Silent Ones

A monolithic city on the homeworld of the species known as the Silent Ones

Silent One City Worldhouse
The panels of simulated sky can be seen across the ceiling of the of the worldhouse dome, in the background, with the optical phased arrays turned to low resolution, or turned off, at the edges of panels. On many areas of the planet, the worldhouse dome is built closer to the ground

Star: YTS-4376437-4376
Class: F5V
Distance from Sol: 2445 ly
Location: Puppis sector, spinwards of the star cluster Ruprecht 46
Planet: YTS-4376437-4376 IV
Type: SuperGaian
Gravity: 1.6 gees
Diameter: 14101 km
Contacted: 6392 (Zoeific Biopolity explorer class ship)

The species known as the Silent Ones is a prime example of a hi-tech civilization which has become limited to a single system. Because their technology emits minimal radiation of an artificial nature, and their formerly colonized planets appear resource poor, and are carefully worldhoused beneath various thick, natural-looking atmospheres or surfaces, they remained hidden, much like many hider colonies. In addition, a bok globule nebula, which may or may not be artificial in origin, surrounds the star region, making telescopic observation more difficult. The presence of such an advanced race was unsuspected until Zoeific Biopolity explorers entered the system. Such silent civilizations may exist in relatively large numbers throughout the galaxy, unsuspected by Terragen astronomers.


The Silent One's home world is a haze-covered high-gravity supergaian, covered in a worldhouse shell at the surface, which hid their techno-signatures beneath the thick atmosphere and clouds. The species evolved from creatures living in the reef-like forests girdling its shallow seas, seeking out burrowing creatures using their excellent hearing.

Their body plan is mostly bipedal; they have two thick and short legs ending in four long pads holding up an elongated horizontal body that balances using an ingenious spine hinged upon the legs. There is no set front or back end; in one direction the body narrows into a flexible snout/tentacle, and in the other it ends in a ridged bulb, but the being can walk in any direction. The tentacle at the front of the body and the rear bulb are capable of curving round to manipulate objects on either side of the creature, and to hold objects above their center of gravity if necessary.

When resting the Silent Ones gently put their bodies on the ground, stretching their legs orthogonally to their bodies. Modern Silent Ones are around two meters long and stand around 70 centimeters tall when erect; the main body is around 50 centimeters in diameter.

The bulb houses the mouth and most of the digestive organs; in their original state the Silent Ones used the snout to dig up edible subterranean animals and plants, and then lowered the folded mouth-bulb over them. After the nutrients are absorbed, the remains are expelled. The bulb appears to be soft and flabby, but contains a tetrapartite beak.

Silent One
Image from Steve Bowers

The central part of the body houses the brain and main muscles. The skin is evenly dark yellow and mostly hairless, with a number of specialised long whiskers which are linked to their sense of touch and hearing. These whiskers can be moved quite dexterously, and are often used to feel over things with or manipulate their version of keyboards. The Silent Ones have rather limited sight in both ends, one small eye on the snout and one on the bulb. However, their sense of touch and hearing is excellent; they can pinpoint a noise source underground from several meters away within a few millimeters.

The snout/tentacle is used for manipulation and is quite strong but also dexterous. It ends in a pyramidal nail, and can extend several "thorns" that act like fingers along its length. Similarly the rear tentacle can grip objects using the ridged bulb, and is only slightly less dextrous than the front end.

The Silent Ones reproduce by releasing sacks of eggs and sperm in lagoons or large puddles; as civilization spread they began to dig these nurseries and guard over the young ones. The tiny eggs and sperm cells seek out each other, and form dense clusters where they combine. Fertilized eggs begin to absorb unfertilized eggs and nutrients, and quickly grow and divide. After hatching, the larval beings rapidly grow into small amphibious snake-like creatures, which later lose their thick fur and develop legs.

Silent Ones use clothes, which look like blankets hung or wrapped over their elongated bodies. These blankets have many holes letting the whiskers out, and sometimes have artificial whiskers (which can reach great lengths). The feet-pads are often protected by a sandal-like construction. Most Silent Ones also have several computers or telecommunication systems hidden in the clothing.


The original culture of the Silent Ones is almost completely erased, and according to the immortals it was fundamentally flawed; they claim it was forced upon their species by "outside necessities" and never suited to their being. They have worked quite hard to destroy any remains of it, including bombing certain areas of their homeworld.

