The origin and past history of the mysterious man known as Ness, has not been disclosed. He was a member of the Hellbent a species whose existence dates back to prehistory, when the remains of early races intermingled with early man. These interbreedings produced the Hellbent, shunned by both human and inhuman.
A group of Hellbent - the "last of the night-tribes" - established the Nest, a Caribbean Island home. They believe themselves to be the last surviving Hellbent. One of them was Ness, who shared a precognitive vision with Nate Grey (Earth-295, aka X-Man), that at the time of Nate's death, half of the world would be destroyed in a massive power outburst; for this vision Ness took the alias of Witness, taking up the mantle of keeping this terrible vision from becoming a reality, knowing that his departure meant forever exiling himself from the Nest. Ness sought out Grey, though he found it difficult to keep up with the globe-traveling mutant youth, in the process, Ness sought information from his Hellbent cousin Slaine, but Slaine was ambushed by Manx, now allied with Dusk and her "Shadow Sister" Dawn, who considered Ness and Slaine traitors. Dying, Slaine skewered and apparently killed the Manx, and Dusk and Dawn teleported back to the Nest. With his dying breath Slaine gave information that led Grey to the enigmatic Blaquesmith, who brought Ness to Latveria, where Ness guided Grey to defeat the psychic madman Stryfe without using the power that had ravaged the planet in their vision. Feeling their destinies were linked, Ness continued his efforts to guide Nate, clashing with Nate's other companion, Madelyne Pryor (secretly the Red Queen of Earth-998). Ultimately, Ness presumably perished following a misguided effort to protect Madelyne. During a battle with Gauntlet, agents of the covert organization Psi-Ops, Madelyne teleported away, this left Ness in the path of a crashing ship.