The Tragic History of the Ptero-Quadrupeds
This may seem like a digression, but I’ll take some time now to explain about pegasi. Prehistoric horses are called equus in EHS and can only be found in zoos in that time period. The word horse refers to giant yap horses (Chapter 15.3), but there are two other kinds of animals that are used for riding. The first kind involve twin yapoo produced by treating the chromosomes of fertilised eggs with nucleic acid. These twin yapoo are operated on, fastening one’s shoulders to the other’s waist like the horse in an old pantomime. This creature, one entity made out of two bodies adhered together like Siamese twins, is called a centaur. The other kind is the pegasus.
The pegasus has a face fairly similar to a human’s, and a green mane. Its body is that of a donkey’s with a hump like a camel’s on its back and wings three times the length of a condor’s growing out from both of its sides. It can be fitted with a bit and saddle, and is controlled by the reins, whip or spurs, exactly the same as the horses of the past were. It isn’t particularly skilled at running on land, but it can fly leisurely through the skies with one person mounted. The name pegasus is very fitting for such a flying animal but, unlike the yapoo, it is not manufactured by humans. The ptero-quadrupeds were the native people of Terra Nova until they were conquered and domesticated by humans.
They had boasted a civilisation that was no less developed than Earth’s and the ruins of their magnificent triangular towers can still be seen rising from the mountain tops. They soared through the skies with pompous looks, in total control of their planet until humans made first contact. The ptero-quadrupeds were unfamiliar with atomic energy and had no way to fight back against the hydrogen bomb-wielding humans. Every single ptero-quadrupe that survived the war was taken prisoner and their king, who would later become known as the queen’s favourite horse “Rock the First”, was forced to kneel in front of Queen Margaret’s throne. She’d sorely missed the pleasures of horse riding since fleeing Earth and the kneeling king with his giant wings folded at his sides brought to her mind the old myth of Pegasus. She ordered her people to investigate the possibility of riding these beings and that was the moment the fate of the ptero-quadrupeds was sealed.
Zoologists and physiologists began to study these animals together. Of the things they came to understand about the ptero-quadrupeds from their research, the most important were the existence of a circular-shaped animal that lived symbiotically inside the ptero-quadrupeds; that ptero-quadrupeds were mammals with strange feeding and excreting customs; and that they possessed tongue tentacles which had been the driving force behind their evolution and made their civilisation one on par with humanity.
Each pegasus has a single long ascaris living within its intestines. The ascaris pokes its head through the pylorus where the stomach opens into the duodenum, fixes itself there with hooks and winds itself around inside the intestines like a tapeworm until its tail reaches the anus. When it comes time to feed, that tail end protrudes from the anus and is inserted into a nutrient solution. The liquid is sucked up from an opening at the tip of the tail until the hollow sack of the ascaris’ body is full. Then this nutrient solution is slowly dribbled from the ascaris into the narrow hole directly under the pylorus, moistening the intestinal walls. Together with saving its host the trouble of eating, the ascaris also gives the pegasus nutrients straight into its intestines in an easily digestible form. However, the ascaris cannot take nourishment from this nutrient liquid. As the fluid makes its way down the intestines it loses nutrients to the pegasus’ body and eventually becomes waste liquid. Just as it’s about to be excreted, it’s absorbed by the ascaris’ lower half and in this form is used by the ascaris to nourish itself. Its ability to digest nutrients in this way is truly amazing, allowing it to absorb even that which would normally be indigestible up until the last molecule. It saves on unnecessary waste with the only sign that metabolism has taken place being the sclerose of the tail segment. There is no excretion. The pegasus in turn have no need to excrete urine or faeces either. This is the interesting co-development that was observed by the researchers, one which allowed the pegasus to escape from the labours of feeding and excretion by welcoming the parasitic ascaris – with its pump-like digestive abilities – into their bodies.
This will come up later, but when yapoohood was established, the success of it was formed on the material basis that introducing the mutated ascaris pegasus (also known as the Tera Nova helminth) as parasites to certain yapoo’s bodies made the yapoo’s digestive habits so totally removed from humans. The circulator (chapter 2.2) found in living furniture is even more advanced and was invented later. All yapoo – excluding indigenous yapoo and those raw yapoo who are raised in a lifestyle similar to humans so that they can be used as subjects in experiments (to test the effects of oral medicines, etc) or as living models (having their abdomens cut open to show the inner workings of the stomach, etc) – are handed over to a yapoonary as soon as they’re born so that a worker there can make them swallow the larva of the helminth to begin their symbiotic life. Helminth are also commonly called engine worms or pump worms. However, this will be talked about in a later chapter. Let’s return to the subject of pegasi.
It seems in the initial stages of evolution the pegasus fed from its mouth and excreted from its anus. However, after becoming symbiotic with the engine worm, these processes no longer occurred. Concurrent with the ascaris pegasus becoming symbiotic with pegasi, the pegasi’s two tongues started to elongate until they evolved into twin snake-like feelers. The possibility of using these feelers to operate tools resulted in their evolution to a higher life form and the progress of the brilliant ancient civilisation of Tera Nova.
That made it obvious what needed to be done to please the Queen and make these beasts fit for riding. Before they could be mounted, their tongue tentacles must be amputated. This operation – called tongue castration – got rid of their higher-order-motor functions, but it didn’t affect their intelligence or physical abilities as far as a riding and flying went.
Thus the ptero-quadrupeds, the indigenous people of Terra Nova, were reborn as humanity’s newest chattel thanks to the whims of one woman. Not only were their tongues castrated, they were also kept as livestock in their former triangular mountaintop towers, now converted to triangular stables. Over two millennia and successive generations they became submissive, but occasionally they would have spasmodic fits of resistance against their weaker riders. For that reason people with an OQ (order quotient) under 100, i.e. commoners, were banned from pegasus riding. Horse riding in general was something commoners could only distantly relate to. Pegasi, like telepaths, were the exclusive possession of the upper class.