Friday, September 5, 2014
History of the Universe: The Berring Suit
The Berring suit was named for its inventor, Titan Berring. A Berring suit was a miraculous leap forward for several reasons. The wearers of these suits need never worry about breathing, temperature shifts (within reason), bacterial or viral illness, eating, physical harm (again, within reason), or being tethered to the baser functions of humanity for the duration of their lives. Once a Berring suit was put on, it became a part of the person.
Berring suits were not based on Earth technology. In fact, Titan Berring was a World Gov alien forensics biologist and not an inventor or engineer at all. It was Titan's job to investigate the unearthly carcasses generated by the ever increasing alien vs. World Gov skirmishes in order to gain a greater understanding of Earth's new visitors.
This increase in visitors was due to a light drive travel technology explosion near the Lango System. The Fralzbs's, a race of peaceful and mechanically inclined geniuses had invented a fast and clean method of space travel that could be easily emulated. Suddenly every world within twenty trillion miles was manufacturing their own galaxy hopping hot rods. Earth wasn't being invaded, it was being used as a rest stop.
It was on the tormented corpse of one of these alien tourists that Titan Berring first observed a slight genetic difference between the alien itself and its "skin". This alien was Knu Drop of planet Knu. The tiny bright blue spider-like creature had stolen his father's ship in order to explore and had stopped on Earth in search of edible vegetation. World Gov soldiers shot the hell out of Knu Drop as he sucked the meat from a coconut and admired his first and last Earth sunset.
Titan Berring was very good at his job, though even if he hadn't been, it wouldn't have taken him long to figure out that this outer skin held some unusual properties. The first and most obvious clue occurred when a small gooey patch he'd removed from the blue spider clung to his glove and slowly moved towards his exposed wrist. Once there it attached itself comfortably above Titan's pulse as he watched spellbound. The piece would not come off, and instead began to grow. Within seconds the skin was indistinguishable from his own. This made removal impossible. Titan could feel his contact lenses being gently wedged away from his eyeballs as a clear film crept across his vision. He watched helplessly as they fell away, and still, he felt no true physical discomfort.
When the process was complete Titan Berring was covered from head to toe inside and out with a thin and resilient protective film. The good biologist was also naked. This, he later learned after several failed attempts to clothe himself, was because the skin's functions were too easily impaired and compromised by additional covering. The skin attacked any binding material and melted it away as though it were a threat.
Aside from the loss of modesty, Titan found that this wasn't as large of an inconvenience as one might think. His body maintained the temperature of his moment of infection. In fact, everything that his body was doing at that time was maintained by the suit exactly. Titan's hair and nail length, his weight, and in fact every biologically relevant aspect of him right down to his partially digested breakfast and the iced coffee in his gut were preserved in a spectacular conservation of energy and resources by this second skin.
The suit would continue to rotate and refresh the last breath he'd taken and his last meal he'd eaten until he dropped dead of old age or boredom while maintaining the exact size and outer condition he existed in presently.
Unfortunately the forced nudity wasn't the only drawback of the suit. By far the most difficult aspect of the second skin was learning to talk.
We take for granted that there will be breath in our lungs when we're ready to speak, however Titan's lungs had become a pair of nearly useless steak balloons. The suit had shut down the area of his brain stem responsible for now redundant automatic functions such as breathing, digestion, etc.
When Titan stopped breathing, his instinct
told him to flop onto the floor and flail about violently, pounding his chest and pointing frantically to his throat. He sucked breath desperately, but the dumbfounded Titan couldn't feel his lungs filling with air, or even a slight breeze passing over his tongue and throat.
The only feeling from each attempt to suck in air was what felt like a small balloon in the back of his throat, the suit would only allow the movement of his cheeks and tongue to collect air in a bubble, but from there it could not pass. Titan filled and released this bubble with all of his might in great gushes that left him with repeated and decidedly anticlimactic "aaaaahh's".
It wasn't long, however, before the gagging biologist's sharp and well trained scientific mind realized that he was still alive, despite not breathing.
After much experimentation he learned that the air he took in could be manipulated into words. In order to speak in a manner that could be understood, Titan had to get very good at ascertaining how much air he might need to expel in order to say a particular thing and then carefully take in that amount.