Instead their new, immortal culture is based on the fundamental archetypes and myths of the species, older and more powerful than rationality itself. Apparently, the unity between archetypal existence and rationality is synergetic/synergistic, giving the species stability, perfection and something more. The current society is largely based on subconscious visions that have been psychologically and logistically optimized to fit reality for millennia. This synergetic culture is very hard for aliens to comprehend, since it is based on ideas and feelings only the Silent Ones say they know. Silent Ones tell of systems of behavior and ceremony similar to Terragen ontologies which allow all components of their society to form fully cyclical ecosystems which can be maintained with or without conscious decision making, and related to one another mostly by maintaining unified or similar mental architectures. All of these relationships, they describe, appeal to them through these emotional states that only a Silent One can experience.

Almost everything done in their society has a symbolic meaning. Daily life is celebrated like a hermetic ceremony, where events, work and thinking are intended to fit together with the synergistic vision. Some Silent Ones have complex duties involving causing carefully designed interruptions and complications, both to teach others and to make them conform to the societal norms. Essentially everything is planned with complex double meanings, but it is uncertain if they are intended to be taken literally or as just "decoration".

The art of the Silent Ones is strangely interwoven with everything else. The few remains of true original art, mostly interactive sculptures from the pre-Old One era are duplicated and imitated in countless ways. Only the oldest art is deemed worth seeing as art, everything modern is just an elaborate frame. However, most visitors regard almost everything done and built by the Silent Ones as a form of artistic expression, including the body-computers (form-fitting metal plates with small holes for the whiskers to pass through; the computer reacts to their movements by vibrations and changes in texture), their ceremonial logistics, and their beautiful cities.


Terragen observations of Silent One society may still remain biased and limited due to restricted contact, and their significant ability to use their angelnets, carefully hidden energy use, and worldhouse domes to obscure nearly all observation (or detection) of their civilization from space. Nevertheless, after several millennia of communication, scholars have been able to reach certain, limited conclusions: Silent One society is divided between the immortals (who are the majority) and a minority of mortals. The immortals are to a large extent the original founders of the current civilization, although a growing number are "new" immortals bred from the mortals. Immortal society is extremely hierarchical, with every individual assigned to a unique office. In most cases, the young immortals are found in the lowest ranks.

The mortals live in huge reservations very similar to the old habitats of the species. They feed on genetically engineered animals, or various vat-grown foods, and unquestioningly obey the orders of the regulating immortals or their computers. The hatcheries are temple-like buildings where the larvae are brought up and fed according to unknown customs, and selectors choose larvae to be brought up as immortals. The vast majority become food for the immortals.

Silent One society has remained mostly static for hundreds of millennia and may appear very cruel to an outsider. But the Silent Ones apparently accept it, and seem to regard themselves as the only civilized species in the universe. Even the mortals, when questioned, say they are content.

According to the Silent Ones, the major source of dissent (although it is extremely minor by the standards of any other species) is between the young and old immortals. The young immortals accept that the old immortals have much more experience and wisdom (which is often true) but take exception to the system of having unchangeable offices - when an immortal dies its office vanishes and is replaced by a new office, usually with a slightly different purpose as determined by the Councils of Office (which are exclusively staffed by the old immortals).

The Councils of Office are however supervised by the Councils of Vision, who design and execute the elaborate manipulations needed to bring society closer to the archetypes. These Councils are very secretive, and oversee each other in a round-robin fashion to keep the intent and visions pure. They seek to understand the ancient visions, and implement them in reality to keep society healthy. This ranges from redesigning customs to become more "authentic" to ordering bizarre projects intended to fail in order to give the right emotional tinge to society.

Over the 4000 year course of Terragen contact, the Silent Ones have permitted a small number of diplomatic "colonies" where Terragens can "experience the honor of serving" using clade bodies supplied by the Silent Ones - usually with psychoware to prevent retention of most, but not all, of what they have seen, once they leave. Also present is a small but important population of so-called Silent Vecs, apparently sophont (and immortal) robots that have formed part of the Silent One civilization for many millions of years, and are significantly more dextrous than their biological counterparts. The Silent Vecs are even more uncommunicative than the Immortals and the Mortals, and talk to each other only via deeply encrypted data transmissions.

