|Official Name||Egyptian Freemasons|
|Base of Operations||The Cloisters, New York City|
|Place Disbanded||New York City|
|Event Participant||Swarm War|
Wild Card Day 1986
|First Appearance||Aces High|
|Previous Mention||Wild Cards|
|Final Appearance||Jokers Wild|
The Egyptian Freemasons are a cult of mostly wild carders founded by Black John Balsam and later led by the Astronomer. Their reason for existence was a visitation by the Network in 1777 that left a knowledge of the Swarm and a means to contact the Network when the Swarm arrived.
By the time the Swarm finally did enter Earth's solar system in the mid-1980s, the secretive group had expanded into a full-blown conspiracy bent on world domination under the guidance of the Astronomer.
One night in 1777, Black John Balsam, then known as Guiseppe Balsamo, took a tour of the English countryside and had a surprise encounter with a Ly'bahr. The alien, whom he later referred to as the "Star Brother" was an agent of the Network, visiting Earth to determine the progress of humanity once every two-hundred years. The encounter left him a changed man, and also left him in possession of a subspace transmitter and a warning of a threat from another world: TIAMAT. With his new knowledge, and an increase in his apparent mystical power, Balsamo insinuated himself into the ranks of the Freemasons and later founded a more secretive subgroup he called the Egyptian Freemasons.
Balsamo was captured by the inquisition some time around 1790 and thrown into a dungeon, but followers in the Egyptian Freemasons appear to have freed him, and he fled, eventually resettling in New York. While Balsamo's following may have fallen in number after his exile, his ideology persisted through his immediate family. Even though he was caught in the act of committing a ritual human sacrifice and hanged, his wife and son apparently escaped with the Shakti device and broken knowledge of TIAMAT, ensuring that the Egyptian Freemasons would rebuild.
By the late 1970's, the Shaki device had come into the possession of Marc Balsam, the descendant of the late count. By this time the Egyptian Freemasons had grown in strength, drawn to the mysteries of the Shakti device, and Balsam had tapped further into his ancestor's legacy by using coins, known as Balsam pennies, that had once belonged to Balsamo as tokens of membership in the secret society.
Another person of influence within the group was the Astronomer, an ace who had seen for himself the truth about TIAMAT, and who also had designs on manipulating the Egyptian Freemasons for his own ends. He had joined in the 1960's after his discovery and quickly rose to a prominent position within the group. The Astronomer's activities were far darker than Balsam's had been, and one of his ritual killings drew the attention of Fortunato. Fortunato eventually tracked the group to a bricked up church in the city which had become their hidden temple. He destroyed this facility in a rage, thus killing a number of the assembled Freemasons there, but the Astronomer escaped the resulting blaze with a number of his most loyal followers. Balsam was not among these lucky few, and thus the Astronomer's ascendancy to the leadership of the Egyptian Freemasons was complete.
Fortunato's vendetta with the Freemasons continued into the 1980's, yet they eluded him in part due to their network of wild carders and the Astronomer's own power. The Astronomer sought to use TIAMAT to bring down ruin upon the Earth, and would then attain godhood by saving the world from the beast. Failing to understand the true nature of the Swarm, he directed the Freemasons in a number of tasks to further this goal, but ultimately made little gain while Fortunato gained more clues to the Freemason's whereabouts. Once he had uncovered the Cloisters as the location where the Freemasons were based, Fortunato assembled a team of aces and launched an assault that both decimated the ranks of the Freemasons and destroyed their base.
The Astronomer and a few other survivors of the attack went underground again. They had lost the opportunity to try and harness the Swarm, and had lost much of their manpower. Denied godhood, the Astronomer slaughtered a number of his own people, and then led the group in a revenge attack on the aces that had destroyed the Cloisters. Two of the assassinations were carried out successfully, but several more failed, and once again the Egyptian Freemasons' leader was confronted by Fortunato. The Astronomer was killed shortly after a fiery clash in the skies above New York. Very few of the Egyptian Freemasons survived Wild Card Day in 1986, but with the passing of the Astronomer the group was effectively destroyed.
- Black John Balsam (founder, 1780s approx.)
- Marc Balsam (active prior to his death in 1979)
- Astronomer (1979-1986)
- Coleman Hubbard
- Jane Gresham
- John F.X. Black
- Jube the Walrus
- Kim Toy