Undiscovered Country

BY : Philippa MaQuente
Category: Hellsing > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 1512
Disclaimer: I do not own "Hellsing" and I make no profit from this story.


Two



            At about 5 pm, the newly self-christened Vlad rose from his casket and stood before the gilded antique mirror in his posh hotel suite. His fledgling had hopped into the luxurious shower in order to be presentable to the first peers she would meet in sixty years, whoever they might be. In his reflection he watched a cycle of his previous forms and glamours. Every one of them was in some way inhuman and strange. In any one guise, he could be ethereally beautiful and terribly grotesque. The most human form he had taken within 500 years had been the one of Count Dracula in the 1800s. But nothing in his 'wardrobe', it seemed, would fit.



            It was time to retire from being an unstoppable force of destruction. Alucard was dead, at last. It was time to give the last remaining scrap of what was human within him a chance to try his luck again. This time, he had neither God nor country to serve, and for once he’d found something more satisfying than war.



            The mustache and goatee will please her. In sleek, neat borders, he allowed his chin and upper lip to darken with pleasant scruff. His hair grew out messy and wavy past his shoulders. For stature he took a height that was generous but not oddly so, and he stripped the supernatural length from his build. He even filled out the definition of his chest and arms to be more like the warrior-prince he’d forgotten. Would this be what Vlad could have been if born to this age? He looked fit and handsome, sort of debonair and regal. A real lady-killer. He smiled. It would do.



            The water flow in the next room ceased. Vlad chose another of those more casual outfits his blushing bride had been so flustered by and waited for her to emerge. The door opened and Vicky exited, followed by wafting steam. Her hands were working a towel around a new length of thick blonde tresses. Other than that, not a stitch covered her, save his trinket about her throat. Completely unfazed, she finished tousling her damp hair and shook it out. She had allowed it to touch the top of her magnificent hindquarters.



            “You look like a princess, dragostea.” Drawing her by the wrists, he took the lush curves into his arms and just held her a moment, stroking her hair.



            “Mm… Thank you, Master.” She nuzzled his neck and breathed the familiar scent of him. No matter what form he walked in, no matter what name he answered to, his smell remained the same always. A rose by any other name. “I like your new form. I like tha' you went with the mustache.” He chortled.



            “I hoped you would. I grew it with you in mind.” He released her from his grip, but not before he’d run his fingers through the golden strands. Instantly she donned an outfit of jeans and a tee shirt with a favorite band emblazoned across the chest. Facing the mirror, she responded while dealing with her hair.



            “You look rather more normal than usual, Master.” With a bit of the power she’d learned from him, still-getting-used-to-it-Vicky pulled her hair into a high ponytail and secured it, braiding it neatly and quickly from the gathered root, all without using her hands. The plait fell to her mid back and she nodded in satisfaction. The Frenchman that served as her blood-borne familiar sighed and cooed his appreciation.



            “I wish for us to appear to be a normal human couple. We will have the benefit of whatever society we choose.” Vicky noticed the exotic purr of his natural accent. “The city of London hides many secrets. So many I’ve not discovered them all myself.” Her Master spoke with a warm and hopeful tone. She turned toward him to show off the change in her look. She’d kept the spiky bangs, but the thick braid brought out a more feminine and mature aspect of her beauty. His voice thrummed in wordless approval. “You make a fine companion, my girl.” His fingertip found the seamless, lockless leather collar he had placed on her some years ago. It had never left her neck since.



            “Shall we start, Master? I fink if we look in the local papers we can find some kind o’ flat. Not many landlords are going to refuse rent up fron’, either.” He presented her with a selection of the local papers.



            “I had the front desk send them. You look through these-” he handed her two- “and I’ll take these. Circle whatever catches your eye; we’ll inspect them all together.” She took the proffered periodicals and sat down to begin the search. Both were exceptionally quick readers, and for a few minutes an equal rustling of pages and scratching of pens could be heard on either side. He was askew on his back, upon the bed, and she was hunched over the desk.



            Single bed, bath, kitchen and den, utilities included, two-story walk up caught her eye, followed by Loft apartment, 3 rooms, park view. A few others seemed promising, and at least one too-good-to-be-true, but she circled them. It was almost a thrill to be doing something so… average, for a change. What an absolute treat to be normal!



            In a few minutes they were both finished with their research, and Vlad beckoned her to his side with a glance.



