Changelings are a race with human and animal forms. Regardless of physical form at the time, both the animal and human minds are present when conscious.
Changelings are stronger and more durable than humans or Psy. Those whose animals have superhuman senses will also have those in human form, though a shift is required for full utilization. Those who change into mammalian predators can partially shift, manifesting fangs and claws. It is thus far unknown what traits changelings whose animals don't have claws can manifest. Most belong to a pack (clan/flock/herd/etc.), even those whose animals are solitary. Changelings are infertile unless mated or in a stable relationship. They possess a natural resistance to telepathic manipulation, and attacks from anyone below gradient 5 is survivable.
Changelings are capable of smelling emotions, and particularly, whether a Psy is sociopathic or not. Sociopathic Psy are first described as being "totally immersed in Silence," though later it is discovered it is because they were sociopathic to begin with, rather than conditioned that way. However, most Psy do have a metallic stink. Changelings can also smell insanity, describing it as "sick". Senses are superior to other races, and their bodies are also tougher. They are born with shields to prevent Psy from entering their minds, though a Psy can batter at the shield hard enough to cause mental damage.
The animal is within their minds and always active. The animals are vocal and active, often prowling, or displaying emotion through movement. Control can be handed off to the animal, though changelings are taught from a young age to control their inner animals, as the animals sometimes fights for control. The human side is typically in control in both human and animal form. Sometimes the human will let the animal take control during a run for exercise. Changelings consider themselves equally human and animal.
Changelings feel the need to roam in the wild. They will do it throughout their lives, but as a young adult, a changeling typically goes on one roam completely out of the territory of their pack. Changelings are capable of feeling each other's animals. Changelings are capable of scenting another changeling's animal form.
Each pack is autonomous, there is no overall leadership between the packs. Loyalty first and foremost goes to the pack. Family ties exist typically within a pack, but can stretch across packs.
It is possible for another pack to infiltrate the territory and take over by destroying their power structure.
Changeling justice refers to if there is a murder, the murderer will also be killed. They believe a crime should be equally repaid. Changelings have the lowest rate of serial killers in their population. Claws often come out when changelings are overwhelmed with emotion or lose control. Overprotectiveness can be a pitfall for predatory changelings. Mental illness smells like the acrid scent of decay.
Overall Relationships Edit
Psy: Most changelings despise the Psy in 2079.
Humans: Most changelings underestimate humans.
Changelings: Blood bonds allow members to come and go freely in their respective territories, and that each pack will fight to the death for the other.
Changelings can shift with clothes on, but regardless of clothing before, changelings are always naked when shifting back. The shift turns the clothes to ash. Therefore, changelings often take off their clothes before shifting. In a pack, it is considered nothing to be remarked upon. However, those above the age of a young child are expected to wear their animal form if without clothing nearby. Healers also tend to stock clothing in their homes/infirmaries, as many come with ruined clothes, so it's a good place to get clothing if needed and home is too far away.
Changelings don't gain the ability to shift until they reach about 12 months old. They consider it as natural as breathing, though there is a mixture of pleasure and pain involved in the shift. The shift occurs within a couple seconds. It looks like turning into a thousand particles of light and then re-forming. It is often described as ecstasy and agony simultaneously. Half-human, half-changeling children are always capable of shifting.
A pack can claim any public land as its territory, providing they can hold it, and are afterward responsible for the land, plants, animals, and people in that territory. They have legal authority in that territory.
If a changeling pack cannot provide protection or take responsibility for an area, they must cede it. This was a ruling decided after the Territorial Wars. Taking responsibility includes taking care of non-predatory packs in the area, like the deer that DarkRiver takes care of, and preserving the environment.
If a changeling wishes to work, live, or play in an area controlled by a pack, the changeling must request permission to enter the territory. If this is not done, changeling territorial law goes into effect, and the penalty is death. This was because of the ancient Territorial Wars, and the ruling afterwards. The changelings, in order to prevent further bloodshed, required that if someone was to enter a controlled territory, they had to ask permission, or it would be seen as a hostile act. The changelings' instincts are powerful, and animalistic. However, they can be controlled, and changelings make the conscious decision to end the intruder's life if someone does enter without permission.
If someone does come into territory with permission, they are scent-marked by the alpha and second-in-commands to let others know of the temporary "adoption" into the local pack. This policy can make their business slower than the Psy, but there is no backstabbing after, unlike the Psy.
