- Chapter Two
She should not be awake among her peers. These were times of war and conflict and she could not fight nor help - only cower and shriek in fear. Yet there she was, Sister Yumiko the useless, the unable to hurt a fly, kneeling and praying on one of the pews of a modest Church located in the Northside of Dublin. The temple was big enough to shelter them and small enough to not catch much attention of the outside.
The Vatican's actions caused the world, even the followers of the religion, to be outraged against the clergy - specially the suspicious-looking ones who wielded weapons and smelled of blood. Thus she was needed to mediate until things cooled down. Who would suspect the sweet-looking, shy nun?
Yumiko rose and looked at the elderly women at the threshold of the Church. They were wearing long skirts, feathered hats and petticoats, and carrying plastic boxes that smelled of steamy vegetables and meat. She smiled kindly and went to greet them.
"Mrs. Connolly, Mrs. O'Keeffe. Good day," said Yumiko, offering her hand. "Let me help you with those."
"You're so kind, Yumiko," Mrs. O'Keeffe replied, handing the nun her bag. "We have brought you all meals. It's terrible what happened to you all in England. Chased away only because of what the Vatican did."
Yumiko looked down; she was feeling a bit guilty fooling these old ladies. Lying is a sin.
"Don't be sad, lass!" Mrs. Connolly attempted to comfort her, lifting her chin lightly. "Take that to your friends. We'll prepare some scaldy for you to drink and feel better."
"Thank you, God bless you for your generosity. Excuse me for a moment. Please."
She bowed and hurried to the kitchen to leave the meals to serve a moment later. Then, Yumiko called her partners in the dormitories. The Iscariots who had stayed to protect the Republic of Ireland were distrustful of them. She could not blame their wariness or their occasional glances to the left side of their chests. They had seen the shards of the Nail; they had been told what had happened to Father Anderson and Archbishop Maxwell.
They also blamed them for their failures because there was no one else to blame.
"Heinkel?" Yumiko asked, knocking on the door lightly. "Lunch has arrived." Her companion did not reply. Wolfe had been difficult since the government had forbidden them to move outside the islands. It was amazing how the Irish were now eager to cooperate with Queen Elizabeth II and detain their movements. "Heinkel, are you okay?" Yumiko inquired, worried and opening the door.
Heinkel Wolfe was lying reclining on the mattress, smoking and throwing the ashes on the blankets. Her side of their shared quarters was messy; the bed was unmade and filled with assorted newspapers. Yumiko's area was perfectly tidy and clean. Heinkel lowered her shades and shot Yumiko an indifferent expression.
"I'm not hungry."
"You have to eat something! Heinkel, you won't be able to guide us if you starve yourself!"
"Guide you? "To where, in this forced exile?" Heinkel sneered, tossing her a newspaper. The headline was about attacks on the Pentagon. "Look at that, Yumiko. There is where we should be, not here in a parish, hidden as rats, glutting ourselves with charity."
Yumiko folded the newspaper and returned it to her. She offered her friend a comb next - her hair was a disaster. "Then steal a plane, a ship, anything to take us there."
Heinkel nearly dropped her cigarette at such an outrageous suggestion. Admittedly, Yumiko herself was a bit surprised. "Those are sins, I know - but we, Iscariots, are sinful. And I cannot stand seeing you this way. Yumie is acting the same, feeling your pain. She's… like a wounded animal."
She started to cry, not knowing why she was so sad as usual. Yumiko always wept a lot; sharing both of their grief. Yumie was angry for her, and Yumiko expressed sorrow in exchange.
"You're strong," Heinkel appraised in wonder. "Stronger than Yumie and me. She couldn't stand losing our Father. She's letting you do the mourning, isn't she?" Yumiko nodded quietly. "You're right. I should do something other than stay here and sulk. We must go to the United States and minister the divine punishment." She rose, determined, and reached for Yumiko's hand, beckoning her to stand and walk beside her.
"But first, lunch, Heinkel. Even the Lord's agents on Earth need to eat."
Heinkel grinned, dropping the cigarette and crushing it with her left foot. "Lunch first, I agree."
