Aug 192020

The Thinnys are a race of sentient membranes. They have an average area of 2 sq meters and a thickness of 1-1.5mm. They can flex tendons interconnected between about 64 anchor points allowing complex sinuous movements they use to locomote and manipulate their environment. Though exceptionally powerful for their mass, their planet’s extremely high gravity prevents Thinny’s from doing much besides sliding over one another to get around. It’s a weird existence even by alien standards.

Thinny’s photosynthesize most efficiently on their ‘top’ surface. The bottom surface is slightly rougher and provides more conduits to exchange materials with its surroundings. If a Thinny spends significant time photosynthesizing in a given area they leave a thin effluent mixture with a distinct impression of their tendons and anchor points, which are features distinct to each individual. It’s a bit like if everyone naturally pooped very distinguishable sculptures of their own face. It’s a poop faceprint.

In ancient Thinny history, some cultures celebrated the photosynthetic poop faceprint phenomenon. Revered figures poop faceprints were preserved and ornamented. Family crests were often combinations of ancestral poop faceprints. Thinny’s were even known to memorialize the leavings of other membrane based creatures they kept as pets and work animals.

The modern Thinny era rose from a scientific renaissance, which prioritized reason and discovery over tradition. Unfortunately it got a little out of hand and questioning tradition became a mandate such that pretty much anything anyone had done in the past that couldn’t be explicitly justified in modern terms was condemned. And so many beautifully decorated and historically revered poop prints were destroyed. Without poop prints constantly reminding them that poop exists, Thinny society became extremely reserved and bashful about poop faceprints, and photosynthetic pooping in general.

As Thinny science and technology progressed, the Thinny’s finally developed the ability to capture, reproduce and modify images from the world around them. Before long, someone figured out that if you take a photograph of a Thinny’s underside, crumple it a bit and splatter a bit of mud on it, it looks exactly like a giant steaming poop that is obviously from whatever Thinny they took the picture of. It’s pretty much a right of passage for a young Thinny to prank their loved ones, and not so loved ones by leaving fabricated poop faceprints around in this manner.

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The Nightticks Coalition consists of 8 colonies of microscopic, eusocial insect-like creatures that metabolize radioisotopes of hydrogen. They exist solely in a crater on an oblong asteroid at the edge of a lazy solar system. The eight colonies each control one of eight spires of frozen hydrogen that began condensing at the edges of eight hydrogen vents. The colonies occasionally cooperate, but mostly maintain a tense peace that lasts only as long as each colony maintains homeostasis with its own population and its slow accumulation of deuterium and tritium. The insects themselves are not sentient, but the vast numbers of specialized individual creatures working in concert form a functioning, though primitive awareness.

The Nighttick colony minds each recognize the others as separate creatures, though they can and do exchange individual creatures for a variety of reasons including accident, altruism, sabotage, and mutually beneficial exchange. The only Nighttick individuals that are never exchanged are the reaper caste. This caste is exclusively responsible for disposing of the bodies of other expired individuals, or more commonly disposing of them before they’ve expired, but have otherwise served their purpose.

The Nighttick colony minds have some methods of control over their constituent castes activities, but they are as much at the mercy of their colonies as a human mind is to its body. They do not control individual creatures any more than humans control individual cells, though they can influence larger scale movements and changes within their colony.

Reaper activity is largely involuntary, though the Nighttick colony minds must monitor and influence the reapers to sometimes reap other reapers when they become too numerous.

One reaper seen reaping another reaper is not particularly notable, as it could have been a natural death. But more than a few reapers reaping other reapers is a clear sign of poor hygiene and self maintenance.

Nighttick colony mind’s expression of laughter manifests as sympathetic thorax vibrations that members of the sensory and reproductive castes generate when the colony mind is amused. There’s not much to be amused about when you’re a meter tall stack of microscopic insects floating on a cold rock alone in space, so any time a squad of reapers runs out of a colony carrying a bunch of other reapers, you’re going to hear a lot of vibrating thoraxes.

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AlphaFoamCube is both a planet and a person. It’s a unique planetary lifeform that developed from the interactions of dense layers of foam that cascade and sloth through and around the planet. Though from orbit it appears a common ice world, AlphaFoamCube is essentially a giant spherical bubble fountain with thermal geysers blasting rivers of foamy slop from the core into the atmosphere, constantly refreshing the surface with delightful bubbles. It is the universe’s only known example of self-sustaining bubble tectonics, and also the only known example of self-sustaining bubble biology.

AlphaFoamCube was first discovered to be a sentient life form when complex bubble flows entrapped and apparently played with a probe sent to examine it more closely. The probe remained functional while it was surfed around on bubble waves and tossed up into the air and even kept returning data as it was broken into even sections and juggled quite expertly.

It quickly became apparent that the planet itself was intelligent, and various means of communication were devised. AlphaFoamCube chose the name for itself to represent that it was the first of its kind, it was made of foam, and it aspired to grow and change. The name also represents the first three concepts that anyone was able to effectively translate from a planetary beings mind. Sequence and ordering, texture, and shapes, that’s about it for a long time. Not a great framework for conversation, but in terms of interspecies communication it was a cosmic achievement.

Shapes were a bit of a hang up in developing a communication framework. Alpha had developed its own sophisticated understanding of geometry and spatial relationships from its own observations, but anytime the concept of a sphere was approached, Alpha became difficult to understand. It would express nonsensical texture pattern combinations and intentionally disordered sequences. Alpha was systematically exposed to new concepts from other beings to allow it to make associations it could express to smaller minds.

Eventually it became clear that Alpha found spherical shapes to be intrinsically amusing. Free floating bubbles in Alpha’s world are temporarily disconnected from its foam mass and not subject to its direct control. They are the only things in its world that are not Alpha. Occasionally large formations of free floating bubbles can annoy Alpha and create minor discomforts by obscuring or distorting his senses. Relating Alpha’s senses to the usual animal features does neither any justice, but Alpha itself drew the connection between the annoyance of a mass of bubbles briefly distorting his senses with flatulence briefly overwhelming one’s sense of smell.

So turns out every time a linguist tried to talk to Alpha about spheres, it thought they wanted to know its opinion on farts, which it found amusing. The misunderstanding did create some friction when a linguist suggested AlphaFoamSphere would be a more appropriate name. The linguists had to develop a rudimentary imaging system to allow Alpha to visualize other beings to understand concepts related to their existence. But so far no one has had the heart to show Alpha a picture of itself from orbit.

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