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 3: Dawn
I hate this job.
"Sergeant Victoria, I believe you've already read the recent circular I sent out to all the departments of our organization, haven't you?"
Not that a blood-drinking dead girl can have a very big field of employment.
"Let's take a look at it, shall we?"
I mean, well, my only other work experience is working in the police force and not a very good experience at that. Well, I try and I try but they don't exactly give out promotions for trying.
"Reduced coffee intake hmmm sparing use of ammunition "
Besides, I don't think they're taking any of my sort. I mean, a vampire cop? Sounds like some queer little series on the telly for late night BBC geeks.
"Regular blood pressure checks and blood tests "
I'd be up in arms trying to keep my little "habit" secret, partnered with some curious little bleeder from Liverpool or Birmingham. Probably try to find a cure for my little "condition" with a cute medical examiner down the morgue. Using my powers, if I had any, to fight the good fight for Queen and Country—
"Ah Yes, here it is. 'All operations will have the standing order of keeping itself to a low profile; i.e. limited use of high explosives and heavy ordinance—"
The calm-as-a-cat-strung-tight-over-a-roasting-pit voice of her superior and her line of thought stopped in mid-sentence as they both noticed Ceres was humming "Hail Brittania" under her breath, an affectation from her time as a member of the living. Alucard's amusement for the moment was flooding her link with him and she could feel his smile on her lips. The younger vampire would have glared at him if it weren't for the fact that she was already in enough hot water.
Ceres noted the almost imperceptible tightening of Dame Integra's eyes and knew what was coming. She thanked her vampiric senses for the second's warning and, using a little trick she learned in police academy, tuned everything out as Integra slammed her hand down on the heavy oak table with a resounding smack and the last Helsing opened the dam gates.
"—I bloody said 'low profile' and I bloody well meant 'low profile'!! And what did you do?! Fire off a high-explosive antitank round in the middle of city!! How is that low profile?! Two words. Two simple words. Low. Profile. Two words used in conjunction to bring about a particular meaning. Low profile. Are we even speaking the same language?! I believe it's called English. English, isn't it?! You know English, don't you?! They still teach it in all the public schools, I believe. So what in heaven's name made you go and decide that using what is technically an antitank weapon within city limits and letting a building get blown up by incendiary charges was within the purview of my express orders?!"
Five minutes of watching Dame Integra not breathe as she delivered her machinegun-artillery barrage, once a sight that had made her gape in awe while flinching in terror, was something she was starting to get used to.
Ceres almost smirked. Alucard was a terribly bad influence after all.
Integra's laser stare jerked her back into reality. "I am waiting for an answer, Sergeant."
"Reflex, sir," Ceres responded in the military manner, using the masculine address. Well, there's another thing to put on my job application sheet: period of employment in a covert paramilitary organization.
"Reflex?" Integra had composed herself back into her stiffly relaxed pose in her high-backed seat. An arched eyebrow above steepled hands. "Ah, yes. The reach-for-the-big-gun reflex that seems to plague the vampiric members of our organization."
The sardonic tone of her voice accompanied the shift of her attention. "And what were you doing while all this was occurring, Alucard?"
Out of the corner of her eye, Ceres felt and saw her Master uncoil from his amused stupor like a snake. His relaxed stance and wide grin radiated that strange aura of menacing power mixed with "bon homme" good humor. His response was couched in his customary drawling tease.
"Observing, master. Letting my fledgling deal with the problem."
"She handled it well."
"Handled herself well, did she?" Ceres, hearing the slight edge that always managed to creep into Integra's voice whenever she had a talk with her vampiric charge, had the idle thought about discussing with Walter about switching Dame Helsing to decaf. The thought was suddenly grabbed and disappeared out of her mind.
Alucard snickered and winked at her. Integra's razor voice sliced the air once again.
"How about this report of another vampire on the scene?" Alucard's smile became as sharp as a sword. "Not just a vampire, master. A No-Life King and a true elder. He saw Rome burn."
Ceres shivered. The shadowy vampire that she had encountered was that old? She remembered the burning eyes and the cold touch of gunmetal on her forehead. But most of all, she remembered the laugh, the mad cackling that had heralded the elder's flight from the building. It was terrifying and majestic at the same time, a sight that matched any of her Master's feats. To have at least survived an encounter with that being, even though it seemed the creature was helping her
Integra had narrowed her eyes and was in deep thought. Looking up she asked Alucard her question pointblank.
