|Rabbit Rabbi Phil and Pythagoras
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
After successfully getting past the Dragon, Rabbit Rabbi Phil quickly made his way back to the village of the Trids. There he told them the problem and suggested that they choose a new name for themselves. After some discussion in Congress, they choose the name 'Tricks'.
Satisfied that the problem was solved, Rabbit Rabbi Phil hopped on his way.
It took many days and nights for Phil to get out of the mountains and hills and onto the plains. After that, it wasn't long until Phil, hopping his way beside the ruins of an old interstate, (the cracked pavement was too hard on his tender rabbit feet, but the Centaurs loved it for the speed it provided although they did have to wear special shoes), noticed a electrically powered Centaur Empire military transport humming to a stop beside him.
Given that Phil was a Rabbit Rabbi, and given that all Rabbits were named Phil, it wasn't long before he and the driver were in friendly conversation. And after that it wasn't long until the kindly centaur driver offered to give Phil a lift. Phil, his large rabbit feet tired and sore, eagerly agreed. There were about 20 centaurs in the transport and as they all talked and gossiped, Phil soon discovered that they were on their way to monitor an Official Buffalo Hunt between the Illinois Buffalo and the Cougar Indians.
What is an Official Buffalo Hunt you ask? Well, to understand that, you need to know some other things that came out of the Gene Wars and the fall of Western Civilization.
One of the events within the Gene Wars was the release of a neural virus. What it did was very simple -- it modified the brain of anything it came in contact with to increase intelligence up to basic human level. Or at least it tried. Birds and reptiles became smart idiots. Mammals by and large gained human level intelligence. A later virus modified their vocal cords for speech.
The other event you need to know is that surviving land-based intelligences were always either herbivore (by far the majority), omnivores (Centaurs, Tricks, a few others), and carnivores (a tiny minority).
The primary reason for the success of the Centaur Empire was that they maintained technology whereas other races lost it, and that they used their technological monopoly to enforce rights and rules on the ongoing herbivore/carnivore conflict.
As buffalo were intelligent, they tended to verbally object to being eaten by...well, by just about anything. And given that there were an awful lot more buffalo than carnivores, the buffalo were more than capable of enforcing the will of the herd. Of course, the carnivores also had to eat and, unfortunately, the non-centaur equines simply couldn't breed fast enough to keep all the carnivores fed. Even with a large percentage of buffalo deeding their bodies to carnivores upon their natural death, there still wasn't enough.
Not to mention that the old age deaths resulted in tough and nearly inedible meat.
So, the centaurs, using their technological superiority and endless wisdom, enforced an agreement where both sides had opportunities, and the total buffalo deaths were monitored and controlled. It kept the carnivores happy as that meant that the buffalos didn't simply stampede over them again and again until they were all dead, and it kept the buffalos happy as it kept them from becoming so numerous that they all starved.
The same practice was enforced for the other prey groups. Once this had been established, the Centaur Empire officially came into being.
And now, back to Phil the rabbit Rabbi!
After nearly a day of travel, the Centaur Empire transport, and Rabbit Rabbi Phil, arrived at the festive grounds where the Cougar Indians and the Illinois Buffalo were celebrating together before the fall hunt.
Of course the Cougar Indians really weren't Indians (all the North American Indians had died during the wars, transformed into buffalo), but they were doing their darndest to recreate the culture, often with wry commentary from the Illinois Buffalo.
All of the local tribes of both species had gathered in a massive carnival to celebrate their friendship, and to party while they could because death would come to some of each tomorrow. The Centaur Empire had shipped in trucks full of hay and grain for the buffalo, and all of the Cougar Indians had brought their squaws and children and gaily painted tents and wigwams.
Awed by the colour and shouting and music and song, Phil carefully hopped between the clumps of much larger creatures. Occasionally he would sample the food, spending a lot of time with the sweet carrots brought in by the centaurs. Around him he most often saw groups consisting of one Cougar Indian, and ten to fifteen Illinois Buffalo. Watching as hi nibbled, he realized that the buffalo were tutoring the cougar on how to apply warpaint, both to the cougar, and to the buffalo. Many members of both species were already wildly painted.
