Hellfire Club - Phase 1
Portrayed by Various
|Known Aliases:||New York Inner Circle - White and Black Courts; London Inner Circle - Red and Blue Courts|
Then came a generation that wasn't content to rest on their wealth and settle for parties and perversions - though they didn't exactly forego those aspects either. This was to be a generation with broader horizons; a generation with an altogether bolder view of the future.
The Hellfire Club is believed to be a social club, originated in 17th century England, and now located in a number of chartered clubs around the world, catering to high society. Once a bastion of the British colonial empire, the Club is now seen as a decadent exercise in anachronistic excess; a symbol of exclusivity and connections to the cream of society. However, its lavish galas and parties hide the true aims of those who comprise its Inner Circle and mask a complex history of influence, corruption and manipulation at the very highest level.
New York Hellfire Club: June 22, 2003
London Hellfire Club: Song of Isaac, Key of Solomon
The Hellfire Club is a social club catering to members of the social and financial elite. Secretly founded by members of a secret cabal, the club is an offshoot of John Dee's Invisible College, established sometime in the sixteenth century. Similar to the Royal Society, but with an interest in the arcane and demonic spheres, the club gained a strong cabal of influential members, to the point that it was forced to hide behind the disgraced guise of other clubs to avoid being targeted by political or religious enemies. In the 18th century, the club used pawns like Phillip, Duke of Wharton and Sir Francis Dashwood to distract those who had heard whispers of their studies, instead sending them to drunken orgies and satirical farces of religious ceremonies. However, as the true club began to recruit the best from their fake counterparts, some of the attitudes began to seep in, changing the mores and focus slowly.
Over the years, secret chapters were begun, mostly following the trade routes of the empire, although occasionally making in-roads into the traditional grounds of other societies in Europe. By the mid-19th century, the Hellfire Club was able to shed part of its cloak of secrecy, transforming itself into the public eye as more of an exclusive social club. Wealthy men and women would maneuver for an invitation to one of their elaborate parties, and membership was considered to be a significant honour. The various chapters undertook a period of re-organization, eliminating small and mismanaged chapters, and laying out the court structure which still survives.
Today, the Hellfire Club is seen as an anachronistic institution from an imperial past; barely noticed or known about by the public, only as visible as a thousand other private clubs and societies which occasionally provide quiet charitable support or fundraisers. Its private nature has allowed very little access to the media, and as a result, it enjoys the status of being functionally invisible.
In theory, each Hellfire Club operates largely autonomously. Each Hellfire Club has a governing body colloquially known as the Inner Circle, taking the formal names of chess pieces and separated into two Courts; in the Americas they are separated into the Black and White Courts, in Europe, the Blue and Red Courts. These Courts tend to oppose each other in business and social matters in a Machiavellian competition for power, in manners both subtle and overt. Each Inner Court is dominated by a Lord and a Lady. The international chapters are divided up into spheres, and each sphere is dominated by a Royal Chapter. In the Americas, New York is the royal chapter. In Europe, London. The other chapters in their sphere are expected to show deference to the royal chapter, allowing them the authority to set mandates for the Court.
Above the Inner Courts sit the Lords Cardinal, who dominate the courts for their sphere. Each royal chapter has four Lords; the King and Queen of each Court. The Lords Cardinals will meet occasionally to discuss matters that impact the club as a whole, but such meetings are infrequent, and rarely face to face.
Membership in the Hellfire Club tends to be hereditary, with only those deemed worthy by the Inner Circle admitted into full membership. Members of the Inner Circle tend to reach those spots either by selection (Kings and Queens choosing their Court) or by subterfuge and deception (Pete Wisdom usurping the position of White King). Most members of the Hellfire Club have little to no idea of the club's true history or purpose, using it as an exclusive and safe environment to indulge in their vices or peddle influence between members. Appointment to the Inner Circle often has unique requirements for each club - the New York Hellfire Club's Inner Circle is dominated by mutants and mutant related concerns. The London Inner Circle is similarly dominated and obsessed with magic and the arcane.
The ultimate adjudicator of the Hellfire Club is a figure known as the Lord Imperial. The Lord Imperial has the ability to appoint or remove members from any position, dissolve chapters at will, and even issue orders demanding the obedience of all Hellfire Chapters. In practice, the Lord Imperial communicates rarely with the Lord Cardinals or the chapters, and virtually never issues direct orders. It is unknown what resources or powers that the Lord Imperial commands, but every instance of defiance against his office in the recorded history of the Hellfire Club has ended with the complete destruction of the wealth, social standing, political power and even chapter existence of those involved. The current Lord Imperial, Sir Gordon Phillips, has held his office for over sixty years, appointed by the previous Lord Imperial during the start of the Second World War.
