Colbiörnsen, Clade

Unique su clade with distinctive flexible skin structure giving resistance to nanite attack.

Image from Vaktus and Arik
Clade Colbiornsen individuals often wear their loose skin as a replacement for clothing
Clade Colbiörnsen developed during the Dark Age on Ceres. It was a superior colony beneath Coniraya crater, formed after the Technocalypse from the remnants of the utopian Jene colony, a Sagawa outpost and Dzougatov Mining Corps. The orbital/gengineer republic tensions led to the brief but deadly Ceres Civil War.

While culturally it was not extremely unusual, anatomically the clade developed in an unusual direction. Their skin became thick, fast growing and variable in color. Most likely this was due to a mutation in the rickety genetic programming that had been introduced to survive the relatively high space radiation levels and occasional encounters with local nanoplagues. Over the span of generations it spread through the population and became the norm.

Colbiörnsen are easily recognizable by their appearance. Their skin grows thick but flexible, taking on a variety of colors. While their original colors were human-like, further modifications have produced bright colors and patterns, which are augmented by tattoos and skinpaint. By pulling the skin it can be deformed into pouches and useful ornaments; their skin is often mistaken for clothing and often replaces some or all of it. A complex cultural aesthetic developed around the modification of skin into complex designs.

Around 2870, the Ceres habitats had re-united into a provisional federation. It became one of the main supporters in the Vesta-initiated restoration attempts which led to the First Federation. Clade Colbiörnsen encountered the other scattered branches of humanity, itself one of the first clearly divergent clades (although far less divergent than, for example, the Europans).

The Colbiörnsen appearance became a distinguishing mark, usually retained despite further cladisation. Although the original gene line is long lost, there exist at least 42 clades in known space that at some point derive from Colbiörnsen. The most populous and well-known are the Skinplayers of Eryture, who have extended their skin-art into the design of musical or other artistic instruments as part of their anatomy.

Another famous derived clade is the G-Terl of Kidifi III, who during the Gatzoflia Incident of 7422 became what was thought to be the only su to have defeated a hyperturing entity on "equal" terms. This was later (in 7521) shown to be deliberate pretence on the part of the hyperturing, for the purpose of "illustrating a hypothetical parasyllological inverse semiologism"

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg, minor modification by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 21 October 2004.