Integra in Training

Prologue: Dissatisfaction

"But why not?" Integra asked, perplexed.

"Ma'am, the best protection you can have is a firearm. You have many responsibilities, but if you are going to train yourself in self-defense, it should be at the firing range."

That did sound reasonable, she had to admit. But it still did not sit well with her.

"If I'm going to command these troops, I have to be able to go with them. And if I'm going to do that, I need to receive the same training they do," she insisted.

The commander just shook his head. "I have to advise against that, ma'am. To be brutally honest, you don't want to be getting into a situation where you need to know hand to hand combat. The best way to survive a knife fight is to avoid it. A gun, on the other hand – that's a trusty weapon. You can wield it from some distance. It's much safer."

"This conversation is not over," she warned him, then turned and stalked away. The nerve! Who was signing his paycheck? Who was giving the orders around here? But if there was one thing sixteen-year-old Integra knew, it was that respect and obedience had to be earned. It just seemed unfair that all her battles had to be uphill, and with her own allies!

She went into the library and curled up in the window seat to think. She found men so infuriating, but she could never get them to admit that they treated her the way they did because she was a young girl. There was always some excuse. "I know how to shoot a gun already," she growled. "I need to learn how to fight."

Maybe Walter would teach her. He was retired, so he did not go into the field on missions any more. But the stories her father used to tell about him suggested that he was quite the force to be reckoned with, in his prime. But for some reason she hesitated. Walter always indulged her whims. This was something she wanted to do on her own…but something she wanted some acknowledgement or recognition for. She wanted her men to look at her as someone who could do the very thing she was ordering them to do. But that was just it – they were men, and they would only see that in a man.

She hopped down from the window seat, and went to find her butler. She still left most of the paperwork to him, so she knew he'd be busy in the study. "Walter, how can I get people to see me as a man?" she asked abruptly. He turned to face her slowly, his work set aside, and eyed the teenage girl appraisingly.

"Why on earth would you want that, Miss Hellsing?"

"Because men don't respect girls! At first I thought it was because I was young, but now I think I'll never outgrow it."

"You are still young, Miss Hellsing."

"That may be, Walter, but I am the rightful heir of the Hellsing family, and if people don't start respecting my position, I'm going to have to start lopping heads off."

He raised an eyebrow at that. This was not the type of tantrum he had expected her to threaten.

"Men respect several things. One is confidence. Another is skill. You must first convince yourself that you are the worthy heir of the Hellsing family, and then all the others will fall in place."

She looked at him skeptically.

"But I might also add, Miss Hellsing, that if you want to address men on their terms, you will have to become accustomed to their world. The less you act out of place, the less they will see you as the odd person out in the room."

"I'll still be a woman."

"So is the queen, and yet you do not see anyone disrespecting her."

She smiled at him. "Thank you, Walter, that does help."

He saw the resolute look on her face, and worried about what she was up to this time.

Author's Note: This is the same story it was before. I'm just breaking it up into chapters now, since it had natural breaks in it anyway.