Reported Retroactively by Ms. Cadmium Drury Addiber
Graduate Studies: Contrapting, Abnatural Sciences, Electrogenesis, Illogical Reasoning, et al
University of Mispury-Gearfax
As provided by Jimmy Grist
Illustration by Dawn Vogel
The following research project took place sixteen (16) years ago. This report has been filled out retroactively for records of study and/or self-defence in a court of peers and professors.
The study was an attempt in enhancing the protection afforded terrapins from their shells. I’m no zoologist, but circumstances provided; and the venture really had more to do with inventing than anything. Various methods were incorporated with active and consenting testers, reaching multiple levels of success (including, but not limited to, unsuccess). Data was gathered on an impromptu damages-by-sight scale of my own composure, the fallibility of which will be raised and dealt with later. Testing was administered in a controlled environment before venturing into the field, then followed by a myriad of empiric jargon and regulation, so on and so forth. This is my least favourite part to write.
I’ve always defied the traditionally inane convention of giving away results in the abstract (Addiber, 091; 092; 093; 094; 095; 096). Not much fun in that route. So without further ado, I give you ‘An Experimental Excursion in Artificially Amplifying Armoured Animalia.’
As usual, ‘~’ denotes rough numerical approximations.
As part of an ongoing investigation into my particular university niche, a record of my earliest study was requested by Dr. D.M. Druschkopfv, who’s really a bit of a sexist git (Addiber, 095). Therefore this documentation is of a past experiment. The report has been retroactively pieced together from notes, eyewitness accounts, and experimental evidence, as well as personal memory of the experimenter–that being me, myself, Cadmi, who’s really not “a threat to the popular welfare” (Druschkopfv, 096). Take the oddities of this piece as an excuse for the improper-tenses and first-person narration; that way I won’t have to lecture the reader on the mistakenly-championed neutering of voice popular in contemporary academia.
The study budded on the morning of my seventh (7th) birthday in 080 S.D., where the gifts that transpired included one small and needy turtle for one small and needy girl. Though technically a terrapin, I decided to call it Frally. Frally was a runt of a red-bellied grub-chubber, a frighteningly fat and surprisingly soft-shelled species that honestly should’ve been eaten into extinction eons ago (Adelson, 074; see Appendix, Figure 1). But careful cultivation and domestication has led to the misguided preservation of the species (074), which is how my father wound up purchasing a pet from the fish market. I grew close to Frally, opening up possibility for bias. Thanks to an unintentional but rigourous malnourishment I was able to cart the lightweight female around with me, as children are prone to do. Had Frally known (or even been capable of comprehending) that she would be the first non-deliberate “subject” in a series of primitively-performed shell-proofings, she probably would’ve rather been broiled in brack-water.
I speak of the following summer, during a ritualistic block party common to the Grid, when my younger self was accosted by a brutish bulge of boys from the wrong side of Wurlitzer Way. Their concept of camaraderie consisted of hedonistic impulsive torture, particularly toward myself as I ground sidewalk chalk into Frally-food. As a result my red-bellied grub-chubber, already having lived a comparatively full life, was thrown to the centre of the street and split open by an improperly-wielded gutterball mallet. It takes a certain soullessness to watch any organism wriggle within a rapidly-dying hysteria induced by shrapnellised shards of its own shell; but it takes a prepubescent boy to jam a lit block-buster into the ruined back of a dying pet turtle. For more information on this incident, consult Appendix, Figure 2.
I’d like to say that this penultimate moment was the one where I vowed to follow academic avenues into a scientist’s destiny, but all I really did was mourn. Though I did learn the concept of positive feedback, as wiping tears away with chalk-caked fingers simply led to more tears, which led to more eye-chalk, ad nauseam. Quite literally, I’m afraid—I nauseamed all over my summer trainers and the fleshy Frally fragments, the bite-sized of which I was too devastated to sample.
Incidentally, a school-trip to the zoo not long thereafter opened me to the many innovations of nature, particularly those of the tortoise. I understood shells, both in concept and in failed practice; I also knew both turtles and tortoises to exercise them. But the menagerie tortoises were everything Frally had failed to be: gargantuan, pissy, stoneclad, and completely undesirable as pets or meals.
