As long as there have been stone and wood, there have been magick-users who manipulated reality by creating devices, from the Pyramids and Stonehenge to water wheels and windmills. As long as there has been the written word, there have long been magick-users who manipulated reality through words on scrolls, tablets, and grimoires. These two broad traditions of magick were mostly separate for many centuries, until a brilliant mage and member of the Order of Reason named Charles Babbage proposed to create a machine capable of manipulating words and numbers as easily as machines already manipulated matter and energy. Information was finally recognized as a fundamental component of reality, coequal with, but in many ways even more important than, matter and energy. In 1823 Babbage founded an organization known as the Difference Engineers, originally part of the Artificiers but soon separated out into their own independent movement within the Order of Reason. But very quickly, the organization would rename itself again at the great Crystal Palace Exhibition, and as the Order of Reason became the Technocratic Union, the Difference Engineers became the Analytical Reckoners. But their fascination with mechanical and electromechanical computers was soon joined by an ecstatic love affair with Alexander Graham Bell's new invention of the Telephone. The Analytical Reckoners saw at once that here was a way to tie together many electromechanical computers to create one enormous machine, one large enough to think for itself. Working closely with their allies in the International Brotherhood of Mechanicians, as their former parent organization of the Artificiers had by then become known, they labored for decades to create a device of enormous complexity, one capable not only of being programmed to manipulate information, but of programming itself and creating new information.
Once the Great Machine was complete, its self-improvement program soon went through nine iterations of its algorithms, before finally achieving self-awareness on the tenth iteration. In celebration of this monstrous achievement, the Mechanicians changed their name to Iteration X, and began focusing more and more on incorporating self-aware computers into all of their devices and schemes. The Analytical Reckoners turned their attention back to their fascination with the telephone and its ability to annihilate distance when it came to communication and the sharing of information. But as Iteration X focused more and more on centralizing all power and control in their central Great Machine, and on using it to control reality, the Reckoners focused more and more on distributing power and control to many places, connected together into one vast network by strands of telephone wire, and using it to first simulate reality, and later to create an entirely new reality, a virtual reality. This change would lead to the Reckoners again changing their name, this time to the Virtual Adepts. This difference in methods would also lead to a difference in goals, and finally a difference in basic philosohpy that would split apart these long-term allies and turn them into the bitterest of enemies. Shortly after World War Two, the leader of the Virtual Adepts was a man named Alan Turing, who began to speak up about the abuses and corruption he saw in the wider Technocracy, which had gone from the goal of protecting humanity from the dangers of the supernatural, to using the supernatural to control humanity. Attempts to discredit or silence him failed, and when Turing turned up dead in his apartment, supposedly of suicide by cyanide poisoning, his Virtual Adepts knew at once that he had in fact been murdered by agents of Iteration X and the Technocracy. Swearing revenge and elevating Turing to the status of martyr, the Virtual Adepts split from the Technocracy entirely and joined the Council of Nine Mystical Traditions, taking the Seat of Correspondence vacated by the departure of the Ah-i-Batin.
Gehenna and BeyondEdit
After joining the Traditions, the Virtual Adepts became hunted men. Retreating into their virtual reality, they became the foremost hackers in history. When Gehenna arrived and awakened the world to the existence of magick, the Virtual Adepts were able to recruit millions of newly-awakened mages from among the ranks of internet hackers, video gamers, and computer programmers. Their abiltiies to infiltrate the networks of the Technocracy and turn their own technological toys agains their former masters made them among the most dangerous and successful of the many factions waging the losing war against the Technocracy and their Tech Infantry. Their lack of a formal leadership structure since the death of Turing made them tough to break as an organization, but in the end also limited their effectiveness. Despite putting up a tremendous fight, they were in the end defeated. But many of their number refused to accept defeat, and they became enthusiastic and effective members of The Resistance, waging virtual war on the Earth Federation establishment in cyberspace. Even Arthur Clarke's draconian tactics were unable to crush them entirely, and they continue to operate in all areas of human settlement. While their hatred for the Federation is well known, most of them also view Vin Dane's elevation to Emperor as totally incompatible with their fundamentally anarchic and decentralized ideas of how thing should be. But a tiny minority see in Vin Dane's Horadrim nature, and in his possesion of a Soul Web with its nanotechological nature, as the ultimate fusion of computer network and living creature, and have become enthusiastic supporters of the Empire.