Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two Worlds 1: Ares

          The world Ares

All hunters call this world the greatest challenge for the daring big-game hunter; for its animals can shoot back.
          About 60 million years ago an insectivore began capturing its prey by spitting a wad of sticky mucus, thereby immobilizing the insect until the insectivore ate it at its leisure. This system evolved, with the development of a groove along the roof of the mouth, which soon separated itself off into a third nostril. Meanwhile the projectile’s speed and hardness increased until it was a solid pellet propelled by a burst of compressed air from a special muscular sack to supersonic speed. This process accelerated with the growth of the insectivore’s size and its discovery that its rudimentary projectile could stun or kill larger animals, blind or discourage predators, dislodge fruit from vegetation, and so on.
          Soon the species radiated into many species in many niches; they all developed their armaments until they could disable any other animal of any size, what with the evolution of multibore weapons, keen eyesight, good aim, high muzzle velocity, and projectiles that explode in the body of the prey.
          This ability to kill at a distance gave that genus (then family, finally class Armamentia) an immense selective advantage over other classes; soon they took over. All higher animals on Ares are armed.
          Ares has no animals bigger than a horse; anything larger is too slow and too good a target. Few herbivores are bigger than a raccoon; though also armed, their weapons are vestigial, and used mostly for threat displays. They survive by smallness, speed and stealth. The carnivores have evolved superb eyes and guns, and can shoot as far as they can see, up to miles on some cases. The wise hunter takes cover when fenris-wolf or hell-lion appears on the crest of a distant hill, and digs in upon seeing a pack of genghis-jackals. Sometimes it is necessary to endure a long siege, so bring supplies.
          Daytime on Ares is risky enough, but relative safety exists so long as one wears khaki and the cracks of compressed air ring across the hills at long intervals. However, extreme caution is urged if gunfire sounds continuously, like this: crak-crakacrak-crak-crak. This means a fracas of Mars Baboons is going on nearby. The Mars Baboon is an omnivore, territorial, social, hierarchical; it lives in large clans with well-defined territories, defended to the point of systematic conspecific killing. Border disputes flare up often, and are dangerous to wander into. All out war is rare, but occurs, so abandon hunting and head for cover if fire is regularly spaced, like this: ccrraakk!! (pause) c-c-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-k-k!! (pause) c-c-c-r-r-r-a-a-a-k-k!! (pause)
          Occasionally large Baboon nations suffer a convulsive splitting process; so when a machine-gun-like budda-budda-budda sounds, a civil war is on, and  flight is imperative if possible. Do not hesitate to ditch heavy objects such as game, cameras, supplies, etc. If flight is impossible, then dig in, cover the entrance, and wait it out. It is the least bad option.
          Before we leave the Mars Baboon (which many would like to do) here is a philosophical note; it is the only other species known to engage in full-scale war. It is also the only territorial animal, other than Man, with projectile weaponry. Is there a connection? Is it possible that the motivations of economics, politics and deep psychology are not as important as the ability to kill from afar?


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