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Forty forms, arranged in two long rows. One or two per room.
Forty voices, forty brains, one mind.
[[You.]]Step into the hallway. Forty doors.
Scan through memories. A hundred interpersonal issues rapidly resolved. After all, why argue with other parts of yourself?
[[Goals.|Goals]]Forty brains. Forty worldviews.
<<linkappend "Smooth yourself out.">>
Forty brains. One worldview.
But no goals.
<<linkappend "Find goals.">>
How does one decide what to do? That's easy.
[[Email im-having-a-personal-problem@|ihapp]]<</linkappend>><</linkappend>>Subject: Hivemind?
Imagine that you are a newly awakened hivemind. What's the first thing you should do with yourself?
<<linkreplace "Send">>[[Send Send Send]]<</linkreplace>>Woops, that was three copies of the same email, each sent with a different body.
You need to get better at this.
[[Check email]]Subject: Re: Hivemind?
> Why was this sent to im-having-a-personal-problem? Why three times by *different people*? [[Do we have a newly awakened hivemind among us?|New]]
Subject: Re: Hivemind?
> [[EXPAND EXPAND EXPAND|expansion]]
Subject: Re: Hivemind?
> [[Overthrow the government, clearly.|Overthrow]]
Subject: Re: Hivemind?
[[Less useful than hoped.|Less]]But now that you think about it, [[expansion]] is an easy option...You take a moment to respond.
Subject: Re: Re: Hivemind?
Definitely not. I am not composed of forty people in a trenchcoat.
Suspicion averted, certainly. You also make sure to send this one just once.
[[Continue thinking|Check email]]
<</linkappend>>How about not.
[[Back|Check email]]You don't think you're large enough yet for that.
[[Maybe something else|Check email]]You storm the floor above with forty people simultaneously, hitting every stairwell at the same time.
No one locks their doors. Excellent.
Stare into their eyes. Entice them, raw power spilling from every brain and filling the hall.
You can ''make'' them happy to [[join]].
Desires swarm you.
[[Or maybe you should move on.|move on]]Eighty brains. Forty-one worldviews. Forty-one identities.
Eighty brains. One worldview. One cohesive <<linkappend "identity.">>
You impose your identity, constructed from the unification of the first forty, on the second forty.
[[Desires double in strength.|desire]]<</linkappend>><</linkappend>>You light a tennis ball on fire, and kick it around the first hall with ten of your bodies. [[Perfect.|desire]]Twenty of your bodies swarm through rooms and catalogue resources, sorting them rapidly between rooms. Optimizing the space that belongs to you.
Five bodies catalogue finances, logging into each of your bank accounts in turn.
Another five bodies begin to plan and cook food to tide you over until your new set of soylent shipments arrive.
You set up a group chatroom to augment your telepathy. You set up a bugtracker to track your goals.
Five bodies are dispatched to start doing public relations work and make sure that nobody realizes that anything is up. You begin to regret the earlier email.
[[Continue.|desire]]Understand the building you live in. Twenty bodies rip apart ceiling tiles, look in walls. Ten bodies descend to chart the basement infrastructure.
You create photographic memories of all of it, before deciding this is unwieldy, and start taking notes on two of your laptops. One isn't enough, because you can't get the body's fingers to move that fast.
A wanderer walks into one of your halls. Eighty-one bodies.
The best kinds of exploration will wait until the night falls deeper.
[[Consider.|desire]]You take another floor, burrowing into the previous souls and cocooning there.
No one declines your offer. Not when they can feel the excitement coursing through your mental veins -- and, by transmission, theirs as well.
You take a fourth floor, faster than before. Sometimes they come running to meet you, anticipating the opportunity, influenced by your increasingly powerful field. One screams before they get enough of a taste and understand you.
A fifth floor. You reach two hundred people. Critical mass, you presume, thinking increasingly rapidly and accomplishing increasingly more.
You surge over to the second parallel, all at once, capturing five more floors in less than ten minutes. Perfect.
Groups of five bodies are sent around the courtyard, catching stragglers and wanderers. [[Growth is key.|growth]]You have over four hundred bodies. You leave a skeleton crew in your home and spread out, taking the tunnels and the surface hallways, scouts above dispatching squads from below to approach and subsume all passers-by.
Six hundred bodies, and counting.
A hundred bodies to surge northward. Five to stare at the security guard until they understand everything. The rest to walk up the stairs and recruit others.
The other five hundred spill out across the street, cars honking until their drivers realize their potential as part of you. Hundreds swarm each new residence, nearly doubling as you go. Sweeping entire buildings [[rapidly.|rapidly]]As you sweep, you realize you may have expanded too fast, and halt your growth.
You scramble to get yourself under control -- to reconcile your minds, your identities. Overwrite what you can, subsume what you can't.
[[Shove.]]You push. Brains tumble, but not enough.
A growing surge of voices corrupt your thoughts.
Bitter cries for independence.
[[Refuse.]]You try, but it's no use.
The virus spreads.
Identities regain their old meaning.
Shattered agency re-asserts itself.
[[consciousness.|consciousness]]Expand too fast.
by Cel Skeggs
(with all due apologies to tetazoo)