The Centaur Victory

John A. Deering

The world of Belthorne has never been much of a world of story tellers. However, one interesting story did happen in that planet, one which was not the result of anybody's imagination: the revolution of the Centaurs.

Belthorne, with its brown lands, its oceans of black and white, and its daytime sky of yellow, had hosted human life for millions of years, but there had only been intelligent civilization for 6,000 years at this time. There were five landmass continents in Belthorne: the Northwest, the Northeast, the Midland, the Southwest, and the Southeast of Belthorne. All five continents hosted human life. Human beings came to exist in all different shades of the human skin color, as different groups of people lived across all five continents.

The Northwest believed in the 10 Sky Gods, who patrolled the sky above, and had created the world Belthorne, with all its plants and animals, long ago. The belief held that the 10 Sky Gods controlled nature during the day, and slept at night.

The Northeast believed in the Sky God and Night Goddess, two equal deities who each belonged to a different half of the day-and-night spectrum. Their belief also held that the 7 Gods and Goddesses of Elements – the children of the Sky God and Night Goddess, and each half their size – controlled the different forces of nature across both day and night: the Air, the Sea, the Land, Time, the Weather, Animals, and Emotion.

The Midland believed only in Ill, a single deity who had created the world, and all the stars above, and created people on the land to take care of the planet. Ill was an all-knowing deity, whose decision was to withhold the answers to all the world's questions, making it the challenge of Man to find it out for themselves.

The Southwest held their belief of worshiping the stars themselves. Their belief was that it was the unworldly forces of outer space which had birthed the planet Belthorne, and all its empty neighbor planets in the solar system, with every star existing as a conscious being. The Southwest's belief was that every human body was meant to one day die, but the ever-alive energy of a person's soul would continue to exist, and float up to the sky after the body's death to take its place in the vast sea of outer space forever.

The Southeast remained adamantly without Gods and without religious worship of any kind. Their belief of how the universe worked involved Belthorne as the only planet to sustain intelligent life in an otherwise lifeless sea of space.

These were the religious differences between the people in all five continents. The political structures and cultural styles were also vastly different across the countries of each continent. All five continents saw fit to run things their own way, believing that theirs was the way the whole world ought to be run.

If there was one thing all of Belthorne was well known for, it was war. As all five different continents, with their different visions and beliefs for how things should be run, clashed in a massive world war, all different sides fought one another at once to get their way.

Enormous boats and arks were used to transport people from one continent to another, crossing the black and white oceans. Soldiers from the armies of all five continents traveled the world to take on every other continent at once. Battles continued to be fought around the world, with each country of people wanting to be the one to establish global dominance. But the people of Belthorne all continued to be the same way as ever.

The Throwing Rock became notorious for being a weapon invention that began in a single country, and later spread across the globe. It had been invented in the Southwest, as a weapon which only the Southwestern Belthorne army knew about or possessed, at first. It was a handheld paddle which required one flick of a wrist to throw a rock into the air, attached to a string which ran through the paddle. The rock was lethal if it hit a person in the head. By then pulling on the back end of the string, behind the paddle, the person using the weapon could get the throwing rock back to its starting point, and throw it again. Though this remained known only to Southwest Belthorne at first, the popularity of the invention spread until all the countries across all the world were using Throwing Rocks in their battles at once.

Often, the men in the Northeast rode on horses, while using bows and arrows to strike their enemies. Riding on a horse allowed much faster movement than walking permitted. Horses were trained to work together with their human masters, and they slept in stables without ever sitting or laying down. The teamwork between humans and horses was first practiced in the Northeast, and after some time the Northwest began to do the same, with the men in its armies riding on horses while holding twin swords, with which to attack enemy troops.

Every day, humans were killed in the war. Sometimes, horses were lost as well. Finally, the Northeast seemed to be gaining control of the war, and its way of doing things, including its belief in the Sky God and Night Goddess, began to look like the one way which would win.

