Pieces of God: Played straight if unusually in an entirely non-supernatural way – inasmuch as the Transcend is a cross between a regular seed AI and a collective consciousness of synnoetic AI soul-shards (see: Touched By Vorlons) grafted into the minds of all of its constitutionals. So while the greatest concentration of Transcendent processing power is in its dedicated components, its Cirys swarm and synapse moons and unity spires, it has a lot of fragments out there…
Our Angels Are Different: Well, ours are sub-archai emergent executive subroutines of the Transcendent collective consciousness that, on the rare occasions they need to manifest in physical form, tend to do so as brain-rippingly complex fractal nanoconstructs. Different enough for you?
(They do glow with celestial light, though.)
”There have been many questions raised in this body and elsewhere, since our Reorganization, concerning the new status of the Empire and of our new Transcend. Some of them have come attached to transparently political proposals – to the discomfiture of our true hive-mind members, such as our honorable friends representing the vlcefc, hjera, and cusaron – to refashion the political arrangements of the Accord. It is not our intention to address these proposals here and now, or where and ever. We remain, and shall remain, a founder of the Accord and seated upon the Presidium.”
”In clarification of some salient points, however, the Transcend and the Empire are not coextensive. Not every Imperial citizen-shareholder is one of the Transcendi. For this reason sufficiently, the Empire is maintained as a polity distinct from and a superset of the Transcend.”
”Nor is the Transcend a hive mind in the traditional sense. We remain individuals, though united on some mental strata. While the consensus of the Transcend does now perform much of our group planning, our government will remain the instrumentality through which it is executed.”
”And certainly, we could devise some method of prioritization and resource allocation operating through the Transcend, which knows all of our requirements and desires, but – especially now that it allows us to share information most effectively – there is no need to when our internal market already performs these tasks with a theoretical efficiency equal to the best possible planning routine, with far less waste of centralizing bandwidth and cycles involved.”
”Which is to say, sophonts of the Accord, that our operations, as they interface with yours, continue as before; that all treaties and contracts will be honored; that your investments continue to be safe and profitable; and that Imperial space remains, as ever, open for commerce and pleasure.”
– Calis Corith-ith-Corith, Presiding Minister for the Empire,
excerpt of a speech to the Conclave of Galactic Polities
Hive Mind: The Transcend is not a traditional Hive Mind, it’s a collective consciousness, or group intellect. The difference, as it will point out to you at some considerable length, is that all of the members retain their individual personalities and perspectives as well as contributing to the whole, that while knowledge is shared, individual memories aren’t (at least until one is poured into the soul-ocean on permadeath), and that the true hive-mindedness is that of the Transcendent soul-shard that’s grafted into your personal consciousness (see Touched By Vorlons), but which does not constitute all of it. And that the Transcend has a (very large) metamind of its own (see Deus Est Machina), over and above and simultaneously within the collective aspect.
There are also, of course, genuine Hive Minds which do abolish individual identity, which are called Fusions, but since (a) resistance is not futile, because they only take volunteers, and (b) by far the most common type of Fusion is the Self-Fusion, made up of multiple instances of the same mind, they’re not anything to worry about.
(Okay, yes, in civilized space. Hegemonizing swarms with a degree of intelligence are not unknown outside it, even to the extent of things like the Leviathan Consciousness, and the less said about things like the Calphrast Hordes the better, but still…)
The temporary kind (see the Mental Fusion trope) are known as confluxes, often used for tactical military purposes and in other situations where close teamwork is required.
Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: For the most part, thoroughly averted. With some statistically insignificant exceptions, no fully-individual species is entirely united (and even those exceptions still have criminals and dissidents), and generally have no greater inhibitions against killing their own kind than against killing anyone else, given a reason to.
Played straight in the case of hive minds (although many of those have no problem with euthanizing obsolete, sick, or even redundant members – but then, that doesn’t kill anyone, by strict rules) and collective consciousnesses (with, remember, individuality-preserving member minds, but which don’t attack each other for the same reason that, say, your hippocampus doesn’t beat up your cerebellum). But they’re a specially constructed exception to the general rule.