Founders; The Founders, or Changelings, are skilled shapeshifters who are viscous liquid in their original form. They have the specialized ability to change their biomolecular structure to mimic anything, as they can manipulate mass as well as shape. The only compromising aspect of this skill is the inability to hold a shape over 16 hours. Changelings must revert to their liquid state or endure a painful "decomposition". They neither need food nor rest, and even in liquid state maintain a level of alert consciousness. In addition to their shape shifting abilities, Founders are capable of merging with each other when in their liquid state. They call this process 'the Great Link', and it allows the Founders to achieve a considerable degree of information and memory sharing while increasing their ability to modify their own internal structure. On the Founders home world many millions of individuals spend virtually their entire time within the great link, which is comparable to an ocean in size. Society The Founders live reclusively in the Gamma Quadrant, spending their leisure shaping themselves into various forms in their gardens, deriving an understanding of the world from different perspectives. There is no hierarchy of power within their society: no single Changeling is superior to others except inherent differences in skill and knowledge. Equality and peace reigns within the Founders society. They take pride in having never inflicted harm upon one of their own, however much damage they wrought offworld.
In their history the Founders have often been persecuted by non-shapeshifters, whom they refer to as 'the solids'. In order to guarantee their safety they created the Dominion - a grouping of many solid species under the control of the Founders. The Founders have resorted to genetic engineering in order to modify several of these species to increase their utility to the Dominion - most notably the Vorta and Jem'Hadar. Although individual planets within the Dominion are treated reasonably well, disobedience to the Founders is dealt with extremely harshly - it has been known for entire planets to be infected with deadly diseases for rebelling against Dominion rule.