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Arf is Fate's vaguely canine familiar.


Arf stands as a good example of a known phenomenon in dimensional space; namely, that the phenomenon of dimensional budding means that cladistics are even more vital for understanding a species true history and relationships as well as its role in making the factual nature of evolution even more blatantly obvious[1]. Each budding event produces separate-yet-identical populations of a given species, which then diverge chaotically.

In the case of Arf, she is a canine whose evolutionary history is on a Type-1b world with a net divergence from the 1a world-history of less than a million years. Despite her appearance and her species social structure, she's not actually a wolf. Or even a dog. Cladistically, her species is in Vulpini; she's a fox, moderately closely related to the 1a red fox (evolving somewhere in Eurasia). However, her species evolved and ended up taking on a similar evolutionary niche to 1a grey wolves [2].

As a result, unlike the solitary Vulpini of 97, Arf is a pack-hunting, social fox, with fewer neotenous traits and even more meat-adapted than the red fox. Her ancestral species still wasn't exactly the same as the grey wolf; they were more nocturnal, smaller, and slightly faster on the sprint, but when the Alhazredians found them they were functionally similar to wolves.

Alhazredians being Alhazredians and also being human, they hunted several populations to extinction because they thought they ate herd animals (they did, but not anywhere near as much as was claimed), while other Alhazredians (also being human) domesticated them. They did cheat slightly; Arf has faint traces of transgenic elements from Alhazredian dogs (which were descended from the grey wolf and so are an independent domestication, but still the same species as the 97er dog) and there may also be some elements from other 1a independent domestications.

But in the Fall, these 1b fox-dogs went feral in a massive way because civilisation collapsed, and had also been spread across a lot of worlds. Which promptly meant that feral fox-dogs and feral wolf-dog populations (who weren't afraid of humans) started eating people. A lot of the "wolves" in Dimensional Space are actually feral creatures like this; made worse because they're very nearly as invasive a species as cats are[3].

Hence, Arf - who in the Gamesverse is not actually from Mid because Precia found a better place to hide out than that - is the product of one of those feral packs. Genetically, she's a fox, with transgenic wolf elements, who was domesticated, and then went feral in a civilisation collapse and started "undomesticating". And then chibi!Fate found an abandoned pup when out training with Linith, refused to let go of it even when it tried to bite her through her barrier jacket, fed it and got rid of her fleas and the worms and the like, and Precia let her keep it on the grounds that it was another means of control.

If Fate didn't do her best, they might have to release poor little Arf into the wilds because it's a lot of work to look after a dog, you know. And remember what you have to do, Fate? We have to be sure you're focussed 100% on your training. If Arf is distracting you, we'd have to let her go. But as long as you work hard and try your best, you can keep her.

This is almost entirely irrelevant to the main story, of course. The main thing is that to 97er eyes, she's no breed of dog that they recognise (but looks sort of a bit like a wolf and a bit like a fox, so it's not clear how tame she is), and if they actually ran genetic checks on her natural form (which they have no good reason to do so), they'd be very confused.

  1. You'd have to be even more of a mouth-breathing moron to deny the existence of evolution in dimensional space than you do in the real world, and that's saying something.
  2. In this way, it's similar to how the maned wolf looks much more like a fox than a wolf and even acts more fox-like, but is still cladistically a wolf.
  3. Some species of birds have, over the course of history, been wiped out on tens of different worlds by cat predation. Of course, on Soviet Dinosaur Planet, bird eat cat! That doesn't stop the cats from eating theropod chicks, of course, but it might make the bereaved parents feel better.
This is pasted from an “infodump” post by one of the authors, found here
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