Chapter 2: Rob the Vampire

"Find anythin'?" Tor asked. The Orbots had split up again, and was searching a nearby cave complex, thinking that the archeologists and Galactic Patrol team might have taken refuge in the caves from whatever attacked them.

"Not yet," Bo replied. Boo was with her, looking around. She shook her head in the negative, as well.

"Nothing," Bort called in. Crunch's munching sounds could be heard over the radio.

"Nothin' here, either," Tor admitted. "Keep searchin'." He sighed. "I wish Rob and Oh-No were here. We could use the help."

"I know," Boo replied. She was very worried about her creator and the small child-Orbot. Something about Empress Vampia did not seem right to her, but she could not put her finger on it.

"I think we've found something!" Bort's voice suddenly broke though everyone's thoughts.

"What is it?" Tor asked. "What have you found?"

"I…I…I think it might be…" There was a pause, then a sound as if someone was retching.

"Bort!" Bo cried. "Are you okay? What happened?" There was more of the retching sounds, and then someone gasping to get it under control. After a few minutes, Bort's shaky voice came over the built-in communicators.

"I…I…I…t…t…think we've f…f…found t…t…them," he gulped. He did not go into any more detail than that.

"We're coming, Bort!" Tor said. "Everyone; Regroup and follow Bort and Crunch's signals!"

In no time, the Orbots were all together in another part of the cave. They found Crunch on the floor, seemingly to have lost his appetite. Bort was sitting on a nearby boulder, shaking. Boo went over to comfort him.

"What did you find, Bort?" Tor asked. Without a word, the blue Orbot pointed to a cave. Tor and Bo went to look inside, and immediately wished they had not. If a robot could blanch, they would have done so.

"L…l…let's get b…b…back to R…r…rob…" Bo whispered in horror.

"What is it?" Boo asked, looking up from where she was consoling Bort.

"Never mind that," Tor replied. "We have to get back and make sure if Rob and Oh-No are alright."

"But what about the missing people?" Boo asked. "Don't we still need to find them?"

"We found them, Boo," Bo answered. "We found them."

The Orbots flew off, visibly shaken by what they had seen. Each hoped that Rob and Oh-No were safe, given what they had found in that lonely cave.

The thought made them fly all the faster back to the castle.

_-_-_

Meanwhile, back at the Imperial Palace of Ichoria, Rob awoke to a strange, new kind of hunger. He arose from the bed and walked over to the door. Somehow, he felt –well—different

He tried the door and found it to be unlocked. He opened it and stepped out into the upstairs hall. From below him he could hear voices. The Orbots had returned, and were talking with the Empress. They seemed agitated about something. Rob decided to go see what was going on.

"Where's our commander!" he heard Tor demand. The other Orbots were standing around him, waiting for Vampia to answer. With them was Oh-No.

"He is still asleep," Vampia replied. "He should be awake soon. It is almost time to dine."

"Good afternoon," Rob greeted cheerfully from the stairs. He made his way down. "Or should that be, 'Good evening'?"

The Orbots turned toward the sound of that friendly, kind voice, and gave a collective gasp of horror at what they saw.

"Rob…?" Boo began, unable to voice the question on her mind. In her concern, she forgot to address him as "Commander" when in public.

"Of course it's me, Boo," he smiled back. "Who else could it be?" When the Orbots did not answer, he stared back at them. They seemed very frightened of something. "What's wrong," he asked.

"M…m…maybe…y…y…you should s…s…see for y…y…yourself, R…r…rob," Bort stuttered. The blue robot transformed into a full-length mirror. Rob approached to get a look at himself. He gasped when he saw…

Nothing!

There was no reflection in the mirror! He could see the reflected portion of the room behind him, but, he, himself, was not in the mirror. Even though he was standing right in front of it!

"What do I look like to you?" Rob asked the Orbots, his voice shaking. "Have I changed in appearance from yesterday?"

"Yes," Bo answered. "Quite a bit, in fact."

"How?" he pressed. "In what ways am I different?"

"Your skin is now very white," Boo answered. "Not just pale, as if you lost blood, but white, as in snow, or milk or sugar or frost or…"

"I understand what you mean by 'white', Boo," he interrupted. "Anything else?"

"Your lips really stand out against the skin," Bo went on. "They're really red now. And I mean red, like ruby or blood red."

"Your hair and eyes are the same color, though," Tor put in.

"But I think I see…" Oh-No began.

"See what?" Rob urged. "What did you see, Oh-No?"

"I thought I saw –Oh, no!" she gasped. "Fangs! You've got fangs!"

Rob swallowed hard. His throat was dry all of a sudden. There was only one explanation for how he looked now, and for him not having a reflection.

