Little has been revealed about Mystique's past. Indeed, since she can eliminate the outward signs of aging with her shape-changing power, it is not known exactly how old she is. She apparently learned to use her shape-changing power at a very early age, for there is no evidence known to the public or the United States government that Raven Darkholme ever looked like anything but a normal human being. Years ago Mystique had an affair with the mutant Sabretooth and they had a son, Graydon Creed, the recently assassinated presidential candidate. Mystique has also claimed to be the mother of Nightcrawler, a member of the X-Men, as the result of a liaison with another, unnamed man. Mystique is known to be a longtime friend of the mutant Destiny who is now deceased. At some point in recent years Mystique became the protectress of the young mutant named Rogue, and looked upon Rogue as a surrogate daughter. At the same time she maintained another identity, that of Mallory Brickman, the wife of U.S. Senator Ralph Brickman. They even had a daughter, Gloria. Mystique had concealed her superhuman powers and criminal intentions so well over the years that, as Darkholme, she was able to rise rapidly through the United States Civil Service to the trusted position of Deputy Director of the Defense Advanced Research Planning Agency (DARPA) in the United States Department of Defense. This position gave her access to military secrets and to advanced weaponry, both of which she used for her own criminal and subversive purposes. To help her in her criminal activities, Mystique organized the third incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which originally consisted of herself, Avalanche, the Blob, Destiny, and Pyro. Mystique named her group after the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a subversive organization founded by Magneto in his criminal days. The third Brotherhood first became notorious when it attempted to intimidate the public by assassinating Senator Robert Kelly, who was investigating what he perceived as the possible menace posed by the existence of superhuman mutants and other superhuman beings. The X-Men thwarted the assassination attempt, and the Brotherhood later clashed with the X-Men on other occasions, as well as with the Avengers and Dazzler. Rogue was a member of the Brotherhood for a time, but finally left to join the X-Men, in order to find help in learning how to deal with her superhuman powers. Recently, anti-mutant sentiment among normal human beings has greatly increased, and the federal government has launched its own covert anti-mutant program, Project Wideawake. Believing that the times had thus become too dangerous for the Brotherhood to continue its criminal activities, Mystique went to Dr. Valerie Cooper, special assistant to the head of the National Security Council, and offered the Brotherhood's services to the government. Cooper agreed to convey the offer to the President, on the condition that the Brotherhood pass a test she imposed: the capture of Magneto. The Brotherhood, now renamed Freedom Force, succeeded in bringing Magneto to the authorities (although, in fact, they did so only because he voluntarily surrendered to them), and soon afterwards officially entered the government's employ. In return for entering the government's employ as Freedom Force's leader, Mystique received a presidential pardon for all criminal charges against her, but the pardon would be revoked if any member of Freedom Force was found committing a crime. Recently, Mystique fled X-Factor and hid from them by returning to her secret identity as Mallory Brickman, the Senator's wife.