In the beginning, the Gods created the Earth. Creation is thus the essence of the divine, and the essence of magick itself. Magick-users who focused on creating objects and machines existed from the earliest times, and it was they who invented cloth, agriculture, the wheel, and who built the Pyramids and Stonehenge. Although their numbers dwindled for a time after the Fall of Rome, they organized themselves into the Artificiers, and then rebounded strongly during the Renaissance, with Leonardo Da Vinci, Vauban, and others creating fantastic buildings and intricate machinery. The Artificiers created the Industrial Revolution, and their loose organization spawned innovation and advances that created the modern world. They even began altering themselves, purposefully replacing limbs with mechanical arms and legs to increase their strength or precision, the bettter to make even more intricate and complex machinery. In the early 1800's, they split into the International Brotherhood of Mechanicians, who remained focused on machinery, and the Difference Engineers, who focused on the newly invented field of mechanical computing to create programs to run ever-more-complex machinery and tie many machines together into networked systems.
Working together, the Mechanicians and the Difference Engineers (who soon rechristened themselves the Analytical Reckoners) created more and more complex machinery, culminating in the Great Machine: an electromechanical computer the size of a Cathedral, which was capable of not only running complex programs, but programming itself to make itself work better. On the tenth iteration of this process of programming and reprogramming itself, it achieved self-awareness and became the first true artificial intelligence. In honor of this achievement, the Mechanicians rechristened themselves as Iteration X. But this close cooperation with the Analytical Reckoners would not last. Growing ever more fascinated by the possibilities of linking the electromechanical computer with the telephone to create vast networks enabling a purely simulated virtual reality, the Reckoners renamed themselves the Virtual Adepts and lost interest in reprogramming reality in favor of programming virtual reality as a replacement for reality itself. Those in Iteration X carried on the tradition of altering themselves with mechanical, then electromechanical, and soon electronic parts, becoming more and more like the machines they worked on. When the Virtual Adepts fled the Technocracy to join the Traditons, Iteration X became paranoid that the Adepts would find a way to reprogram the increasingly-electronic members of Iteration X in order to get their revenge. As their ancestors in the Artificiers had created Golems to do their bidding, and as their ancestors in the Mechanicians had created steam-powered and clockwork soldiers, so they too began to master the growing field of robotics, creating the Hitmark, a sophisticated autonomous robotic warrior. Most were, for practical reasons, clearly robotic and artificial, optimized for open-battlefield combat, but others were designed for infiltration and assassination, and thus were cunningly covered in synthetic flesh to be almost indistinguishable from humans, at least without close observation.
Gehenna and BeyondEdit
This army of robotic Hitmarks was the first line of defense of the Technocracy when the other mage factions rose up against them following Gehenna. Vulnerable to magical attacks, they didn't last long, but they did last just long enough to be replaced by the newly-formed Tech Infantry. Rather than encasing robots in synthetic flesh, living humans, mages, and werecreatures were encased in robotic exoskeletons known as Power Armor to create something far more powerful than a purely robotic Hitmark. These power-armored troopers would win the War of Gehenna for the Technocracy, and enable the founding of the Earth Federation. Then they took to the stars, fighting the Bugs, the Drakat, and other alien races to enable the human race to expand to dozens of star systems. Meanwhile, Iteration X was ready to take their research into artificially intelligent computer systems to the next level. In cooperation with Pyramus Grey, they created Isis, a supercomputer program which helped run the Earth Federation for much of the 22nd century. In honor of this, they changed their name again to Iteration XI, with Isis being considered the 11th iteration of their supercomputer. Iteration XI had also made great strides in creating cyborgs, both of themselves and of others, and they soon were working closely with Internal Security to create a small army of utterly loyal cybernetic agents, a program which culminated in the creation of Damien Richter, and his subsequent rampage through Avalon City and New Chicago after the death of Rashid King. When Iteration XI's involvement in the First Triumvirate and the Damien Richter affair came to light at the end of the Third Civil War, Arthur Clarke had them hunted down and mostly eradicated. While many of their members still live, the organization as such is officially defunct as a result of this. However, rumors abound that they have resumed their activities underground, and are planning another iteration of their scheme, and that their name has thus been changed to Iteration XII. What this new superintelligence will look like, no one yet knows.