Long, long ago, before the Gnoems were a single hive-brain, they were comprised of smaller groups — the individuals in these small clusters each shared their brains with other members within the group. The Gnoems as a species are very curious beings, always on the search for knowledge. The diversity the different groups brought allowed them to make many different discoveries in all sorts of sciences. Some groups were more drawn to astral studies, while others were drawn to other disciplines like medicine, or element manipulation. Over generations, some groups started merging with other groups — some through choice and some through force — as the greater the number of minds in a group can easily overpower a smaller group and take over. Forced takeovers were not allowed unless a case could be made that the smaller group’s work was deemed uninteresting or if their science was considered complete. These cases had to go in front of a committee that met once a year — it was comprised of at least one member of every group and had to be an unanimous decision. This practice went on for generations but would eventually have unforeseen consequences.
Over time, the committee got smaller and smaller as groups were taken over by other groups — this continued until there were only two main groups left. The first hive-group, nicknamed the “F Group” specialized in the “softer” sciences — they consumed groups that had expertise in things like psychology, communication, theology, philosophy, and persuasion. This group found success because it could easily make a case against pretty much any other group and quickly became dominant in the realm. But they were not without competition.
The second, and smaller group, nicknamed the “M Group” specialized in the “hard” sciences. They concentrated on absorbing groups that specialized in genetics, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and telepathy. That last specialty was the subject of contention between the two groups. The last group to be absorbed by the M Group had picked it up as a hard science — the F Group classified it as a soft science but allowed it because they figured telepathy would not be useful once the inevitable happened and they would merge to become one large hive-brain — something the M Group was determined to not allow. They liked being different from the F Group and felt the two different teams could concentrate on their respective specialties better if they remained separated. And that is where our story begins.
Since the F Group and M Group are the only two left on the committee, one would have to willingly be absorbed by the other according to Gnoem law. F Group, being an expert in persuasion has repeatedly been trying to convince the M Group to allow their absorption — but their efforts have been unfruitful for years and they cannot understand why. The little trick that M Group has that F Group doesn’t know about is advanced telepathy — this not only allows the M Group to communicate with other beings without talking, but it allows them to read their minds. The M Group is always one step ahead and knows the techniques of persuasion the F Group is trying to pull and never falls for it. This little game goes on every year at the committee meeting as both group’s aggravation towards one another steadily increases. The M Group is tired of F Group’s attempts to manipulate them into absorption and the F Group is frustrated that their best attempts are failing — delaying the unification of the species. The tension continues to mount until the F Group decides to play outside the rules.
The F Group decides they have been patient enough and being the dominant group, they will forcefully absorb the M Group once and for all. They will do this at the next committee meeting next month. What they don’t know is that the M Group has read the hive-mind of the F Group and knows what they are planning. If the M Group wants to survive, it’s going to have to come up with something creative to stop it. For the next several weeks, the M Group spends every moment in the lab, feverishly working away to try to come up with a solution to the coming absorption. They try using quantum mechanics to try to tie up their neurons so they can’t be absorbed — but that turns out to be a total waste of time. Then they try psycho-neural-plasticity in an attempt to rewire their brain as to not be able to be absorbed — that too turned out to be a dead end. They finally deduced the answer must come somewhere out of biology — something they haven’t practiced in so long they now consider it old science.
The M Group comes up with a 2-tiered plan to prevent the absorption by F Group. First, they will create an airborne virus that weakens the mind of F Group. This will negate their position as the dominate hive-mind and inhibit a hostile takeover. Second, they will inject themselves with modified DNA that will make their hive-mind stronger, giving them the net advantage over the F Group. With the meeting coming in just a few days, the M Group doesn’t have any time for testing. They are going to have to run with it live — being creatures with millennia of hard science behind them, they trust in their abilities and start executing on the plans for the committee meeting. The M Group has another bit of knowledge that will come in very handy for their plan.
The M Group knows that the F Group all house together — they do this because of their background in Communication sciences — this proximity ensures a tight bond of the hive-mind. The M Group uses this to their advantage. They put the virus delivery system on a timer the night before set to go off early in the morning hours — before they awake on the day of the committee meeting. The M Group will also inject themselves with the DNA modifier about the same time since they designed it to give a big spike in the strength of their hive-mind powers for the first several hours after injection — this will give them the biggest chance at countering the F Group’s attacks. The M Group haven’t slept in almost two weeks having been working non-stop to get everything done in time for the committee meeting. Everything is finally in place — they will sleep tonight and wake up early. After tomorrow, nothing will be the same again.
Early in the morning the alarm clock sounds and the M Group awakens. It is time. They gather in the main hall and form a line — their numbers are in the thousands even as the smaller of the two groups. One by one they receive their injection of the DNA modifier. It doesn’t take very long before they realize something is wrong. Is it possible — the M Group thinks to itself — that we made a mistake derived from the combination of sleep-deprivation and practicing a science that hasn’t been performed in hundreds of years? Their bodies seem to be changing as some unforeseen reaction is taking place from the DNA modifiers.
The M Group hive-brain starts to go into a panic as multiple changes start happening to their bodies. Their heads start to swell until it is over twice its normal size. Blisters start forming on their skin and face. Their noses shrink until its just a bump on their large heads. Within minutes the entire group of thousands is completely deformed — their bodies have mutated so much they are entirely unrecognizable. They no longer look like Gnoems — the M Group knows that there is nothing they can do about it. Their DNA might be changed forever. But body mutations are not the only change that has taken place in the M Group.
One thing did go right when they made the DNA modifiers — their hive-brain is much much stronger than before. They also notice their abilities are stronger — the ability to compute advanced mathematics, understand patterns in astral physics, and their understanding of the universe as a whole are all much more clear now. They can now understand their errors when developing the DNA modifiers and the —- wait, the virus was wrong too, the M Group now realizes. All the sudden, the M Group begins to pick up something in their mind — it’s coming from their increased telepathic ability. They can hear — can feel — tens of thousands of their fellow Gnoems from the F Group in pain. The M Group as a whole run to the F Group housing as fast as they can.
Upon arrival at the F Group housing center, everything seems quiet from the outside — but their telepathy is picking up a horror on the inside. They enter the building and see thousands upon thousands of F Group Gnoems dead on the ground. The few left were barely alive — the M Group approaches but knows it is too late. One of the F Group looks up at the M Group member and is in complete horror at sight of the physical mutation now standing before him. He manages to let out a few words as he lay there dying. “You have killed us all. Our hive-brain, once merged would have dominated all of the universes. Now, our sciences die with us and you have doomed our species forever,” the F Group member says as the last bit of life leaves his body.
All of the “soft” sciences were now gone from the lexicon of the Gnoem species. Theology, philosophy, psychology, communication, empathy, — all the things that help a species fit in to the universe socially — are now gone forever. The M Group is deformed and will spend part of it’s time over the next thousand years, attempting to reverse some of that deformity, but they will never be the same again. The Gnoems from that point forward go on the best they can — continuing to master the hard sciences at an incredible pace — especially without the obstacles of ethics or morality in their way. The M Group might have protected itself from absorption, but paid the most valuable price in the eyes of the Gnoems — they paid the price of knowledge that they will never be able to get back.