Terragen researchers have also learned of 'alien' servants. (Over the last thousand years, diplomats have seen glimpses at a distance of a small number of "Outsiders"/"aliens" living within the domain of the Silent Ones - but rumors from Terragen visitors say that very few "outsiders" have ever truly left). Whether the "alien servants" are actual xenosophonts from a planet other than the Silent Ones, radically tweaked/neogenic Silent One colonists descended from their previously inhabited worlds, or some other radical neogenic experiment, has remained unconfirmed. Though Silent Ones say the genetics and biochemistry differ enough to be from another tree of life, the microbiomes and some (food consumption) are apparently compatible. Still, these haven't matched any other xenosophonts in known space, and other neogenic experiments have been within their capabilities for millions of years, despite their present distaste for genetic engineering. Silent One answers have consistently remained contradictory on the subject of "outsiders".


Silent Ones have revealed very little of what their culture was like before Terragens encountered them, but a small portion of what they have revealed has been confirmed though archeological excavations on their former, abandoned interstellar colonies.

Terragens have confirmed evidence that they evolved naturally, constructed a technological civilization and spread through interstellar space. The Silent Ones describe themselves as peaceful with a post-scarcity society, but appear to have had severe problems with overpopulation and internal warfare, and during a great war hundreds of millenia before, they devastated their homeworld, several colonies, and the ecologies inhabiting them.

However, at least some of the survivors had apparently made a biological breakthrough - the ability to halt their aging completely. The exact method is a bit unclear, but seems to involve a kind of chemotherapy combined with a native form of gene therapy.

One unfortunate side effect of this treatment is that they are effectively sterile; if an immortal gives birth, their larvae can no longer transition to the adult stage. Immortal larvae do not lose their fur and develop legs, but just continue to grow into balls of fat with severe retardation. In fact, it is possible that the treatment was intended as a kind of birth control originally.

It seems that the survivors decided to reshape everything - themselves, their worlds and their culture. As much of their society as possible was automated, and much of the remains of the old culture were simply destroyed as being "agewritten".

Naturally, the immortal population remained small and even began to dwindle as accidents or other problems killed individuals. The immortals then decided to institute a class of mortals to make sure there was enough viable larvae. These mortals were initially kept addicted to various substances, both to keep them loyal and peaceful, and to produce healthy offspring - but then, over the millennia, the society opted for using psychoware, implants, and routine diets of specially engineered animals to maintain appropriate hormone levels. The rigid society of immortals continued to develop in strange (some would say decadent) ways: cannibalism was institutionalized (previously the surplus of larvae had simply been killed, but now they were used as food). As centuries passed, the Silent Ones became more and more reclusive.

Gradually their interstellar expansion faltered, and they eventually abandoned all their interstellar colonies. Terragens did not discover these nearby colonies, which were perfectly terraformed beneath thick atmosphere-covered worldhouse domes, shellworlds, and natural-looking surfaces to suit the needs of the Silent Ones, until after the homeworld had been discovered. Though it remains possible that the Silent Ones created the dusty nebula surrounding the star region to hide their presence and also instigate further star formation, they have not confirmed this, and their true current, or former capabilities of engineering stars remain unknown, as do their reasons for possibly hiding from the surrounding universe.

Their home solar system still contains several heavily disguised but lightly populated shellworlds, beneath unusual but still natural-seeming atmospheres, and a number of orbiting megastructures resembling moons (except at close range). There in the shellworlds, they undertook several terraforming projects to build layers with completely artificial biospheres (of which most seem to have failed) while their main populations gradually withdrew to immense cities surrounded by pristine 'nature' nobody was allowed to venture into.

Today the Silent Ones are regarded as one of the more isolationist xenosophonts in the Terragen sphere. They very seldom interact with the rest of civilization, and even then, usually only to reaffirm old policies. They seem to be following current debates, but continue to use a very old ontology - making interpretation hard. Some Terragen factions worry that they are not at all as static and decadent as they seem, and instead are plotting something.


The Silent Ones' infrastructure is highly autonomous and often integrated into systems designed to support and enhance individual immortals. However, new technological development has apparently been non-existent for hundreds of millennia. The most advanced technologies are believed to have either been purchased from other species long ago, or retained from the pre-immortal civilization. Which technology is acceptable and which is not is determined by the various official Councils. Their resource use and recycling systems have remained at the upper end of Terragen efficiencies for hundreds of millennia, and their industrial infrastructure, mostly powered by deeply buried fusion reactors, or geothermal, wind, and solar energy, remains mostly below ground or in the deeper layers of their habitats to avoid detection or disturbing their preserved ecosystems in the top levels. Automated assistants and vots have remained common for managing daily activities for mortals and immortals, outside of certain activities designated as under the purview of mortal labor. Information storage and retrieval systems are well developed, being often employed to enhance each Silent One's memories well beyond their natural limits. Personal and communal Memory Banks are known to exist, though in the latter case, access to its contents are limited by one's class and status. Silent Ones use a form of tightbeam engeneration with nondestructive uploading for occasional interplanetary travel and trade, alongside their encrypted and generally disguised communications, to stay unnoticed by the wider universe. Though the Silent Ones do rarely use spacecraft with advanced autopilot to travel or acquire resources, no spacecraft had been detected before Terragens visited.

