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 8: Investigations
Patricia Dempsey was what Commander Makepeace would normally call an odd bird. "Normally" because Makepeace was not that stupid.
Thin and unprepossessing, Ms. Dempsey's silver hair topped a remarkably well-aged face for a woman of sixty. Sharp jade eyes set above a hawkish nose gave her the look of a human bird of prey. This was rather appropriate for her keen marksmanship skills were still considered top-notch.
She was also a mistress of pencak silat, an art which made her still surprisingly deadly for her age with a pair of short knives she kept in her handbag. This was found out by several punks when they tried to mug her one evening while Ms. Dempsey was coming home from work.
Her work was what also made her quite different from the normal white-haired matron of her age. Since the 1950s, Patricia Dempsey had been an integral part of Military Intelligence Department Five. Secretary, field agent, control officer, assassin and, finally, data analyst supreme.
Codenamed "Oracle", she was the ultimate clearinghouse for data for MI-5 until a few months ago when Five, as the spooks called it, granted her as a "loan" to the Knights of Hellsing. Now, she brought her considerable talent for analysis and data-gathering to bear on monitoring nationwide reports looking for anomalous patterns that could be caused by vampiric activity, something that the organization had not done before. She was also training several Hellsing operatives to become a core independent investigative unit for the Order. Makepeace had dropped by to pick up his boys for late-night PT and obstacle running, an important activity with all the nocturnal activity that Hellsing got up to, and ended up watching the IOU being run through their intellectual paces instead.
The "Debt Collectors", the unit's unofficial nickname since the grunts had heard the acronym for the Investigation Operatives Unit, was composed of a field unit of three with a control officer coordinating them all from Headquarters. At least, that was the basic premise on paper. Agent Dempsey had the tendency go-on site with her "kids" more often than not. Makepeace approved but was a bit worried about having a sixty year old, no matter how skilled, in the field against the things that Hellsing fought.
The middle-aged commander gave his elderly superior a smile as he returned to the present.
"What's interesting, Gran?"
Hearing the nickname that the troops had come to call her, Patricia humphed in the way that all offended womanhood did, no matter what the age.
She turned to her three nominal "students" and gave them a jaundiced eye as she noted the signs of a quick return to composure after a smirk. Aristarchus "Starsky" Michealson's lips were a bit too tightly pulled at the mandibular maxima, noticeable in the dark-haired man's thin, gaunt face. Richard "Hutch" Hutchins' eyelids were lower than normal and the round faced man's entire posture was a projecting nonchalance a bit too much. Ignatius "Ivy" Frost was the most difficult to gauge, with his immobile handsome face and hard sapphire eyes but, as Patricia noticed earlier during earlier instances, his fingers had the habit of playing with themselves in moments of guilt as they were doing now.
Quirking her lips, the elderly agent let it pass. Boys will be boys after all and dealing with the double O series for four decades had inured her to adult childishness. She continued, turning to the room's main centerpiece, a large computer screen where the daily data reports from various police stations and military bases were being collated.
"Well, anyone other than me notice anything?"
The three looked at the screen and Patricia could practically hear the rusty cogs of thought turning. Well, at least they were turning. Taking these police and military-trained officers and turning them into MI-6 class data analysts was a task worthy of Hercules. They had good grounding but they initially didn't have the wide view that a good intelligence officer had.
Frost was the first one to pipe up with his stentorian voice.
"The numbers. There's been a marginal increase from last week."
Patricia nodded and gestured for him to continue.
Frost pointed to the screen's lower left-hand corner. "Disappearances of people and pets are up. Missing people could be easily explained by increased glovecleaner activity, but pets…." Frost trailed off to let the meaning of what he said settle in.
The colonel glanced at Patricia, who was nodding, and asked. "Glovecleaners?"
"Type-A sociopathic personalities. Serial Killer Level 2, people like that Lecter fellow they have in the States. Not totally serial killers either, just very amoral people. No definable pattern except to themselves, highly skilled and intelligent, highly violent when pushed, often homophagic in their psychosis. We call them glovecleaners because in one of the seminal cases the killer, instead of just washing their hands like normal serial killers, even washed the gloves he used."
"And they're running around all over Britain?"
Patricia nodded. "MI-6 quantifies over ten to twenty glovecleaners in London alone. We've even managed to find and recruit one. Ripley's the current 009. But we're digressing. Starsky, thoughts?"
"Pets could easily be explained by zoops, ma'am."
Makepeace just glanced at Patricia and the silver-haired woman just rolled her eyes and explained the term. "'Zoops' is short for zoophages. Vampiric activity is often accompanied by increased zoophagic activity because their retinue of consists of both homophagic and zoophagic servants. Hutch, how about you?"
The heavy-set man nodded and went over to a keyboard and typed a few commands. The screen shifted into a map of London. A few moments later red and yellow dots began appearing all over the cartographic view of the city.
"Pattern overlay program should have something… there. Can you see it, ma'am?"
Patricia nodded and was impressed. The children had managed to work like a team on this particular logical process. They were obviously using their heads.
"What? I don't see it." Unlike their superior officer. Patricia sighed and explained.
"The Thames. See the pattern of red and yellow congregating on the banks of the Thames? Disappearances all down the waterline, spaced as if someone were actively trying to hide the pattern. Stupid in a way actually, a plan obviously executed by someone unaware of current technological standards or someone who has natural distrust for the new and is used to a particular manner of working things…." Patricia trailed off, letting the clues sink into her superior's brain.
"Or someone who's been alive a long time." The colonel finally got it.
