Transform Mythos


The Commander series, the Good Doctor’s Tales, and the Cause series exist in the Transforms universe, an alternate history version of our own universe. In it, a disease (Transform Sickness) appeared in the early 1950s and very slowly spread in the years that followed. Survivors of Transform Sickness gain (mostly) minor physical enhancements with (mostly) minor physical costs. However, these minor differences are enough to stigmatize the survivors of the Transform Sickness (who are termed Transforms).
The Books in the Transforms Series

The Commander Series Novels

Once We Were Human
Now We Are Monsters
All Beasts Together
A Method Truly Sublime
No Sorrow Like Separation
In This Night We Own
All That We Are

The supplementary Commander Series Stories

The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio One
All Conscience Fled (The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Two)
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Three
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Four
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Five
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Six
No Chains Shall Bind Me (The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Seven)
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Eight
The Good Doctor’s Tales Folio Nine

The Cause Series Novels

The Shadow of the Progenitors
Love and Darkness
The Forgefires of God
Beasts Ascendant (The First Chronicle of the Cause)
No Small Dreams
An Age Without A Name
Go Gaily In The Dark (The Second Chronicle of the Cause)
Blood's Shadow
The Wilderness of Mirrors
Only The Truly Damned (not yet published)

The Story of the Transforms

The First Transforms


The authorities documented the first evidence of a normal transformation in 1951, in southern Kansas, in the autopsy of a young woman who had gone mad and killed her children. When her husband found her eating the bodies of her dead children, she attacked him. He defended himself by shooting her and killing her. The coroner found the right side of her torso covered with scales. She appeared to be a human in the process of becoming a snake. The authorities concealed the incident, fearing an Eastern Bloc poison had somehow made its way into the heartland of the United States.

After the authorities found several more examples of this strange and deadly malady in the Great Plains area of the United States, they christened it Transformation Syndrome. Within six months, authorities documented fifty examples of Transformation Syndrome in the United States, Europe and Japan. The scientists were baffled, because the effects of Transform Syndrome appeared to violate the laws of heritability, genetics and biochemistry as they were known then, but the press and clergy were not – to them, this was something supernatural, some form of divine payback for (pick one) immorality, war, nuclear weapons, short skirts and later, rock and roll. The most common explanation touted was demonic possession. Number two was UFOs.

Since this was all before the polio vaccine and the discovery of DNA, the scientists were overmatched.

In the early years, Transformation Syndrome was only a minor fear compared to polio and the threat of nuclear war. Early on, doctors could not determine whether the Transformation Syndrome was a communicable disease or a malady similar to cancer. The major papers grew so embarrassed about the many wild explanations they refused to cover it outside of the religion section. The weekly magazines covered it as a hoax or a ‘Believe it or Not’ style curiosity, if they covered it at all. Several prominent politicians of the era considered Transformation Syndrome a hoax, a Communist plot, or both.

Many people contracted Transformation Syndrome and died; soon, the syndrome acquired a common name – the shakes. Women who contracted Transformation Syndrome went insane, changing their shapes and becoming non-human, a Monster. Within a year, the doctors realized Transformation Syndrome also affected men, causing them go to insane, but not to change their shape, did not affect children under the age of puberty, and only rarely affected post-menopausal women and older (retirement age) men.

The Discovery of Juice

During the initial media furor over Transformation Syndrome, a few dissident doctors began to study the syndrome as a medical condition, not as something supernatural. Despite their work, many years passed before their results made the daily newspapers. What these dissident doctors learned was important, though – they were the first to realize Transformation Syndrome caused changes within the cells of its victims. The cells began to produce and to consume a complex biochemical cocktail, discovered in 1954 and named para-procorticotrophin. Para-procorticotrophin proved to be a variant precursor to a standard brain hormone, corticotrophin (among other things).

Normal corticotrophin is a hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland, and this hormone controls secretion of certain other hormones, the corticosteroids, by the adrenal glands. Its secretion, controlled by corticotrophin-releasing hormone, occurs in short bursts every few hours, and the amount secreted increases during stress. The corticotrophin-releasing hormone, renamed procorticotrophin, occurs in the body in quantities 2000 times smaller than para-procorticotrophin occurs in a Transform. Within the para-procorticotrophin were hundreds of unknown hormones and metabolism-affecting chemical compounds, only a few understood, even a generation later. This mixture of chemicals resisted duplication because of its complexity.

The common name for the para-procorticotrophin mixture became juice.

Transformation Syndrome disturbed the scientists of the ‘50s because of the extreme bodily plasticity it created. This was not an effect seen in nature in vertebrates, but did resemble some non-vertebrate life-stage changes. The discovery of DNA and the realization that the basis of heritability came in discrete chunks made the effects of the Transformation Syndrome plausible, but still, the effects of Transformation Syndrome were beyond these scientists' ability to explain at the biochemical level.

Early on, once these researchers found a way to measure juice amounts, they observed a correlation between juice level, memory retention and IQ. At the optimal juice level for any Transform, memory retention and IQ were elevated far above the IQ and memory retention levels of a non-Transform. This effect was greater for Major Transforms (see later) than with Transforms. As the juice level fluctuated, the IQ and memory retention levels slowly degraded. Near the extremes, the amount of degradation was more pronounced.

The Reality of Monsters

The authorities learned that women who contracted Transformation Syndrome would, within a few weeks, physically transform away from humanity and become a Monster. What they didn’t know was that before their complete physical transformation, these women first went insane. Colloquially, the media labeled these the change. That this was disturbing would be an understatement, as it violated all common sense. People didn’t alter their shapes after birth; nor did any other animals larger than insects. Despite the best efforts of authorities and the scientific establishment, the reality of Monsters entered the public consciousness as something supernatural and horrifying; the cause, in the public mind, was moral and spiritual. The inability of the authorities to associate Transformation Syndrome with a known disease didn’t help matters at all.

A woman victim of the Transformation Syndrome who eluded capture and who had adequate food and water would became a terror over the months and years as a true Monster. The reason these women became Monsters eluded understanding for several years, but after much study the researchers pieced together the process: women victims of the Transformation Syndrome produced juice, and when they produced so much juice that it overwhelmed their bodies, they overdosed on juice, and this juice overdose caused their secondary transformation into a Monster. The change involved alterations of shape, alterations of looks, growth of additional body parts, growing hair, scales or elephant-like leathery skin, losing and regrowing teeth, and many other alterations. The first physical signs of the change often included blood escaping through the skin for a few minutes, followed by hands becoming claws.

The authorities first thought Transformation Syndrome only a female malady (a misperception that, as might be expected, harmed the public perception of women). However, a spike in grisly murders and unexplained deaths of the perpetrators led the authorities to realize, twenty months after the recognition of Transformation Syndrome, that men suffered from the Syndrome was well. After a few months of hard work, the FBI pieced together the story: all male victims of the Transformation Syndrome died within a month from a horrible death. The reason for their death was a form of withdrawal, and in specific, juice withdrawal. In juice withdrawal, the man would either be overcome by pain and go comatose, attempt to satisfy his need for juice by other forms of consumption (excess amounts of food, alcohol and hard drugs were popular), or by taking his mind off of their need for juice with various forms of physical abuse (rape, violence, murder, and mayhem), including self-abuse. As with Monsters, men in juice withdrawal (soon given the term Psychos) suffered a diminution of mental capacity large enough to cause some men in withdrawal to beat themselves to death (one wag termed this ‘morbid senility while overdosing on speed’). Death from juice withdrawal occurred when the lack of juice caused neuron apoptosis. From studies of male victims of Transformation Syndrome the authorities learned how much the metabolism of a these victims were changed by their transformation.

