A/N: The final chapter for a long-written story.
"How long will this take?" Integra asked the tall vampire as he stepped up to the barrier separating them from the creature within.
The plan now encompassed a full confrontation between the two, a vampiric duel of sorts within the confines of the barrier. Sir Hellsing watched in composed apprehension as the monster with Seras' body stepped backward, giving a mocking bow as though welcoming Alucard's coming into the sphere of containment energy. Even with the cocky attitude of the being, though, Integra had confidence in the experience of her vampire. However, their plan hinged too heavily on the barrier holding up against the onslaught of such power, a condition which did not please her. She could not control the spells any farther than how she had drawn them to begin with.
Moving to the heavy door barring the only exit from the room, she placed her finger upon a buttoned panel beside the doorway.
"All troops, evacuate the building immediately" she commanded, speaking over the intercom system installed throughout the mansion. "That includes you, too, Walter" Integra added, shutting off the intercom and turning back to the scene playing out between the two Nosferatu.
"So, pet of Hellsing, shall we start?" the entrapped vampire questioned, his voice barely restraining his eagerness.
"Indeed" Alucard answered as he faced the challenger. He turned to look over his shoulder, giving Integra an expectant glance.
"Very well" Integra replied, nodding as she stepped toward the protective barrier. "Barrier release, approval granted" she spoke, bending down and lightly touching the seals upon the floor. A small opening in the wall appeared, barely the height and width of the Hellsing vampire. "I will release your seals when you enter" she added as she stepped to the side and turned toward Alucard.
Alucard merely bowed in reply, striding forward and through the opening in a few short steps. Integra stooped once more and quickly tapped the entrance's frame, closing the seal once more. She stood and watched as the two vampires silently faced one another, neither moving as they seemed to observe each other.
"Good evening, Sir Integra" a voice suddenly spoke behind Integra, distracting her from the scene before her.
The Hellsing whipped around and came face to face with her retainer, a small smile upon his face. He stood in the doorway of the room, though when Integra turned to him he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him with a gesture of finality.
"Walter, I ordered you to evacuate" Integra sternly replied, outwardly scowling at his disobedience but inwardly glad at his deep loyalty.
"I am grateful for your concern, Sir Hellsing" Walter responded with a bow, his eyes flashing in respect and some amusement. "However, I will not leave you."
"Very well then" Integra answered after a moment's thought. With a smile and a nod, she turned her head back to the dome before them.
To her vexation, the seal within had filled with a darkened material. Any visibility without the dome was impossible, and she had yet to release Alucard's seals for the battle she could no longer observe. She steeled herself and stepped up to the black seal, her eyes narrowed and stern.
"Permission given for seal release" Integra spoke aloud, her voice steady and firm.
From without nothing appeared to have happened within the dome, but within herself Integra could feel the bonds which held the seals stretch to their limits. She crossed her arms as Walter came to her side, looking to the darkness beyond. They could now only wait together.
From within the dome, the two vampires had stood their ground a few yards apart. Alucard wore his grin as he made the first move, slowly removing the Jackal from his coat and dropping the human weapon to the ground.
"Discarding your human toy?" the creature questioned with a smirk, looking behind Alucard at what he knew to be Integra standing behind. "Your master would not agree with your throwing your protection away."
"This will be a battle of vampires" Alucard explained as he stepped forward, silently waiting for the seals within his gloves to be released. "There's no po-"
"As your human master is distracted, I think I shall begin my part" the monster suddenly interjected, stepping back to the very boundaries of the surrounding seal.
A wave of darkness suddenly shot from Alucard's opponent, enveloping them and the dome within night. Alucard's vision penetrated the darkness around him but deeper shadows surrounded the monster, causing a growl of annoyance to emanate from his throat. However, the shell lasted no more than a few moments and the barrier began drifting away, revealing not the form of Seras but of something else. The creature which now stood before Alucard was a mirror image of himself, though the clothing was of a different fashion which the elder vampire quickly recognized. A dark cape and Victorian era suit Both faces reflected the gleeful anticipation of a worthy fight.
Before him now stood Dracula, the vampire Alucard was a century before.
