Disclaimer: Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Manga setting. The fic could be considered A/U because I wrote and plotted this before the chapter 'Wizardry' which contradicts a lot of my story. There will be a small amount of Enrico x Integral and Anderson x Seras - very light, but those pairings will be there in latter chapters (first ones are safe). You have been warned. Criticism and feedback is encouraged.
This fic is dedicated to Docky who enjoys the other AxS. And I want to thank Sensoo for her tireless editing and insomniac-od for Enrico's tips.
Codex ArgenteusChapter One
- Drastic Measures
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Enrico recalled what the Lord suggested in Romans and smirked fiendishly in Integral Hellsing's direction. She arrived to Rome half an hour ago, agreeding to negotiate with him outside London, but not in the Holy See. Clever as a fox, Maxwell settled for the Italian Capital.
War had not changed her taste in clothing. Integral was wearing the same long skirt and hat she used in their first meeting. Visibly uncomfortable, she sat on the chair opposite to his around the negotiations table. He loved the twitch of her eyebrows when she spotted him on the head; the feeling of having power over the Protestant sow was intoxicating. The fact Iscariot saved her London was not incidental, they aided the loathsome heretics for two reasons: to cleanse the past sin the Vatican committed and to assert the proper control that was rightfully theirs but had been taken by the caprice of an idiotic king.
But most of all, Enrico enjoyed getting under Integral's skin the most - to think that she owed him a favour; it made Maxwell ecstatic.
"Good afternoon, Maxwell…" Integral said icily. "Are you going to stare dumbly at me all day or will you acquire some manners and greet me?"
Enrico frowned. She should have recognized the odds against her. "Do you want me to remind you of the current circumstances, Hellsing?" His smirk returned once a twitching broke Integral's stiff upper lip. "You are no longer the on a throne of glory, Hellsing. Your organisation was devastated along with your city… you even lost that pet demon of yours to the ocean…"
"Walter is currently searching for Alucard in the Atlantic. Her Majesty was kind enough to lend us a submarine," Integral remarked rather defensively, Enrico noted. Her eyes glared at him almost issuing him a challenge. So she was not broken yet? She would be before dusk.
"Why do you care to recover that useless Nosferatu? He failed; the ultimate undead your family spent years to perfect was flawed. And only our generosity saved you."
"Because, unlike you and your ilk," Integral sneered. "We don't play Judas. Can we start with the negotiations? I want to show Captain Victoria the Capitoline Hill before our return."
If you and that harpy of yours return at all. Enrico spared a look at Seras Victoria, who was dressed in the same indecent uniform. Only that one was red instead of yellow. Befitting of one of the Devil's whores, he thought.
"If you get lost, you could always ask for help from a Catholic. I am sure he wouldn't mind saving you for us," Enrico mocked with a gloating stance. Integral said nothing, which disappointed him. But the sow was right, better to end his truce façade. They were no allies any longer, they had no common enemies to fight together. "We won't start unless that thing leaves us," Enrico stated, waving a dismissing hand at Seras. The vampire girl had the cheek of rolling her eyes at his gesture!
"Sir Hellsing is right, you know? Buy yourself some manners." Enrico had no time to send a scathing remark-two bayonets flew in hers and Integral's direction. Victoria quickly tossed a chair in their path as a shield. The knives were impeded for an instant; both women used as advantage to move.
Maxwell grasped Anderson's forearm to restrain another violent action. No one would ruin his victory; Integral Hellsing's humiliation was better than her death. "Alexander, get a hold of yourself!"
Integral rose, straightened her clothes, then picked up the chair and settled down again. If she was upset, Enrico could not tell. She had learned to mask her emotions almost perfectly, which made her altogether more dangerous in his eyes. "This is why the Police Girl shall remain," she pointed out, pulling out a cigar from her pocket."I don't trust your dog's self control… And what he just did proves my point."
Anderson grumbled numerous curses beneath his breath. Enrico raised his arms in surrender. "Fine, she can stay as long you assure me that she's well-behaved…"
"Oh, I'm sure Sir Hellsing won't allow me to chew your shoes, Mr. Maxwell."
Enrico ignored the sarcastic remark. Despite what the Nosferatu claimed, she and Alucard were nothing but the sow's trained monkeys. Distracting, annoying, and cunning but, in the end, served no use. They were not humans despite being related to the species.
"Papa Renaldo. Please, let us begin before the Paladin… gets sidetracked again," Enrico inclined his head toward the oldest priest. From the corner of his eye, he checked on Alexander. He was sweating, teeth gnashing as if he was exerting enormous an amount of willpower not to attack.