Why did the alterations of shape occur in women Transformation Syndrome, but not men? While juice metabolism is beneficial (if one has an adequate food supply), too much juice in one’s body is not beneficial. Juice (or, at least, many juice components) acts as a poison in too large an amount. Technically, juice is a potent carcinogen; the type of neoplasm created by a Monster is primarily structural tissue (often tumor ridden, as well).

However, Transformation Syndrome otherwise lies outside of the standard effects of the other known forms of cancer. The transformation into a Monster did not kill the former person in all cases, just changes them. The popular press made the mistake of stating that Monsters were the mirrors of humanities’ distant ancestors, despite the fact the most common monster shape was a ‘giant chimpanzee’ in form. The secondary transformation into a Monster is not “a recurrence of insect metamorphosis”, as stated in the famous 50’s Life magazine article introducing Transformation Syndrome to the American public.

As stated above, not all Monsters are viable; during the early years of the disease, for reasons still unknown, many Monsters died on their own within a few months, even under the best of circumstances. Often, these non-viable Monsters had absurd shapes, including some of whom which lacked any method of movement. The next most common reason for a Monster to die once it escaped the bounds of civilization was starvation. Not only are Monsters unable to reproduce, they are much more inefficient in their use of food than any other creature of their size and shape.

Transforms Learn to Live

The First Focuses

Anne-Marie Sieurs (1952, Nancy, France) survived the Transformation Syndrome and went on to change the world. During the course of her transformation, Miss Sieurs became delirious, ran a high fever, and went into a coma for 5 days. Two of her female friends stayed with her through her sickness. For their efforts, her friends became victims of the Transformation Syndrome themselves, the first documented induced transformations.

Much to the surprise of the doctors, when Miss Sieurs woke up five days later, she sensed the presence of her two friends using some additional ‘sixth sense’. As long her two friends stayed within 100 yards of Miss Sieurs, she could locate them, irrespective of walls or any other obstacles. She also learned, by trial and error, how to bring their transformations under control, preventing these women from becoming Monsters. The fact she did this at range disturbed the French research community, and they initially discounted her explanations. Miss Sieurs soon discovered that if she took juice from her woman Transforms (her term) and give it to a male Transform, she kept him from going into withdrawal. She established the basic triad arrangement – 2 female Transforms for each male Transform able to be supported. She also discovered she could support more than one triad in her household.

Early on, Sieurs made herself into a celebrity, the better to spread the word about Transform Sickness. She named herself a Foyer, an informative pun playing on one meaning of the word (in French) ‘household’ as well as the technical meaning of the word in the scientific community, ‘focus’. From the latter came one the English language terms for such a Transform, Focus (the other term, Major Transform, was originally synonymous with Focus, until it was appropriated to mean ‘transformation with a metacampus’ after the appearance of the other Major Transforms).

Later, the research community discovered what set apart a Focus from Transforms. During their transformation, the body plasticity of Transform Sickness (a term coined by the French medical community) caused a piece of the parahippocampus of the Focus to grow (the parahippocampus is the brain organ upon which the hippocampus sits; the parahippocampus is involved with memory production). This growth is termed a metacampus. Although journalists still refer to the metacampus as “a new brain organ”, that is technically incorrect in two ways. First, it is not ‘new’, as it is a growth on an existing part of the brain, and secondly, it is not ‘new’, as an attenuated (smaller) version of this growth can be found on approximately one in every 100 standard human beings (during autopsies of humans between the ages of 12 and around 50). As the hippocampus is a brain organ involved in memory and consciousness, one should not be surprised that a new Focus goes into a 4 or 5 day coma during her transformation.

Induced transformations occur with nearly all successful Focus transformations. Induced transformations were at one time thought to only occur with Focus transformations, but by the middle 1960s researchers realized that induced transformations had other causes as well. Induced transformations are not caused by immediate proximity to Transforms, but instead distant proximity (within 5 miles). This has led to a potential (and inhumane) solution to Transform Sickness, termed the Romanian Solution (because this solution was used in Romania for many years) – monitor all the citizens for Transform Sickness (and kill them immediately if symptoms appear), sterilize all food and water to be eaten or drunk in pressure cookers, and cut off all international trade. There has always been a vigorous debate on whether the Romanian Solution was more humane than allowing Transform Sickness to run its course.

Miss Sieurs and those who followed her example changed everything (beyond the change in official terminology). Soon, a few victims of Transform Sickness recognized the warning signs before true madness set in and went to their doctors for medical help. Since doctors had no help to offer, these victims usually died horribly in padded rooms, but that was an improvement over killing family, neighbors, or anyone else they managed to find. One such young man made it to Sieurs, in France, and she found a way to stop the progress of his transformation (saving his life before he went Psycho). The authorities sent more people to her, and she was able to help them, as well.

Unfortunately, Miss Sieurs wasn’t able to support all the Transforms who came to her; nor did she find a way to support more than one male Transform for every two female Transforms under her care. In addition, she found she had to move juice multiple times a day, from the women to the men, to keep them alive. The Transforms lived, but they couldn’t spend more than a few days away from Miss Sieurs. The last problem did not turn out to be an issue for several years. France, as well as most other countries, including the United States, kept all identified living cases of Transform Sickness in confinement, as a public safety measure.

The first Focus in the United States to survive was Focus Esther Craig, who transformed in 1953. The authorities in the United States did not believe their European counterparts, and did not believe Focuses existed, or their reported abilities to keep Transforms alive. The authorities discovered Focus Craig via a blood test, in the Cleveland Institute of Mental Health, where her family had sent her, three months earlier, after a mental breakdown caused by her transformation. Only via the heroic efforts of Dr. Lewis Jeffers was Focus Craig allowed to function as a Focus and save the lives of a small household of Transforms, although her mind never recovered from the abuse she suffered during her early days as a Focus, including the deaths of her Transform attendants.

Later in the decade, a doctor specializing in epidemiology, Dr. Henry Zielinski, discovered the ratio of Major Transformations (into Focuses) to regular Transformations was 300 to 1. He and psychologist Dr. Richard Bentwyler also discovered that the women who went through Focus transformations tended to have dominant personalities and be at the far high end of the intelligence bell curve.

The authorities soon learned to dislike and distrust Focuses, as they were independent and often uncooperative. However, it was far too late for them to do anything about the problem: Miss Sieurs public relations blitz won over Europe, and by the end of 1954, the United States and Japan, to the plight of the Transforms, and how to save Transforms.

The Metasense

The ability of Miss Sieurs to sense Transforms and their juice, which she named the metasense, puzzled the doctors and researchers who studied her, and proved disturbing to those who demanded an immediate literal explanation based on the scientific knowledge of the day. The researchers noted at least three different components to her metasense – smell, touch and electromagnetic. However, they only deduced the latter, unable to measure it using the radio devices of the day. The lack of detailed knowledge of how the electromagnetic aspects of the metasense worked did not trouble these scientists, as at the time they also lacked detailed knowledge of how the normal sense of smell worked. Their proof was the discovery that intense radio-frequency static, over an extremely wide range of transmission frequencies, drowned out the metasense.

