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1 YOUR NEW BODY
From the moment you first ran your tongue along your teeth after the transformation, it was clear that your body had undergone changes. But to what extent? It isn't just the fangs that are new. Many functions of your former body have dramatically increased, slowed, or stopped altogether. Each modification occurs so you can become a sleeker, more effective blood-obtaining-and-processing machine. Below are the most dramatic improvements.
The nutritional and dietary needs of your body have changed. You now eat from only one food group, blood, which, when consumed, is absorbed through arteries of the stomach wall (1) and small intestine (2). Because of this, your stomach no longer produces acid, and your saliva no longer contains enzymes to break down starches. Instead, your saliva contains new enzymes that prevent the blood from coagulating. Any blood that is not absorbed by the stomach or small intestine makes its way to the newly enlarged appendix (3), where it is stored.* The imbibed blood is whisked to the liver (4), where impurities are filtered out. From there, the purified blood passes through your heart (5), which sends it to the rest of your body. The blood's vitality is then slowly absorbed through a biochemical process that releases light-negating hemo-photon particles, invisible to the naked eye.
A vampire's body utilizes 98.9 percent of the blood it processes, so there is far less waste to remove. Consequently, your bladder and large intestine are no longer necessary, and effectively shut down. The kidneys likewise shrink, and your ability to generate the blood-production hormone erythropoietin also halts. The little waste left to remove-dead blood-cell walls and chemical impurities-is discreetly flushed from the body via the sweat ducts (6) of the feet. INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM
Undead is not dead. Hair and nails continue to grow, albeit stronger and more slowly.* Your new nails, if grown long, can be used effectively as gouging or slashing implements. A vampire's skin will continue to grow as well, but instead of flaking off, the base components are absorbed back into the body when they are no longer functional, making your complexion smooth and powdery. In addition, your skin no longer produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Instead, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight prevents the release of hemo-photon particles the epidermis emits as a by-product of processing vital energies from the blood; this can cause grave injury.
IMMUNE SYSTEM You no longer need an immune system. Viruses and bacteria that find purchase in living hosts do not meet a friendly environment inside a vampire's body. The one notable exception is that the feet, moistened from the constant excretion of waste, are susceptible to the fungal infection tinea pedis, known colloquially as night foot, or to the warm as athlete's foot.
Your endocrine system was formerly responsible for regulating the release of hormones in your body. Most of the glands (such as the pituitary) that made up this system all but burned themselves out in your rapid human-to-vampire transformation. Some, such as the adrenal gland, enlarged and are now constantly active, contributing to your enhanced reflexes and strength. The thyroid and parathyroid glands also enlarged, which gives you increased energy and aids in your rapid healing response.
MUSCULAR AND NERVOUS SYSTEMS
While a vampire's strength and reflexes have increased dramatically, their functionality has not changed at all.
The reproductive system as you knew it is no longer functional. Your genitals are no longer necessary for you to procreate and can only perform sexually. Reproducing is now carried out by allowing a victim to feed on you. A vampire is technically of three parents: a human mother, a human father, and the vampire who turned him. All those responsible passed on the genetic materials that make up you as an individual. The vampire's genetic material-its particular strengths and weaknesses-have been passed on to you via the blood consumed to initiate the turning.
Your bone marrow has disappeared, meaning that you no longer produce your own blood. This makes you lighter and able to jump higher.
Your body no longer needs oxygen in order to function, and you no longer need to breathe. Your lungs operate on a purely voluntary basis, and are used primarily to allow you to mimic humans, to speak, or perhaps to smoke, for dramatic effect.
2 YOUR NEW POWERS
In order to slake your newfound thirst, your body has undergone a series of changes that radically elevate your predatory capabilities. As you settle into your superior form, you will marvel that you were ever able to get along as a human.