On the streetcar home, I hatched my first hypothesis: if man-made improvements were made to a turtle’s natural defences, then the turtle’s survivability may increase proportionately. A level equating or surpassing the cylindraspis tortoise would be the goal. It seems like a simple connexion to make improvements on the shell inspired by the shell, so I would like to remind the reader that I was but a tot. And that Dr. Druschkopfv is a spiritless fogey of an instructor, smothering under prejudiced senility; a lonely old man kept company by jealousy and pretence (Addiber, 095).
In Bostwick and the Box Turtle, Braymar and illustrator McMaglin (077) published a fable following the exploits of a dim-witted boy who trades his lunch to an anthropomorphised turtle in exchange for a day in its shell. This is sort of the same thing as my attempt.
As an aside, the considerable lack of precedent in supra-shellifying is merely indicative of a groundbreaking prospect and should be taken with an air of excitement (as opposed to airs of doubt or eye-rolling). After all, did Newcomb let the lack of valid literature on perpetual motion engines distract him from gathering grants for his much-maligned Perpetual Lighthouse (1598)? He wouldn’t be the father of modern grant-gathering if he had.
Participants in the study (post-Frally) included a line of non-familial red-bellied grub-chubbers acquired from Which Fish Dish, a freshwater and maritime grocer that offers certifiable scientific validity with all of its produce. Participants were purchased within the same two-month period, when some were just red-bellied grub-chublets. Participant #1, hereafter called Frodus (Frodus Sr.), was a full-sized adult male weighing 6.44~ kg and measuring 38 centis from beak to bobble. Participant #2, hereafter called Frodie (Frodus Jr. Sr.), was an adolescent male weighing approximately 4.70 kg and measuring 29 centis, beak to bobble. Participant #3, hereafter called Frobert (Frodus Jr. Jr.), was a juvenile male suffering from a severe acute hyperthyroidism; thus the abnormal figures of weight and length, respectively 36.17~ kg and 1.32 metres from beak to tumoresque bobble-growth. Whilst it was a possibility that the irregularity housed within Frobert would throw off results, it was a much greater possibility that this same irregularity would greatly awesomitise results.
It should be noted here that Frobert’s street value also suffered from severe hyperthyroidism, particularly for a seven-year-old researcher, and any retroactive reimbursement (scholarship, funding, &c.) from the University or its benefactors would be obliged.
The turtles were to be provided for in my research basement, which was reasonably warm, comfortably furnished, and typically avoided by third parties. In addition to living accommodations, a synthetic habitat was created specifically for red-bellied grub-chubbers to thrive; playground and short-wave radio included. Two outdoor breaks a day were originally planned, but due to unforeseen consequences this practice was abandoned early on.
As legal consent, participants each signed a wet disc of clay via front-left footprint.
Apparatuses (see Appendices 3-5)
Those devices used in this study could easily be called the first in the legendary line of Addiber’s Apparatuses, as the Turtle-Tek line of Natural Armour Amplifiers was my earliest completed development. Conceptualisations were doodled at an alarming rate and drawn from an unbiased third-party hat, at which point the three (3) selected models began immediate production.
T-Tek 1.0 incorporated all of the gung-ho gusto I felt for manmade amplification. The design took the steel-shod implications of menagerie tortoises and translated them to entirely mechanical terms–specifically, Frodus being locked in my father’s office safe. However, the immensity of the safe’s weight and the uncertainty of its combination quickly led to revisions. After theoreticising about the pliability of kitchen-grade aluminium, the prototype found new versatility in a foily sort of straitjacket worn in combination with a matching nappy. Early testing found that more layers of foil translated directly into more resilience, with the only negative wearer feedback being a steadily-increasing discomfort. Knowing full-well the dangers of illegal fireworks made the sacrifices seem appropriate. A wicked but crinkly paintjob was all T-Tek 1.0 needed to become the Juggernaut. It was, admittedly, an uninspired name.
