To prevent the cold war from going hot, each of the nine competing superpowers employs spies. Set forth to discretely gather intelligence for their governments, they make use of espionage, stealth, subterfuge, observation, and disguises to misdirect enemy spies and report findings to their superiors. The greatest threat to stability is not from a nuclear threat, however: world leaders fear personal assassination and political destabilization from a threat far more supernatural and only recently unearthed.
Hiding in plain sight for centuries are a race of shapeshifters. In their natural forms they are like liquid chemical mercury, but they can easily alter their forms into any shape desirable. Their existence now exposed to a fearful public, the largely peaceful beings face harsh discrimination, legally only able to find work for the governments that would see them either euthanized or deployed as deadly assassins.
One of the most visible uses of the shapeshifters is in adding to the misdirection abilities of an infiltration squad. Under the leadership of uniform human commanders, shapeshifters can each spread themselves into multiple bodies that all look identical, such that opponents cannot distinguish priority targets and can suddenly find themselves outnumbered. A shapeshifter rarely enjoys the process of splitting in this way: each body is hollowed out into a thinned shell of a form, and the multiple sensory inputs in different locations leaves them distracted at best and overwhelmed at worst.
In a better world, shapeshifters would find a human partner to bond with and form a relationship. While romance is sometimes an option, most shapeshifters would like to find someone to copy and spend time with, as if their twin and or as one of a set of triplets or more with related humans or shapeshifters. This stems from the fact that, although they reproduce long-term through division, shapeshifters are almost never born singularly, usually splitting into three or four at a time, often producing triplets.
(I do not own the images in the above collage, and all copyrights belong to their respective owners.)
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