|“||We are all made of stars!||„|
|~ The Morninglight self-help cult's popular mantra.|
|“||Reach for the sun.||„|
|~ One of the Morninglight self-help cult's popular slogans.|
The Morninglight is a self-help group and New Age religious movement found in The Secret World, though they are quite clearly a cult in all but name, they initially appear insignificant compared to more obvious threats such as the Draug and the Filth. However, as the game continues and the player begins to unearth the group's secrets, the Morninglight's apocalyptic designs are revealed to be a more insidious threat than anything encountered in the field. They are nicknamed "Fear Nothing Foundation" ("FNF" or "F.N.F." for short) and "Moonies".
Ideology and Methods
According to the pamphlets and spokespeople found throughout the game, the official purpose of the Morninglight is to guide humanity towards the next phase in its spiritual evolution and instituting mental change for the better. As such, they act not only as a New Age religion, but also as a self-help group, offering books on self-actualization, motivational DVDs and diet pills to troubled youths - even offering group therapy and managing social clubs in Tokyo. Throughout the world, representatives offer the Morninglight personality test free of charge, determining the taker's mental state and how the group can best help with their personal problems (the test is, of course, rigged). Morninglight dialogue is filled with references to light in one form or another, informing the public of how bright the future is and how essential it is that they awaken to the dawn and walk with them into the sunrise; most often of all, they remark on the limitless potential of humanity, proclaiming "We are all made of stars!"
To outsiders, the Morninglight's ideology is uplifting but worryingly vague, and with very good reason: the group is fiercely protective of its secrets, only allowing the barest modicum of information to reach the general public, and numerous layers of security exist within the Morninglight to prevent rebellious members from learning too much. Anyone attempting to leave the cult or release its secrets to the public is immediately labelled an "Obstructive Person" and effectively marked for death. However, very few members ever rebel: quite apart from the difficulty escaping the cult's reach, members are subjected to a rigorous indoctrination process designed to slowly destroy any sense of individuality until - as Alina Florea puts it - "you're willing to ask for the abuse and say thank you after." Most of the indoctrination process remains unknown except in the case of the group's Tokyo branch, the Fear Nothing Foundation.
Like its parent group, the FNF placed particular emphasis on the importance of the group and the insignificance of an individual, training its members to blindly follow pre-established methods for almost every daily task, from cooking to personal grooming. This was enforced through increasingly torturous punishments and procedures designed to break an individual's spirit, including "guided" meditation, revolting meals, and even the occasional enema. The treatments were so effective that, after being gently reminded that he should be shaving down instead of up, one member spent the next half an hour banging his head against the wall. More obstinate members were subjected to the experimental methods of the laboratories on the FNF center's third floor. All of these techniques and more were rationalized as methods of freeing the members of their fear, in much the same way that the Morninglight claims that its methods allow humanity to transcend their baser nature.
Behind the many layers of secrecy, however, the Morninglight's belief system is based entirely upon the worship of the Dreamers. Having drawn its ideology and doctrine from the ancient Roman cult of Deus Sol Invictus, they revere the Dreamers as gods and strive to serve them by any means available to them: initially, this required them to follow the orders provided to them (through secret channels) by Lilith, who had created the cult for this very purpose - intending to use them as an easily-led army of laborers in her attempts to chain the Dreamers to her will.
However, following the psychic intervention of the Dreamers themselves, Philip Marquard gradually seized control of the cult from within and re-dedicated them to releasing the Dreamers from captivity. To that end, the group has developed a fixation with their masters, particularly in the form of the Filth: like the Atenists and Deus Sol Invictus before them, they revere the Filth in all its guises, with Marquard making a point of selecting a Filth bomb for use in his assassination attempt on Lilith, and others deliberately exposing themselves to it in order to bring themselves closer to the will of the Dreamers themselves. In turn, they also distrust Gaia and her servants, with Morninglight scripture placing particular emphasis on mistrusting the Bee-infused player characters.
Most tellingly of all, their famed slogan, "We Are All Made Of Stars" is later echoed by the Dreamers themselves in their confrontation with Emma at the end of Issue #7: finding herself confronted by a horde of Filth creatures, she asks why the Dreamers would be interested in her when they eat stars - only for the Dreamers to reply "You are all made of stars!"