T-Tek 2.0 addressed the straightforward, technological approach of the Juggernaut with a counterbalancing dip into exploitation of natural phenomena. The aluminium in model 1.0 was a far cry from the calcified tortoises it was to be based on. So when looking to the natural world for a more agreeable solution, I discovered rocks, pebbles, and small stones to be quite hard. Even fusion of the geologics into a metamorphic carapace seemed too unnatural, though. So I implemented a careful program of alternate feedings to Frodie specifically, rotating washed rocks into his cricket-bowl at frequent intervals and jamming them down his throat at infrequent ones. The intention was to develop an all-natural hardening of the participant’s biological self—fortifying the outside shell through the mystifying inside world of nutrients and metabolism. Codenamed the Buggernaut, I was significantly prouder of the advanced interpretation of biology demonstrated by Turtle-Tek 2.0–though am still a bit distraught at my inability to come up with worthier monikers.
T-Tek 3.1 was only the next step in the process: a unification of the natural and the mechanical, which any good scientist will confess is usually the right idea. Sometimes. Because I was so fascinated by the idea of giving animals non-traditional foodstuffs, the same method of oral ingestion was used (and eventually led to my pursuit of a degree in Gastrophysics). Frobert found his hyperthyroidic self the unwilling recipient of a cautiously calculated diet, the idea of which was to get the right substances inside and let his (un)fortunate condition handle the biological assimilation. Still seeing untapped potential in tempered aluminium, I fed Frobert strip after strip of carefully measured foil. The rocks used in cultivating T-Tek 2.0 were abandoned in favor of a less rock-like material that would maintain some stoicity in large chunks. I settled upon a noncrystalline dissolved silica/silicate fusion. Glass, to the layman. This early-model melding was meant to demonstrate the strengths of both predecessors whilst eradicating their slight weaknesses. From the precisely calibrated collaboration between Jugger- and Buggernauts, the JB-Uggernaut Jr. arose. And with it, a name that I, at seven, found completely brilliant.
Measures and Procedures
In recording the resilience of the amplified shells in comparison to the control-group made up of Frally’s smoking carcass, I was forced to devise my own units of measurement. A scale based visually on the destruction was less objective than I would prefer to be nowadays, but at the time it had to work. Each shell would be rated somewhere from ‘Impervious’ to ‘Virtually Non-Existent’ based on the amount of centralized pressure (N/cm2) it could withstand. A bit of careful math-slinging in the present has quantified this erroneous scale just a bit, suggesting the following mathematical interpretations:
‘Impervious’ = ∞N/cm2 (infinite newcombs per square centi)
‘Virtually Non-Existent’ = 0N/cm2 (nil newcombs per square centi)
Assorted Ratings Betwixt ≠ 0N/cm2, ∞N/cm2
The turtles were subjected to laboratory tests in preparation for a field test. Under the lab tests various stressors were applied to the shellular modules, including: electrical conductivity, conflagratory retardation, thermal extremities, and the root motivator–conventional concussive force. Also included was what I believed to be a barometric extremes test; I have realised in retrospect that it was merely me vacuuming a turtle, perhaps conducive to internal hemorrhaging.
After graduating from the controlled environment of standardised testing, each turtle participated in a highly unpredictable field test on or near the intersection of Wurlitzer and Puzzhire, on the western square of the Grid. Designed to model a real-life survival scenario, the field test made use of an entirely uncontrolled variable–the wanton violence of small boys in large groups. These unwilling participants, officially and unbiasedly termed “brutes,” were the catalysts for the entire project. Pitting the finished products against them made sense, in meanings both scientific and poetic.
I was to assume the position of play originally in effect during our first encounter. This would, theoretically and eventually, attract the brutes (who, now that I think of it, perhaps should’ve been filed under Apparatuses). For some reason, a girl tooling about happily with a turtle had proven to activate some sort of latent plonker-gene. Perhaps a question for future study.
Frodus and the Turtle-Tek 1.0 Juggernaut (foil), respectively being the first purchased and conceived, found themselves the first participants in trial. Frodus seemed particularly uncomfortable in wearing his armour on the outside. He had enough difficulty moving about as a turtle to begin with, so being wrapped in pointy aluminium sheets certainly didn’t bolster his mobility or will to live. Laboratory testing, for the most part, also fell short of expectations:
Electrical Conductivity: Warning: Arcs ‘n’ Sparks!
