"I learned soon enough that the substance running through my veins wasn't just clay, but something organic. Like a virus. It evolved just as I did. And that evolution brought with it more changes... and more skills. If I touched someone, I could replicate them. It was better than acting. It was transformation. I could file away other people's DNA in an internal library of sorts. I could retrieve those DNA profiles at a moment's notice. And this taught me even better how to imitate, blend in, disguise myself. It was only a matter of time before someone chose to make use of those skills in a different way. Someone I owed. Someone I couldn't refuse."
Impossible Man:[transforms into a pair of binoculars] As I said, I've been spying on you and found you to be less than the wild and crazy guy I thought you were. [transforms into a block of stone] In fact, you're a real party pooper! Dead serious! So solemn I could just plotz! A stone drag! Silver Surfer: I wish you'd stop changing shape like that...
Nightcrawler: They say you can imitate anybody — even their voice. Mystique:[mimicking Nightcrawler]Even their voice. Nightcrawler: Then why not stay in disguise all the time, you know? Look like everyone else? Mystique: Because we shouldn't have to.
"I have been more animals than many people ever see in a lifetime. I have flown with the wings of an osprey. I've raced through the ocean in the body of a dolphin. I've seen the world through the eyes of an owl at night, and smelled the wind with all the keen senses of a wolf. I've flown upside down and backward in the body of a fly. Sometimes I go out into the far fields at night and become a horse and run through the grass."
Jolson frowned and shifted his position slightly. Then, he grew two inches. "About right?" Azeler, swallowing, said, "Fine. I never get used to you fellows, though." He added, "Being chosen for the Chameleon Corps must be quite an elating thing." "I was twelve when I was tapped to start undergoing the conditioning and processing," said Jolson. "At the time, I guess I was elated. My father arranged it; he was." He tucked his chin once, and his face blurred and his features quivered and shifted.
— The Chameleon Corp And Other Shape-Changers, by Ron Goulart
In Mrs. H-W's dreams I always present like my real self, because she's insecure and I'm unthreatening. But technically, I can change myself into anything I want when I'm in someone's dream. Once, I changed myself into a horse so that my client could gallop off into the sunset alone, leaving his mouthy ex-boyfriend behind.
"For the past week, I have conducted all manner of tests on the specimen (whom I have named "Shifty") to get a sense of his unique biological makeup. Although I've yet to determine his origin, I've recorded countless incredible forms. Shifty has such a delightful temperament — transforming into a tail-wagging dog when he's happy and a prickly sea urchin when he's sad. I have shown him photos of a number of different animals and he always matches them perfectly (although I am careful to only show him small herbivores. The books on large predators are strictly off-limits). I have also become careful to wear a surgical mask while around him — the possible repercussions if he got a good look at my face are somewhat unnerving."
You see, mighty Zeus, playful Zeus, crafty Zeus, he can't help but dress up like this and like that, adopting whatever raiment allows him to gain his impulsive ends or satisfy his fleeting curiosity or quench his childish need for entertainment. With my new senses, though, I can now smell through such trickery. I've watched him couple as a swan, I've tracked him from shore when he swam as a bull, I even listened to him sneak into the locked room of a tower as a ray of sunlight, and I recognized him not because a ray of light makes a sound battering into motes of dust, but because mighty Zeus was chuckling to himself low enough that only wolf ears could register it.
— He Fell Howling, by Stephen Graham Jones
"Other members of my shape-changing race have given my entire species a disreputable air. My people are most commonly thought of as spies and assassins, able to disguise themselves and blend in with any group of sentients. We can fog the minds of those around us, erasing suspicions and distracting people from asking embarrassing questions. Naturally, we are greatly sought after by powerful crime lords as well as the Empire itself for espionage and covert operations. I have chosen, however, to turn my skills to the advancement of knowledge. As an 'invisible' anthropologist, I am able to blend in with any culture and observe it from the inside, discovering valuable details hidden from blundering, intrusive teams with their electronic imagers and keypads and blunt questions. No, I work alone. I slip in and play my role. I watch, and learn."
