Hongji was born to a Chinese-American Escort and presumably American raider. Not wanting the hassle of raising a child, the escort left Hongji in the streets of Shi Town, where he was found and fed by a generous resident. Hongji wouldn't stay with that resident for long as she too couldn't afford to keep a child. She contacted her friend at the Steel Palace, and they were the ones to finally take him in. He grew up being being taught the sciences, particularly Robotics, Advanced Systems and Cybernetics. When he reached the age of 25, he had developed schematics for cybernetic implants everyone saw as quite extraordinary. He volunteered as the first subject of said project, a decision that would affect his appearance and ability for decades to come.
Using a combination of his advanced cybernetics and the Shi's famous synthesized plant fuel, Hongji able to retain his age and appearance for years. As the years passed and a new generation of Scientists took their places in the Shi, he began to feel the Shi going in an unfavorable direction. As a result of this, he refused to share his research and demoted from Scientist to guard. When The Legion came to assimilate all tribes and purge the Shi, Hongji only helped the scientists he liked and let the rest be purged. They also managed to help Shi Town refugees, which would later become MIT's first military personnel. As they traveled west to escape Legion purges in California, they came across the exiled Followers of the Apocalypse who would help Hongji's men take over HELIOS One to weaken the Legion oppressors. Upon seeing he could recreate the Shi scientific prowess in HELIOS One, he founded MIT.