My eyes opened, the sound of the drone bringing me my morning paste an itch in my ears. “Hello,” I said to the mindless drone. The starlight was distant but illuminated my cell well enough that I could see the cache where the paste was deposited. The door opened and I grabbed the paste. This would happen twice more. As it had every day. I floated over the tiny door and opened the paste. I ate it and thought of the blood I used to drink every day. I know the paste contains the necessary nutrients for me to survive in this hell. However, I missed meat. I missed the hunt. There was no excitement when my food came to me. I took another bite of the paste, the bland flavor laving over my tongue. Tears formed in my eyes. The paste had no taste, the paste couldn’t be meat, because I lost the ability to eat what I chose freely. I thanked the gods that no one could see me cry. That I was isolated in my moment of weakness.
Hovering over the door I released my paste tube to the cache so it can be collected later. The drone is the closest thing I have to a companion in my floating prison. I affectionately call him Xanon after the vampire warlord. I’ve seen the drone go from my cube to other cubes in the distant lattice work that is the floating prison. There is no one to feast upon. No one to kill. Xanon doesn’t speak back to me when I address him. It has become my custom to say hello to Xanon. I hate to say goodbye so I don’t. There is nothing left for me but to stare and search for the other sentient beings imprisoned here. I wonder what they have named their drones. I wonder what their blood would taste like on my tongue.
I am Ela, even suspended here without prey. What does it even mean to be Ela anymore? If I were free would I rampage again? I’d be afraid to. I would do anything not to be locked up here. Maybe even just drink the blood of volunteers rather than going after any being and killing them to drink their blood. I laughed at the thought. Volunteers? To feed a mass murderer. Heh, how I’ve evolved. Such a realistic vision. Maybe I would make friends, perish the thought. Actually talk to some people. I’m full of jokes today, clearly. Who would want to talk to me? Even my own kind would reject me for my excessive violence. Even now I miss the feel of broken bones beneath my hands. I miss the taste of ravaged blood spilling from open wounds. No, wait, I can’t do that. I’m making a deal, my freedom for my complete upstanding behavior. You hear that gods? I’m making a deal no more murder just set me free.
Floating in space with the endless black expanse, my only blanket. The stars, the nightlights that help me see in my dungeon. I’m weak without the blood that gives me strength. How many years have I been isolated? I don’t even know the name of my prison. From my floating position I count five ships near the field of cubes this prison holds. They hover over us, perhaps enjoying the view. I can’t see the prisoners next to me.They are specks in a vast field. A ship hovers over my cube. Close enough that I can see the pilot through the window. Oh what I would give to drink his blood.
A door opens in the ship revealing the docking bay. A crane lowers and attaches to my cube. I am rocked back and forth as the cube is pulled upwards. I float against the wall. The docking bay closes and the ship engages warp drive to propel us far away from my prison. I remember my sentence. I was supposed to rot in that cube.
A woman dressed in a space suit approached my cube. I hissed at her on instinct. After all, why on Gnos would she capture a known mass murderer?
“Now, now, is that how you say thank you for being rescued from prison? I have an offer for you.” She said in an authoritative voice.
Her language is Standard. I can speak it though my Rs roll and my Ss hiss. “What do you want from me?” I asked through my teeth, still floating in my cube.
“We want your skill set for taking down ships. You would be one of my crew and promise not to hurt anyone on board. In exchange you get to devour entire crews on enemy ships.”
“What authority allows you to pick me up?” I said, staring at her jugular.
“Ah, about that, we are a rebel ship. We acquired you less than legally.”She smiled with pride.
I crossed my arms and stifled another hiss.”So I could end up imprisoned or worse if we get caught?”
“Yes, but we will do everything we can not to get caught. Besides, isn’t it better than floating in space, vampire?”
“Okay, then just release me.” I smiled showing the tips of my fangs.
“You have to swear on your gods that you won’t hurt anyone on this ship. You do and we’ll put you right where we found you.”
“Fine, I won’t hurt your crew, I swear on the divines. I will need blood to survive though.” I lied. Though it was true blood was necessary to strengthen me.
“We can arrange a cup for you. So we have a deal that you will only rampage on ships we ask you to.”
“Yes yes human. Now let me out…please.”
With that she touched some mechanism on my cube. After inputting a code the lock sprung deactivating the shield. I also ceased floating. For the first time in years I set foot on the ground and stumbled. I had forgotten how to walk. I tried walking again but had to hold onto the wall.
“Please give me blood,” I looked at the woman who freed me. She should die for seeing me so weak.
“Come, I’ll help you.” She grabbed my side and supported me as we walked further into the ship. Embarrassment flooded through me like a wave, for being treated like some helpless person. The rest of the security detail walked around us. Guns at the ready.
We made it to the cafeteria where we each sat down. A man put a cup down in front of me. The metallic smell of human blood piqued my curiosity. I drank the contents quickly. More. I wanted so much more. I saw red before my eyes. The temptation to slaughter them all and feast on their blood made me dizzy with glee.
“Remember your control Ela. We are your allies, not food.” My bloodlust became a hum at the back of my head. People were staring at me. They must have known who I was.
“What is your name human?”
“I’m Brandy,” she signaled the man back over. At first he was hesitant and shook his head. He took the empty cup once Brandy insisted twice.
“Okay Brandy, who is my first target?”
“Straight to business then, I like it.”
Brandy leaned towards me. Her scent, pine trees and lemon. I swallowed convulsively, trying my best not to attack. After all, isolation was a horrible punishment, especially because I was denied blood.
Brandy flicked open her wrist com and pulled up a ship schematic. “Here is your next target. The USJP is scheduled to dock in sector five at 0400 tomorrow. That is when you will enter the ship. We will give you fake credentials.”
“I’m going to need to drink more blood to pull this off.” I patted my hand where the cup of blood had been put down.
Brandy looked at the man who had deposited the blood, “How much more are you asking for?”
“Ten cups,” I said without a hint of greed in my eye, okay maybe a little.
“Two max, in the morning before you board the ship.” Brandy said, nodding at the man to leave.
“I guess I should go to sleep then. Where is my room?”
“About that. We didn’t have space in the living quarters.” Brandy rubbed the back of her head, “You will be sleeping in the brig.”
I nearly killed Brandy just based on principle. I made my hands into fists.
“You won’t lock me in right?”
Brandy smiled, “Of course not, it was totally our plan to let a mass murdering vampire roam free on our ship.” She gestured for me to follow and I did. She showed me my new cell.
”If you lock me in here, you’ll regret it.”
“What did I say about not threatening the crew?”
“You told me not to hurt them, but didn’t say anything about threatening them.”
“No threats either.”
“Understood, human.” I went into my cell and I heard the distinctive click of the lock being activated. I watched her walk away. The bed was at least covered with sheets and had a pillow. I didn’t have to float during my sleep. It took me hours to fall asleep. Being in an unfamiliar place, inside of a cell, and on top of that not floating made it hard to relax. I was used to being suspended in the air staring at the stars.