Yumiko beamed, happy to be able to cheer Heinkel up. She missed her chief and her teacher but she still had her best friend and Yumie. She would look after them despite being weaker than them.
Their peaceful stroll was interrupted before reaching the kitchen.
"Sisters!" a young priest exclaimed, rushing to meet them. Yumiko recalled him; the red hair, brown eyes and olive complexion were unmistakable. Alessandro Vecchio used to fight with Heinkel a lot during their childhood. He challenged heroften and she won all his contests.
"Father Vecchio," Heinkel addressed, annoyance in her voice. "Come closer, we aren't going to kill you." Alessandro approached warily; he had stayed in Ireland and still had his doubts about the Nail as all the others. "What is it?"
"This," he answered, handing Heinkel a white envelope with the red and black seal of the Hellsing Organisation. "Some English and Irish officers are waiting for you, Sister Heinkel. The parish made them remain in their studio."
Yumiko studied Heinkel's reactions as she took the envelope and opened it to read the letter inside. She looked thoughtful first, then grimaced, only to smirk at last. "Vecchio, help Yumiko in the kitchen. You all better have a light, fast meal. Then pack as fast you can."
"Why?" Yumiko asked, taking the letter once Heinkel was done with it.
"Because," replied her partner, looking almost sinister with a gleam in her green eyes, "we are leaving for America soon in first-class jets that are guaranteed permission to land in Washington. All thanks to Sir Integral's intervention, repaying her debts to us."
With London in ruins, Integral had no choice but to intern her injured personnel in the Princess Alexandra Hospital located in Harlow whilst the reconstruction of her Mansion continued and the clinic area was still in need of being properly disinfected.
The knight had the best equipment at her disposal brought in to provide health care for her fallen men. She visited them as much as her schedule allowed; the kingdom was in complete chaos and half of the Round Table were dead, and so her spare time was precious. That day, just after she had negotiated Iscariot's release from the observation period to study their behaviour, Integral went to hear any news regarding her men's recoveries from the Chief Executive herself.
"Two died on us, Sir Hellsing. We've burnt their corpses as you ordered just in case they returned. My family will avoid at all costs dealing with the undead again."
Doctor Daisy Seward was sitting across from Integral, dressed in a blue blouse, grey trousers and a pearly white lab coat. Her frizzy dyed auburn hair was picked up in a bun. She seemed to share the knight's stress and lack of sleep. Her voice was hoarse and strained and there were evident black bags below her eyes. Integral had known Daisy since she was a little girl, as the doctor was one of her father's dearest friends, but she had never seen her so slim, as if she would snap in two at any moment.
"The rest are doing well, they are all going to make it. Especially him."
Integral's interest piqued at Alucard's mention but she concealed it by skimming through the autopsies of the dead mercenaries. She did not want to admit to Seward nor to herself how much the idea of losing him frightened her after Walter went missing. "Do tell me. How is Alucard doing?" She closed the files. "You haven't poisoned him with garlic, have you?"
Daisy smiled and shook her head. "He barely remains awake. We give him sedatives to avoid that until his vital signals steady completely. The shock about his… situation could harm him irreversibly or throw him into a coma. Soon, I will need you and your vampire here so you can calm him."
"I understand. Seras and I shall be there."
Integral wanted to smoke; the anxiety on Alucard's behalf ate her inside but she could not light a cigar inside the hospital. She reclined in her seat, accepting the new paper folders Seward was giving to her.
"I have run some tests on him," the good doctor informed her as Integral surveyed the contents of the package. "He has a minor case of anaemia," - there was humour in her voice - "as expected, but a solid diet could cure that easily. All his organs are functional. Just like a newborn. Incredible."
"Are you telling me Alucard is perfectly healthy after that serious fall and the amount of weight Seras told me he endured?" inquired Integral in disbelief, staring at the X-ray results. She had little knowledge of the meaning of the technobabble written as the explanation of shadowed areas in the sheet. Some words she recognised, but mostly it was not her area and did not pretend to be an expert to get straight answers.
