Overworked, low on blood, and with the sun blazing in the sky, Seras had fallen into a coma-like sleep. In her dream, an old, fat man was sitting in a lawn chair sipping a piña colada and looking very relaxed.
"Lazy," Seras said, standing in front of him, arms akimbo.
He shrugged and looked aloof. "Left behind…again," he said.
"W-what!?" she said, abashed. "That sort of thing isn't up to me! It was Sir Integra's order…" He sipped his drink loudly and pretended to ignore her. "Oh, fine," she said. "I'm sorry I left you behind, but you're simply too big to be lugged around to combat a hostage situation."
He looked down at his large stomach and pouted. "You're mean."
"What!? I am not! You're…" her rant was interrupted by the ground becoming a sinkhole and sending her spiraling downward and up at the same time. It was an odd, yet familiar feeling, and soon she was awake, looking at the lid of her coffin and quickly forgetting the dream.
She opened the coffin and got out, seeing that she was still in her clothes from the mission. On the desk she kept in her room was an official looking note telling her to attend a debriefing in the next hour. She used the time to shower and change her uniform; also to drink a package of medical blood, as she was quite hungry.
Seras was the only person in Integra's office, aside from Sir Integra herself. She sat at her desk smoking a cigar, looking neither pleased nor upset. "How are you feeling?" Integra asked, once Seras had seated herself after saluting.
"I'm fine," Seras said. "The mission was successful and I'm clean, rested and fed."
"Glad to hear it," Integra said. "We heard most of it from Kennedy who, by the way, will be fine. His wounds were more severe than he had been letting on. Ashley Graham is on her way back to the United States pending a full medical examination."
"The parasite inside her is dead," Seras said. "We found a machine that killed it. They melt when they die, so it should pass through her system."
Integra paused, slowly blowing smoke through her nostrils. "I don't think it's the parasite they're concerned about…it's you."
"The Hellsing Organization, and by extension, the British government, is the only group in the world, unless you count Nazi Germany and that group of Millennium freaks, who have any real expertise or experience with vampires. I told them that there was no chance that you're blood had…infected her, nor was there any possibility that she had been implanted with a freak chip…not with the amount of time they had her. They're not convinced, so they're examining her thoroughly."
Seras looked stricken, imagining Ashley being probed physically and psychologically by strange men in white coats. "I was hoping I would be able to talk to her once more."
Integra cocked an eyebrow and put her dying cigar out. "Relax, Seras, she's the daughter of the president, they're not going to dissect her. However, I don't think you'll be able to talk to her anytime soon. You're a walking piece of classified information."
Seras's fingers twiddled and she looked off to the side. "About that…"
"Yes, I know," Integra said. "By now, the Americans are keenly aware of your abilities and shortcomings. I'm sure Ashley and Kennedy are decent enough people, but the fact is they're going to tell the Americans everything they know about you. On top of what they already do know, they'll have quite a wealth of information by the end."
"I'm sorry," Seras said. "I just didn't have the option of keeping it a secret."
"I knew that when I sent you in. Never mind it though. The Americans aren't our enemies and now they owe us one. Hell, they owed us for Umbrella but they're not going to admit it."
Her head picked up suddenly. "Ada…a woman named Ada Wong was there. Leon must have told you, but she left with the parasite sample and I think…"
"She works for Umbrella?" Integra finished. "You're quite astute. Walter and I suspect the same thing. Did you know that Umbrella had a special section?"
Seras nodded. "They were mostly a pharmaceutical company, but it was their bioweapons division that caused all the trouble."
Integra plucked another cigar from a pack on her desk and lit it. "The bioweapons division still exists; called White Umbrella, it seems to have survived the main company's destruction."
Seras slammed her fist on the chair's arm and gritted her teeth, a sudden anger flooding her system. "What…no…" She had killed them. Killed the board members, the decision makers, the ones ultimately responsible for the murder of Raccoon, of Sherry Birkin.
