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Illuminati (Secret World)

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It's all about power.

Grabbing it, keeping it, using it. Power is our currency. Our DNA. Our god. We control the world. We provide the blueprint and we give the instructions. We're the people in grainy photos on grassy knolls. We're the shadowy faces in smoky backrooms and darkened board rooms. We're right here, hiding in plain sight, buying and selling favors. Blackmail, treason, deceit, these are our stock and trade. We work the magic of the drunken evenings with senators and chiefs of staff. We shake down demons and negotiate with sorcerers. We have stocks in hell, and compromising photos of angels. We use any means necessary regardless of the cost because the world is a bad place, and you can either do or get done.

We're the Illuminati, and we're not done.

~ Illuminati: The Secret World faction intro

The Illuminati are one of the 3 main factions in the M.M.O. known as The Secret World and are based on the urban legend of a New World Order-based secret cult: unlike the Templars the Illuminati are ruthless and cut-throat individuals out for personal power and wealth at all costs. While the Templars remain self-righteous, the Illuminati are unapologetic hedonists and The Dragon work to manipulate scenarios in their favor, because of this, the Illuminati and Templars tend to fight the most (while the Dragon manipulates both for its own goals).

Background

The Illuminati was originally part of the "Four and Sixty", an ambiguous origination that is reference to a pre-cabal tied to Biblical figures, a group/society that was made up of not only the Illuminati but The Dragon and Templars as well, but the original purpose and details of this "Four and Sixty" are lost to time. The Illuminati's first independent manifestation was as a society in Egypt around the year 6,000 B.C.E.. Illuminati agents had been poorly defined coming up through Africa, but eventually settled down on its northern border to found one of the world's first great kingdoms. The Eye and Pyramid are both relics from their Egyptian origins. The Illuminati would prop up rulers while making sure to stand to the sidelines of public affairs, traditionally serving as priests, judges, merchant lords and various types of bureaucrats that the Pharaohs could not do without - powerful but innocuous. The Illuminati found that functioning as sponsors of powerful men was preferable to becoming public rulers themselves, and though it meant they would see no credit for their decisions, they considered this a worthwhile sacrifice given that it meant that they would also avoid criticism from their actions. The fallout - be it unrest, rebellion or outright revolution - always fell on the head of the Pharaoh, not the Illuminati who put and kept him there. Overtime, Egypt proved too confining, and the Illuminati, having realized that they need not confine their loyalties to a single ruler, expanded outward across the Middle-East and Mediterranean by allying with the Templars during their conquest of the known world. Details from this era remain ambiguous, but in Egypt the Templars were said to be Pharaoh's bodyguards, even though the entire government was an Illuminati smoke-screen; by contrast, the Roman Empire was stated to be a joint effort of both the Templars and Illuminati.

For a somewhat undefined time, somewhere between a thousand to two thousand years, the Illuminati worked with/for the Templars, mostly as they solidified their hold over Europe from the Dark Ages onward. Of the three societies, the Illuminati were originally the go-to-people, the organizers and enforcers. Where the Dragon would try to calculate and the Templars would fight, the Illuminati would outline and manipulate scenarios. Around the rise of Christendom, the Templars became a bevy of corruption due to the group's inability to separate Church and State, filling their ranks with egotists and control freaks. The Illuminati cared little for how this affected the masses, but resented the man-hours they were applying what amounted to little more than a few petty power struggles. The breaking point came when the Templars began publicly killing each other off over the course of an extended internal conflict, and the Illuminati decided to terminate their alliance, unable to tolerate an organization whose infrastructure was collapsing in on itself. The Illuminati had long since been established as the least moral of the Big Three, so their departure was a major wake-up-call to the Templars as to just how petty and fractious they had become; however, they could not tolerate traitors, justified or not, and began a massive purge of the Illuminati, branding them as witches while also assigning such labels to their own fanatical elements in a desperate attempt to cleanse their organization of undesirables. As the purge contiinued, the Illuminati's remaining members fled Europe and sank their remaining influence into the most promising of all the recent business ventures - the colonization of what was then known as "The New World".

