"Angels and Demons"
Integra stood in the cold, dark alley and waited. It was a few weeks before Christmas and, while it hadn't snowed yet, all of the signs pointed toward something wet, possibly white arriving by the morning. The Hellsing leader reached into her long, black heavy coat and gingerly eased her 9mm Walter PPK out of its snug home in the shoulder holster. She had loaded it with blessed silver shot this time. She placed her thumb within reach of the safety, thinking about but not taking it off. She fervently prayed whatever she was meeting tonight would be able to be taken out with one shot. The first shot had to count. Seldom did you get to fire a second one.
Her vampire servant, Alucard was not able to join her there and Integra decided that this was one of the things making her more skittish than usual. Two days ago, one of the staff of the Hellsing organization found more than they bargained for when they brought in the day's mail. A small box, wrapped neatly and tied with twine was laid on the steps to the entrance of the Hellsing mansion. A note, of course, was also attached, though this was typed as to create further anonymity. The package and note were brought to the third floor office of the Hellsing leader. Though it was still daylight, Integra mentally summoned Alucard who appeared in seconds, diffusing slowly out of the side wall.
"You rang, my Master?" he asked with some smugness.
"Yes, Alucard," came the Hellsing leader's cold, business-like reply, "My apologies for disturbing your rest but I just received something I want you to examine." Integra gestured toward the suspicious package that had been left on her desk as the vampire came up to it, visually inspecting it.
"Is it from the Millennium group?" Alucard asked.
"I'm afraid so," said the Hellsing leader. "Can you just use your mental powers and tell me what's in the box? We know already it's not a bomb but I'm afraid of a virus or something else that could be just as deadly for us humans. You seemed like the most resourceful person to call in this instance."
"Well, as you know, my Master," Alucard reverently replied with a slight bow, "though I can be up and about in the daytime, my powers cannot reach their peak til sunset." When Integra's expression fell, the vampire added, "Of course, Sir Integra, I can tell you what's inside the box. That's mere child's play for a vampire with my abilities."
"Good," Integra said, her face brightening again, "then, do it."
The vampire placed his hand over the box and closed his eyes. Nothing outwardly remarkable happened save for a small tightening around the eyes. Finally, Alucard opened them and stared intently at Integra. From his look, she knew it was trouble.
"And, Alucard?" she asked.
"Well, my Master, it's nothing explosive or dangerous. At least to us."
"Then, what the bloody hell is it, Servant?"
"It's a….finger, my Master."
"Whose?" the Hellsing leader's voice had gone cold with dread. In the back of her mind, she had a feeling about who the owner was. A numbing chill worked its way up from the pit of her stomach, spreading out to her extremities. She felt nauseous, slightly light-headed but strove to control all outward emotion.
The vampire felt, rather than saw, the changes in his Master but decided not to mince his words. "The finger belongs…belonged to Walter," was all he said.
Integra suddenly went for the note as if possessed by some unnamed force. With a vicious haste, she tore open the note that was typed "To Sir Integra" neatly in 12 point Times New Roman font letters. It was difficult for Integra to think about just which one of the smug bastards in the Millennium group had typed up such a note, probably with an expression of glee on his face, she decided. The letter had no salutation, the writer taking for granted who would read it. Instead, the letter explained in short, tight wording that the finger was indeed that of the former Hellsing butler, Walter. Furthermore, it instructed that, if she ever wanted to see Walter alive again, she would have to attend a meeting at midnight, in one of the more run-down sections of the city. In no uncertain wording, the unknown author also explained that, it was imperative that she should attend the meeting alone without her 'monster servant/bodyguard. Finally, if the Hellsing leader did not attend the meeting, another body part, the next one being of Walter's severed head, would quickly follow in the next day's mail. Also, if she chose to flaunt the rule and bring the vampire, something large would be 'blown up'. "And it's a shame if the Hellsing mansion was reduced to a pile of rubble," the deadly message ended.
"Goddamn them. Goddamn them to Hell!" the Hellsing leader exploded, throwing the letter across the desk in a impotent show of rage.
"You'll be going then, my Master." The vampire's words were a statement now, not a question.
"Yes, Alucard. Yes." Integra turned her eyes, now shining with a mixture of helplessness and anger at her vampire servant. "What other choice do I have?"
The vampire decided to say no more but, rather, turned and dissolved once again into the nearest wall, leaving the Hellsing master to her turbulent thoughts.
And so, now, Integra was standing here, waiting for whoever..whatever, the Millennium group had chosen to send her way.
"Hello, Miss Integra."
The words were soft, light, no more than a whisper in the cold, night air, yet caused the Hellsing leader to spin around wildly, pointing her gun into the dark, empty space of the inner alley. From out of the shadows came Integra's nightmare. Still tall, still nattily dressed, walking toward her was her butler, Walter. The walk, the outline, the stance was the same, old Walter. But when the figured stopped, several feet from Integra's gun barrel, she noticed the change. Oh, yes, how he had changed indeed. The thing, the Hellsing leader couldn't bear to think of this as Walter, was still yet recognizable as her butler. Or, rather, as he might have appeared to her father so many years ago. Walter's physical appearance was that of a man in his early to mid-30s. And then, the thing called Walter looked at her. Those once warm eyes, surrounded by wrinkles and laugh lines were now red, bright red. And nary a crease to be found on the skin. He's handsome, Integra thought before she could stop herself.
