The chapter you won't see coming
Jeff stands with his hands resting on his camp shirt at his waist. He stares intently toward the forest as a few splotches of a new rain drop onto him. He and a cameraman are on the beach next to six folding chairs. They are set in a straight line, side by side, with the seats of each alternating the direction in which they are facing. Kind of like with Musical Chairs. Interesting…
Six vampires and two humans are making their way through the jungle toward him. No one would recognize them as the same group that arrived on Vampire Island only five days ago. They're not only unbathed and dirty, but the vampires – the Cullens at least – are growing deep, purple circles under their eyes. Even the Hellsing vampires have something more…more ravenous in their appearance. Somehow their gums seem to be receding, their teeth growing longer. And the humans are even less recognizable. Walter's thick face is now covered with a thick growth of salt and pepper stubble that is close to bursting into a full-fledged beard. It gives him a rugged, brawny appearance. Integra is noticeably thinner. Her clavicle bones jut out in the wide V of her open blouse, and her pasty white legs are sticks beneath her trousers, which have been ripped into Bermuda-length shorts.
The sky has been grey all day, and the contestants hear moisture begin to slap at the leaves above them. The canopy works like a giant umbrella. But Alice and Seras have not lost their playful spirits. They're flitting off from the straight path to the main beach in order to catch nearby woodland creatures and bring them back to show each other. They're having a contest to see who can find the cutest animal.
Little Alice leaps onto the path in front of the group with a hundred pound pile of shaggy brown fur spilling over her toothpick arms. The pile of fur is squealing and wriggling in fear, but Alice's iron arms have it clamped securely in place. "I'm not gonna hurt you little fella," she says soothingly to the thing that's only a few ounces shy of her own weight.
"Oh God, Alice, I thought the objective was to be cute?" Rosalie gripes.
"He is cute," Alice says, turning to put the animal's stunted, leathery snout toward Rosalie so the bombshell can see how cute he is. Rosalie jerks her head back just as the thing starts squeaking out a moist-sounding whistle.
"Aww," Alice coos.
"What the hell is it?" Jasper asks. "Some kind of forest pig?"
"Capybara," Edward answers. "It's actually a member of the rodent family."
Jasper chuckles, "Now that's what I call an R.O.U.S."
Alice and Rosalie laugh. Edward rolls his eyes.
"A what?" Integra asks.
"R.O.U.S. – Rodent of Unusual Size," Edward explains, eager to show off to the Hellsing knight his knowledge of…everything. He doesn't need to tell her that he only seconds ago gleaned this information from Jasper's mind. "Haven't you ever seen the Princess Bride?" he chides.
"Sorry, I've been a little too tied up running an entire organization and ridding the world of undead filth to watch fairy tales," Integra responds. She'd tried to play it off as light banter, but she can't keep the tiny touch of bitterness out of her tone, and Edward immediately feels guilty…and a bit inadequate.
Alice nuzzles the rotund creature's fur, inciting a new round of squeaking, and says happily, "I'm gonna call you Rousy."
Just then Seras jumps back into the line to show her latest capture, which she holds clutched to her breast. It's a small cat, an ocelot, with spotted fur and big, round eyes. The kitty gives a fierce little mew, and no one can resist moving closer to fawn over it. (1)
"Sorry Allie," Jasper says, grabbing a webbed foot of the forest pig, "I think Rousy just got PWND."
Just as Seras stands a little taller with pride, Alucard decides to enter the conversation. "Police girl," he drawls. "I made you a Nosferatu so you'd have unimaginable powers, not so you could woo small forest animals into playing with you." (2)
The fledgling's shoulders slump, just a little, and she says, "Right then, guess I'll return this to where I found him."
"I'll come with you," Alice offers. "Rose? Wanna give Rousy a kiss goodbye?"
"Keep walking, sister," Rosalie instructs, and Alice and Seras disappear back into the forest.
The girls walk a good distance from the path and set their furry bundles down and watch them take off into their natural habitat. Alice sighs regretfully, because as cute as she thought Rousy was, that hefty pig-rodent was loaded with warm, flowing corpuscles that would've felt like heaven flowing down her throat. As they make their way back to the others, Seras says glumly, "Well, I guess this is it for the friendship, huh?"
"What do you mean?" Alice asks.
"Well, after this challenge we'll go back to camp and everyone will start scheming for the vote, and we're on opposite sides, so…"
Alice gets that disturbed crinkle between her eyebrows. "But you never know what can happen. We've got lots of votes before it'll come down to one of us."
"Alice," Seras says very seriously, stopping to look at her. "I won't write your name down. I don't think I could."
Alice smiles. "Seras – I won't write your name down either. No matter what."