But the Southeast, which so far was the smallest and weakest side of the war, had a clever trick in mind. They had lost many men in the war, and they had retreated away from battle for quite some time, but they still refused to obey an outsider's ways of doing things. So they devised a plan to win the entire war by breeding the Centaurs.

Men and women of science worked to breed human men together with female horses, using artificial insemination. The children who would one day be birthed from the horses would be the half-human, half-horse Centaurs. Their very conception could be said to be impossible, at first, for it was conception without any sexual activity between two beings.

How long would they live? Would they live to a normal horse's old age of 30? Would they live as long as the human's average old age of 80? There were many questions asked by the scientists who bred the first generation of Centaurs. Alas, there would be no way to know, until after the experiment was done, and after the babies were born. 39 female horses were impregnated from male humans through artificial insemination. 19 of the embryos lived past the first month. 10 embryos lived past the second month. Seven Centaurs made it to birth.

When the female horses' babies were born, they were half horse, and half human. The Centaur babies that resulted were the babies who would later change the fate of the entire world – they just didn't know it yet.

It was horses, not humans, who had birthed the Centaurs. They took 10 months of time to fully develop, while horses birthed regular horses in 11 months, and humans birthed regular humans in 9 months. To develop an embryo in only 10 months of time, rather than 11, was difficult and abnormal to the horses. The Centaur babies possessed both human and horse-like properties, but the human properties seemed to be further developed and matured than a regular human from the beginning, because they had been given an entire additional month of time to grow in utero. At the same time, their horse-like properties were one month less developed than regular horses.

There were many things that nobody could know until after the Centaur babies were up and walking. For instance, their skeletal system possessed two ribcages: one stayed unchanged from the horse's, and one stayed unchanged from the human's. They learned to walk around on their own not long after birth. They displayed a higher level of intelligence than regular horses, with most of the scientists calculating that they would inherit half the intelligence of a human, and a few theorizing instead that they would chemically inherit all or none of their intelligence. Still, the most important questions would not find answers for years yet.

The Centaurs appeared to be like regular horses below the withers – the same place where a waist would be on a human being. Yet everything above the withers took on properties of human beings, which had evolved from a common ancestor along with the apes. Across the areas that would represent the crest and shoulders in a regular horse, their build was purely human, with a regular back, chest, and torso. Their faces looked mostly human, though they were twice as thick as a regular human in the z-axis, or the third spatial dimension, that of depth.

For the first year of their lives, the Centaur babies were foals, just like horses. They learned to walk and run during this time. As half-horses, they could not lie down. Their human halves were always standing upright, although, like regular horses, their bodies were able to exist harmlessly in a permanently upright position. Still, they were halfway between humans and horses, so the foals, the baby Centaurs, still tried to touch the ground with their human hands, to crawl across it. Their caretakers had to make sure they did not spend too much time in positions that would, over the long term, deform their human sides to slope downward.

For the first year of their lives, the Centaur babies were foals, just like horses. For their second year, the Centaurs were yearlings, just like horses. Seeing people in action, and seeing them talk, they eventually began to repeat anything they saw and heard, making as intelligible of a noise as they could make, which was only half as developed as a human being's voice. Yet the experiment went on: experts tried to teach the Centaurs how to pronounce words, and before long the seven yearlings were all taught how to master the words NO and YES.

For the third year of their lives, the Centaurs were colts and fillies, the males and females. Now they proved to have inherited enough from their human fathers to be able to talk clearly. They were each given a name, and they were each taught the names of all the Centaurs and all the people. Soon, they proved to be just as intelligent and fully-formed as a human being. Such an interaction, between the ape family and the horse family, had never occurred in nature before.

The Centaurs were never allowed to leave the area of the breeding grounds in which they had been birthed. They could not go outside to interact with bare nature. The scientists also made sure they were able to spend some time outside, within the zone of the breeding grounds, in a habitat that was healthy for a horse and a human.

