RawSteelUT wrote:Either I missed it or everyone else missed it.
It juggles the spirits of the two universes very nicely
Glad you like.
Integra coughed again, resting in her bed as she struggled to breathe. Her once golden tan skin was now sickly pale, and her breathing was raspy. Four months ago, she had started coughing and wheezing, her normally impeccable health starting to fade. Now, she was at death's door, waiting for this cursed disease to finally take her. She would die at the age of 25, without having married or produced an heir, because of this plague, this Grey Death.
The irony hurts
, Integra thought, her lips pursed flatly as she tried to resist falling asleep. I've battled the undead for all my life, been invincible to them, and now a plague comes to take me. God, why have you turned your back to me...
Alucard entered the room for the tenth time this day, going right throug the door as he always had. Normally a bother, her vampires had become a blessing. With her infection, she woudln't dare let anyone near her. The thought that she might infect another with the disease revolted her, but the lonliness would surely have driven her mad had it not been for Seras and especially Alucard.
"Have you thought about it?" Alucard asked. His normally playful tone had left him long ago. He sounded mournful, frustrated and helpless, watching her die slowly, offering her an escape, only for her to swat the life raft away.
"You know my answer," Integra managed through heavy, strained breathing. "I couldn't betray my faith..."
"The faith that abandonned you!?" Alucard snapped. Integra's stubbornness, even in death, was getting under his skin. "This plague doesn't effect any of the ones you've hunted throughout your life! It only affects humans! It only affects you!" Tears of blood began to run down his cheeks, as it did every day. He could sense the deterioration of her body, could see the disease eating her from the inside. Seeing someone he loved so much suffer was beginning to affect him.
"Alucard..." Integra began, her voice barely audible. "I can't. If I were to do this... I..."
"You would be able to continue fighting," Alucard countered. "You would be able to keep Hellsing from collapsing, as all organizations do when they've lost their leader. You'd be able to keep me in line..." Not that he wanted to bring humanity to their knees anymore. The desire for control had left him as he saw this woman's love of humanity, the sincere desire to keep the lot of them safe. That wonderful, kind woman that only he could see beneath her hard exterior. The flower withering before his eyes.
"Please," Alucard begged. Integra looked at him, her hazy eyes widening as she absorbed what he just said. Had the plague truely warped her mind? Or was he... Desperate? Staring into her eyes, he continued to plead. "I... I don't know what I would do if I lost you... You're a strong, willful, determined, decisive, beautiful woman... You captured me from the day I met you, took my heart in a way that Abraham could never dream of. I'll do anything you ask... Just don't let yourself die like this..."
Integra bit her lip, her stomach wretching even more than it already had been. Alucard had always been a man who hid his feelings beneath the facade of insanity. Crazy like a fox rather than simply crazy, he was. To see him so open, so vulnerable. The sight of her crying vampire tugged at her heart, making her question her resolve for the millionth time since she had become bedridden.
"Alucard, I'm sure a cure will..." she started, her voice softening as she tried to comfort him.
"A cure!? Everyone knows there's a cure!" Alucard shrieks. "The United Nations hoards it for themselves, giving it only to those who offer them more control of their nation. The queen and prime minister will continue to refuse this bribery... Even as the people you sought to protect die in the streets!"
Integra knew that Alucard was right. British sovereignty was at stake. A few thousand dead meant little compared to the destruction of the country. There was no real justification, and the thought of leaving Alucard free was as great an evil as becoming a vampire herself.
Weiging the two choices, Integra made her decision.
Seras Victoria blinked several times at the man on the other side of the conference table. Walton Simons was a large man, she knew, but in person, the black-clad man seemed beyond enormous.
"What," Seras asked, "does the head of an American disaster relief agency want with us? And why did you ask for me specifically?"
"Let's cut to the chase," Simons insisted, his solid blue eyes gazing at her intently. "We both know why the secret organization Hellsing has been so inactive these last few months. Your leader is dying."
"You know more than you should," Seras said, her arms folded over her chest. "Again, what does this have to do with your being here?"
"It's very simple," Simons explained. "You and the operative named Alucard are... Unquestionably effective. Just what we need. You see, a terrorist by the name of J.C. Denton has eluded us for some time. He's responsible for the deaths of several FEMA workers and UNATCO agents. We're at the end of our rope with Mr. Denton's antics, and we need someone who can match up to him."
"And that's where you think Hellsing comes in?" Seras asked, clearly skeptical.
"Exactly. We know that you deal with the more... Unique menaces of this country. What I'm proposing is this: Your cooperation in exchange for enough Ambrosia vaccine to treat and immunize your entire organization. A fair offer, I think."
It was times like that that made Seras angry at herself for not being able to read minds like her Master. She could tell that Simons was hiding something, but what
, she couldn't tell. She knew she needed time.
"I will bring this to Sir Integra's attention, Mr. Simons," she told him. "Please give me your contact information, and I'll deliver it straight to her."
Simons smirked and reached into his coat, pulling out a business card and handing it to her. "Please respond soon. J.C. Denton is in Hong Kong at the moment, and while we know you don't normally operate internationally, we don't know where else to turn."
"I'll call you within the next 24 hours," Seras assured him. "Now, if you would be so kind as to follow Walter outside? I do not believe Sir Integra would appreciate strangers in her home."
"Of course, Miss Victoria." Simons rose to his feet as Walter opened the door to the conference room, bowing respectfully.
"Are you ready to depart, Mr. Simons?" Walter asked, his voice neutral and respectful as always. "I trust your conversation with Miss Victoria was productive?"
"That remains to be seen," Simons deadpanned. "I'll know the answer in 24 hours."
With that, Walter led Simons out of the room, and Seras slumped into her chair. With half of Hellsing suffering from the plague, she was the most senior active officer, and responsible for tending to meetings while Integra was infirm. The stress was starting to affect her; there wasn't a moment that went by that she didn't second guess herself. Was she sending too many soldiers out? Too few? Was the occaisional Ghoul worth infecting even more soldiers with the Grey Death? She never thought herself much of a leader, and she couldn't help but wonder if she was handling this incredible responsibiltiy properly.
"Master," Seras pleaded softly. "Please, guide me... I can't do this alone..."