"So you reveal your original form?" Alucard asked with unrestrained excitement in his voice, standing tall and at attention. "Then we'll see if I have become as weak as you assume" he spoke as he felt the seals being released. Darkness now engulfed himself as his clothes transformed into the familiar black straight-jacket and pants, indicating his final form. "A fair game, as it is."
"Very well" Dracula replied, his voice having changed from Seras' own to the original deep.
As the last syllable left his lips the two vampires leapt toward each other, grinning madly and releasing their power about themselves. Tendrils entangled within each other as the identical powers battled, ripping and tearing at each other as their masters tore into one another with lengthened claws as hands. Blood covered the walls of the seals and the combatants, as cloth and skin were torn asunder. Breaking bones were heard as arms were dislocated and legs pulled at odd angles, though no cries of pain but merely insane laughter echoed along the walls. However, the mending of flesh and bone could be deciphered from the noise just as quickly, showing the power of regeneration the vampires held.
"Is this all you have!" Alucard cried as he dodged a long claw and countered with a punch into the gut, his hand exiting out the back.
"Foolish pet" Dracula answered, withdrawing Alucard's hand from his stomach and throwing him into the wall with a crunch of ribs. "We shall see what you have" he added as he gathered his tentacles to him, balling them up and focusing his power into a single attack.
"Indeed" Alucard cried out as he mirrored his soul's actions.
The power emanating from the vampires began colliding within the limited space of the dome, clashing and expanding against the walls. The ground began to shake with the effort of the seal to contain the battling powers, darkness shooting out like electric shocks as the vampires' eyes glowed deep red. With sudden insane laughter a massive explosion erupted, blowing both them back into the walls as tendrils sharp as stakes sliced through the combatants.
Meanwhile, without Integra and Walter watched silently as the darkness occasionally flickered, showing some sort of movement within the darkened dome. However, the tranquillity of the room was broken as blood-colored liquid began covering the walls, splattering in huge amounts of gore. Massive earth shocks suddenly followed as they traveled along the seal's walls, causing the dome and the very stone walls of the room to violently shake with the force. They remained silent during the earthquake, each watching expectantly for something extraordinary to happen. The eruption of power nearly blew them off their feet as cracks appeared in the seal wall, black mist leaking out through the minuscule cracks. After several moments of electric shadows the seal became silent, though both their minds were abuzz with what power could have caused the near-destruction of the Hellsing barrier.
Within the seal the shadows still lingered as they attempted to find their masters, twisting about each other with a few half-hearted clashes. As the blood from the clash settled, with some remaining to drip from the ceiling, the two vampires could be seen standing apart. Each was still bleeding profusely, with deep gashes and wounds across their bodies and their clothing cut to pieces to reveal their pale skins. Nonetheless, they both held their ground with firm strength and a grin lay upon their faces, indicating their readiness for another bout. However, neither had gained the upper hand in the last attack and the futility of the situation had already dawned upon the participants.
"It appears we have arrived at an impasse" Dracula commented almost casually, straightening himself as his clothing began repairing itself. "Neither of us can win, nor can we lose. Shall we make an agreement?" he offered, watching as his opponent mimicked his movements and rose to stand tall.
"I know what you're thinking" Alucard answered, raising his hand and looking at the gloves glowing brightly. Then his eyes turned upward to peer at his opponent, grinning madly. "And I know your plans for Seras. One bride caught to replace the others lost is too obvious. I'd assumed you had a little more imagination."
"Ah, so you had known of my actions" Dracula spoke with amusement, a dark glitter in his eye. "Well done, pet of Hellsing" he commented, clapping with a respectful bow. "I had thought you had grown docile with your years of pathetic opponents and donated blood."
Alucard merely stood there silently with a grin, allowing his mirror image to continue.
"With your soul within another's body, you have a chance to regain some of your freedom from the Hellsing" Dracula observed, giving a wicked laugh. "You merely need to acquire the person's blood to absorb their soul. So you would use your fledgling as a means to escape your imprisonment?" he questioned, his eyes boring into the other's calm orbs. "How fitting a true Dracul" he commented, though his tone then grew serious in its intensity. "But you cannot defeat yourself, so you cannot create the needed bond to succeed in the soul's transaction."
"Are you so sure?" Alucard interjected, raising a brow in question.
