(TEM-bee-ans) Sapient, spacefaring race. Their home-world is located approximately 5,800 light-years from Sol.
Tembians are exothermic, air-breathing, aquatic organisms, possessing no internal skeletal structure. They do have an extensive cartilaginous support system. Their skin ranges from a gray to green, and is slightly translucent. The area covering the eyes is fully transparent. Thus their eyes are internal organs. Sight is their primary sense.
Adults average about 2.5 meters in length, not including the tentacles, which are 1.5 to 2 meters long.
Tembians have no limbs as we think of them, but a large section of them extends underneath the body and into one of two forward shell-like structures. The tentacles emerge from these same shell openings. There are five tentacles on each side, and would be analogous to a hand with one finger and four thumbs. The center tentacle is thicker and acts as a base for any of the other four. A thumb tentacle has a good precision grip with the center finger, but any two thumbs work poorly together.
The body tapers to a wide flat tail in back, sheathed in the same material as the fore-shells. The ventral surface of this tail is exposed and is the location of the feeding flagella.
These feeding flagella are four rows of short whip-like tentacles with fibrous structures on them resembling baleen in appearance. The flagella filter the water for micro-organisms upon which the Tembian feeds. The flagella can be pulled up flat into corresponding slits in the body, where the trapped food can be extracted. The flagella are similarly retracted when the Tembian ventures onto dry land.
Tembians spend most of their time on the surface of the water. The fore-shells and the tail each contain a number of septa (chambers) which can be filled with air or water in a manner similar to ballast tanks. A Tembian on land or on the surface will fill them with air. The air can be replaced with water if the Tembian wishes to submerge. Likewise, the Tembians have three powerful lungs, and an efficient blood chemistry that allows them to remain submerged for over an hour. Being exothermic (cold-blooded), if the water is particularly cold, their maximum submerged time increases accordingly.
Tembians possess a blowhole at the top of the body, which is also used for vocalization. The Tembian language is a combination of grunts, clicks and whistles, and is difficult for most other species to master. Even the symbiotic Ipp rarely speak it since the Tembians would pay no heed anyway.
Tembians posses three large eyes, which lie under the surface of the skin. They do not have lids in the normal sense, but the entire eye structure can be pulled deeper into the body to protect it from over-bright light. The eye is capable of adapting to a range of lights within most races' comfort range without needing to retract.
Tembians possess unremarkable hearing.
The tentacles have rudimentary sensory capability analogous to taste. Their primary sense of taste and smell is in the feeding flagella.
As mentioned above, the Tembians are filter feeders. The feeding flagella strain the water for microorganisms, which are trapped in the comb-like appendages. The flagella (which can also aid in water locomotion) can be pulled falt against the body, nestling in shallow longitudinal “mouth-slits”, where the food is extracted.
Unfortunately for the Tembians, a barnacle-like parasite also lodges in the combs. These barnacles are endemic to all the waters of Temba, and part of its ecosystem. Destroying them would likewise destroy the Tembians' food source. If enough of these barnacles collect on the flagella, the Tembian will starve.
Fortunately for the Tembians, they have a evolved a symbiotic existence with the Ipp, a more humanoid sapient alien, also native to Temba. The Ipp feed on the barnacles, in a mutually beneficial relationship. A Tembian will always have an Ipp companion.
The word barnacle is only an earthly translation. This group of species has a number of life stages. It is a free-floating plankton-like animal for most of its existence. This is referred to as the larval stage. When it manages to attach itself to a Tembian (or a number of related species within the same Class) it will slowly become larger and harder. In this state, it is often cannibalistic, feeding on its own larval state, or the larval state of similar organisms. The flagella combs of the Tembian thus give it anchorage and sustenance. If it goes unnoticed long enough, it becomes too difficult for the host to remove.
A Tembian (or similar host) which dies of starvation this way will eventually drift to the bottom and become an anchor spot for the barnacles to breed. This last stage of the barnacles has them building a small, reef-like structure of the dead host's remains. This reef will dedicate itself to making as many of the larval state as possible, until all the nutrients available in the decayed host are used up. What is left behind is a weirdly beautiful clump of tubelike structures in the rough shape of the vanished host.
Some species, such as the Tembians, have developed symbiotic relationships with animals which eat the adult stage. Others have developed different survival strategies.
Tembians must mate in pairs, like most other races. However, there is no sexual distinction between Tembians, and any two are capable of mating. Much like Terran fish, their genetic material will be released into water, meeting, and then growing into soft-shelled eggs. Within a few months, those eggs will hatch into young Tembians, which will instinctively begin to follow the first group of adults they see. They will learn from them by careful observation and sometimes the direct instruction of the adults. Adults will not actively seek out young to train, but they will freely accept and help any young that approach them.
Newly-hatched Tembians are born without shells, relying on lungs for buoyancy. The shells quickly begin developing, and after a week, they will have finished their first septum (chamber). Within a few months, most Tembians will have grown enough to have empty, older septa which can be used to control buoyancy.
Since Tembians feed constantly on organisms in the water, they do not devote any portion of their life to hunting or gathering food. Similarly, they feel no compulsion to build shelter or seek comfort from the elements.
Tembians are rather uncomplicated creatures, possessing no strong emotions. They see the world in purely pragmatic terms, focusing on causes, effects, needs, and the simplest ways to resolve them.
Even though they are completely dependent upon Ipp for their survival, Tembians seem to give them little thought or attention. A Tembian never seeks an Ipp, nor seems to fret when one is lost. Instead, while the Ipp focus on the mutual survival of the two creatures, the Tembians focus on building, learning, and developing their society.
Though Tembians associate freely with each other, they do not seem to feel any particular bond or love for one-another. Instead, it is a simple function of their survival to work together, giving them a stable society capable of accomplishing many things. Despite this lack of loyalty, they have developed a surprisingly complex society, complete with an economy and organized labor pool, simply because it's helpful to the growth and stability of the race.
While not ambitious in the emotional sense, Tembians relish work and will keep themselves busy most of the day. As a result, they are an industrially accomplished race.
Tembians have no artistic inclinations, as they have little emotional or spiritual insight to express.