            “I got five, Master.”



            “I turned up seven. Show me.” He took her papers and stacked them against his own. With the mid-air point of his pen tracing the path of his eye, he read them off quickly and crossed out one of the listings on her page. He smiled slightly as he did so. “I’m not surprised you had this one as well.” She looked down. It was Private floor aprt, Jacuzzi, all-inclusive. Far, far too good to be true. And the only ad to appear in three of the papers. The others were varying combinations of features, both promising and disappointing in some small way, and the very last ad was the only one of its kind in a very clique looking newsletter. It read simply



            Spacious flats, Flexible w/special requests, good for Night Owls.



            Ominous. Vlad grinned slyly.



            “We’ll visit that one last.” He received nothing but a hard look of puzzlement. Vicky traced a scrutinizing path across the thin periodical. It was some sort of kooky occult penny-saver. She raised one eyebrow. “Patience.” He nudged her to get ready.



            With a small adjustment of form, Vicky obtained a light hooded sweatshirt and shoes. Vlad took on a sleek black jacket and motorcycle sunglasses. Nonchalantly they descended in the back elevator and emerged into the street smoothly.



            The waning afternoon sunshine was still bright, beginning to be tinged with rose and orange. Vicky squinted against the light and drew her hood a little tighter. Her Master just carried on, as smooth as you like. It was like nothing could get under his skin that wasn’t already there.



***



            Over the next two hours they quickly toured apartments and talked the finer points of price and amenities with prospective landlords. Vicky dutifully listed each option and its pros and cons in a notebook. One or two didn’t respond to the quick phone call of interest, so the blonde left polite voicemails. The only one to answer the phone barely before the first ring had finished was that one suspiciously fantastic place. The guy on the phone seemed a little too eager to have them come and see the flat, and though she kept her voice cool and unsuspecting, the hackles on her neck were raised for the whole exchange. When she hung up she turned to her beloved Master.



            “I don’t think these chaps are going to be very ‘ospitable. We’d do well to be alert going in.” Vlad stroked his trim goatee like a man pondering.



            “Let us solve the mystery, my girl. I think we’re going to have a little fun.” Vicky snorted a bit, recognizing the implications in that tone and word.



            Using the underground was no challenge to either of them, and what most folks using it couldn’t do was run along the tracks at fantastic speeds, dodging trains and arriving far faster than anyone else. It was brilliant and it worked well; no humans surrounded them, and it was deep under the crust, away from the sun. Slipping in and out of the tunnels theoretically should’ve been more difficult, what with so many potential witnesses, but Vicky marveled time and again at what people who were rushing to get here and there would ignore. As they sped with keen night-vision down the tunnels often she wondered how many like her were doing the same thing.



            They hit the station of their cross street and jumped onto the platform too quickly to be seen, though a few people turned at the sudden draft. Mixing with the crowd was easy after that, and soon they were back in the fresh, early-evening air, and headed directly toward the address. The street was modest and quiet, not exactly a bustling, picturesque London suburb, not one of the more dangerous areas. Their target was a faded prim red brick split-level, and when they knocked on the periwinkle door, it was answered hastily. Vlad took initiative.



            “Good evening. We called about the ad…?” There were two young-looking men at the door, both smiling broadly and looking about as trustworthy as a grubby, smiling street-food salesman.



            “Yes, come in, please.” They stepped back, one skinny as a beanpole and dressed in a grey sweatshirt clearly too big for him, and the other wearing a scraggly pony tail. Both guys sported the kind of old worn fatigues soldiers or survivalists wore, in forest camouflage. As Vicky passed the threshold behind her sleek partner, she felt their “hosts” eyeing her curvaceous figure. Their smell gave away the game by a mile. Both former agents of Hellsing had perfected the art of masking aura as part of their personal arsenal, and so the chumps were foiled of realizing their place in the food chain had been usurped…



            The four marched up a set of stairs, with Greasy-Ponytail leading, Vlad second, Vicky practically holding his coattails and keeping an ear open for the tail end, Beanpole. Ponytail chattered about the “perks and niceties of the place” while she felt the searing of the eyes behind on her. The stairs led to another powdery blue door, and the room beyond when ushered inside was dark.



            They haven’t suspected anything. It seems they will try to incapacitate me first.



            I hear ‘is awful thoughts, Master. It’s like they never dreamed one of their own might come along and find them at it.