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom he saw, on either side of the rock walls, portraits framed in thick gold. In one, a yellow-skinned vampire grinned around dripping teeth, and the caption below read: His Darkness — The Lord of Fear. The next, a glaring werewolf bore the caption His Mighty Darkness — Bestial Conqueror. And another, this one a Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose caption read: Before there was Man, there was Fear. "Sheesh, what an ego." Jud remembered seeing Len wandering around in all these forms; Len liked to change shape like some people change haircuts. Whenever he came up with a new one he'd prowl around the lawns, showing it off to the rest of them. He'd been using the Grim Reaper costume for over a year now. Best thing to do was pretend to be impressed, then he'd leave you alone for a while.
As the weeks went by, and still no one spoke, they plowed deeper and deeper into areas of magic Quentin never thought he'd have the guts to try. They practiced transformations. He learned to unpack and parse the spell that had turned them into geese. (Much of the trick, it turned out, was in shedding, storing and then restoring the difference in body mass.) They spent a hilarious afternoon as polar bears, wandering clumsily in a herd over the packed snow, swatting harmlessly at each other with giant yellow paws, encased as they were in layers of fur, hide, and fat. Their bear bodies felt clumsy and top heavy, and they kept toppling over sideways onto their backs by accident. More hilarity.
Loki: And the being I will be visiting shortly? How does he appear? Hellspawn: However he wishes. I have seen him take many forms. Loki: Interesting. Hellspawn: Do you not take many forms? I have heard you have the power to do so. Loki: I do. I do, indeed. But they are forms that I imagine, rather than forms that have been imagined by others. They are not my natural manifestation, merely suits of clothes, so to speak, that I wear for short periods of time.
— The Naughtiest Cherub, by Kevin Hearne
The skin of Faethor's face, large-pored and grainy at best, underwent a swift metamorphosis. Watching it I thought: I have never known what he looks like. And even now I won't know. He is how he wants me to see him!
"War has made it difficult for me to keep track of research. At one time I used to fly with my own wings, but that is too slow in a world of delayed news. Today, to reach you, I took the swiftest plane ever built, transformed into a parachute, then a dog. It took me only three hours to reach here from — where I was. But you can see now why I am on Earth — to protect the human race from one phase of its scientific genius."
Ger:[in the form of a dog] Pilot, why dont you wake up? Most of the people on Grom are miserable. Only custom makes us take the caste-shape of our ancestors. Ilg:[in the form of a tree] Pilot, all Grom are born Shapeless! Ger: And being born Shapeless, all Grom should have Freedom of Shape.
It feels almost obscene — an offense against Creation itself — to stay stuck in this skin. It's so ill-suited to its environment that it needs to be wrapped in multiple layers of fabric just to stay warm. There are a myriad ways I could optimize it: shorter limbs, better insulation, a lower surface:volume ratio. All these shapes I still have within me, and I dare not use any of them even to keep out the cold. I dare not adapt; in this place, I can only hide. What kind of a world rejects communion? It's the simplest, most irreducible insight that biomass can have. The more you can change, the more you can adapt. Adaptation is fitness, adaptation is survival. It's deeper than intelligence, deeper than tissue; it is cellular, it is axiomatic. And more, it is pleasurable. To take communion is to experience the sheer sensual delight of bettering the cosmos.
Unlike other inhabitants of Hagwood, the forgotten race of werlings possessed only one grain of magic. But that single, simple blessing had preserved their way of life for untold ages. The miraculous power of transformation, of "wergling" to give it the proper name, was theirs to command. They had the ability to change their shape at will and become any creature of a similar size to themselves. Yet before this talent could be used, there were many teachings to study and rules to be learned. To embark upon any change of shape without correct instruction was unheard of and undoubtedly dangerous, so there was always a Wergle Master present whose role was to guide and educate the novices. Terser Gibble was the latest in a distinguished line of respectable tutors, but few had ever gloried in such a skill as his.
"It digested Charnauk, and as it digested, studied every cell of his tissue and shaped its own cells to imitate them exactly. Parts of it — parts that had time to finish changing — are dog-cells. But they don't have dog-cell nuclei." Blair lifted a fraction of the tarpaulin. A torn dog's leg with stiff grey fur protruded. "That, for example, isn't dog at all; it's imitation. Some parts I'm uncertain about; the nucleus was hiding itself, covering up with dog-cell imitation nucleus. In time, not even a microscope would have known the difference. "Suppose," asked Norris bitterly, "It had had lots of time? "Then it would have been a dog. The other dogs would have accepted it. We would have accepted it. I don't think anything would have distinguished it, not the microscope, not x-ray, not any other means. This is a member of a supremely intelligent race, a race that has learned the deepest secrets of biology, and turned them to its use."
