James E. Toebes

Collective History

I am selected - 359.49 N.C.E.

I received notification today that I was selected. I can't believe my luck. I knew it happened between 18 and 20 but to have it happen on your 17th birthday is Great! Growing up I have always admired and envied the NoTechs. To become a privileged protector of our society does have its perks. They get all the best food, clothing and places to live. To watch the crowds move aside and let them through, they seem almost like gods. And to think, their main duty is to turn things off.

Mom and dad always said to study hard and prove myself if I wanted to be chosen. I did just that, I stayed at the top of my class, won every science award and tried to prove myself. As the age of selection drew nearer, I was worried though. I applied, took the test and was sure that I messed up. Then they interviewed me, several times, and gave more tests. There were so many NTPs (No Tech Protectors) that I thought that they where trying to determine if I was even fit to remain in society.

When I got home today, they were waiting. I thought "oh no - another interview." The oldest man there introduced himself as NTP Randolph Bougine, Standing there so tall in his silver-gray robe he looked so much like a god that I was stunned. I just stood there with my mouth open. Here was the leader of the NoTechs right in front of me. I thought that I really screwed up and he was here to straighten me out. He continued "I am here to extend the offer to come train as a NTP Elite. Your scores and record show an exceptional performance rating. Less than 10 candidates get offered this honor each year. Will you accept?" After standing, staring, and trying to make my voice work for what must have been 10 minutes, I accepted.

Learning History - 359.62 N.C.E.

I began training this week. The history class is interesting. Here let me read chapter 1.

Society has long strived to improve itself. In -329 NCE, the first silicon device was developed. First simple gadgets like watches and stationary computer were made. As society began embracing technology more advanced methods of using technology were developed.

By -100 NCE it was apparent that machines could be made very advanced but could still not match the versatility of a living person. Also no matter how sophisticated the software or fast the computer, it still could not match the processing capability of a mind. The foundations were laid for an advanced network that integrated people and machine. People had become so accustomed with technology that this was the next logical progression.

This network was intended to directly utilize living people in an extremely efficient way. Their minds would be linked together to provide an immense supercomputing network while their bodies could be used as advanced tools. Since the network would utilize so much of the person, their personalities would be temporarily overridden. It was determined that due to the high efficiency of the network, less than 10% of the population would have to be active at a time to serve the needs of all of society. People would serve on a rotational basis for a small part of the year and live a life of luxury for the remainder.

By -10 NCE the plans had all been made and testing had been complete. As equipment was being built, setup and people were being network enabled, there was a huge public outcry about making people into machines. To alleviate fears a portion of society would be left as non-networked. These non-networked people, now commonly referred to as NoTechs, would have the responsibility of monitoring, modifying, or disabling the network as necessary.

After all the planning, building, and politics, the global system was activated. When the first work team introduced itself with the now ever common, "We are a Biological Organization Response Group. We are here to assist you. Please specify operational parameters.", the "New Collective Era" began at 0 NCE.

Society Changes - 359.78 N.C.E.

We have learned more about how the net has changed society. Initially networked people (we call them drones now) were sent to do hard labor and jobs no one wanted to do. As the ability to control drones increased, they began to do more. It was realized a driver under network control caused no accidents and never slept at the wheel.

Interesting enough, sleeping posed the biggest problem on the net. Most people need to sleep so that dream could process events as well as the physical functions. Since drones could not dream, we initially tried deactivating them at night. People did not like just sleeping; for a month so a method of regeneration was developed. A drone stood motionless in a cleansing field that forced the physiological functions to occur at an accelerated rate. This process took much less time than sleeping and could be interrupted and resumed with no ill affect. This combined with being fed a condensed nutritional extract allowed many days of operation between regeneration.

Society changed a lot. When networked people began performing more visible task in society, friends and family did not like seeing someone they knew in network mode. A policy was adopted in which, after activation, people would be transported to a work location a distance away. Society at first treated drones as slaves, but as the realization that everyone served as a drone set in, the drones were treated with dignity and respect.