While the Courts of the Hellfire Club are constantly in a state of cold war, there are some specific rules which govern their struggle for dominance. Courts from different spheres are forbidden to directly interfere with each other’s internal Court matters. None of the courts are ever permitted to suppliant or in any way constrain the structure of the opposite court. In the past, weak Courts have been made all but puppets to a dominant court, but they are not permitted to attempt to dissolve them or impose specific restrictions that only apply to one side. Finally, the most important rule; no court is ever permitted to knowingly endanger the ongoing existence of the Hellfire Club for personal gain.
Often the machinations of the Inner Circle pit the resources of the entire Hellfire Club towards a certain goal, which in New York has brought them into conflict with the X-Men on more than one occasion.
New York Hellfire Club
|Black Queen - Belladonna Boudreaux-LeBeau||witch, Selene until she was taken down by Pete Wisdom and magically imprisoned at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. In 2006, a mentally disturbed Jean Grey was set up as a potential new Black Queen, but, unsettled by the amount of power she had amassed in a short time, Shaw collaborated with the X-Men to have her removed. In April 2010, Shaw brokered a deal with the White Court, supporting his choice of new Black Queen, Belladonna, in favour of Selene's permanent removal.
PB: Angelina Jolie
|Black King - Sebastian Shaw||X-Men, he has on occasion used them as a means to an end. Currently, Shaw is reeling from the loss of significant financial and covert power following Pete Wisdom's infiltration and subsequent decimation of the Inner Circle's assets. In November 2012, two-thirds of Shaw's funds were seized by the FBI in a massive sting, which badly crippled the Black Court's underground influence and activities.
PB: Jason Isaacs
|Black Rook - Harry Leland||Shaw Industries. A heart attack in 2007 has significantly weakened his position.
|Black Knight - vacant||Traditionally a younger member's role, the Knight is the protector and protegee of the Queen. This position has been held (briefly) by Amanda Sefton and more recently by John Lense before his death.|
- Jason Wyngarde - minor level member of the Black Court; Wyngarde is a master broker and manipulater for the Black Court, disguised behind a thousand faces to present the wishes of the Court and break those who cross them. His unique powers of illusion keep him entirely off the scope of the White Court, who believe that Wyngarde is nothing more than a minor member of the Black Court; a sort of priviliaged 'chum' of Shaw's. In November 2012, his plan to overthrow the Blue Queen and Shaw backfired horribly when Adrienne Frost betrayed him, and he was left at the mercy of Belladonna.
- Scarlett - seen often in the company of Wyngade, this red-headed woman has attracted the attention of Emma Frost, but little is known about who she is and what she does.
- Astrid Bloom - telepath used by Wyngarde to trap Adrienne in a Reading during Santayana Effect.
|White Queen - Emma Frost|
|White King - vacant||The position of White King has been vacant for some time. In 2005 it was filled by Pete Wisdom as part of a plot to depose the Black Queen, and he resigned the position as soon as that end was achieved.
|White Bishop - vacant||Previously held by Shinobi Shaw and then Manuel de la Rocha, the position of Bishop is one of diplomacy and cunning, centring around the Court's business interests and the gathering of information.
|White Knight - Doug Ramsey|
London Hellfire Club
|Blue Queen - Emma Steed||Steed, accomplished and intelligent, was unwilling to let previous Blue King Templeton leverage the power of the Blue Court to expand his own personal empire at whim, stymying a number of his plans.
|Blue King -vacant|
|Red Queen - Jane Hampshire||Allumwandlung in Azure and Gules matter.
PB: Chloe Annett
|Red King - Alan Wilson|
|Selene - Black Queen - deceased||Selene was Black Queen until she was taken down by Pete Wisdom and magically imprisoned at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. She escaped briefly, but was killed by Belladonna as part of her taking on the Black Queen role.|
|Jane Grey - Black Queen||mentally disturbed Jean Grey was set up as a potential new Black Queen, but unsettled by the amount of power she had amassed in a short time, Shaw collaborated with the X-Men to have her removed.|
|Amanda Sefton - Black Knight||deal with Selene to address her magical addiction, Amanda Sefton agreed to a year's service as Selene's Knight. She changed her mind at the induction ceremony and barely escaped with her life.|
|John Lense - Black Knight - deceased||Mistra program who struggled after the program was forcibly dismantled. He blamed Nathan Dayspring for the loss of meaning in his life and it was this blame that eventually led to his death.|
|Pete Wisdom - White King||Pete Wisdom as part of a plot to depose the Black Queen, and he resigned the position as soon as that end was achieved.|
|Shinobi Shaw - White Bishop|
|Manuel de la Rocha - White Knight and White Bishop II|
Song of Isaac, Key of Solomon (Jane Hampshire)
Sing Me A Prayer (Jane Hampshire)
Fires From The Ashes (Jane Hampshire)
Socked by: Various