This discovery proved too abstruse and ornate for the public and the mainstream press, who for a generation continued to view the metasense as some form of supernatural power. The lack of any theoretical understanding behind the details of how the metasense worked forced those with (and without) a technical background to take the scientific explanation of the metasense on faith, no better than the religious explanation of the metasense as a supernatural demonic power. During Miss Sieurs public campaign for the acceptance of Transform Sickness as a true disease, segments of the general public marched in the streets, calling the victims of the ‘Transformation Syndrome’ the children of Satan, monsters without souls, and unworthy of life. In the United States, the urban protests coalesced into a movement named Monsters Die, which campaigned to eradicate all Transforms. In the small wood plank churches in the Bible Belt of the United States, the consensus was the End of Days. The appearance of Transform Sickness is said to have reversed a generation long decline in church attendance in the United States and Europe, as well as the concomitant rise of Charismatic and Apocalyptic churches, relative to mainstream Christianity.

The Discovery of Transform Sickness

The appearance of Focuses allowed French scientists to examine living Transforms at length in a controlled setting for the first time. In 1954, French researchers were able to make the ‘Transformation Syndrome’, or at least its initial infection phase, pass the Koch Test, and proved the Syndrome was the result of a real disease, not some unnatural (and perhaps supernatural) effect. The microbe trigger for Transform Sickness turned out to be two naturally occurring variations on the Listeria bacteria, a bacterium better known for causing food poisoning. In essence, the Transformation Syndrome was discovered to be a communicable disease, though not through direct human to human contact. One of the lesser known effects of the Listeria bacteria family is that it at times causes bacterial meningitis – and the medical symptoms of Transform Sickness during the initial stages of the transformation mirrored those of bacterial meningitis.

If Transform Sickness had followed any of the more standard epidemiological models for disease transmission of new bacterial diseases, the malady should have peaked in 1957 or 1958 and settled down into being a very rare disease. When Transform Sickness did not, scientists realized something else was involved in the disease transmission (though implausible, for a while they thought it had to be a bacteriophage – a virus that infects only bacteria – behind the changes involved). The number of Transform Sickness cases grew yearly, passing a thousand cases a year in the US in 1956, 2500 in 1959, 5000 in 1963 and 10,000 in 1966.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the authorities ran a massive public service campaign to familiarize people with the early symptoms of Transform Sickness, with the idea that if people recognized their own transformation early enough, they would be set up with a Focus, and continue with their lives. However, not enough Focuses existed to support all of those who transformed, leaving a majority of those who recognized their own transformation to die.

Once recognized as a disease, the researchers were able to quantify many aspects of it. They discovered that Transform Sickness strikes victims primarily between the ages of 15 and 45, although it can strike as early as the onset of puberty, and as late as pre-menopausal women and men of retirement age. The symptoms of Transform Sickness include depression and irritability, joint aches, sensitivity to light, a general inability to get out of bed in the morning, and shaking hands.

The susceptibility of an individual to Transform Sickness, either through Listeria B and C or via an induced transformation, depends on their general overall stress level, their heredity (some people are 100% resistant; different ethnic groups have different susceptibilities), and their environment. In particular, Transform Sickness disproportionately strikes food handlers, rural populations have a higher rate of Listeria-caused Transform Sickness, while coastal urban populations have a higher rate of induced transformations. This variability accentuated the hysteria surrounding the disease.

The Quarantine

If not for the appearance of the Focuses, researchers would have never identified Transform Sickness as a disease and Transform Sickness might have dragged humanity back into some form of supernatural darkness. On the other hand, the appearance of Focuses did not make Transforms warm and cuddly members of society. Not when the first Focuses often had problems with juice control – driving many of their charges into withdrawal or Monsterhood by accident. Because of this as well as various political, ideological and prejudicial reasons, the authorities North America, Europe and Japan put all the Focuses and their household Transforms into institutions. This later became termed The Quarantine.

The Quarantine caused its own problems. Unbeknown to the authorities, all Focuses and Focus households produce a waste product (much later termed dross). Once dross accumulates in significant quantities in an area, Focuses suffer a variety of unpleasant effects that make their lives miserable until they moved elsewhere. The juice metabolism, and the moving of juice from one Transform to another, is not a supernatural process. Both processes utilize normal matter and normal energy – in specific, neither breaks any laws of thermodynamics, involving processes of diffusion and electrostatic attraction of chemicals. The waste product termed dross results from moving juice, and makes moving juice more difficult the more dross accumulates.

Because of dross accumulation, the Quarantine proved difficult on Focuses. Being unable to move juice and control how they moved juice not only caused Transforms to go into withdrawal or into Monster upon occasion, but also drove many of the Focuses insane. Until the Quarantine ended (in 1958 in the United States, earlier in Europe, later in the Communist nations) the lives of Transforms were miserable.

Transform Clinics and Transform Detention Centers

To make the Quarantine work, governments needed places to house the Transforms. They put together an emergency two-stage system consisting of Transform Clinics and Transform Detention Centers. Each major metropolitan area or state capital had its own Transform Clinic, often nothing more than a floor in an existing hospital. Transform Clinics provided a place to house those who had recently transformed, with the security necessary to cope with the issues of new Transforms. The initial purpose of the Transform Clinics was to identify new Transforms, segregate them from other patients, and hold them in a safe and secure environment until the authorities could transport them to one of the regional Transform Detention Centers.

The CDC (then the Communicable Disease Center), established in 1946 in Atlanta, Georgia, built and ran the first three Transform Detention Centers (in Atlanta, St. Louis Missouri and rural Virginia). In 1956, Congress created a separate Transform Detention division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (the CDC’s boss), and they took over the running of all Detention Centers except the Virginia Center, the CDC’s main Transform research laboratory. Because of the immense security problems the Transform Detention division faced, all non-medical administration of the Transform Detention division fell under the control of the FBI.

Transform Detention Centers served several purposes. Once there, the authorities could place Transforms under the care of Focuses, if any Focus had openings. If not, they placed the Transforms in secure areas, awaiting death or the arrival of a new Focus. By law, the authorities could not execute women Transforms until they became Monsters (or due process was served), and could not execute male Transforms, even if they fell into withdrawal. (The United States Federal Government stripped Monsters of all legal rights in 1953.)

Withdrawal is an unpleasant death. Often, when all hope of a Focus is exhausted, male Transforms choose suicide over death by withdrawal. If the male Transform does not manage suicide, very often once the family sees what withdrawal is actually like, they will request the authorities withhold food and water. Some doctors are familiar enough with withdrawal to assist the patient with their suicide. Many people who, if faced with death by withdrawal or oversupply, consider a painless death a far better alternative. Because of the horror of death by withdrawal, most nations and many States in the United States legalized assisted suicide by the late 1950s. Female Transforms rarely choose suicide over becoming Monsters, although if they do choose this path, they too will receive assistance.

The End of the Quarantine

In 1957, budgetary troubles and lack of space in the existing Transform Detention Centers forced the authorities to place new Focuses and their Transforms ‘in community’, awaiting space to open up for them in the Detention Centers. The Focuses and Transforms still in the Detention Centers learned of this, organized in secret, and broke out of the Detention Centers in 1958. The HEW decided to keep the ‘in community’ Transforms in place, awaiting the recapture of the escaped Focuses and Transforms. From 1958 to 1962, the HEW kept new Focuses and their Transforms in the Transform Detention Centers only until they received their full complement of Transforms, a procedure that took 9 months to a year. After 1962, most new Focuses and their new households were temporarily housed in Transform Clinics, due to the increasing number of new Focuses and Transforms.

The Kennedy administration officially lifted the Quarantine in 1962.