Nanotech, including a semi-sentient form of utility fog, has remained commonplace for most of their recorded history. Pervasive angelnets cover nearly every Silent One habitat and colony, serving to prevent most forms of close inspection by Terragen probes and to otherwise enhance the immortals' quality of life. Although the AIs used by the Silent Ones apparently occupy a very different toposophic phase space from those developed by Terragen civilization, Silent ones claim many of them have the approximate capability of Second Singularity minds, or components of the Muuh's System of Response, but there is little definite proof of this beyond the ability to block most close surveillance/inspection of Silent One worlds, and to manage the planetary angelnets. The majority of these entities apparently inhabit a series of moonlike megastructures orbiting around each of the terraformed planets, as well as the interiors of their cities. Terragen transapients have not confirmed the truth of this, or have not communicated further evidence to lower beings.

The cities of the Silent Ones are complex constructions, largely built out of artificial polymers or diamondoids. Many are mountain-like or pyramidal (some are monolithic blocks, others just wisps of crystal supported by nanotube fibers) with voids and galleries filled with garden-like vegetation illuminated by automated systems of mirrors and refractors. In sunlight, Silent One cities glitter like immense dreams. Each individual lives in a large complex based on its office, interlinked by hallways and maglev tubes; with most of each city left empty.

Outside of the cities, the Silent Ones' ancient homeworld is kept almost completely natural, with only minor changes. They seem to regard radical genetic modifications as abhorrent, and have apparently spent a long time studying the remains of the original ecosystems of their homeworld and terraforming other worlds into perfect replicas.

Some of these depopulated worlds orbit stars elsewhere in the region around Ruprecht 46, terraformed long ago during their interstellar phase. Several Terragen exploration missions had begun cautiously investigating these worlds with the objective of eventually colonising them, before a newly-formed faction of the Caretaker Gods interfered and blocked any further development of the systems in the name of preserving "archeological xeno-ecologies". Though the installed Caretaker God ISOs have allowed several scientific probes to study some of the abandoned colony worlds under strict supervision, the Silent Ones appear to disapprove of such 'tampering'. Whether the newly formed faction of Caretaker Gods had coordinated with any possible Silent One transapients (whatever they really are) has not been revealed to lower sophonts.

The Silent Ones have yet to explain why they dislike any investigation of their old colony worlds, while still inviting select Terragen visitors to their home system.

Ruprecht 46
Image from Steve Bowers
The location of Ruprecht 46 as seen from SolSys

Present Day

A curious fact is that the Silent Ones have begun stockpiling antimatter since their discovery by Terragen civilization. Observers note the construction of new, huge orbital installations around their sun whose obvious use is antimatter production, and what seems to be dodecahedral storage systems in orbit around many of their planets. It is uncertain why the Silent Ones are doing this, given that they are aware that far more advanced technologies like monopoles and conversion tech have been widespread across the Terragen sphere for millennia. The structures might be an autonomous system producing far in excess of demand, for future use, a scientific experiment, an oddly antiquated attempt to deter invasion, or something more ominous.

  • First Contact  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Strategies and policies for contact with alien life forms (xenobiota) and Xenosophonts (intelligent alien life).
  • Garden Worlds  - Text by The Astronomer, Steve Bowers 2020
    Worlds that support a complex biosphere and macroscopic life forms.
  • Silent Vecs, The  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Apparently sophont robots found in the YTS-4376437-4376 system of the Xenosophonts, The Silent Ones
  • Xenobiont  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for alien (non-terragen) lifeform. May be animal-like, plant-like, protistan, exotic chemistry, or any other possibility. Does not have to be sophont. In fact just as on Earth, very few alien species ever evolve any measure of cognitive intelligence.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg, modified by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 21 February 2001.

Silent One image added 2018 by Steve Bowers

Rewritten in Fall 2022 by Worldtree, with help from Todd Drashner, Steve Bowers, Rakuen07, ProxCenBound, Extherian and Rynn
Additional Information