involved. Disastrous mutations can occur and in some rare instances exposure can cause one to cease to exist (even if genetically compatible). Exposure by humans results in Inhuman-like mutations, but the powers and abilities gained as well as the test subject do not last long. The body rapidly begins to burn out and deteriorate. This begins with rapid onset of some of the features of old age, and in later stages will leave little more than a corpse-like husk. Death is imminent.
Exposure to human Mutant can result in the further development of their powers, but at a high price. After M-Day several de-powered mutants were exposed to the Terrigen Mists, resulting in the re-gaining of their mutant abilities at a level which they had never experienced before. Some of the enhanced mutations recorded in mutants (or former mutants) are:
- Unus regained his force field, but was suffocated by it as it no longer let oxygen through.
- Freakshow regained his shape-shifting abilities, but was stuck in the form of a giant disfigured monster with no way to communicate.
- Callisto's senses were heightened to the point where she was put in a coma from the sensation of raindrops on her skin.
- Quicksilver regained the ability to speed up his body to the point where he could jump from one time to another.
- Wicked regained her ability to summon the spirits of the dead, but could no longer control them. These spirits began to torment her.
Secondary exposure of Inhumans is also extremely dangerous, and leads to further mutation. Gorgon was exposed to the mists a second time by the United States government when they captured the Terrigen Crystals causing him to mutate into a large beast. The effect on his powers have yet to be seen.
In Other Media
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA vie for control of a mysterious Kree obelisk known as the Diviner. In the mid-season finale, the Diviner is revealed to contain Terrigen Crystals, and causes Skye and Raina to undergo Terrigenesis after revealing that they possess Inhuman genes.