Fundamental and Supplemental Juice

Until the late 1950s, and the work of Dr. Henry Zielinski, then with the Harvard Transform Research Center, the actual utilization of juice was not understood. It had been thought that a man or woman had a specific range of juice they needed for survival – too much, they went Monster; too little, they went into withdrawal.

Instead, he found that inside a Transform juice segregated into two quantities, Fundamental Juice and Supplemental Juice. These juice forms weren’t chemically identical, nor were they located in the same parts of the body. Fundamental Juice was bound to soft tissues, and intracellular. Supplemental Juice was intercellular, in blood, lymph glands, sweat glands, mucus membranes, and similar tissues. Transforms have more Fundamental Juice than Supplemental Juice. What a Focus moves is Supplemental Juice. Withdrawal occurs when Supplemental Juice is exhausted and Fundamental Juice begins to go intercellular through diffusion processes. Although it is Supplemental Juice that a Transform ‘uses’ when they think they are using juice, the primary purpose of Supplemental Juice is to prevent diffusion of the Fundamental Juice into the intercellular.

The purpose of Supplemental Juice is to be ‘unallocated’, to go where the body needs it to go, for healing, metabolic boosts, boosts to senses, and for enhancing mental capabilities. The purpose of Fundamental Juice was less clear. Dr. Zielinski analogized Fundamental Juice to a vitamin that keeps the body healthy and strong, though juice is not a vitamin, but a crazy quilt collection of hormones, pheromones, enzymes and metabolic fuel. Fundamental Juice jiggers the human body and its internal organs to be able to produce and use juice in several hundred different ways, mostly involved with the basic “day one” benefits of being a Transform.

Household Transforms

All male and female Transforms both produce and consume juice. Men consume juice faster than they use it. Women produce juice faster than they consume it. They do not overproduce or overconsume juice in exactly the same amounts or rates – not only is juice consumption individually dependent, juice consumption is situationally dependent. The variation often leads Focuses to pay close attention to their households, often with unintended disastrous results.

Popular myth (and media distortion) gives Transforms magical ‘powers’, most often evil ones. This is not the case. Transforms are more heat tolerant, can go without water for about twice as long as a normal person, can survive on about half as much water per day as a normal person, and appear to be more aware of their surroundings. Few rational people consider any of these to be magical in the least.

Over a period of years, Transforms have proven to be healthier than people who have never contracted Transform Sickness. This can include such things as resistance to disease, greater strength, better eyesight, and even improvements in chronic conditions such as allergies or heart disease. Transforms appear to have regained the muscle efficiency lost by their normal human counterparts during the course of human evolution, and can be, pound for pound, as strong as a chimpanzee or gorilla. Explicit training of Transforms can give them the capabilities of a top-end human athlete, fakir, martial artist, yoga master, etc.

To support these benefits, Transforms require about 25% more calories than a non-Transform at a minimum, and often up to 100% more calories than normal. Trained Transforms can require substantially more food.

Transform Varieties

The Major Transforms


The Focus Transformation

The Focus Transformation is relatively flexible. Female attendants (those who transform based on an induced transformation) aid the process, but are not necessary. Up to six female attendants may transform with the Focus. The Focus transformation begins as with the standard Transform Sickness, but in the course of the disease the Focus lapses into a coma for 4 or 5 days. During the Transform coma, the Focus develops her metacampus. Focus Transformations involve few innate physical changes, but many mental changes, most involving an increase in IQ, memory, and the ability to keep track of many different threads of thought at once.

Focus Benefits

The major benefits of the Focus include their metasense and their ability to move juice between Transforms. In addition, they can tag Transforms to bring their juice into alignment with the juice of the Focus (the actual biochemical changes associated with the Focus tag were not understood for a generation after Miss Sieurs discovered the tag). The Focus also possesses a juice buffer, where she stores juice for moving to and from household Transforms. Immediate mental changes gained by a Focus involve enhanced IQ, memory and the ability to keep track of multiple thought threads.

Other Focus benefits are also possible beyond the basics and the general capabilities of the Transform. Focuses have enhanced efficiency musculature (as do Arms), but do not have the ability to gain muscle mass as quickly as Arms do, retaining the muscle gaining abilities of a Transform. They can also burn juice (direct personal use of juice at will), though to do so either requires a trance state (the Focus “healing trance”) or extensive training. The ability to use the juice out of their juice buffer also requires extensive training.

Also, over several years, a Focus naturally develops what is termed Focus charisma, the ability via conscious or unconscious manipulation of pheromones and juice to influence other creatures.

Focus Fragility Effects

The Focus is not fragile. She can heal from nearly any damage. However, moving juice stresses a Focus, and can work her into a state of effective withdrawal (Focus withdrawal). In that state, she is relatively easy to harm and kill.

Focuses juice manipulation comes with a side effect termed the juice magnet. If the Focus does not pay attention to what she is doing, she will suck in supplemental juice into her juice buffer, in the worst case driving all her Transforms near withdrawal. This is painful for the household Transforms. However, if the Focus in question spends all her time trying to correct the juice magnet effect (typically termed moving the juice, often with a supercilious sniff) she will drive herself to distraction and potentially into Focus withdrawal.

If a Focus (maintaining a household) dies, her household is at risk if the Transforms are within juice manipulation range. While dying, a Focus can either flood her Transforms with juice, or suck it all in. The effect of this can be withdrawal or going Monster (and, yes, it is possible to have woman go into withdrawal and men go Monster from this, in the most extreme cases).

The Focus Household

Most people who contract Transform Sickness do not realize it until too late. However, many people do recognize the initial signs while there is still time to do something about it. If the person is a woman, she is immediately associated with the nearest Focus (with an opening for a woman Transform), and made a part of the Focus’s Transform household. In this case, Transform Sickness becomes a chronic condition allowing the woman Transform to have a long and healthy life. For a man, the situation is different. Because a Focus can only support half the number of men as women, about half of the time a man realizes he has Transform Sickness, he will find there are no Focuses with openings. These men die.

This realization did not sit well with the (all-male) authorities of the day. To a man, they decided to allocate all the resources dedicated to Transform Sickness to curing and eradicating it. The lives of those who survived Transform Sickness weighed little on their minds.

The Other Major Transforms

The other Major Transforms – those Transforms with metacampuses – are termed Arms, Crows, Chimeras and Sports. The discovery of the other Major Transforms was a process marked by dangerous encounters, absurd coincidences and bad luck.

All Major Transforms have the property that they need more food than Transforms or normal humans. The amount they need depends on their activity level, their Major Transform variety, and their own individual personal peculiarities. Chimeras need the most food, followed by Arms, Focuses, and then, Crows.

Crows and Chimeras do not deal directly with juice, but instead with juice-derived substances termed dross and élan. Dross is the standard byproduct of juice metabolism. Dross ‘leaks’ from the bodies of all Transforms, and does so in varying quantities. Élan is the contaminated juice a Monster possesses.

Crows and Chimeras are more efficient juice users than the other Transforms because of their abilities to retain dross and recycle dross back into juice. On the other hand, this added juice metabolism affects the amount of food they need, as well as the efficiency of their musculature (because of their ability to retain and recycle dross, they do not gain the muscle efficiency seen with Focuses and Arms). Crows and Chimeras also suffer more severe memory problems than the other Major Transforms, and especially during the transformation process.

All Major Transforms are difficult to poison. By a few weeks after their transformation, most do not respond to any form of medication, including effects of intoxicants.

