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 5: Diogenes
"Why do I keep on doing this?" That was the question on Harold Lister's lips as he pushed through into the Diogenes Club's employee section.
"Because no one else would take you?" Jack Wildman's rejoinder stung since it was rather close to the truth. Lister was not exactly top-grade material for a servant. Almost every household he had been in had eventually thrown him out. Only in Diogenes, where eccentricity was the norm, had Harry stayed on for more than six months.
"Sod off, Jack."
Wildman only chuckled. "What is it this time, Harry? Having difficulty with sign language?"
Harry Lister's primary problem with the Club was that the hundred year rule of silence still held. Club members used a strange form of sign language that was like no other in the world, finger twiddlings mixed with strange positions in the air all with the speed of telegraph operators.
"No. Some bloke came into the Stranger's Room and requested a second-story."
Jack whistled appreciatively. One of those. "Second-story" was the euphemism that the servants used to call the second floor of the Diogenes Club, probably the most secretive place in the entirety of London. Visitors had come and gone in strange hours to that mysterious place and almost always something happened in the newspapers.
"So what's the problem then? You've dealt with folks like that since you've arrived. You just don't talk about it."
"This particular egg's kind of hard not to talk about. Heard of Cranston?"
Jack blinked. "Who hasn't? Another reclusive multimillionaire from a line of reclusive multimillionaires. If you ask me there's something in American water that makes all of 'em go bonkers. Pfah, give me good decent English nobility anyday."
"Well, make three guesses who the bloke off the street was and the first two are wrong."
"You don't mean Cranston was the fellow who requested a second- story?"
"That's what I mean. Couldn't believe it myself, but that's what the card from the Cobalt Club says."
Jack whistled another long low whistle. Harry was always irritated by it, since it had that slight trilling tone that made it sound like Wildman was imitating a bird or something. But he agreed with the sentiment. The Cobalt Club was America's Diogenes, though he had heard it was plenty more relaxed than it was here.
"So what's this Cranston bloke look like?" There was a strange glow in Wildman's eyes when he asked the question. Lister could almost see the golden flecks in Jack's eyes dancing around. But, that must have just been a trick of the light.
"If you want to find out, you just look, Wildman. You got leave to go up the second-story, I don't."
"Oh, c'mon, Harry. He's probably in the room already and I can't exactly sneak in."
"Well, you'll see him sooner or later. But trust me, be ready for the fright of your life."
Eyes that held a strange lambent glow, like a predator's a pale thin hawk face like a mask, as if there was another face beneath. Harry shook himself and looked up at the taller man's gold-flecked eyes. "Trust me, Jack. Even you'd be frightened."
The Star Chamber of the Diogenes Club was probably the safest place in all of London. It was guarded by the best that money could buy and was protected by several structural safeguards from any natural or unnatural disaster. All of its occupants had weathered many adventures of their own and faced death in various encounters. But when the entity calling itself Kenneth Clarke Cranston entered, all six members of Diogenes' head council felt a tremble of fear.
"I apologize. Forgot about that."
The fear disappeared like it wasn't there. Sir Gerald Tarrant narrowed his eyes. The being before him never forgot. It just wanted to remind them of who had power here.
"No worry, old boy. Have a cigar." There was a smile on the lips of the corpulent Duke de Richelieu, it seemed to be traditional for a fat man to be on the council, as he sent a cigar flying towards their guest. Cranston plucked it out of the air with skill.
"Ah. Forgot. Here's a lighter." Another flick of the wrist. De Richelieu was deadly in his own manner, and the being before them caught a bright object. The closed hand began to smoke. The duke looked so apologetic that Tarrant almost bought it himself. "Sorry about that. I am getting forgetful in my old age."
Cranston arched an eyebrow as he held up his smoking hand and lit the cigar with the offered light. Holding it up, the lighter glistened in the dim light. "Silver. Touché, duke." Then flung it back in a slow, languid manner. The duke caught it deftly and Gerald thought for a moment that he would stand up and bow.
"Now that we've established pack dominance, shouldn't we be getting to business?" The clear voice of Miranda Mitchison was droll. Being the only woman to have ever successfully been admitted into the club, she always managed to rebuke her co-members into submission. She was technically MI-5, but the triple-digit division and the letter branches had always answered to Diogenes in the end. She reminded him of a tougher Modesty, another surrogate child that he had outlived.
"Oh, hush, Miranda. Can't you see we're just being friendly to the bloke?" That was Howard Blakeney, needling Miranda again. If this were a schoolyard, I'd say those two were attracted to each other, Tarrant smugly thought. Blakeney had mastered the art of playing the fop, but those delicate hands of his had killed more men for Queen and Country than all the other members combined. He was currently answering Miranda's glare with a relaxed, almost sleepy look.
"Strange name to use, Mr. Allard," John Steed — another former field agent — declared, using the name that he knew the entity before them by, as he looked over the card that the being before them had presented downstairs. "'Kenneth Clarke" indeed. Any idea of where that particular contemporary of yours is?"
"In the company of another Doctor in a police call-box, I believe."
Vagueness and obscurity, it seemed, was still the order of the day.
"Ah, yes. The legendary police call-box. If I had a penny for how many times I have to listen to Lethbridge-Stewart " Brigadier General Liam Hannay just shook his snowy mane. The general looked at Cranston with a jaundiced eye. "So, what brings the world's greatest detective to our humble quarters?"
The hawkish face smiled. In the dim light, the shadows around him seemed to swim and ripple. The hand, girasol ring shifting color from blue to violet to red, ran through black hair, smoothing it back. Red eyes glowed faintly, in rhythm with the crimson tip of the smoking cigar in the mouth. The silence was thick enough to cut with a knife. The council's attention was glued to Cranston as he began, "I have some things I'd like to tell you about."
To be continued.
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