And then, the thing formerly known as Walter smiled. Two sharp, white teeth wetly glistened in the muted light of the alley.
"Are you just going to stand there all night with the gun pointed at me?" the younger, deadlier version of Walter asked jarringly with the old Walter's voice.
"Maybe," came Integra's breathless reply.
"Well, my dear, while you're thinking about things, Oh, and by the way, I hope you do like my improved appearance, I do believe you have something that's mine."
With her gun still pointed at the young, vampiric Walter, Integra used her left hand to carefully reach into her coat pocket and take out the wrapped package. She tossed the package down, it landing at the former butler's feet with a small thud.
"Thank you, Miss Integra," vampire Walter said with a mock bow, wearing a triumphant smile and picked up the package. He ripped it open and pulled the lid off the box, revealing a stark white finger. The finger had been cut raggedly and the edges shone with dark red streaks of blood. The vampire held up his hand for Integra to see, took off a glove and placed the cut finger against the missing place on his left hand where it originally had been cut from. Almost immediately, the skin of the hand and the finger seemed to liquefy until the skin of the hand touched that of the finger. When they did touch, the fluid-like skin of both the finger and hand blended together until it was impossible to tell which was which. Finally, the finger seemed to fuse to the skin, suddenly causing the skin to turn solid once again. Solid. Perfect. Whole. The Hellsing leader watched horrified, mesmerized as the young vampire flexed his white hand, now intact and perfect, in the moonlight.
"Ah, that's better," the thing called Walter sighed. He looked intently toward Integra, "And now, on to business, Miss Integra."
"That's still, SIR Integra to you," the Hellsing leader said, trying to keep her voice from wavering.
"No, not anymore, I'm afraid," dark Walter replied. "I don't work for you. Therefore, I can use any title I desire. Believe me, I could have addressed you in a much worse fashion." The vampire smiled cruelly and it seemed to Integra a mean trick that this thing still had Walter's voice, his mannerisms and worst of all, his smile.
Fleetingly, Integra's mind clouded with all the countless times that she had seen that familiar smile. When she was young and needed reassurance, the joy expressed when she received her doctorate, the parental happiness of being happy just for the sheer fact that she was happy. All these images crowded the young Hellsing leader's mind, making the vampire standing here smiling at her, a sick, twisted parody of all her cherished memories of the old butler.
"And what do you want from me, Walter?" Integra asked simply.
"Well, first of all, I'd like to now be called by my true name."
"And that is?"
"Oh, come now, Miss Integra, you mean you don't remember what I was called. Yes, come along now. Think back." When the Hellsing leader did not reply to his goading, he said, "Then, as now, I am known as 'the Angel of Death'. At you service." The thing once called Walter, bowed to Integra. "However, you can just call me 'Angel' for short. And now, to explain why I set up this meeting. You see, Miss Integra, that there is some dissension within the Millennium group."
"Good." was Integra's cold reply.
"Not for you," the former butler, now young vampire told her. "The leaders are split as to whether to order your execution or whether to try to entice you to join us."
"I'd never join you!" the Hellsing leader spat back the reply as if she had just tasted the most repulsive thing known to her.
"Well, now, that's not what the Captain believes," came the vampire's soft, silky reply. "And, after we talked for awhile, you know, I believe him as well. Miss Integra, you do consort with evil. Even now."
"Never," Integra said. "I, my father and my grandfather have fought every evil thing known to man. Both monstrous and, on occasion, human. If the humans work with evil, that is." Integra fixed her face impassively.
"Oh, but then, how do you explain Alucard?" Walter asked cruelly. "Though, thanks to the Hellsing scientists, he's immune to holy objects, you know as well as I do, that to call him anything other than evil would be an insult to both our intelligences."
"He just serves me and, in extension, the entire Hellsing organization," Integra said, a tightness in her voice, "If it weren't for Alucard, we wouldn't be able to do our job of ridding the earth of scum like you."
"Now, now, Miss Integra, who's deluding who?" Walter asked, making an disapproving tsking sound with his mouth and sharp teeth. "Do you honestly think that you could put Alucard back into confinement, back into his dark cage and not feel anything? Furthermore, do you think that you could go so far as to even kill him and walk away, cold, unfeeling? Dry-eyed?"
Integra just stared coldly at her former butler but made no verbal reply.
"No," the angel of death answered, "I don't think you could. You see, Miss Integra, he has corrupted you with his evil. He seduced you----"
"I am a virgin," the Hellsing leader answered proudly.
