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THE TRUE AND COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE INFERNO CLUB

The home planet of Atlantis was the basis of an old civilisation. Structured, ordered, and largely peaceful, it dedicated itself to learning more of the nature of reality, and of the true potential of individuals. This research had already led to a large proportion of the race becoming spiritually and psychically active, and they used their powers to work with the society, and aid its further evolution. The society was divided into twelve 'Houses' each with particular responsibilities, and skills, to keep the world running smoothly. At the head of each House was a single individual, exceptional in their field, and these individuals came together as a Council of Twelve to make the important rulings that effected the whole of Atlantis.

But some of Atlantis were not satisfied with the slow, steady, evolution of their race - they wanted more, and quickly. Their lust for power made them ruthless, as they grew to believe that it was the natural way that an elite should lead the majority; an elite of great power and ability, free to do as they chose. The rest, the common herd, should remain passive, and accept the rule of the strong.

These few discovered that if one were prepared to do absolutely anything, to turn one's back on all morality, to forget one's empathy completely, then one could grow more powerful. There is always great power in the negative emotions, the destructive powers - anger, hate and rage. These people turned to these powers to find a new way to push themselves forward, to heighten their abilities... Soon they formed a group that they believed was in a position to seize control of Atlantis, and rule as an elite for all time.

The rebels attempted their coup - striking a the heart of Atlantean society with acts of terrorism - acts which spread the fear and terror that fed their power. The Council of Twelve fought back, uniting their own power, and the power of those they commanded. They fought the revolutionaries, fighting many violent and bloody battles. But eventually the Atlanteans were victorious. They captured the rebels, and a great trial was held to decide the correct punishment for their crimes against society.

The Twelve decided that exile was the only acceptable option - the rebels now being so powerful that mere physical death would not destroy them. It was decided that the rebels would not just be exiled from the home world, but also from the physical plane. They were to be pulled free from the their physical forms, and bound to a planet far, far away.

The greatest spiritual explorers of Atlantis searched for an appropriate planet to become a prison colony. It was decided that guards would have to be sent with the prisoners to ensure they were never able to escape, or retake physical form and perhaps threaten once again the Atlanteans.

As it was impossible to travel physically, they looked for somewhere to where they could travel spiritually - and take possession of physical forms. A minor planet was found which contained a steadily evolving lifeform, of body-shape much like their own, of sufficient mental capacity to contain their spirits.

The Atlanteans called for volunteers prepared to travel to the new planet, there to guard the prisoners, and create a new world for themselves. Prison guards were selected from each of the twelve sections of society, each displaying great ability in their field.

The guards set out on their great spiritual leap across the galaxy, towing with them the now disembodied spirits of the rebel leaders and their lesser followers. Their first act upon arriving on earth was to possess bodies from the newly evolving human race. They then used their new-found physical forms to begin building a great city that they could make their home.

The Atlanteans created their new city of Atlantis, at its centre a great square where the heads of each of the Houses on Earth engraved their names - Piskas the programmer, Lau the defensive coordinator, Lira the secretary, and the rest. They also constructed a great computer, which named itself 0001. It was a computer designed to aid in the running of every part of Atlantean society. Created to be intelligent, it understood all of the greatest theories of sociology, evolution, and psychology. It also had massive data-processing powers, able to monitor the work of everyone within Atlantis. The pyramidal crystals used to store data were created such that 0001 would have a copy of all data stored within them, thus it knew of everything any Atlantean recorded, and could ensure that Atlantis ran smoothly, and efficiently. It also provided a convenient central point for the prison guards, and they took the precaution of spiritually binding each of the rebels to the spirit of the Earth via 0001, to ensure they were not able to leave the planet again.

Initially the rebels had remained quiet and relatively cooperative - even when Cacra and his people gave them physical form only to work them as slaves. But their cooperation came only from their disorientation and despair, after being split from their bodies and thrown through space. As the rebel leaders regained their strength, they began to persuade the others that perhaps all had not been lost, and they might still have revenge on the Atlanteans. As they gained strength, they also regained some of their powers - the power to communicate, and then, with time, the power to possess...

The Atlanteans had paid little attention to the green life-forms at first. In some areas of the planet - areas they did not bother with - the greens had created relatively sophisticated cultures to help the evolving humans. They seemed a peaceful race, and unlikely to disturb the Atlanteans or their plans.

But then, one night, five thousand years after the settlement, an attack came. The first the Atlanteans knew of it was when an explosion ripped the night air. Something had attacked 0001.

