Iteration X

“Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It’s a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity — a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied — and the world will pass beyond our understanding.”

-Vernor Vinge, True Names and Other Dangers

Reckoning

The Anomaly rebooted the Machine. Authocthonia was cut off, the Computer went offline, and the off-world Colonies were destroyed or disappeared. Though they would never admit it, such losses caused the machine to malfunction, and this resulted in a the surge of the Pogroms. BioMechanical cyborgs and MacTech hard suits were the first in and the last out, and their zeal was such that it nearly split the Union. Were it not for the Time Motion Managers the Union may have crumbled. The Iteration X that emerged is somewhat different than the one that came before it. The Clockwork Convention is suddenly free, and that feels…strange. Iteration X must find a way to integrate these strange new  elements into a new order or or risk fracturing the Union once more.

Current Status

Iteration X appears to be an orderly whole functioning like a well oiled machines, but if one looks closely the machine has yet to return to full working order. Order is the operative when it comes to Iteration X, and the Convention must contend with more than a few errors, bugs, and unresolved issues before it can be fully restored.

Most importantly, Iteration X lead the Pogrom surge at the turn of the millennium, and it was their martial spirit that lead the Technocracy to victory. Yet, some believe that when these same soldiers wanted to finish the job the Technocracy rewarded them by terminating the cause that gave them such purpose. Many suggest that either the pressures of the Anomaly and/or the termination of the Pogroms were the motivating factors that turned the Covention’s outrage inward, nearly fracturing the Union in the process.

To this day, the Convention is divided over whether or not to renew the Pogroms again now that the Anomaly has passed. Some wish to move away from the expensive excesses of the past Ascension War, and focus on shaping the very different theater of the 21st century. Others believe that the Union had a total victory within their grasp, but let it slip through their fingers because of some human weakness. They point to the Sphinx stands as a perfect example of what happens when you leave business unfinished. Zeal for the Pogroms and nostalgia for the days of chain guns and HIT MARKs remains influential, the loss of the masters to the Anomaly has allowed other voices emerge. The machine cannot seem to muster the will for such endeavors, at least for now.

There is also the matter of the Anomaly itself. The current prevailing theories of the Void Engineers concerning its origins and purpose satisfy no one, least of all Iteration X. This unknown rankles the Clockwork Convention, and they have begun their own deeper analysis. The Anomaly remains a question in the minds all, and until the mystery is solved it will remain a shadow on the Convention’s conscience. It is more than just a mystery, however. It is a point of unity (or a convenient justification) for continuance of the Pogroms. The threat of another Anomaly haunts Iteration X which is the only reason such ideas are kept alive. Preparedness has its virtues, and should something of the level of the Anomaly recur then the Technocracy may begin to see the wisdom in another Pogrom once more. One can never be too careful in the World of Darkness.

Autocthonia

Autocthonia goes without saying. Literally. Don’t even bring it up. The dependence fostered by the Computer was initially a boon to the Convention, and one could argue that the Convention wouldn’t be what it is today without it. After the initial shock, a mixture of longing and relief accompanied the Anomaly that cut the cord to the Computer. There had been silent misgivings all along about such dependencies, but the Anomaly  forced Iteration X to sacrifice a powerful yet outdated tool.

While they would never admit to it, the Computer had made the Clockwork Convention weak, and that is something Interation X could not abide. Mentioning Authocthonia to new recruits is strongly discouraged, but legends and gossip are hard to quash. The official word on the matter is that the Comptrollers attempted to reopen the Portals to the Realm, but found they no longer functioned. According to the leadership the Authocthonia perished along with so many of the Otherworld Colonies. Anyone who’s been around long enough has heard the rumors that the Portals were sabotaged. Corrupt log files with inconclusive metadata pertaining to Autocthonia are secretly circulated, but many think these are a hoax or a joke. More heretical ideas about a machine cult within Iteration X are even more unmentionable (and sinister). Stories that the Computer has now linked everyone remaining on Autocthonia into a vast inhuman hive mind compete with rumors of how both the Computer and Autocthonia residents desperately try to communicate via cryptic messages through the Digital Web. The truth is out there, but for now Autocthonia is now both a tantalizing and horrifying mystery.