A word of caution: the dawning awareness of your enhanced abilities can be initially disorienting, then ultimately intoxicating. Many vampires go through a delusional period early on. They confuse superior with invulnerable and behave recklessly until they either realize their limitations or perish following an act of supreme foolishness. STRENGTH
Your feeble human form may have been hard-pressed to lift a case of beer without wheezing, but a vampire can lift a car over his head with ease. Increased strength also endows you with the ability to jump great distances and climb vertical surfaces utilizing minimal hand- and footholds.
SPEED AND HEIGHTENED REFLEXES
On average, vampires can move twice as fast as humans, enabling them to chase down any prey with ease. When necessary, microbursts of incredible speed are also possible, though they require a great deal more energy. Your reaction times are also decreased, making it much easier to dodge a clumsily wielded stake aimed for the heart.
Increased speed and strength alone will not help you find your way around in pitch-blackness. Fortunately, with your new body, the night comes alive. You now possess superior night vision on the level of the cat, which allows you to penetrate the darkness with ease. With your owl-like hearing, you can hear a jugular vein pulsing from yards away. Like the wolf, you can smell the delicious fear coming in waves off a victim. When you taste your victim's blood, you will be able to identify his blood type, what he had for his last meal, and what prescription and nonprescription medications he was taking. Only your sense of touch will be unchanged-which, admittedly, is a bit of a letdown after the dramatic increase in the other senses.
The ability to hold sway over the warm is difficult to master because it is completely new and alien. You lifted objects as a human, so lifting heavier objects is not hard to understand; it is probable, however, that you never controlled another human's mind. When it happens to you, it will come as a surprise. One minute you'll be thinking of how distasteful it is that someone is a smoker, and the next minute you'll watch that person crumple up his pack of cigarettes, never to smoke again. After this happens for a fifth time, you'll start to understand and appreciate the causality, and you can work on honing your abilities for a greater purpose.
All mind control requires is that you fix your concentrated gaze on a human while thinking about what you want him to do. If he looks into your eyes, he will bend to your will.* At your command, he will follow your orders, remember what you tell him, or forget what he saw.
There are limitations. You cannot make people harm themselves. For example, you can command a victim to stay in position while you glide over to feed on him, but you cannot make him jump out a window or cut his wrists over a wine glass so that you can drink the blood in a sophisticated manner. The longer you control a human, the weaker his grasp of sanity becomes, so unless you want a gibbering fool on your hands, do not control one human mind for longer than is necessary.
CONTROL OVER ANIMALS
In addition to controlling humans, you will be able to communicate with and control certain types of animals. The type of creature varies from vampire to vampire. Most can control rats, while others have dominion over bats, wolves, or dogs. Older vampires can command multiple species.
Many humans labor under the false impression that the vampire cannot be harmed by anything but specialized weapons. This is untrue. Vampires can suffer a full spectrum of injuries, but heal incredibly quickly. While a vampire may be in a great deal of pain after getting hit by a car, he will be able to walk it off within minutes. There are exceptions to this rule (see chapter 3, "Weaknesses"), but by and large, most cuts, punctures, and blunt-force traumas will not impede you for long.
As long as you stay out of sunlight and avoid having your heart impaled with a wooden stake, you will live forever.
A NOTE ON AGING
As you get older, some of your powers will increase. You will be able to control a wider variety of animals, lift heavier objects, and hypnotize larger groups of people.
You will also find that, around the one-hundred-year mark, new powers will begin to develop. The only reason they are being enumerated this early in your development is so that you know what to expect before you receive misinformation from another vampire. Don't be obsessed with these powers. They will develop in due course.
You will be able to alter the structure of your body so that you can assume two new physical forms, albeit for a brief period of time. The first is a bat, granting you the power of flight and the ability to crawl into small spaces. The second is a mist, which is useful for accessing secured spaces, but you can't carry anything. At first, the transformations take a few minutes, but they will eventually occur instantaneously. Clothes do not make the transformation with you, so when you turn back, you will be left naked and vulnerable. Make sure not to carry items of value or anything that may indicate the location of your lair if you plan on utilizing this power.