Seras's face lights up. "Seriously?"
"Promise," Alice says and sticks her hand out. "Shake on it."
Seras grasps Alice's stone hand in a vice grip and they vigorously shake on it. Then an unusual stench catches Alice's attention. "Do you smell that?"
Seras sniffs the air, "Ew, yeah. Smells like…ghoul."
They sniff the air like forensic scientists and arrive at a nearby pile of brush. Underneath a few dried leaves, they see a grayish mass. Seras reaches down and pulls up a hunk of decaying flesh on bone. It's a leg. A leg of something fairly large, bigger than Rousy. A jaguar perhaps? Or a small burro? The decay is so advanced, that it's difficult to tell what it's from. Alice covers her mouth as the foul smell wafts toward her, but Seras seems undaunted. "This looks like the leg of a ghoul…and ghouls are created by the bite of a Nosferatu. It's what happens to our victim if we don't either absorb all of its blood, taking its soul into us as a familiar, or devour the entire body." Seras is growing in agitation as she reports all this to Alice, and she is now shaking the leg in Alice's face.
"Okay, okay," Alice says, putting a hand in front of her face to avoid being smacked by the slimy, grey meat. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that my master has been breaking the rules! He's been eating these darling island creatures behind our backs!" Happy-go-lucky Seras is officially pissed off. "For once…for ONCE he's been asked to behave like a CIVILIZED creature, and he can't do it. But I know he CAN do it! Of course he can do it – he can do anything! But he won't do it. He won't…give me the satisfaction." Seras stands with her arms crossed, the putrid limb sticking out from behind one, and is tapping her foot, lost in her angry thoughts.
"You think he's been feeding on the indigenous animals?" Alice asks, her eyes sweeping back and forth for the cameraman, hoping he's not catching the vampire's infraction on tape. They don't need to be bombarded by overzealous animal rights activists upon hitting the mainland. But the cameraman is nowhere to be seen. Now that Alice thinks about it, the cameraman hasn't been anywhere to be seen for a while.
"I KNOW he has," Seras spits and takes off through the forest, heading toward the others. When she gets back to the path, she is angrily waving the smelly, icky mass back and forth. A flap of skin rips further from the bone, hanging in a long, ragged strip. She steps straight up to Alucard, shoves the limb in his face, and demands. "What is this?"
Alucard flicks his red eyes at it and declares, "It's a disgusting bit of one of your beloved pets."
"Look closer," Seras hisses with her eyes narrowed.
Seras doesn't get irate and domineering like this very often, but Alucard rather wishes she would. Her face and bosom flush the most appetizing shade of pink and her small mouth is pulled up into the most delicious looking pout. She ordered, he figures, I shall obey, and he looks closer.
"Not there," she seethes through clenched teeth. "HERE!" she screeches and throws the leg barely an inch in front of his lecherous face.
He examines it and says matter-of-factly, "Looks like the fallen appendage of a ghoul. Why are you getting your panties in a twist over it?"
Seras is taken back by his nonchalance and begins to doubt herself. "Well, w-w-well, what was it doing out there? Only you and I can create such a thing, and it bloody well wasn't me, so…so…"
"So…it's a remnant of the feast we had at the merge. I'm a messy eater and one of the monkeys must have carried this off into the forest," Alucard explains.
"Alucard," Intgra says, stepping into the squabble with concern. "You have to be more careful. You know that there are consequences to everything you do."
Alucard scoffs. "What? Are you afraid of this?" he asks, pulling the leg out of Seras' grasp and taunting his boss with it. "Even if it mobilizes, what's it going to do? Stomp you to death? I'm fairly certain you can outrun it, master," he says with an ironic twist to his lips. (3)
"That's enough, Alucard," Integra scolds. "The point is, we cannot afford any sloppiness anywhere. This is not to happen again. Is that understood?" she asks.
"Yes, master," he answers and flings the corpse segment back into the forest with a malevolent look toward Seras.
* * *
The group sets foot on the beach just as the skies open.
"Come on in guys," Jeff says in greeting "Ready for today's challenge?" Other than raising his voice to be heard over the din of the sudden downpour, nothing about the weather appears to affect the tenacious host. Various nods and 'yep's go around, and Jeff continues. "No more freebies for Hellsing. You're all competing for individual immunity today. And we're playing a little something called Musical Chairs." He surveys the surprised and confused faces and says, "That's right – straight Musical Chairs."
"I haven't played this for almost a hundred years!" Alice chirps excitedly.
"If you don't remember the rules, it goes something like this," Jeff explains. "You walk around this row of chairs while music plays. When the music stops, you sit down in a chair, but there aren't enough chairs for everyone, so if you don't get your seat in a seat, you're out of the game. Easy enough?"