Hierarchy and Structure
Since its creation, the Morninglight has always been based on the leadership of Philip Marquard; however, until comparatively recently, Marquard took orders exclusively from Lilith. Though credited as the group's founder and revered across the cult as a savior, he was little more than Lilith's puppet, serving as the public face of the cult while secretly following Lilith's commands to the letter. By the start of the game, however, Marquard has betrayed Lilith and now controls the Morninglight entirely. He is now subservient only to the Dreamers.
Below Marquard lie an unknown number of directors and priests, controlling the regional branches of the Morninglight like terrorist cells (a simile that only becomes more appropriate following the events of the Tokyo Incident). This ranking includes such figures as Fear Nothing Foundation overseer Naonomi Tanaka, and New England cell leader Freddy Beaumont - supposedly a close friend of Marquard himself. Next to the head of the cult, these individuals tend to know the most about the organisation's true purpose.
Below them are the loyal agents of the cult, including figures such as Che Garcia Hansson and Andrian Zorlescu. Completely indoctrinated into the cult, they have proved their worth to the Marquard and his lieutenants, and can usually be trusted to carry out their duties without supervision. Some seduce potential recruits into the cult; some acquire valuable artifacts for the cult's usage; some are even employed to act as hitmen, tracking down Obstructive Persons and eliminating them before they can threatening the Morninglight's interests.
The majority of the cult is comprised of simple worshipers, from the hippies in New England to the Fear Nothing Foundation membership. Most of these people have been indoctrinated to some extent or another, and serve a variety of purposes: some, like the pamphleteers found in London and New York, simply spread the word of the Morninglight to the public; others, like John Copley and Yuichi, were groomed to serve as "Messengers" - a euphemistic term for suicide bombers.
Along with the Fear Nothing Foundation, the Morninglight also fostered a notable adjunct of their organization in Tokyo. Based in an underground facility under the Orochi Housing Projects, this group was intended to induct and train the intellectual elite of Tokyo's potential recruits; to that end, they distributed pamphlets and posters deliberately targeting youthful intellectuals, providing encrypted directions to their underground "clubhouse." Only the cleverest and most determined individuals would be able to follow the chains of clues to the end and join the group. Ironically, this intelligence requirement actually ended up working against the cult leaders following the Tokyo: when the Morninglight overseers attempted to strand their wunderkind within Clubhouse, the kids were clever enough to find means of escaping the complex - and by extension, the attentions of the Priest of the Blinding Light.
Though still a comparatively new religion, the Morninglight's roots are grounded in conflicts and doctrines stretching back countless millennia, the most prominent among them being the Dreamers' ongoing attempts to escape their captivity, and Lilith's attempts to control them. Having ascended from mundane humanity thanks to her marriage to the angel Samael, Lilith had always sought out means of achieving greater power, and during the Third Age, she and her husband found one of the greatest powers of all: a Gaia Engine, one of the "musical boxes" lulling the Dreamers to sleep. Unfortunately, one of the Dreamers psychically offered to reward Lilith with the power she desired if she was to release it from its prison; though Lilith rightly suspected that the offer was a lie, she carried out the request anyway, believing she could betray the Dreamers once their alliance was complete. Instead, the Dreamer awoke just long enough to obliterate human civilization and put an end to the Third Age, before promptly nodding off again - leaving Lilith and Samael back to square one at the start of the Fourth Age.
Lilith was eager to continue her plans for world domination, and still had her sights set on the power of the Dreamers to achieve that end, this time by directly controlling a Gaia Engine. However, Samael was weary of the constant struggle for power, and eventually grew too attached to the finer things in life to risk them on another apocalyptic scheme: after spending many centuries building up commercial resources as a weapons dealer, he finally went native among humanity in 1949 as the CEO of the Orochi Group - even making Lilith head of Orochi's board of directors. Upon realizing that her beloved husband had lost interest in the very goal that brought them together, Lilith was heartbroken, leading to a falling-out between the two; though she never declared herself Samael's enemy, she resolved to harness the powers of the Dreamers by any means available - even if it meant betraying her husband in the process.
