Author : Clint Wilson
The herd of Separable Hybrates fed veraciously on the nutritious fungus. You had to get your fill when you could and patches like this didn’t usually strike up so abundantly this early on.
The old matriarch was larger than the rest, and her feeding tubes liquefied and drew in more fungus than most. As she cleared patches and clumps, her four main legs carried her slowly along toward more and more of the delicious food. Ahead of her six forelegs — which had long since stopped detaching for mating purposes- stood her head, which contained her forebrain and four thinner appendages.
As her six fore, four main and six aft load-bearing legs provided all the support, her quartet of head appendages typically hung limply, until they were needed of course, which was suddenly now.
As her mid body continued to feed hungrily, her head appendages straightened and made contact with the ground. As if on cue the matriarch’s wide face grimaced and her head detached from the rest of her body with a wet sound, millions of tiny nerve endings and muscles releasing their miniscule handshakes simultaneously. And away her crown bobbed across the field on those four spindly legs. This part handled all communications and upper level decision making, and there was business afoot with neighboring herds, important business regarding territory agreements, pasture sharing and the like. The head would be back again soon enough. A neighboring animal’s crown also detached and joined the matriarch’s, and as the two disembodied heads trundled off toward the neighboring ridge their host bodies continued to feed, their aft brains handling all necessary functions.
Nearby the sextet of another creature’s aft legs wandered by, returning a posterior section back to its host after a necessary bit of waste dumping in the nearby pit. And so did the animals function, their efficient bodies gaining maximum nourishment while detachable parts carried on about other important business.
The matriarch had now cleared an area of fungus twice the size of her home cave and it wasn’t even midday yet. Suddenly her head appeared on the ridge. Her aft brain was vaguely aware of its missing part’s proximity and imminent return through mild telekinesis, yet on it fed unwavering.
Soon enough the head returned and replaced itself onto the matriarch’s body without ceremony. Suddenly turned around in the other direction her face showed instant surprise and alarm as she spied the returning head of her advisor that had fallen quite far behind on its shorter and weaker limbs. But what had the old leader so concerned was the diving Skyrat.
For once the matriarch stopped eating, and turned all bladder valves skyward. She trumpeted a deafening call meant to both warn her wayward companion and possibly scare off the approaching marauder as well.
Skyrats were too small to lift one of her species whole but a separated head was relatively easy pickings for one of the strong predators. Sadly the attacker was not deterred in the least by her warning and the next thing she knew, the head and forebrain of her trusted advisor were picked up and carried off into the sky to be devoured.
Full of melancholy the matriarch went over to console the body of her now headless companion. She rubbed against it, sending thoughts through nerve endings. “Don’t worry,” she thought. “Maybe one day we’ll find you a stray,” knowing full well that stray heads were as rare as stray posteriors were plentiful. She then added a thoughtful gesture, “If you need to talk with your family at all, you can borrow my head.”
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