All Major Transforms appear young. Focuses and Arms appear to be about 19, Crows and Chimeras appear to be about 25. They do not age in a normal manner.

When Arms and Chimeras wake from their transformation coma, they are not done with their transformations. Both take about 2 weeks to finish their transformation. This is harder on a Chimera than an Arm, because the Chimera will always need élan (in the best case, a Monster) in order to finish his terransformation. The Arm might need juice to finish her transformation if her stress levels are high during her transformation period.


The first Major Transforms to appear (other than Focuses) were the Crows, the most common male Major Transform. The first Crow transformation also occurred in Europe, in West Germany, in 1954. He survived, did not alert the authorities to his existence, and learned to sense others of his kind, and later, all other Major Transforms. The third Crow in Europe killed the first and second Crows in Europe after they helped him during his transformation. Klaus Fosse, this third Crow, then proceeded to kill all the other Crows he could find, as well as all the other Major Transforms he could find except Focuses. That Klaus was mentally unstable should be obvious.

The Crow transformation coma lasts for five to nine days. No attendants are necessary, and Crows cannot induce a transformation during their transform coma. The Crow in his transformation coma will sleepwalk, attempting to find a close, confined and warm area to curl up. The Crow transformation, although similar to the Focus transformation in outward appearance, does involve innate physical changes, including enhanced liver and kidney functions (allowing the Crow to go without water for over a week without problems), the ability to digest food of a wide variety (including garbage), and enhanced senses. In their first year as Major Transforms, most Crows develop the ability to run at normal human speeds for hours at a time, sprint like a track star and jump higher than an Olympic high jumper.

In the United States, the first Crows who transformed and survived were members of the armed forces. They joined in the effort to help the cause, masquerading as normal humans ,with a few powerful protectors. However, these Crows did not understand their own capabilities. They knew they consumed a waste product produced by Focuses, which they termed dross. They were bad at consuming dross, though, not even knowing how much to consume, how often, or how to consume dross without wasting most of it.

For many years, even the Crows did not know they were juice producers, not juice consumers. The major use of the juice Crows produce is to ‘power’ their metasense, which has both range and acuity far in excess of the metasense of the other Transforms (a five mile range on average, and an acuity for juice structures much more detailed than a Focuses). A Crow in a state where he is not using his metasense produces more juice than he otherwise utilizes in his normal exertions. However, for a Crow with his hard-wired paranoia to turn off his metasense is difficult – they all think it’s too dangerous. If the other Major Transforms utilize their metasense akin to ‘turning on a radio’, the Crow analogy would be ‘turning on a multi-band scanner’.

These first Crows also thought their consumption of dross to be a moral hazard (early on, they referred to it as ‘juice masturbation’) they needed to avoid. This kept them near withdrawal, keeping their intelligence low and their memories spotty. When the first Focuses staged their breakout from Quarantine, they made sure several of the first Crows (who had been helping the first Focuses) did not survive, due to several mistakes these Crows had made during the Quarantine due to lessened intellect. This sparked an enmity between the Crows and Focuses and caused the Crows to hide in the shadows of society, avoiding researchers and doctors, for over a decade.

Crows transformations are as common as Focuses transformations, but a smaller number of Crows survive to be ‘mature’ Major Transforms compared to the Focuses’ survival rate. This is due to the mental quirks Crows gain, and their innate lack of sociability. Older Crows become extremely good at the manipulation of dross around them, and often withdraw from society. Older Crows use the chemically reactive properties of dross for many different applications.


The Chimera is a male juice consumer. Chimeras can utilize juice from a myriad of different sources. They are capable of taking juice from any other Transform; also, a Chimera can learn to take juice from Transforms in a way that does not kill the juice source. Chimeras can also convert dross to juice (and thus take dross), convert élan to juice (and thus take élan from Monsters), and in special circumstances, take and use juice in a direct fashion. The Chimera’s juice-taking flexibility is necessary because Chimeras use up their juice faster than any other Transform, making their appetite for juice larger than any other Transform’s. The Chimera external juice, dross and élan manipulation capabilities are essentially nil; all they can do is draw these substances, with a touch range.

A Chimera, when functioning instinctively, will kill Transform victims to liberate their juice as élan (when Transforms die, their juice destabilizes and turns into élan). Unlike Arms, though, the Chimera can draw juice, dross or élan without killing a victim, though the process is inefficient. The closer a victim is to either optimum points (in their juice count), the more damage the Chimera has to do to the victim to be able to start drawing juice, dross or élan from them; contrariwise, the closer a victim is to withdrawal or going Monster, the less damage the Chimera has to do to them to draw from them (and, in many cases, does not need to do any damage at all).

Unlike the Arm juice draw, though, all forms of Chimera juice, dross and élan gaining involve pain.

The first known Chimera appeared on the Indian subcontinent, in 1953. He died in his transformation, was preserved in formaldehyde, and was thought to be a female Monster until 1969. At that date, the oldest surviving Chimera was less than a decade old – long term Chimera mortality appears to be the worst of the Major Transforms.

Chimera transformations occur as often as Focus and Crow transformations. However, most of these die during their transformation coma, reducing their apparent numbers.

The transformation coma of the Chimera lasts up to 2 weeks. If the transformation coma lasts too long, the Chimera dies of dehydration and starvation. A Chimera, if the Chimera wakes from his transformation coma, needs either a large number of dross draws or a significant élan draw to survive. The Chimera wakes from his coma with only two capabilities – the ability to draw dross and élan, and a five-mile range low acuity metasense.

Once a Chimera completes his transformation, he gains the ability to change his shape over a short amount of time. This ability to change shape is dangerous, because altering the brain during a shape change will cost the Chimera his ability to speak and reason as a human. If he can keep his brain stable (either via self-discipline or with help from a Crow) a Chimera can become monstrous in size (though to gain the size, teeth and armor of a large dinosaur might take a year of dedicated shape alteration). The physical prowess gained through shape changes is quite important – most animals utilize their muscles more efficiently than humans do, and the added muscle mass that comes with added size can make the Chimera an unstoppable fighting machine. The major costs to a large Chimera resulting from large-scale shape alterations include absurd food intake requirements, a difficulty procuring the right vitamins and minerals, excessive need for long rest periods after major body changes and exertion (aestivation), and difficulty shedding heat.

Unlike Monsters (whose shapes are limited by the human DNA and junk DNA), Chimeras are able to utilize DNA from other sources (the extra DNA enters via the skin, and can be directed where needed, but is kept away from the gonads). Without guidance, the available shapes are random (and psychologically influenced). Using Chimera tricks (of which there are many) shape alteration can be guided.

Chimeras become sexually active, almost unstoppably so, after taking élan.

Chimeras who maintain their humanity find responsibility to be a very powerful social force. Whatever and whomever they are responsible for, they care for quite well. To a Chimera, responsibility is as powerful a mental force as territoriality is for an Arm.


Arms are female juice consumers. They acquire juice by taking it from Transforms. This process is fatal for the Transform victim, but not painful. The basic Arm external juice manipulation capabilities are minor – and for a young Arm limited to drawing juice at touch range.

The first Arm was named Armenigar, and it was thought she had in some form failed a normal Focus transformation, killing 5 woman companions in the process. Only later did the authorities discover the rather obvious differences between Arms and Focuses. The Arm transformation involves the usual onset of Transform Sickness, followed by a coma, and then by a lengthy adjustment period. Arm transformation comas last around three days. An Arm transformation, to be successful, requires at least 3 “female attendants”, who will transform and die, to provide the Arm the juice she needs to start off as an Arm.