"Then why did you not fight? I would think that if the vampire you encountered was that powerful, I'd assume that you'd be the first to jump into the fight."
Alucard had that look again. Ceres had seen that look every time her master was about to play a trump card. Usually the sort of trump card that hurt a lot. His red eyes seemed to burn like the fires of hell behind his orange-tinted glasses when he answered. "Cromwell's Pact was invoked. The elder did not wish a fight with one of the vampires of the Night Guard."
At the mention of "Cromwell's Pact", Ceres watched Integra's face harden. Silence reigned in the room for several minutes. Ceres could hear the gritting of teeth as the last Helsing leaned back into her chair, the smooth sliding of cloth against leather bringing a strange counterpoint to the sound of clashing molars and canines.
"Victoria. You can leave now. Me and Alcucard have to discuss something."
Ceres could only blink as her senses returned to normal. Focusing her attention on a particular person always had that effect of enhancing her senses concerning that individual. Rather distracting in a way.
"Victoria." Dame Helsing's voice was a sharp stab.
"Yes, sir." She saluted and executed a sharp about-face. Her heavy steps made no sound as she walked out of the room, a peculiar contradiction that reminded her of her vampiric condition. As the door closed behind her, she was awfully tempted to listen in on the two, her curiosity piqued. She leaned in.
Wait for me at your secret place at dawn.
The thought jarred her, no matter how smooth its entrance. Master had wanted to meet with her at her secret place at dawn? When did he tell her that?
Now, be a good girl and have a little drink.
Ceres blinked. She suddenly had an awful thirst, even though she had consumed her blood allowance that night already. Hmmm must be because I'm a growing girl. Growing dead girl. Do vampires grow? Her stomach churned and her fangs itched, a peculiarly ridiculous sensation she always felt when she was thirsty. Maybe she could cadge a drink off Walter, maybe a few pints or so of the red stuff.
With that thought, Ceres Victoria walked down to the kitchen, looking for a drink, foretting anything about listening in to the conversation in the office.
As the red streaks in the sky appeared, phenomenon unseen to the mortal eye, she put on her sunglasses.
They were a pair of Raybans that were obviously meant for a man, the blockish design she had once noted as unflattering on her face. Ceres just sighed. Not as if I wear them to look good.
She didn't even get hurt by sunlight, her skin not curling up and burning like in all those movies. Walter had told her that his initial warning about sunlight was because of the transition period between her living and unliving states. She would have been a bonfire if she had gone out in her first few months, but now her body was totally dead and the butler had mentioned to her she could stand the light of day again.
That was the day she found this place, a fforgotten tower in the east wing. When Ceres had first entered it, layers of dust were in residence. It afforded her a perfect vantage point for the sun's rise. She opened a window and waited for sun to come.
And almost had her eyes burned out. Walter had calmly explained to her as he poured blood into her burning optics that her eyes were still too fragile for a head-on encounter with sunlight and rebuking her lightly that she should have told her she wanted a look at the sun. He would have bought her a pair of sunglasses if she had only told her, he said in his gravelly voice. A thing which he did, that very day.
Ceres had this sneaking suspicion that she hadn't told her on purpose, but she couldn't think ill of anyone and let it go. Alucard had only laughed when he heard of her experience.
"Walter is a rough taskmaster in his own way, policegirl," the elder vampire said in between chuckles. "Be careful about him and watch him. You'll learn all you'll ever need to survive."
Ceres took her master's advice and soon she saw all the little things that Walter did to inconvenience her. Things that she could easily remedy and do herself. Which she did. The cadaverous butler only smiled at her actions, winked at her and said a sentence that she would treasure for the rest of her unlife.
"Alucard chose well, it seems."
Ceres smiled at the memory, while touching her sunglasses.
"Memories, Ceres, are important for humans. For us, they are not." Her Master's voice echoed in the room, seemingly coming from everywhere at once. She turned around and watched him ooze out of the floor with the shadows. He seemed to be hiding something in his coat. It seemed to be wriggling a bit, her Master's iron strength not enough it seemed to completely subdue whatever it was under the folds of red pseudo-cloth that made up the elder vampire's trenchcoat..
