A Hellsing / The Shadow crossover story
by Elsa Bibat
Disclaimer: Hellsing was created by Hirano Kouta, and is copyrighted by Gonzo/Pioneer LDC. The Shadow was created by Walter Gibson; its characters are copyrighted by Conde Nast Publications. Doc Savage was created by Lester Dent (a.k.a Kenneth Robeson), Conde Nast Publications, and Bantam Books.
Chapter 1: Encounters
Ceres Victoria was a vampire.
She was faster, stronger, tougher than most human beings. She has had a hole blown through her lungs, been stabbed in the throat, punctured in the stomach and sundry other things that would normally result in her dying. Her powers, which were slowly emerging, would make any sane man kill himself before she got their hands on them.
"And that's the bloody reason why I always get to be point," she muttered under her breath as she peered into the gloom. It was something of a tradition already. She happened to be the most experienced active agent that Hellsing had, mostly because she survived where other Hellsing operatives died; thus, whenever she joined a deployment, she would inevitably be appointed as point man. She couldn't argue against that. Better her soaking up the damage than the mortals. Add the fact that she didn't need any of the bulky equipment that normal Helsing troops needed to operate in the dark, her natural equipment actually being better than the standard issue, she was the logical choice for point. "Doesn't mean I have to like it," she muttered again under breath. Raising her hand, she gestured the all-clear. No ghouls. Yet. She could smell the iron tang of blood and death. They were here somewhere. She tightened her one-handed grip on the heavy assault rifle that was standard issue for a clean-up. She preferred the Halconnen, but that was overkill for something like this. As her squad poured in to secure the room, she moved on. A sniff of the air had given her a potpourri of scents to untangle underneath the heavier ones. Sweat, tears, excreta something else. Something was not right. A wrong scent. Unnatural It had been confirmed before they entered that there was a FREAK vampire inside. The place should be crawling with ghouls by now. FREAKs weren't big on tactics. They just killed and killed until you killed them.
Now, it was the second floor and they still hadn't found anything. A multitude of scents permeated everything, so that she was unable to single out anything for tracking. The dilapidated floor boards made no sound as she stepped on them. They would have at least creaked if she had been human or at least if she had come here a few months earlier. She had become lighter on her feet as time passed. Pretty soon she'd walk soundless, like a ghost. Scanning the shadowy darkness with her red eyes, her vision pierced like a searchlight through the stygian gloom. The squad was back on her tail as the creaking floorboards several meters back suggested. Normally, point would be closer. But she was a vampire and she could handle anything for the few seconds that it would take for the squad to catch up to her location. She was about to turn the corner when she felt it.
The sharp tingle went up her spine and she raised her gun as she threw her back to the wall. She hesitated as she felt the cold muzzle of a large gun touch her forehead. Red eyes peered from the shadows.
This was not her Master. The gun touching her forehead was not her Master's Jackal. Instead of her master's red, the vampire before her was dressed in black. The creature before her was swathed in the night's cloth, the leather gloved hand shining dully to her sight. The gun, though not the Jackal, was close enough that it could have been its cousin. A hawkish profile peeked out from beneath a slouch hat, the red vampire eyes burning with power. A power she had seen before and saw every time she looked into her Master's eyes. This wasn't a FREAK. This was something much better and much worse.
A No-Life King. Vampire royalty filled with eldritch powers she could not hope to match.
She did not pull the trigger. She could not pull the trigger. It would be stupid to pull the trigger, so she didn't pull the trigger. The being spoke in clipped phrases as he stared into her eyes. "You are in danger. Get out now. Tell your team to evacuate. I will give you thirty seconds."
The voice was a harsh whisper. She could not see the vampire's mouth as it was behind the collar of the dark cloak. The gun retreated into the dark. An eyeblink and the being before her had become a part of the darkness, invisible even to her sight. A moment passed. Awe had overcome her. Then she remembered.
"GET OUT! GET OUT! THIS IS POINT! EVERYONE OUT! NOW!"
Hellsing rule of survival number three: when the vampire screams and runs like hell trying to get out, you get out.
Commander Edmund Makepeace winced, his stone-faced features cracking, as he heard his point declare an evacuation of the building. He could hear the pounding of boots against wood. Running his hand through thinning salt-and-pepper hair, he looked up the building's facade.
What in God's name is she doing?!
Ceres took the stairs eight at a time. Questions ran through her head as she ran. Who was that? How did he do that? What the hell is going on?!
Hissing in anger, the creature stretched its body taut. The prey was so close. It had felt the power of its blood, as it was promised. What had made it go back? A double row of fangs erupted in its gaping maw as it prepared to move. "Sssii thu nhon venerisss adh meh, egho vheniam adh teh," it said in tortured Latin as gangly limbs began to tread the wooden boards.
Not even breathing hard, since she didn't need to breathe, Ceres Victoria skid to halt in front of her commanding officer. Lieutenant Makepeace scowled down at her. "You better have a bloody good excuse for this, Sergeant."
"I think I do, sir."
Lieutenant Makepeace and Ceres Victoria both turned to look at what caused the shout.
The building was disappearing. Shadows lapped up sides of the plaster walls, like waves of dark sea. Writhing tendrils reached up and about as the building was devoured by the stygian assault. Surprisingly enough, what the shadow had passed became nothing. They could see clear through to the other side of the building. From the ground up, the domicile disappeared into nothingness.
"That, Sergeant, is a pretty good excuse." Lieutenant Makepeace said with grudging respect and he returned his gaze to the blonde vampire before him. Her gaze still rested where the building had stood. Makepeace arched an eyebrow at his subordinate's reactions. Ceres was looking at the vacant lot that used to be the target. Then she looked up.