All Arms put on muscle weight after their transformation. If they put on too much muscle or do not exercise properly, they suffer from muscle hypertrophy and muscle nodules in their joints. All Arms remove fat from their bodies. If too much fat is lost too fast, they suffer renal failure.

The Arm transformation is more sensitive to the initial condition of the transforming person than any of the other Transform varieties. If the transforming person is obese, the Arm transformation is a death sentence. The same is true if the transforming person is underweight unless proper care in the form of excessive food and exercise is taken. Other minor genetic abnormalities can also cause an Arm transformation to fail (death during coma, or during the lengthy adjustment period), giving the Arm the greatest mortality of the Major Transforms during the transformation process.

The major benefits of the Arm transformation include rapid healing and regeneration, an enhanced ability to resist poisons, intoxicants and medications (enhanced over even the other Major Transform varieties), the ability to gain and support large muscle mass (along with bone mass strengthening and thickening), the ability to willfully utilize juice (burn juice), extreme muscle efficiency, a quarter mile range metasense, enhanced senses, enhanced reaction time, enhanced IQ and memory, and Arm charisma (often termed the predator effect). Arm charisma is not only usable on other Transforms and normals, but also usable on other mammals.

Arms have great breadth of scope. Arms have a wide variance of learnable juice capabilities, in addition to their many standard capabilities. Their variance in capabilities may alter their major Arm benefits, with one limitation: the Arm cannot extend her tricks beyond touch range. One standard Arm trick is to utilize an internal capability, such as healing, at a touch range, on others. A secondary effect of the great breadth of scope is that Arms are the most difficult of the Major Transforms to teach, in as much as there is no way to predict what capabilities an Arm possesses before said capabilities are discovered.

Arms become sexually active, often unstoppably so, after taking juice. Young Arms fall into a ‘bliss coma’ after taking juice, for somewhere between a half hour and four hours. Various forms of stress can override the bliss coma.

Old Monsters

Old Monsters behave in a different manner than younger Monsters, because a Monster’s juice number slowly rises with age. The juice numbers of a Monster will, over time, rise to where the Monster-equivalent of supplemental juice is similar in magnitude to that of a Major Transform. A large percentage of old Monsters develop a metacampus at this point, and should be considered the equivalent of a Major Transform.

The old Monster metacampus differs from the Major Transform metacampus. The Major Transform metacampus is a more evolutionarily specialized (and winnowed out) brain organ. The old Monster metacampus is as variable as the metacampus of the Sport (or more so, given the body styles of the Monster), and does not have a full suite of balanced capabilities of the Major Transform. For instance, a standard old Monster metacampus benefit is the Arm ‘juice burning’ trick).

Old Monsters tend to hunt at the edges of their territory, and protect any humans who live within their territory, except during extreme situations. The authorities and the Transforms considered this a fringe theory in the late 1960s, and the theory wasn’t proven until later. Old Monsters don’t need much food, unless they are active, in which case they need a lot of food. Thus, a tribe or set of tribes can have a somewhat decent relationship with the local Monster (thus, old Monsters are protecting their genes!), especially if their descendants drop off an occasional sacrifice.

Basic Transform Terms

Transform Sickness

Transform Sickness is a communicable disease triggering a transformation. The disease spreads via foods and dust. The vectors are two variant species of Listeria bacteria.

Transform Sickness is colloquially termed The Shakes.


The conversion of a human to a new physical state, adding a different metabolism and hormone utilization system, and utilizing a substance termed juice.


A Transform is a human who has survived Transform Sickness (most cases).

Major Transform

A human who has survived Transform Sickness, grown a metacampus (an organ in the brain), and survived the process.


Juice is a mixture of chemicals inside a Transform; juice makes a Transform different from normal humans. Juice is the internal Transform substance used by all Transforms.

Juice includes pheromones and metabolic (energy) molecules. There are two known forms of juice: Supplemental Juice and Fundamental Juice. Supplemental and Fundamental Juice are chemically different, both in ratios of the hormones, pheromones and metabolites involved, but also in the actual chemicals involved. The difference in chemicals is small, about 10%.


A growth on the hippocampus (internal brain organ), often termed a ‘new brain organ’ in the media, which is incorrect. The metacampus is an abnormal brain growth which happens during the transformation, causing a coma. The metacampus allows the utilization of a Major Transform’s metasense and ability to manipulate juice (within themselves, and, in some cases outside the Major Transform's body). The metacampus is an energy intensive organ, requiring about 1000 calories a day of food to maintain and use. Its basic function is to sense juice, enable multi-sense information integration , and increase the memory potentials of the Major Transform.


A man or woman who has survived Transform Sickness, making the most common transformation (about 99 in 100 transformations produce Transforms). Transforms will not survive as humans without the intervention of a Focus. Transform men are net juice consumers; without Focus intervention, they go into withdrawal and die. Transform women are net juice producers; without Focus intervention, will go into oversupply and turn Monster.


A Goldilocks is a rare variant Transform (about two thirds as common as a Major Transform) that is neither a juice producer nor juice consumer. Under the care of a Focus, both genders of Goldilocks can become juice consumers. The Goldilocks has two advantages in life besides juice stability – they are fertile with other Transforms; and they are very flexible in their learned skills.


A female Major Transform who can move juice from one Transform to another. Because she can move juice, the Focus is the primary method by which Transforms can live.

A Focus, to be able to move juice for a Transform, must tag the Transform.

The Focus is the most common of the Major Transforms. They are difficult to kill.

A Focus also needs juice. A Focus does not follow the normal pattern of Transform women. She produces the same amount of juice as any other woman, but she consumes much more. The amount of juice she has for her own use is based on the number of Transforms in her household (the larger the better), because her extra supplemental juice comes from the transference of a small fraction of the juice in her her juice buffer, and the size of the juice buffer depends on the size of the household.


A male Major Transform who can clean up juice wastes and juice byproducts termed dross. Crows recycle dross into juice; when Crows advance to where they gain control over this manipulation process, they can utilize dross constructs to perform various hormonal, pheromonal and chemical trickery. Crows cannot consume élan (dross mixed with juice) without becoming ill; however, since élan will decay into dross the Crow can just wait. Crows possess a long range and high detailed metasense.

Crows are less common than Focuses.


A male Major Transform predator able to hunt any form of Transform and take élan from their deaths or disablement. However, the primary target of a Chimera is the Monster. Chimeras can learn to take juice from a woman Transform about to go Monster, allowing the woman Transform to survive the process. In theory, Chimeras don’t require élan – they can take juice via tricks like the above; however, most tricks allowing a Chimera to get juice also produce copious dross as well, so although it may not be élan to start with, it is by the time the Chimera is taking it. Chimeras have the capability to change shape, and though this process is dangerous because of the risk of losing their humanity, it gives Chimeras immense power. Chimera flexibility also means there are actual ‘sub-varieties’ of Chimeras based on their training and socialization, which does not occur with the other Major Transforms.

As many Chimeras wake up from their transformation comas as Crows, but their death rate is constant and large.


The Arm is a female Major Transform predator who hunts unwanted (untagged) Transforms. Her goal is to find them before they become Monsters or go into withdrawal. Arms have a very great learning capacity.

Arms get their juice by taking juice from Transforms. The process is painless, but the Transform dies.

Arms are significantly rarer than Focuses.


