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Monday, September 30, 2013

MONSTER MONDAY: Vampires!




What would a horror series be without the Big Three- Vampires, Werewolves and the other Undead?

Stone Soldiers does indeed have Vampires- but they're not quite what you might be used to.

When I considered adding a vampire to the series, I struggled with what kind to go with. Classic, B&W, Bela Lugosi camp, with opera capes, fangs and a penchant for long, hypnotizing stares? Or maybe trailer-trash bandidos out to enjoy an eternity on the run, like those from the awesome movie Near Dark?

In the end, I decided to just take the most interesting characteristics of all the cinematic vampires and mix them up with a healthy bit of parody of the more sparkling, hedonistic vamps popular in the past couple of years.

In Book #3, Blood and Stone, we read about the origin of the Stone Soldiers' undead Doctor, Laura Olson. A college student in 1972, Laura was turned into one of the Undead by a vampire being pursued by then-Major Kenslir. Instead of killing Olson, Kenslir recruited her to work for the military- using her empathic link with other vampires to track their movements around the globe.

In the Stone Soldiers Universe, many Vampires may exist, but Dr. Olson falls into a basically-European classification. Her undead abilities are the result of having her lifeforce, not just her blood, drawn from her body to the point she was killed. She was then reanimated by the cursed lifeforce of the vampire who attacked her. As a result, Olson now requires human lifeforce to stay alive.

But not from drinking blood.

As Dr. Olson points out in Blood and Stone, she'd have to drink enormous amounts of blood to stay alive- meaning she'd be bloated and urinating all the time. Instead, her kind of Vampire severs veins to open up a path to the human heart- the organ most charged with lifeforce in the body. Blood swirling through the human body constantly picks up a kind of static charge- which is then transferred to the heart. The blood in the body acts like a conductive circuit for the vampires, allowing them to drain energy from the heart and the whole body. Very little blood is actually drunk by those vampires who've been around any real amount of time.

When a vampire is skilled enough, they then gain the ability to draw the lifeforce from the mouth of the victim- pulling it up and out of their body in a flashing, static discharge of blue, lightning-like energy.

In her many years serving as a Doctor at Alcatraz, Olson learned that such energy could be held within her and then passed on to others- healing their injuries in the same manner vampires heal their own bodies. Using this ability to heal with her hands, or lips, Olson is able to bring the non-petrified members of the team back from the brink of death and to regenerate their very flesh.

When facing off against superhuman opponents, Dr. Olson can also use her vampiric ability to drain the lifeforce from foes, momentarily depowering them. Or she can rely on her supernatural strength, speed and agility to engage in hand-to-claw combat. Vampires, it seems, can also control their bodies, and cause both fangs and long claws to grow from their mouthes and fingertips.

But physical enhancements aside, vampires possess one other abiltity shared in the supernatural world- an awareness of the mystical. Like other cursed creatures, or resurrected beings, Dr. Olson has shown the ability to see things an ordinary human cannot. And an ability to interact with intangible beings, like the rampaging spectres of Book #4, Shades of War.

Further, Dr. Olson has demonstrated a remarkable resiliance and resistance to physical injury- surviving impalements, gun shots, and even having every bone in her body broken. She has even survived having her heart ripped out.

All in all, the good Doctor is a formidable fighter and a great asset to Detachment 1039.

But not all vampires are so helpful. In fact, Dr. Olson may be the only vampire in the world that can be considered one of the good guys. if vampires do roam the world of Stone Soldiers, how would you kill them? Dr. Olson revealed that vampires aren't killed by the sun- that they instead suffer migraine-like headaches when exposed to ultraviolet light in their eyes. Sufficient exposure could kill them, but as long as their eyes are shielded, they can move about in the daylight with no problem. Some new vampires also are allergic to sunlight, but if their healing powers were at play, they would be able to resist.

The one effective means we've seen for killing a vampire so far in the series is to remove their head from their body, while their heart is damaged or destroyed- thereby cutting off their supply of stolen lifeforce needed to repair the damage.

Given that only Dr. Olson and the vampire who turned her have been seen in the series, it's a safe bet that vampires, despite their supernatural abilities, do not pose much of a threat to the modern military. 

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