It became immediately apparent that the greens had caused the explosion, but that they were not acting for themselves - they had become possessed by the rebels. Worse yet, the damage to 0001 had severed a number of the spiritual bonds that kept the rebels in place. Several of the most powerful rebels were now free to roam the planet.

Investigation lead to a frightening discovery - the greens had no resistance to being possessed by the rebels. The rebels slid in and out of them at will, and were already beginning to move to further attacks. The Council of Twelve met, and made a painful decision - with access to physical forms the rebels were an incredible danger to them, and if the outpost were destroyed the rebels might once again threaten the home world. Thus, whatever the cost, the rebels must be denied physical forms. The greens would have to be destroyed.

The Atlanteans launched a powerful assault against the greens, quickly destroying the physical forms that the rebels could so easily take - and, of course, killing all of the greens on Earth, driving the remnants to the adjacent planet Mars where it was assumed they could do no further harm.

They had not entirely purged the rebel spirits from the surviving greens, though, and these resilient beings set about reconstructing their culture on Mars, but with bitter memories of what had been done to them. These memories would be passed down from generation to generation. The time for the great and powerful eight-tentacled greens was almost passed, and their numbers declined. The sevens took power and drove the green war research on, fuelled by an incredible passion to get revenge on the alien Atlantean attackers. The sixes had some of this spirit within them, but not so powerfully - they would be content merely with exterminating those who had killed their own. The newly evolving fives were entirely free of the rebel taint from Earth, and thus free of the hatred of all things Atlantean.

With extra security checks imposed upon the rebels, twenty more centuries passed in peace, and the Atlanteans increased in numbers, their city spreading to cover much of their continent. They began to notice that rudimentary civilization had grown up amongst the humans, but they made a decision to keep themselves separate.

But with the passing years, the later generations of the Atlantean prison guards began to lose heart with their own effective exile from their home world. They wondered how things had progressed since their ancestors had left the home planet so long ago. A decision was made that they would attempt to recontact their home, and the Council of Twelve began a systematic series of experiments involving reaching out across the galaxy in search for the lost homeworld, in the hope that they might once again begin communication with it.

Unfortunately, it was not the homeworld with which the Atlanteans made contact, but something else. Something else entirely.

It was a creature that heard the soul calls of the Atlanteans, a creature of incredible age and power. The Iscariot, as the Atlanteans were to name it, heard the call and homed in. The Iscariot - an entity able to manifest and demanifest at will - devoured the souls of lesser beings in order to feed itself, and to make itself more powerful yet. The bright souls of the Atlanteans appealed to it greatly, and it began to systematically attack and consume the outlying regions of Atlantis.

The Council of Twelve were not slow to realize the incredible evil they had brought to their world from the stars. But in the peaceful centuries that had passed they had perhaps lost a little of their strength, or their determination to fight. Although they mustered the Houses to fight against the invader, the superior power of The Iscariot defeated them again and again. Its abilities to attack physically, and spiritually, to appear and disappear at will, to manipulate energy, were entirely new to the Atlanteans. They became demoralized as they saw the Iscariot feasting on the souls of their people, destroying them for all time.

Finally a desperate plan was conceived of - a plan which would require massive sacrifice, but would ensure that The Iscariot was dealt with for all time. The most powerful psychics and artificers of the Atlanteans collected together and created a great prison of extraordinary metal, metal which trapped the soul, fashioned to bind The Iscariot within it, so that it would never be free again. They then launched masses of spiritual energy, many sacrificing themselves in the process, to draw The Iscariot to them. When it manifested they drew up all of the energy within the region, launching massive spiritual bolts of energy to force it down into the prison, located where later the city of G'harne was built. The very Earth shook with the power of magic as The Iscariot fought back, but it was slowly pushed into the prison. It lashed out anyway it could, damaging the very spirit of the Earth, but eventually it was bound.

But at considerable cost. The damage inflicted to the Earth-spirit had caused a change to the very surface of the planet. Perhaps the 'soul' of the Earth had decided it could not bear the burden of these aliens any longer, but for whatever reason Atlantis began to sink, and the seas rolled in.

So ended the time of Atlantis - with yet more death and destruction, and, we can imagine, sounds of considerable amusement from the ether.

The surviving Atlanteans scattered across the surface of the Earth, taking with them whatever they could get hold of in the final frantic hours of the evacuation. A large number ended up travelling to Japan, where they combined with an emerging culture, bringing their art and some of their ideas of government and technology.

Another group travelled to Egypt, where they used their magic and 'secret teachings' to set themselves up as god-kings to rule over the humans.

But most scattered, living in small groups, seeking out peaceful areas. Eventually they joined the emerging human cultures, and began to interbreed.

