Ghastly New Years
The ghasts and ghastlings were practically falling over themselves in an excitable, excited, babbling and gabbling pile as they scampered to the waiting truck. Alucard and Seras hopped into the back, unnecessarily attempting to coax the ghasts into it. Entirely unnecessary, for the tumble of grey bodies had launched into it immediately. The adults had always loved hunts and had quickly learned that they'd get pats and scratches from the mercs if they allowed them close enough, and if there were injuries, tidbits from the medics too. Ghastly, but, well, that's what they were!
Speckles had followed him happily to the truck but while he was watching the rest of the family pile into the back with the laughing 'pires, it had watched him shrewdly, and then clambered into the front seat where it sat, squeaking and squawking happily. The baby was, he was proud to observe, easily the brightest of the litter. It had realized he'd be driving and decided to join him up front. Well, he was dressed warmly, and he'd keep the windows cracked and the vents blowing, and hopefully the reek wouldn't be too bad. Speckles was an endearing little thing, with the size and energy level of any two-year-old human child, providing the child had been crammed full of candy bars, sweets, and soft drinks!
They'd had a slightly-modified toddler seat added to the truck. Those in the back had to take their chances; troop transports had padded seats and reinforced sides, and Hellsing's included belts, but no safety harnesses anywhere near a suitable size for the "kids". A sturdy padded crate sat on the floor and the baby ghasts piled into it, squabbling over positions. Were they human, he had no doubt he'd have been hearing "but he's on MY side" and "Don't touch me!" from them. Still, they were excited and happy; this wasn't a hunt, but the vampires were cheerful (or as much so as Alucard became) and riding out without any troops around them was a novel experience. Even from the front seat, with the barrier between him and the cargo area...he could hear their excited chirps and squeaks.
A soldier came out with a big crate and passed it up to Alucard, and then...they were off, rolling out the gates and down the road with the deep blue black of late evening rapidly fading into night. They'd headed out as soon as the vampires were awake...and before they were more than past the gates, the first fireworks were shrieking into the air.
Alex pushed down harder on the accelerator immediately and the truck rumbled and lurched down the road...and he fled the New Years "festivities" beginning behind them! One miserable experience his first year with the vampires, and he'd taken to removing them as soon as the sun set. The men restrained themselves from touching any of the fireworks/ammunition/Godonlyknowswhat until they were away; one pants-wetting experience with an angry Alucard and a premature firecracker had solidified that!
This year, with the ghasts, a hotel or bed-and-breakfast was out of the question. They'd need to stay somewhat close; vampires and other beasties were aware that the noise and commotion of New Years and the traveling and overnighting and late-nights at pubs could mean a feast with no one the wiser that people were missing for at least a day or more. A small ghoul clean-up wasn't unusual the night after, nor hunting for some "wee beastie" that had used the havoc of the night to create its own bit of mayhem! He kept to within an hour or two of the estate...which limited options.
Except that this year, with the ghasts, he was trying something a bit...different.
It wasn't long before they were trundling down lanes between stands of trees, Speckles staring wide-eyed at the view, sniffing busily at the scents of pine and oak and leaves and other foresty aromas. They didn't cover the reek of ghast, but they helped. And it was a park...complete with hiking trails and a pavilion, and almost guaranteed to be empty this night! Pulling up to the small pavilion with its covered roof and picnic table, complete with running water and a flushing loo, he smiled to himself. The babies were in for a treat; this would be an all-new experience for them! They'd been allowed on two hunts so far, both times in city limits. Other that the small bit of trees around the estate, they had no experience at all with woodlands. Well, time for that to change.
Baby ghasts could climb. That was his first discovery. The adults stayed ground-bound, but the babies scrambled up and down the pines, squawking and chattering excitedly and occasionally needing rescue, like some sort of inept squirrels. Speckles got "stuck" more than all the others put together, and he had the sinking sensation that the sly humor of Alucard might have found a kindred soul in this baby! Still, they rampaged about, splashing about in the streams, vaulting over a falled trunk, racing about playing tag while the adults trailed more sedately behind the vampires and Alex.
By the time they'd returned to the truck, the babies had nearly worn themselves out. Alex had the foresight to pack a ghoulish "snack" from the vats, and all six had torn into and through the stash in moments. Also tucked away in the crate were a handful of toys, and Alucard and Seras had all six of the ghasts playing fetch while they shrieked shrilly and tumbled over each other.
And shrieked, and shrieked, and shrieked. With high-pitched, brain-drilling squeals from each and every baby. He'd brought blankets and a pillow, expecting to nap briefly on the seat while his charges played...but had a sneaking suspicion it just might have been quieter back at the estate!