Sports are alternative, unique and mostly random Transforms based off of the Major Transform forms. Sports have at least a “partial” metacampus; some have larger than normal metacampuses with obscure capabilities. In some cases, even wilder mistakes occur, such a metacampus-like growth on the optic nerve. Surviving Sports are about as uncommon as Arms; the actual number of Sports is much larger, as many die in their transformation comas, or within a few days of waking up from their transformation coma. Early on, the authorities classified Arms as a variety of Sport. Most Sports are “failed Focuses” and “failed Crows”.

Gender Anomalies

A gender anomaly is a male Transform who acts as a female Transform or vice versa, such as an Arm acting as a Chimera. A gender anomaly is not the same as a Sport. Gender anomalies are the rarest of the rare, about 7 times rarer than Arms.


A female Transform who overdoses on juice becomes a Monster. A Monster is a separate variety of Transform, though is often considered a dead-end or failed state. There are only a fixed number of Monster types, as Monster type is based on human genetics, unlike the shape changing possibilities of Chimeras. Monsters can become “viable” as a form of Transform via the interaction of Crows and Chimeras.


The Household is the basic unit of organization of Transforms. A household is headed by a Focus (at the minimum), the Focus moving juice from the Transform women to the Transform men.


A triad is two Transform women and a Transform man. As it takes two woman Transforms to support one male Transform, often when trades of Transforms occur between households Transforms are counted as triads instead of individuals (such as “Focus Biggioni maintains a household of 9 triads”).

General Transform Terms

Transform Benefits

All Transforms are more heat tolerant, can go without water for about twice as long as a normal person, can survive on about half as much water per day as a normal person, and appear to be more acutely aware of their surroundings

If the level of juice remains at a near constant level, it can be quite beneficial. Over a period of years, Transforms will gain additional benefits. These can include such things as resistance to disease, greater strength, better eyesight, and even improvements in chronic conditions such as allergies or heart disease.

Fundamental Juice

Fundamental Juice is the juice inside the cells of a Transform. Fundamental Juice supports their transformation and allows the Transform metabolism to work.


The tag is the general term for ownership of one Transform by another. Ownership is not the best word possible, because it involves (if done right) strong concepts of responsibility, as well. The most common tag is the Focus tag, allowing a Transform to become part of a Focus household.

Tagging is a chemical alteration to the juice structure of an individual. Tagging creates chemically coded recognition either via metasense or via sense of smell, depending on the Transform.

Supplemental Juice

Supplemental Juice is the juice in the fluids of the body of a Transform powering and mediating their Transform benefits.


Withdrawal happens when the Supplemental Juice amount goes negative, and the innate Transform benefits backfire and pull Fundamental Juice out of the body’s cells and into the fluids of the body. Withdrawal is bad, as it is in Withdrawal where the traditional insanity associated with male Transforms occurs, turning them Psycho. This insanity lasts until so little of his fundamental juice remains it can no longer support life. At this point the Transform dies. A few hours after withdrawal has set in, physical damage occurs to both the body and the brain. Even if a Focus resupplies a Transform with juice at this point, the Transform will not regain his sanity. On the other hand, Major Transforms can recover from withdrawal, although memory and personality loss will accumulate as withdrawal progresses.


Oversupply occurs when the Supplemental Juice amount goes above the Transform's physical ability to control, and the Transform ‘overdoses’ on juice. At this point, the Transform benefits no longer control the juice, allowing the juice to act on its own, often at random. Oversupply harms the brain of the Transform first. This is termed ‘going Monster’, because when the juice starts acting on its own, the physical changes change the Transform into a new (Monster) form. This is the source of the name “Transform Sickness”. These physical changes include changes to the mind; the sapience (ability to talk and think like a human) of the human mind is quite fragile and will be disrupted by any amount of oversupply. Over the long term, Oversupply does not reduce intelligence, and instead makes the intellect non-human. If Oversupply is stopped within a few minutes, the physical changes and mental changes will regress. If Oversupply halts within a few hours, some remnant of the previous personality and knowledge will remain. If Oversupply stops later, the personality and knowledge losses are irrevocable and the recovered Transform must start over in her life.

Destabilized or Unstabilized Juice Structure

What happens when Withdrawal or Oversupply occurs.

Transformation Coma

The coma a Transform goes into during the growth of the metacampus. This growth turns the Transform into a Major Transform.


Synonym of Withdrawal.

Going Monster

Synonym of Oversupply.


The metasense is the additional sense a Major Transform possesses. The process of using the metasense is termed ‘to metasense’.


The waste product produced by Transforms as they process juice. Dross leaks out of Transforms and Major Transforms at varying rates. There are many waste products of juice metabolism and other uses of juice, and thus many varieties of Dross.

Dross is chemically stable, but does decay over time in the presence of sunlight. Dross is utilized by both Crows and Chimeras. Both Crows and Chimeras can turn dross into élan, the internal form of juice they use, though Crows do this much more efficiently.


Élan (and its synonyms, such as ‘Monster juice’ and ‘stuff’) is the internal juice form utilized by Monsters, Crows and Chimeras. Élan is juice mixed with dross, along with various chemical fractions that appear when you have juice and dross mixed together. Thus, Crow and Chimera juice is always dross contaminated after conversion. Élan is a poison for all Transforms save Chimeras and Monsters, and Crows do not consume élan directly but convert dross to élan after they consume it. Crows use élan in their ‘skunk’ attacks, and they are set up to clean up their skunking attacks later but they don’t get all of it back, as the dross – juice mixture creates chemicals they can’t handle; this is termed essence of skunking, and is in actuality the élan only chemicals, the most hazardous chemicals in the Transform universe.

Élan has about twice as many chemical fractions as normal juice. Élan is not chemically stable and decays over a short amount of time (three days max) to dross.

Transform Dystrophy

Transform dystrophy is a complex neurological disorder affecting Transforms who transformed after their late thirties. The dystrophy affects about one in thirty Transforms who transformed after the age of thirty-five. It manifests itself in a different fashion in each affected Transform, always involving nerve damage and paralysis. The dystrophy is progressive, and when it reaches the lungs and heart, the end comes fast. In most cases, the first symptom is numbness in the extremities. Once diagnosed, affected Transforms can expect to live at most three years.


The ability of a Major Transform to have a charismatic effect on someone they are dealing with. Major Transform charisma varies in its effects from Transform type to Transform type. Charisma works best on normals, then on Transforms, then on Major Transforms of the opposite gender, then on Goldilockses, then on the other Major Transform of the same gender, then worst on the same type of Major Transform. Charisma abilities are age (as a Transform) related, although there innate factors and practice factors, as well.


A term used to describe what a Transform or Major Transform looks like to a Major Transform’s metasense. Or, what a Major Transform look like themselves, to their own metasense.

Transform Slang

The Shakes

Transform Sickness.


(Crow term) Focus.

My Gracious Lady, Gracious Lady

(Canadian Crow term) Focus.

Juice Jockey

(Focus, Transforms) Focus.

Juice Junkie

A Transform who won’t perform unless they get a Pumped over optimum multiple times a day. No Focus wants a juice junkie in her Household.


Charismatically impose your will on another – make them agree with you when they shouldn’t.


To flip is to reverse the dominance of a situation, often with respect to charismatic dominance. Situational charismatic flipping occurs often among groups of Focuses.

Focus Bitch (or Bitch Focus)

Any leader type Focus.

Suck Juice

What a Focus does with the juice magnet effect, or voluntarily. Also, what an Arm does when she takes a kill.

The Show

What an important Focus does when she wants to grab attention. The Focus equivalent of an Oscar-winning actress’s performance.