"That was worried me the most. I ordered X-rays, CT and MRI scans on all his body just in case he had broken his legs, but they were unscathed. I had professionals doing massages on his muscles to stir them as a precaution. I'm afraid I don't know how to correctly proceed, Sir Hellsing. I mean, he was dead ten days ago."
"You did your best, Doctor. I'm in debt to you."
"Nonsense, this is a golden chance to study such a unique case. I'm the one who must return the favour."
"If his health is perfect, I suppose Alucard will be released soon," Integral commented, cutting the pleasantries of the conversation. Her eyes wandered to the clock on the wall behind the doctor; she had a meeting with the Twelve Conventions in an hour.
"I wouldn't say his state is perfect."
"What do you mean?"
"I didn't finish my diagnosis," Daisy pointed out, reaching for one of the X-ray plaques - the one of the spinal column. "It's possible his special undead regeneration worked their magic in the legs and most of his organs." She paused, adding with an impish voice, "This is pure speculation of mine. I'm not the vampire expert." She laughed softly.
"You were saying?"
"Right." The doctor cleared her throat and straightened her posture. She was more serious now. "His magic ran out when it reached his lumbar vertebrae." She hung the X-rays on a whiteboard and pointed to the bones. "It's not a fracture, fortunately, only a dislocation of a handful of ligaments and discs."
"Does he need surgery intervention?" Integral questioned quickly, her features darkened in concern.
"No, no - unless the lesion deepens." Seward sat down once more. "I took the liberty to collocate him a brace. It will immobilize his spine until his dislocation stabilizes."
"A brace?" Integral asked, frowning. "How long will he be forced to wear it?"
"Nine weeks. After that, bring him to me to determine if he's recovered."
"Very well, Doctor. Thank you for your help."
"That's not all, Sir Integral," Daisy pointed out quickly. "He'll have to use a wheelchair. The brace and the dislocations may cause a paralysis on his legs. Any movement in his rather irregular state may worsen his condition. He's… hard to figure out."
Integral snorted, nodding. "I am fully aware of the mystery he is." Alucard in a wheelchair -he would need a lot of convincing to remain still and obedient.
"Even so, he received so few wounds. I never believed that was possible," Daisy started to babble in fascination. "He is… what is the word?"
"Miraculous?" Integral helped, again looking at the clock. "Yes, yes. Miraculous indeed!" Daisy agreed, calming in her tirade. "How is your arm? I hope you have been taking care of it, Sir Integral. You cannot share his miracle."
"I know and it is recovering," Integral answered, disliking being scolded like a child by her. "I cannot have proper rest, Doctor. As you know these aren't times for such privilege."
Doctor Seward sighed and graced her with a doting smile. "You are such a hard-working lady. If Arthur could see you now… He was clever but rather blasé regarding his responsibilities."
"I'm aware of my father's… peculiarities."
"He was a good man. Fun-loving and vigorous." Integral flinched at the last statement. That was far too much information and she was not interested in knowing her doctor had been her father's lover once. "Oh, don't look at me at that. We didn't sleep together."
"No? It seems strange that you were an exception to that rule. From the rumours in the court, he was well known in the United Kingdom and some foreign nations." She did not know why she was so harsh in her judgment of her father sometimes. Maybe it was her loyalty to her poor mother speaking.
"Sewards and van Helsings were as close as siblings," Daisy explained, reproachful. "I was like his younger sister. You need to go, don't you? You have been looking at my clock for a while."
Integral lifted her brow in mild interest and then stood. "That's correct. I apologize if I were rude."
"Not at all," assured the doctor, offering her hand. Integral reached for it and shook it. "It's always a pleasure to deal with your family."
"Please, call me at any hour if you require my presence for Alucard's state." Integral released her hand and took her briefcase, starting to leave.
"I will. I know how much he means to you."
The knight paused when she was about to exit; her gaze was briefly on the ground. "They all do. I can't afford to lose Alucard or Seras now. After Walter…" She trailed off, pushing those grim thoughts away with distaste. She had no time to mourn properly; she did not have his body to allow her catharsis.
