The Founders. So called as they are the hearthstone
of the Dominion and are responsible for its creation. One of the biggest threats to Starfleet
and the United Federation of Planets and a political powerhouse of the Gamma Quadrant,
the Dominion is a society based on fear so ancient that they no longer recognize it in
themselves. Hi, Ric here with the cultural index for the
far off race of Changelings from Star Trek, also known as the Founders. A first distinction
to make, the species has no true name, or at least one that is not known to others,
just as no individual within their society has a personal name. “Founders” is the
name they adopted as the organisation that created the Dominion while changelings was
a term that they were assigned in their history. Eons ago, a frustratingly vague timescale,
they were a humanoid race, aware of their origin as beings whose development was altered
by a “Progenitor”, a shapeshifting being that imbued the species with its own properties.
Although this may just be a lie that they tell to placate curious monoforms. Either
through genetic manipulation or natural evolution, this species developed the ability to change
their form, fundamentally altering whatever society they once had and instigating a whole
new way of life. They classify as genderless Metamorphic beings
capable of adopting a myriad of forms. Essentially, they are an organic fluid compound of dense
enzymes and bioorganic elements that are maintained by an ambient Morphogenic Matrix. Their ability
to assume other shapes is through a conscious mental process, although they lack a central
nervous system and other internal organs, they maintain their essence in every shape.
The transformations are triggered by enzymes that alter the density, composition and entire
makeup of the fluid. They have the philosophy that to be an object
is to understand an object. This translates into spending entire days in a form to truly
experience it. Sitting in a corner as a rock, mimicking animals and their lives, these efforts
are how they understand the universe around them and they are not limited to solid matter.
Experienced changelings can also become mists, vapours and even fire.
This often leads to them accumulating a variety of objects that have piqued their interest,
often creating sanctuaries to study them. Their time in a single form is limited to
around 16 hours after which a shapeshifter will have to revert to their gelatinous state
for at least an hour to regenerate their cellular makeup.
In this state, they are capable of linking with another or several other changelings
and sharing their consciousness, thoughts and experience. This sensation is often described
as… well, its indescribable to solids as they have no frame of reference for this joining.
It comes as naturally to them as breathing. In fact the majority of changelings don’t
exist outside of their Great Link for any extended period of time. The species seems
to be functionally immortal in terms of natural lifespans although they do procreate.
As an infant however, they possess no sentience. A fresh and new drop formed from the link,
with no mind of its own, a changing will not grow or develop at all until exposed to environmental
factors or nurtured by the Link. They can exist in this state, simply an organic puddle
with barley signs of life as we understand for years, decades even before they are prompted
to grow. Responding to stimulus, the infant changeling develops its sentience and mass
with experience, eventually forming an identity. When raised apart from the Great Link, these
individualised changelings develop a strong independence from their species, although
are still drawn to their own kind. This has a great deal to do with never having experienced
the Great Link as they do not know any different, but once exposed to it, often realise that
this is closer to their natural state than maintaining an individual identity. This sharing
of thought is more than a linking of minds and more of a single consciousness that can
then separate into individual personalities and leads to little conflict among the species.
A point of pride among them was that no shapeshifter has ever killed another. Except once and a
penalty was exacted be locking Odo’s Morpogenic Matrix into one form, rendering him humanoid.
A curious species, they were driven to learn, even since their earliest times as a space
faring culture. Unfortunately, other species they encountered became suspicious of them
even fearful because of their abilities to hide, thinking them naturally duplicitous.
