Integral looked at the shut doors of her chambers with a wary expression then glanced over the closed windows. She had locked herself inside her quarters since Ruthven's visit yesterday; all exits were assured she would not escape or at least to found difficulties to get out. Deprived of her jacket and clothed with her trousers and her white shirt, she had tried to explore her mind powers and what the tainted blood coursing inside her system offered.
Neither Alucard or Seras had come to see her or stop her hermit impulse yet; Integral supposed the three needed time to reevaluate themselves, to fight her Maker's mind control. She had wanted to speak aloud the defeat they tasted was artificial, it was the same wrenching sensation she had experienced since she was turned into a vampire. A helpless, infuriating weakness grown by his mental whispers in her subconscious.
Her thoughts were scattered, the memories of what Ruthven did to her the night she was dead to the world distracted Integral from her quest to obtain power. She recalled his hands, his body pressing to her and wondered how she was capable to remember the cold of his touch if she was numb. A shiver crossed her spine, she stood to walk to the window, moving the curtain to look through it.
It's not my memory, it's what he wants me to feel, Integral thought, her fists were shaking, containing the urge to shatter the glass, to pierce her hand and taste the pain. This was real, she was in her room and no one was controlling her, thus her body was at her commands. She stopped and looked at the floor; there was a thin layer of dust already accumulating on the marble, and her sight detected it. My enhanced senses allow me to see how much I need my maids back, pity my condition will detain me to hire new ones.
She turned around and pressed her forehead on the window, her flesh was colder than the glass but it soothed her, it made her mind forget for a second before the footsteps in the corridor interrupted Integral's peace. "I don't want to see anyone," she said.
"Lady Integral," Seras called, her tone lacked the usual chipper quality; it had become demure. "Master gave me instructions to deliver your meal while he's gone."
"Where is he?" Integral asked, demanding. Why he did not tell her about his absence? Alucard chooses the most inopportune moments to respect my wish of privacy.
"Master went to see Walter," Seras explained. "He's concerned about him being an easy target for Ruthven with his weakened state. And to ask him questions; he has a feeling you and your grandfather weren't the only Hellsings Ruthven came across before."
Integral paused at that statement. It could be possible and she was wary to find out if Ruthven indeed had crossed his paths with her beloved father. What a disappointment if he could resist and fight back when she could not. "I will wait until his return to re-" A crack noise interrupted her. Looking over her shoulder, Integral saw Seras Victoria entering to her room, her hair strands obscured her eyes as she carried a blood bag. "How did you enter! I locked the door myself!"
Seras blinked, meeting her grey gaze with her red eyes. "It was open, Sir. I just lowered the doorknob."
"I see…" Integral trailed off, lost for a terrible instant. She had locked it, she had put the key in her nightstand drawer, she knew, she remembered! Ignoring Seras' dumbfounded expression, she rushed to check the first drawer of said furniture. Tossing aside the paper and the handgun she kept there, found nothing. "Where is the key!" she demanded to know, mildly hysteric. Her fangs elongated, her long hair was ruffled, giving her a frightening aspect.
Seras carefully shut the door; there was a soft slam. "Here, Sir," she replied, her voice was slow, clearly to avoid disturbing her further. The key was on the lock, twisted to open it.
Integral stared in disbelief, violently shutting the drawer and sitting on the mattress, hands on her face. How? When did she unlock the door? "I bloody locked the door, I am sure. I did that and placed the key in this drawer. I remember that, officer Victoria!" There was no response on Seras' part, Integral rose and faced the former policewoman. "Don't pity me, Seras. I lost too much to lose your respect as well."
"I don't pity you, Lady Integral!" Seras exclaimed, embracing herself. "I pity myself. This is my fault! I couldn't even protect you from doing this. I arrived too late. I couldn't gather courage to face you before, Sir. My God, Ruthven is right, I only think in my welfare. I am so-"
"Naïve to believe his rubbish!" Integral stopped her, she found it troublesome to utter the words but less so than before. It was possible Ruthven had lessened his control. No doubt I'll amuse him better, she mused grimly, afraid that at the mere glimpse of hope it would be taken away from her. "He's controlling your mind, Seras. His poisonous words are lies, he's employing your fear against yourself. I know because he has been torturing me for a while."
Seras seemed to calm herself, forcing a half smile on her lips. "I must have appeared a prat, Sir."
"No, Seras Victoria," Integral shook her head, correcting her with a sardonic tone, "Just human as much vampires could be. Vulnerable." She took the bag from her hands, nipping a side of the plastic, perforating a neat hole to drink from. "You shouldn't be ashamed of anything, it's not you who locked herself away because she's waiting to be controlled again."
"Lady Integral, don't say that, you just want to protect us," Seras told her as Integral sipped the bag. She hated to drink transfusion blood, it tasted like watered tea - cheap.