"Music?" Edward questions. The only music he's heard since arriving at the island has been the garbage that's mentally played in the others' heads.
"I thought you might be wondering about that. Gentlemen," Jeff says with a nod towards a set of trees from where four native Brazilians step out. Two of them hold wooden pan flutes, another carries a barrel shaped drum and the fourth holds an enormous umbrella over them. "These are your musicians. So come on over, Survivors, and form a line in front of the chairs. You'll notice that we have eight contestants, but only six chairs. Two of you will be out this first round. Survivors ready?" Jeff asks, and with no response in the negative, he gives a nod to the musicians, who start playing.
A cascade of gentle, high-pitched twitters over a low, guttural melody wafts out over the beach amidst the pounding rain, and it's as if all the natural noises of the surrounding rain forest have been set to music. The relaxing timbre of the instruments is an almost comical in contrast to the rigid tension of the eight Survivors as they cautiously circle the chairs and eye each other with great trepidation.
The chairs alternate the way in which they face, so each contestant drags their feet as they cross in front of an open seat and then speed up to pass the back of the next chair. They have no idea when the music will stop and need to be in the best position to grab a seat. Rosalie holds her arms out wide and flexed, blatantly ready to shove off anyone who gets in her way. Integra walks in something of a crouch, with her fists folded in tight toward her body, in position to throw a solid shoulder into anyone trying to stop her from gaining a chair. Even Alucard - Mr. I can take all you punks at once with my eyes closed, hands tied behind my back, and my dick in your mother's mouth – flicks edgy, red eyes back and forth between his opponents. All eight warriors are determined to be the grand winner of this children's party game.
The soothing music abruptly stops, and everyone leaps for a seat. Rosalie's ready arms don't raise in time to block an unexpected high clip from the red-cloaked arm of the seven foot Nosferatu Alucard. His forearm crashes into the side of her throat, and although the blow doesn't do any damage to her marble-like body, the force of it tosses her sideways, sending her voluptuous legs into the air. The entire island shutters when Rosalie crashes down and carves a deep crater into the wet sand.
In the meantime, Alice, Jasper, Edward and Seras have secured their seats. Just as Alucard sighs in satisfaction and begins to lower himself into the fifth chair, he witnesses the slower-paced humans duking it out for the sixth. Integra moves in to nudge Walter with her shoulder, but the butler throws a shockingly brutal elbow to her chin. His bony joint smashes into her lower skull, which snaps up with a loud crack as her teeth crash together. The strike sends her stumbling backwards. She fights valiantly to keep her footing, but loses the battle and lands flat on her British bum.
"Master!" Alucard shouts, stopping an inch short of gaining his chair and rising up to step to her aid. "Are you alright?"
Walter loses no time sitting down, and Rosalie takes the opportunity of the distraction to claw her way onto Alucard's vacated seat.
Integra is dumbfounded as she sits on the soggy beach and rubs her smarting chin. "Yes, I'm fine," she answers crisply as Alucard bends to one knee next to her. She is glowering at Walter. She understands that this is a competition, but for the love of England! The old man has serviced her every need since she was a young girl, and now he's ambushing her in a game of Musical Chairs? And why? They are playing for the same side, aren't they? Aren't they?
"I must've lost my head, Sir Integra. I do apologize. Please, take this seat," Walter offers politely while keeping his bony butt firmly in place. The rain rolls through his hair and molds the strands of his ponytail together so that it more closely resembles the long, skinny tail of a rat.
"Stay. You earned it," his boss answers and turns to Alucard, who is now standing and offering his hand. She presses her hand into his white glove and scolds him as she pulls herself up. "Now you've given up your seat, too, servant."
Out of the corner of his eye, Alucard can see Rosalie sticking a triumphant tongue out at him, but he can only be so irritated as a still somewhat unstable Integra keeps her hand in his and doesn't complain when he slips his other arm around her waist to steady her. They walk together to the loser section of the beach from where they can observe the next round.
Jeff removes two chairs and asks, "Survivors, ready?"
The music starts up again, a tad more lively this time. With twenty-five percent of their members gone, the odds just got a little steeper, but somehow getting that first round out of the way has served to relax the competitors. With her ability to see the future rendered useless by the last second nature of this challenge, Alice decides to make the best of it and starts skipping to the peppier beat. Seras giggles and joins in. They are like two kids whose mommies have let them play out in the rain storm. Rosalie and the boys relax their stance, too, but still watch everyone closely. A definite devil has crept into Walter's electric blue eyes, which appear almost to be plugged in when set against the muted backdrop of the gloomy day.