MECHA

Perhaps the dirtiest of Iteration X secrets is the prison Colony of MECHA. There was a time when rich stores of Primal Energy poured in from MECA, but that all came to an end when it was cut off from the Anomaly. MECHA is the only thing more unmentionable than Autocthonia, and the Convention wishes to keep it that way. Those found circulating rumors about MECHA are given very stern warnings. Such warnings are apparently enough as second ones are rarely given. The Portals and space lanes that once allowed access to the Colony are closed, not that these were widely known to begin with. Rumors quietly circulate of a distress signal originating from MECHA that has gone ignored since the turn of the millennium. What few correspondences have been received speak of cannibalism (of flesh and cybernetic parts), a prison riot, and something known as the Matriarch. These are just rumors, however. Anyone who wishes to stay in the good graces of Iteration X agrees that MECHA is superstitionist nonsense or little more than a Technocratic folktale told to scare rookies.

Methodologies

  • BioMechanics  – Like much of Iteration X, the BioMechanics have both suffered and benefited from the loss of Autocthonia, but the Pogroms most profoundly shaped the Methodology. For decades they created and maintained the HIT MARKs that performed much of the front line dirty work in the Ascension War. With the Ascension War ostensibly over (for now), the BioMechanics were secretly relieved to move on to other projects. Most of them anyway. One side of the Methodology was happy to put the majority of the killing machines in cold storage, and tend to the increasing acceptance of prosthesis among the Masses. Seemingly in an unconscious act of contrition, this wing has been especially focused on incorporating prosthesis for the most needy, veterans who have lost limbs being chief among them. These BioMechanics have a very clear mandate to maintain and enhance the human machine for the betterment of all. A more human face of the Convention may have emerged, but the dark machine face of old lurks behind it. This darkness ranges from those who extol a philosophy of a good defense being a good offense to full throated calls for a return of the Pogroms. These voices had a brief, if meteoric rise during the Pogrom surge at the turn of the millennium, but their fortunes soon soured. First was the loss of the Authocthonian research stations, then the disappearance of many weapons caches and prototypes in the Otherworld Colonies, and finally, the disciplinary culling as a result of insubordination when the Pogroms were eliminated. This political faction has winnowed to a vocal yet influential minority. Pogorm politics aside, the martial wing of the Methodology can still be relied upon to produce the harshest of killing machines when asked. Internally, the Methodology may have some sorting out to do, but within the Union at large they are the most well liked and regarded member of the Conventions. On all sides of the Methodology the disciplines and specialties have continued to diversify in an effort to catapult un-Enhanced humanity towards perfection, and solve the climate crisis. Progenitors are also commonly found in the labs cross training or as collaborators, and the practical improvements the Methodology can make in the lives of the Masses endears them to the Syndicate ensuring their projects are well funded. There is some concern those lost weapons caches, and what would happen if they returned to Earth. Ignore the rumors about secret deals with the Void Engineers. Nothing to them.
  • Statisticians – It’s hard to admit your wrong. A probability is still possibility no matter how remote. Sometimes lightening does strike twice, unlikely as it is. The Anomaly was lightning striking the same place…over and over. Statisticians ignored the warnings, and the Methodology was caught with egg on its face, and it only got worse from there. The Anomaly revealed the Statisticians have been wrong about nearly every large-scale prognostication they have made. The response shattered the Methodology forcing some to confront their hubris and others retreated further into Clarity. (Rumors of Statisticians emerging as Marauders during this time still circulate quietly in Constructs across the globe.)  Were it not for the fact that many of the Methodology’s leaders were off-world at the time heads could have quite literally rolled. Errors of this magnitude could not go unnoticed (or unpunished) by the Technocracy, and the Methodology is still being called to account for it. Someone had to be blamed, and the lion’s share of the blame (perhaps unjustly) fell on the Statisticians. After a hundred or so rounds of hearings, deflections, mysterious retirements, and blatant disappearances, talk began of eliminating the Methodology altogether. When Convention realized it had lost contact with the Computer, the terror of the hobbling of the Union would suffer if the elimination went forward suddenly came into very sharp focus. So when the time came to renew the Pogrom, the Statisticians had no other choice but to as they were asked: massage the numbers and give their blessing (a fact that has all but vanished during the near civil war). Over the last twenty years, the Methodology has had a lot of work to do to rebuild its reputation. Where they once the go-to Methodology for leadership in the Technocracy they now find rivals.  This “you failed/we can do it better” attitude has declined when faced with the realities of leadership, and the Methodology is slowly but surely being restored to its former role. Still, the data they supply, even if it is double and triple checked, is and perhaps always will be, overshadowed by the past errors. This doesn’t stop it from being useful for small picture projections, but the big picture remains opaque. Until there is an solid explanation for the Anomaly it will stand as the greatest miscalculation in the Methodology’s. There is something of a silver lining here. The Anomaly and the subsequent break with the Colonies had more impact on their reputations than on operations. Data was lost in the White, and the lack of access to the Computer hindered research and modeling, but over all, the Statisticians have always been focused on the future at hand rather than the wool gathering in the Otherworlds. The Anomaly turned out to be an opportunity to not only innovate and return to tasks once delegated to the Computer, and the fruits of this have been benefited both Technocrats and Sleepers. Despite their failure, the Methodology now strides boldly forward exceeding models expectations once more. Beneath the sunny results, shadows shift within the data, and even though they won’t admit it, the entire Methodology can feel a turning in its guts. A jittery need for control papers over a persistent feeling that something is missing. No matter how good the predictions are the surety (innocence perhaps) of the pre-Anomaly days cannot be recaptured.  You can never go home again. The Statisticians stand at a crossroads where they must accept that they simply cannot predict everything or return to the Clarity that lead their fall from grace in the first place.