She ignored it as she gazed up at her Master's eyes. They were the same lambent red as always, the twinkle of amusement that was always present giving them an eerie air.
Ceres just stared at Alucard, almost as if on the verge of saying something, then shook her head. She returned her gaze to the slender crimson fingers of approaching daylight.
Master always told her things that she wasn't supposed to do, but never actually enforced any of them, sometimes actually praising her for doing something she was not supposed to do. It was as if he was rewarding her for breaking the rules that he set out for her.
"Already learning, I see."
Ceres blinked at the elder vampire's statement as her Master stepped forward to stand beside her, pulling his hand out from underneath his coat.
"I'm pleased. Here. Have a bunny."
"Er " Her Master was currently holding what was a perfectly healthy specimen of species Lepus. Shiny brown-gray fur covered a sleek, svelte body. Beady black eyes looked back at her as one long ear flopped rakishly across its snouted face. To put it mildly, Ceres was surprised.
"Take it, Ceres. It's a gift." There was a strange lilt he gave to the word "gift" that made his fledgeling nervous.
Wide-eyed, Ceres slowly raised her hands and took the rabbit from her Master's hands. The black glass eyes gaze at her face as the snout twitched convulsively. It was so cute!
The Master was giving her something! He was pleased! He was being nice to her!
"Master I-I don't know what to say! This-this is just—" Her act of thanks was interrupted by her Master baring a fanged smile. His feeding smile.
"Well, he's not exactly a gift, actually. More like a snack, don't you think?"
Ceres blinked. This was getting weird. "Master, I've already drank twice my blood allowance for the night. I can't—"
There was dark humor in Alucard's red eyes as he interrupted her once again.
"But you're feeling thirsty again aren't you?" The voice was smooth as silk and the question seemed to hang in the air for a few moments, caressing her ear before finally being wafted away by an unfelt wind.
"I don't—" Her fangs started to itch. Stupid teeth. "You're thirsty aren't you? How about a little drink, then?" "I—" Her stomach churned and she could feel the thirst rising. Ceres could hear the thumping heartbeat of the rabbit as she held it in her hands. She really was thirsty and it isn't as if it was human Besides, Alucard brought it for her personally
Ceres bared her fangs and leaned down, ready for a bite when her Master once again interrupted her.
"By the way, his name's George."
Pausing in mid-bite, Ceres blinked again. She mildly noted that she doing that a bit too frequently for the past few months. Closing her mouth, she gave her elder a suspicious look.
"George?" An unspoken question hinged after that statement. Rather, several unspoken questions.
"Yes, George. Ginny loves him very much and will probably cry her eyes out when she finds him missing."
"Ginny?" This was just getting better and better.
"Yes. Ginny." Her Master's smile was only getting wider and wider.
"Who's Ginny, Master?"
"Hmmm Ginny Weasel? Whistler? Weasley? I forget. I wasn't exactly paying attention to names when I was looking for little George here."
"But you remembered his name?"
"There was a name tag. Threw it away afterwards. Aren't you thirsty?"
Her throat burned at the mention about her thirst. Why does he keep on reminding me?
"I can't just kill George!"
He honestly doesn't know! "Somebody owns him! Somebody loves him!"
"You mean its perfectly all right to kill someone as long as no one loves them?"
"I— Why did you have to tell me all this! You could have just let me drink!"
"But, this is a lesson, my dear."
"People have names. People love them. This rabbit essentially is no different than any mortal human being. An animal who eats and fucks and has living blood in his veins. So, what's stopping you?"
What's stopping you, Ceres? You're suppossed to be a bloodthirsty monster. Just dig in and suck little George dry. Come on. You can do it. Just a bit of a sip and Georgie won't even feel a thing. I mean, you didn't feel a thing when the Master sucked you dry. You enjoyed it. You keep on dreaming about it during those cold, lonely nights in your coffin. Yes, little Ginny will cry, but after a few weeks Georgie-boy here will be forgotten for the next little cute thing. That's the way the world works. We get born. We live. We die and are forgotten. But WE don't die, little Ceres, my sweet little bride. We're better than shit-makers and worm-fodder. You're better than George. You deserve this. It's your right. So, go ahead. Take a little drink.