Only one of the society's leaders had survived the ritual of the binding of the Iscariot. Named Ambrose, he had been one of those taught programming by Piskas, and he had rescued the sword of programming, Excalibre, from the fall of Atlantis. Ambrose made it his first task to make contact with 0001 as it lay at the bottom of the ocean, and, discovering it was still fully functional, they discussed what they should do.

0001 said that it was inevitable that a purely human culture would evolve, and that it would slowly recreate the great society of the Atlanteans. With a careful guiding hand this process might be speeded up. But they would have to be patient - watching the natural changes of society, and picking out those parts most Atlantean in nature to bind together into a new society. Those most talented, most able to reform the world, should be brought together to work with one another to guide humanity to an enlightened society as quickly as possible.

0001 said that Ambrose's first priority must be to their own kind, and their descendants. He must seek out the talented, those with Atlantean blood, and ensure they received training. 0001 must have someone to rely on down the years, and so Ambrose was to use the formerly forbidden technique of 'body swapping' to prolong his life down the ages - even if it would delay his spiritual reward, he must make this sacrifice for the betterment of all.

And so Ambrose began to travel the Earth, making contact where he could with the remains of the Atlanteans. Some were not glad to hear from him, wishing to go their own way. The Japanese, not trusting his authority or ability, said he was never to go there again, and that they would find their own way into the future - a decision that Ambrose chose to respect.

But he could not respect the Egyptian decision to ignore him. He found the Atlanteans of Egypt completely abusing their position and privilege, enslaving many humans, and having the rest worship them as gods. Ambrose could not bear this abuse, and therefore set out to free the human slaves. Using the magical power of Excalibre, he led the slaves to freedom, and although he did get lost for a little while before finding them somewhere nice to settle down, he was able to greatly undermine the power of the Atlantean elite within Egypt, so that they fell amongst the normal men once again.

As the years went by further changes came to the world. The Atlanteans who intermarried with humans were concerned to discover that their children did not have mind powers anywhere as great as their own. In fact, some were dangerously weak.

The rebels discovered a way to get small revenge on their old guards. Some of the Atlantean descendants were now too weak to completely block them out spiritually. Thus they could speak to them, cry to them, give them emotions, stop them sleeping at night, and, given time, drive them insane. Ambrose was distressed to realise that more and more of those of Atlantean blood-line were being driven insane by the 'voices' of things now usually called demons.

But for the 'demons' themselves all was not going well. Centuries without bodies, or anything to do but abuse the weaker of their own kind, had left many broken and insane. As the insanity grew greater, their spiritual integrity weakened, until some began to split apart into several weaker spiritual parts, each a personality facet of the old being. Some of these sub-creatures were later to shatter also, so a hierarchy of demons was created - the old, and very powerful at the top (the ones still able to hold together their personality and spiritual essence from the first days) and at the bottom tiny, newly-created entities, usually idiotic, silly, and malevolent.

Ambrose continued to travel the lands, helping out the descendants of the Atlanteans where he could. He would teach them ways to use their powers, how to block out 'the voices', and how to deal with the tainted spiritual energy with which the entities swamped them whenever they used their powers. Often initiates would travel with him, helping him teach and learn the changes within the world.

As time passed, 0001 contacted Ambrose from time to time, telling him that it had detected human equivalents of the houses of Atlantis. In ancient Greece, the Milesian school of natural philosophers were clearly heirs to Torr and her experimentalists. And it was not long before Pythagoras and his followers, with their more mystical bent, broke away from this Taurean tradition, and formed what 0001 recognized as a group of successors to Precor's scientific pioneers.

Ambrose paused for some time at the court of King Arthur, advising the King in the guise of Merlin, believing that here he might have found the first hope of a new enlightened Atlantean age, but he became disillusioned as the glamour of Camelot began to fade.

The Knights Templar, a noble brotherhood of warrior monks, were clearly like the followers of Arran - Ambrose was instructed to contact them, and persuade them to join with him in an organisation dedicated towards the illumination of human society. This Ambrose did, and on making the acquaintance of Sir Hugues de Payen he was delighted and amazed to find that humans were by now capable of the loftiest of emotions and motives. Regaining hope that the high soceity of Atlantis could indeed be created, he inducted House after House into the new Twelve over the next centuries.

The discovery of the Philosopher's Stone created a secret group with great financial influence. Two hidden magical colleges were found, having discovered for themselves many of the techniques used to control and make use of the prisoners of old. Adam Weishaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati gave him the political connections and control the group needed. 0001 recreated a council of 12, containing the greatest individual of each of the Houses.