The music halts, and Edward and Rosalie swiftly take possession of seats, sliding a bit on the slippery surface of the wet vinyl. Meanwhile, Jasper slams inexplicably backwards into the sand. He lost his balance when his ankles locked together, almost as if they'd been bound.
"Hey!" Jasper shouts as he shoots up to sitting and watches Walter innocently jump into the seat that had been directly in front of him before he fell.
One seat is open, and Seras and Alice are standing in front of it, looking distressed. It's as if the two friends had planned to go to a one-night-only Jonas Brothers concert together, but there was only one ticket left.
"You take it," Alice says.
"No, I couldn't," Seras answers. "It's yours."
"But there's already two Cullens sitting and only one Hellsing. It's only fair to keep things even," Alice persuades.
"Sit, Police Girl!" Integra barks, and Seras's eyes shoot an apology to Alice as her curvaceous backside lowers obediently to the chair.
"It's okay," Alice assures her with a wink. "Jazz is out anyhow, so now I can kanoodle with him." (4)
Alice skips over to Jasper, who slowly rises from the sand and points an accusing finger through the lines of rain toward Walter. "You. You did something. I don't know what it was, but you did…something."
"C'mon, sweetie," Alice chides, patting the back of his waterlogged shirt and starting to lead him over to Alucard and Integra. "Nobody likes a sore loser."
"I'm telling you, hun," Japser continues. He twists his head and pushes his dripping, blond waves out of his eyes so he can eye Walter suspiciously as he walks away. "He's got some kind of power. I don't care what he said on his application; he is not human."
"Down to four," Jeff announces as he takes away two more chairs. "Walter, Seras, Rosalie and Edward are all that is left. Gentlemen," he says with a nod toward the musicians, and they start up again.
Any lightheartedness from the last round is completely erased. Half of the remaining players will be eliminated within seconds of the music stopping again. There is no allowance for even the slightest misstep. The last minute nature of the game limits the effectiveness of Edward's ability, too. No one can plan ahead of time exactly where they'll be when the music stops, so looking into their minds is no use.
The music stops. What happens next is much too fast for human eyes to see, but don't worry – I have been given the powers of the narrator, and I will break it down in slo-mo for you: Rosalie and Edward move toward the same chair. Seras was in a good position to take the other chair, but she winces and steps back when she feels a slash at her forearm. Walter uses her pause to take the seat.
Just as Rosalie's spectacular rear is mere centimeters away from touching down, a miracle occurs. Edward could swear that he sees fine, barely visible thread-like wires shoot through the sheets of wetness to wrap around Rosalie's narrow waist, yanking her from the chair. He's not sure what he's just witnessed, but he thrusts himself into the chair first, and then observes his sister's fate. She is now planted firmly on Walter's lap in the other chair. Edward squints his eyes and sees the fine lines wrapped around his sister's stone flesh as she's pulled fast to the smiling butler.
Edward blinks water out of his eyes, and when he looks again, he doesn't see any sign of the wires.
Rosalie pushes off of Walter's chest and stands, spitting, "You miserable, old letch! What did you do?"
"I assure you, Madame, I don't know what you are talking about. Sometimes when two souls are inextricably linked, there is nothing anyone can do to keep them apart," the butler responds suavely.
Across the sand, Integra makes a disgusted face and looks sideways at Alucard, asking, "Have you been giving him pointers?"
Alucard shrugs and smiles approvingly at the butler's cheekiness. He's still angry about what he did to his master, but the old man is gaining points for infuriating the bimbo.
Walter smiles slyly as Rosalie huffs away. He never actually thought he had a chance with her, wasn't even convinced that he actually wanted one. He'd merely become temporarily smitten with her – it happened to him from time to time – and he simply wanted to know, if only for a brief moment, what it would feel like to have a girl like that perched on his lap, and to have her delectable intensity aimed solely at him. It was everything he'd imagined. And her being dripping wet had made it even better. But now that he's gotten his jollies, he's done with her. As far as he's concerned, she'll be the next to go.
"Seras and Rosalie join the others to watch the final round," Jeff announces. He pulls away a chair and says, "And then there were two."
Walter and Edward nod respectfully to each other. It would appear that their little alliance has scored a victory, but neither man entirely trusts the other, and so, the only way they can be certain of their safety in the game is to win this thing.
The music starts up again, and they move gracefully, if a bit jerkily, around the single chair. Each man lingers while at the open face of the chair and then quickens his pace behind it. Edward senses the smugness in Walter's thoughts, although he can't tell the specifics. But he's seen the thin wires, whatever they are, and is betting it has something to do with that. He wonders if Walter is perhaps some type of spider-man, and then chuckles to himself when he remembers back to before Bella had known he was a vampire. At one point she had hazarded a guess that radioactive spiders were behind Edward's special talents. But there's no time to reminisce, because the music is once again silenced.