Conflagratory Retardation: Strong Up to Melting Point* (TBD)
Thermal Extremes: Like Baking a Leathery Potato
Barometric Extremes: N/A
Conventional Concussive Force: Not Entirely Shabby/Un-Shabby
The Juggernaut armour seemed to create as many problems as it remedied, especially in an environmental arena. But these sorts of things had always been second anyway; my true intent was improving the blunt-trauma survivability of modern testudines, and I had hope for the upcoming field test.
Field testing took place around the end of Julune in 080. The theorised activation process proved to work like a charm, and in less than two afternoon’s rugged street-corner play I was approached by some familiar brutes who were presumably tracking the scent of something smushable. Frodus the Foily was subjected to three (3) measurable blows: Blow 1, delivered by a hurled stone, glanced off of his skull and encouraged a hasty retreat into the armour; Blow 2, delivered by a single-footed stomp, pinched down Frodus’s back and popped him upwards like a fat bullet; Blow 3, delivered by a double-footed jumping-stomp, realised the promise of smushables and resulted in a grub-chubber jelly wrapped in a mess of lacklustre aluminium. Funerary services took place minutes later at a nearby stormdrain.
Trial 1: Unsuccessful. Participant: Deceased.
Even though I’d raised the turtles together, I didn’t want to test either of the biological-assimilation models until a reasonable amount of time had been allowed for what I thought was a real process to occur. As such, Frodie and the Turtle-Tek 2.0 Buggernaut (geological diet) weren’t put through the same laboratory tests as Frodus until the last days of the study. Still upset over the outcome of field testing, I was further disheartened by the sheer lack of stoneskinning shown by Frodie’s Buggernaut results:
Electrical Conductivity: Typically Reptilian
Conflagratory Retardation: Squealing Emitted (High Frequency)
Thermal Extremes: Popping Sounds, Heard from Within
Barometric Extremes: N/A
Conventional Concussive Force: Semi-Virtually Almost-Existent
Other than the slight possibility of magma-belches in specific climates, Frodie’s steady ingestion of the indigestible had done absolutely nothing beneficial for his health or defences. Worse still, the poor fellow seemed to be combating a bout of rapidly-generating stomach ulcers and constipatory clogs. A question often raised in science is that of risk v. reward; I do believe Frodie taught me what it means to bugger off because of severe side effects.
I had severe doubts about field testing, but I also felt that denying Frodie a chance to realise progress would mean that all of his tortuous treatment had been for naught. Near the advent of Leigueros, same year, I summoned the brutes to face another foe. Apparently I had become a favourite source of good, boyish fun, and they expressed some level of sadistic glee at my overtly idiotic return–due in no small part to the third turtle I bore. That day Frodie and the Buggernaut were subjected to a single (1) measurable blow, followed by one (1) immeasurable internal: Blow 1, delivered by grasping Frodie’s stomach and facilitating brick-wall collision, cracked the unaugmented shell into a fault-filled Pangaia; Blow 2, delivered by forcibly inserted block-buster, obliterated the cohesion of organic being. Incredibly enough, however, the experimental insides resulted in a fragmentary pebble explosion–a last hurrah, if you will, vindicating the wronged Frodie with a burst of ten thousand stinging bits. Though the stony innards had proved detrimental in living, they demonstrated a considerable edge over traditionally squishy entrails under certain circumstances of demise. In a survival situation the gravelly blast wouldn’t keep predators from doing their deed, but it would create more carrion via post-mortem vengeance. And which of us can say we don’t want to take someone with us?
Trial 2: Unsuccessful. Participant: Deceased.
