Panic on the Streets of London- Chapter 1
Walter rather enjoyed the late afternoons in the kitchen. The mornings could be hectic, and the night had its own schedule that could range from sheer chaos to deathly quiet, but right after tea, was perhaps his favourite time of his workday. Supper was at six; while normally it was a small affair-warming up the medical blood for the vampires and cooking a meal for his mistress, tonight was to be a bit more festive. For the first time in almost a decade, the other side of the family was to come and visit. Ever since the fateful day of Lord Richard's demise in the dungeon and Sir Integra's rise to the head of the organization, the ties between family had been strained, to say the least. It was not so much over any resentment to the head of the household, but the guilt, and dishonor of Richard's betrayal had stunned Lady Emma and her children. They felt ashamed, and had shied away from attempts of reconnection.
For years, there was little contact other than the odd letter, or copy of public announcements , but this was to change. The elder boy, Andrew, had reached out to Integra wanting to gain her friendship and bridge the gap between then and now. Walter grabbed an oven mitt and checked on rows of dinner rolls that were turning a golden brown in the oven-they smelled heavenly. He had remembered all of the Hellsing children playing together, cousins and more distant relatives from India, years before. It seemed like a rather pleasant dream, an era before Richard's insatiable lust for power destroyed himself and his family. Perhaps, now a healing could begin, not to mention that as a decorated captain in the reconstructed India Army, his military skills and strengths would come in very handy to his cousin's organization.
The pots boiled with a furious energy , while the rolls continued baking and bottles of aged wine were retrieved from the basement. Cut -crystal glasses were washed and dried with the greatest of care, as the other house servants polished up the good silver and china. Out of the corner of his eye, Walter noticed an oddly -coloured setting being shined up and readied to be placed out by Adam, one of the wait staff.
"Boy," he asked, "what you doing there?" The young man looked up- he was barely fourteen , the same age Walter had been when he started serving Sir Arthur his meals in the household.
"Oh, Miss Integra asked me to set two places with the brass instead of the silver." Oh! So she was inviting her servants to supper after all! The old man smiled .
"That is very thoughtful of her. Make sure that the knives are good and sharp, my boy-you don't want those two to use their teeth too much in front of the new guests so soon. It may make them. . . nervous."
Elsewhere, the hostess was getting nervous about the impending company. The drawing room was filled with smoke, thick and cloying. Integra was on her second consecutive cigar, grinding the expensive vice between her teeth , and wondering what was taking her servants so long to get ready. She checked her watch- it took her barely a half hour to prepare herself , and most of that was on drying her hair. Her clothes were a bit more colourful than her normal attire; the slate, three-piece suit had a deep burgundy red waist coat for a change from her normal palette of grey, black, or navy.
"A bit of colour for a cheery occasion-like a holiday." She thought to herself, while buttoning it up. She tried her hardest to ignore the bit of paperwork that she had brought with her to review before the festivities. They rested on the desk like a yolk. While she did not want to get engrossed with work, it was as if almost by instinct that her fingers traced over the folder, and opened it to the copies of the news articles that had been plaguing her for the past weeks.
"Panic on the Streets of London!-Three Found Slain in Picadilly"
"Model Student Found Dead-Police Baffled"
"Beauty and the Beast- Upcoming Model's Body Found "
The headlines were attention- getters indeed. It seems that someone, or perhaps something, had a penchant for London's girls, all beautiful, young things that were turning up dead in nasty, creative ways. To the common public, it seemed to be just another warning of the evils of the modern age, however, to someone in Sir Hellsing's line of work, there were connections and patterns that could not just be ignored. All of the girls were between the ages of fourteen and twenty. All of the corpses were found drained of their blood. Every girl was , for argument's sake, a virgin, and had been connected in some way, shape, or form to two modeling agencies in London.
Integra drew a long breath on her cigar, and pushed the air through her teeth. The organization had also received the coroner's photos as well. They were gory, detailed things that left little to the imagination: huge chunks of flesh were cut, or perhaps bitten out of the victim's arms, chests , and throats. Some had had their hair cut off, or even their eyes gouged. While not wanting to dampen her evening, she could not help but to study the case for another moment. She was so lost in thought that she barely noticed the shadow slipping into her room from the corner and pooling up near her feet.
"Master," a voice chided," You shouldn't be reading such things before supper-it will ruin your mood. . ." The woman looked up to a pair of red, glowing eyes, a shadowy form and a broad smile.