"This vampire's body will merely become a puppet, a ghoul, without the bond. A vampire twice-taken will become nothing else without the tie" Dracula explained, his eyes narrowing in firm conviction. He straightened himself to his full height and stood directly before Alucard. "One must submit to the other."
"Submit to me then" Alucard simply stated, stepping forward and beginning to stroll around his opponent.
"Seras is now mine and I have the freedom to use my power more fully than yourself" Dracula commented, folding his arms across his chest. "Why should I will lose her and my freedom to another?" he asked, his eyes turning to Alucard's with a wide, demonic grin upon his face. "Trapped within those seals for over a century, awakened only when they were released by the ruling Hellsing. Enlighten me as to why I should agree to your proposal."
"Because you planned for nothing else" Alucard answered casually, stopping his pacing on Dracula's side. "We both crave for this freedom, and you are no longer the vampire of this era. You must disappear."
For a moment silence reigned between them, each pondering their own plans and comparing the other's thoughts. Then Dracula sighed and bowed in submission, giving a small, dark chuckle as he stepped before Alucard. The two stood, facing each other for a moment, before the Hellsing vampire smirked and leaned forward.
Integra and Walter, both growing more impatient at the silence that had followed the explosion than the battle that had obviously taken place. However, their wait ended as the darkness within the dome suddenly began to dissipate, finally allowing them a view of the interior. With inward grins they watched as Alucard's form appeared, standing within the center grinning tall and proud. Within his arms he held an unconscious Seras.
"Seal release approval revoked" Integra spoke aloud, watching with satisfaction as the symbols upon Alucard's hands dimmed and faded. "Seal release approval granted" she added, watching as the dome's walls collapsed with apparent relief from its strain.
The two humans waited as Alucard walked up to them, saying nothing but shaking his head as Walter silently offered to take the vampiress in his grasp.
"Well?" Integra asked, her voice calm and collected as she awaited the report.
"The vampire has been eliminated" Alucard replied, as if the opponent had been nothing but a Freak. "Seras will have no lasting effects."
"Very well" the Hellsing answered, looking between the two vampires with some suspicion. "Anything else to report?" she added carefully, watching her assassin's reaction.
"Nothing" he spoke with an even tone, stepping to the side and strolling past Integra without another word.
Integra turned to watch as the two vampires melded into the closed door, her face showing none of the concern she felt for what had taken place. The air within the mansion had changed, as had her vampiric retainers, and only time could tell her what had truly taken place within the sealed barrier.
"Walter, alert the men to return to their duties" Integra ordered as a she turned to her human retainer, nothing appearing to be out of the ordinary for her.
"Yes, Sir Integra" Walter answered as he bowed and left the room.
Meanwhile, the two vampires had quickly arrived at Seras' room, even as the vampiress within Alucard's arms began to awaken from her sleep. With a groggy murmur she slowly opened her eyes, blinking in confusion before the world came into focus. With a somewhat startled look she pushed herself out of the elder vampire's arms and slipped down onto the floor.
"How much do you remember?" Alucard asked, his face like stone as his eyes watched as Seras, with her back to him, walked over to her bed.
"Everything" she quietly responded, looking over her shoulder with a quiet expression. "Even when you two fought."
"And after?" Alucard questioned, watching her carefully. Seras silently nodded her answer, turning to look at Alucard carefully.
"You had planned this all along, hadn't you?" she asked with certainty, her voice firm rather than accusing. The smirk was enough of a response for her, as her eyes grew with some mild shock though the emotion quickly dissipated. "How long will you stay with the Hellsings?" she asked quietly, leaning against the wall behind her. Everything was just as she had left it, yet her undead life had changed.
But then again, maybe it was just she who had changed. The use by the two Draculas, one a contriving mind and one a trapped soul, and her own naivety bothered her more then she was willing to show. Nonetheless, she had learned from the experience, and lost from it also, and along the way she had grown stronger.
In both mind and, possibly, ability.
"We shall see" Alucard answered with a sly grin, melding into a swirl of darkness.
Alucard appeared at his chair situated in the basement, settling himself in even as he listened to the humans return to the mansion form their evacuation. He raised one of his hands and peered at the glove with an amused grin, hearing as Integra began giving orders to her troops. Unbeknownst to all but one, the imprinted seals upon Alucard's gloves shattered and slowly faded into oblivion.