Father Renaldo, meanwhile, opened the envelope closed with the Papal seal and started to read it:
"With the approval of his holiness, the Pontiff John Paul II, we, the XIII Order Iscariot, were granted the power to negotiate with the Hellsing Organisation to reach a better understanding of both parts and," he made a pause, "to improve the relationship between our religions. The first act of faith would be the return of the Sacrament of the Eucharist to the ex-communicated Abraham van Helsing and bless his rests-"
"Hold a minute!" Integral jolted the table with her fist. Enrico looked up, an innocent smile twisted his lips as she exhaled smoke, furious.
"Is there a problem?"
"Stop toying with us, Maxwell," Integral warned, holding a hint of a growl beneath her cold tone. "I won't allow any of you to commit sacrilege in my ancestor's crypt."
"And what would you do, eh Hellsing? We're not playing around. This is not a jest. Abraham van Helsing was Catholic, he left us, forced by political reasons that came with his post as knight and later on was ex- communicated by his blasphemous behaviour," Enrico explained Integral. He was certain she was aware of all this but, judging by the shocked face of her pet, Seras was not. "Trafficking with demons! Dallying with vampires!"
"My, my," Integral snapped, grimacing. "Someone learnt his history lessons. Now would you refrain from enlightening me with the obvious?"
Enrico folded his hands on his lap, then calmed down. He was in control. Not her. She was no longer in London. These were Catholic lands.
"Then, I shall tell you something you don't know," Enrico lowered his eyelids, accentuating his sly features. "If you don't agree to lend us his body, our occupation in London will remain… Do you crave for another holy war, Miss Hellsing? Your Church is not in position to maintain it. Think carefully about what you will answer for from now on."
"You'll not speak!" Seras started passionately. To Enrico's pleasure, Integral shook her head, silencing the young Midian.
"Do you honestly think that will defeat us?" Integral inquired with the utmost calm, inhaling deeply on her cigar. "Just because your Church might return my ancestor to his Catholic status doesn't make Hellsing less Anglican."
"If it's not… then why are you hesitating, Hellsing? We don't have soldiers to defeat, " he said snidely, finding her pain in the subject endearing. Tasting triumph coming, he continued: "What is left of Hellsing are memories of old glories. We're taking your golden founder. Without him, you're nothing."
Integral took off her glasses, cleaning the lessens with a white handkerchief. She said nothing for two minutes and Enrico was growing impatient. She could not possibly attempt to think a way out of his masterful plan: Strike down Hellsing was it was unharmed. Converting the British to the true religion would be easy once the Organisation vanished.
"Cat got yer tongue, heathen?" Anderson chuckled, flashing a toothy grin.
"I've to speak with Her Majesty before taking any decision," Integral finally said, placing her glasses on and pushing them forward her nose.
"No time. You have choose now otherwise we won't be allow you to leave this room until we have the right answer."
Enrico was certain she caught the implied menace. Their gazes met in an unspoken clash of wills. Neither was thrilled by the concept of looking away, to admit defeat. Despite their religions claim, both sinned with pride. As the leaders' egos battled, sanity slipped from Anderson. He lunged towards Seras' direction, cackling like a maniac, but before he could strike, a deafening noise shook them. The furniture and walls trembled; the teacups on the table fell and shattered on the floor.
"What was that, Sir Hellsing!"
"What did you do, sow?" Enrico felt his anger flare up. Apart from incompetence, an attack on the heart of his city was the only thing that ticked him off.
"Shut it, Maxwell! I didn't cause any explosion. Our ranks are too weak to attempt an attack of this magnitude!"
"So you claimed, you have no dignity left and-" Another boom quieted Enrico. The window blew in pieces; the shards flew towards their direction. Anderson quickly shielded Maxwell and Renaldo with his body as Seras did the same to Integral.
"If I were to bomb Rome, Maxwell," Integral spat, stepping forward. "I would make sure that I was not inside the city."
"Fair enough," Enrico reluctantly conceded. He delighted to blame Hellsing, but since the war in London, they were too small to be considered a threat. He turned to Renaldo. "Contact the Iscariot main office." He nodded and started to dial the number. Maxwell waited until Renaldo greeted and demanded information on what was happening. He turned, looking at Anderson. The Paladin was starting to advance towards the exit. "Stay where you are, Alexander."
"Aye." He did not sound pleased but Enrico would not tolerate sending his minion blindly into the battlefield. He craved to know what on Heaven was occurring.
"Well?" Enrico inquired at Renaldo. The older priest turned off the cell phone and shook his head in evident worry.
"Communications were cut,Monsignor Maxwell," Renaldo responded, a glimpse of fear flashed his aged eyes. "The Holy See is under attack."