The Tarn are a Seeder race like the other Four races, but slightly different to their peers due to their amphibious nature. The Tarn’s skin is a deep blue color, and bioluminescent fluids make veins visible beneath the skin. Tarn hands and feet have ten fingers and ten toes respectively, but their hands and feet are webbed, the better to swim underwater. A Tarn can breathe either through lungs, or through gills in the abdomen. When underwater the lungs are squeezed flat, the better to prevent them from getting waterlogged, and there are no air cavities within the Tarn body, unlike the other three races. Tarn grow hair but tend to polarise as to its use; some Tarn are strikingly bald where others wear their hair long and flowing.
Because of their anatomical differences, the Tarn are biologically the most different to the other three races. Most of the small collection of medicines that work between more than one race won’t work with the Tarn. The Tarn exacerbate the lack of medical knowledge about what works and what doesn’t by not spreading information about themselves and largely staying in their home system instead of travelling.
Those Tarn that do travel into space tend to wear long flowing robes with several layers. Among the Tarn the fashion is to present a striking silhouette underwater, either emphasising their humanoid form or disguising it with clothing that moves chaotically with the currents of the water around them.
The One Truth
What is the One Truth? The Tarn will always try to explain it to anyone who asks. Often their responses seem like they are trying to make themselves understood as well, as opposed to making it difficult for their audience. The nearest that the other three races understand is that the One Truth is that mathematics always works. Simple axioms of mathematics are a immutable fact and can never be changed. This fixed point in an otherwise changeable universe is what the Tarn’s almost universally-held beliefs center on. To many other races, especially the polytheistic Teth, belief in mathematics as a greater power seems ridiculous and almost childlike. On the other hand even the Teth have to admit that the One Truth has brought the Tarn massive leaps in technology and science that the Teth have yet to master.
On Tarn I, there are temples built to the One Truth. These temples are at the same time steeped in ritual and centers of great learning, like the combination of a cathedral and a university. Government is also a quasi-religious affair for the Tarn, and the system government operates within the confines of the One Truth as do the rest of the planet. Though it may sound bizarre that so few fail to follow the One Truth it is simply the case that religion “fits” for the Tarn.
Though the idea of the One Truth is well understood, how it affects the behaviour of the average Tarn is less well understood. Many believe simply that the Tarn are joking at the expense of the other races, and that explaining bizarre behaviour as related somehow to the One Truth is just an example of high spirits. Others are certain that there is sense behind everything that the Tarn do, and that though the One Truth can be understood by the other races, the ritual and ceremony behind it is uniquely Tarn. Others shakes their heads and suspect that all of this is part of the Tarn Agenda.
Tarn I – the home world of the Tarn – has a single continent, and the majority of its inhabitants spend all of their lives underwater. There is no shame in being a surface dweller, but there is a section of Tarn society that sees air-breathing as odd and a little uncomfortable. All of the planet’s main population centers are underwater, and centralised government is run from beneath the waves as well.
Visitors to Tarn I – who are all air breathers anyway – are generally only shown the small cities above the waterline, though there is a “district” for underwater tourism that exists like a small ring around the main ports. The true Tarn cities are all subaquatic. Sunken deep underwater these cities are invisible from orbit, exceedingly rarely visited by aliens and the Tarn rarely talk directly about them. It’s no wonder that many Tarn discoveries and Tarn practices remain mysterious even after open communication for over a century.
It was the Tarn who first discovered Jump Cancer, and, fearing that it was communicable to those who did not travel frequently via Jump, attacked the JumpShip belonging to the Jump Family called the Orchids. The Tarn invented Faster-Than-Light communications devices and only mentioned them in passing when the famed Tarn diplomat Keenooway Rall wanted to keep in contact with some allies in the Jump Families. These incidents have formed the seeds of hundreds of rumours about what the Tarn might also be keeping in their undersea metropoli. A popular and persistent rumour seems to crop up whenever anyone in the Four Systems goes missing – they’ve been taken by the Tarn and are being held prisoner underwater. A slightly less popular urban myth involves the friend of a friend who was kept confined in a Tarn jail cell for years by jailers who only spoke in nonsense and riddles.
The Tarn Agenda
Considering the amount of lies, half-truths and misdirection employed by the Tarn people, more disturbing is what they freely admit to. The Tarn had spies inside the Hamak government, communicating through messages and reports carried by the Jump Families for decades. The Four Systems Trade Commission in particular was known to have at least one Tarn spy inside it. The Tarn system government admit to this. The Tarn destroyed an entire Jump Family and their JumpShip, and rather than steal and use it they left it drifting in space. Once again, the Tarn admit to having done it. The Tarn admit to having kept useful medicines from the Krayce during the occupation. The Tarn also admit to having complete – some would say disturbingly complete – medical data on the other three races.
This has given rise to the popular belief that the Tarn have an agenda. That these actions and the rumours point toward some plan that the entire Tarn race are working toward. What that plan is, or where it will eventually lead for the whole of the Four Systems is unknown, but the other three system governments have contingency plans in place for when and if the Tarn become less than friendly.
The Tarn, for their part, aren’t telling.
A Common Ancestry?
When the Sol Unity first arrived in Four Systems space they encountered the Tarn before anyone else. Mistaking the blue-skinned Tarn for the blue-skinned Anfar the Unity immediately attacked with extreme force. With their advanced technology, the Tarn were able to battle the Unity to a standstill for a period of time.
During the short-lived alliance between the Hamak system government and the Sol Unity it was discovered that the Unity had done some genetic analysis on Tarn prisoners and discovered that they share a common heritage with the Anfar. While this may be propaganda on the Unity’s behalf there is also the possibility that there is some truth in this, and that at some stage the Tarn and the Anfar were one race. If this is the case it suggests that the Humans are not the only ones capable of colonising far off star systems, or at least that either the Anfar or the Tarn discovered Jump travel a long time before anyone thinks they did.