The British Empire, at that point the seat of Templar power, had of course sent British settlers to colonize the newly discovered Americas, but unbeknownst to them, the colonist leaders were secretly Illuminati operatives fleeing Templar jurisdiction. Upon arriving in America, the Illuminati covertly claimed it as their own empire, eventually forming the United States and - through the Founding Fathers - declared independence from Great Britain. With no pre-established clout in place in the New World, the Templars could not destroy the Illuminati as subtly as they once had, and were forced to resort to open warfare - and lost; officially, the United States had won their freedom from Britain, but to those who knew of the Societies, it was a grand demonstration of just how useless the Templars were without the Illuminati to help Indeed, modern Illuminati acknowledge that the formation of the US was was not so much a fresh start as a "giant middle finger" to their former co-conspirators. While the Templars were dealing with their staff cuts and the loss of powerful resources that came with such down-sizing, the Illuminati were establishing influence far beyond the borders and shores of the U.S., much as they had during Egypt's rise to power. It is strongly implied that the Illuminati not only have the U.S. in their pocket but the entirety of the Americas, as well as key players in all major governments and corporations - barring the Orochi Group, of course.

Today, the Illuminati have senators, heads of state, tycoons and movie stars on their direct payroll - to say nothing of how many of them serve the faction without even knowing it. The Illuminati are not bound simply to contacts on this plane and claim to have demons as consultants and employees in Hell. The Illuminati even claim to have incriminating photos of angels.

Employee Relations

The Illuminati have no single grand goal outside of being the only game on the world stage and are more than willing to wait as long as they need to to outlast their rivals, all the while growing more powerful. Though The Illuminati tends to be less than philanthropic towards the masses it takes great care to be a good employer. Learning from the mistakes of The Templars, the Illuminati makes it clear that while it's employees MUST preform their assignments, the method is up to them and the rewards are worth it. Punishments for failure range from being considered less than useful to being killed on sight, with little more than the mood of a handler determining which. Senior members frequently are invited to company raves. There are devices in the spines of members not only to provide leverage against betrayal but also track members and collect sensory data from each member. If one member should meet their end the spinal implant device is retrieved from the corpse and uploaded to the Illuminati's achieves as records of missions from a first person perspective. Because of the B.Y.O.B. policy, hard stance on failure and high paying rewards, members tend to remain very motivated, most are kept so busy/content that even knowing about the explosive devices attached to their spines tends not to shake them.

The Illuminati members each have their own goals. Doctor Charles Zurn was originally a government researcher whose, running of the MK-Ultra program was shut down after the public scandal, though the scandal destroyed his official career the Illuminati spirited him from public reprimand, appointing him instead as their top science officer. Zurn views working for the Illuminati as a paradise since he is now allowed to pursue research with cutting-edge-tech and info that has no legal or ethical restrictions. Senator Cicero is one of many senators in the Illuminati's pocket who work Illuminati interests into official law. Cicero considers being an Illuminati puppet politician to be the height of having friends in high places. Leah Cassini was a master hacker who was inducted into the Illuminati as the sysadmin of the internet it-self. Though board-out-of-her-mind with menial everyday tasks, Cassini views her position at the reins of the Illuminati's cutting edge computer network as the ultimate responsibility. Hayden Montag is a brilliant mage, but in his youth a rogue spell of his resulted in the death of his own mother and several neighbors, the Illuminati, who recognized his raw talents, arranged for him to be found innocent of the suspicious deaths. Montag now runs Innsmouth Academy, publicly a reclusive private school but in truth a magical training program to ensure blooming young mages have the care he never did and sends graduates off to the Illuminati as highly trained mystics. Kirsten Geary, the Illuminati's employee overseer, runs the day-to-day for the shadow members of the Illuminati and considers herself to have found her true calling in life, putting people in their place. Kirsten plays the role of 'mission-control' for the Player and is prone treating tragedy as black-comedy.

Upper Management

The highest employee the Player will ever get to meet in-the-flesh is Erin Mahler, head of Questions and Answers. Erin stresses that Illuminati Questions and Answers work differently from what such a title would normally imply. Erin states she is there to raise questions but she skips the answers as she already knows the answers. Erin claims to be the stick where Kirsten is the carrot, she exists to make clear failings on the part of agents and evaluate their future worth to those above. There are few details about Erin, other than her department, Questions and Answers, are known for merciless, unrelenting, creative torture. Pain inflected by Questions and Answers is so extreme that faint screams can occasionally be heard from their chambers, originally designed to be sound-proof. The Player will only receive a brief visit to Questions and Answers, where Erin impresses upon her/him that they are always watching and will punish any sign of weakness. Though employees like Henry Cicero curse out Erin behind her back even the otherwise belligerent politician is much too frightened of her to do so to her face.