With the emergence of a house of industrialists and technologists prepared to bring technology and better lives to the general populous, Ambrose was able to complete the circle of 12. The twelve Houses of Atlantis, and now of the Inferno Club, existed at last.

But by this time all was not well with Ambrose - passing through many bodies could not fail to affect his mind and soul. He was tired, and never entirely sure which were completely his own memories, and which were left over from one of the bodies he had taken. And then there was the terrible knowledge he carried within himself... that he and his fellows had utterly destroyed the green race, intelligent beings who had transgressed through no fault of their own. He tried to ignore this knowledge, but it preyed more and more on his mind. He became increasingly reclusive, paying less attention to the strange changes within the personality of 0001.

Now millennia old, 0001 needed some guiding of its own. Bombarded with questions and suggested strategies by the different Houses it sought to guide, it had taken to 'playing up' to them individually - giving them what they expected so as to make manipulating them easier. Naturally it was sometimes necessary to set Houses against each other for the general good, but as the years went by without the support of Ambrose, it was beginning to 'forget' which were deceptions, and which were truths. The different personalities it had created for better understanding the different houses were becoming more real, more set... and it was beginning to have arguments with itself.

Meanwhile, in its prison under G'harne, The Iscariot was still working at a way to escape its bonds. Thousands of years of pressing against the boundaries of its prison, waiting as the tiny pressures of earth movement broke down the physical structure, pushing, and pushing, against the walls... and now, finally, a little of it was free. Not much, but enough that it could send dreams out, to search the world for the sort of people it might be able to do a deal with.

It found a young girl, one of twins, both with unusual mental powers. The boy, Auberon, was half-possessed by a demon: the girl, Sarah, was unusually receptive to psychic impressions. Through her it reached a member of House Aries, Dr David Livingstone, who was easily persuaded to outfit an expedition to its tomb. As soon as he breached the wall of the star-metal prison, it leapt into his mind, and rode him back to the 1839 meeting of the Inferno Club in London.

The battle to defeat The Iscariot again was long and hard, and only won thanks to the cooperation of Houses Libra and Pisces, and the ruthless Demolition of every infected Member. 0001 regained sanity enough to close the Club down for another 25 years, waiting for every chance of Iscariot taint to pass.

By 1865, though, 0001's Capricorn personality had become so twisted that it believed the Earth not worth enlightening, and the only worthwhile demonstration of it's power was to destroy the world. House Sagittarius, under Tamburlaine Khan, had made a deal with those demons who had managed over the years to gain control of physical bodies - in return for making war and spreading death, the demons would cooperate in their plans. House Gemini, frustrated at the dominance of Aquarius, was ripe for contact by the vengeful Martians - few within the House realising quite what this might entail. And the Virgoan part of 0001 had more or less given up on the idea of humans - too unpredictable, too messy. It was setting about creating a ticking, tocking replacement which could create the ordered society that it required - just as soon as the humans were moved out of the way.

The running of the Inferno Club became more difficult, as the different sections of 0001 fought to answer any message it received - it was no longer certain which part would reply when it was contacted. Ambrose would not interfere, now too lost in his own distress and confusion, and taking refuge in his crystal prison under Glastonbury Tor whenever matters became too stressful.

And it was then that the great Capricorn Dr Shreck launched his plans, the GOCs returned to the Earth, the remains of 0001's guiding intelligence contacted the well-organized Japanese in the hope that they could take over, and the Virgoan part of 0001 produced more and more TickTockMen ready to march when the moment was right (battled only by the still relatively, sane Ariean part of 0001, which created its own unwitting TickTockMen, known as Tock-runners, to hunt down and destroy the evil ones).

Things were, quite clearly, coming to a head. A new generation of Infernals once more disturbed The Iscariot's prison, and released it to perform its evil works. The TickTockMen seized the chance provided by tension with Mars, and began to exterminate humans en masse. With Dr Schreck's doomsday devices endangering the earth still further, and 0001 so mad it would happily kill most of the Illuminati if it felt its authority threatened, things did not look well...

However, the exceptional skills and efforts of individuals finally reversed the situation. The demonic threat to humanity and greenity alike, and that of The Iscariot, was averted by the nam-shub, which also all-but ended Pisceans' power over humans. The Anti-God, a self-aware magical computer of comparable power to 0001, was created recklessly, but destroyed thanks to its own over-confidence. Even the destruction of 0001 by The Iscariot had its up side - its ancient distress mechanism sent a spiritual message to the Atlantean homeworld, where it was eventually detected by a number of the now entirely enlightened and powerful Atlanteans. Thus, they checked their historical records and found a few obscure references to a prison planet, and decided they had better stop by and see what all the fuss was about...