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Homo Bellicus

Though evolution favours adaptability, some animals - even some people - are created so perfectly suited to one task that they have no need to change in order to survive.


Already a site of nearly inestimable significance in understanding the development and the spread of Homo Sapiens, the Qafzeh caves in Northern Israel also held a unique find that defied even the most outré of fringe academic theories in any number of fields (including evolutionary biology and anthropology). Naturally mummified in the arid and rancid air of the secondary cave system - a formation that appears to have been deliberately closed off to imprison and entomb him - the remains known, primarily, as Homo Bellicus (or the Warlike Man) represent a seemingly unique expression of human potential.

Nearly eight feet tall and enormously proportioned - clenched fists the size of cannonballs crossed over a barrel chest - the remains were still powerfully muscled in spite of the pre-mortem starvation and over a hundred thousand years of airless desiccation. Homo Bellicus would cut an imposing, almost inhuman figure even today, but to his contemporaries he must have seemed god-touched, if not a straightforwardly divine presence (particularly since there is no evidence - not even any fragmentary skeletal traces - to suggest that he was part of an evolutionary offshoot or lost tribe of humanity).

He has been given many other names - the Qafzeh Titan and, for obvious reasons, Goliath have both had some longevity as alternatives - but he remains, most commonly, Homo Bellicus because of the tableau that greeted the archaeologists who uncovered the remains. Though he himself was intact and resting relatively peacefully, he was surrounded by the shattered skulls, wrenched bones and crude weapons of at least seventy other people; all of whom showed signs of having been brutalised, bare-handed, by an immensely strong assailant. Built for war, Homo Bellicus clearly had the temperament and the talent to match.

The grim vision of the slaughter has given rise to a prevalent narrative, the idea of Homo Bellicus as having cut a terrifying and bloody path through the region until enough people united in agreement to stop him at any cost. Even though his opposition came en masse, mob-handed by necessity and likely with the understanding that most of them were essentially sacrifices, his legend must have been such that they had little expectation of being able to best him; hence the plan to trap him deep beneath the earth, though it would cost all of them their lives.

Even those who had no such understanding of the intention to entomb Homo Bellicus alive were almost certainly aware that they were going to die; if he could have been bested by a more modest force then they would never have been brought together and, for the time, so well-armed. Their fatalism was apt and tragically accurate, though the cruelty evident on the bones suggests their deaths were violent beyond the necessity of the act. There is evidence that Homo Bellicus not only overcame the overwhelming force sent against him, but lived on for months - perhaps even years - after his imprisonment.

His newest wounds had closed and healed up, even begun to scar over, with x-rays showing that the freshest of his broken bones had knitted back together and recovered from their recent trauma. In fact, nearly every bone in his body showed signs of having been broken, often multiply, at some point in his life. Many of them, including his skull and knuckles, having been fractured and set in patterns that indicated the frankly shocking amount of violence that they must have been used to inflict. Even the positives paint a bleak picture; Homo Bellicus convalescing in his grave, and there are more terrible signs.

At some point (perhaps driven mad by a starvation exacerbated by the demands of a body fighting to recover from its latest war) Homo Bellicus seems to have resorted to anthropophagy - a practice otherwise known, for those without the need to try and disguise its ugliness, as cannibalism. As chaotic as the scene already was, the evidence of such particular barbarity was difficult to discern conclusively and, frankly, rather scant. Limited by circumstance, and doubtless spurred on by desperation, there is no sign of ceremony to the act: The proof comes from toothmarks scraped into bones that were snapped in twain and sucked of their marrow.

Such an unnatural appetite is known to leave its marks on a person, particularly when the act is committed and repeated over a protracted period of time, but Homo Bellicus shows none of the traits or characteristics of a habitual cannibal; neither human or human-adjacent. It seems strange that despite how thoroughly he may have earned his post-mortem moniker, it was in defeat that he committed the most profoundly taboo act that he can conclusively be accused of (even if the force levied against him suggests that he already had an overwhelming preponderance of horrors to his name).

Despite the more disturbing aspects of the evidence discovered in the secondary Qafzeh caves excavation, and the contention that its very existence causes in related academic fields, most of the skeletal remains and artefacts from the site of the discovery are accessible to those who know to look for them. Their existence is an open secret, only kept from public display through a quagmire of red tape and unresolved disagreements over the proper legal ownership of the find. The remains of Homo Bellicus are, in contrast, the subject of subterfuge and conspiracy; having been stolen and recovered before apparently going missing a final time.

Already earmarked as being of potentially particular interest to those whose research lay outside the mainstream, Homo Bellicus had removed to a different facility than that to which the other discoveries had been sent. Despite the increased security and relative privacy at this site, only the initial round of non-invasive tests - a thorough physical examination and the aforementioned x-rays - were completed before the remains were take (the full circumstances of which theft are still a guarded secret). They were recovered the next day, undamaged except for efforts to administer some kind of intravenous infusion.

It has been argued that even the rigorous study of things beyond believing can involve, by necessity, an openness to patterns of thought that can stray into the magical and the conspiratorial. Here this thinking was expressed in the idea that Homo Bellicus had not died but had instead entered a state of suspended animation. This might have driven the intent behind the theft - saving the subject from an unwitting vivisection - and informed attempts to rehydrate him. That the remains went missing again a short time later has encouraged further such speculation, certainly, even while others argue that they were just moved for the security of the ongoing investigation.


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