The overseers of the Illuminati are addressed several times through-out the game simply as The Board. The Board are faceless directors of mission out-lines/goals and referred to by go-betweens like Kirsten Geary as "The Talking Heads". The Board are only ever referred to by these two titles, "The Board" or "The Talking Heads". There is some conjecture as to whether The Board also run the Magicians, highly trained agents that can kill immortals, as Magician, Ronelle Washington refers to only being able to be given orders by "the committee", however the title has never otherwise been used to describe The Board, this is either an alternate title for them rarely invoked or reference to The Magicians working for The Council of Venice, whose voting heads are called "The Committee, but the Council of Venice are an otherwise benign overseer of all the Societies. Even if the Magicians are not connected to The Board, "the Talking-Heads" are highly feared. Kirsten has encouraged members to save Hell from the Mad-Angel Eblis, because several senior Board members get home-sick from time to time, indicating that at-least a few of the Illuminati's higher-up are in-fact demons who immigrated to Earth from Hell. Whatever class of demons they are have never been witnessed in game as they can cause brain hemorrhages psychically, a trait none of Hell's traditional patrons have ever displayed. The Board, in addition to having extreme privacy issues also have extreme eccentricities and are known to be less interface friendly than Kirsten, and keep suites way-out in the twisting quarantine sections of the Illuminati's under-ground H.Q..Their privacy, health and social issues are why people like Erin and Kirsten were assigned to represent their wishes to field agents. Despite the myriad of cryptic warnings about The Board even they have fears, they are utterly terrified by Lilith, an ancient human who transcended all known dimensions and became known as The-Mother-of-All-Monsters. As scared as Kirsten is of crossing The-Talking-Heads, they are scared of Lilith. Her arrival in events late in the game prompt The Board to cut-out their other middle-men and tell Kirsten directly to be afraid of Lilith, causing Kirsten to drop her normal mix of sarcasm and black-humor and stress the importance of stopping Lilith, as she is unsure of what will be done to either her or The Player if Lilith gets-away with her plans. Yet still even these enigmatic opinion-formers are not the tip-top of the pyramid.

The high commander of the group, or at-least highest shown, is known as The Pyramidion, who or what it is, is unknown to say nothing of where it is actually located. The Pyramidion contacts members by hacking their phones, com-links, computers, televisions and radios then communicates with them as either text messages or a robotic voice. The Pyramidion may well be an A.I. or the most powerful living member of The Board but either way it appears to have no superiors in the organization. It is prone to reciting internet memes, old-movies and public service announcements, all doubling as subliminal conditioning. Even in the midst of organizing high-priority missions it compulsively lets out these seeming non-sequiturs either to be personable or due to some mental tick, possibly both. All employees take The Pyramidion's mix of memes, sarcasm and death-threats, with the utmost importance.

Rivalries

The Illuminati are particularly bitter towards The Templars still and view them as control-freaks, ones which are slowly dying off generation by generation. As for the Dragon, the Illuminati view them as a formidable but untouchable foe, because The Dragon is made up of thousands of cells, each following "The Tides of Chaos", a al a philosophy over that of a clear objective or chain-of-command,The Illuminati view them as just a crazy anarchist cult that can't be predicted, only stopped when encountered. The lesser respected society known as The Phoenicians is a mercenary group, one the Illuminati view as useful for certain operations that require heavy man-power, but by in large they view them as degenerates. Phoenicians are in it entirely for the money and as such members tend to be less than trust-worthy and are susceptible to bribery, torture and stress (essentially all the things the Illuminati go to great lengths to discourage in their employees to keep them motivated), but extra muscle is extra muscle; The Orochi Group is a corporation that is blossoming into it's own independent power, one which none of the Big Three trust and all have become invested in uncovering due to their experiments with The Filth. The Illuminati consider Orochi to be big players, with big toys but bad at the game. The Illuminati consider conspiracy to be an art and the Orochi to be hacks, just hacks with good resources; The last of the Societies is called the Council of Venice, a supervisor of the Societies. Officially The Council of Venice keeps the societies from letting their rivalries spill over into the public and make everyone play nice with each-other like a Secret Society Untied Nations. Like the formal Untied Nations, The Council of Venice is a joke to those it claims to oversee. The Illuminati consider them worth obeying because they are a good mark of how stupid officials can be and how much stealth situations require and also because The Council favors Uncertainty And Doubt tactics that result in things like Inquisitions or Fa-quads that eat up resources to put down.

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