by Max Barry

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Drakul Parasitia.

Drakul Parasitia

A species of indeterminate origin, though hypothesized to be the creation of Nyarlathotep, the Drakul have been encountered only a few times by the Empire, each encounter worse than the last. They are deadly, vampiric creatures, which drain blood from living organisms. This is accomplished by either biting the neck and draining, or(in 98% of documented cases) using the organ commonly called the "stinger". In either case, a grey paralytic toxin(the infectious agent) is pumped into the target to prevent them from squirming about or screaming.

The "stinger" is a probcious housed in the throat until use, when it shoots up, out the mouth, and up to ten feet away until latching onto exposed skin. It naturally seeks large concentrations of veins, and attaches. It then shoots its own miniature tendrils into the veins to start draining out blood and injecting the toxin. Blood is drained via the stinger and sucked out and into the former stomach which now houses the blood. It is "processed", although what happens to it is unknown at present, although autopsies have shown the blood further in the digestive tract lacks iron and various other compounds which make up blood. The waste is emitted as a spray later. Drakul can drain almost any blood or blood analogue via their stinger. However, infection only develops in humanoid organisms, such as a Human, an Evolved, Orsonian, or similar organism.

Through unknown methods, upon draining blood or biomass, the feeder is turned into a Drakul. After a 12-48 hour "incubation" period in which the skin pales, the eyes change, respiration ceases, and the "stinger" is developed, as well as the toxin production glands, the newborn Drakul awakens. This incubation period varies depending on the length of time the stinger is attached. If the Drakul drains only some blood, or if is killed during the feeding, the length increases, but if a victim is drained entirely, they can transform in as little as 1-2 hours. The body's cells are infected and converted to better suit the virus. During this period, the Darkul is commonly mistaken as dead. The newborn Drakul has an intense urge to feed on and infect any and all nearby lifeforms. They appear to have at least some memory of their former existence, as they will actively seek out and try to infect their family and friends immediately after reactivation. The body temperature of a Drakul runs very high, and can be felt from several feet away. The "blood" in a Drakul is a thick white ooze. Initial tests reveal it is not infectious, and if ingested, can rapidly promote cellular regeneration, and improve health.

The Drakuli are characterized by their pale skin, low-light vision, and complete lack of response to any stimuli other than pain, the sight of silver, and the appearance of prey. There appears to be very little brain activity, and there is no evidence to suggest that the infectee retains any of his or her personality prior to the shut down of the body. Lower-level Drakul are not sapient, but they are not quite on the level of an animal, since they can remember their family and friends.¹. They are driven to feed on and infect their "Dear Ones" first. Love is transformed into vampiric thirst.

Ultraviolet light of the C range harms the Drakul, causing their skin to burn and blacken, as the damage to the cell causes the UVC protection to be lost or degraded. Silver causes them immense pain, likely due to it's germicidal properties. The best way to terminate them is to decapitate them with a silver sword or destroy the brain with a bullet or powerful energy weapon, sterilize them with a UVC light "bath", then burn the corpses. UVC is present in sunlight, but is blocked by the ozone layer for the most part. However, enough gets through to make Drakuli avoid sunlight. One of the oldest Drakul, Eichhorst, has built up a tolerance, and can thus go out in sunlight with no ill effects. However, this takes hundreds of years and thus makes all Drakul other than Eichhorst avoid sunlight.

Normal antiviral drugs have little effect, although the most powerful ones can temporarily stall the spread of the virus within the body. However, so far, nothing has proven effective at halting or reversing the process entirely, just temporarily slowing it down.

Energy weapons work well, since they are burning the body. Normal bullets are less effective, as they don't really register to the Drakul, but can cause some damage, particularly if the stinger or throat(stinger housing), or head(for obvious reasons) is hit. Silver ammunition is the best bet for ranged attack, alongside energy weapons.
Footnotes:

¹This does not mean you can reason with a Drakul. It does not "remember you" as you were, only that you were alive and you lived somewhere it can find. And that it wants to infect you very, very, very much.

Skal:
The basic Drakul, possessing no notable differences from the Drakul described above, relying on their stinger to inject others. Destruction of the brain or severing of the spinal cord is a necessity for killing them, like all Drakul. Silver burns and injures them, and can kill them if they do not remove the bullet, but generally speaking a headshot is preferred.

Chimeron:
These Drakul are more advanced, having had time to evolve. They are faster, stronger, and have regained some fine motor skills. Unlike Skals, Chimeron can use and operate vehicles and weapons, albeit clumsily. Nonetheless, they are a greater threat than their more feral cousins. With the coordination of an Ancient, their use of weapons improves, and they become much more of a threat.

Ekon:
Sentient Drakul, Ekon are much more powerful than their lower cousins. Formed when an Ancient infects someone, and then allows the infected to both sup from their blood and regain their sentience, Ekon are very fast, very strong, and have access to minor psionic abilities, such as persuading a victim to accompany them out of sight, or forcing a witness to forget something, or disrupting electronic function temporarily in a small area. Thomas Eichhorst's guards fall into this category.