"Calm down," Integra said evenly. "We punished the people that deserved it and nearly exterminated the entire organization, White Umbrella included. We're just not quite done yet."
She breathed, even though she didn't need to, and felt better. Not good, but better. A Hellsing's work was never quite done, and she knew that. "Sorry, sir, I'm alright. What now? What about Millennium's involvement?"
Integra smiled. "Congratulations on exterminating Rip van Winkle. We'll kill them all eventually. As for the rest of them, this seems to be their typical modus operandi: loosely align with some two-bit warmonger and or crackpot and provide them with support in furthering their warlike ways. It wouldn't shock me to learn they're working with Umbrella now as well."
"I got the impression Saddler didn't really need their help," Seras said.
"We did some digging on him, actually. He was little more than a megalomaniacal despot with a glorified tapeworm. He found common ground with a bunch of other crazies and then…well, you what the result was."
"So what now?" Seras asked.
"We're going to dig up what we can on White Umbrella and track Millennium's movements. It's likely the two will intersect. Alucard was sent in after you to do mop-up, but the parasites, along with their hosts, seemed to have died."
She had to pick her next words carefully. "May I ask why Alucard wasn't sent in sooner?"
"Simple," Integra said. "If we make him our crutch, our one recourse, he will turn from being our strength to our weakness."
"Do you follow boxing?"
"Neither do I," Integra said. "But I do know this much about it. If you've got a powerful right hook that knocks the opponent out every time you throw it, and you use it every single time, eventually you're enemies will learn to block and counterpunch. Nothing I know of can stop Alucard, but someday someone will figure it out. To keep that day from coming, we'll play him close to our vest."
All she could do was nod slowly. Tactically it made sense and complaining about it made her sound whiney and weak. Being Hellsing's official workhorse also made her feel good, if a little worn out and used. "I see. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to complain."
"Apology accepted," Integra said. "You're the better tool for the job in some cases, as you have a certain amount of finesse that he doesn't."
"Thank you, sir."
"You're dismissed," Integra said. "And by the way, I have no problems with you sending letters to Kennedy or even Graham, provided you don't say too much. I understand you still maintain correspondence with Valentine and Oliveira?"
She did, but the contact was spotty. She was still expecting a reply from Carlos. He had been mulling over joining Hellsing, him being a professional mercenary. Jill's letters were less frequent, but last Seras heard, she had joined up with the remaining STARS membership and they were seeking to bring Umbrella employees who had not been arrested or killed to justice. Perhaps their goals would intersect soon. "Yes, I do. Speaking of that, we might have some things to discuss later."
"I'm certain of it," Integra said. "Just be sure to keep your messages free of classified information. If they were ever intercepted by the press…"
"I know," Seras said, realizing Integra was allowing her to take a great risk for the sake of her personal life. "I'm going to go find Alucard."
"Carry on then," Integra said.
Seras stood, saluted, and left the room. She didn't know what she was going to say to Alucard exactly but she was sure he would want to hear all the details of her adventure, like it had been some kind of vacation. Telling him about Raccoon had been hard, but it had worked as a kind of therapy for her. This time, six years later, she didn't feel the same way as she had. Luis, a good man had died, along with a large number of innocent rural folk, but the event hadn't changed her at the core like Raccoon had.
Thinking about that, the fact that she hadn't changed much since leaving for that village the first time, made her wonder. Had a disaster of epic proportions simply rolled off her back? Not quite. She was saddened by Luis's loss and she felt bad for the victims of Las Plagas, but the sorrow wasn't as deep.
Asking Alucard when he stopped caring and became a monster came to mind, but she knew he had grown up in a different time, in a different sort of place. For all intents and purposes, he had always been a monster. The only other person she might talk to about it was Walter, and he had received the nickname Angel of Death at the age of fourteen.
She veered off and went to her room, thinking she might pick up a nice funny book and tell Alucard about her adventure later, after she forgot that she was the only person she knew who was becoming a monster and still remembered what it was like to be human.