Eli Damaskinos was a pureblood vampire and the Overlord of the Vampire Nation. It is believed that he is several centuries old, perhaps even millennia. Damaskinos sired two offspring, both pureblood vampires as well; his daughter Nyssa and his son Nomak. Damaskinos sought to find a way to genetically alter the vampire's evolutionary line, removing all of the species' inherent weaknesses, particularly, their vulnerability to sunlight. In essence, he wanted to duplicate the random qualifiers that created the Daywalker known as Blade. To this end, Damaskinos secretly created a virus designed to improve upon a vampire's natural strengths. He used his own son Nomak as a guinea pig but did not achieve the goal he sought for. Instead, he inadvertently created an offshoot vampire race that came to be known as Reapers. Nomak was patient zero and a carrier of the Reaper Strain. Nomak went rogue and began transmitting the virus to as many vampires as he could find. Within short order, hundreds of vampires were being transformed into Reapers. The most mitigating aspect that distinguished Reapers from other vampires was that they derived nourishment through drinking the blood of other vampires as well as humans. This fundamental trait threatened to bring the natural vampire race to the verge of extinction.
Damaskinos realized that he had little alternative but to turn to the Vampire Nation's worst enemy for assistance - Blade, the Vampire Hunter. He forged a temporary truce with Blade and convinced him that the Reaper threat was a concern for both parties. His selling point was that once the Reapers eradicated all vampires, they would then begin hunting down Blade's "precious humans". Blade reluctantly agreed to the truce, mostly because in doing so, he would become privy to the Vampire Nation's most closely guarded secrets. To this end, Damaskinos placed Blade in charge of a vampire combat troupe known as the Bloodpack.
Few people knew the true origins of the Reaper Strain, and Damaskinos kept it a closely guarded secret. To the rest of vampire society, Reapers were just the end result of natural selection gone mad. The secrecy behind Damaskinos' plans began to unravel when Nomak had a chance encounter with Blade's armorer Abraham Whistler. Nomak gave Whistler a ring and told him the truth about Damaskinos. When Whistler returned to the vampires' headquarters with Blade, he revealed what Nomak had told him, and everyone learned the truth about the Reaper Strain.
Nomak soon returned to the lair of his birth to confront his father. He wanted revenge against him for being transformed into a hideous monster. Damaskinos begged his son's forgiveness and tried to appease him with promises of global domination. Nomak heard the trembling in his father's voice and knew that this was just the last act of a desperate man. Though he could no longer allow his father to live, Nomak could not bring himself to turn him into a Reaper. Instead, he embraced his father and tore out a large portion of his throat with his fangs. Damaskinos fell to the floor and bled to death. His body transformed into a petrified alabaster shell.
All vampires share common superhuman abilities regardless of whether they were born a vampire, or were once human and were subsequently turned into a vampire. The only exceptions are vampire offshoots such as half-vampires and those who are carriers of the Reaper Strain.
- Vampirism: Vampirism is the physiological act of becoming and/or turning another human being into a vampire. Despite its roots in European folklore, vampirism exists in nature, and there are many such creatures who are actually born as vampires. Pathologically, vampirism is likened to a virus, carried in the saliva of predators. The vampire enzyme is carried through a victim's bloodstream and within seventy-two hours, mutates the subject's physiology, creating new parasitic organs. It has been described as "cancer with a purpose".
- Immortality: Vampires are immortal creatures whose bodies cease to physically age beyond a certain point. Pure blood vampires will age into adulthood, while turned vampires maintain the physical form they had when they were still human. Theoretically, a vampire can live forever providing that it is not destroyed.
- Protractile Fangs/Claws: Vampires possess adapted musculature around the canine teeth that can extend these to become fangs. Similarly, they can also extend their fingernails to claw-like proportions.
- Superhuman Strength: Most vampires possess superhuman physical strength anywhere from 10 to 20 times greater than they possessed in their mortal lives. The vast majority of known and recorded vampires are capable of lifting from 1,000 lbs to 4,000 lbs. A vampire's enhanced strength also enables them to perform other superhuman feats such as leaping great distances. Supplementing their strength, vampires are naturally heartier than normal humans and can withstand severe physical exertion with no ill effects. It is unknown if vampire strength levels differ between pure bloods and turned vampires.