As if the building was still there, unseen.
"It's not over yet, sir. Tell the men to take cover." Makepeace blinked owlishly. But she didn't have to tell him twice. He felt it himself. Something major was going on. He ordered the troops to cover, while he himself took a spot behind the APC. Ceres had gone inside for something and when she stepped out he knew they were in deep trouble.
One hundred eighty centimeters of blue-gray metal were in her hands as she stepped. Breaking away the barrel, she loaded in a shell the size of her forearm. With a clack, the barrel returned into place. The Halconnen was taller than the petite vampire but she carried it with ease. A single round from that thing could blow an armored tank sky-high.
"You think you'd be needing that?"
"I hope to God not."
The creature paused, hissing. Back arching like a cat, it had felt the shadows swallow its current nest. Swinging its draconian head, sapphire-blue eyes searched for the threat. It was in one of the top-floor rooms. Windows that moments earlier looked out on to the street and had let faint moonlight in were now black as the abyss. The shadows had swallowed its place, and even its preternatural senses were having difficulty piercing the eldritch gloom. "Hic ego te pugnamus, demonio nocturno." The whisper, almost inaudible to human ears but quite clear to the inhuman entity, sounded like gravel being poured on concrete.
The laugh that followed that pronouncement grated the ears with a subsonic shudder, a cacophonous aural assault to the creature's senses. "Dohminusss Umhbrah." The creature spat out the words, hate filling its voice as it warily drew back and surveyed its surroundings once again. Claws slid out of their fleshy sheaths in preparation for battle.
An explosive cannonade erupted from the darkness. As if by great invisible hands, holes were torn into the creature's hide. Gouts of flame tongued from a pair of guns, their flashes of momentary light revealing a being clothed in black.
Screeching as the wounds on its body healed, the demonic thing surged forward, claws gouging the air with deadly swipes. The guns still boomed, though their wielder had not stayed stationary. Moving like smoke, the being in black danced around the wide swings. The being in black and the creature had moved in close to each other. A deadly dance of glittering claws and jet-black metal punctuated by scarlet tongues of fire. A whirl, a dodge; razor sharp slices seconds too late and lead meeting flesh at high-velocity speeds. Duck, bend and an impossible somersault. A morbid waltz set to the tune of smoke and flame, silver-jacketed slugs drawing forth demonic screams from a living instrument; a metal and fire symphony accompanied by the snicker-snack of grasping claws and the rasping, saliva-filled imprecations of the filthy abomination. Suddenly, the two separated. Glaring eyes judged, azure eyes meeting scarlet, as they regarded each other. The freakish creature had for its troubles a piece of torn cloth and horrendous wounds that were, against all natural law, starting to close. The being in black was unscathed, standing tall in front of one shadow-darkened window. The creature started to laugh, a horrible braying sound that grated on the ears. It was a thing of clicks and scratches with a tongue slavering along as accompaniment.
The thing drew a ragged breath, as if gathering spit, then spat out several pieces of shining metal. "Argenthum. Pah!!" The dismissal was couched in the sardonic tone of disdain and disgust. Slowly, the thing smiled. "Mei occasssio, Dohminush Umbrah!"
It let out a shrieking howl and suddenly the darkness around the two figures rattled, skittered and scratched as red eyes opened. The tall shadow inclined its head as it slipped both guns into its dark attire. Strange amusement burned in the scarlet eyes. "Nisi argentum, lamia, ergo ignis."
With a flick of the wrist, one of the gloved hands produced a small rectangular box with a blinking red button. The shadows that had encased the window behind the dark figure retreated to show the London skyline.
Aim up, little Ceres.
The thought slid into her mind like a snake. Her telepathic link with her Master quivered at the urgentness of the order. She aimed up, with a little smile on her lips. At least he calls me by my name now. The thought warmed her dead heart a little like a bottle of fresh blood.
She felt it before it happened. The shadows that had earlier encompassed the building returned. It was a spot where one of the sixth floor windows should have been and the shadows pulled away like magician's cloth, revealing the glass and wood of the aperture. There was the sound of shattering glass and a black shape exploded outwards with shards of wood and glass. Looking up in the night sky as the figure opened its arms, Ceres was given the impression that she was looking at a giant bat with red eyes boring into her soul. A chilling laugh accompanied the sight, a mind-stopping cacophony of mirth that made her mortal companions gape in awe at the scene. She was viewing all of it in slow motion, vampire super-adrenalin coursing through undead veins. She unconsciously tugged at the trigger.
Her trigger finger stopped, held by an unstoppable force. A split second later
the building, now released from its shadowy embrace which the dark inhuman missile
had earlier left, exploded into an incendiary apocalypse. She could see it blow
for blow. Each shard of glass, wood and brick falling like new snow. The bat-like
creature cresting the explosive blast, tucking into a slow-motion somersault.
The figure was halfway down the ground when something followed it from the shattered
Her finger pulled the trigger and the H.E.A.T. round slammed into the thing like a freight train.
"Very good, little Ceres."
The voice jolted her from the adrenalin rush. Everything returned to normal speed. She turned around and almost bumped into her Master's chest. Her Master looked down at her with his razor-blade smile as he patted her on the head. Ceres would have found it patronizing if it weren't her Master doing it. It made her feel warm and loved, though it could have just been the flaming building behind her. "The shadow lord would like to thank you. But he's already left the vicinity."
You mean you know who that was?" Ceres gaped and turned around.
There was no trace of the shadowy figure that had landed on the street.
"Binding covenants, my dear. Enough of that. You have to make a report, you know. Integra will be so delighted you managed to cause such a ruckus."
Ceres blinked as she looked up at her Master's face, then turned her gaze to the burning building. "Shit."
To be continued.
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