A/N: Originally written for Soul 2 Soul on AO3 for primeideal
mold me like clay between your palms
One of the first things that fresh changers learned was, of course, the physical characteristics that they would need to impersonate for their tasks in infiltration situations. What the average height of a species was, whether they had eyes or other sensory organs, how delicate their exterior plating might be - those were all critical factors to fooling the cursory observations of their marks. The last thing that a changer wanted to do was get caught because they had a prehensile tail that wasn't supposed to be there.
The second thing that was taught was a species fate mark. Most species functioned this way. It was known to the changers that their own fates were unusual. Physical marks didn't mean anything to changers; their fates were known in their hearts and minds by the song the universe sang to them and their partners alone. The first time that White had seen one of the MIRA crewmates on the exam table, they had been utterly fascinated - and a bit horrified - by the mark that the instructor pointed out.
"Not every one of them has a mark, of course," the instructor explained while the trainees all squirmed and nudged to see better.
"Because not everyone has a soulmate?" one of White's fellow trainees asked. The instructor nodded. That at least made sense to White. Among their own species having a soulmate was more uncommon than common now. They couldn't imagine it would be any more likely among the MIRA humanoids.
When it came time to be tested and the changers took the form of the crewmate - suited and suitless - White felt some pride when they managed it with flying colors. "Great technique, fantastic facsimile," the instructor told them. He paused however, his attention drawn to the forearm where the sample humanoid's fate mark had been. A frown flickered over his face before being smoothed away.
"Interesting take on the fate mark. Sometimes it's better to just leave off without one, blend in to the background. But still acceptable work." White looked down, confused. They had gotten the position correct, hadn't they? Yet the surprise came when White noticed the shape was entirely different than the corpse they had studied.
Shifting the pigments in their flesh, White was able to adjust it properly to the interlaced rings they had observed. But it took careful concentration and as soon as White let their thoughts wander, it slipped away back into the delicate flower shape instead.
Acceptable, yes, but odd. White didn't like oddities, not where fate marks were concerned.
Shifting back into their own form and figure helped ease their confusion. There were more species to examine before training would be over. White would let the odd moment slip into memory. Just a curiosity perhaps from indulging in too much slurry the previous evening. The occurrence did not repeat itself for any other species that White attempted during training and was forgotten.
At least until White found themself finally assigned to a MIRA vessel. They settled into their assigned guise - a crewmate in one of the basic, plain white suits. It was easier to just mock the entire outfit, but White found themself stuck in the claustrophobic helmet often enough because the vessel they were assigned to had the propensity for horrendous, mandatory crew dinners.
White frowned as they were once again faced with the small shape on their forearm. They wanted to rub it away, scour it from the fleshy skin they had taken on. But even with concentration and effort they couldn't keep the mark from reemerging eventually during the day. White fumed and took comfort in the suit that they donned. How sad was that? To be comforted by the synthetic cocoon of the humanoid's manufacturing instead of their own form and flesh.
Comfort wasn't something that changers were afforded, though. So White squished their unease into the back of their mind and focused on their missions. Recon, sabotage, recruitment - whatever task came over the secret channels that their network had setup, White threw themself into it fully.
They made it their prerogative on the crew to be the guy who maintained communications with MIRA. It meant ages and ages of waiting for massive downloads or staying awake for hours on end for the long range comms buoys to be in range. But it afforded White valuable intel for the network. And it meant that White had access to medical files.
Firstly, White used them to mask their own presence. The easiest way for changers to be detected was by the humanoid's med scanners. By having access to the files, White could slide in forged scans "taken" at those scant hours in the evening when everyone else was asleep and never fall under the captain's suspicion.
Secondly, they were able to gain precious information about new crew rotations. Every crewmate had their details sent over ahead of new assignments - provided that MIRA wasn't behind in notifying the ships about them. There were, unfortunately, still times when the good ol' company hadn't gotten around to sending out notification and it wasn't until they were docked at an outpost that the captain would have a new head to account for.
White learned these slip ups were some of the best ways that other changers could join the mission. They got a commendation from the network, actually, for suggesting it. It was very rewarding.
But most critically, White found themself scouring the medical files for their own foolish wants. The longer that White remained among the MIRA humanoids, the longer they dragged tendrils - not tendrils, fingers, the voice of White's old instructor corrected them - over the strange fate mark, the more that the changer needed answers.
It was foolish. It was inane. It was wrong.
Fate bound changers together through the song in the universe, not through a silly collection of pigment beneath delicate, bruisable skin. Fate only bothered with those who were important, those with a destiny to find someone to care for them. Fate sang a mournful song in White's thoughts deep in the night.
Fate did not belong on a changer's fake body and it certainly didn't belong as a flower.
At their next scheduled stop White joined the crew by the airlock, just as eager as the humanoids to shed the Skeld's exoskeleton for a few scant hours. They had spent too long among them. They had spent too many hours bundled in a MIRA spacesuit. Outside, even on a planet as hostile as this one, might help bring White to their senses.
Skittering between one foot and another, White reined in their irritation for the final stretch of minutes. The autopilot was bringing them to the dock. It was in the final moments when the thrumming engines of the Skeld finally kicked off but the airlock had yet to repressurize that White heard it.
Soft, barely audible over the hiss of the pneumatics, White heard it. A gentle hum in the back of the throat not meant for anyone's ears but the singer's. But White knew. They knew that song, they knew that voice as surely as they knew their own.
When the doors opened, White wasn't sure who they were going to see. But somehow, deep in their now trembling heart, White knew they were going to see something remarkable on the other's arm.
A/N: Blanket statement for my oneshots - Please do not ask if I am continuing these. They are single "chapter" fics which I am considering complete. Thank you. - DragonMaster65