A third inconvenience, or advantage, depending on ones view, wasn't discovered until more in-depth study was performed. A Berring suit was incredibly limiting when it came to reproduction.
A person with a Berring suit could only successfully reproduce with another human being in a Berring suit. In its infinite biological wisdom, the suit could only open for an exchange of resources when another suit was involved. Babies born from suited mothers were always healthy, but very small. To have a baby was to give up several pounds of irreplaceable flesh. Most suited women opted to only have one child, if any.
All of these things and more Titan Berring learned within months of his first suit contact.
The accidental inventor was never able to reproduce the suit from scratch despite extensive research, it contained several amino compounds not found on Earth. The basic components of these genetic materials would eventually be discovered on other worlds, but the Chrono-Travell hadn't yet been invented so Titan had no access to future scientific discoveries. The clever biologist was instead only able to "grow" the suit on an army of hapless lab rats.
Once people got a load of the benefits of this suit they clamored for the opportunity to wear one in spite of the aforementioned limitations.
Aside from being incredibly expensive, the suits were only sold to people who met an extensive list of health criteria. A relatively clean bill of health was deemed necessary because the suit wasn't a magic healer. If a person had leukemia or even a urinary tract infection, the Berring suit would assume that their disease was a natural state for the wearer and maintain for them their sub par level of health. Eventually the disease would win as the suit would effectively protect them from any treatments that might help.
It was also required that the person choose a hair and nail length that was likely to stand the test of time. Suits were not sold to overweight people or to those with unhealed piercings, tattoos, or dyed hair. The risk of regret was too great, a Berring suit was forever.
Once the suits had been widely marketed to acceptable clients, people began emulating their effect in the hope of appearing trendy and wealthy. It was easy to spot these naked imposters because unlike authentic Berring suit owners, they had to breathe and eat. Another obvious sign was that they would sweat in the heat and shiver in the cold, neither of which a person under the thermal protection of a Berring suit need ever do again. Authentic Berring suits also shimmered like oil on a puddle when it rained, though they kept the wearer's hair and skin perfectly dry.
Fin Dominguez was the first of many wealthy undersea pioneers to truly test the oxygen regenerative properties of the suit. The amusement park and hotel mogul spent six months in an underwater amusement park he'd had built in anticipation of a suit inspired deep sea rush. Dominguez was forced to let the ocean claim his park when it became apparent that while people could now live underwater, tethering his patrons to the sea floor proved too costly, and in the end impossible.
The "Great Atlantic Adventure Park and Casino" closed amid a flurry of class action suits filed by the families of a few dozen missing park goers. Some of them had been eaten by undersea meanaces impossible to keep comepletely at bay while maintaining Fin's dream of an open sea atmosphere, but most of those luckless adventurers had simply floated away on passing currents.
By far the most interesting incidental development of the Berring suit was what it had done for space travel. No longer were astronauts restricted to bulky suits and immense space that oxygen generators and food consumed aboard shuttles. This was coupled with the alien space travel technology that World Gov scientists had borrowed from numerous interstellar tourists. Thanks to vigilant World Gov soldiers, Earth had become a very profitable alien space travel cul de sac death trap.
In 5568 a lone elderly traveler set out to test the limits of the Berring suit and himself via the first ship-less voyage through outer space.
Anthony Shakito suffered from stage five pancreatic cancer. While the suit wouldn't cure him, it would surely buy him time. Anthony used the unlimited resources of his vast pharmaceutical fortune to slide past the various fitness screening protocols in order to gain access to a second skin and blasted himself into space.
When Anthony's Shakito Med Enterprises private shuttle had almost run out of the power it would need to get back to Earth, Anthony recorded this message:
"April 1, 5568, Anthony Shakito here. Every time something interesting or good happens I turn to tell my wife, my daughter, my brothers, my mother and father, and I'm alone. They've all gone on ahead of me. And so I'm going out to get some good last stories for them and when I've gone as far as this body will let me go, I'm going to turn, and maybe they'll all be there again"
Accompanying the short recording is a one minute video clip of Anthony Shakito's naked cancer ravaged body kicking away from the shuttle, which he had programmed to return to his private launch pad on Earth.
Mr. Shakito's body was never recovered, but his nihilistic solo journey through the cosmos has become the stuff of legend. No fewer than 35 films and 200 songs have been based on Anthony Shakito's tragic one way trip.