This led to many a purge and hunt at their expense and the changelings were often driven
from worlds, beaten or killed. Naturally, after repeated incidents this led them to
become embittered and secretive, after all, treat someone like a monster long enough and
they may become that monster. However, while developing a low opinion of
monoforms, coning the term “Solids” to describe their limited existence, the changelings
began to realise that the only way they would be safe was if they could control the threat,
thus they became the Founders. Practicing advanced genetic engineering, the
Founders located several primitive races and altered their genome to make them subservient
to the changelings including the Vorta and Jem’Hadar. In order to control their servitors,
they wrote into their DNA deferential treatment of the Changeling race and even went so far
as to evolve the Jem’Hadar to lack an enzyme that they needed to survive. The Founders
became the sole producers of this chemical, named Ketracel White and thus the Dominion
was born. Now operating with the Vorta as their proxies
and the Jem’Hadar as their defenders, the Founders retreated to a new homeworld, a barely
M class world on which they settled their new Great Link. From here, they could hide
and control their puppets to negotiate on their behalf, seldom setting foot, wing or
sludgy puddle beyond their home. The Vorta, designed to be agreeable and diplomatic on
the surface, were just as callous as their masters on the inside and were given leadership
over the Jem’Hadar with the finer points of command managed by their own disciplined
societies. The imbued safeguards of acquiescing to the Changeling’s every whim developed
into a reverence of the Founders from their proxy races and soon the architects of these
species adopted the moniker of Gods. Ultimately it’s a title that they themselves don’t
care for, but will use to enforce their will. In their dealings with other races, they began
to need to employ violence and military might where diplomacy failed, jaded as they had
become, they saw no problem with even genocide as they considered “solids” to be a limited
existence, not of equal worth to their own lives and therefore disposable. Alongside
this callous approach, they developed a strong desire for order and control, a trait seen
in even those raised away from the link suggesting a species-wide predisposition.
Still, they remained curious of the outside worlds over their 10,000 years of seclusion
and while their existence faded into myth and legend, they sent out 100 new born changelings
to experience life beyond their walls. Despite the large military, the Dominion will
often prefer to settle matters through negotiation or diplomacy, but will not hesitate when resulting
to combat. They tolerated Starfleet’s presence in the Gamma Quadrant for long enough until
they considered them a rival, then declared their intention to fire on any alpha quadrant
vessel they encountered. Being a superpower on par with the Federation, in many ways being
a dark reflection this was no idle threat. The eroding of morality on its Founder’s
part allowed them to use overwhelming force when trade failed and any technology or science
they wanted, they got. By the time of the Dominion War in 2373, the totalitarian power
had dominated numerous other races through fear of eradication using bioweapons and aggressive
trade. Of course, despite all this leverage that
the Dominion wielded, it was still a culture founded on fear. The most crucial part of
the Dominion, its most sacred duty was to protect the Founders. Entire military wings
and populaces were disposable if it meant protecting one of their own, yet the changelings
natural powers also made them the perfect infiltrators so they were often sent out to
manipulate foreign governments from the shadows, observe and report back.
A single changeling had the benefit of the knowledge of the entire race to pull from
if they had access to the link and a near limitless lifespans gave them a long-term
view of the galaxy, enacting plans that often tool years to come to fruition. They had a
lot of experience in empire building and destroying and could play other powers against themselves
in a way that those prejudiced monoforms once feared possible, eons ago.
There are ironically so solid and unyielding in their views and culture, they do not seem
to possess any art, furniture, performance or anything enriching beyond their experiences
in shapeshifting, not even gifting the Vorta with the ability to appreciate art. Culturally,
they are a stagnant species, so stifled by fear of the outside that they no longer grow
from exposure to it. Not that they don’t have reason to be afraid, with their history
of hostile rebuttal, but nonetheless, their monolithic society will never change, just
grow unless fundamentally their viewpoint can be altered.
Thanks for watching this index on the Changeling Founders of the Dominion, I’ve skipped over
the Jem’Hadar and Vorta specifically here as they have their own subculture which would
be worth exploring in an independent video. Speaking of which, over on the community tab
you can find a vote for the next episode of the cultural index and I was thinking then,
why not choose from those two as the subject of the next index to continue the Dominion
flavour? Thanks again for watching and until the next video, I’ve been Ric and I’ll
see you later on Certifiably Ingame. Goodbye.