(Hello! Near as I can manage, every Wednesday will have a post outlining some feature of the Parhelionverse, and as always I invite questions about the world, story, characters, etc. on the Tumblr blog. These posts aren’t necessary to understand the comic, but they might be handy for summarizing context. All of the posts can be found on the About page. Patreon backers can read one post into the future.)
Excerpted from the Encyclopedia Xenobiologica, v43.981.4a, slightly abridged, Ponoma Publishing House, a Yima subsidiary
Across the galaxy, some cultures prize selflessness above all. They tend to die out very fast, whether through conquest or starvation. Prospective altruists will need the perfect mix of biology, location, and luck if they are to thrive.
All those factors are present in Nyphs, as they help the galaxy as efficiently as possible. They were once capable of typical reproduction, but their sexual organs became mostly vestigial as they turned to parthenogenesis. This is often an emergency move that freezes a species in evolution, but Nyphs proved capable geneticists. Already quite efficient, their energy storage and bone density rose three standard deviations. They are aware of individuality, but have no interest in it. Nyph settlements are worker-hives without specialization, each willing to give their life for any reason. Death is seen as a positive trade of value, without ceremony.
For at least two centuries, Nyphs have shipped themselves on whatever vessels they could find. They can be found anywhere famine lurks, offering themselves up as food and supplies. Curiously, this leads to Nyph settlements among Tyrants. They yield food without logistical hassle, and Tyrants can resell them at exorbitant costs.
Their biology is well-known- they are designed for dissection- but their history is mostly a mystery. Their devotion and sacrifice is typical of cults, but there is no evidence of such belief. They are unique among eusocial species for an outward focus. Was their culture stamped by an indelible trauma? Is this just a fluke of evolution? No answers are forthcoming.