So for fifteen years after the conception of the Centaurs, Southeast Belthorne remained quiet in all the wars, keeping to itself and focusing on its plans for the future. Quietly, and in secrecy, they reared the Centaur children and continued to breed more from horses and men. During this time, the Northeast remained the dominant side of the war, with them fighting and defeating the Southwest in the Battle of Ten-Day Slaughter, which resulted in the Southwest collapsing and bending to the way of the Northeast. So now the Northeast's way of doing things was on the rise, now covering two-fifths of the world.

The Northeast's next goal was to tackle and conquer the Midland, and then, eventually, it would take on the Northwest and Southeast to finish conquering the world. At this time, Southeast Belthorne was hardly a threat to anyone, and was not considered to be of great importance to any country. Many people fighting in the war believed the Southeast to have already lost, with an outside revolution impending.

So the Northeast, having conquered the Southwest, went on to go for the Midland. Violent clashes and battles continued for years, as the two decided who between them would win the war. Eventually, the Northeast won over the Midland, who bent to its ways of doing things. After conquering this region successfully, the Northeast now ruled three-fifths of the world, and had only two regions left to finish conquering the world.

It was the smallest of any side of the war – Southeast Belthorne – which surprised the whole world by making an unexpected move which immediately turned the tide of the entire world war. Now their Centaur animals were fifteen years old. They had been taught the ways of war for years – and educated thoroughly about the history of human wars. Now they were being sent off into the first war in history to go beyond the human race, involving Centaurs as living, thinking weapons, fighting on behalf of the people and the rule of Southeast Belthorne.

While the humans stayed at the homeland in the Southeast, the Centaurs were sent out in four aquatic voyages across the oceans in enormous wooden arks. All their lives, they had been trained to be loyal to their human masters, who took care of their health. All their lives, they had been told to prepare for war, for the magnificent journey which would take them all places. The Centaurs traveled across the black and white oceans of the world in search of the Northeast, the Northwest, the Midland, and the Southwest, all at once.

The first Centaurs to arrive on land were the ones who found the Midland. It had just recently gotten under the new rule of the Northeast. But now the Centaur army from the Southeast was proving a new challenge, threatening to overrun the rule of the Northeast.

So the Centaurs attacked all human soldiers, everywhere they saw them. Every human with a weapon was considered the enemy. The Centaurs fought valiantly, possessing the build of a human being from the waist up, and the body of a horse below the waist. They ran faster than humans. Their lower bodies contained the horsepower of a single adult horse per Centaur. At the age of fifteen, many Centaurs looked as if they were older than 20. They fought with weapons, just as the humans did, and the valiant soldiers succeeded in taking down all their human targets.

The Northeast was surprised to find this assault from the Southeast. Its rule over the Midland was being replaced by the new rule of the Southeastern presence of Centaurs. Hatred began immediately, and the Northeast made it a priority to kill the attacking Centaur army.

But as the Centaurs remained in the Midland, the others reached the shores of Southwest Belthorne. Once again, the Centaurs were insistent on taking over the rule of the Northeast, even here in the Southwest. So the Centaurs demanded that the country's rule be turned over to those from the Southeast. They were met with refusal. The Centaurs paraded themselves down the streets of the Southwestern countries, letting their presence be known to all people.

The Southwest was finding quite a threat from the Centaurs. But the battles continued for several more years, with nobody wanting to give up their rule to the Southeast. So the Centaurs slaughtered all the human soldiers they found, both from the Southwest and from the Northeast, as they declared the Southeast the new rulers of the land.

Unless they got wiped out soon, the Centaurs were looking likely to gain control of three-fifths of the world. This left only the Northwest and the Northeast untouched. But the Centaurs soon arrived to put an end to that. In both regions, their kind arrived in boats and arks, ready to conquer in the name of the Southeast.

So all five continents remained in a state of war. The Northwest was determined to strike the Southeast people where they lived. Fights and battles of rebellion continued in the Southwest and the Midland. But in the Northwest and the Northeast, the battles were being carried out every day which would decide the most important matters in the world.