Being an amalgam of suggested and subsequently suspended study, Frobert and the Turtle-Tek 3.1 JB-Uggernaut Jr. (combination) were the basket holding all of my eggs. Not that I didn’t desperately want Frodus and Frodie to be successful–but even at seven, I knew the odds were in favor of the big boy. I’ve already described at length the synthesis of natural and manmade dietary supplements that would be fed to Frobert. What I didn’t mention is his voluminous capacity. Due in no small part to his disorder, Frobert could consume foil by the sheet and glass by the bucket. I thought he was just a pure and uninhibited bad-arse, to be frank with it. In truth, his hyperactive interior systems lent him a semi-mystical meta-metabolism; which, entirely worthy of separate study, was unfortunately overlooked in my youthful ignorance. I have severe doubts that the hyperthyroidic-element alone could’ve resulted in Frobert’s peculiar development. Some other source of abnaturality must’ve been present, in one form or other–perhaps his expansive shell acted as a locus for cosmic radiation, or some super-intelligent complex organism had spawned individually in its widened recesses. Whatever the case, Frobert’s diet coincided with an unexamined factor(s) to rearrange his shell’s cells into an isometric-hexoctahedral crystal lattice. This reorganisation led to the formation of everyone’s favourite allotrope of carbon; specifically and unbelievably, diamond. In other words, the shell had slowly frosted, then glazed, eventually diamondifying. With the shell measuring roughly 105~ centis (1050~ mils) in diametre, I had on my hands a 1200~ carat stone and a proposal for a new synthorganic species: the diamond-backed grub-chubber. Chew on that, primary school scientific community. Lab testing went predictably:
Electrical Conductivity: Impervious (Reflective?)
Conflagratory Retardation: Impervious
Thermal Extremes: Impervious (May Increase Hardness)
Barometric Extremes: N/A (Imperv. Assumed; See Above)
Conventional Concussive Force: Impervious
It wasn’t until the depths of Arcturgast that I took my last participant out to the field. School had been cancelled thanks to a singularly bossy frost, and in a fit of determination I found the bolts to bring the incomplete study to a close. Not only that, but I’d watched Frobert grow for a long time, and he seemed to be at peak gemstone levels. Once the behemoth was coaxed onto a sturdy sled, I found I was able to set him off gliding and manipulate the momentum to get across the neighbourhood. We had a crash or two, but it wasn’t anything the JB-Uggernaut Jr. couldn’t bounce back from. The brutes were to be found defacing a local snowperson, the work appetising their bloodlust rather than slaking it. They expressed an understandable amount of concern and confusion at Frobert–and these conditions (panic and the inability to comprehend) met like fronts for a cyclone. A perfect storm of barbarism brewed, and Turtle-Tek 3.1 was subjected to 100+ (one hundred and plus) measurable blows. What follows is a rough approximation (~!): Blows 1-15 were delivered by snowball; Blows 16-36 by barefisted implements; Blow 37 by headbutt; Blows 38-54 by variations of the kick; Blows 55-67 by stone-slamming; Blows 68-69 by tripping and falling, respectively; Blows 70-81 by sled-smashing; Blows 82-99 by sled-blade; Blows 100+ by illegally-procured lead piping in conjunction with previous methods repeated.
Around entry into triple-digitry the brutes and myself came to the realisation that the JB-Uggernaut Jr. was a complete success. Frobert would be studied and commoditized for the betterment of shelled organisms the world over. But perhaps he understood this better than I could at seven years of age; for my friend Frobert emerged from his shell and began to mosey downWurlitzer Way. I walked alongside him, but no amount of pleading would make him stop. The brutes, in an unprecedented display of antagonistic intelligence, found one last chance to throw a spanner into my works. They piled into a wad of shoulders and rammed Frobert from behind, using my own approach to maximalising momentum. The terrapin immediately withdrew into his shell and was set off, skidding over the ice like a top. He crashed storefronts, crunched postboxes, and obliterated a hydrant or two. He brought down street lamps and never seemed to lose a beat of speed. Considering the slick ice of a Gearfaxian winter and the characteristic smoothness of his soft red underbelly, Frobert probably travelled along a near-frictionless surface. All I could do was wave.
Trial 3: Successful. Participant: M.I.A.
It’s a shame these events weren’t more closely documented, but I’ve never been one to follow form. I mean that in the most innovative/best possible/don’t boot me from school way.
The study has shown that artificial amplification of armoured animalia can be a complete success or a total bust. Earlier models like the Juggernaut show exactly why a seven-year-old should not try to play god, but the resoundingly effective JB-Uggernaut Jr. shows why one should. I like to think Frobert is still rolling around the sewer system, somewhere under the Bottoms, disrupting their impoverished society and inspiring urban legends. Frally would weep turtly tears of joy (a less complex substitute for pride, which is unavailable with her mental faculties).