Or to protect me from myself, Integral thought; her cold meal and conversation were over soon. The alarms resounded in the empty halls of the Hellsing headquarters. "Seras Victoria!" she exclaimed, watching the girl ran outside her room and consequently shutting the door. Before she lunged at it, there was a click on the other side, her key was taken away. "Seras! Open the door or I will throw it!" she warned. What is she thinking?
"You'll have to throw all doors," Seras replied at the other side. "I will check this Sir. I won't allow anyone else to get harmed for my incompetence. Drink the blood!"
"Seras Victoria!" Integral exclaimed, breaking the knob with her strong grip but there was no response; only her departing footsteps could be heard beneath the alarms.
"Damn it all!" Yumi cursed aloud as the alarms resounded through the installations.
"We should have waited, Father Anderson and attack at dusk as we were instructed. We are here to spy the movements and check if the rumours were true," Heinkel stated, spitting her finished cigarette to her feet while glancing at her partner through half lowered spectacles. "But your anxiety got the best of us. Now we have been discovered."
Yumi laughed briefly, returning Heinkel's calm gaze with a maniacal look. "Better to send the damned to hell quickly. We don't need Anderson."
Father Maxwell begs to differ, Heinkel protested mentally but nonetheless followed Yumi as she approached the Mansion. What was done, was done, now they would fix their clumsiness. She would have rather taken care of terrorists, and not vampires. Yumi stopped suddenly and forced her body to the ground, fairly squishing her head in the process. "What?"
"Ssh. Someone is coming," she urged, narrowing her dark eyes. Heinkel grunted in response and kept her gaze focused on the threshold of the Mansion. The door opened and a young woman exited, carrying an enormous rocket launcher with her. Yumi could not repress her craving for battle any longer and leaped to her feet to charge. Lucky for her companion, the vampire girl was frozen in surprise, red eyes widened at the sight of them.
Not what she expected, Heinkel seized their chances against the mighty gunpowder and stood with alacrity, firing at her calves with her twin Desert Eagles. The silver bullets hit accurately and the vampire shrieked as she collapsed, giving Yumi time enough to partly slice her weapon with her sword. While the cut on the cannon was not too deep, any attempt to use it would risk instant explosion. "Yumi, get out of the way," she stated, "Let me return this Nosferatu concubine back to hell."
"Iscariot! But you are women!" the girl exclaimed on the ground, her legs useless due to the wounds in her knees. Yumi lowered her katana and moved back next to Wolfe.
"The Church service doesn't recognise the gender but the faith," Heinkel said business like, preparing herself to give her a parting prayer when a strong noise interrupted her. She looked up towards her right, one of the windows had been shattered from the inside and someone just leaped from it. A tall, long haired woman. Integral Hellsing just had fallen to the ground, a few meters from their position. Her legs were shaking, still not stable from the fall and there were bruises and shards of glass on her skin.
"Sir Hellsing!" the girl shouted.
"The chief would like me to bring her head," Yumi proclaimed with a smirk as Heinkel turned to aim at the newcomer with one of her Desert Eagles, the other one aimed towards the vampire girl, her finger firmly on the trigger. She froze, feeling the other woman's cold grey eyes on her own.
'Stop her now! Get away from my mansion and return where you came!' the Protestant cow's orders rang deep in her skull, forcibly, directing her to lower her weapons. She gritted her teeth, attempting to resist the assault first but the battle was lost before it started. Her voice was impossible to ignore. She pulled up the gun and shot to the air.
"Stop Yumi!" Heinkel felt her lips uttering to her horror. Her companion paused her charging to the wounded Hellsing who was making her way to the girl favouring her left leg. "We will return later; let them anticipate their defeat." Even if her body smiled and acted like nothing was wrong, Wolfe Heinkel was struggling inside against the strings that controlled her as a marionette.
Yumi blinked and glanced down the Hellsing and the younger girl, aiding each other to walk towards the building. "Fine, say your prayers, monsters. We'll return."
'Act normal, nod and get out, not looking back. Then forget what I did to you,' the Hellsing directed to the helpless Heinkel who caught a glimpse of both vanishing inside the Mansion before walking out and complying to her instructions.
Walter wiped off sweat from his forehead before turning to Alucard while both watched the landscape outside his hospital window. The vampire had paid his old friend a visit, fearing a move from Ruthven against him. He was certain the punk planned something big and he would not allow him to wound them worse than they were.
"No one visited me aside you, Lord Alucard," Walter assured him with a smile. "You don't have to worry about me. You should take care of Miss Victoria and Sir Hellsing instead." He made a pause, seemingly deep in thought.
"What is it?" Alucard asked.
"Your description of Ruthven…" Walter trailed off. "I think… years ago, there was a man who resembled him. But no, it's impossible." Alucard turned, suddenly interested. "An old acquaintance of Arthur in Oxford, an exchange student from Wales, he said. He introduced him to his merry… hobby, or so Sir Islands used to scoff about but their friendship broke apart."