The most major change in society was the economy. Since all work was equally done, money became a moot point. If you needed something, simply place a request with the network. The network would assign it a priority and as soon as was possible, it was met. With the computing power of all the minds on the net, resources were managed very efficiently.

Medicine took a major step forward. When networked, a person could be put through a series of test to calibrate pain levels and sensations. This allowed quick diagnosis of "ow, my head hurts!". Any surgery necessary was done while networked since this eliminated the need for anesthetic. Pain medication was not necessary which allowed other medications to be more affective. It turned out that just networking people improved their health and extended their lives. The condensed nutrients along with the regeneration cycles caused their bodies to be 'cleaned out'. The physical labor enhanced muscle tone while reducing fat. So due to giving a tenth of their life as a drone, their life span nearly doubled.

Education changed completely. With no need for people to work, many turned to teaching and education. Classrooms that were once overcrowded and understaffed now could have response groups build new facilities. The classes still had only one teacher but many assistants. Dropping out of school was reduced since there was no advantage to do so.

The arts and entertainment sectors grew. With so much free time, people wanted new and diverse entertainment. Movies grew into massive interactive experiences. Amusement parks became so popular that city ratings became based on them. Massive artwork exhibits became common to showcase the creative talents of anyone who cared to contribute."

After reading that, I thought about all the advances in society. Then I noticed, The only downside to all of this golden age is the lack of creativity. Since the beginning of the NCE there has been no significant scientific breakthroughs. There has been advancement such as better manufacturing, faster cars, more efficient farming, better park rides, but nothing truly new.

NTP Basics - 359.82 N.C.E.

I thought history was neat, but now they introduced us to our duties and tools. The NoTech name is so misleading. Beneath our simple robes and plain appearance, we carry some impressive equipment to maintain society. It looks like we earn our preferred status.

To begin with we do more than just "turn off switches". Our primary job is still to stop the network if anything goes wrong. With all the safeguards, that should never happen. Instead we monitor, enhance and redesign many parts of the net. Our medical teams keep developing and testing new implants. When a person is deactivated, an NTP is usually sent to interview the drone to make sure there are no after effects. Others provide maintenance in secure areas that are NoTech only, a left over from the paranoia that started the NTP program. A few, including me, are listed as the elite, which monitors, plan and coordinate all NoTech activities.

Our tools are the coolest though. All that NoTech means is that all our tools are Non-Networked. We have scanners that can detect the falling of a feather on the other side of the planet. We have monitors that can detect the purpose and location of everyone on the net without the net knowing. We have weapons stronger and capable of defeating anything outside our realm. We have cloaking devices rendering us invisible to the net so we can monitor without interfering. Forget walking everywhere, we have portable transporters that work even through shields. We even have programming consoles that allow us to reprogram any thing on the net without the net being able to detect the change or source. With these kinds of tools, its no wonder people think of us as gods.

Schools Out - 360.35 N.C.E.

Today I completed classroom training! Normally it takes 2 to 5 years in this self-paced school, I apparently blew the curve. I'll be 18 a few days after graduation, which makes me the youngest graduate ever. At graduation, I will be paired with a NTP to begin my apprenticeship. I know it will be one of the elite but who?

So far, everything is simple. If work is this easy, I'll be in charge in no time!

Graduation - 360.45 N.C.E.

It's done, I graduated. I could hardly wait for it to be over. So many speakers that I thought we heard from everyone including the janitor. Anyway, I was anxious for it to end so I could find out which NTP I would be working with. For the elite class there were only 5 graduates, so many couldn't cut it. I was sure I would get a good assignment but I didn't expect whom I got, Randolph Bougine. When they called me for it, I looked around to see who else had my name.

I spoke briefly with him after the show was over. He told me I had a month free until I began working so enjoy it. I want to get to work, I'm tired of waiting around. I wonder if he is always so formal.

