Ben Hsu

Fantasy · Fiction · Flash Fiction

The Maskless

Excerpt From Report to Allied Kingdoms of Feirstall, Dr. Tasha Wandrmaor, Aetherbiologist

-allowed to reach this size a maskless hive undergoes a sudden shift in tactics, changing from covert infiltration to overt aggression. In this stage, drones becoming increasingly aggressive and often form impromptu groups to attack the local populace demanding either conversion into a maskless or annihilation. These attacks are further bolstered by maskless soldiers having previously infiltrated local law enforcement and peace keeping forces (as previously discussed).

Disturbingly, I’ve found at this stage indoctrination into the maskless hive is possible even without immediate contact with a maskless drone or soldier (See appendix D1). I suspect the maskless create a kind of psychic web between the individual units that slowly converts the normal population into maskless over a period of time. This is pure speculation, actual research into this phenomenon is exceedingly difficult. Regardless, it aids in the exponential conversion of the population. Eventually, if left unchecked, the majority of the local population will be either exterminated or converted into maskless.

Once a maskless hive reaches this point it begins to mimic a nation. I say mimic because all outward appearances would indicate a functioning nation. Goods and services are being produced, resources are being consumed, a standing military is maintained, and there have even been reports of maskless hives trading with neighboring countries. However there are several key points in which a maskless hive universally differs from a proper nation

First is the over emphasis on xenophobia and the need for militarization. While these cultural factors are not unique to maskless hives they are omnipresent in every recorded hive to date. Maskless hives always over emphasis these traits to the point of absurdity. The few hives that have been allowed to reach the “nation” state regularly maintained militaries several orders of magnitude larger than was needed to defend their borders from would be invaders.

Second is the complete stagnation of culture. It is true a maskless “nation” will still produce works of art, literature, and music. But all such works only exist to further promote the omnipresent ideals of xenophobia and militarization. This lack of outside thought or ideas ultimately leads to a stagnation of culture in which variations of the same pieces are produced over and over.

Finally, a maskless hive suffers a complete lack of education and scientific advancement. A maskless hive focuses all intellectual pursuits towards military application. New technology isn’t so much researched as stolen from neighboring nations and then either discarded or repurposed for military use. This hyper focus causes a breakdown in the educational and critical thinking systems that normal, functioning societies require to maintain themselves.

These factors are why I believe maskless hives are only mimicking a functioning society. They are universally extent in all recorded hives, and similar to the “parrot” social behavior I previously described individual drones and soldiers exhibiting, it quickly falls apart under any sort of pressure. Indeed, a maskless hive “nation” is completely incapable of adapting to, or solving any of the issues a normal society faces. To date, all nation sized hives have collapsed to either exhaustion of resources or, more commonly, being exterminated due to attempting to forcefully obtain the resources of their neighbors. While this may seem like a problem that solves itself, the council is reminded that the “solution” to an uncontrolled maskless hive is, at best, complete and unrecoverable exhaustion of natural resources in an area, and more commonly, a prolonged war with an entity that functionally spends all its available energy preparing for war.

The most frightening thing I’ve discovered, or rather failed to discover, is the source of new maskless hives. There doesn’t seem to be any traceable source. One would suspect that after a hive collapses the surviving drones and soldiers would disperse into the neighboring countries, and begin converting the local populace, but extensively research records show otherwise. Usually these drones and soldiers either integrate into their new society (ending the existence of that particular hivemind) or die in relative obscurity. Instead maskless seem to appear randomly and spontaneously inside the nations of the world. I say, “spontaneously” but that’s not quite the right term. Previously unremarkable individuals will slowly begin exhibiting the behaviors maskless drones exhibit in a hive’s “covert” stage. Eventually these emerging drones will find each other, psychically link together forming the start of a new maskless hive.

I mentioned this in the previous section describing the maskless physiology, but I want to reiterate. At this stage maskless drones are no longer intelligent individuals. I have yet to find any evidence indicating free will or intelligence. Appeals to logic and empathy, or displaying evidence contrary to their supposed views are universally met with the parroting back of meaningless, often off topic platitudes, and eventual violence. Any appearance of a maskless being an intelligent, thinking, individual is simply their advanced social mimicry coupled with remanent behavior patterns from their pre-maskless existance.

If the council intends to prevent the rise of another maskless hive then the best option is to exploit the previously discussed reluctance of the maskless to wear any type of cloth facial covering. Instating a public awareness campaign requesting citizens cover their faces in public for health reasons (This is strictly speaking true, using a facial covering while sick has been show to slow the spread of illnesses.) can potentially out maskless drones, or those on their way to becoming a maskless drone. I should note that individuals’ refusal to properly wear a facial covering is not, in it of itself, a clear indicator of a maskless hive forming. However, if the same individuals also show increased xenophobia (specifically xenophobia disguised as national pride) and a high interest/constant romanticizing of the military and or violence, then a maskless hive is an almost certainty.

Countering already formed hives can be tricky due to-

End Excerpt

Fantasy · Fiction · Flash Fiction

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