Thirty-seven decks later, he opened the access panel on the bridge. His entire body ached, and he was out of breath, but he couldn’t afford to rest just yet. He barely had time to stand up before a zombie ran towards him. Henry pulled a pistol and fired, but it had no effect on the creature. It reached him, and knocked the gun out of Henry’s hand. Henry punched it in the face, but the creature was unaffected.

The zombies in the cargo bay had been slow and clumsy, seemingly unaware of their surroundings beyond a basic instinct to feed. This one was quite different. It was fast, and agile. Most importantly (and dangerously), it seemed to have retained some of its intelligence. After Henry punched it in the face, it retaliated by hooking its leg behind his and pushing him backwards. Henry fell back, and the creature followed through by pinning him to the floor. Henry managed to get a hand around the creature’s throat, but he wasn’t strong enough to keep the zombie’s head from descending towards his throat. Henry willed the Peri flight suit he was wearing to form a blade in his hand, and it responded. The blade sliced through the zombie’s neck and decapitated it. Henry pushed the corpse off of him, rolled over, and stood up just in time to see another three zombies coming for him.

The nanites responded quickly. In less than a second, he went from holding a small blade in his hand to holding a fully formed katana. He didn’t take time to marvel at the technology, though. He swung the sword in a tight arc, and decapitated the first zombie. On the reverse swing, he decapitated the second one. The third one took a step back, perhaps to re-evaluate the situation, but Henry didn’t give it a chance. He stepped forward, and rammed the katana into its chest, almost to the hilt. The creature wasn’t affected by it, but when Henry turned the blade and pulled it up through the chest, splitting the zombie in two, it died just as the others had. Just to be sure, Henry decapitated it after it hit the ground.

“Well done,” said a voice from the shadows. “Well done, indeed.”

Henry whipped around to face the speaker, but no one was there. He twirled the katana around in an effort to look menacing, but the only response from the shadows was a quiet chuckle. Henry watched in awe as a figure emerged from the darkness. It was a man, taller than him, but much thinner. The man had long, wavy black hair and ice blue eyes. He was pale…even paler than the Peri had been. Whereas the Peri had a milky, off-white complexion, this man seemed to be made out of white marble. Henry wasn’t a very good judge of male attractiveness, but he guessed the ladies must dig this guy. The man smiled, revealing perfect white teeth…and two perfect fangs. The temperature on the bridge dropped twenty degrees and Henry’s blood turned to ice water.

“Yes. You can feel the fear, can’t you?” the man said. “ Do not be ashamed. It’s only natural…a product of chemistry and biology beyond your control. I am a predator, and you are prey. Prey is always gripped by fear in the presence of the predator.”

“If it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a smug-ass motherfucker who talks too much,” Henry said. He rushed in to attack, sword held high. The man remained frozen in place until the very last moment, when he causally stepped to the side, sending Henry crashing into the wall behind him.

“I was hoping to have a more civilized conversation,” the man said. “I guess that’s the problem with the world these days. No one has any manners anymore.”

“Yeah. It’s a problem with my raisin’,” Henry said. “Momma tried to make me all civilized, but I just didn’t take to it. Sucks for you.” Henry swung the sword with his arms stretched as far as they could go, but the man simply stepped backwards, and the tip of the blade missed him by several inches. Henry stepped forward, and launched a flurry of attacks, but the man dodged them all easily, moving just enough to dodge each blow. No matter how fast Henry attacked, the man simply was not there when the sword should have connected with him. After a few minutes, Henry was sweating and breathing hard. His arms ached, and the sword felt unnaturally heavy in his hands. The strange man didn’t seem to be affected at all. Henry paused to catch his breath, looked at the man, and asked, “Who are you?”

“Does that mean you’re ready to behave like a civilized human being?” the man asked.

“Not yet,” Henry said, and charged the man as if to tackle him. The man stood there, seemingly disinterested, until Henry got about two feet from him, when the man snapped his arm straight out, striking Henry in the forehead. Henry’s head snapped back, and he fell backwards, landing on the floor. He sat up, dazed by the blow, and rubbed his head. “Yeah, ok. I’m ready to talk now,” Henry said.

“Good. I grow bored with combat. I’d rather not kill you.”

“Good to know. Who are you?

“My name is Dragomir Vlagomich, but you may call me Dragos. I am a Revenant. Your people have stories about my kind. You call us demons, devils, the undead…but the most popular term, I believe, is vampire.”


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