Unknown Cause Metamorphosis Syndrome (UCMS) is one of the early names given to the phenomenon of humans and other animals on Earth slowly transforming into new subspecies. The first cases of UCMS were reported in early 2013, and the multiple separate instances of transformation were recognized as a common syndrome by the middle of the year.
Roughly 10% of the human and animal population has been effected by UCMS, with onset usually occurring after puberty. The changes that UCMS cause take roughly a year to complete for humans, with a proportional time for animal species. The changes then appear to be "locked in" for the rest of victim's life. UCMS exhibits itself in a variety of ways in each species affected, though there are common trends.
The cause of UCMS is unknown. A popular theory in 2014 was that it was related to the junk genes, and thus UCMS is also known as Junk Gene Activation Syndrome (JGAS) or Advanced Intron Mutation and Activation Complex (AIMAC), though current medical research casts doubt on those theories. Vulgarly, UCMS is referred to as goblinization. Other terms include epigenetic shift (ES) or POTESH (POst Traumatic Epigenetic SHift) relating to the theory that many genes are only activated based on the organisim's enviroment and experience and, in the case of POTESH, only very stressful experiences.
Symptoms and Effects Edit
UCMS generally presents itself as increased appetite, followed by itchiness, rash, and flu-like symptoms. These symptoms generally persist for a month, followed by roughly ten months of visible changes. Depending on the exact variety of UCMS, the victim will slowly undergo a variety of changes to their physical form: increase or decrease in height, changes to the facial structure or length of arm or leg bones (independent of height changes), and alteration of the number of rods and cones in the eyes are all common changes. Some victims undergo even more radical changes, including growing horns or hoofs.
Mood changes, especially depression or suicidal thoughts, are common. Current theory is that the mental changes are not directly caused by the syndrome, but instead are incidental to the victim's distaste for their new body or to societal disapproval. Notably, depression is much more common among "orc", "troll", and "beast-folk" transformations, and comparatively rare among "elf" and "nymph" transformations, while narcissistic personality disorder and eating disorders are more common among the "nymph" and "elf" transformations.
Prejudice and Social Attitudes Edit
In the First World, victims of UCMS are generally treated with compassion and formal discrimination against them is generally against the law (see the Americans with Disabilities Act). De facto discrimination is somewhat common, especially against the larger and physically unappealing transformations.
In the Second and Third Worlds, victims of UCMS are often subject to legal discrimination and the whole, sad history of lynching and witch-hunts against the other. Even "elf" and "nymph" transformations are subject to sexual assault. As such, many UCMS victims apply from these regions apply for refugee status in the First World, acerbating existing tensions over both refugees and UCMS victims.
Support and Lobbying Groups Edit
In America, there are many support and lobbying groups for UCMS sufferers. The various groups do not always see eye-to-eye on the appropriate response to UCMS, with some pushing for a cure for all sufferers, others embracing the condition and attempting to provide psychological and financial support for victims, and others rejecting the search for a cure and pushing to find a way to transform everyone.
- Only Human is a lobbying group active in the US, UK, and Canada that favors the 'psychological and financial support for victims' route; many of its members are also veterans, and Jamie Kent (an Orc-strain UCMS victim) is one of the group's more public faces, making frequent appearances in the news and on late-night TV. They were instrumental in pushing the explicit addition of UCMS victims to the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities act and continue to advocate for improved treatment.
Common Strains of Human UCMS Edit
- The "beast" strain is generally recognized to be a collection of related strains. Victims are characterized by increased skin-hair growth, until it becomes fur, and the transformation of the facial structure toward a snoutish, animal-like face. Sharpened teeth and the growth of claws or horns are common. Common sub-strains include cat, cattle, dog, goat, and pig. Victims of this strain suffer from discrimination, though somewhat less so for cat-folk and much more so for cattle- and pig-folk.
- The "dwarf" strain is a fairly common strain. Victims undergo dwarfism, along with an increase in night vision and often physical health and strength. "Dwarfs" suffer relatively little prejudice, though there is some political discord with little people support groups.
- The "Elf" strain
- The "nymph" strain is rare
- The "Orc" strain
- The "Troll" strain
Common Strains of Animal UCMS Edit
- The "Chameleon" strain of UCMS changes the fur or feathers of the victim animal, creating hollow "light-pipes" that channel color changes from adaptive skin pigments in the animal's hide. Chameleon animals instinctively and automatically adjust their skin color to blend in with their surroundings. Like rainbow strain animals, smal and tamed chameleon animals are prized as exotic pets. Chameleon predators are a significant problem in the 3rd world, and even chameleon cats are efficient enough predators to decrease the local bird population.
- The "Dire" strain of UCMS is characterized by a more efficient digestive system leading to an enormous increase in muscle mass. Teeth and horns tend to lengthen and sharpen, often producing tusks. Hardened bone plates often appear on hard and torso, sometimes rising to crests at the base of the skull. Some theorize that the "Dire" strain is related to the "troll" strain seen in humans, or is just an expression of the same disease. Wild and feral animals with the dire strain are a growing problem across the US.
- "Dire Chameleon"
- The "Dire Chameleon" strain is controversial: many theorists and researches believe it is simply a case of an animal acquiring both the "Dire" and "Chameleon" UCMS strains, while others point out no other combinations of strains is known to afflict any other animal. Regardless of the exact reason, the "Dire Chameleon" strain combines the effect of the "Dire" and "Chameleon" strains. The resulting creatures are large, aggressive, formidably armed, and nearly invisible when not moving. Feral dire chameleon hogs are a problem in four states, and at least one Kenyan town has been depopulated by a dire chameleon lion.
- The "Rainbow" strain of UCMS has appeared in birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish, and appears to be a solely cosmetic change; Rainbow UCMS usually manifests as wildly clashing colors in fur, feathers, skin, or scales. While the standard ROYGBIV array seems to be the most common - the San Diego Zoo now features a perfect rainbow elephant - other colors have been seen; one of the first rainbow-strain UCMS creatures spotted in the wild was a neon pink lion with a bright green mane. Rainbow-strain house pet breeds have become something of a luxury item, and unfortunate cases of puppy mills 'disposing of' uninfected animals in order to try to breed more 'rainbows' have been making the news.