"You have no idea of the marvels that are in store for you. Do you know what you are? You're a Changeling. A shape-shifter. You can be anything: a Tarkalean hawk soaring through the sky, or a Filian python burrowing deep beneath the ground. It's all yours for the taking. I was never a very good shape-shifter. If you could see the faceI'm stuck with, you'd know what I mean... but I think I can be a good teacher. You'll be better than I ever was."
Peri: You're sure this... this enemy called itself "The Overseer"? Tog: It had many faces, spoke in many voices, but yes, it called itself the Overseer — often, in fact. It seemed... pleased with itself. Most oft, it took the appearance of a gaily-clad, dancing, laughing Fool, a— Peri: Jester? Tog: The word is unfamiliar to me, but yes, I see its meaning. Erimem:Why do you keep calling it anit? Is it not a he or a she? Tog: In truth, I do not know. As I said, it wore many faces — male, female, neither applied for long.The only constant was its eyes: unblinking, set, utterly insane...
Frobisher: Look, the TARDIS is always out of control — is it worth interrupting my bathtime? It's embarrassing, I'm all naked here! The Doctor: Frobisher, you're the shape of a penguin; you're always naked! Frobisher: That's what you think. I usually morph myself a pair of black and white pants as well.
Many classes dabble in shapeshifting: Druids can become animals and elementals, mages use arcane power to turn themselves into many different shapes, but it takes far more dedication than either to master this powerful artform. Maybe it is the blood of Hagunemnon, Phasms, or other powerful shapechangers mingled or forcibly infused into the shapeshifters' bloodline that makes this mutability possible for them. A true shapeshifter can be anything: a powerful melee combatant, scout, infiltrator, conman, or anything else they desire.
A month later, you were camping in the desert outside Santa Fe, and he said he had some things to show you. You thought he meant sexual things — but instead, he turned into a wolf. Then an eagle. Then he turned into you. "You can do this too," your double said to you. He became himself again, and he was on you like an animal in human form. The whole time he was undressing you, he was whispering strange exciting things in your ear. The moment he took your virginity, you felt something in you change, and not just in a symbolic way. Your body became fluid and moved with his body, and you made love as panthers, as minks, as foxes. And nothing about you would ever be the same again.
The Zookeeper seldom looks the same from week to week. He takes one animal or half-animal form after another, but retains speech in all of them. He rarely takes a fully human form, and no longer remembers what he looks like in life. A hidden locker in the zoo's maintenance tunnels holds a change of nineteenth-century clothing, which Sortano wears on the rare occasions when he must impersonate a mortal; he prefers to look like an animal.
The most accomplished trickster amongst Tzeentch's daemons is the Changeling, the embodiment of the Great Schemer's need to meddle and deceive. The Changeling is possessed of a supernatural ability to assume the shape of any other creature in the universe with unfailing precision. He is the ultimate doppelganger; there is no form that the Changeling cannot duplicate, no mannerism he cannot adopt. From small animals to towering alien monsters, common citizens to Planetary Governors, the Changeling has impersonated them all. Indeed, the only image that the Changeling is unable to replicate is that of Tzeentch himself, for the Great Schemer will not tolerate any being mimicking his identity.
"You look upon the world around you and you think you know it well. I have smelled it as a wolf, listened as a cat, prowled shadows that you never dreamed existed... but my life is as a human, I am under no illusions to the contrary."
"Children take to innovation much more readily than adults do. My granddaughter once taught me how to use a new function on my smartphone. She was four years old. What of innovations of the flesh? Lycanthropy allows protean changes over the essence and shape of one's body. Adult lycanthropes default to rote forms; these standard molds are perhaps shaped in the mind by millennia of communal folklore. Life imitates art, and the supernatural imitates superstition. Children are not so constrained by preconceptions. Their minds are wondrous! As frightful as adult lycanthropes are, child lycanthropes can achieve whole new vistas of form and formidableness. Give them a smartphone or give them shape-changing and watch them astound."