Chapter 1: Body Systems- Dee(PG-13)
An overview of how Dee works physiologically, mostly internally. There may be some parts people find upsetting(discussion of blood and guts, gross anatomy, and mild body horror) so viewer discretion advised, this is overall rated PG-13 however.
Some systems are excluded altogether to keep this version PG-13.
Dee’s skin is white with patches of gray to blend in with the snowy regions of the Alps, often going unnoticed if standing completely still. The white areas are quite smooth while the gray patches are scaly like that of a snake, and can peel like so. The paler parts of the skin are sensitive to sun rays so he normally avoids hunting during the day. During hot and dry seasons, the scales dry out and begin to peel off, making for an itchy and irritable creature. This cannot be alleviated with water as that washes out the oils needed to keep them from drying out.
There is a lack of body hair with the exception of the scalp; but a large amount of specialized subcutaneous fat to keep him warm even in harsh winters. He has a high body temperature and can sweat both through regular means and panting as to maintain it. Rarely, when cold, he can spontaneously grow a peach-fuzz to a wooly coat of fur to keep warm. Sometimes, it happens subconsciously from being overjoyed. All of this hair falls out after it is no longer needed since it takes too much energy to maintain.
Underneath the hands, there are calloused “paw pads” that protect from sharp stones and the cold of the snow beneath. Additionally, he has hooked claws for easier scaling of the side of stony structures.
Most of the muscular system could be described as semi-liquid, able to morph and stretch seamlessly for bipedal and quadrupedal movement. This gives leeway for squeezing through tight crevices and shifting into another form. He is completely in control of his flesh and can move it much like a clay, ranging from rippling to hardening similar to an exoskeleton. If the shifting failsafe is triggered, they try to latch onto close living things like tendrils when exposed to air in an attempt to stabilize the structure.
There are three commonly described consistencies, being fluid, putty-like, and semi-gelatinous. In a relaxed state, it is usually described as semi-gelatinous for its feeling when touched or during movement. Stress on the muscle can make it strain to a more human-like muscle consistency but this is very unhealthy to maintain for long periods of time. Extreme heat/joy and during shifting can cause the flesh to become fluid, which means whatever is below skin level is visible, sometimes below muscular level as well. As it begins to harden into the normal state, it becomes an odd putty consistency and stretches along with anything that touches it before snapping back, similar to a rubber band.
The mouth and jaw muscles are by far most complex, being able to move the front set of teeth in order to grab objects; the muscles are known as “lacernte,”all attached to the bones beneath the nose. The canines themselves automatically retract when the mouth is closed in order to conserve space and reduce the chance of puncturing. A bite can pack more than 1300 psi of force, much more than capable of snapping bones and severing tendons.
Much like the muscles, the bones are made of malleable tissue able to shift and form. In desperate situations, even liquify. The hips and spine are especially designed for both forms of movement as mentioned before.
Despite having a strong jaw, the sagittal crest is minimal, but not completely missing. The maxilla is separated at the front of the mouth just behind the canine teeth to facilitate movement of the teeth. Said teeth are of a very hard, dense material, and shed every so often as they wear down or taken out by force. Eventually, they do grow back but it takes from 1 to 2 weeks depending on the amount of damage done.
External pain signals are severely dull, unable to process even lost limbs until minutes later if he doesn’t notice. However, this is countered by lightning-fast reflexes to avoid damage happening in the first place. Internal nerves on the other hand are keen enough to detect foreign objects or subtle aches and pains like a burning hot sensation.
A unique trait is the ability to transfer “mutate signals,” an important part of shapeshifting DNA. Mutate signals remove the flags that tell cells to reject foreign tissues in order to be able to take new shape, but if this fails, an emergency protocol activates and the organism returns to its original state. During shifting, a thin film covers the body to prevent other microbes from taking advantage of the vulnerable body and making him sick.
One additional difference compared to humans is the existence of a feral mindset, or when the brain becomes smoother as a result of stress or hunger in order to reduce the amount of energy being used by the brain. The chemical used for this reaction is called curetebrum. Less curetebrum is produced when he is calmed and well-fed.
Like insects, he does produce pheromones with certain actions. In “a mood,” it’s normally a very sweet scent, but produces a chemical scent when alarmed or telling something to stay away from him. In a neutral setting, the scent is of old leather.
