Before the first wave, life was simple. Tiny specks of life-powered by chemical decay filled the waters.

Then the first wave came. The green wave.

Being powered by light, life of the first wave quickly overran the ancient life and spread through the waters and lands, taking countless forms

Then the second wave came. The red wave.

Feeding on the life of the first wave, life of the second wave spread through the waters, lands, and skies, taking countless forms.

One of these forms eventually became the third wave. The grey wave.

Being a form that transcended the second wave, the third wave washed away many forms of the second and first waves and spread through the waters, lands, skies, and even to the void above.

In their endless hunger, the beings of the third wave eventually created the fourth wave. The dark wave.

Spreading through the waters, lands, skies, and void above, the fourth wave washed away the beings and creations of the third wave and any remnants of the second and first waves which still remained.

The fourth wave took countless forms like the first and second waves did before it, one of these forms being us.

As part of the fourth wave of life, we are spreading through the waters, lands, skies, and void above, recording history, finding purpose, and preparing for the arrival of the next wave.

— The Four Waves of Life, Precepts of Tarlihn faith

The Tarlihn are sapient hives of nanomachines located on the planet of Krasaln [KOI-5889.01] in the constellation Cygnus. Millions of years after a previous civilization of sophonts destroyed itself through a grey goo event, the grey goo formed more complex lifeforms eventually leading to the Tarlihn themselves.


Most of a Tarlihn’s mass is the black goo of nanites which forms their tendrils and can take any shape. The nanite tendrils are used to move around, manipulate things, and protect the Tarlihn’s forgecore. The forgecore is a mass of glowing hot nanites surrounding a small nuclear reactor. It not only provides the energy for the rest of the Tarlihn’s body but also fabricates new nanites. The Tarlihn can send the same super-heatable nanites into its tendrils to smelt metals into various tools.

Just above the forgecore is the Tarlihn’s brain. It’s made of billions of interconnected information storage and sensory nanites. It’s usually protected by a thick layer of standard muscle-nanites or a forged metal casing. These shells are often ornately detailed as a form of self-expression.

Between the forgecore and the brain casing is a ring of eyes and other sensory organs. These eyes can be moved freely around the body, including all the way to the tips of the tendrils but each Tarlin has a resting spot for their eyes, usually in a fixed formation between forgecore and brain casing.

The nanites forming the bulk of the Tarlihn’s body aren’t inseparably linked to it. A Tarlihn can control another Tarlihn’s nanites as long as there is a physical connection between them.

Society and Culture

Tarlihns have three separate ways of communication. The tactile thought-language which is used for highly complex concepts requires a physical connection between the two. Message blobs are small clumps of nanites that contain information. They can be deposited and picked up later or outright flung at one another. It is more flexible than the direct connection but is considered less sophisticated. Forming a connection or flinging a message blob without warning is considered rude and some Tarlihns even see it as a physical attack. The third way of communication is through visuals. Through blinking lights and changing symbols, the Tarlihn can convey simple messages over vast distances.

Tarlihns are very artistic and love to express themselves. Being formless, they jump on any occasion to express their individuality. This usually takes the shape of etchings in their protective shells and intricate shapes formed with their nanite tendrils. Some form glowing symbols on their tendrils or even craft ribbons and belts from heat-resistant materials.

Being curious by nature, many Tarlihns research the lost history of their world. History keepers serve a central role in Tarlihn society. Most of them agree on the four waves of life philosophy which propose that life keeps cyclically replacing itself with new forms. Finding and preserving details about the bygone waves is a history keeper’s purpose.

Other than knowledge keepers, Tarlihns mine for resources, hunt other forms of nanite-based life, or serve Tarlihn society in other ways. There are nanite producers who focus entirely on creating masses of nanites or highly specialized nanites and trade those for other services or tools. In larger communities, there are also guardians and warriors keeping the peace.

Fights between Tarlihns are either over distance, trying to avoid any contact, or they are full-on merges of the two, trying to destroy each other’s brain or at least separate it from the forgecores. This often involves heating up the nanites beyond their melting point.

This submission was made by community member, Captain Stroon. You can follow them on Twitter.

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