Even after so many seasons, plenty of things in The Expanse still seems to be as mysterious as the universe. Make no mistake about the fact that this is an amazing show that has become a favorite among different people. But the fact remains that things such as the Ring Builders and the protomolecule are still quite mysterious to us. That said, who are the Ring Builders and the Ring Entities in The Expanse?
The Ring Builders are mysterious aliens that once had a vast empire that spanned throughout the Milky Way and are responsible for engineering the protomolecule. Meanwhile, the Ring Entities are just as mysterious and were the ones who wiped out the Ring Builders’ civilization.
As great and as mysterious as the Ring Builders may be, the fact that the Ring Entities were able to wipe them out proves that there are still plenty of things we don’t know or understand about what is happening and has happened in the universe of The Expanse. And this proves that this is a series that still is still as expansive as the universe itself.
Ring Builders Origins
As early as the first portion of The Expanse, we were introduced to the protomolecule, which is one of the central mysteries of the entire series. And the ones who were responsible for engineering this mysterious and dangerous substance are the entities we call the Ring Builders, who are even more mysterious than the protomolecule that they engineered.
Basically speaking, the Ring Builders are a race of technologically advanced aliens that were responsible for creating the protomolecule so that it would be easier for them to travel from one solar system to another in the huge empire that they controlled throughout the Milky Way. However, these Ring Builders did not start out as the intelligent lifeforms that they have become during the peak of their empire.
Based on the information that was obtained from the Adro Diamond, the Ring Builders were once from an ice-covered water planet. They came from free-swimming organisms that were able to adapt to a low-energy and lightless environment. In a way, the fact that they originated from water-based organisms makes them no different from humans in terms of their origins.
At some point in their history, these organisms were able to acquire certain biological traits from other lifeforms living in hydrothermal vents. They did so through symbiosis or parasitism. One of the traits they first acquired was a form of bioluminescence that allowed them to form a way to communicate with one another. This also allowed them to become more coordinated in a way that is similar to how bees coordinate with fellow members of their hive almost automatically.
As time passed, these organisms continued to acquire new traits from different species. This allowed them to develop new and more complex tools that allowed them to breach their world’s ice shell and see the sky above them. It was then and there that the collective mind of the group perceived the stars as the “voice of God.”
Due to their advancements as a species and in terms of what they can do technologically, these species were able to develop space travel and leave their water world behind. They eventually discovered how plenty of the things in the universe worked, as they were able to develop different technologies based on the new things that they were learning.
Through their advancements in technology, they were able to transmute themselves from species that communicated solely through light into a conscious pattern of photons that were engineered to think. This concept was described as “rich light” whenever they were communicating with human minds.
Eventually, the species that we call the Ring Builders were able to discover that there is a deeper reality that was much older and far larger than the universe that they know. They used their advanced technology to construct a bubble of spacetime embedded within this deeper reality connected to the normal universe through the Gates Network.
This Gate Network served as the way for the hive-mind to move and spread across the galaxy quickly without any delay caused by the huge distances between one star to another.
In a way, this was where the protomolecule was used as a programmed molecule that had a directive to establish a galactic-wide transport network between different star systems with planets that are capable of supporting life. Simply speaking, it creates wormhole gates that are also called “Rings.” That is why these aliens are called Ring Builders.
Using this technology to their advantage, the Ring Builders were able to build a huge empire that spanned across several systems throughout the Milky Way. And this is what eventually led to the doom of the entire species.
Who Wiped Out Ring Builders?
As technologically advanced as the Ring Builders may be, they were eventually wiped from the face of the galaxy around two billion years ago. There is no exact reason why or how they were wiped out, but the evidence suggests that their continuous use and construction of the Rings drew the aggression of unknown alien entities known as the Ring Entities.
It is suggested at the end of season 4 of The Expanse that these Ring Entities possess a weapon that is capable of destroying every ounce of protomolecule within a certain area. And this is what probably allowed them to defeat and ultimately wipe out the Ring Builders.