To that end, she created Morninglight as a private army of unquestioning followers for use in her quest to claim a Gaia Engine, basing their ideology on the long-extinct doctrines of ancient Dreamer-worshiping sun cults, such as Deus Sol Invictus of the Roman Empire and Egypt's Cult of the Aten. She also acquired a pliable messiah for the newly-forged cult in the form of Philip Marquard, who had supposedly heard the voice of the Dreamers in the Congo; his life changed forever by the experience, he eagerly agreed to work for Lilith if it meant serving them through her. Throughout the early years of the Morninglight, Lilith remained in the shadows, ensuring that nobody except for Marquard knew of her existence even as she dictated the cult's every move; not only was her control dependent on her anonymity within the cult, but the cult's existence depended on her husband remaining oblivious to its true nature. Besides, Marquard was all too happy to serve as the ideal front man for her ambitions, dazzling the media with his charisma and wholesome lifestyle - complete with a perfect family, perfect dog and perfect teeth.
In the end, Lilith gravely underestimated Phillip Marquard - and the reach of the Dreamers.
The Tokyo Incident
Unknown to Lilith, the Dreamers once again made contact with Marquard, directing him away from his ex-patron's commands and into their direct service. Ironically, the cult leader was just as fascinated with the power of the Dreamers as Lilith, but where Lilith wished to simply harness their power through the Gaia Engines, Marquard wanted to actually become one of them. So, with the offer of transcendence as further incentive to his worship, the once-compliant pawn began slowly turning the doctrine of the Morninglight against Lilith's goals, with the express intent of releasing the Dreamers from imprisonment.
The full extent of Marquard's plans remains unknown at present. However, once he had assumed total control of the Morninglight, he knew he could not allow Lilith to continue her attempts to enslave his new masters, and began taking steps to eliminate her: to that end, he acquired a Third Age artifact, a containment device brimming with Filth; the origins of the device itself remain a mystery, but in the hands of the Morninglight, the device was a Filth bomb intended specifically for the purpose of assassinating Lilith. Thanks to an alliance with the Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors, the bomb was smuggled into Tokyo without the Council of Venice suspecting anything, and delivered to the headquarters of the Fear Nothing Foundation.
From there, FNF overseer Naonomi Tanaka surveyed the cult for the most likely candidate to deliver their "great message" to Lilith, and initially selected Yuichi, a local hikikomori who'd joined the Foundation in an attempt to find friends and acceptance; however, though he was taken in by the atmosphere of friendship and Naonomi's pretense of being in love with him, Yuichi's neurosis proved more powerful than the FNF's indoctrination, and he fled upon realizing what his "girlfriend" was planning for him.
Instead, Naonomi settled on John Copley, another awkward young man who'd joined the cult after fleeing a dysfunctional home life - and promptly fallen in love with her. In a private audience with Phillip Marquard himself, John was personally charged with delivering the bomb to Orochi Tower by subway and detonating in a suicide attack. With any disruptive elements in rail security assassinated by the FNF's temporary allies among the House In Exile, the Great Message was ready to be delivered without error. As John ventured out with the bomb in tow, the Foundation celebrated by conducting a mass suicide, ending their lives to transcend human existence and consecrate their Messenger's success.
However, the apparently infallible plan went ever-so-slightly wrong: John was stopped by a rail security guard a few stops away from Orochi Tower; fearing Lilith's retribution, he panicked and detonated the bomb early. Instead of doing any direct damage to the Tower or killing Lilith, the Filth bomb instead infected all of Tokyo, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people and prompting a massive quarantine of Kaidan district and the surrounding area. Though this in itself was not a great setback to the Morninglight, it served as a wake-up call to Lilith, who immediately sent in her personal assassin, Uta Bloody Valentine AKA the White Rabbt, to eliminate the cult's membership in Tokyo.
However, the Morninglight still had the advantage: with her access to her servants cut off, Lilith was forced to turn to more unorthodox means of acquiring a Gaia Engine, disrupting her plans for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, John had changed as a result of his exposure to pure Filth, transcending humanity to become the Black Signal, a new voice in the Dreamers' collective.