Going to Work - 360.55 N.C.E.

At last, the waiting has ended. I started my apprenticeship today. Of course all I actually did was tour central admin and meet two million people who I will never remember their names. I won't get any of the tools until I finish my term, that bites.

Tomorrow I get to help with debriefing people coming out of network mode. The next day I get to review maintenance assignments. The following day, I get to see a demonstration of a new mining tool for drones. The next day I will find a way to escape if it doesn't improve.

Life Goes On - 360.85 N.C.E.

I managed to survive my first three months. Things improved after the first few weeks of boredom. Once I was allowed to sit in on the planning sessions, I realized how marvelous our society was. Seeing the planning being done to improve everyone's life, I now know how important the network and the NTPs are.

The network does an amazing job of handling the resources. The original specs called for 10% of society to be active handling the needs of society. In reality that is only the number needed during high activity. Normally it takes around 5 to 6% handle the load. This is due to the NTPs management and the networks efficiency.

Visitors - 361.14 N.C.E.

Something amazing happened today. I was standing in the middle of central when I heard someone shouting, "The survey team found life!" The main view screen turned on to a news broadcast showing Central Square. Some kind of strange spacecraft was there with people walking out. They were being followed strange creatures that looked sort of like us. They had movable stubs holding their eyes out about 2 inches from their face and their mouth and nose were merged into a 6" trunk. They walked into the middle of the square and set up some kind of electronic device. We heard strange squawking begin and within a few seconds the box started talking in a very mechanical sounding voice

It said,
"Hello, we are from the neighboring system of Gantow.  On behalf of the Gantowians, I welcome you to the interstellar community.

"Your survey team arrived on our planet about 2 months ago. It took about a week to develop this method of communication so we could converse. We quickly learned that your crew was traveling by much antiquated slower than light speeds. We offered an exchange of technology, which your team graciously accepted. In return for providing you with faster than light propulsion technology, they agreed to show us some of your agricultural techniques so that we may better feed our people."

I turned to Randolph and said, "Quick, send a tech team. The Net has technology we don't." I must have made an impression. Everyone turned and stared at me for a few moments then Randolph shouted, "What are you waiting for, He's right!" Within a few moments I noted the familiar gray robes of the technicians emerging on the scene.

Drones in space - 361.19 N.C.E.

This has been a busy week. Randolph let me be involved in the study of the Gantowians. Their propulsion system works on a simple method of compressed light emission. It was easily understood and integrated with out technology.

I asked Randolph how the people could have survived the trip, it would drive a person insane being weightless and in space for that long. His answer shocked me,
"They didn't". I stared at him and he explained.

"People could not survive a trip like that because the long term exposure to weightless combined with the affect on the mind. So we sent drones.  People were selected that would not be missed.  They were informed of the program and were given the chance to volunteer.  If they didn't agree, we would wipe memory of the project so as to not alarm the public.

"They equipped a spacecraft with a network hub. All of the travelers were activated as drones before they left. The system was set to run them through standard exercises until they reached another solar system. Since they were drones, there were no psychological affects to worry about. Once a system was reached, the network would deactivate and the drones would become normal people. At that range, there was no way to control the network or maintain communications. If they needed to go to another system, they simply set course and activated the network again.

"This had been done for nearly 150 years prior to the discovery. Nothing was said to the general public since success was less than certain. Now that it was successful, no one seemes to care what was done.

Building the Future - 361.24 N.C.E.

Since the discovery of other life, there has been a huge public outcry to explore further. Randolph has placed me in charge of coordinating the construction of new spacecraft. I knew the net was efficient but I didn't realize THAT efficient. A person on the net has no hesitation, fears or cares of themselves. They can accomplish in an hour what takes most people a day. By the time my apprenticeship finishes in 2 months, they will have built a fleet of 50+ starships.