Skin Privileges Edit
Skin privileges refer to the right to touch someone else. This phrase is used primarily by the changelings, but changelings recognize that a person, regardless of species, has the right to give or take away their own skin privileges from someone else.
Changelings are driven by hunger, sensation, and touch. Touch is an important part of a changeling's life. Many greet each other with words and a touch. A brush of lips is not uncommon from a female to a male, regardless of romantic involvement. Between males, they go for night runs, play games, or fight each other to grow bonds. Normal touches between packmates include brushing hands across cheeks, hands, and kisses on cheeks or lips. Strong males are prickly, and will reject kind words, but a simple kiss is accepted to soothe hurt. Skin privileges are only shared with those they trust, but changelings require touch. How far those skin privileges extend depends on the relationship between the persons involved. Touch starvation can kill a changeling. Changelings do not require sex, but are much more open about one-nighters to release tension that can easily build from the animal and the need for touch. Changelings are highly tactile and physical, but they also have the concept of mating.
Lucas notes changelings are bad at sharing, but this is with the tag "it depends." Changelings, within their own pack, share resources and duties well. There is an overall comradery. However, for all their openness with touch, skin privileges are more highly guarded than noticeable at first glance. On top of that, open relationships are an absolute no-go for changelings. It is exclusive or nothing. Lucas also notes that as alpha, he is more possessive than the rest. This is because he feels ultimate responsibility for the entire pack, as all alphas do. Alphas will guard and provide for their packs with their lives.
Mating is a uniquely changeling concept, though something similar can occur between two Psy. A mate to a changeling can be of any race. There are several examples of changelings being mated to humans, other changeling breeds and even Psy. Mating is a mental, and soul-deep, bond between two persons. Mating bonds can be seen by Psy as they exists on a psychic level. Mates are for life, and there is no such thing as divorce. Often, if a mate dies, the other dies as well (i.e. Carlos Hunter). Unusual exceptions are Valentin's mother. Changelings are capable of mating with any of the three races. Mating cannot be easily influenced by avoiding long-term relationships.
Mating dance is the process of mating. The male always knows first, and the female only finds out if he or someone else spills the beans. Most males try not to say it, because they don't want to spook the female into refusing. At this point in the dance, males are highly unstable and prone to attacking competitors. However, the female always has the last say in the mating dance. A rare exception is mating on the spot, only seen in Ethan Night and Selenka Durev so far. If the last step of the mating dance is not completed, it is possible to find another mate, though that case is extremely rare. If the last step is complete, a mating bond forms, and another mate can never be found, even if one mate dies. Usually, when one mate dies, the other dies as well shortly after.
Mates are the only thing that (can) stand above the pack. Since changelings only mate once in a lifetime, these bonds are considered precious. In most inter-pack changeling pairs that mate, one of the mates will join the other mate's pack. For example, Juanita, Mercy's mentor, mated outside the pack and left.
There are probably several "options" (Hawke was sure he had found his mate, but could later mate with Sienna), but the only choice is whether or not to start the process. While that is said, in Riaz and Adria's case, Riaz found his mate but she was married to another before he met Adria. The mating bond between him and the woman disintegrated when both the human and wolf side decided that he wanted Adria. He was later able to mate Adria.
Some changeling mates also marry in a marriage ceremony as well as a mating ceremony, but that is normally if they have a human mate. Regardless, there is usually a celebration by the pack for a mating called a mating ceremony.
Soldiers have high rank, but healers have a rank equivalent to a second-in-command. In certain situations, a healer's rank can be higher than that. Certain maternal females hold extremely high rank because families are considered important in packs.
There is a difference between dominance level and assigned duty in a pack. Dominance is a combination of physical ability and force of personality. Dominant changelings heal faster then less dominant ones, and have strong protective instincts.
Lucas points out that if someone is proven to be less than they were thought to be, they are simply reassigned, and sometimes given more training, whereas the Psy discard them. Every member is considered valuable in a pack.
Alpha/First/Wing leader Edit
An alpha is the leader of the pack/clan, and described as having the biggest heart in the pack. In BlackSea, the position is instead called First. In bird groups, the position is called wing leader. Alphas are responsible for all of the members of the pack, and good alphas feel the responsibility. Alphas are the most dominant member of the pack. An alpha can be challenged for leadership, but good alphas are rarely challenged, even after growing older.
