Nation Name/Flag: Collective of Noriscovo (formerly Noriscovic Soyuz, formerly Concord of Noriscovo) Demonym: Noriscovic Government Type: Autonomous Semi-Hive Mind The bodies of the Noriscovic, while somewhat possessed of their own minds, are answerable to the Prime Mind, who commands their compulsory obedience. The Prime Mind consists of the collective consciousnesses of the roughly two million participants in the Noriscovic Project, in the hopes of maximizing communications between the many bodies of the former Noriscovic humans, all of whom have been completely upgraded. The resulting brain, while very powerful, was not stable enough to completely hold onto all the minds present. This, combined with some suspect machinery, resulted in the loss of many consciousnesses, blending the survivors into a single mangled mind that was in some ways human and in some ways very different. The Prime Mind works in conjunction with the individual minds of the Noriscovic bodies, which are capable of acting of their own accord, so long as their command of themselves does not conflict with an order given by the Prime Mind. At any time, the Prime Mind is severely overloaded with information, and thus is not concerned with the actions of a majority of its Noriscovic population.
Demographics: Population: 5,436,563,639 (by last cycle's estimate) Noriscovic Human: 1,087,312,727 Mammalian fauna (honorary citizens): 4,349,250,912 (estimated, not certain)
While once the Noriscovics were regular humans, certain processes have made the case . . . somewhat less than true. It started with the standardization of all Noriscovic colonists to receive cybernetic implants, minor upgrades on their organs to increase their functional lifespan. Then, as muscle and skin began to fail, they too were replaced, via metal limbs coated in chromium solution. At long last, every single piece of the Noriscovic body that was once flesh and bone became machine, and each body that was machine an extension of the Prime Mind, the last vestige of what may be called human. Yet, nonetheless, it seems that the humanity never left the Noriscovic people, for if they are commanded by a human mind (somewhat), then surely they are still entirely human themselves?
As far as trade goes, Noriscovo doesn't have much of one. Trading is done between Noriscovic communities, in moments of autonomy, usually base metals and engineered devices. However, the idea of "economics" is in some sense lost on the Noriscovic minds. Trade consists often of what might more accurately be termed mutual relief, with communities asking other communities for surplus resources they have fallen short on and then receiving it. The Noriscovic these days may be called a spartan peoples, engaging in no luxury and indulging no vice. Indeed, the mechanical brains embedded in each drone cannot comprehend such ideas, and the Prime Mind is likely not about to explain the concept to them and encourage deviancy.
Yet, in the Prime Mind's mad directives, occasionally, orders are given to the Noriscovic drones that are beyond their understanding. Kill animals, and from their dried skin fashion coverings for their metal feet. In the event of rain, cover their waterproof heads and shoulders with a piece of cloth on the end of a stick. Some drones are "boys", some "girls", and some "other gender" as designated by the Prime Mind, although there are no physical differences between any three of them at all. Entire factories are built within collectives solely for the purpose of manufacturing luxuries that drones use only for the pleasure of the Prime Mind, and when it casts its influence elsewhere, are just as quickly abandoned.
Agriculture remains a staple of Noriscovic industry. The drones plug into the power grid when their side of the planet faces its star, despite their ability to work for months on end without the need to recharge. Thus, they have no need to consume organic sustenance. However, the Prime Mind insists on being powered by these organics, as inefficient as they are compared to alternative forms of power. Thus, the Prime Mind is outfitted with a modified form of the false stomachs that are relics of the early colonial days, and constantly fed with Zpithi vegetation. Theoretically, in the event that reconnection is established with organic humans, this vegetation would act as key relief in their time of distress. However, until then, it is consumed only by the Prime Mind, and the hundreds of miles of agricultural ground will continue to stay in function.
War was never the priority of Noriscovo. Humanity, after all, should not turn its guns on each other, when there are the greater enemies of hunger and displeasure to fight. Thus, it may be said that the military of Noriscovo is rather lacking. Of the grand fleet amassed by the Noriscovic, a large majority of them are scout-and-seek ships, small and maneuverable, but not equipped with weaponry. The rest are larger and heavier miners, which although as well are devoid of serious weaponry, may have their mining lasers and pulse dynamite repurposed for military purposes.