From Kingsmouth To The Carpathians
Throughout The Secret World's story, Morninglight cultists appear across the world, all serving Philip Marquard - and by extension, the Dreamers - to one extend or another. Initially seen handing out pamphlets on the streets of hub zones like London and New York, the player's first proper meeting with them occurs on Solomon Island: here, a small camp of Morninglight Hippies have gathered just to the north of Kingsmouth town, somehow remaining untouched despite the Draug invasion of the Island. Closer investigation reveals that the camp is surrounded by magical wards designed to keep out unfriendly entities, not only indicating the presence of magicians among the Morninglight, but also indicating the fact that this supposedly innocent group of Hippies somehow knew that a disaster was approaching and had time to prepare. More disturbingly, further inspection of the woods around the camp reveals that the cultists have also gone to the trouble of murdering locals who attempted to disrupt their activities, leaving their bodies in the woods for the Wendigos to dispose of.
This particular group is led by Freddy Beaumont, with with Che Garcia Hansson serving as his deputy while Beaumont continues the search for the artifact that led him to the island in the first place. Over the course of the story mission "Dawning Of An Endless Night," it becomes clear that this artifact is none other than the legendary sword Excalibur: having been lost at sea after the death of its Viking owners following the Darkness War, the Third Age relic had been found by a fishing boat and brought back to Kingsmouth - unwittingly bringing the Fog and the Draug back with it. Recognizing the sword as the only possible means of unlocking and controlling the Gaia Engine buried under the Blue Mountain, Beaumont has set out to acquire it, eventually succeeding in stealing Excalibur from the Illuminati archives at Innsmouth Academy.
It's not known if Marquard gave his blessing to Beaumont's plans, given that the former Norse trickster was intending to pursue his own ambitious by claiming the Engine; it is possible that Marquard merely allowed him free reign, knowing that the end result - the release of the Dreamers - would be the same regardless of intention. In any event, though Beaumont is able to enter Blue Ridge Mine and tap into the Gaia Engine's power, he is ultimately defeated by the player; for good measure, Cassandra King steals Excalibur from her one-time lover before knocking him out with a kick to the head.
The group's next major appearance is Romania during the story mission "Mortal Sins." Here, in the besieged farmlands of Bacas County and the neighbouring forests, a Morninglight cultist by the name of Adrian Zorlescu has been smuggling Filth-related artifacts out of the country, forcibly enlisting the help of a Frenchman named Laurent Giroux. Under the guise of a backpacking expedition, Adrian has taken a small entourage of Morninglight followers and unaligned hangers-on through the forest and into the Carpathian Mountains, with the intent of using Laurent and the other unbelievers of the group to acquire the latest artifacts - fully prepared to sacrifice their lives in the process. Once secured, the artifacts were to be given to Alina Florea, who would covertly deliver them to Morninglight operatives in Bucharest. After that, Adrian and the true believers would gather at a skiing lodge in the Mountains to await the New Dawn; it's not known what was meant by this, but the presence of a Gaia Engine uncovered by the Orochi Group suggests that the Morninglight were intending to destroy it and release one of the Dreamers.
However, by the time the player arrives, the plan has quite clearly gone wrong: though Laurent was able to locate the artifact that Zolescu wanted, he was attacked by local werewolves before he could deliver it - gradually forced away from the group and directly into a Filth source. After running into Laurent's grieving sister Celine and his girlfriend Aurelie, players are assigned the mission "Revenge Served Hot," in which they must track down the Filth-infected Laurent and the artifact, and destroy both. Elsewhere, Alina's attempts to drive the gathered artifacts to Bucharest have ended in a car crash in the middle of the forest, leaving her stranded; as if to add insult to injury, her precious cargo has been stolen by the local ghouls. Already considered a liability by the rest of the cult, Alina has come to the terms with the fact that she will be declared an Obstructive Person for her failure and assassinated very soon - deciding that death by werewolf attack would be preferable to anything Zorlescu and his cronies could arrange. In the meantime, Alina is able to direct the player to the artifacts she was smuggling and allow the player to claim them over the course of the mission "Six Feet Under."
Eventually, the player makes it to the ski lodge in Carpathian Mountains, but by then, the only Morninglight cultists in residence are Zorlescu and Rada Natase, all others having been captured and devoured by the vampire army gathering nearby. Initially, with the vampires and the Morninglight sharing a creator in Lilith, the two factions had agreed to a truce; once Lilith became aware of the cult's betrayal, she quickly ordered a purge of the local Morninglight, allowing her servants to pick the nearby cabins bare in pursuit of fresh blood.