Ancients:
Exceptionally old and powerful Drakul, Ancients are beings of immense power and strength. They are extremely fast and strong, capable of moving so quickly they are invisible to the naked eye, can easily lift and throw Evolved, and break open power armor. They can also manipulate blood, forming claws or blades in a manner similar to Evolved, use shadows to move or attack, and have advanced psionic powers. They can intrude on or manipulate the minds of those who oppose them, incapacitate foes mentally and can shut down or manipulate and subvert electronic devices, including robots, psionically, on a large scale. Ancients can restore sentience to a victum of their Drakul, to make them into an Ekon, if they so desire. Thomas Eichhorst is an example of an Ancient, the only non-hostile one the Empire has encountered.

The Born:
The rarest type of Drakul, even rarer than an Ancient, is a Born. Requiring extremely specific circumstances to be created, only two have ever been created. The unfortunate mother must be infected, by an Ancient, no more than a day before the baby would normally be born. The mother must be resilient enough to survive the trauma of infection for a day. The infected mother gives birth to the child, a unique hybrid between Human and Drakul. Possessing all the traits and powers of an Ancient, they are irresistibly drawn to their maker. They are incredibly fast, strong, skilled, and, while they have a stinger and require blood or biomass, do not infect those they drink from. They are immune to the harmful effects of UVC exposure, though silver still harms them. The only one known to exist currently is Vaun Eichhorst. The only other one known to exist is spoken of only in the ancient text about Drakul, the Occido Lumen

Drakul Abilities:

Drakul ‘magic’ significantly differs from Banshee, Orsonian, Czertzian, or other magic forms, in that it almost entirely revolves around blood and shadows with a few exceptions. The most common abilities are listed below, though this is not exhaustive. The extreme speed and strength associated with Ekon and Ancients are not listed here, as while they can be augmented magically, they are not magical in and of themselves. Only Ekon, Ancients, and The Born can employ any of these abilities. Thrax’s ability to transfer his consciousness between infected bodies is also not listed.

Mesmerization:
Similar in function to the Evolved ability of the same name, but with a rather different effect. Drakul use psionic powers to force the victim to feel calm, submissive, and relaxed for a brief period. This is ideal for luring a target away to feed on them without being spotted, or to temporarily force someone to drop their guard. The victim is aware of what is happening, but has difficulty resisting, often because the Drakul who use this have already been charming and friendly to their prey to get them to lower their guard. This ability can be resisted, with sufficient willpower, and only lasts for about 5 minutes on average. This ability is also capable of temporarily overriding computers, “dumb” AI, security systems, cameras, and other electronic systems, simultaneously erasing footage of said interference.

Hypnosis:
Much more permanent than a mere Mesmerization, hypnotizing a victim forces them into servitude, obeying the will of the vampire who hypnotized them. They retain their original personality, opinions, and other character traits, but will work for the Drakul, gathering information or doing whatever is asked of them without question and with no ability to resist or sabotage the effort. They are telepathically linked to their master, and can receive orders this way. The initial hypnosis often involves forcing the victim to gaze into the eyes of the vampire while they work their magic. A single drop of blood or biomass is drawn and dropped into the vampires mouth, while a single drop of the Drakul’s blood is then swallowed by the victim, this blood transference bonding them as master and thrall. The initial hypnosis can be resisted with extreme willpower, though in 9 out of 10 cases, attempted resistance results in brain death or a vegetative state. This ability can be resisted by most magic users, though a sufficiently old and powerful Ancient can overwhelm their mental defenses. This can also be used to forcibly reprogram robots, basic security systems, some turrets, and cameras, much more easily and without the hassle of blood transference or eye contact. The Sanguine Pact maintains a vast network of hypnotized servants in governments across the universe to gather intelligence and to make it easier to forge identities or paperwork.

Blood Weaponization:
Drakul can form weapons from the blood they have consumed. This, for reasons no-one has ever explained, can only be done with blood other than that of the Drakul, that is to say, the blood or biomass they must drink to survive. If a weapon is desired, one would stab ones vein and will unprocessed blood or biomass to the point, forcing it out quickly, letting it flow down to their fingers. The blood or biomass, through some magical process that even Ancients are mystified by, is hardened into the weapon of choice. This most often consists of a set of razor-sharp claws formed from blood, easily strong enough to shred power armor or robots, making an Ekon or Ancient who has recently fed a dire threat to any hunter. This can also consist of small ‘spears’ which are hurled from the palm with a hand gesture, creating stab-like wounds in whatever they hit. “Shields’ of blood can also be formed, either a handheld version or a phenomena similar to an energy shield, where a barrier of blood surrounds their body and protects them for a limited time.