At around the one-thousand-year mark, every vampire receives a power that is unique to him. It may be extremely advantageous or merely amusing. Some have reported the ability to move objects with their minds. Some can predict the future. Others can belch small flames on command. There is little advice to offer regarding this power, save that you must wait patiently for it.
To the dismay of many vampires, your new strengths are accompanied by a whole new set of weaknesses. It is true that you will no longer find yourself laid up in bed with a stomach flu for days at a time, but after one inadvertent pass through a sunbeam, you'll wish for such pedestrian woes. These impediments are not insurmountable. Simple precautions can be taken to avoid them.
Garlic is very unpleasant to a vampire. The odor is noxious, often inducing gagging or retching. Like an allergy to MSG in humans, you will feel like you're breaking out in hives if someone cracks a clove of garlic in your vicinity. The Science: There are many theories as to why this simple foodstuff is repulsive to the vampire. The most common is that the pungent odor of the bulb is strongly associated with food and triggers latent human hunger urges. The vampire body, having evolved into its superior form, reacts strongly to squash those urges, often turning the body against itself. Unfortunately, this remains only a theory. No one wants to get close enough to garlic to conduct the experiments necessary for proof.
Like most creatures, vampires undergo regular periods of dormancy. Unlike other creatures, our loss of consciousness is nearly total. From sunrise to sunset, we slumber, and nothing is able to awaken us. There we lie, vulnerable to any predator that wishes to do us harm.
The Science: In addition to the normal fatigue a body feels after a full night, ambient solar radiation interferes with the internal blood-digestion process. As the sun rises, your body converts blood to energy more slowly, and it becomes more difficult to function. The body weakens and thoughts become cloudy. As soon as a state of repose is achieved, the mind closes to almost all external stimulus.
NO REFLECTION IN MIRRORS
No matter how hard you work to pass among the warm, one inadvertent stroll past a mirror will reveal your true nature. You may be able to brush aside inquiries by making up something about warped glass or plainly being able to see yourself, but the seed of doubt will be planted, and your nervous quarry will become more suspicious. Worse still is trying to seduce a human to feed on and being foiled by messy hair or a smear of blood on your cheek. This is why it is ideal to have a grooming partner who can look you over and give you the all clear before you go out.
The Science: An effect of the conversion of blood into energy is the release of the aforementioned hemo-photon particles from the skin. These particles nullify the light rays that would otherwise show up as your reflection.
INABILITY TO CROSS THRESHOLDS WITHOUT INVITATION
Try as you may, it is impossible to enter a house without first securing an invitation from a resident. Any attempt to do so will end disastrously.
The Science: A human's dwelling is imbued with a familial aura that disrupts the vampire's stasis. The body is locked out by its inability to physically function within that space. (For information about overcoming this problem, see chapter 21, "Getting In: Invite-Only Buildings.")
COMPULSIVELY COUNTING SPILLED SEEDS OR GRAINS
This vulnerability has been all but forgotten in human lore, and there's a good reason for that. Vampires have worked hard for centuries to eradicate all knowledge of this obsessive behavior so that it cannot be used against them. There's nothing worse than chasing your prey and seeing him spill a bag of sunflower seeds he's been snacking on, because you are compelled to count each and every seed or grain before continuing. This is where autistic vampires have an advantage, as they can count the seeds at a glance without breaking stride. While this compulsion leaves you open to any of the attacks listed below, it's not fatal unto itself. It's simply very inconvenient and embarrassing.* The Science: The prevailing wisdom on this subject is the Evolutionary Theory of Compulsive Counting.* In essence, it states that before books or other nocturnal diversions, vampires used to count small objects to keep their minds occupied. Often, they would count the smallest things of human value available to them, which were seeds, grains, and rice. These were all abundant, easily obtained, and useless to vampires as food. Over time, vampires who kept themselves from going mad with boredom and walking into the sun were the strongest counters. The counters thus had more offspring, who carried the trait, which eventually evolved into an outright compulsion.
From the Trade Paperback edition.