The practice is still in its infancy, however. At seven, I was really just showing the possibilities of what might one day become reality if someone else does all the work. And isn’t that what academic science is all about? Genius points out the road, subordinance lays bricks.
Possibilities could be extended to molluscs, insects, or perhaps even unshelled critters. Before further attempts do take place, however, questions must be raised about lasting effects on the ecosystem and the economy surrounding red-bellied grub-chubbers. As well as other such discussive discourse. And so on &c.
More importantly–this study shows that I’ve been a bitching brill pursuer of the sciences from a very early age. Giving me the boot now, on the way up, would be a rubbish decision for this ailing college. I profess in confidentiality that I am poised on multiple eves of breakthrough, in matters including but not limited to maximitosis, apportation, and temporal temper-/tampering (which only sounds like temper-tantrumming). Hell, give me three weeks and I can literally disprove the entire field of spectroanalysis grant-free. I’ll do it just to see the look on Dr. Fannigan’s grotty ghost-fearing face–full stop.
That is to say–as a member of the scientific community I am committed to devising devices with which to realise the unrealistically lofty aspirations of our species. And I do believe I’d like to continue doing it here in the company of such an … illustrious faculty.
[The appendix has been deemed irrelevant to the case and subsequently removed, due in parts to lack of objectifiable data and abundance of unnecessary grotesquery. –Ed. Prof. Council]
Addiber, C. D. (091). Our Simplest Machines: A Discourse on the Contrapted Obsolete and a Bus-Route for the Contrapted Future. The Journal of Thinguistics, 76 Vol iii, 46-67.
— . (092). Extemporaneous Temporaneous Membranous Gastrophysical Anomalies: Past and Present. Tastes of Time-Space, 43, 25-39.
— . (093). Shite-like Spectroanalysticisms and Hieroentomology: A Battle to Squander University Assets. The Teeth, 18 vol vi, S1-S3.
— . (094). Electrogenesis and the Modern Petri Lamp. The Electrically Constructed Conversation, 62, 33-60.
— . (095). %%%xwàqß`~’.’.’NO0=//\\// [Illogistics in a Logical Landscape]. K?OPw@n3mt#duopop!–^_^, */*, F3-(x).
— . (095). Cage-Match! Abnaturalities VS. Perpetuities. Modern Megascience, 194, 96-114.
— . (096). My Title Got Lost in a Trans-material Meta-real Realm: A Treatise Concerning Apportation and Teleportation. Special Delivery un Ltd., 23, 3-28.
Adelson, B. G. (074). Chub-grubbing: A Guide. Epsil Dist., Gearfax: Academia Nonsensica.
Braymar, C. F. Ill. McMaglin, R. R. (077). Bostwick and the Box Turtle. Epsil Dist., Gearfax: Isopopu-Publishing.
Druschkopfv, D.M. (096, 18th Ippegs). Formal complaint lodges Addiber me’gainst [Msg 04]. Message submitted to Collaborative Science Dept./40001 Steelcrop Ave./Univ. of Grf./Upper Bricktown 6114.
Newcomb, I. (1598). Impossibly Impossible: Perpetual Motion Realized. Megascience, 265, 2-175.
Cadmium Drury Addiber is an entrepreneurial contraptionist, researcher-in-exile at the University of Mispury-Gearfax, and something of a renaissanceur. She has completed 7 partial degrees in subjects as diverse as disorganic systems, inorganicizing chemistry, and fleakersmithing. In 082, she was declared Breakthroughingest Youth by the Newcomb Fund for her work. She also serves on the advisory board for HEPA, Humans for the Ethical Protection of Animalia. Send correspondence through apportation coordinates: 432.675, -00.00178.
Jimmy Grist is a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He used to eat science for breakfast, but then all of his teeth fell out and his tongue decided it would only exist when unobserved. A short (but complete) list of other publications is available at jimmygrist.net (because .nets are cool, and .org didn’t make sense).
Since her inner child is approximately seven years old, Dawn Vogel was happy to contribute an illustration to this story. She has been published as a non-fiction editor and as a short fiction writer, but this marks her first foray into published illustration. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, helps officiate roller derby, and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.