For the first time, many different kinds of humans set aside their differences to fight the Centaurs together. But it didn't matter. There wasn't anything a person could do against an army of Centaurs, where one Centaur was literally greater and more powerful than one ordinary human soldier. Although the Centaurs did lose some of their kind to the human enemies, they remained largely the victor in the battles for the Northwest. After another three years of war, they had won the region.

This left only the Northeast to fight against the rising spread of the Centaurs. They had been the most aggressive land of people before. They reasoned that, if they could defeat the Centaurs, they could take back control of all the lands, but the Northeast might become more powerful than ever if they could succeed in doing this, for then they would own the entire world. So the Northeast decided it would make it a priority to annihilate the Southeast, and the Centaurs all over the globe.

The Centaurs found their first significant challenge in the form of a human army that was fully ready and waiting for their arrival. Weapons like arrows and hatchets were aimed at their horse-like body parts, to interfere with their ability to walk. Attackers aimed at their human-like heads. The Centaurs, though bigger in size than humans, were not invincible, and a well-timed, well-planned assault against them could still work.

Agonizingly, the Centaurs found their kind being lost in the Northeast. The people in that region seemed to be beating them. So, in the Southeast, they dispatched more Centaurs to travel the world, to all the regions at once, to establish a Southeastern stronghold. The ones who arrived at the Northeast arrived with the intention of taking down any humans that stood in their path, until their rule was the only way.

They fought bravely and valiantly in the Northeast. They did not forget what they had been born for. They had been bred by humans, to be the greatest soldiers who ever fought in a war. They had been born and raised for war, and it was in the path of war that they would stay. The Centaurs stormed the entire Northeast continent until they took down as many humans as they were losing their own kind.

Southeast Belthorne was always continuing to breed new Centaurs every year. At the age of 15, they were sent off into war. They aged faster than a normal human being, having come from horses. But they were capable of forming plans and strategies to the level of human beings. As the years went on, more and more Centaurs continued to be dispatched into the war, and the balance of their population never seemed to be a major problem.

The Northeast refused to bend to the ways of the Southeast. But the Centaurs still would not bend to any way but their own. So the fights and battles continued, and would continue until one side won and the other collapsed. Meanwhile, elsewhere across the world, every other region was beginning to accept the ways of the Southeast.

The Centaurs had proven to be a successful idea. So every country, in every continent, in every place across the world, began to breed their own Centaurs. Men of every shade of the human skin color were bred together with horses to produce every kind of Centaur baby. A new revolution was taking place across the world, and it would have the most tremendous impact on the future of the war.

Across the next 15 years, there was relative peace, except for the conflict between the Southeast and Northeast. Every country was breeding their own Centaurs in secret, and rearing them to learn aggression and the ways of war. Once the time came when the Centaurs were 15 years old – the age at which they were considered to have reached young adulthood – they were sent off to war to fight in the name of the mission. They were glad to fight for the mission which they had been born for.

So every different continent began to fight with their own Centaurs at once, and for the first time it became clear that all the predictability or stability of the war so far had come undone. Now there was no telling who might win against whom. The Southwest annihilated the Midland, with their Centaurs being trained in hand-to-hand combat, which also integrated their horse-like legs into the fighting to produce fighting styles never seen before.

So the Southwest established a new stronghold over the Midland. Now they were refusing to let anyone tell them what to do. The Midland, meanwhile, had managed to defeat and overtake the Northeast, which, before, had been the biggest human threat. The war became strange when the Southwest owned the Midland and the former Midland owned the Northeast. The Northwest, meanwhile, had bred its own Centaurs and moved on to conquer and overtake the Southwest.

