The United Martial Federation of Earth needed to police deep space, and needed people who's bodies could deal with the lack of gravity. They began to experiment on people that they did not ship to Mars and created an entirely new breed of human, one that could regenerate quick enough to deal with a zero gravity situation, as long as they kept feeding on the blood of their victims. The UMFE went out of their way to make the process give the experiments night vision like that of a cat. The process also increases the base strength slightly, as it keeps the muscle sinew fresh and taut.
The process was named after it's completion, being named for the famous Russian leader, Vlad Tepes (The Impaler), for his link to vampire fiction, and his display of battle prowess in history. The Path is started by a round of injections to the spine, neck, chest, and hips. The serum spreads through the body, and replaces the blood, which is collected. After the serum has seeped into the body, the blood is replaced, save one pint. the body is monitored for a sign of acceptance, indicated by rapid healing of the puncture wounds. The experiment is given the pint of blood to drink, as most of the research showed that familiar blood made the transition easier. When the transformation is complete, the experiment is either branded as a UMFE Special Unit or carted to the sanitarium with The Blight. The branding of a Special is conducted by a laser, which etches their number, the symbol for the Special Unit, and the name of their life partner, if one is available.