In a brief flash, Walter's thoughts are crystal clear to Edward, and the Unstet jumps up a millisecond before the wires breeze through the segment of space where Edward's ankles had just been. While in the air, Edward grabs the back of the Hellsing servant's head and thrusts him away from the chair and face first onto the beach. The stunned butler lands with his mouth gaping open and eats a truckload of wet sand. Edward lands gracefully in front of the chair and flashes his brilliant smile before lowering himself to sit back in self-satisfaction with his hands folded behind his head and his feet kicked out into the sand, crossed at the ankles that Walter had intended to bind.
"Edward wins immunity!" Jeff announces, throwing his hands in the air. Watching the excited flash race through Probst's eyes every single time he makes that announcement just never gets old.
Walter pushes himself up and gags as he spits sand out of his mouth. Edward tosses off his cocky pose and goes over to pat him on the back. "Good game. Sorry it got rough there at the end."
Walter tries to say something, but all that comes is a sputtering cough. Alice and Jasper rush over to congratulate Edward, but the others stay put. They are all trying to determine their next move. The rain has slowed to a drizzle, but the thick, grey clouds above stay as murky and mottled as everyone's thoughts.
Integra is deeply troubled by Walter's betrayal during the challenge.
Edward has been seriously considering Walter's proposal for a two-man alliance, but now he isn't so sure.
Walter is furious with himself for revealing his sneaky nature without even gaining an immunity idol to show for it.
Rosalie doesn't like the growing closeness of Seras and Alice. Would it be better to break those two up now instead of proceeding with the all-girls alliance?
Alucard sees Rosalie's manipulative wheels constantly turning and knows that she is dangerous to keep around.
Seras frets about what she'll do if Sir Integra orders her to vote out Alice.
As Alice hands the idol to Edward, who she trusts implicitly as an ally, she nevertheless feels the loss of security that comes with the possession of the frightening figure.
With the growing camaraderie between his wife and the pretty, young European vamp, Jasper thinks it might be fun to have a night alone on the island with just the three of them.
Jeff interrupts their various thoughts with, "Before you head back to camp, we've got something special planned for you." He gestures toward the edge of the beach by the trees and they all turn to see a giant TV screen perched high up in the trees, facing the beach. No one can remember having seen the screen earlier; it appears to have come out of nowhere.
All four Hellsing's jump at the sudden appearance of the TV. Three Cullens are also startled, but Edward gazes sentimentally towards it with what would surely be misty eyes if his rigamortized body was capable of manufacturing tears.
"Edward, what's up?" Alice asks.
"This must be the 'letters from loved ones' episode," he explains. "Instead of getting letters, we're going to get to see snippets of videos sent from home. But since I won, I'm going to get to watch the whole thing."
"Oh, Edward!" Alice squeals, clapping her hands together. "We're going to get to see Renesmee!"
Edward nods silently and stares at the screen, not daring to so much as blink, because he doesn't want to miss a millisecond of his daughter. Even Rosalie's stone cold face softens and warms at the thought of seeing her precious niece.
The TV screen blinks on, and there are indeed images of loved ones on the screen. But it's not Renesmee. It's Esme and Bella and Carlisle and Emmett. And they are upside down.
And they are suspended from a ceiling.
And they are bound by what appear to be titanium cables.
And their eyes are wide and frightened.
And their mouths are gagged with their Survivor buffs.
And…uh…yeah, it appears Emmett's gag is the very same buff that had previously been around his…uh…you know, which is now flying free, and he doesn't appear to be all that, er, excited about his current situation. (5)
"Bella!" Edward shouts, dashing across the sand and scrambling up a tree to get to the television.
"Edward, halt!" Jasper commands in the overpowering voice he must have used with the troops under his rule in his former occupation. "It's just a transmission – you wreck the device, you lose the transmission. Now, get down from there."
Edward sucks in a calming breath and blows it out slowly. He looks directly into the screen in front of him and says softly, his velvet voice cracking ever so slightly, "Bella, love, my unbeating heart beats only for you. (6) When I find the person responsible for this, I promise you, I will force feed him his own intestines."
There's no reaction from the captives. They can't hear him. They simply hang and squirm, trying to find a weak spot in their apparently impenetrable bonds.
