The exploration of the solar system had been a boon for humanity. It opened up colonizing Mars and asteroid harvesting in the belts of both inner and outer space, solving the problems of scarcity of resources and overpopulation. As humanity's presence in space increased, they went forward with their typical egocentric focus thinking they were the only sentient beings in the universe. In 2062 the remote exploration scout class ship Stoker found a ship they designated Arkivol I orbiting near Saturn. Inside they found twenty humanoid bodies in a cold stasis. The crew brought them on board the Stoker and found that they were in an advanced stasis; their blood levels well below what humans would consider normal levels. When other attempts to revive the beings from the Arkivol failed, Doctor Renfield, chief medical officer of the Stoker, tried a human plasma infusion to awaken the life forms. It worked; Doctor Renfield's infusion revived the crew of the Arkivol. "There were routine logs entered by Lieutenant Renfield for most of the rest of the journey. He reported an illness spreading across the ship until he and the crew of the Arkivol were the only ones remaining. The ships logs of the Stoker end about a week before they arrived at Brasov station, sir," the ensign said. He stood at attention across from the glass desk, watching the man sitting behind it, waiting for further instructions. "Captain Harker?" "Nothing more, thank you, Holmwood," the Captain said, dismissing him. "What information do you have, Commander Morris?" The man sitting to his right in his dress blues sat up in his chair. "We know the Stoker arrived at Brasov mining station. As you know, Lieutenant Murray oversaw the station." Commander Morris paused, knowing how close the Captain and Lieutenant were. "The decision was made to monitor them on the orbiting station, unsure of how they would handle the gravity or atmosphere of the inner planets." The Commander looked at the device in his hand, "Her initial reports indicate that they were extremely helpful. They did not require oxygen, possessed preternatural strength, only slept every several days, and required no food. They were able to mine the asteroids at a ten-fold productivity rate." The Captain rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Yes, yes, I'm aware of the productivity reports. Mina," he stopped and corrected himself, "I mean Lieutenant Murray kept me well informed with how pleased she was with their work." "I'll skip ahead then," the Commander said, using his finger to move through the reports. "I think Doctor Seward's notes will be of interest. While they did not consume any food or drink, they did require regular plasma transfusion, or they would enter an inactive state, and he hypothesized that it would eventually lead to a comatose state." "Picking back up with Lieutenant Murray's logs, a plague similar to the one that went through toe Stoker began on Brasov station, with an exponential growth rate. Per Doctor Seward, the plague co-occurred with a plasma shortage, and the bodies of the plague victims had signs of exsanguination. Again, as before, the crew of the Arkivol seemed unaffected, nor was Renfield from the Stoker. "In Lieutenant Murray's last transmission...." "Three days ago," Captain Harker said, his voice distant, marking the last transmission of his Mina and knowing her fate. "No, sir." "Excuse me?" "As you know, by your order, we sent Master Chief Westerna with a crew of twenty-five to Brasov Station. We got their report this morning. They recovered multiple bodies, but several were missing, among them Lieutenant Murray, Doctor Seward, and the twenty from the Arkivol. We received this communication from the Stoker twenty minutes ago," Commander Morris flicked his finger from his device towards Captain Harker's desk, where a video message appeared. "Play." Lieutenant Murray's image appeared on the screen, her lips stained blood red, some of it trailing from the corner of her mouth. "This message is for Captain Harker," she said, then paused as if expecting the message to be handed off. "My love," she continued, "the crew of the Arkivol has shown us incredible things. They have shown me how they can share their strength and endurance gifts and other wondrous things that I did not share in our previous communications. "I can't wait to share this with you," she paused, licking her lips, the red disappearing under her tongue. "We are a day out from Mars, and I'll be in your arms soon. Please have a greeting party waiting for us. We are so hungry. I can't wait to see you, my dearest Jonathan." The video ended. "I don't think it was a coincidence the Arkivol was set adrift in space," Captain Morris said, interrupting the silence. The Captain stayed silent, staring at the image of Mina still frozen before him. The burden of command and love weighing heavy on him. "I think you're right," Captain Harker said. "We don't know what happened to the people who jettisoned them into space, and I don't think we want to find out. Get Admiral Van Helsing on the line. We're going to have to stop them from getting to Mars."
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