"And a good evening to you, Cheshire King. . .will the rest of you care to make an appearance tonight?" The smoke began to thicken and form the shape of a tall, lean man with a mop of dark hair, and an elegant suit. He bowed his head a little and peered straight into the eyes of his master.
"Well met, you look quite nice tonight, Alucard." Integra commented. "Now remember, I want you to be on your best behavior- your ward as well. Speaking of which, where is she?"
"She's getting changed. Apparently, she took your comment to heart." Integra rubbed out her cigar and huffed in frustration.
"Really, all I said is that I did not want her looking like a tart in front of my family! That girl has no common sense ! "
"I thought she looked cute-that dress emphasized , her "assets" quite well." The vampire chuckled. Integra rolled her eyes.
"That dress was ridiculously short-this is a family reunion, not a pub. I do not need you, nor Captain Bernadette commenting about her "assets" or whatever else at my supper table. " Alucard cocked an eyebrow.
"Jealous, my dear?" Her eyes narrowed to deadly slits.
"Not in the least, just someone has to keep this household in line. Now, call her out please, and make your way to the dining hall." She strode past him with a flick of her head, long, blonde hair trailing behind her.
"You'd look beautiful in anything." He whispered . The vampire eyed his retreating master with a slight smile.
The formal dining hall was a glow with candles, the rich smell of food and the gentle bubbling of conversation. Walter announced the guests and they were met with kisses and fondness. A tall, blond man was dressed in an expensive dinner jacket and possesed a rakish grin . He beamed when he saw his cousin. Andrew embraced her hand, then the rest of her.
"It's been by far too long, Integra.", his voice was a bit loud, but filled with good-natured energy. A younger-looking boy, perhaps no more than sixteen, with glasses and a quieter demenor, escorted a lady of middle age wearing a soft , green dress, and a gentle smile.
"Thank you so much for having us- your hospitality is quite a relief after the trip from Burma." stated Lady Emma. The rest of the family was positioning itself around the spacious table. "Will any of your organization be joining us for supper, dear?"
As if on cue, the figures of her servants advanced in the doorway. Instead of mist or a display of shadow-play, both Seras and Alucard quietly walked in, the girl trailling a few steps behind her master, now in a much more "acceptable" dress- a violet dinner gown that reached well below her knees.
"I would like to present to you two of our special members of our operation," Sir Hellsing announced ,"my personal servant and bodygaurd, Alucard , and Miss Seras Victoria, one of our heads of Special Forces." Andrew steped up to both and looked each in the eye. Alucard bowed his head slightly, sensing the same noble bearing as his master in this young man. Seras did a bit of a curtsey- awkard, but polite.
"So, your'e the two my cousin's been raving about. Good to meet you!" He extended his hand to the creature, but he did not take it. Instead, he bowed a bit lower.
"May I touch him, Sir Integra," he asked in a hushed tone.
"Yes, you may." The vampire exchanged the gesture, and Andrew's grin broadened. His gaze fell on Seras and she shyly smiled.
"And a pleasure meeting you,too, miss." He took her hand and pressed it gently to his lips - a genuine show of respect.
"I look foreward to helping you train, Sir." She replied. The young man laughed and motioned to his family.
"Let us get to know the rest of the family as well. The lady here, is my mum, Integra's Aunt Emma, and this chap with the long face is my brother, Edward. " Aunt
Emma was delighted as she was introduced to the two creatures. Edward blushed a bit. His older brother patted his arm lovingly .
"He's a bit shy, but once you get him talking, there's no stopping him. Well then, I'm starved-shall we?" The guests sat down, each taking his or her place in the reserved areas. Integra was at the head of the table, personally seated by her servant, who stayed at her right. Seras perched next to her master, and the rest of the Hellsing family was across the lavishly arranged table, so that conversation could be face-to-face. Walter began to fill each goblet with wine. However, one seat lay vacant.
"Are we missing someone, dear?", Emma asked.
"Yes, Captain Bernadette, one of our –", Integra's comment was cut short by a commotion from the extending hall, the sounds of a door slamming and rushed footsteps. The young captain unceremoniously entered, his suit pressed, but long hair askew. He took a moment to smooth a piece out of his good eye before doing a little bow before the family.