Gradually Phil realized that only the males of both races were in the warpaint groups. The females were in their own gatherings which were very different. Largely this was because female buffalo were generally exempt from the hunt, though a few choose to participate anyway. The same applied to the squaws. Most would stand by and cheer, whilst a few would hunt with the warriors.
Because of the carnival, booths and stands of all kinds were around. Merchants from most of the other land-based societies were present, selling handicrafts of their cultures along with unique foodstuffs and clothing. Centaur merchants were everywhere selling a selected subset of technological tools. There were no weapons, the centaurs kept them locked up for emergencies such as a second Invasion from Mars. Also, part of the agreements between the carnivores and the herbivores was that only natural weapons could be used by either party.
One booth was ran by a female owl. She sat on a perch and listened to others mental problems and gave advice. According to the degrees and diplomas displayed, she'd been trained in the highest levels of psychiatry at the most prestigious of centaur institutions. Phil couldn't help but overhear a buffalo male talking to the bird.
"Doctor!" the buffalo shouted. "You've got to help me. Last night I dreamt I was a wigwam! The night before that, I dreamt I was a teepee!"
Phil could see that the buffalo was painted up and ready for the hunt. He watched as the massive creature kept rocking his weight from his left legs to his right legs and back again.
The owl psychiatrists turned its head to one side, and then the other, and blinked its eyes. Finally it answered, "Relax! You're two tents."
Shaking his head, the rabbit continued on his hoppity wanderings.
The sun was setting and small fires were being lit, when Phil realized that a crowd was gathering around one of the Cougar Tribal Chiefs. Behind that chief was a massive tent made from some unknown material. Curious, Phil hopped to the back of the crowd and listened with his large large ears.
It turned out that this Cougar Chief had three squaws or wives, each of whom had been pregnant. The first has given birth to a male cub on the tribe's way to the gathering. Proudly he pointed her out, standing holding the baby in front of a tepee made of deer hide gaily coloured. The second, just as they arrived, had given birth to another male cub. The cougar chief had almost burst with joy from that. To celebrate, he'd built her a tepee made of wonderfully coloured antelope hide which she was standing in front of.
Once it would have been odd that a North American tribe had access to antelope, but due to the redistribution of species to Western Culture zoos, and their escape during and after the gene wars, antelopes had become common in North America.
Anyway, finally, the chief's third squaw had just given birth. For her, the chief had built a two story tepee which he revealed was made out of hippopotamus hide.
So that was what the big tent behind the chief was made of! Phil thought.
Like antelope, hippopotami lived in their own societal groups, and like the buffalo were subjected to a Hippopotamus Hunt once every five years. Phil had never been to one, but he'd heard that the hunters were equipped with oxygen rebreathers by the Centaur Empire.
With a trinkle in his eye, the chief refused to reveal the results of the pregnancy of his third squaw. Instead, he challenged anybody gathered in front of him to guess what had occurred. To the winner he would offer the finest and choicest cuts from tomorrows hunt.
Curious, Phil listened as one cougar after another guessed. Some guessed a male cub, some a female, some male and female twins, some triplets. Nobody gave the right answer. Eventually buffalo came to the group and started guessing, but none of them could give the right answer either.
Phil knew what it was though. After all, Phil was a rabbit and everybody knows how clever rabbits are. And he was trained as a Rabbi which made him even cleverer.
Phil waited as the two moons rose (one the original, one Ceres moved into orbit for mining purposes by the Centaur Empire) to give everybody else a chance. After all he was a polite rabbit.
Gradually the shouted answers faded. It seemed that nobody knew the correct answer. Realizing that this was the time, and seeing the sadness in the chief's face, Phil decided to see if his answer was correct.
It took a bit of time to get the chief's attention, even though Phil hopped up and down shouting out "I know! I know!" After all, rabbits are small and quiet creatures, even rabbit Rabbis who are shouting at the top of their lungs.
Finally the chief noticed him and asked Phil what he thought.
Shouting at the top of his voice, Phil shouted out, "Your third squaw has given birth to twin boys!"
As Phil was not the first to give that answer, the chief, with a sigh, asked, "How did you figure it out?"
Proudly, still hopping frantically, Phil shouted out the answer (which turned out to be correct) each time he was at the apex of his hop.
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