"So we better hit the streets then, hadn't we?" Starsky had obviously lost his brains again. Colonel Makepeace first glanced at him, then to Frost then to Hutch then to Patricia herself, who had a long-suffering look on her face. Makepeace smirked at that, a sign that her superior officer agreed with her assessment. She was thankful for that.
"No. N-O. IOU doesn't make a step outside out of Hellsing HQ without approval from Dame Integra and a full Field Team backup. Understood?"
There was a grudging nod from the three young men and Patricia offered a thankful one to the commander. Patricia turned to her team and offered them something to soothe their egos.
"Don't worry. We'll be on the field soon. Besides, there might be someone smart enough out there to see the pattern and do our investigation for us; and what did I tell you is the first rule of field work?"
Frost's lips twitched as he said the time-honored maxim of intelligence agents, his only compromise towards a smile.
"Better them than us."
Somewhere in London, darkness ruled a room.
An audible swish and the sound of rustling cloth preceded a click.
Then, a screen flickered to life.
White letters manifested on a black background.
The black screen turned to white and an image was displayed onscreen.
A young woman dressed in green tank top that did nothing to hide the liberal amount of tattooing on her body was leaning forward, in a pose almost low enough to peer down her shirt. Blonde hair with odd streaks of black was tied up into a seemingly incongruous matron's bun and onyx eyes glared from the screen. A pair of dogtags hung from a long-swanlike neck and they hung in the air like chimes.
"Chief? You there?" The woman was obviously leaning down at the videolink camera as if it were in a cramped space.
The only response was short, ugly chuckle. The woman winced.
"You know, that really freaks me out. Could you ditch the 'Master of Darkness' shtick a few times, you know, like to give me a vacation from the fucking weirdness that my life has become?"
The only response was a dry crisp voice tinged with a modicum of humor.
"Ooookay, no can do on the 'normal' thing. I can understand. But—"
Burbank just sighed.
"Okay, okay. Chill. I just got the job a few months ago you know, you with that funky 'life of adventure' speech of yours. Anyway, I'm on the aerial command center. Just got out of wonderful sunny Belize, where insects lay eggs under your skin and the resulting larvae eat out. Also the location of one of those FREAK labs you were so hot on finding. Our team torched the research complex but we got a few casualties. Don't worry. Usual post-mort processing: heart out, decap and full cremation, then the river.
"Anyway, I've got some good news for you on the info front, both online and hardcop. We hit paydirt with the server at the Belize facility; it had information on the folks who first developed FREAK tech. And guess what? Prototype FREAK chips were first made way back in the stone age of the '40s. And the 'who' is more interesting. The original file they have here is from a Projekt: Jahrtausend. Sound familiar?"
The darkness hissed. A sibilant whisper responded with two words. "The Three."
Burbank's face was grim in response. "Seems Hellsing's pet vampire and the Angel of Death didn't clean out their files when they smacked those bitches' asses up."
"The Russians. Seems they cleaned out the Berlin crypt after the dynamic duo got out and managed to snag a few choice pieces of 'very bad things'. They developed it into some really funky stuff. I even got a video here that, if I did already believe in the vampires and werewolves stuff, would make me a true believer.
"When the commies finally bit the dust, who else would show up but the other commies? Red China inherited quite a bit of FREAK tech and they cooked up some nasty stuff before our boys from Brazil sniffed the wind and decided to get in on some of the action. They hijacked the operation via a bit of help from the Si Fan, who are still pissed at the Reds, and they're now jointly running it.
"Hong Kong's the current location of the main factory, with satellites in Brazil, Argentina, Mainland China, Tibet, Indonesia and Vietnam. I'll upload it up to the Sanctum mainframe for agent redistribution."
A pleased cackled responded from the stygian gloom then another low whisper.
"Confirm. Other matter. Report."
"Okay, I managed to snag a few comp sketches of your guys. I'm sending them now." Burbank pressed a button and a small subwindow opened in the side of the screen with three-dimensional models of two faces. One was a blonde, with close-cropped hair and blue eyes. The jutting chin complimented his patrician nose in a strange way that the effect was peculiarly attractive. The companion model had chestnut-hair and a long narrow face, with thick expressive lips. Beady black eyes peered out of the screen, somehow radiating a sense of enmity even if it was just a computer model.
"Oskar Habermann and Dieter Kreutz. Brazilian citizenship. Stereotypical of their class: crass, rich, stupid and very Aryan-inclined. Just harmless businessmen supposedly on a little selling trip. Of course, the stuff they got for sale is very illegal in most of parts of the planet but they're… living-impaired, so what do they care?"
A whisper interrupted Burbank's spiel. "Specifics?"
The woman frowned and shook her head. "None on any data file I could find. But these two just got a babysitter with claws." Burbank pushed another button and a conventional picture of a blonde woman appeared. "OMNIVORE got a ping when the guys at Heathrow entered the name."
"Schrödinger." The whisper had a wary, respectful tone to it. Burbank could only nod.
"Ayep. Kitty's come out to play. But still, one smart to two stupid doesn't tip the scales just yet. As can be seen by the followup report I'm uploading to your portable. Increased disappearances all along the Thames, both animal and human. Very strange and very… vampirish, if you asked me."
Burbank shook her head and covered her face with one hand as she stood up from her leaning position. Her voice was faint as she spoke to the microphone attached to the camera.
"Anyway, report over. I'm gonna crash. Lou's gonna wake me when we reach Nevada. I'll send in an after-ac to the Sanctum then. Burbank out."
A click and the view disappeared, leaving the three images on the screen.
Moments later, they too disappeared from the screen as another click sounded and the computer was turned off, leaving the room in total darkness. The dark room's invisible occupant was leaving. He had needed information, and his agent had given it to him.
Now, the Shadow knew. Sinister laughter filled the room.
To be continued.
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