Raymundo leaned against the doorway to his ship’s infirmary. "I only found the ship a couple months ago. My father, for whatever reason didn't tell me anything."
"Okay, you found the ship,” Lucky tapped the monitor in the infirmary. “And then what?”
“I found the records my ancestors kept.” Raymundo joined Lucky at the monitor. He pulled up the entries, scrolling through the various media entries. “I started looking through them. And when I realized what they implied, well,” he shrugged. “I tried shape shifting.”
Lucky’s eyes sparkled. “How did that go?”
“Er,” he cleared his throat. “Besides the time I regrew the part of my finger I accidentally cut off-”
“Survival instincts at their finest.” Lucky grabbed his wrists, turning his hands this way and that, eyes studying each finger.
He cleared his throat. “Anyway, besides that time, all I’ve managed to shape shift into...” he clicked on a picture file. “Something like this.”
On screen was a vaguely humanoid shape, translucent with free floating organs and shrunken bones. Bits of hair clung to odd places. Lips were nonexistent, but there was a slit for a mouth.
“I’m a little taller.” He shrugged. “But that varies, right?”
Lucky nodded enthusiastically. “Everything can vary! Thanks to your phenogland you-”
“Phenogland.” When Ray only tilted his head, Lucky pulled their shirt up over their abdomen. Watching that strip of skin become clear, watching organs shift and almost disappear, until the only thing which still had color, was a green corkscrew shaped organ. “That,” Lucky pointed as if it wasn’t obvious, “is your phenogland.”
“And what does it do exactly?”
“Well,” Lucky hummed. “It is a gland, which,” Lucky started snapping, “it does all the work of creating your looks.” Lucky sighed. “The phenogland manipulates the DNA, and while normally your human cells act like normal human cells, when you influence your phenogland they don’t. Instead, your phenogland will run all the proteins and control things to affect your phenotype.”
“Okay,” Raymundo put his hands up, “give me a second to see if I can make sense of it.” He pursed his lips and looked slightly down. He moved his hands, pointing at nothing, drawing lines, and lips moving. “All right. The phenogland changes my phenotype, but the DNA in all my cells is still my weird half and half mix right?”
Lucky’s eyes rolled back for a moment. “Correct. The phenogland either lets them act as normal, or changes all the expressions to match the form you are trying to take.”
“But, how do I do that?”
“Practice.” Lucky grinned. “Don’t worry, I’ve trained many in the art of fast, thoughtful, and sometimes partial, shape shifting.” They flicked one hand and each finger changed. One became a feather, another grew scales, another flopped as a tentacle, one sprouted an extra long claw, and their thumb had bark with leaves. “I’ll train you too. Since you’re going to help me find Skylar.”
“I’ll take all the help I can get.”
Word count: 500