Any member of the pack can approach the alpha if necessary, but most typically go through channels. For example, if a soldier finds a breach in the territory line, it is reported to their commander, who then passes it up the chain until it reaches the alpha. Alphas are born (i.e. Kit Monaghan), not chosen, though some alphas can gain the status later in life (i.e. Remi Denier). alphas can be taken down by second-in-commands if they are breaking pack law. In one-on-one fights with a second-in-command, the alpha will always win. However, with all of them together, the alpha can be taken down. Loyalty to an alpha is not absolute, and must be earned.
Alphas cannot afford to let their skills slip, and thus their second-in-commands are the only ones strong and skillful enough to keep them on their toes. However, experience can be valued highly, and if an alpha does become too weak to be the enforcer, but is still respected and wanted as alpha, the second-in-commands take over the enforcer tasks (i.e. Isabella Garcia). Upon retirement of an alpha or a second-in-command, the changeling becomes an advisor, who holds the same rank as a second-in-command.
Known alphas Edit
Lucas Hunter (DarkRiver), Hawke Snow (SnowDancer), Remington Denier (RainFire), Miane Leveque (BlackSea), Isabella Garcia (AzureSun), Kiya Teague (IceRock), Parrish ♰ (PineWood), Monroe Halliston ♰ (SkyElm), Aria ♰ (WindHaven), Adam Garrett (WindHaven) and Selenka Durev (BlackEdge)
In big cat packs, they are called sentinels. In wolf packs, they are called lieutenants. In bear clans, they are called seconds. In bird groups, they are called wing-seconds. Regardless of the name they go by, these are members of the pack that are just below the alpha in dominance and trust. They form a blood bond with the alpha, pledging themselves to the pack. If the alpha dies, one of them can usually hold the pack together until another alpha is sworn in. They help carry some of the pack duties, and can serve as go-betweens for different issues in the pack.
If an alpha is causing a pack to loose hope, humanity, finances, or causing harm to the pack, the second-in-commands have the right to take charge of the pack and kick the alpha out of leadership. The second-in-commands exist to protect the alpha, but aren't quite bodyguards, as no alpha likes bodyguards. Alphas often run with second-in-commands to strengthen their bonds. They are also the first line of defense in the pack, and the executioners of the alpha if the alpha breaks pack law.
A special designation in changeling packs, healers are capable of healing any type of physical damage, though they do have limits. They can enhance healing, and can be used in conjunction with regular medics. Packs tend to avoid human hospitals and M-Psy, so healers are often in use, as changelings play rough and soldiers spar often.
Healers, like sentinels/lieutenants, can stand above and reject an alpha's decision. Healers are sacred to packs and are not to be harmed. According to Changeling Law and Protocol, healers from any pack, whether that pack is ally or enemy, must be treated fairly and not harmed. Healers also don't choose to roam as they like to remain close to their packmates. Every changeling respects healers.
A special designation in changeling packs. They hunt down their own that go rogue. They are born with the special capacity to track down other changelings and brutal strength to execute them. Examples are Lucas Hunter and Drew Kincaid.
Rogues are unable to remember their humanity, but keep enough higher intelligence to do serious damage. They tend to go after the ones who could stop them first, such as mates and children. They then typically target packmates. They go into animal form, and do not come back out. No rogue has ever come back after turning rogue.
Changelings aren't considered adults at 18. Instead, they're adults when they prove they are, by showing responsibility. In the teen years and until official adulthood, changelings that fall into this category are known as juveniles. Most changelings are barely mature at 23.
Changeling Groups Edit
- Main article: Changeling Groups
Animal Species Edit
There are a variety of animal species seen in this series.
Big Cats Edit
Regardless of specific species, all big cat changelings move fluidly, gracefully. Cubs can be picked up by the scruff of their necks in animal form. Jaguar changelings tend to be solitary travelers, and do not need a pack or hierarchy.
Packs: DarkRiver, RainFire, AzureSun, SkyElm
Packs: SnowDancer, BlackEdge Edit
Typically, aquatic changelings are seawater-based, and are thus part of a global pack. There are a multitude of species, making it the only known major cross-species pack, as they can be anything from dolphins to sharks, whereas DarkRiver are all within the big cat family.
Mentioned but virtually unseen:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Slave to Sensation.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 52.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 130.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 261-262.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 53.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 159.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 319.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 54.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 50.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Slave to Sensation, pg. 183.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 182.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 61.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 218.
- ↑ Slave to Sensation, pg. 63.