Edward reluctantly drops from the tree and walks back to the others. Alice wraps her delicate arms around him, as much to comfort herself as him, and Jasper claps a soothing, and perhaps controlling, hand on his shoulder. All three of them stare at the screen with a steely look of determination. With Edward calmed, the Cullens notice that Rosalie stands perfectly still, her fists are clenched into tight balls, and her eyes are fixed intently on Emmett.
You'd think that Alucard would be yucking it up at the Cullens' misfortunes, but he isn't. He's standing straight and alert, pulled up to his full seven feet. The light rain sends sporadic drips rolling off the edges of his red hat and onto his cloak. From behind his round glasses, his eyes seem to take in everything – the television screen, the Cullens, his Hellsing crew and Jeff. His pale, features form a sharp, serious mask, and his lips press tightly together; one corner of his mouth twitches. The silly game of Survivor was beginning to wear thin with him, and he looks forward to the next adventure.
Walter rolls his tongue around his mouth, trying to push the last grains of sand out. He's not going to get his boxers bunched up over what he sees on the television; he figures it's probably just some kind of stunt for ratings. Integra doesn't put it past the producers of the show to pull something like that, either, but her training has taught her to always prepare for the worst, so she's taking this at face value. So is Seras. She stands with her elbows back and her fingers subconsciously clenching open and shut; she wishes she were holding her long, turbo-charged weapons – then she'd feel better about facing whatever it is they're going to face.
As the intial shock passes, all eight contestants turn to the one person who can tell them exactly what it is they're facing. Probst. Their heads slowly turn, and eight sets of fierce, defiant eyes burn on their trusty host, who has remained standing behind them.
He holds up both his hands like stop signs and takes an involuntary step backwards. "All they told me was to turn the TV on. I swear to you: I had no idea."
Jeff has been on television for many years - as the Survivor host for a decade and Rock 'n Roll Jeopardy before that. He has a face for TV and the personality, too, but the man cannot act. His words sound completely rehearsed. No one is buying what he's selling, and they advance a threatening step closer.
"Guys, seriously," he says, struggling not to let his typically smooth voice rise to a high-pitched whimper. "It's me, the Jeffster…" He takes small steps backwards as he speaks. His body suddenly lurches to the left as he stumbles, his ankle appearing to give way. He tries to lift his leg to complete his step, but it is held fast to the sand. "Huh?" he grunts as his other foot begins to sink in the sand as well. He begins to thrash as he tries to set his legs free.
The eight contestants step up closer and form a circle around him. They fold their arms and watch him with dubious expressions. He's either messing with them or is truly stuck in the sand – either way, they've got him where they want him.
Probst stops his useless struggle and notices them all standing close. The rain has picked up again and is now coming down in pebble-sized drops. Without bothering to wipe away the water that is streaking down his face, he holds his arms out to Edward, who is directly in front of him. "For God's sake, help me!" he pleads.
Edward keeps his arms resolutely folded, and says, "Not until you tell me what's going on with my wife. Is this a joke? Because it's not funny."
"I swear to God, I don't know!" Jeff shouts, panic clearly taking over, as his body is jerked further into the sand to past his knees. His voice is a screech when he begs, "Just get me out of here before it's too la--"
Alice and Seras shriek.
Integra inhales so quickly, her throat makes a croaking noise.
"Holy shit!" Jasper gasps.
"Our God in heaven," Walter murmurs.
It's already too la--. Jeff is gone. The sand has sucked him completely away and the Cullens and Hellsings stand dumbstruck, gaping at the spot where Jeff had just stood, staring at nothing but a modestly disturbed stretch of wet sand. This is very clearly no joke.
After a few moments of stunned silence, Rosalie rushes to the spot where Jeff had stood and starts kicking at the sand. "No! No! We need him!" The only thing she reveals as clumps of sand fly around her is more sand.
"Rosalie, stop," Jasper directs. "It's no use, he's gone."
"He's right, sweetie," Alice coaxes. "The best you can do for Emmett is calm down so we can work together to figure something out."
As they all glance nervously back and forth at each other, mystified as to how to proceed, the television crackles, and a fleshy, duck-like voice speaks.
"Guten tag," it quacks.
All eight heads whip toward the huge screen. All they see are the four inverted Cullens. Every one of them remains stone silent, tremulously waiting for the next shoe to drop.
The speaker remains out of camera shot as it says, "Vell, vell, vell, is this anyway to greet a guest, Fräulein Hellsing?"
Integra stiffens, and Walter touches a protective hand on her arm.
"Oh, und Alucard," the voice continues, "you are looking, rather…eh, vet."