"Only one creature I've ever heard of that looks like that, and has no reflection," he said quietly. "A vampire. I've been turned into a vampire." He looked accusingly at the Empress.

"A vampire?" Bo repeated. "As in…?"

"A walking, talking, thinking corpse," Rob finished. "I'm clinically dead, now. I do not breathe, nor does my heart beat. Almost all of my bodily functions have stopped. I only draw breath now to speak."

"OH, NO!"

"And now, I crave only one thing," he continued. His eyes suddenly took on a wild, animal-like gleam. A servant girl walked in, carrying a tray with a decanter and two goblets. She saw the look in his eyes when he caught sight of her. Terrified, the girl stood frozen to the spot, unable to move, or even scream.

"The goblet, Commander!" Vampia cried. "The goblet is full of what you need! No need to take it from her!" She and the Orbots watched as Rob approached the frightened girl, his eyes on the prize.

"Please, no…" the girl whispered, afraid of what the young hero was about to do. She had not been the servant girl that had attended to the Empress and the Commander in his room, so she had not seen what had happened between them. But she could see that the handsome GP officer was now a vampire.

Rob's hand seized one of the goblets on the tray. In one long gulp, he downed the contents. Immediately, the craving left him, and he lowered his hand. He stared at the girl, feeling bad for scaring her.

"It's okay," he said comfortingly. "I'm not going to hurt you. The goblet did the trick. I'm fine now. Really." He smiled gently to show her that she was in no danger. Shyly, still a little frightened, she smiled back.

Rob turned to those watching the scene. His gaze went from one to another before he spoke.

"The liquid in that cup," he told them, "was blood. I can only drink blood, now. Whose blood was it?" he glared at Vampia. "Was it one of the missing people we've been searching for?"

"No, Rob," Bo said. "It wasn't one of them. We found the missing people. Or what was left of them."

"What do you mean?" Rob asked.

"We found their remains in a cave not far from here," Tor went on. "They weren't simply drained of blood; they were torn apart, as if by some animal."

"Glombies," Vampia answered. "Glombies are an offshoot of the Zombies that feed on the flesh of living beings. The Zombies feed only on animals." She turned and spoke to Rob. "Do not fear. The blood you drank is from the bloodmelon, a fruit not unlike your Earth watermelon, but filled with blood instead of water. No one died for the blood you drank, either a moment ago, or late last night."

"I drank blood last night?" Rob's eyes widened.

"When I came into your room and changed you," she told him. "You had your first taste of blood, although you may not remember it. Even then, it was the juice of the bloodmelon."

"Which leads to the next question: Why? Why did you change me into a vampire?"

"For a selfish reason, I'm afraid," the vampiress answered. "My husband and I have no children. We are very lonely, even in a castle full of servants. When I saw you, I decided that I wanted you for a son. So I sired you into a vampire. You are now my son, Prince of Ichoria."

"Let's get you back to headquarters," Bort urged. "M…m…maybe there's a c…c…cure…"

"No, Bort," Rob sighed in defeat. "There is no cure for this. No one can cure death, much less, undeath."

"What'll we do?" Boo wailed.

"Orbots; I want you to go to Earth and bring back Rondu and Dia," Rob ordered. "They need to know what's happened, and I have a favor to ask of both of them."

"I'll stay with you…" Oh-No volunteered.

"No, Oh-No," he answered. "Go with them. You may need Mighty Orbots. Tell Rondu, 'Code Isis is in effect'. He'll understand."

The Orbots nodded, and left to obey their leader. They had the feeling that it was going to be his last command.

_-_-_

"And he said that 'Code Isis is in effect'," Oh-No told Rondu and Dia. Rondu bowed his head sadly.

"What does that mean?" Boo asked. None of the Orbots had ever heard of "Code Isis".

"It comes from ancient Egypt," the Patrol Commander told them. "Isis was the goddess of magic. But she was the wife of Osiris, the god of the dead. Code Isis is the code Rob and I came up with for the most extreme emergency. Under normal circumstances, if he was dying, Rob would say, 'Code Isis' to mean, 'I am going to die; Dia is now the Orbots' Commander."

"But he isn't dead," Boo insisted. "He's a vampire!"

"Yes," Rondu nodded. "Undead. But he must remain in the Dark Star Cluster. If he was to venture into the sun, he would be destroyed. His body would self-combust –burst into flames that would consume him."

"OH, NO!"

"He said he wanted to ask the two of you a favor," Bo said.

"Then let us go to Ichoria," Rondu commanded. The group left the room for the space port. In moments, they were on their way to the darkened planet of vampires.

_-_-_

Next Chapter: Deven and Vampia's Story