While his species are supposed to have resilient hearts, Dee’s is rather damaged. Normally, The amount of pressure that could be withstood far exceeds that of a human being, which is necessary for shapeshifting. During a morph, the valves are multiplied to move blood faster to prevent incompatibility.
Blood itself is an incredibly dangerous biohazard and is usually treated like incompatible blood types. It can also start attacking other cells and tissues, even if it’s ingested or injected. In some situations, it has been observed mimicking cells it was put together with, creating a valuable blood source for individuals that keep rejecting new tissue. Often this is caused by tricking flags into thinking the new cells are their own while taking blood mid-morph.
Nasal passageways dwarf those of humans, having a whole additional pocket within nasal structure. These structures are excellent for amplifying sound to scare off competition such as lynx or wolves.
Nostrils are placed far up to prevent drowning in bodies of water while drinking. His adaptations are designed for areas with low oxygen, and cells can even go into a hibernation state when it is too thin, sacrificing limbs if critical. Despite being a poor swimmer, he can hold his breath for a considerable amount of time and buys him an additional 4 minutes compared to the average 90 seconds with humans.
To get through tighter places, the lungs can fold up on themselves in order to squeeze through a narrow passageway. Not for long as the lungs will need to be void of air to do so.
He is specifically designed to break down meat, keratin, and bone. Keratin takes longer to process than both bone and meat and is usually passed if it is processed with easier to digest items. Plant-based materials would need to be partially broken down before ingested in order to extract anything from them. Grains are very slow to break down and produce more waste product than meat and bones.
The stomach acid can be compared to that of a crocodile, being able to break things down with relative ease, however, at a much faster rate than the reptile. Osteophagia is a necessity as he cannot process plants, vegetables, seeds, or milk; calcium is incredibly important for keeping his structure. If not completely broken down, the small bowel has an additional layer for crushing bone or other fragments.
The small bowel itself is as long as a human’s, but on the inside contains spiral valves like a shark to increase surface area for absorption. The nerves in this area are very fragile and anything capable of piercing it would definitely be felt, excluding bones as they are generally softened by prior activity, so this provides a red flag that something is wrong.
With both of the structures being of a similar malleable muscle, and the stomach’s sheer amount of processing, they have an incredibly easy time absorbing nutrients until there is next to nothing left except for things not as easily broken down such as hair, nails, hooves, teeth, and, if needed, fibrous material such as grass.
That said, the colon is more so built for compacting rather than absorption. It is shorter in length compared to humans since it has little function beyond the primary one and absorbing water, being more of a trash compactor than anything else. And after, as any organism, whatever indigestible materials are passed.
He has an unusually high metabolism, comparable to shrews. It is an estimate he can consume from a fourth to equivalent or more of his body weight in one day, if desperate, one sitting. If there is too little to eat, his brain will smooth out and go into a more feral state to conserve energy. The last-ditch effort is going into torpor for a long while until food becomes available.
A gland in the brain is responsible for shape-shifting and regeneration, known as the arbitrium. DNA is memorized after digestion through this organ and can change the form of the body by simply thought alone.
This gland can regenerate organs, including brain matter, if there is any of it left in the body. The exception to this rule are organs damaged or lost due to disease or disfigurement due to genetics. New organs would have to be donated to regenerate, same goes for limbs. If the gland itself is damaged, he is basically dead, as the cells no longer can receive signals and break each other down in the process. A way to bypass this is regulating the mutate hormones using a device to keep him alive, but that would make shapeshifting and limb regeneration impossible. Also being the gland responsible for activating the failsafe command for smoothing the brain to a feral level, it is incredibly important for energy regulation. This gland is not needed if his cells are transplanted into a different body.
The kidneys are the most important organs in this particular individual, filtering out things from diseases to radiation. Venom and poisons are much more difficult to process and often can lead to damage. Being said, the waste product is an incredibly dangerous substance and should not be handled in any capacity considering his diet. Mostly being meat, animal-borne disease is commonly filtered out and makes him more resistant to them. The kidneys are complex in structure, looking like a mix of a honeycomb and the inside of a tomato within. These host several million nephrons in comparison to the roughly one million in humans, which allows for more precise filtering, but requires more water intake from the organism.
With frequent filtering, there is frequent urination, sometimes as short as every 20-30 minutes to every 1-3 hours, but fairly inconsistent due to damage to his bladder. An additional problem is the formation of bladder stones that usually need surgery to remove. If not treated quickly, they will accumulate and kill him.