It suddenly clicks that the voice can see them. In three soggy steps Alucard crosses to the lone cameraman, who has been diligently taping everything, and rips the camera from his hands. He bares his knife-like teeth and plunges them into the camera. With a twist of the vampire's head, the protruding lens is ripped free and hangs in a jagged chunk from his mouth. Alucard then turns to the ocean and with a great heave tosses the bulky body of the camera out to the ocean. It sails away and disappears into the line of the horizon before making so much as a plunk into the water. Alucard then spits the broken lenspiece into his hand and holds a sharp, broken tip out toward the cameraman.
"You're next," he growls. The terrified cameraman tears into the forest faster than anyone imagined the chubby man could run.
The voice on the television chuckles with delight throughout the entire episode.
"You know this person?" Edward asks Integra accusingly.
The voice from the television answers for her, "The fräulein and I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting face to face, but I daresay you know something uff me from your vampire?" As he speaks, he steps directly in front of the camera, and the entire width of the screen is consumed by the wide mouth and chin of a portly gentleman over a white shirt and suit jacket and a narrow, black tie. The camera pans up to reveal a portly head wearing a pair of round eyeglasses. A shock of cropped, yellow bangs hang over half his forehead while the other side of his hair is slicked neatly away from his face.
Integra looks questioningly back at Alcuard, who is staring at the screen with recognition.
"It's him, sir," Walter murmurs.
Damnit! Integra curses to herself. Why did I leave my cigars back at camp?
"Who's 'him'?" Jasper asks.
"The Major," Alucard answers stonily. "He's a madman that Walter and I dealt with back in World War II. Apparently he had so much fun with us back then that he's decided to come back for more. I'm glad you did, Major. I can't wait to destroy you again."
"Yes, vell, nice to see you again, too, Alucard. Now, I'm certain ve vould all like to get to the point of my little visit, no?
"Yes, do tell us your purpose," Integra demands.
"Purpose?" the Major asks in an amused tone. "To put it in the simplest possible terms, fräulein, my purpose is a total absence of purpose."
"Stop talking in riddles, Stay Puft Marshmallow man, and get to the point," Edward seethes through gritted teeth. "What are you doing with my wife and family?"
The Major gives Edward's remarks no attention, and calmly states, "I haff taken over this game. Und I haff changed the rules. You are no longer playing for one million dollars. Those funds shall be used to further my research. No, you shall be playing for much higher stakes – the freedom uff these captives. You play the game, und they are freed at the end. You refuse to play the game, they are…extinguished."
"What do I care about their freedom?" Alucard snidely asks. "Our organization exists to rid the world of undead vermin like them. Get rid of them, and you'll be doing us a favor."
That's not exactly something the Cullens want to hear, but they realize that Alucard has shot a hole in the evil speaker's plans, so they stand by quietly, hoping to watch it all unravel.
"Dah, that is true," the voice says. "Und I suppose if you are no longer going to play the game, there vill be no reason for me to keep any of my boats or helicopters or anything that could take you avay und back to your homes around here. I suppose you have become very comfortable here, no? Und you vill enjoy an eternity on this island from which there is no escape for you, Nosferatu, who cannot cross the water. You shall stay here stranded…forever. Besides, Alucard, you know you enjoy the fight as much as I."
"We can swim," Alice pipes up petulantly. "Unstet can swim, and we'll send help. We have lots of friends, you know."
"Oh yes – your friends. I vas hoping someone vould bring up your friends. You do not think you vere the only ones seeking your fifteen minutes uff fame, do you? It's amazing what dangling un application und the chance uff making a complete fool uff yourself on television can do. Yes, it vas nearly as enjoyable as taking candy from a bébé." The voice takes on a gruffer tone as it loses patience. "Your friends haff been taken care uff. Everything has been taken care uff!
"But…why…why do you want us to play? What do you hope to gain? You already have the money," Rosalie finally speaks up, now looking more confused than angry.
"There are those of us, leipchen, for whom the means does not require an ends. It is merely the pleasure of war that drives us on."
"War?" Rosalie responds. "But this is just a reality show, not-"
She gets cut off when the intruder decides that question and answer time is over. "You vill play the game und that is it! Now, I suggest you confer und decide who vill be voted out next! Or else you can enjoy watching these four being dismembered und burned right before your eyes. The decision is yours."
Several glances are exchanged across the group, and Jasper is the first to speak. He motions for everyone to take several steps away from the television and speaks low, hoping to avoid being picked up by any microphones.
"Look, we've clearly got to cooperate through this next vote. That will buy us time to figure out what this psycho is up to and decide how to get us all safely out of this. So what we need to decide right now is who should go."
"I'll go," Edward says. "I want to be with Bella. Where I can protect her."
"You have immunity," Walter points out.
