The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
The Beginning of Wisdom
December 23rd 2000
Louis Tregalier is looking forward to a quiet, family Christmas.
For the past year, since the last SITU mission in France, he has acted as go-between for SITU and Sophia, relaying messages and talking to Sophia whenever he can, seeking to learn more about this enigmatic creature. Liza Petherton is also in contact with the Ylid, so he has been told, although he has only seen her once since the mission, and that must be almost ten months ago. In fact, his last communication from SITU was about a month ago, inviting him to an international conference of psychic investigation in Oxford, which he politely declined. Since relaying the invitation to Sophia he hasn't heard from her or Blaize.
A quiet Christmas, then. Most of the SITU agents in Oxford - Sophia, too, presumably. Louis likes to think that he knows her as well as anyone, and despite her feigned indifference to everything outside of her own little patch of world, news of the conference had her curious, he knows. Work, too, is very quiet with no new digs this time of year. Maybe in the new year something will happen, but until then he will enjoy the holiday.
The first hint that anything is wrong is news report about an arson attack on the Tour Magdala in Rennes-le-Chateau. Police say there is evidence of a break-in, although nothing was taken. They are treating it as a matter of straightforward, mindless vandalism and hope to catch the culprits soon.
The news comes late at night. Louis spends most of the next day trying to get through to SITU, with a worrying lack of success. Finally, just when he is wondering whether he should go to Rennes-le-Chateau himself to check out what has happened, Blaize phones him.
"Have you heard the news?" he asks abruptly.
"Yes. The fire. Do you want me to go down there?"
Blaize doesn't give him time to finish. "What are you talking about? What fire? Never mind. We've got trouble here. It involves Sophia, I'm afraid. We were on the last day of the conference here and I'd given permission for one of our agents to show the Holy Grail to the group..."
"You have the grail?"
"We have the grail." Blaize sounds irritated. "I thought that was common knowledge. Forget about the grail. The lecture was just starting when Sophia walked in, in the form of Liza Petherton. She was possessing her in some way, working through her. She shouted something about promises being broken, something of hers being stolen and then... Then chaos."
Louis pales as he listens.
"She wasn't working alone," Blaize says. "Agents who were there counted at least twenty men - all dressed in black and masked, with automatic weapons. Between them and Sophia no one stood a chance. Six people are dead, thirty in hospital. The attackers kidnapped a baby belonging to one of our agents, and stole the grail."
Louis' hands have gone cold. He shifts the phone receiver awkwardly. "What do you want me to do?"
"We have reliable information that Liza Petherton was seen boarding a flight to Paris in the afternoon. I'm sending a team out after her. I want you to meet them. Tell them everything you know about Sophia and do what you can to get this mess sorted out. I'll fax you a mission briefing now. Good luck."
To Agent Louis Tregalier -
Note: what follows is the mission briefing issued to the team following today's tragedy. Appended are further notes that might be of use.
Agents Greg Wentworth, Vera Goodchild, Ned Numenor, Daniel Masterton, Ross Myers, Sam Hain
Mission objective: To track the Ylid Sophia to Paris, determine where she is, why she turned against SITU and take appropriate action against her.
Secondary objective: Sophia heads the Prieuré de Sion, the organisation behind the Templar movement and the modern day Freemasons. You should find out all you can about them and, again, take appropriate action against them should the opportunity present itself.
Note: the term 'appropriate action' includes lethal force if necessary.
The existence of this Ylid came to light during the French mission of August 1999 (full notes are available on request.) Highly manipulative, with powers of mental control, she plays on people's feelings of grief and inadequacy, quickly rooting out and exploiting the slightest weakness in her victims. Several of our agents were affected by her during the French mission. Those who escaped most lightly were those who took life least seriously, who had no suffered no great loss that she could latch onto. At the end of the mission, two of our agents, Liza Petherton and Louis Tregalier, stayed in France. Louis acted as our contact with the Ylid. It is now apparent that Liza was also working for her.
When crossed Sophia is extremely dangerous. She has been known to kill her own agents.
Former super-model, she became an alcoholic after the mysterious disappearance of her fiancé near Stonehenge, and joined SITU when she 'dried out.' She became increasingly unstable as the French mission progressed and she fell more and more under Sophia's influence. How much of her own personality is left intact is uncertain, neither do we know what happened to her between the mission ending and her arrival in Oxford today.
Paul's genetic material. When Sophia's husband died, millennia ago, she preserved some of his genetic material in an hourglass made of diamond. Over the past centuries she has made numerous efforts to resurrect him. She controls the French arm of Harvest, the genetic engineering company and has directed their research into fertility treatment and cloning to this end. It was our possession of the hourglass that forced Sophia to deal with us in the first place and it may be that you can use it again. Guard it carefully, and remember that Sophia is highly dangerous.
Dubhium/anti-dubhium serum - it is unlikely that these serums will be of any use. Sophia has had no contact with other Ylids since she set up in France. However, they will be made available to you should you need them.
Weapons - For your own safety, please do not try to smuggle weaponry into Paris. We have made arrangements with an agent there to supply you with what you need on arrival.
The kidnapped baby belonged to Isobel Blyth, a long-standing member of SITU. The baby, born by IVF may be an experiment of the 'Trismegistus Club' - a group seeking to breed a perfect human. They have been in alliance with SITU for some time and are not regarded as a threat. Isobel Blyth's guardian and husband were both involved. Her husband died some time ago, her guardian met his death today, at the hands of Sophia. A separate team has been dispatched to track down the child. It is suggested that you liase with them regularly, as the two missions are linked. We are assuming the baby is still in England. The grail could be anywhere.
Although Ylids may not approach each other in safety, a serum made with the compound 'dubhium' allows them to do so. The anti-dubhium serum reverses the effect. They are only of interest to Ylids that wish to cooperate together, but we are not ruling them out as a negotiating tool.
Our dealings with Sophia so far, as you know, have always been strained, but she has shown no signs of breaking our alliance before. We still hold Paul's essence so we do not know what caused her to turn - it must be something important to make her risk losing that. You are the one who knows her best so we are relying on your knowledge to solve this.