  • Time-Motion Managers – For a Methodology devoted to keeping things together they unraveled quickly once the metal hit the bone. In the past, the leadership managed to jury rig  the divide between Management and the Macrotechnologists, but the two were torn asunder as Anomaly cut off the Convention’s top brass. As far as break-ups go, this one was amicable. The Methodology is now peacefully divided with little desire to reunite.
    • Macrotechnologists – The demands on their work were too dear to be delayed by the interruptions caused in shipping production off-world so the Anomaly’s impact was minimal. Sure, a few Macrotechnologists were lost with Autocthonia, but by and large things were business as usual. Macrotechnologists continue to create  a variety of machines, from weapons to medical nanites to coffee pots to computers, in a variety of sizes, from the big to the very, very, very small. Its greatest focus rests within quantum physics and quantum computing, however. Quantum particles dominate discussions about the greater nature of Reality, and may solve the enigma of the Anomaly. If not that then something better, like mass Empowerment via the quantum bending of time and space. You know. Business as usual.
    • Management – It is the Statisticians job to plot a clear course for the Union while the Managers ensure it continues to run smoothly. The Management wing of the Methodology were hit the hardest by the Anomaly, a fact that continues to needle them because, unlike the Statisticians, they did their job. Perfectly. They exceeded expectations and got slaughtered as a reward. Almost the entire upper ranks of the division were killed, cut off, or remain imprisoned in off-world Colonies. The remaining Managers were the first and loudest voice blaming the Statisticians, and they were the first to rise up and to replace them. To their credit, the Managers were instrumental paving the path to the Reykjavik accords, a feat that the Statisticians arguably could not have done (or at least not without the Managers), but similarly, the Managers inward looking and helplessly blind without the Statisticians to be their eyes and ears. The tensions and rivalries between the two Methodologies continues with the Managers casting doubt and checking up on the beleaguered but more numerous Statisticians. For better or for worse, this rivalry has created a system of checks and balances between the forecasters and the stewards that could be beneficial for the Union as a whole, and there are rumors that all the contention may be intentional on the part of the Managers. They are, after all, masters of streamlining human dynamics. Perhaps this is a ploy to bring the two back into synch. If it works, it could predict or even prevent a second Anomaly, but if it fails it could tear the Union apart.
  • Macrotechnicians
    • MacTech didn’t arrive on the scene formally until 2000 so they avoided much of the pain felt by the other Methodologies. Drawn from other Methodologies,  the Macrotechnicians oversee technological advancements on the large scale, and their ties to other areas of the Convention offer them a broad prospective on the Convention as a whole. The MacTechs play a vital, if interstitial, role that isn’t as readily apparent and lacks the obvious focus of the other Methodologies. MacTech’s scientists focus on substance analysis and development, material engineering, and instrument innovation to create the prototypes that supplant the older models and designs in all around efficacy. Their work is interdisciplinary and its applications range from new vehicles, armor and linear frame configuration, computer networks refinement, and waste-free material production. The other half of the Methodology are the techs themselves who can be found virtually everywhere within the Union installing, maintaining and implementing the engineers designs, but most importantly, donning the combat hard suits on the front lines. They are currently the leaders of the Union’s efforts for climate change reversal, and their work in this area has begun to earn them the prestige they have long deserved. Whatever divisions exist within the Convention currently, when the question to Pogrom or not to Pogrom, the MacTechs simply follow the orders they are given, and let the other Methodologies figure out the odds and ethics. If there is any coherent political stance its that the Technocracy should focus on  on the development of newer and better devices, not just ones for killing. The divisions that exist among the MacTecs have more to do with class. The self-styled “pure scientists” use their fancy degrees and high falutin abstract designs to distance themselves from those who actually work close to the metal. Yet, it was the rank and file soldiers that were the deciding voice to end the Pogroms which presents questions about who really runs the Methodology. By and large, MacTechs have a cooperative culture due to the lack blistering ego battles that plague the other Methodologies. Part of this culture stems from the Methodology being a hybrid of the the other Methodologies. Much of the Technocracy is still confused about what exactly it is that they do, and why that work necessitated an entirely new Methodology. This suits them just fine. In the past, MacTechs eschewed cybernetic implants in favor of tried, true and trusted “old school” hypertech tools, but the Methodology has secretly produced bleeding edge Digital Web implants.  The implants were a requirement for a secret neural network project that they hope will yield advances in artificial intelligence or even mass Ascension. The project and what motivated it are not widely known outside the Methodology’s Comptroller. Should it come to light it would raise a great deal of unwanted attention. The shadow of the Computer looms large.

