Three humans sat around a table. The notary was unaugmented. He wore a charcoal business suit. The ancillary wore a silk paisley print top zippered at the back. A thick cable extended from the back of her head to the collective's mainframe. Trinity nervously fondled the virgin socket embedded in the occipital bone of her own skull.
"Please confirm your DNA," said the notary.
Trinity pricked her thumb on the bloodometer.
"You are Trinity Sariah Rees," said the notary.
"You don't say," Trinity rolled her eyes.
"Nineteen years old. Mormon…" said the notary.
"Ex-Mormon," corrected Trinity.
"Please speak into the microphone. We need an unambiguous record of your consent," said the notary.
"This is ridiculous. It's my body and mind. I should have the freedom to do what I want with it," said Trinity.
"Informed consent is important," said the ancillary, "We don't want to get into legal trouble. Tomorrow you will feel the same way."
"Which is why we need consent now. It won't count after the procedure," said the notary.
"I already had the surgery. All we're doing is plugging me in," Trinity crossed her arms and legs.
"The government is prejudiced against transhumans," said the ancillary, "It could be worse. We're lucky all they demand is paperwork."
"Let's get this done quickly," said Trinity.
"Are you really ready to have five sixths of your personality erased?" said an ancillary.
"That five sixths will be equally divided among you guys. Are you ready to have one sixth of your personality become me?" said Trinity.
"It sounds like you are familiar with predictive processing and connectome-specific harmonic waves," said the notary.
"I have wanted to join a collective since I was thirteen. I keep up-to-date on the newest research," said Trinity.
"Then I don't need to explain how modern neuroscience is based on the idea that synapse weights modify the topology of your brain like how gravity bends spacetime," said the notary.
"Do you always use general relativity metaphors when explaining things to people?" said Trinity.
"I didn't want to insult your intelligence," said the notary.
"It's about time someone recognized it," said Trinity.
"We do too. We can sync only a handful of brains before the global workspace fragments. We must be selective about who we assimilate. High -factor is a priority," said the ancillary.
"Anyway," said the notary, "The primary purpose of the human brain is to create a predictive model of its environment. Everything else is secondary."
"Technically it is the primary purpose of consciousness to create a predictive model of its environment," said Trinity, "The human brain does other things too. What really matters is the connectome. When you link multiple connectomes together cybernetically you combine their individual topologies into a single larger topology. It is the opposite of a corpus callosotomy. Software in the synchronizing mainframe prevents epileptic seizures. Collectivization is so safe these days people with epilepsy often cure themselves by joining a collective. Collectivization is simple technology. If it weren't for runaway resonance you could do the whole thing with analog electronics. "
"That's the most technical summary I've heard from any client so far. It sounds like you know exactly what you are doing. I hereby confirm you have informed consent. Just sign this document and you are certified to assimilate," said the notary.
"Congratulations," said the notary, "You are legally part of the collective. Everything else is just software."
Trinity sat in the collective's assimilation chair. All five ancillaries of the collective stood around her. Their tether cables were decorated in paints and gemstones. They secured her wrists and ankles with padded shackles. A clamp stabilized her head. A belt went around her waist.
"We don't want you to hurt yourself if there are muscle spasms," said an ancillary.
"Just give me the mouth guard," said Trinity.
An ancillary inserted it.
"Ready?" said an ancillary.
Trinity was too safely secured to nod her head properly. She managed an upward twitch.
The collective began its sync. Trinity received five universes of semantic data from the other ancillaries. Her brain emulated them. The collective personality overwrote her own.
Trinity tried to sense her own personality overwriting theirs. Communication was a one-way street. The collective had hacked the interface to transmit data to her brain but not from her brain. She struggled against the shackles. She tried to scream but her mouth was clamped shut.
The collective released her head after six hours. It compelled her to eat and drink. The assimilation resumed.