- Superhuman Durability: With the exception of certain restrictions, vampires are essentially invulnerable to most forms of bodily harm, including the effects of disease, and the natural cellular mitosis that comes with aging. Vampires are not living creatures, and as such, they do not require oxygen to breathe. Vampires can exist without undue stress in oxygen free environments such as being submerged under water or buried beneath the earth. Excessive force will cause physical damage to a vampire, but their bodies will regenerate damaged tissue providing they can supplement themselves with regular supplies of blood.
- Superhuman Reflexes: A vampire's reflexes, agility and reaction time are many times greater than a normal human being. At maximum optimal capacity, a vampire can move more quickly than the human eye can perceive.
- Hematophagia: Vampires require the consumption of human blood for nourishment and to maintain their existence. The required dosage of blood per vampire depends upon their overall strength and vitality, though most vampires need to feed at least once per evening. Older, more powerful vampires will sometimes require more blood than lesser vampires in order to maintain their health. The most common form of extraction is by biting a human victim upon the neck, usually on the jugular vein where the blood is freshest. Some vampires keep supplies of stored blood at secret locations called "blood banks". This practice is more common amongst turned vampires and rarely employed by natural vampires, who prefer to feed on live prey. Failure to consume human blood at regular intervals may produce a variety of effects. Vampires may suffer a loss of vitality and cohesion and they will find it more difficult to maintain a human mien. If enough time has passed without nourishment, a vampire may enter a "blood frenzy" wherein they will act on primal instinct and take what they need from the closest available source, regardless of the consequences.
- Ultraviolet Radiation: The vampire's greatest enemy is the power of the sun. Minimal exposure is known to cause great discomfort, even pain, but direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation is instantly fatal. Vampires are at their most vulnerable during daylight hours, and must sequester themselves in environments completely cut off from all natural light sources. When exposed to direct UV radiation, a vampire's body will blister, burn and disintegrate into ash within seconds. Some vampires, such as Deacon Frost, have been known to apply a special protective ointment to their skin, which will enable them to survive minimal exposure, but even this is hardly considered a reliable alternative and most vampires know better than to take any undue risks. Artificial UV radiation is just as deadly to a vampire as natural sunlight. The vampire hunter known as Blade has been known to employ various UV gadgets in his quest to destroy all vampires including, UV lamps, UV target scopes and UV flashbang grenades.
- Silver: Silver nitrate is extremely deadly to a vampire. Bladed weapons forged from silver are more likely to destroy a vampire than conventional ones. If ingested, a vampire's body will convulse wildly and disintegrate within moments. Silver nitrate combined with garlic extract produces a sort of "vampire mace" that, when sprayed, will cause a vampire's body to quickly corrode.
- Garlic: Though unconventional, garlic is a useful tool against a vampire. A vampire who is tricked into consuming garlic extract will suffer severe pain and will be forced to flee so that he or she may recover. Concentrated doses of garlic extract, mixed with silver nitrate yields a deadly corrosive that will destroy a vampire in seconds. This chemical compound can be weaponized and used in impact grenades or aerosols.
- EDTA: Short for ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, EDTA is an anti-coagulant that reacts explosively to vampire physiology. Like silver nitrate and garlic extract, EDTA can be weaponized and used as a reliable offensive measure against vampires.
- The role of Eli Damaskinos was played by actor Thomas Kretschmann in the 2002 film Blade II.
- Though Damaskinos' true age has never been revealed, it has been speculated by David S. Goyer and Wesley Snipes on the Blade II DVD commentary that he is at the very least several centuries old, possibly even thousands of years old.
- Damaskinos' place of birth is a matter of speculation. Though his name has Greek origins, he has been shown to be fluent in Czechoslovakian.
- Damaskinos originally had long white hair, it but was removed in the finished film because, according to Guillermo del Toro, the hair made him look like Michael Bolton.
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