"And how is the vampire girl?" Daisy asked, changing subjects. "Does she need more transfusion blood? We can provide some packages. A handful are about to expire."
"That would be appreciated. She'll need to drink more blood to continue her intense training."
Replacing Alucard and Captain Bernadotte was not an easy task for Seras Victoria. Integral knew that she was not the only member of Hellsing with her schedule full.
Ghastly - really, really ghastly. Seras Victoria never thought she would use that word to describe anyone, but her new teacher fit the definition perfectly. Sir Francis Varney - as Sir Hellsing had introduced the vampire - had a long, sallow face, projecting teeth, dark, almost sunken eyes and bushy, brown hair. When he was standing next to her, he was imposing and intimidating like a bat that awoke repulsion inside her.
Seras stretched her arms, tired and half-listening to what he was babbling. The way he spoke was too complex to follow. Why could not he update his vocabulary a bit? She was not a pompous noble and simple English would be more effective for her training.
"Pray tell me, Lady Seras, the subject of such intense inner inquirings that are far more agreeable than my lessons?"
She blinked and straightened her posture in her chair. The sun was up and she should be sleeping at this hour. "Er - well," said Seras lamely, seeking a good excuse as to not infuriate her teacher.
Varney dedicated her a horrible smile. "Candour is what I appreciate the most, dear lady. Speak your mind."
Her cheeks burned in embarrassment. "I thought the training Sir Integral told me about would be about my abilities." Yet here they were, just sitting in the library with goblets filled with blood and reading dusty, leathery books. "No offence, but why do I have to do this?" Seras was bored out of her mind; her attention span was more into athletic subjects.
Varney shot her a pitying glance, and then picked up his goblet. "Is the refreshment I bring not of your liking?" he asked, tiredly pointing towards her glass filled with blood. She had not touched it. Seras opened her mouth to defend herself but he did not let her. "The lovely Miss Hellsing has already informed me of the delicate subject of your… vampiric anorexia. I much fear that your condition is alarming."
What the hell? Vampire anorexia? Seras frowned and took the goblet, swallowing all the content quickly. "I'm not anorexic."
"I see. Pardon me, I was mistaken." She realized in that moment that Varney had manipulated her to drink the blood. She had to be more careful around him. "Have I caused you an unwanted discomfort, Lady Seras?"
"You know very well what you did!" Seras scoffed, gritting her fangs.
"Good, then," Varney said, to her astonishment. "This was your first lesson. Every No Life King will attempt to manipulate you because he is able to. I did such a deed for your own good; however, the rest shan't be as considerate, nor as kind."
Seras gazed at him with newly-found respect and increasing nervousness. "Why can't you deal with them, Varney, sir - I mean, aren't you a friend of Sir Hellsing?"
"I'm afraid I'm complicated," answered Varney with a weary sigh. "I don't trust myself with my loyalties. Also, is it you, dear lady, and not I who is the heir of our beloved ruler. He chose you as his own replacement, his own child. And thus you shall be the one to impose yourself on the older No Life Kings that rule the society in these lands."
Seras looked down, studying the wood patterns of the table. Thinking of her Master brought an intense pain within her - though she could endure it as long as no one brought up another person into the conversation. Alucard had never told her how serious it was. If he had, she would have paid more attention to his teachings. How could she face the entire Dracul and Draculina underworld if she could barely lead a handful of mercenaries and keep them in check?
"I don't know how."
"Precisely why it is important for me to teach you," Varney pointed out in high spirits. "You are an apt student and fast learner. There is an inherent eagerness I noticed despite your clear indifference to my lessons. That must be why the Count chose you."
Master chose me, Seras thought recalling the day that she became a vampire. She knew now that Alucard could have saved her - he could have found a way to destroy the vicar that did not involve killing her. And, strangely, even if he had taken her life away, she was grateful for the new existence he had given her. A more meaningful one. "I won't let Master down," she declared, determined. "Please, teach me what I need to know, Sir Varney."