Iteration X In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is not a desert city. That’s just a myth, but life would be very different in Los Angeles without its various technological prosthetics applied to it. Mulholland’s aqueduct, the vast stretches of interstate highways, the subways and automobiles, and even the Internet have all shaped how the Masses live, work, and die in Southern California. You could argue that Iteration X had some hand in all of these advances, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  Iteration X is more than happy to provide interventions in the realms of health care, manufacturing, architecture, and more recently “going green.” If Los Angeles is to survive the climate crisis then  Iteration X will find the right tool for the job. The Convention is now focusing their attention on making better humans with technology and not just through it.
One Wilshire is a modern Mecca for Iteration X, where efficiencies in voice/data telecommunications has provided a home for over two thousand carriers. Seed data for probabilistic modeling and simulation is made trivial with access to volumes measured in petabytes. Virtual all the amalgams have some presence in One Wilsh due to its computing might, but this could easily be a ploy on the part of management to keep a tight reign over L.A.’s many agents. Three Iteration X amalgams operate within Southern California:
  • The Comptroller – Mason Hess came up among the Biotechnicians, but when Macrotechnican Methodology was formed, Hess was reassigned to help fill out its leadership ranks. Hess was born in 1911 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary from a family of architects and intellectuals. He studied physics at the Technical University of Vienna and at the University of Breslau, where in 1944 he received a Ph.D. in physics. He moved to the US just was World War II was getting going, and worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he was a professor of electrical engineering and biophysics. He created the Biological Computer Laboratory which focused on brain-computer interfaces. When the ARPANET project took off and Lo-Sector appeared, Hess was “reassigned” to Los Angeles where he established the Los Chapules.  There are rumors that he used his significant political clout to make that reassignment happen. When the previous Iteration X representative to the Symposium, Edwena de Castillo, vanished during the Anomaly, Hess assumed the position as the highest ranking Comptroller in Los Angeles. Soft spoken and extremely private with a love of simplicity, Hess is an enigmatic figure who can sometimes be found sipping espresso in the Construct’s canteen.
  • Los Chapules – Los Chapules aka Grasshoppers is the most elite amalgam in Los Angeles. This MacTech Conventional almalgam is the pet project of Comptroller Mason Hess, and are concerned exclusively with LO-sector research on the Digital Web, but the project remains classified under Hess’s supervision. There is a great deal of friction between Los Chapule and Void Engineer rivals concerning the Digital Web, and Lo Sector, but the nature of the conflict is an enigma for those outside those amalgams. Comptroller Hess founded the group, but its current Manager is Macrotechnician Armature Specialist Mark Ferranti.
  • Crenshaw Group -The Crenshaw group  are a mixed Methodology amalgam working in L.A.’s transportation sector. Possibly the oldest Iteration X amalgam in the city, they lay claim to L.A.’s innovative transportation infrastructure. From Angel’s Flight to the Metro to the mass of tangled interstate highways to building better cars, the Crenshaw Group have had a hand in it. The Group has transitioned to preparing Los Angeles for the changing climate. Lead by Landon Jonathon, this mixed Methodology amalgam is one of the largest in Los Angeles. Crenshaw’s Manager is Statisticians Armature Maria Mortez, but the amalgam has its hands in so many pies it can be difficult to tell who is in charge of what. Mortez spends very little time at One Wilshire, but if one wants to catch her the parking garage is the best place to do so. She has her own parking spot. If her black hypertech electric car is there, it won’t be long before she returns to it.
  • Future Street Divison–  FSD is a mixed Convention amalgam operating out of Cypress Park. Their secret base beneath the Huron Substation contains numerous hard suits, BioTechnician cyborgs, and other weapons. Future Street was ordered to stand down, but should the Ascenion War heat up or there be a direct assault on One Wilsh, Future Street is only a call away. Manager Biomechanic Armature João Paulo Dawson leads Future Street, but is often seen stalking the halls of One Wilsh.