Victory In Kaidan
Following the conclusion of the main story, the player is left to follow the clues that appear over the course of the next few issues, ultimately following them back to Tokyo in Issue #9. Here, the player is frequently contacted by the Black Signal, currently serving as a villainous counterpart to the lore-providing Bees: through various Black Signal lore entries, he attempts to convert his audience to the worship of the Dreamers, most commonly by encouraging them to see the Morninglight's point of view or encouraging them to see the negative traits of Tokyo's allied factions (not a difficult task, considering the role that all three played in the Tokyo Incident). After a protracted investigation of the various threats assailing Tokyo, the player eventually makes their way to the abandoned headquarters of the Fear Nothing Foundation - left infested with ghosts following the mass suicide - where they discover a register of attending members: with John and Yuichi marked as absent, the player tracks down Yuichi as the only surviving source of information concerning the cult's activities. From here, Yuichi's testimony gradually leads the player through the quarantine wall surrounding Kaidan and into the infected harbour, where a further trail of witnesses and clues leads them to the Clubhouse.By now, the Clubhouse itself has been claimed by the Filth: the intellectual elite of the Morninglight have either starved to death, been murdered by their fellow members, escaped via hidden exits, or have been exposed to the Filth. The source of this Filth infection is presumably the Priest of the Blinding Light, the first of the Morninglight's leaders to openly preach of the Dreamers. Though the player is able to eliminate the Priest over the course of a two-part boss battle, none of the cultists in residence have survived to offer information: the few missionaries and clerical staff left on the premises have been assassinated by the White Rabbit. However, computer records eventually lead the player to a number of safehouses across Kaidan occupied by the cult's regional commanders, and though the White Rabbit kills most of them before the player can arrive, the player is successful in tracking down Naonomi Tanaka.
Unrepentant for the thousands of deaths on her conscience, Naonomi mocks the player for their failure to arrive sooner; though she gloats in typically villainous fashion, she is also careful to ensure that the blame for the incident falls on a certain Orochi executive. Pointing the player in the general direction of the Dream Palace where John was first indoctrinated, she remains behind to face the White Rabbit; sure enough, Uta arrives moments later and kills her. Though the player is able to learn a great deal of John's history from the memories left at the Dream Palace, the Black Signal deliberately omits certain details from his experiences in order to frame Lilith for the Tokyo bombing.
Fully convinced that Lilith is to blame, the player joins the Jingu Clan, the House In Exile and the Korinto-Kai in a massive assault on Orochi Tower. There, after a prolonged standoff with Samael, the Mitsubachi, the White Rabbt, and Lilith herself, the player belatedly realizes the truth and spares Lilith - only for John to take initiative: though he freely admits that he cannot kill Lilith, he is able to keep occupied until the Nephilim arrive to capture her. With Lilith removed as a threat, the Morninglight's intended goals in Tokyo are finally accomplished and they are able to continue their worldwide attempts to free the Dreamers; furthermore, John's success in finally completing his mission grants him freedom from Tokyo, allowing him free reign to plague the earth at his leisure.
In a final insult, Samael takes immediate revenge on the players for the role they played in Lilith's capture by having them framed as the terrorists behind the Tokyo Incident, allowing the Morninglight and the FNF to escape the bombing without any blame reaching them.
- The Morninglight draw inspiration from a number of cults and religious movements (such as the Unification Church whose nickname happens to be "Moonies") in the real world, some of them subtly, some of them not. For example, the public face of the Morninglight appears modeled on that of Scientology, particularly with their personality tests, psychiatry alternatives and dim view of defectors. The FNF (acronym for the Fear Nothing Foundation) seems to draw particular influence from Heaven's Gate: not only have they committed mass suicide in celebration of their success, but they also strive towards "The Level Above Human" in their attempts to escape the influence of fear, and several counselors have willingly castrated themselves in shows of religious devotion; the boardroom where the FNF membership have carried out the mass suicide is even named "Dawn's Gate." Finally, with the cult group's direct role in a major terrorist attack on the Tokyo subways in mind, the Morninglight also draws inspiration from Aum Shinrikyo, a religious group turned terrorist organization that gained infamy for releasing deadly sarin gas into Tokyo's subways in 1995.