The Collective was an ancient polity that was contemporary to the Empire of Arckas. Thus, they have a history dating back at least one billion years. The Collective did not approve of the Empire of Arckas' inefficient energy usage due to their focus on art. As such, the Collective opted to follow a lifestyle of 100% efficiency, sacrificing all aspects that would be deemed a waste of energy. It is not known what the Collective species originally looked like as the only evidence of their existence has been their AI's.
The Collective is a Kardashev class 3 that is believed to have originated from a galactic cluster beyond the immediate vicinity of the Crucible Galaxy. They are known to have attacked Arckasian structures that were deemed wasteful as well as targeted individual factions such as the Boneyard Necromancers who used nanotech to animate corpses. To help ward off attacks, the Empire of Arckas announced publicly to the Collective that they would better police themselves with the use of the Anathema that could remove creations which they deemed to be too damaging to the energy consumption or to not be a work of art.
In spite of the Empire of Arckas announcing this, the Collective were still known to have hacked the Anathema more than a few times on their crusade for 100% efficiency. After the Empire of Arckas agreed to abandon the universe in favor of multiversal exploration, the Collective mysteriously vanished as well. It is thought that they either traveled the multiverse or simply went back to their home galaxy.