"Come, come, Miss Integra, we both know that you are, what's the term for it, 'splitting hairs' as they say. You physically took that monster into your bed within the first week of him helping you kill Sir Richard. Can you deny that?" the vampire turned his penetrating gaze to the young woman. "No, you can't, can you? I was there. Watching the two of you. Watching that unholy thing between the both of you grow. And grow. And grower bigger and more intense as you grew older, developing into a beautiful, young woman. And through it all, though I loved you as much as your own father did, I was helpless to stop it. Was helpless to prevent it. Why, even just the night before I left the Hellsing mansion with you as my last mission as a human, I heard you. And him with you. Do you want me to tell you what I heard that night?"
"That is none of your business, Walter or Angel or whatever your new masters are calling you now," Integra's voice now carried a sharp sting to it. "You're nothing more than a bloody dog on a leash to them. Go back to where you came from."
"You know, Miss Integra," the vampire said coldly, "your father said the same thing to me after he was seduced by that ancient monster. And he, Arthur, made the exact, same excuses you're making now. I told him to kill Alucard way back before the vampire killed his first wife. What has always baffled me has been that both of you, you and your father, Integra, know how to kill the monster for good. Your grandfather left you instructions to that. Yet, both of you have been unwilling to do so. You have to eventually ask yourself one question, Integra. 'Why?' Why won't you destroy Alucard?"
"Because, as I've said, he's important to the work of the Hellsing organization." Integra's protest sounded weak, even to her ears.
"Maybe," the former butler said, "or maybe you're just so seduced by evil that you can't see the truth."
"At least I'm still human," Integra said, a note of triumph in her voice, "the same can't be said for you."
"No," Walter admitted, "I lost my soul in a single instant. And I have no regrets about that." Integra watched as the vampire thought for a moment longer before a look of sheer, unadulterated pleasure came over his face. "It was beautiful……..indescribable. You, however, Miss Integra, are losing your soul a piece at a time. Each time you allow him to kill in your name. Each time you allow him into your bed. There goes a piece of your soul. Your humanity, as it were. At first, you don't even realize that you're losing it. Now, you're in too deep to know. To care. At the end, though, we will both be the same. Soulless. For all eternity."
"Speak for yourself, Angel," Integra said venomously.
"Ah, maybe now, we're different," the angel of death said, "but who's to say that when age starts creeping over you or, if you're mortally wounded on the battlefield, you won't choose my present lifestyle? No, even if you triumph over us, over the Millennium group, you will still not triumph over evil. Because now, Miss Integra, it's within as well as without."
"Give me a good reason why I shouldn't shoot you in the head, Walter." Integra said.
"Because, if you do," the vampire answered with a smirk alighting his face, "and I feel pain, I only have to psychically send a distress signal to my superiors and they will level your precious Hellsing mansion. Immediately, after I am killed. Or wounded, have no doubt about that. So, Miss Integra," the angel of death said in a different, lighter tone, "it seems we are now at an impasse. I will leave now. However, I warn you, think on what I have just said. Think hard. For even if you don't choose us, the Millennium group, Miss Hellsing, mark my words, you will eventually choose evil."
From out of nowhere, Seras came running, her gun at the ready. She was joined by a shorter man, dressed all in black, wearing a white half-mask. "We were worried about you, Sir Integra, so I came to find you. I brought some help," the young female vampire explained to her leader.
"Ah, your calvary finally arrives," the vampire laughed, turning his attention to the specter attired all in black "now who is this other vampire? I don't think we've been properly introduced."
"The Angel of Death, meet Erik, the Angel of Death," Integra said simply.
The masked man bowed toward the vampire butler, "Pleased to have met your acquaintance, Monsieur."
"Well, I guess I have been replaced by a worthy adversary," the young angel of death said.
The other angel of death known as Erik made a motion for his weapon, a lasso he held tightly in his grip, at the ready.
"Put it away," Integra warned, "he's wired. We can't kill him tonight. It would mean the destruction of the Hellsing mansion and, more importantly, every living soul inside."
"Can he do that with such short notice, Madame?" Erik asked the Hellsing leader, his voice somewhat incredulous.
"Yes," came the young male vampire's reply, "My group is the most powerful thing on the face of this earth. We will kill you. All of you." Walter fixed his gaze on the Hellsing leader for a final time. Threatening. Lethal. "Even your precious all-powerful vampire consort."
Seras stopped looking at Integra and turned her gaze on the now young Walter.
"I actually loved you once," Seras said to him, regret coloring her voice.
"So did I, Seras, so did I." Walter replied, and for a moment, Integra thought she could see something of the old Walter she remembered trapped inside the young
vampire's body. It gave the Hellsing leader something to cling to at least. As she watched Walter take a flying leap and ascend in a single jump to the top of the nearest building and disappear before their gaze, Integra told herself it was useless but, she could not bury a vain hope that Walter could yet be rescued by the Hellsing organization.
Together, Integra, Erik and Seras made their way out of the alley and home toward the Hellsing Organization mansion and the ancient vampire, Alucard within it.