It's no wonder our people enjoy life so much. With such efficient teams available, they don't have to care about providing for needs. They can be devoted to arts and leisure without feeling guilty. Since every one takes their turn on the net, there are no loafers. If only we NoTechs had so much free time.

My only real complaint is that every group reports with
"We are a Biological Organization Response Group. We are here to assist you. Please specify operational parameters." I wish I could do something about that.

End of learning? - 361.45 N.C.E.

I officially ended my apprenticeship today, complete with fanfare. I have been given the official title of Director of Space Exploration. Apparently that incident with recognizing the Gantowian communicator made them think I would be a good judge for future contacts.

As part of the celebration, the fleet of ships I directed for construction was launched. Everyone is excited to see whom we meet next. If the teams are successful at their first destinations, they should return in about 4 to 6 months. Until then, I won't have much more to do other. With the efficiency of the net workers and the automation of the net controllers, I guess it will be a vacation.

In the ceremony to become a member of the elite, I was granted one whimsical request. Traditionally, most use this to request a net group to expand their house or build a new amusement ride in their honor, but not me. I knew exactly what I wanted, so I told them. They laughed then asked what I really wanted, so I told them again. They didn't laugh.

I explained, everyone refers to them as that any way. It would save time (not to mention my sanity) since efficiency was the key to the net. The changes symbolize the unity of the people as well. I went on with more meaningless arguments to convince them. After much heated discussion, they granted it. Now every work group will introduce themselves with
"We are the BORG. We are here to assist you."

More Life - 361.98 N.C.E.

The first exploration team returned today. They met a new race called the Praktine. They are a strange race resembling intelligent turtles. They had not become space travelers yet but it made for an interesting contact. It will make for a better New Year celebration.

Beginning of learning - 362.33 N.C.E.

It's been a busy time, several new contacts were made. The Kolnars, Futens, Trolish, Jurarians, and the Tranise. The contact teams were successful in setting up exchanges with most of the races. The Kolnars provided a new communications system that works faster than light. The Futens provided new techniques for energy generation. The Trolish were very reclusive and would not even talk. The Jurarians provided star charts with species within a 50 light year radius. And last but not least, the Tranise showed us how to improve our Gantowian communicator to learn new languages.

I collected the technology samples for study. After taking the time to refit all the exploration vehicles with the new technology, new teams were chosen and sent out. I was uneasy with sending out technology we did not yet fully understand, but the public thirst for more has turned to a demand.

Overwhelmed - 362.89 N.C.E.

There has been so much going on. It seems we are meeting a new race every week. Some are very advanced while others are still sub-space. Our exploratory groups have become more of technology traders than anything else. Our people have always embraced technology so it seems like a role for which we are well fit.

The public has gone wild with all the new knowledge. One of the races provided some form of holographic projection equipment for entertainment. The movie houses have been in such a demand now that construction of new ones has actually surpassed amusement rides.

The only problem is that with all the new technology, I can't study it fast enough to insure we can control it and integrate it properly. Drones have the skill to test, disassemble and reproduce the technology but cannot understand what is happening.

I came up with a technique to handle it, but I have to wait for council approval. I figured if we take some of our brightest minds, don't fully activate the network function that suppress their personality, and allow them to study the equipment, they should be able to study it faster than a team under a NTP guide. There is a lot of concern about what kind of affect it would have on the people so I have been seeking volunteers.

Smarter Drones - 363.21 N.C.E.

After nearly a month of deliberation, the council allowed my request. When the first volunteer group was activated, I was surprised at the results. I expected them to operate at a fast rate, but not that fast. Within the past two months we have been able to document and explain the operating principles of all the new technology. I expected the process to take more than a year at best.

It seems that the net is providing the equivalent of telepathy to the team. They can quickly share ideas without the problem of misunderstanding. The participants reported at deactivation that it was like a narcotic. Being able to share ideas and feelings with no restrictions left a sense of total euphoria.