"Good evening Miss Integra," he stated. "Sorry to be late, but this afternoon's actions took longer than anticipated."
"Heads of command on the battle field." Integra continued without missing a beat. "Come now Captain, take a seat or your soup will get cold." The young man jounted over to the table to sit next to Seras, who was glad of his arrival. However, "Papa" gave him a warning look.
"Perhaps, Captain, you should sit on the other side, so that you may get to know the man your are going to train with better. . . " the vampire purred.
"And so you can't attempt to feel up my servant during diner." He hissed mentally at the captain. Pip cocked an eyebrow at his protectiveness.
"Come on , old man, do you think I'd really do that here-now? " the young man countered.
"In a heartbeat. Don't push your luck, mon ami, I'm hungry tonight"
In spite of his desire to sit near his intended date, the thought of being bitten to death in front of the Boss' family resigned him to the other side. Wine was poured, bread was broken and a savory soup was dished out. Conversation flowed gently at first, with Andrew being the most vocal. He explained his position in the branch of the armed forces, his love of India, and his recent marriage to the semi-famous concert pianist, Meena Purahvi.
"She's a love, a darling!,"Andrew exclaimed,"She would have very much liked to have come, but is finishing up a tour."
"Hence why we came from Burma.," said Aunt Emma."Meanwhile, Edddie here has been completing an internship in America at the Guggenhiem Muesum." The boy figeted and smiled.
"Um, it's really no big deal,"he stated. He looked up and saw his cousin smiling and warm intrest from the young girl.
"Are you an artist, Mr. Edward?", Seras asked.
"I paint, a lot. Mainly abstract stuff, kind of like Rothko-I –like ideas that you can't define too easily. . ." his voice trailed off. "Umm, I like to use a lot of deep, rich colours. " Seras had no clue which artist he was talking about, but she liked the idea of using all those bright colours together. The main course was brought out- jugged hare. It was a rich, hearty dish, filled with carrots and onions. However, the two vampires only had the broth poured into their bowls. Walter leaned into the ear of his old friend.
"I saved the liver and kidneys for you back in the kitchen", he whispered to Alucard. He then turned to Seras."You get the heart, this time, Miss ." Seras grinned wide. Her master shot her a warning look while draining his cup.
"Now, now, don't get too excited-your fangs are showing. Don't want to frighten the guests. They'll know who we are soon enough."
"Sorry, but you always get the heart! I finally get a turn-yeah!"
"That's because , Draculina, Walter's sweet on you."
The girl blushed and hid her smile in her napkin. She was so adorable at times, and had no clue how it afflicted Pip. The poor Frenchman's face was as long as Sunday; he hated that fact that the object of his affection was so damn cute-and just out of reach across the table.
Sir Hellsing sensed her vampires' mental conversation.
"Behave you two.", she stated, but a good humour played on her features. It was refreshing to hear chatter, laughter- a lightness that the household had been missing for so long. It was a blessing to have family again, even if a few of them were related by bonded blood, rather than by blood bonds. She raised a glass and proposed a modest toast.
"To family ties, both old and new."
Elsewhere. . . .
Annya Jarovia sat in her drawing room, drapes pulled up tight as a tomb, candles illuminating the place with harsh angles. Dark shapes played across the walls making eveything seem just a little eerie. Something rustled in the darkness and scurried past her feet. The woman smiled and raised a glass filled with thick, red liquid.
"Here's to finding you again, my love." She spoke out to the void.
Mark Rothko- 1950's abstract/color field painter who did large, only color-based paintings.
Jugged Hare is a traditional English dish of hare (or rabbit) pickled in its own blood, hence why Seras and Alucard only get the "broth" at the supper table-the gorier "treats" are for later! However, most of Europe also will also dine on hearts, livers, brains, and other organs wer'e not as fond of in the states.
A NOTE ON VAMPIRES AND FOOD- While blood-human, animal, or in some cases supernatural (demons, rival vampires,etc.) is the main stay of the vampires in this story, they can and will eat food and consume alcohol from time to time. Because Seras is still very human, she has a fondness for eating many of the foods she favoured when she was still living. However, unless there is some form of blood served with the meal, she will get ill-she's simply not strong enough yet to eat human substance on an empty stomach. Being by far older and more powerful, Alucard can dine on pretty much whatever he wants, but has a penchant for sweets and red wine. (He'll also steal a bit of his master's food, but that's more to taunt her... )