"Get out of my head!" Ceres screamed at her Master's face, forgetting herself. Seconds afterward, she cringed, waiting for her Master to get angry.
"Hmmm?" Alucard's face only showed amusement.
"I-I won't do it." Her throat was burning and she felt her tongue go dry and her itching fangs were driving her crazy.
"Really." She was gritting her teeth and was carefully trying not to clench her fist so as not to squeeze George like a toothpaste tube. She closed her eyes to avoid looking at the fleshy bag of blood in her hands, its heart beating a rythmic into her arms.
"Well, if that's what you want."
Ceres' fangs stopped itching. Her thirst was gone. She opened her eyes and stared at George, who was blinking his glassy eyes at her, unaware of how close he had been to his doom.
"So, it seems you've decided to pick up a pet, Ceres." Ceres sighed and she only kept herself silent as she composed herself while her Master continued.
"This is totally disappointing, you know. Well, not totally, but disappointing nonetheless. If you were so worried about killing the little thing, why don't you just turn him after you killed him? I would think Ginny would be quite pleased that her pet would outlive her by several centuries."
Yes. A vampire rabbit. Just imagine all the fun of that! The wacky hijinks, the hunt for a three-foot-long blood-drinking mammal through the green hills and meados of the English countryside and, of course, the large body count. Just what England needs: another reason for Integra to shout at me. "Master, I'm really tired and the sun's about to rise. I'll think about what to do with George later."
Alucard nodded with a smile and turned to the rising sun. Still just below the horizon, to vampiric eyes it was as if a thousand rainbows had been unleashed in the still-dark sky.
"By the way, we're still not finished for tonight. I still have one little gift."
Ceres suppressed a groan.
"Now, now, little Ceres. It concerns you little streak of curiosity. I felt you interest earlier in what I mentioned to our beloved Lady. You can ask me one question about it."
"Why?" Her Master was acting weird again. Well, weirder than usual. Usually, I have to face every abomination, hellish entity and catastrophic situation blind. The sudden volunteering of information was suspicious, to say the least.
"My sense of the perverse."
Well, that was another vague explanation.
"Your question, my dear?"
Ceres furrowed her brows. What to ask? About the "Cromwell's Pact" thing? Or maybe about the elder? There were a dozen things she could ask about.
No, not those. She knew what to ask about. "Master, what is the Night Guard?"
Alucard smiled wide. "You are very sharp, Ceres."
"Just answer the qeustion, Master."
"Very well. The Night Guard is the name of an organization. The full name is 'Her Elite and Loyal Legion of Supernatural and Immortal Night Guards'."
Ceres blinked. She had a talent for word puzzles when she was younger and it had remained with her for the rest of her life.
"Yes. H. E. L. L. S. I. N. G. Beautiful name, don't you think?"
"But, I thought that it was named after Lady Helsing's family?"
"There's only one 'L' in Helsing, Ceres. If you wish to learn more, better ask the historian."
"Walter, of course. He is probably the most knowledgeable person to ask about Hellsing's dark past, other than me. Ask him when you two spar the next time, won't you? Tell him I sent you looking for answers and I call in my favor. Now, hush, the sun's rising."
Ceres turned to the east and saw the faint glimmerings of the solar explosion that had burned her eyes out the first time she gazed on it full on. She heard the clasping of glass frames and turned to see her Master without his sunglasses.
"Hush! I am too old to have my eyes burned out." Alucard smiled at her. "One day, my dear, you will be able to do this, too."
He was smiling as the sun rose and Ceres just ignored him and turned her attention to the cosmic fireworks display that was about to start.
She didn't know why, probably her Master knew, but to a vampire's eyes sunrise is one of the most beautiful things in all of creation, matched only by sunset.
When she was little, her Dad had rented a video of a Disney movie. It was called 'Fantasia'. It was just like that. Some strange musical symphony that could only be heard by the eyes. Panoplies of colors, the hues of the rainbow dancing to a tune that seemed to beat in time with her heart. It had burned her eyes out the first time with its searing magnificence and even now, her eyes hurt behind the dark sunglasses. Her reverie was interrupted by her Master.
"You know, I may not like the bastard. But He sure makes a beautiful sunrise."
Ceres could only nod. And as it rose, Ceres could only use simple words to convey the magnificence of it all.
The sun was bright and beautiful.
To be continued.
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