2ND MISCELLANY


Transcript of Dr. Chakravorti’s lecture on Forges, Michigan State University, June 23rd [REDACTED]

…and obviously, that wouldn’t do at all. [Audience laughs]. So, onto the actual topic. Ordinarily at this point in the lecture, most lecturers would ask someone about the most basic aspects of whatever it is that’s being taught, but I’m not on tenure yet, so I have to at least make a token effort towards doing my job. [More laughter]. Enough of that, this isn’t a stand-up routine; those are the anthropology lectures.

Now, [claps hands] Forges. The term originates from a proposed superhuman classification created by D.Y. Webber, who was an analyst for the government department that would eventually become the Department of Miscellany. Webber’s proposal involved using a medieval ‘theme’ for ease of memory and recognition when it came to categorizing metahumans. So those with long-range abilities would be Archers, those with defensive abilities Shields, and so on. Interestingly, Webber’s proposal didn’t actually use the Forge classification in the way that would eventually become commonplace; instead, he placed Class-A Forges, the only type at the time, under the banner of Oracles, and the moniker of Forge was assigned to the abilities that we currently place under the name of projection powers, those that create unknown substances from nothing. Webber’s proposal was eventually abandoned after fairly limited success, but the term stuck, mostly because at the time their abilities with technology and other ‘maker’ crafts was just coming to life. Interestingly, Webber would later go on to propose another classification system that would also fail, but give us the term Dragon-class. Guy can’t catch a break apparently.

So after the second Supercharge, when Class-B Forges began popping up, the obvious choice was to place them under that already-established banner, and that’s exactly what happened. This was aided by the fact that initially, the distinction between them was fairly unclear, and many believed that it was simply a new quirk of the power type.

[Removed – Look, I told you to just assemble the relevant information. You need to learn how to cut down]

The Class-As are something of an anomaly when it comes to powers, in more ways than one. A Class-A Forge is something akin to the peak of possible human intelligence, or rather, the peak of multiple human intelligences. When a Class-A activates their powers, there seems to be no difference in their brain patterns or activity, as we can see on this brain-scan here. However, an active Forge will often display knowledge or abilities beyond that which they normally possess. More importantly, no new neural connections are made while the power is active, and yet they are still perfectly capable of learning new information and skills; more capable, even. 

As far as we can determine, when a Class-A Forge uses their powers, they link their own brain into what is postulated as being another brain, or even multiples, or possibly just simulacra of them. They’re one person think-tanks, in essence, with all that implies; there have been reports of subjects experiencing phantom memories, of events they have no recollection of or could not have been possibly present for, and most, if not all, demonstrate unusual physiological effects upon disengaging their powers, ranging from a sense of overwhelming ennui to a sensation similar to being slapped with a metric ton of feathers. Current research suggests that this is due to the act of returning the brain’s ‘architecture’ to a smaller piece of hardware creates glitches or small malfunctions immediately afterwards. There have not yet been any instances of fatal or damaging aftereffects, but it remains a possibility that those in the field are watching for.

Even as rare as they are, Class-A Forges have made massive impacts on society and technology in the last two decades. This is because, unlike literally everything else about metahuman abilities, we can replicate what they do. If a Class-A makes some breakthrough in nanoprocessors, that technology can be integrated into every thinking machine design from that point forward. If a Class-A figures out how to design a power plant the size of my fist, it can become the basis of a whole new line of transport, weaponry, so on. It’s all just natural human development, but accelerated.

Which bring me to Class Bs.

Unlike their earlier counterparts, the Class Bs are not restricted to the realm of reality. They actually bear a striking resemblance to many 2nd generation powers, in that they have the one unique effect. In the subset of powers, it manifests at the will of the person it is bonded to; with the Forges, the effect is instead controlled by ‘technology’. Yes, I used finger-quotes: this [switches slides] is a dissected piece of a Class-B device. Those of you with any experience in electronics, engineering, or basic physics will notice that the only things this should be able to do is either fizzle or violently explode. Some of these wires aren’t even connected to anything, and this [gestures] is a pair of ancient D batteries connected to each other and nothing else. And yet, if you were to put this together and press the switch on the case, you would find yourself trapped in a corridor of closed, looping space-time.

Class-Bs are a subset where instead of the power being tied to a person, it seems to recognise a specific configuration of currents and voltages as the activation trigger. Sometimes it’s just alignments of objects; this slide shows a Class B device recovered from Southern Polynesia that could create zones of rapidly oscillating temperatures. As you can see in this cross section, the ‘device’ consists of a complex arrangement of sticks, shells and leaves inside a hollowed out coconut. Note the lack of any control mechanisms, and then note that I said it was ‘recovered’, and then guess what happened.

What’s truly fascinating about these creations is that they only work for the creator. If I were to stick a bunch of sticks, shells and leaves inside a coconut in the exact same arrangement, I would get a hollow coconut full of crap. If the Forge were to arrange the sticks, shells and leaves slightly differently, they would also get a hollow coconut full of crap. This, combined with the fact that all the devices made by a single Forge seem to share the same pool of power and deplete it the more there are, has led some to propose that Class-Bs are literally just normal 2nd generation powers that have been modified to act in this manner. Obviously, this theory opens up a whole storage room full of cans of worms, so we’re just going to skate right over that.

Perhaps the most famous example of Class B technology, and no, there’s not a better term for it, I’ve looked, is the Watchtower Conglomerate’s pride and joy, the Tower of New Chicago. The piece of architecture so important it got a city built for it, the Tower was built by Forge Richard Rawlins right before his disappearance. By all accounts, the structure of the building is itself the conduit for his spatial warping power, and as such the interior of the building is famed for its Escher-like qualities. It’s not uncommon to descend to the top of the building, or ascend to the front lobby from one of the flight decks that all appear to be in the same place from the outside, but take completely different paths to get to inside. The Tower also proves that the Forge is not required to be involved in the entire construction of their devices; reportedly, Rawlins only laid the foundation stone, and the capstone. This discovery lead to the concept of user-serviceable Forgery, where as few as possible parts are constructed by the Forge, allowing the rest to be repaired or replaced by the layman.

[Removed – I shouldn’t even need to say this, but this. Is not. Relevant. Get your game together, Smith, or I’ll have you metaphorical head over this]

-----

Routine report, sir. Not seeing any deviance from agreed terms, aside from slight mention of the Bureau. As there is nothing beyond the barest mention, I recommend no response at this time. Chakravorti could still be a useful asset. 

[Really? Really, Smith. 'You recommend'? You don't recommend anything. Remember your job, and do your job, or else]