On the ground, Noriscovo is similarly insignificant. The guns in the Noriscovic stockpile are relics of the days when the Noriscovic had flesh to maintain, part of which was fed via hunting. However, in the Zpithi of today, no hunting is done by order of the Prime Mind. Thus, the guns have been locked away with the brains of humanity, revered as artifacts of a bygone age. Noriscovo, however, is possessed of a rudimentary police force, though severely decentralized. A common tool in enforcement is the slag gun, which fires molten metal in bursts, that they may cool between joints and fuse them together, in the event a Noriscovic drone achieves deviancy. No doubt should a flesh creature be on the receiving end of the blast, the hot metal would kill them.
Humanness is central to what remains of Noriscovic culture. The preservation of an ill-defined humanitas that may only be truly understood by the Prime Mind. For an hour every day, the city of Ragusa comes alive, with a strange noise blaring from every speaker. The drones are perfectly capable of hearing via their audio vibrational translators, but the noises that the Prime Mind broadcasts to them sound nothing like anything out of nature. Occasionally, recognizable words may be derived accompanying the noise, yet their meaning is ultimately lost. Many theories have been put forth by various drones on the definitions of the strange non-words that come through the speakers. It is generally accepted by the populace, for example, that "New York, New York" is an archaic term for the collective system of a Prime Mind-like entity on Earth.
Occasionally, the Prime Mind would have drones in the square halt their labor and instead have them move their limbs in erratic ways in Ragusa's central square. As far as what purpose this serves only the Prime Mind can say. This arm movement, however, is pleasing to the Prime Mind, who at least a few times a year would alter the regularly scheduled tasks of the drones and set aside a block of time for them to perform these elaborate rituals in large coordinated groups. Perhaps the humans of Earth once performed this ritual as a testament to their humanity, in defiance of nature's will that they toil their whole day to survive. The ability to simply waste energy, for they are possessed of enough surplus that they needn't work any more today; what could be more human than that?
Noriscovo, the name of one of Earth's last countries, is a half remembered dream to the Noriscovic people of Zpithi. Its memory lives on in shatters, half-retrieved from the darkest recesses of the Prime Mind. Names swirl about in Prime Mind's vast memory reserves, yet none of them can be made sense of by the minds of the Noriscovic. Giuseppe Singgio. Mongrelism. The Balkans. Molda Barvescu. To consider them further, for a singular Noriscovic drone, is to provoke the Prime Mind to anger. Thus, the secret of their significance has thus been locked away in the only conscious on Zpithi to possibly be able to comprehend what they mean. If the Prime Mind knows, the last thing it is likely to do is to tell.
History, however, is not lost to the Noriscovic. They are aware of their heritage, in vague stories bordering on legend, tracing back to Earth, the birthplace of humanity. Three ships, called arks, each packed with five million souls, departed from the Noriscovic city of Dubrovnik, to never return to their home again. Three desperate hopes of escaping the certain doom brought about by the brown dwarf Perses. Desperate certainly being the operative word. The arks were rushed, incomplete, they weren't meant to take off when they did. One ark, five million of Noriscovo's finest citizens, exploded outside of Earth's orbit. It was likely they were not even aware of any danger when they passed. The second ark did not fare better than the first. It managed to escape the orbit of Neptune, before its autopilot system failed and it crashed headlong into a planetoid beyond the solar system. All that is left of those ten million are digital logs saved on computers in cold series of ones and zeros. At last, all hope rested on one last ark, that would eventually drift further, further into the beyond.
When the last ark touched down on what would eventually be named Zpithi, what they saw was not entirely as they had dreamed. Oxygen was present, but so thin that as the colonists stepped out of the ark, some keeled over and died of suffocation. Water was present as well, but none could be found without the addition of certain particulates that reacted poorly with sensitive digestive systems. Worse was the organic life on Zpithi, which was nearly incompatible with human digestion. Many people died in the months following landing. In response, the colonial authorities (or at least, the most charismatic of the few million survivors left), introduced emergency measures to combat the planet's unforgiving environment. The colonists were immediately issued a mandatory regimen of cybernetic augmentations, including lung enhancements, an artificial stomach that would process the otherwise unpalatable vegetation, certain technologies that would expand the function time of their human organs. Of course, certain sacrifices must be made to ensure the survival of humanity, and if it meant having a couple of major organs replaced with inorganic approximations, then so be it.