Appendix

  • The Advanced Digital Enhancement Implant (A-DEI)
    • Enhancement Cost: 6 (12 background points)
    • The DEI is the standard cybernetic implant used throughout Iteration X, but this is the upgraded version that is exclusive to the Convention. The latest version of the DEI is VDAS-capable, ES-Phone app ready, and PPP compatible.
    • Advantages (From the standard DEI):
      • Effect 1: Online Access (Forces 1) – Duplicates the functionality of an Online Access enhancement (see Mage 20 p.659). The DEI also allows you to access and interface with all ES-Phone apps, PPP modules, and any other digital packages that could reasonably be accessed.
      • Effect 2: Digital Web Access (Data 2) – the DEI allows the user to project to the Digital Web via Sensory Visitation or Astral Immersion without the need for external equipment thanks to a Data 2 Adjustment.
      • Effect 3: Control Information Technology (Mind 3, Data 2, Forces 2) Finally, you can access all mundane internet and basic computer functions, as well as perform hacking, research, and other computer-based activities (see Book of Secrets pp. 116-127) without the need for equipment. The DEI handles it for you.
    • Additionally (advanced enhancements):
      • Effect 4: Computer Assisted Cognition & Memory (Mind 1, Time 1) – Computer architecture that is functionally equivalent to the Eidetic Memory, Time Sense and Lightning Calculator Merits (as described in Book of Secrets).
      • Effect 5: Skill Software Processor (Mind 3) – Skill Software (Skillsofts, patent pending) can be uploaded to a special drive, and then accessed at will. System-wise, this is grants the equivalent of Hypercram 4, but with the following additions:
        • Does not stack with existing Hypercram, and only one version of this Background may be accessed at a time.
        • Skillsofts are tigthly controlled by the Convention as the Virtual Adepts are always looking to pirate them. The Iterator must visit one of the Convention’s labs in order to sign out a copy of the software. Recors are kept of what skillsofts are downloaded and by who. Certain exotic skillsofts require clearance to access.
      • Effect 6: Transfer Memory (Mind 3) – In addition, the user’s memory can be readily downloaded and reviewed into any Iteration X computer. Agents can alter stored memories with a coincidental Forces 2/ Mind 2 Effect. Only highly detailed and careful scans can detect such tampering.