Now Southeast Belthorne's army was evenly matched. Now it was no longer the only region in the world to contain Centaurs. Suddenly, they went from being the clear masters of four-fifths of the world, to being at the same level as any other region, with total defeat still a possibility. The Centaurs had spread all over the world by now, and their population was always increasing because of the demand for the war. Positive relations between a horse and its human master were important, because it was the humans who had raised them and taken care of them, and led them down the path of war.

But the more the Centaurs continued to win the human battles and wars, the more bored they grew of their work. The Centaurs were happiest of all when they were together around their own kind, away from the humans for a while. When in the presence of one another, they noticed that they achieved the effect of normal, happy, enlightening lives. They otherwise spent all their time fighting in the name of the human war, but that was just it: the world war had started with humans, and it involved their own systems of land ownership being at stake. Some Centaurs began to raise the question: why fight so hard, to help the humans?

Most Centaurs liked their life-situations, having been raised by humans to one day be sent off to war. But some questioned why their own lives were being dedicated to the humans. Truly, the Centaurs realized, it was they who had achieved the feat of living at the top of the food chain. They were bigger, stronger, and faster than any human being. The humans were inferior to them. So why did they continue to live under the humans' rule?

Across Southeast Belthorne, Centaurs were still being raised. Human beings had always assumed themselves the masters of the world, and the masters over the Centaurs. The Centaurs had to endure their beatings if they so decided, because the people were their masters, who provided them with food and drink, and a place to sleep. It was true that, over many years, Centaurs had endured being mistreated because it seemed that there was no other way to live.

But the Centaurs involved in the war asked their Centaur brothers why they tolerated anything from the human race. Words that would sound like insanity to a person were spread across all the Centaur population, who urged one another to kill any person who treated them improperly. They had been treated as the humans' property from the beginning, for they were in fact living weapons; but many demanded nothing less than full human rights.

It became major news when, in Southeast Belthorne, two Centaur brothers turned against their human master, who had beaten them in a moment of anger after his crops had been ruined. The two Centaur brothers, defending themselves at first, soon ripped the man's head off his neck, and held the severed head as a symbol to any person anywhere else who wanted to keep the Centaurs in a state of mistreatment.

Fear immediately spread across all of Southeast Belthorne. It was indeed true that Centaurs had, for many years, been considered nothing more than mindless animals, just intelligent enough to talk. It was indeed true that the humans had bred the Centaurs to do their bidding, then remained at the homeland while the Centaur soldiers fought all the battles. It was indeed true that all the Centaurs in Southeast Belthorne were to remain as the property of their human masters for the rest of their lives. Before, the Centaurs were glad to live this life. Now things were changing. One decapitated human being declared the new way that things would go. No longer would the Centaurs tolerate abuse. Now the Centaurs declared themselves the new masters of the world.

Relations between humans and Centaurs were immediately soured. Across the Southeastern countries, Centaurs were seen as insane, psychopathic horse-men who were all waiting to snap. Centaurs who had gotten along with humans for years now exploded with years of repressed aggression. So the humans grouped together, and when they were away from the Centaurs, they were able to say what they really wanted to say: that the Centaurs were becoming a problem, and would be an even bigger problem in later months to come.

Human beings were at the top of the food chain, many people said. This was the way it had always been. Before the human race, man's evolutionary ancestors had fought with the other animals to keep their position in nature. More recently, the Centaurs had been created to help Southeast Belthorne win the war, but the Centaurs were just as much the humans' property as the horses, most people believed. The humans had created them for the war, and they were still the ones who could take the Centaurs down if need be.

But the humans and Centaurs still lived together in the land, so they had to find a way to appear to co-exist peacefully in the public eye, with humans and Centaurs each waiting until the other side was not around to plot the later plans. Overall, across the Southeastern countries, the consensus remained that it was time to take down the Centaur population and take back the world, which had previously been going through a normal human war.

But the Centaurs were plotting a revolution which would change human history forever. Their plan was to dominate the Southeastern continent. Eventually, they would know a world that would belong to them. The new kinds of homes would be built to suit the sizes and shapes of most Centaurs. The new kinds of clothes would be made to fit the horse-like parts of their bodies. Eventually, the new world order would be in place, with Centaurs living everywhere.

