I mentioned the memory thing. That is the strangest, other than living for so long, thing. Those of us who have been given the gift hold memories, or at least fragments of them, from our predecessors.
I have not been specific about how this gift is transferred, but suffice it to say that it is nothing like a “bite on the neck” that does it. I requires hours of extremely intimate contact, some, but not all of it, sexual.
Memories are encoded in most people by their experiences, which in turn cause neuronal changes that preserve them. In Alzheimer’s patients, for example, the ability to form new neuronal connections fades as the disease progresses. The newer the connections, the easier for them to be disrupted. That is why advanced patients often “go back to the farm”, remembering distant memories better than the recent ones.
This infection protects us from that particular degenerative disease, along with, as far as I can tell, most if not all, others, degenerative or infectious. It also provides almost instant regeneration, which is the truth behind the legend of the state through the heart, incineration, or decapitation. We regenerate so fast that only a catastrophic loss of vital organs or blood is much of a threat.
My cousin, around 12,000 years ago, was like me. He was tall, blond (another fact that your scientists do not get right is that the genes for blond or red hair is mutation. It is within our entire genome, just not too often expressed) and had the gift. Yet he died, hunting what our people called, to translate it, “The Feast Ones”, or as you would have, the Woolly Mammoth. He (his name would not be pronounceable by you, was impaled by a tusk, and it destroyed his aorta. He bled out in less than five of you minutes, with no chance of regeneration. So, we can be killed. But we do not die otherwise.
I have read your fiction about vampires for centuries, and it is almost all wrong. Those bits of truth are there, however. I already told you about the iron requirement, and some of our kind went out of control to get it. The ones that you did not find, we did.
What I really want to tell you about was the climate and hunting when I was little. It was COLD in Europe then, with days not freezing very rare when I was a little girl. I was strong, and there was no discrimination by sex in our society at the time, so I ran with the hunters. At 10 years, I was as old as two thirds of the rest. Remember, people aged 30 were ancient at the time, except for the ones of us who received the gift.
Anyway, big game is hard to hunt and kill, unless you have modern firearms. The Neanderthals would still be in charge if we had had even two Winchester Model 94 rifles, along with some ammunition. We would try to isolate a single animal from the heard, then run it into the walls of a rocky valley, or down a cliff. The bull that the “historians” give you about sneaking up on them wearing skins of other animals and then spearing them is ridiculous. Even if we could get that close, a spear from a five or six foot human to a 15 foot mammoth would be like you getting a splinter in your face. It just does not work.
If we could not kill them by violence, we would pen them. Actually, that was the way that we did it the most. We would confine them into a canyon, keep them from food and water, and when they weakened, would kill them. That is how my cousin was killed, keeping a particularly large mammoth in the “cage”. Usually they are, or were, easily turned by running and shouting, much like your “cowboys” turned cattle, but this one was an old bull and was not easily deterred. I still grieve for my cousin’s life, and the precious material within his body. As I said, we are not invincible.
Some folks ask the question, “Why are you telling us this? Should you keep it secret?” Probably I should, but I am hard to trace. There are enough of us to assist me to keep from being “outed”, and to give me a new identity. We Neanderthals are not stupid, nor or we a completely different species. Twice in my life I have given birth to a child who was a “hybrid” between us and your species. The mistake is that your scientists make is that we are not different species, just different varieties, sort of like a lion and a tiger.
One of those offspring was a girl, and she had the gift. She has many figurines that remember her as “mother earth” or some such. She had the ability to modulate the extreme immune response that most of us have. I took herbs from our shaman twice to reduce my rejection of an embryo, and the first time almost died from what you call the common cold. Remember, being immune to everything is not that good when one turns it off. I hope to meet my daughter again sometime, because I am sure that she is still alive.
The other was a boy, and he did not have the gift. He died in infancy, and I swore that I would never subject another child, or myself, to that. He would have been great, except that there was not much civilization at the time.
So I continue, with the gift. I have used it several times, but only with persons whom I believe to be worthy. I can think of many folks who are better remembered, but very few who are better living.
Crossposted at Dailykos.com