Since the backlog was cleared up, the council ended the test. I agreed with their concerns that an intelligent net would be uncontrollable and unpredictable. However, the council did agree that it might be necessary to use such teams for future studies as the technology merits.

Enemies made - 363.67 N.C.E.

After all the exploring and contacts, we finally made an enemy, the Khlorax. The group that first encountered them apparently either did not adjust their translator right or else did something that offended them. We received the initial communication that they found a new race and were proceeding with contact. When no further communications were received, a second group was dispatched assuming that the first team had an equipment malfunction. As soon as they arrived, they were destroyed, but not before relaying a transmission from the Khlorax that we are now blood enemies and they would destroy us.

Many of the remote bases we established in that region have been destroyed. Their assigned NTPs reported that even their advanced weapons were no match for the Khlorax. The council has authorized me to activate a study group to see if we can devise a defense against them. Based on their rate of advance, there is not much time before they get here.

Assimilation - 364.19 N.C.E.

The study group finally devised a method of defense - Assimilation. Based on some techniques learned from our technology trading and our own network, we calculated that nano-probes could be fired at an attacking Khloraxian. After the nano-probes established a net link, we could then directly gain access to their knowledge and technology. We could use this to learn why they were attacking us and how to defend. The idea seemed radical but we had to act fast.

A prototype weapon was built and deployed. When it was used, we were horrified at the discovery. The Khlorax were a pure hatred species, they had already decimated several species and we had been chosen next. No matter what we did, or what weapons we had, they would attack.

After quick deliberation, it was decided to assimilate the Khlorax. Since the only alternative was a devastating and prolonged battle, this was the only civilized solution. We would make them into drones and have them rebuild all that they have destroyed.  When done,  we would use the nanoprobes and the net to 're-program' them into a non-violent species.

Weapons were made and deployed just in time. The Khlorax had advanced to within one solar system when we attacked. Half of our forces were destroyed before we finished assimilating them. We then armed the new drones with the assimilation tools. They were sent out to fight their own kind. At their current rate of progress, the Khlorax should be fully assimilated within a month.

Outcry - 364.53 N.C.E.

When many of the other races we contacted heard about what was done there was a huge outcry that we were monsters trying to take over the universe. We tried to explain what we did and why. Many listened but some of the more hotheaded species would not hear of it. Our outposts there, which had just been quickly rebuilt by Khlorax drone forces, helped add to those fears.

Several of the outposts have been attacked. The Kolnars, who provided our communications technology, tried to forcibly remove it from the network there. A huge battle ensued. The local Khlorax drone force went into an uncontrollable state and began assimilating the population. We currently are surrounding the planet trying to figure out what is going on and what to do.

Virus - 364.58 N.C.E.

The Kolnars have apparently released a virus against our network communication systems. It's doing major havoc. I have been unable to understand how it is interacting with the system or what it is actually doing. I also cannot use a study group to analyze it for fear they would be affected.

It appears to be trying to activate everyone on the Net. The system was never intended to handle so large an amount at once and is overloading. This is leaving most in the smart Drone State. The NTPs are trying to shut down problem areas but the people are resisting them, often with deadly force. We also have the problem that if we shut down the entire net, the Khlorax will be free.

End of an era - 364.63 N.C.E.

This may be my final entry. As far as I know, I am the only NoTech left. The entire society has been activated and the NoTechs destroyed. I am going to try what no NTP has done before, I am going on the Net. I am hoping that if I can reason with the people there, I may be able to get them to deactivate it themselves.

The Collective Begins

I joined the network and realized all that was needed was a leader. My makeshift connection could not be maintained. They send a team to connect me permanently. They introduced themselves with  "We are the BORG. We are here to assimilate you"

I did not like the sound of it and ran.

They yelled,
"Resistance is Futile."

I definitely do not like the sound of that. Uh, what's that? They are here...

"I am the BORG!"