"Fuck immunity!" Edward shouts, dropping an f-bomb for the first time in his existence. He turns toward the TV screen and says loudly, holding up the idol, "I relinquish my immunity, and request to be voted out."
"You cannot relinquish your immunity," the voice calls out. "You haff it, you are stuck with it."
"I can give my immunity away to someone else at Tribal," Edward calls out. "No one ever does it, except that moron Erik, but it's always offered as an option."
"My game, my rules," the voice says with finality.
Edward exhales in frustration, and Alucard offers in a low murmur, "I'll go. I'll tear that bratwurst to pieces before he even knows I'm there. I'm the one he's here for, anyhow."
"No," Jasper whispers decisively. "I think it's best to operate under the assumption that whoever leaves the island will be rendered just as useless as those four. It's true that the enemy no longer has the element of surprise on their side, but this operation has clearly been very carefully planned. They are prepared for any foreseeable contingency. So no disrespect to you, Alucard, but I'm certain they'd be ready for you.
"Any hope we have is going to have to come from the island. We need to keep our strongest players right here to improve our chances of overtaking the enemy. I recommend we keep Sir Hellsing for her experience in tactical leadership. I am also an asset in this area. Although it's been several decades since I've acted in this capacity, I've found that the commander in me has remained, dormant but ever ready when called upon."
No one challenges him on this statement. They've all noticed the remarkable change in Jasper since the first hint of trouble, how he's stepped out of his laid back, slacker persona and taken on the demeanor of a born leader.
"Edward has immunity, so he stays. I further recommend we keep the two Nosferatu. I think we'll have a stronger team if we are made up of varying talents and capabilities." Jasper hesitates and looks regretfully at his wife.
"Alice can see the future," Edward says quickly in a harsh whisper. "She adds something to the pool of assets."
Alice sadly shakes her head. "No, Edward. I wasn't thinking about it around you, because I didn't want you to see it as a weakness to exploit in the game, but Jasper knows that I've had a definite weakening of my ability since arriving at the island. Remember how it took forever for me to see that Bella was voted out…and I was never even able to see Carlisle." Alice looks down and taps her toes self consciously in the sand and says, "And I certainly didn't see any of this. So, Jasper's right," she sighs. "I'm expendable."
"Me, too," Rosalie murmurs. "I'll gladly go to be with Emmett. But I'll also stay to wreak havoc on this island if that's what you want."
"Okay, good," Jasper whispers. "So that leaves Walter as the only other option. And I'd like to add that if anyone has the potential to surprise them on the other side with unexpected, dirty tactics, it's probably Walter. Can we all agree that our choices are narrowed down to Alice, Rosalie, and Walter?"
"Agreed," Integra says in a hushed tone. "Completely agreed. Let's get this decision made and this vote over with, so we can begin preparations for war on Vampire Island."
(1) Can't get enough of ocelots? Check out Master of the Boot's story "Over the Top: Terror on Gay Street." It's an action packed laugh riot.
(2) Alucard's reprimand of Seras for playing with fuzzy animals is a verbatim quote from System Aurora – thank you m'dear!
(3) Alucard's remarks regarding the potential danger of the ghoul limb are based on random, hilarious comments by Metropolis Kid.
(4) I owe the inspiration for Seras and Alice's love-fest during the challenge once again to System Aurora's fabulousity
(5) My apologies to Tzuki no Rekuen, who had hoped to never have to see Emmett in the buff again. I sincerely hope you removed all sporks from your house before reading that scene. To everyone else – you know you liked it!
(6) Credit for the unbeating heart drivel goes to fanfiction author geophf, although I don't know why he'd want credit for it - it's really awful, isn't it?
More Author's Notes:
Special thanks to Weak Chan for her amazing diligence and the time she takes to post-beta my work and set me straight on grammar and canon and lots of other valuable things. She has also honored me with the name, LiLa Chan - I lourve it!
Thanks as always to Master of the Boot for his endless input and support for this story – you really outdid yourself this time, Alfred!
The poll is up on my profile for this chapter. In case you didn't know, the vote is completely anonymous – even I won't know who's voted for whom unless you tell me. The poll will stay open at least until July 10.
The Hellsing/Twilight crossover kiss poll has concluded! Much thanks to everyone who voted. That was totally fun! :D And the winner is…Alice and Alucard with 33% of the vote! Sorry geophforino. Now remember, this has absolutely no bearing on what's actually going to happen in the story. (i.e. I'm going to do whatever the hell I want. I usually do – just ask Fallen Monkey a/k/a FaMo a/k/a most wonderful sister in the whole world!)
Thanks for reading, thanks for reviewing, thanks for favoritting, thanks for setting up alerts…aw shucks, thanks just for being you, you crazy knuckleheads!