"I don't remember him."
"I met him when I was introduced to the Round Table after the war and then there was a private gathering. He was apparently very important inside the government," Walter explained. "You were on a mission. He never came to the Mansion when you were free…"
Alucard leaned on the wall, in deep pondering. "He was afraid." What better way to get the rid of the guardian dog but put him into sleep? Coward worm. Fearing to face me!
"Probably. I have always wondered why Arthur started treating you worse, motivating your rebellion," Walter rubbed his chin. "It didn't make sense, not when Arthur sought to settle down."
"Ruthven," Alucard hissed, despising the other vampire even more. He should be glad to have found such worthy adversary but one thing was fighting him directly and another to attack his Hellsings. They were his to guard; to think that he had failed not only with Integral but also with Arthur stung his pride. "That scum. He must have hid Abraham's notes and warnings then."
"He also struck a friendship with Richard, thirty years ago," Walter pointed out, nodding in agreement. "Richard who had never been interested in directing Hellsing suddenly changed his mindset."
Alucard's eyes flashed at the mention of that. Richard's betrayal had shocked him when he stirred. People changed through the years but he recalled him as deeply affectionate towards Arthur and the family. "Be careful as long you remain in the clinic, Walter. We don't know what that maggot is-" he warned then paused, feeling a sharp pain through his tie with Seras. Police Girl, calm down. I am going, he told her mentally, soothing. "I must go, the Mansion has been attacked," he growled in frustration for leaving his resting place.
"Be careful, Lord Alucard," Walter bid farewell as the vampire shifted to mist with difficulty. Daylight weakened his powers but he would make an effort to strain himself, night was not far after all. He poured himself through the London streets, travelling as far he could, passing the woods and a departing black vehicle with two women who came from the Mansion's direction.
They smelled to blood and gunpowder. Their weapons reeked of holy.
Catholics. Alucard repressed his urge to attack them to continue his path. He would not fail to guard Hellsing this time.
After a few minutes, Alucard reached the Mansion. It was dark mostly and the alarms were not deactivated and kept ringing. He noted the traces of battles, blood on the ground, Integral's and Seras' along with shards of glass and the now useless Harkonnen. He acquired solid form inside the house and followed the scents of both women to locate them in Seras' room. His fledgling was laying on her coffin bed, drinking a blood bag, Integral sat in front of her, taking out shards of glass from her skin and hair.
"Integral, Seras," he interrupted their silence. "What happened?"
"Catholics attacked while you were gone," Integral informed him, "Iscariots. We were lucky Anderson wasn't among them."
Seras stopped drinking and looked at her Master apologetically. "I am sorry, Master. I thought there was a vampire attack, and then I saw those girls and couldn't bring myself to harm them. I wasn't expecting..." Alucard's expression grimaced and he approached, grabbing her by the shoulders in a painful grip. "Master!" she winced.
"Shut up and listen carefully, fool!" Alucard snarled. "We aren't protected by the Queen anymore. Integral and myself are murderers and while we cannot be disposed by the human laws, Iscariot has free hunting pass to finish with our lives. Do not hesitate next time. They won't." Seras gulped, nodding slightly frightened as he eased his grip. "How did you get the rid of them?"
"I was practicing my powers early on," Integral replied while struggling with a small piece of glass in her left breast. She flinched and took it out. Her regeneration seemed to be slower than Seras'. "I couldn't control the nun's mind, it was broken in two but the one dressed as priest was my first subject. Without proper weapons or you with us, I decided it was wiser to not engage in combat with them in our state."
Alucard smirked, Integral seemed to overcome the depression at least, Iscariot intervention brought something good at least.
"Alucard," Integral paused, looking at him a bit lost. "Anderson will return with them. We have no working defences. They could come back while we rest."
Alucard looked at both women, releasing Seras who collapsed on the bed. "We need a new home then. One to protect us until we regain our strength."
"Any idea?" Integral asked, lifting her brow, straightening in the chair even if clearly pained her. "I cannot be around people, I am… unsure if I can be trusted."
"We could go to my apartment, Master," Seras offered, trying to be helpful.
"Too small, not good for a combat in case of an attack," Alucard shook his head, lips curling up into a twisted smile. "We all are crazy here, aren't we?" he asked to the other two who exchanged glances. "An abandoned madhouse can host the insane."
"Carfax Asylum," Integral finished his thoughts.
"We can use the underground path your father built near your old cell during the second war," Alucard proposed, recalling the system of tunnels that took them deep in the woods in case of bombs hitting the Mansion. It was closed but they could open it again. "Recover yourself, ladies. We need to pack and leave, don't take too long."
Upon saying that, Alucard left. He was going to organize the things they would need. Carfax Asylum, it sprung memories he would rather forget, chased by mortals again. He never thought he would see the day again.
Author's Notes: This was edited by Ciarda Rois. Thank you for all the feedback so far, any comment is appreciated.