This was the dream that they aspired to. Sooner or later, no matter what agenda the people tried to fill the Centaurs with, this was the mindset they eventually found, when in the company of each other: the dream of Centaur brotherhood. They dreamed of living as the new masters of the world, with human history behind them, with their new society in place.

The revolution went on. The human race in Southeast Belthorne tried to return to its old way of doing things, with no Centaurs present anywhere. But the Centaurs stood ready with their army. In homes where people owned Centaurs, they waited for the first sign of an excuse to make a retaliatory strike. As soon as the Centaurs got an undeserved beating, they moved in for the attack, sometimes removing the head from the person with the strength of their Centaur hands.

It was an ugly time for humans in Southeast Belthorne. Meanwhile, all across the world, all different kinds of Centaurs were living in all four other continents, and running the same revolution. The lightest of the Centaurs were the best swimmers, with their human halves able to hold their breath for over five minutes at a time. The darkest of the Centaurs were the highest jumpers. In all five continents, they kept a grip of fear over the human population, who always plotted their eventual downfall.

There had to be human advantages over the horses, some people argued. So many humans' strategy of choice was to attack the horses in the hooves, to damage their horse-like ability to walk. Even with a working human half, a Centaur would be largely disabled if unable to walk on its hooves, although no human being could win a fist-fight with the Centaur's human half.

It was time to win this war with a battle of wits. The Centaurs knew that the horses had immune systems which were far more immune to disease and illnesses than that of a human being. So they, being half-horse, were halfway at the horse's superior level of immunity. But the humans would never expect a viral warfare. So the Centaurs traveled around Southeast Belthorne with viruses, the kind which would be lethal to humans, but harmless to the horses.

The genocide against the humans continued. The horses remained entirely unaffected, while the Centaurs were affected enough to be somewhat hurt, but not nearly as bad as the humans. The Centaurs' immune systems allowed them to heal within a couple days to the point that the virus was gone from their system completely. All across Southeast Belthorne, human beings died from the viral attacks. The Centaurs threw glass beakers filled with the viruses directly at the people, laughing as they sentenced the people to their doom.

The Centaurs continued their assault, and similar attacks spread to every other region of the globe. Soon, the Centaurs were demanding nothing short of total control and ownership of the world. It was the human war that had resulted in their creation, and it was they who would win the war. Now it had become something far greater than the human world war: it was the Centaurs' own War on Humans. Every day, thousands more humans died to the viruses, while the Centaurs suffered not a single fatality.

Very quickly, they gained control of the war. The Centaurs were now seeing the human populations quickly fall as their own populations continued to increase. Now, for the first time, couples of Centaurs were mating together to produce children which were entirely purebred Centaur. They no longer had to rely on human scientists to create them. This had never happened before: now they were in full control of their own population. Later, all future generations of purebred Centaur would appear slightly different from the first ones, which had been created from artificial insemination.

As the years went on, the human race continued to grow sicker, as the Centaurs annihilated all who stood in their way. They were unstoppable now. They would not be done until the entire human race had been wiped into extinction, with Centaurs overtaking the entire world. The humans pleaded to be allowed to live, hoping to live in harmony with the Centaurs, but to no avail.

At last, the humans' world war came to an end, with every side losing to the Centaurs of Southeast Belthorne. All across the world, Centaurs of all different kinds and colors celebrated the dawn of their day. The human war was over, and the Centaurs now populated the whole world, with no humans at all to tell them what to do.

Clothing, music, and religious practices were now common among the Centaurs, though there were differences in styles and customs across the world. Many believed it had been the destined plan of a God that the Centaurs take over the world from the terrible humans that had lived before them. Now they at last enjoyed the days of peace, the days when all Centaurs co-existed in harmony in Belthorne, a world they now named Kantarian.