A/N: I'm going to do this in the format like the 'Tales from Jabba's Palace' or 'Captain's Table' anthologies. Basically, little snippets from around the characters appearance in the Manga. Which means the Captain's tale should be interesting...

Disclaimer: you think I own this? Dumkoff.


An Ace Up My Sleeve: Tubalcain Alhambra's Story

I was rather sickly as a child, always down with some aliment. I would pass the time away by throwing playing cards at a hat set at the foot of my bed. After awhile, I got to where all fifty-two cards would be in the hat every time. I then set up two targets, throwing two cards at once. Then it was three, four, and five at once. I became rather adept at card tricks, various forms of card games and anything that involved a playing card.

When I was in my early twenties, I became interested in dancing, which made a lot of sense since almost everyone in my family danced. I was rather good, but I was still plagued by sickness into my adult life. It sapped my strength, and I felt bitter, disillusioned about the existence of God. Why would a benevolent being curse someone with such a life?

It was shortly afterwards that I first met the Major.

He was in a marketplace, walking about. I had never met such a man before, the madness in his eyes shining brightly, his grin making the fat cheeks puff out. I would follow him discreetly, trying to find out more about him, but he always eluded me somehow. Then, one day, he turned and grabbed me by the collar, moving faster than I would have thought possible for such a fat man.

"Vhat haf ve here, eh? I thought shadows vere supposed to go avay vhen the sun set."

I squirmed in his grip. Up close, those yellow eyes bored into me, causing sweat to break out on my forehead. Those eyes scared me for the first time, shook me to the core.

It was like looking into the eyes of the devil himself, pure madness glimmering within.

"I was just curious, I always see you in the marketplace but you never buy any food, you just wander about." I said as best I could from my stooped position.

He looked at me. "Vhat is your name, boy?"

"Tubalcain Alhambra, but my friends call me the Dandy." At least, that's what my mother always called me ever since I had started to dress in fine suits to make up for my sickly appearance. I didn't have many friends.

He looked me over, and then released me. "Come vith me, boy."

It was hard keeping up with him. It seemed as though he never tired, no matter how far we walked. Eventually we came to a large building in the middle of the jungle, looking like an oversized Quonset hut. He opened the door and we went in, revealing a large laboratory. A tall man in a blood stained lab coat was hunched over a microscope, working on something.

"Dok, might I haf a moment?"

The man turned, revealing glasses that were set with several different magnifying lenses on them. The effect of his eyes being magnified so much was off-putting.

"Ja?" he said in a reedy voice.

I felt a hand fall on my shoulder. "I think I found the perfect subject."

The man called Dok smiled, revealing slightly pointed teeth. I started to sweat again.

"What do you mean?" I asked a little shakily.

"How vould you like to never be sick again, to never grow old, to be strong und powerful?" purred the pudgy man.

My heart leapt. What else in life could I want? Health and strength, the two things Fate had denied me. How could I say no?

And thus I woke several hours later, feeling renewed, as though none of the usual aches and pains that followed me existed anymore. I felt strong for the first time, though I was still rather thin. I was slowly let in on the various workings of the Millennium project, and I began to work to bring the local police into our sway, promising their commanders the same thing I had been given.

After fifteen years, I was in Rio when I got the call from the Major.

"Alhambra, you are to proceed to the Hotel Rio and rendezvous with the local police. The subject has arrived ahead of schedule. You know what to do."

I smiled, patting the pocket inside my jacket that contained the reinforced playing cards I had made. I always had an Ace up my sleeve, so to speak.

"I've got it under control, Herr Kommandant."

"The vampire Alucard will not walk away from this confrontation."