However, it is also suggested by Dr. Okoye that the Ring Builder’s extinction was caused by the Ring Entities’ ability to shut their consciousness down. This was not something that the Ring Builders were able to compensate for.
Whatever the case may be, the fact of the matter is that the Ring Builders were driven to extinction by the Ring Entities after so many years of building up a massive empire in the entire Milky Way galaxy.
What Are The Ring Entities In The Expanse?
As mysterious as the Ring Builders may be, the Ring Entities are even more mysterious. What we know is that these are entities that are also alien in origin but are more likely to be more cosmic in nature than the Ring Builders.
What we know about these entities is very little, as there hasn’t been a lot of information revealed or discovered regarding what they are and where they come from. All we know is that billions of years ago, the Ring Builders found themselves in a quarrel with these entities, and this led to the fall of the great empire that the Ring Builders built for themselves.
Why Ring Entitles Attack Ships Passing Through?
One of the things that we also know about the Ring Entities is that their quarrel with the Ring Builders seems to have stemmed from their use of the protomolecule. And when the protomolecule became active in The Expanse, the Ring Entities became active as well.
James Holden constantly warned everyone that this alien threat was going to be a major problem that they had to deal with. And he was right because, in season 5 of The Expanse, the Martian Barkeith disappeared when it went through the Ring on its way to Laconia. And it has since been determined that the ones who were responsible for this were the same entities that destroyed the Ring Builders.
Dr. Okoye explains that her studies discovered a mass energy threshold in the gates. This means that the ships will only disappear whenever there is a large amount of energy passing through the Ring network. So, the more vessels that go through the gate, the more energy they consume in doing so, and this will mean that the threshold will be met and the Ring Entities will appear. This theory was able to explain why the Barkeith vanished.
As of now, the motivations of the Ring Entities are just as mysterious as they are. Still, we can try to make a few inferences based on what we know and what we have seen.
After Okoye’s studies, she can sense when the Ring entities will appear whenever a ship passes through the Ring network. It was also theorized that the Entities would keep on getting angrier and angrier the more that the Rings are being used. And the will Entities wake up for good as Sol and its colonies continue to travel through the Rings.
Okoye also discovered that the Ilus bomb that the Ring Entities used was harmless to humans. She theorized that the Ring Entities only had one concern in their mind—the protomolecule, which was the only thing that could get harmed by the Ilus bomb. As such, the reason why they could possibly be attacking ships is to prevent too many vessels from passing through the Rings.
While the Ring Entities are called as such, they don’t actually reside in the Rings. Instead, they are extra-terrestrials that come from a place beyond our galaxy. They use the Rings as a form of hijacking so that they can move their realm to ours as they attack the ships in the form of black goopy tendrils. But that isn’t necessarily their real shape, as it is probably the form they take whenever they need to attack the ships.
So, in a way, the reason why they attack ships is in relation to the protomolecule and not because these are war-mongering entities that want to conquer and wipe out human civilization, similar to what they did to the Ring Builders in the past.
How Many Rings Are There In The Expanse?
Considering that the Ring Builders built a large network of Rings that allowed them to travel from one star system to another, there could be countless Rings around the galaxy. However, there are currently 42 known gates in The Expanse. These are:
- Sol gate
- Ilus gate
- Laconia gate
- Freehold gate
- Auberon gate
- Bara Gaon gate
- Adro gate
- Arcadia gate
- Asylum gate
- Athens gate
- Castila gate
- Charon gate
- Eudoxia gate
- Farhome gate
- Fusang gate
- Gedara gate
- Gethen gate
- Gossner gate
- Hakuseki gate
- Hamshalim gate
- Harris gate
- Haza gate
- Hope gate
- Jerusalem gate
- Kalma gate
- Kronos gate
- Naraka gate
- New Cyprus gate
- New Kashmir gate
- Nieuwestad gate
- Pátria gate
- San Esteban gate
- Sanctuary gate
- Sigurtá gate
- Tabalta gate
- Tasnim gate
- Tecoma gate
- Thanjavur gate
- Tridevi gate
- Walton gate
- Xicheng Gate
- Yasamal gate