The Nerenith were a civilization estimated to have gone extinct approximately 440,000 years ago. Their civilization evolved on Hiernon's Jewel, one of only three worlds in the Cipher Volume to have an active carbon cycle. As almost all ruins of their civilization on the planet itself have long since turned to dust, many of their off-world colonies, spacecraft, and probes have survived to the current day to help tell the story of this remarkable species.
The Nerenith appear to have been a civilization for approximately 17,000 years. The oldest artifacts recovered from their world date from 459,000 years ago, and the most recent artifacts are from approximately 442,000 years ago. They seem to have achieved space flight approximately 444,000 years ago, and built an interplanetary civilization that failed to achieve manned interstellar flight prior to its end.
It is unclear what happened to the Nerenith civilization, but it is clear that they collapsed from the height of their power to near-extinct very quickly – within one hundred years. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that small pockets of individuals survived up to a thousand years after the primary collapse, but those pockets were not located in places that would have permitted return to the homeworld to repopulate the species. Remarkably, none of these pockets of civilization appear to have kept any persistent records of the events that lead to the demise of their people. Leading theories on the collapse of the Nerenith civilization are that they encountered a systemic economic instability, that there were subtle but irreparable issues with their synthetic food, or that a natural or artificial pathogen ripped through the population and defied all attempts to subdue it.
The Nerenith were a quadrupedal biological species with four arms capable of complex grasping and tool use. The Nerenith were an omnivorous race for most of their evolution, but in the final century of their civilization, they appear to have subsisted on entirely synthetic foods.
Their civilization at its height had a limited interstellar flight capability. Probes bearing unmistakable marks of their work have been found both in deep space and in nearby star systems. There is no conclusive evidence they ever achieved a colony in another star system. Besides their homeworld, numerous planets and moons in their star system have artificial satellite constellations that endure to this day. The largest of these is a habitat that apparently one was home to almost fifty thousand individuals. It is obvious that the Nerenith had mastered interplanetary travel. We also know that the Nerenith had at least primitive infomorphic lifeforms. A number of their extra-stellar probes have shown evidence of neuron-emulating behavior, although we do not know enough about the Nerenith’s neurology to tell if these systems were copies of biological minds, or native infomorphic lifeforms. It has been suggested that the Zuuvok Goliath might have originated with the Nerenith, as the end of Nerenith civilization is roughly consistent with some estimates of its age.
Because we know so little about their biology, some imaginative scholars believe that the Whoolak Enclave is a lost Nerenith interstellar colony.