Focus (Juice Manipulation) Terms


What a Focus does when she lowers juice quickly.


What a Focus does when she lowers juice by accident.


What a Focus does when she raises juice quickly. Or when the Focus raises it to above the functional optimum for a purpose.


What a Focus does when she raises juice by accident.

Juice Flow

The process a Focus uses to maintain juice at or near the Transform optimum levels. Most Focuses can train the Juice Flow to work subconsciously when they get older. For the average Focus, juice flow is slow.


To short a Transform is to keep their juice supply under optimum. This can happen by accident, or can happen by design.

Move Juice, Move the Juice

Adjusting the amount of juice Transforms possess across the entire household. Also termed “move the goddamned juice!”, a typical comment of a Transform to their Focus.

Juice Count

How much supplemental juice a Transform has. Also used technically (and numerically) to measure how much supplemental juice any Transform has.

Juice Pattern

The juice pattern is the basis of the “spell”, or non-instant real world (juice) effects of the Focus. Juice patterns get their name from their metasense “appearance”, not because of their real world analogies.

Juice Magnet Effect

The Juice Magnet Effect is the tendency for any supplemental juice on anyone near a Focus to migrate to the Focus without the active involvement of the Focus. This ticks off other Major Transforms when they are victimized by this.

Detailed Arm Terminology

The Stalk

I have focused my body and my senses on the hunt.

Kill Lust

A craving to kill something. Can be quite difficult for the Arm to control.

The Hunt

Time for some juice.

Fast Food

Hunting a kill and leaving a mess behind, allowing the cops to figure out an Arm did it.


Mine, says the Arm. Not yours. Hands off. Can be an object. Or a person (is there a difference?).


Something having juice and worth hunting. Anything smaller and weaker to be dominated or controlled.

Predator Effect

I’m the predator, you are the prey. Be afraid. Very afraid…

Suck Shit

Grovel, scrape, kiss feet, make the big nasty dominant Arm happy. Be prepared to pay in blood if you fail.

Proper Discipline for Incorrect Behavior

You screwed up. First you get the crap beaten out of you, then you suck shit. Proper discipline is not attitude adjustment – there’s a reason for your pain.

You Are Mine

The Arm doesn’t get the urge to kill you every five minutes. This state makes you a possession in the eyes of the Arm, part of her territory.

It Was a Good Scared (or ‘It was good pain’)

It might have terrorized the Arm, but it was worth it for what the Arm learned. Also, a situation that makes the Arm more turned on and functioning better because of nerves.

Attitude Adjustment

Torture for fun. Torturing someone just because they're irritating. Punishment out of proportion to the failure.

The Kill

Hunting down a Transform, taking their juice, and disposing of the body.

Older Lust

Sex. With the Arm in control.


Pre Kill Syndrome. The Arm has low juice, is edgy, and does not want to be bothered. PMS on steroids (literally). This term is not often used by Arms, because even mentioning the term makes them irritable (same for the term ‘low juice’).

Focus Bitch

Any Focus worth talking to is a Focus bitch. The rest curl up, quiver in fear, and are useless. Unless you and the Focus bitch are tagged to each other (implicitly or explicitly), expect the Focus bitch to stab you in the back at random intervals, no matter how useful you are.


The details one gets from Arm metasense if one studies the target for a noticeable length of time. Best if you do a little meditation, which is tough to do in a combat situation.


Polite way to address an Arm. Strongly recommended.

Detailed Crow Terminology

Crows have no fixed terminology. Different groups of Crows tend to develop their own terms. Shadow’s Crows (mostly) use the following terms:


The total amount of dross a Crow can hold at any one time. The maxcap is quite different than the maximum juice levels a Crow can maintain, because there is no danger to the Crow if the maxcap is exceeded. Used primarily as a dueling term.


Gristle is dross so ‘solid’ it is beyond the basic ability of a Crow to convert to juice. All dross has a little gristle; really bad dross is nearly all gristle. Most Crows try to avoid high-gristle dross. However, a Crow can adapt to taking gristle, in which case what he ends up with is an effective lowering of his juice count (for the same amount of dross), but with ‘longer lasting’ dross.


Sweetness is dross with an extra boost (analogous to sugar in food), allowing the Crow to get more out of it with than normal dross. Crows love sweet dross. Sweet dross comes from overwork of juice; the best example of sweet dross is when a Focus is moving juice around at high speed.

Spice (Spicy Dross)

Spicy dross an acquired taste, and has some of the effects of a ‘mind expanding’ hallucinogenic drug. Spicy Dross raises the Crow’s juice count (for the same amount of dross), but the Crows ends up with ‘shorter lasting’ dross. Many things cause dross to get spicy; one is the Arm ‘juice burn’ trick, another is UFA Council meetings.

Raw Dross

Raw dross is dross too new to use, because it hasn’t yet burned off its juice components (and is thus technically élan).

Dross Constructs

A dross construct is a mixture of chemicals arranged as something akin to a molecule . As with juice patterns, dross constructs spread across surfaces, but are also capable of being area filling.

Aged Dross

Dross with the élan aged out of it.

Slippery Dross

Dross you can’t pick up, as it slips out of your metafingers. Darker (morality) Focuses more often generate Slippery Dross. It’s a psychological thing.


All dross and juice has its own “serial number” written into it, at least from a well-trained Crow metasense point of view.


The details of what a Transform looks like to the trained Crow metasense.


Crow term of honor.

The Panic

The common Crow reaction to stress, which is to become paranoid, run and find a hideyhole, curl up in a fetal ball and scan in a chaotic fashion with the metasense. Parts of The Panic can be overridden by any Crow, and a two or three year old Crow can override The Panic in most cases. Practice (repeated exposure) to what caused The Panic will help.

Climax Stress

When a Crow has overdone their exposure to stress enough to feel like they are out of their body. Climax stress is beyond ‘the panic’. The climax stress reaction is also similar to excessive giddiness. Once the crisis is finished, the induced panic often takes days to wear off. Climax Stress is bad for all Crows.

The Grapevine

The unofficial Crow contact network. The traditional problem with the Grapevine is about a third of the addresses and phone numbers any particular Crow has are outdated.

Dropped a Rock

Means “sent a written message to a Major Transform, normally not through the mail”. Western Crow slang taken up by some of Shadow’s Crows.


A Crow’s circle of trusted acquaintances. A subset of their Grapevine connections.

Detailed Chimera Terminology

The Rules

Mental rules of behavior for aiding in a Noble Chimera’s self-control.

The Enabler

The meditation trick allowing a Chimera brain to be brought back closer to its base human state. This is different than the Great Enabler, which involves Dross Constructs.

Early Juice Destabilization

The proper method for a Noble to keep a woman Transform from going Monster. He has an easier time handling her élan also.

Chimera Variants

The Chimera is the Transform type with the greatest flexibility, and thus the greatest openness to physical alteration based on external environment as well as psychology. Many (perhaps an unlimited number of) Chimera variants are possible. Known Chimera variants include Beast Men, Hunters and Nobles.

Beast Men

Beast Men is the general term for a Chimera who has severely retarded human brain functions, or whose brain functions have regressed all the way to animal levels.


Hunters are stabilized Chimera based on Laws (specific activities that the Chimera can do by themselves to keep their mentalities; includes behavioral Laws, as well). Initial stabilization must be done by another (specially trained) Major Transform.


Nobles are stabilized Chimera based on Rules (of behavior) and constant Crow intervention. Nobles are less independent than Hunters, but more human.