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There's an interesting lower level of camouflage a notch below actual shape shifting some people can do. What happens is they can control the pigment in their body. It's mostly in their skin and eyes. They can make their eyes go from brown to blue and make the skin look more tan or fair. They can do both at the same time or separately. They can't change the hair color or length, but they can quickly play around with different hairstyles.
It's used mostly by people who are spies as a profession. The idea of it is so if they're running from someone, they can go around a corner and make themselves look different. Or if you're checking someone out, you can walk past them twice to get a better look at them and they don't get suspicious. Plus the brown eyes are less noticeable than the light blue eyes and they can walk around people without standing out so much.
You wouldn't think just the skin and eye color would make that much of a difference, but the stark contrast of just the eyes alone going from dark brown to light blue makes someone look a lot different. Plus most people just aren't expecting someone to have that kind of ability. Like people know about contact lenses, but it takes a while to put them in or take them out with a mirror. Nobody's expecting such a fast change to happen with someone walking by looking completely different within seconds.
It doesn't take a whole lot of switching things around either, even to walk past other trained spies in this time period. Like people who are specifically being perceptive and looking for clandestine activity. They can literally just change their skin and eyes then remove a jacket and someone with training disregards them.
They can take it further by changing voice pitch, using accents, and contorting their facial muscles but that's usually enough as is. Instant change of skin and eyes is just not accepted as a possibility, and they're taken as a completely different person even if the facial structure is the same. It even fools people who have a close bond that you know inside and out since they're just not expecting it.
They go through a lot of training, including all the standard Tradecraft skills and much, much more. They wear layered clothing a lot, so they can just remove a shirt on the fly, or something loose they can take off quickly. Usually white to black or red to blue. Opposites. It's usually only the upper body they focus on since pretty much everyone wears jeans. They get pretty quick at changing hairstyles. Men can go from neatly parted hairstyle to slicked back. Women can just take their hair down and put it back up. A lot of "Gray Man" strategies are used.
They use different postures and gaits as they walk. They study mannerisms and body language and can change them too. One could rob a bank in theory. Employing all these tactics would almost certainly allow them to get off scot free. Even if they got caught, the description of a blue eyed fair skinned person from the bank teller and having a brown eyed tan person in custody should create enough reasonable doubt that it was them.
They do a lot of practice in places like grocery stores and whatnot since the aisles make it easy for this kind of thing. They do passes with different appearances while others observe people who aren't in on it as they walk by and look for any reaction. There's a couple exercises they do where they use assigned clothing and accessories, and another where they use their own.
The objective is of course to not elicit a reaction first and foremost, but a big part of it is to see how many different people they can appear as while doing it as quickly as possible. Apparently the current record is 10 without any reaction from the mark. It's a little easier for men since most people don't check them out like women are checked out, but the record holder is female so you know she's good.
There's a surprising amount of ways you can wear your clothes to look different. She would have a top she was wearing normally. Then she could fold up the stomach portion. Then she could put that back down and tuck the straps in. Then she could do them both together like a tube top. She could tie a sweatshirt around her waist, or around the shoulders and that would work. All this while doing different hairstyles and you combine that together with pigmentation alternation and nobody has a clue.
Some of them use those reversible jackets. Others hand make their own. One cool one was one that looked like a sport coat on one side, and a windbreaker on the other side. They tried to use opposite colors whenever possible, but the contrast between the two types of jackets alone worked exceptionally well.
Another thing they do is get practice leading double lives with their dark pigmented and light pigmented selves. They get two separate identities and try and use as many contrasted differences between them and keep them as separated as possible without any overlap. This gives them practice so they can switch "modes" and reinforces getting themselves into different lines of thinking.
Typically they set aside one identity for being who they are in their core being, and then a completely different identity. Some make two separate ones from themselves and have a third identity that's hidden from everyone.
It's not all just sneaking around either. They get all kinds of combat training as well. Learning to use all kinds of guns and melee weapons. Eskrima, Krav Maga, and Judo were big among the martial arts they learned. It's said among them that the amount of training they go through makes the FBI and CIA look like kindergarten. They start training at a young age and the things those agencies employ are what they learn when they start.
There's also an element of hypnosis used for sleeper agent activity and inducing amnesia. It's for security purposes for one, and the other reason is in case someone or something were able to read minds and it keeps them more hidden.
It's the result of genetic engineering from the 2030's. As far as the skin goes, it's like Chromatophore that octopuses have where it's a pigment cell in the skin that they can expand and contract at will. Most of them can only do it all at once, but some can control it better making their skin patchy like vitiligo. Some can even do freckles, but they're challenging.
They're definitely stronger than an average person, but don't look like they are. Their musculature is normal looking, but they're capable of lifting the same amount or more weight than someone who's more muscular looking. I saw one that was a short and skinny woman move an arcade machine with a hand truck using only one hand and walking normally. I saw another average looking guy lift his friend over his head with one arm and his friends foot on his palm and actually toss him up and catch him again.
They're faster than regular people too. Estimated at 40+ MPH running speed and can sustain a full sprint for far longer than most people. It wouldn't be a fair competition in any Olympics or competitive sport and would be like interfering in it if they were to participate.
Another interesting tidbit is they actually mature faster. It was made this way for getting them out in the field faster. One of them was only 5 years old, but was as physically mature as a 24 year old. They're longer lived too. All the hereditary diseases are edited out. They're generally longer lived too. They're highly intelligent, have eidetic memories, and a high degree of perception. This is all built upon with their education and training.
They're mostly Caucasian, but there are Asian and African American ones too. The thing about the African Americans is their facial characteristics and hair type make them stand out. A Caucasian with dark skin can blend in with a surprising amount of different groups of people, but an African American with skin so light it looks Caucasian is too noticeable. At least up close. Their hair styling is also more limited and can't be changed on the fly as easily. It's pretty much the same for the Asians only it's just their eye shape.
I spoke with a couple of them. One of them holds her tan skin and brown eyes constantly and rarely changes them. Blue eyes and pale skin is the default for her. It can be the opposite for others. She says it feels almost like a shield and she feels safer that way so she can change herself in case she needs to run.
I would describe that perception in almost the same way with her eyes at least, because when they're blue you can see more detail of the iris and pupil, and when they're brown it's like the detail is being obscured. She says she feels naked and vulnerable when they're blue. The other guy didn't feel that way. It was just something he can do and just the way it is for him.
I asked how they control it and it's hard for them to describe. It's something that's just always been that way with them. They compared it to how people can unfocus their eyes voluntarily, but you see normally if you're not concentrating on it. Consciously not changing the skin pigment all at once like the vitiligo would be like unfocusing only one eye at the time. This is the best way to explain it because even they don't know how it all works, it's just how they are.
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