Worldbuilding June Day 3: Changelings
Although the faeries and their kin probably don’t exist, they served as the inspiration for the bio-engineers of Stag Corp when they created the being that they named Titania. Although she looked like a beautiful human, Titania’s genes were in fact built up from scratch and she had many abilities far surpassing those of her creators. One such ability was her advanced immune system and ability to repair and recover from damage that would certainly kill any human. It was found that when her blood was injected into other creatures her cells began to ‘repair’ them, altering their physiology and granting many of the same abilities she had. As Titania assumed the identity of her namesake, humans altered by her started to be called ‘Changelings’. Their abilities include:
Mega-Strength: Jennifer Airhart noted that Tenley Tych, a child Changeling, had all of her muscle tissue replaced by new material with properties similar to that of synthetic fibers being developed in robotics. She estimated the strength to be as much as 100x greater than that of normal tissue. This increased strength also allows Changelings to move incredibly fast and jump long distances.
Super senses: Sight, hearing, and smell are vastly superior. This can cause serious problems in some who don’t adapt quickly enough and suffer a sensory overload. Changeling’s also see a wider spectrum than humans – for example, they can ‘see’ heat.
Limited Telepathy: Changelings can exchange thoughts, memories and experiences via touch, communicating with each other via the nervous system (Titania herself can extend her telepathy over a longer range). Although the shared memories do fade rather quickly.
Biological immortality: Although they can be killed, once a Changeling has grown to adulthood they cease aging.
In addition to physical abilities, Titania was herself a skilled bio-engineer – in fact her abilities in that regard surpassed her human creators as well. Thus she grows a types of armour and weapons for her servants to make use of. The armour they wear is not only strong, but has the ability to bend light around it making the wearer invisible. In additions to blades, Changelings also make use of a kind of vine they can use as a rope or whip. This, like the armour, connects to users nervous system so they become literally extensions of themselves.
None of this however comes without any risks or a price to pay. Making Changelings is not always successful – often the cells mutate in the host, resulting in a malformed monstrosity. The younger the host, it seems, the greater the chance of success. Additionally, Titania maintains some telepathic link to all those infected by her blood. With only a few exceptions, she uses this to suppress the wills and memories of her victims.
A retro-virus created by Jennifer Airhart’s father was able to reverse most of the changes (although with one notable exception, and it’s not yet understood why).