Varney gave her an approving nod. "As I was saying whilst your young mind was daydreaming. The old ones amongst our kind, the powerful No Life Kings that have developed their own… nuances within the curse, have felt your Master's… demise." He paused. "We all thought him dead and feared we soon would follow. Regardless of that, you must be aware he bestowed upon you the honour of being our leader." Seras shifted uncomfortably at that. "There is no need to be a ruler -he was not. But it is imperative that you keep us in check. Like a… police officer."
That was a role with which Seras felt much more at ease. She relaxed visibly upon the analogy and allowed Varney to continue.
"There is a protocol and etiquette to follow, as expected. I shall teach them to you, my dear lady, so you will be aware of when they are trespassed. However, you don't have to adhere to any of them. "If any of us attempt to berate your breaking of any rule, do put the upstart in his place."
"I got it," Seras assured, nodding. "You were saying that England was controlled by my Master?"
"Aye, as was Romania, Poland and Hungary. Only the youth are unaware of his iron-grip control. Not for long - the Organisation eliminated those threats."
Seras bit her bottom lip, recalling the first three vampires they had faced. "You told me Ireland, the North and the Republic, is under your rule, right?"
"That is correct, Lady Seras," Varney praised her memory. Those were one of the few moments she was actually paying attention. "The country reflects my complicated nature. Sir Hellsing obtains the whereabouts of Catholic influence through me."
"What about Wales and Scotland?"
"The former is under the ruthless control of Lord Ruthven, while the latter is led by Countess Carmilla Karnstein. Her family moved to Scotland at the beginning of this century, and she followed them."
Seras gulped. "Aren't they - you more powerful and experienced than me?" She recalled her Master's abilities. It was beyond her understanding. How could Sir Integral expect these old Midians to take an 'anorexic vampire' seriously?
"Surely you jest, my dear lady!" Varney let go a throaty laugh. It was not his intention for sure, but it was creepy when he did that. "None of us are warriors; our regenerations and manipulation abilities are far more advanced than your incredible raw strength. Most Midians are dreadful when it comes to defending themselves. That is the reason we are easily hunted with the proper weapons. Our prey is weak and unsuspecting. Your own Master wasn't as skilled either until Hellsing trained him."
Seras nodded. Now she understood how she could fool that vicar for so long that night in Cheddar.
"Only a minority among our kind are able to become a No Life King. You mastered that title in a few months after your turning, Lady Seras. Truly remarkable indeed."
Seras blushed again; the amount of compliments she was getting that day surpassed the praise she had heard in her lifetime. "I - I wouldn't be able to do it if it wasn't for my Captain, Master and Sir Hellsing. They deserve the credit."
"Modesty is always appealing in a young lady. Regardless, allow me to disagree with your humble posture. Your potential is great and has only increased after you swallowed that creature's soul. Are you able to master his powers?" Varney inquired, too curious. Seras flinched, warily.
"I was in a hard situation!" she explained, hating the veiled accusation of ruthlessness in Varney's statement. Thinking about that warrant officer with cat ears bothered her; he had giggled while she consumed his life, keeping her gaze on him so he would not escape. He was still giggling as a ghost inside her mind.
Varney did not interrupt her; he merely watched her with unnerving, saintly patience.
"I needed to reach Sir Hellsing in time and she was inside that destroyed Zeppelin. I don't know how to use his powers, that time was blind luck," Seras admitted. The sheer despair and adrenaline never repeated after her initial success.
"What a pity, then…" Varney replied with a polite, neutral voice. "Which subject do you wish to inquire? Or I shall renew the schedule?" Seras pondered her preference but could not reply. Integral entered into the library without knocking. She appeared rushed; her cravat was half undone.
"I'm afraid I must cut short your lessons for today, Sir Varney," she said, looking unapologetic. "But your pupil is needed elsewhere."
"Oh, certainly. By all means, she's all yours, fair lady."
"What's wrong, Sir? Are the Wild Geese-"
"They are fine, Police Girl. It's about your Master," Integral informed her. Seras rose immediately. "He's about to awaken. We must reach the hospital before that happens."
Edited by Lavinia Lavender. Thanks for the feedback thus far.