Disclaimer Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.

Author's Notes: This is a gift for Rip van Winkle, the artist behind the Bloodknight(dot)net fancomic. Edited by Seras-Kelia. Set after Rip is absorbed by Alucard and before Wizardry III.


Target

When she first awoke, Rip van Winkle could not see anything but the endless dark. The atmosphere was eerily serene and cold. She suppressed the attack of shivers through her spine. She was a vampire; lower temperatures should not be able to affect her so much.

After a few minutes, Rip was strong enough to move, taking tentative steps blinded in the pitch-blackness surrounding her. She pressed her musket highly against her, as if the weapon would protect her from the horrors that she could not spot in her blind stroll. The First Lieutenant did not question how the firearm remained with her – it was over her when she stirred.

Where was she? The memories of what happened during the Eagle transatlantic was fuzzy.

Screams.

Blood.

Gunshots.

Shadows.

Pain.

Samiel!

Rip stopped her tracks, trembling at the thought of the Devil. He had collected her soul. Samiel had taken Kaspar in the deepest valley of Hell. Tears threatened to come out of her eyes, but Rip swallowed bravely and chased away the oppressive feeling that was increasing each passing minute.

"I'm the Huntress Rip van Winkle! Even after forty years of sleep, I'll rise and trace my prey!" Rip exclaimed to the darkness, knowing he was listening. Samiel was her target, it did not matter if he was the Devil. His identity was irrelevant in the hunt.

Not even a murmur. It was completely quiet. Rip feared that silence more than his malicious laugh. So worthless was she? Determinate to prove Samiel wrong, she fired at the mass, concentrating in her prey.

Samiel would be targeted.

Samiel must be defeated.

Samiel had to fall.

The whistle of the bullet wandered around her, shattering the stillness of the lands. Her shark-like grin faltered when the shot impacted her back, passing through her numerous times until it stopped, grasping her heart.

The bullets were hers! That could not be! She coughed blood, trembling as she fell to her knees.

Samiel took the domain of Max's last shot and the privilege to choose the target. How foolish of her to forget that detail, the one that cost Kaspar his life.

Rip remained on the ground, mustering her remaining strength to dig her hand on her chest and pull the bullet outside. Her inside burnt with the silver, her mind too overwhelmed with the pain to notice anything else. Distracted as she was, Rip van Winkle was not aware that her blood was being absorbed by the obscure floor or how the shadows attached to her waist.

You're a werewolf, Rip van Winkle! Stand up! Rip scolded herself.

And she tried, slowly and careful to not lose her balance, but she found herself unable to accomplish that. Something was detaining her, shackling her form to the ground. "What?" she inquired, gasping and struggling to escape the grasp. More joined the tendril. They were different though; Rip was now able to distinguish forms in the dark.

The soil trembled.

Decayed, grey hands reached for her. She had been resting on a mattress of piled corpses. The flash of a waving banner, the noises of horses approaching, the curses in many languages all filled the atmosphere.

"Come and join us!" was their chant, attempting to pull her down.

"Nein!" Rip defied, gnashing her fangs. Worthless zombies, she was a vampire, she was from the Last Battalion. She would not be defeated so easily! She could not fire her musket but the weapon had another uses. With shift motions, Rip repelled her attackers by beating them down.

When Rip managed to feel their grasp diminished, she immediately escaped. She ran from there, faster than the hands and arms beneath her were able to trap her again. But it was pointless. Where to hide? They were everywhere! Their voices became more insistent inside her mind – the request nearly lulled her to comply.

Almost.

Rip shook her head and kept going, stepping over some fetid bulge on the irregular floor that made her stumble. She was only able to catch a quick glimpse before she continued. There lay the remains of what could have been Luke Valentine a year ago. He was completely dismembered – arms, legs and head gathered together but severed- and gnawed to the bones, Rip recognized the tatters of his outfit. She gulped and advanced, dread filled her heart – an omen of what would occur to her?

Be strong for your men! They believed you'll hunt down the beast!

Her pace slowed when a figure blocked her path. Rip was about to hit him when she recognized who that was. Fancy white suit, a pimp hat and French cards.

"Tubalcaine! First Lieutenant Tubalcaine Alahambra!" Rip called out, relieved. She was not the only inside Samiel in one piece. "He also trapped you here?" she asked getting closer.

Tubalcaine did not reply, he smiled at her direction before throwing many of his cards. Rip was taken aback by the assault and too close to dodge it. The weapons sliced half of her face and the hand that she was holding her musket with.

In the very same instant that she collapsed to the ground, Alahambra was over her body, so were the other zombies. She tried to scream, but soon was silenced by a black fluid forced into her mouth - inside any of the pores and every hole of her body. It was the foulest savoured blood she had tasted in her unlife.

Her extremities were limp, there were no wish or might to move them. Rip was drifting, losing an outnumbered battle. And before her eyes shut and her soul was swallowed by the shadowland, she heard Samiel's voice taunting inside her head:

"It will pass less than four decades for you to hunt, Rip van Winkle. However, Samiel reserves the privilege of choosing the targets again."

Rip grinned inwardly. Empty now inside. She was looking forward her new target.