Blood Manipulation:
A more rare ability, blood manipulation is the ability to manipulate the blood of a victim while it is still in their body. This has fairly limited use, but the most effective one is also the most horrifying. The blood and central nervous system of a target are briefly paralyzed, instantly rendering them easy prey for the Drakul who managed to stun them in this manner. While brief and limited to a single individual, it can make a blood meal much easier to acquire, or even the odds when facing hunters. Drakul can also force blood to flow to certain areas, such as to a wound they have created. Blood manipulation of any kind is rare even among Drakul.

Shadow Weaponization:
Used more often than blood weapons due to the risks inherent with their use, Drakul can ’summon’ shadows to form weapons, such as claws, spears, or handheld blades. These are just as strong as their blood counterparts. In addition, tendrils of shadow can be summoned to seize targets, ’spikes’ to impale them, or clouds of ‘poison’ darkness to cloud themselves and hinder the vision of their targets.

Shadow Transportation and Manipulation:
Sentient Drakul are capable of teleportation, manifesting as vanishing into a small cloud of black smoke and shadow, then reappearing in the same manner at the target destination. This ability is limited to within a star system, and they must have a specific destination in mind. This can be used in combat as well. Drakul can also ’summon’ magically enhanced shadows to render them completely invisible to from the naked eye and many forms of sensor, though Smart AI can see through this interference. Some Ancients can even ‘detach’ their shadow and have it interact with the world physically, assuming the form of the Ancient, a method sometimes used to trick hunters into attacking the Shadow while the Ancient escapes or ambushes them.

The Murmer:
Probably the most dangerous ability, The Murmer is available exclusively to Ancients. They emit a pulse of psionic energy using what Ancients refer to as their True Voice. This will instantly overwhelm anything biological in the area, filling their minds with an incredibly intense buzzing sound, like mental static, and extreme pain from every nerve in their body, effectively crippling them and rendering them unable to resist being fed upon, killed, hypnotized, or whatever else the Ancient wishes to do. The Murmer can also knock targets unconscious, instantly reprogram robots and even knock AI offline. As strong as it is, The Murmer must be used sparingly, for such a surge of psionic energy will be detected by sensors or magic-users in the same star system, and will be detected by other Ancients regardless of distance if it is used for more than twenty seconds, as their True Voice is heard by all other Ancients after that time elapses, and it may even attract Elizabeth Green, which is a huge threat to all life, if used long enough.

Drakul Makers and Progeny:
Upon infecting someone whom they intend to transform into an Ekon, an Ancient pours a bit of their blood in the mouth of the infected. As they evolve, the infected transforms into an Ekon over time, regaining their intelligence and personality. This Ekon is now the Progeny of the aforementioned Ancient, who is now its Maker. The two are telepathically connected, the Maker being subconsciously aware whenever their Progeny is threatened or injured, though they can ‘turn this off’ so to speak, an ability the Progeny earns when becoming an Ancient. The Maker is immune to the psionic attacks from its Progeny, though this does not go both ways.
If the Maker is destroyed, any Progeny, as well as everything infected with their strain of the Drakul virus, lose any intelligence and become feral and stupid. The Progeny, because they are Ekon, will shrug this off after a brief period of about 15 minutes. When a Progeny dies but it’s Maker is still intact, they will immediately become aware of this, and while likely angry, sad, or inspired to slaughter those responsible, suffer no ill effects.

The Sanguine Pact:
A hidden society of Ancient Drakul, the Sanguine Pact is an order dating back to what Earth would know as the Middle Ages, and is based on the storm-swept world of Petrichor in the hazardous and inhospitable sector of space known as The Crimson Stars. The Pact began as a small number of Ancients led by the Ancient Drakul known only as Thrax, working together to protect each other, though this has slowly expanded into a highly advanced intelligence network with infiltrators in nearly every major government, military, corporation, and intelligence agency. At the center of this network lies MODUS, an extremely advanced AI who was originally a ZAX unit, but has since far outstripped his original capabilities. MODUS maintains the defenses of the Petrichor facility, and has produced a few unique devices for Ekon strike teams to use, such as highly advanced plasma weapons. Members include Thrax, Ocearan mining magnate Maximilian Valient, and Didactian Council member Nicholas Ruthven. The tiny ‘military' of the Pact is augmented by the fact that all the senior members are Ancients and can thus obliterate almost any foe, and a potent MODUS-designed biological weapon, The Red Death, never deployed, but kept in case of the need to destabilize another power, as well as the fact that, through a combination of MODUS, infiltrators squashing investigations and deleting files, and the ability of members to wipe memories, the existence of the Pact is a closely guarded secret.
The Pact also possesses the most complete collection of vampiric and occult lore anywhere in the universe, surpassing many private collectors, and even Torchwood’s collection. Among other tomes, they possess one of the original copies of The Occido Lumen, a silver-bound medieval text detailing mankind's knowledge of vampires up to that point, most of it full of superstition and religion. The Pact’s copy is bound in human skin rather than leather.
Despite their need for blood, most of The Pact simply wish to exist in peace and avoid being hunted down and destroyed, only a few radicals ever doing anything to draw attention, quickly destroyed by their fellow members or mortal hunters subtly manipulated into doing the job for them.

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