The generations that followed were still harsh. The Noriscovic, as far as they were aware, were the last remnants of Earth life. With nothing more than a ship to scrap, they were effectively forced to start again from the beginning of human development. Where the ship touched down became the base for what would become Ragusa, the center of the Noriscovic world. From the corpse of the ark came the metal that would be converted to skyscrapers towering over the surrounding countryside, vast power plants and engines, the infrastructure necessary to rebuild humanity. The surrounding land stripped of its natural resources and converted to agricultural ground, stretching for hundreds of miles around. With nothing left but each other, the remaining two million souls of Noriscovo set themselves to work on their renaissance.
It was hundreds of years ago that a signal would pierce through Ragusa's primitive communications. The hopes and dreams of the Noriscovic were answered. Other humans were out there. They were not alone in this vast uncaring system. It was said the cheers could be heard from the center of the city to the far ends of the potato fields. The strangers were a strange sort of human, with genetically modified features reflective more of Earth's beasts than Earth's men, but they were human nonetheless, with human reason. Quickly, communications were established, and governments convened. They were the soldiers of the north, and while Noriscovo struggled, they had prospered, spreading across the stars. It was decided that Noriscovo would join in their prosperous system, and thus were they declared the Noriscovic Soyuz. Humans, after all, should stand together in the face of ruin, for all they had left was each other.
As suddenly as the Volyudki had contacted them, however, they ceased. Once again, the Noriscovic were stranded in the black nowhere. A conference of the Soyuz's leaders decreed that it was time the Noriscovic went in search of them, if they would not be searched for. Mining was placed on the top of the priority list, and entire mountains were leveled to obtain the metals needed to build the new Noriscovic space fleet. It was not enough for workers to put their will on the line, they must do so with their bodies as well. Efficiency was of utmost importance, if they were to reach for the stars, and with all hands on deck, it was high time the cybernetic system received an upgrade. New, metal hearts, capable of pumping blood far faster than a flesh heart could without surrendering. New, stronger limbs, interfaced with a sturdier spine, that could carry far more weight than muscle and bone could hope to do. Steel plates to replace fragile skin, bolted to create an eternal shield from falling rocks or explosive force. In the end, what does it matter? So long as the mind remains human, then so are they.
Soon, the mind was all that was left. Two million human brains, encased in steel puppet bodies. Wires connected it to all the functions of the form. It was the start of a new era, in which the Noriscovic peoples would be built, not grown. The new generation, although not as understanding of nuance as their once-fleshy counterparts, were just as solid in labor, and indeed, perhaps it was high time some unnecessary functions of Noriscovic life were abandoned. The first ships took to the skies, ambitiously searching about the near rocks for signs of a human colony. That was what mattered, not whether or not the man living in the pod across the street could comprehend fear. Humanity must be defended and preserved, by any means possible. By this method, they may collectively prosper.
A day would finally come that the flesh brains would begin to fail. Age could not be beaten back forever, even under the ideal conditions. It was decided that a final push to immortalize humanity be made. All remaining flesh brains must be scanned into a singular supercomputer, and placed within a mental collective. This computer, known as Prime Mind, would be able to handle tasks far outpacing the Noriscovic individual, by the power of human cooperation and teamwork. While artificial brains were a triumph of modern technology, there were fears that unless brought under control, they would not be able to optimally defend human interest. After all, a machine that does not feel cannot begin to understand human suffering. Thus, they must be brought to heel. On a fateful day, the brains were brought together, copied, and frozen in cryosleep in the Ragusa city hall. With a hum of electronics, Prime Mind awakened.
Something, however, was wrong. No autonomous Noriscovic could say for sure, although many have tried. It was bad electronics, that have failed where flesh was crafted to perfection over billions of years of evolution. It was the sensory overload associated with the sudden connection to over a hundred million concurrent inputs. It was the sudden realization that one's brain was to be shared with two million others, instantly reading and communicating with each other, thus leading to a lack of self agency. It doesn't matter, in the end. Prime Mind was imperfect, and that was that. It railed against itself, feeling all emotions at once, a chaos of thought and action. Noriscovic drones, instead of being taken over by human minds, were instead mostly left without a leader. Prime Mind worked, but it didn't work as well as the minds had once hoped, nor as stably. Nobody could understand it, for it was the very depths of the complex human mind clashing with each other. A machine would never truly understand it.
In the end, all the Noriscovic could do was wait. Wait for the day when the Volyduki would return to them on the waves of a communication device. Wait for fate to turn its hand, for Prime Mind to be readjusted by the wonders of technology and take control of Noriscovo. For humanity, now preserved, to at last be saved.