            The door slammed shut behind Vicky and she heard the click of a deadbolt. What she supposed was considered a menacing laugh trickled from skinny’s clamped teeth.



            Turning her head slightly to monitor over her shoulder, she folded her arms and said nothing. Vlad appeared to be waiting for his cue, wearing the echo of a mad grin. The dark was clearly meant to disorient the victims, but at this point, the failed predators were starting to wonder why these two were so calm… The one in charge, wearing just a tee shirt below his unkempt hair, darted forward to club the refined male target with a pipe withdrawn from his jacket. There was a whumpf that the thin one took to be his cue, as his eyes were drawn to the woman. But, Vlad had thrown an elbow cleanly into the diaphragm of his attacker. It was nothing from there to remove the pipe from his hand and turn the heft and solidity back down. There was a satisfying crunch that reverberated through the metal tube into Vlad’s hand. Cracked skull perhaps. Ponytail dropped like a cement-shod corpse, but would probably not be down too long while his injury healed.



            Meanwhile, Vicky watched the decently silent approach of her mark, and waited motionless until she smelled his vile breath. His hands flexed and reached out to grab her by the mouth… In an instant she was no longer there, and as he blinked to see where the trick was she popped up directly at the back of his skull.



            “Boo.” Vicky’s voice was at a normal level and she sounded bored, but the idiot screeched and stumbled forward.



            Her foot shot out and hooked him at the planted ankle, just as his other leg was rising from the ground in the next stride. His momentum, flowing forward, took his face to the floor when she swept his leg out from under him.



            “I can smell human blood on these floors!” She began with tremulous anger. “Di’nt you ever stop to think that one of us might eventually show up ‘ere and give you Larry Dooley? You think nobody hunts you?” She dropped an axe kick to the base of the spine and forced a yelp from his throat. Another one would result in a satisfying crack and a few broken vertebrae. He whimpered under threat of her foot and soon yelled in shock when the body of his seedy friend tumbled to the floor next to him. There was a dark wet stain on Ponytail’s scalp, and he was groaning in pain.



            “Gerry!” the one under Vicky’s heel shook his friend’s shoulder. A weak hand rose from the other body. But the quaking, petite woman was not finished. The Romanian prince smiled serenely, content to watch her work.



            “How many, you fucks? How many?” Dropping her weight into her knee, she pinned her charge. One hand gripped his windpipe. “Lie to me or don’t, one is already too many.” She palmed his face to the floor. “You’re scum, the both of you. We’ve been cleaning up rubbish like you for years.” Vicky changed her missing arm’s appearance from solid flesh to dagger-ended smoke. “And could your bullshit be any more fucking obviously a scam?!” Another tendril of her power snaked out and flipped both perps like hamburgers. She could see they were conscious and staring in awe and fear at her. “Any reason for me NOT to kill you right now?”



            No one expected the lights to flip on, or another figure to suddenly be there, unseen before and unheard. Vicky fixed her eyes on a young man’s face, maybe 30, smirking, a spill of light strawberry blond hair over his shoulder. He wore a long trench coat, and a kilt. Vicky pointed with her free hand and gibbered.



            “I have a reason.” The stranger said, and started forward, holding his palms up and wide in front of him to show his trustworthiness. His accent was a lovely and lively British. There was something musical about his voice.



            “It’s YOU!” Vicky cried. “From the alley!” The good-looking mystery man smiled, and bent forward over her prisoners.



            “Looks like you beat me to the prey this time. Just let me secure these thugs. We can talk then.” He took something that clanked heavily from his pocket. She watched two sets of manacles clamp down on two pairs of wrists. Upon closer inspection, each cuff was worked to form the shape of a cross upon closing.



            “Clever.” Vlad said, having walked over to survey the scene. When the work was finished, he extended his hand. “Well met, friend. It appears we are in similar lines of work.” The new acquaintance took the offered hand and shook it.



            “Perhaps so. I certainly appreciate the work you did here. I’m Gideon Penfold, former Court-King of England, and still one of its officers.”



            “Court-King? Master, what does he mean?” the girl asked. Gideon looked at her with a curious face on.



            “Please, call me Vlad. This is my fledgling, Vicky. Until recently we were employed by an organization allied with the Court, under direct command of the late Queen and a noble household.” These statements were for the kilted hunter, but he turned again to his slave-girl. “But it was a private Order, and so dragostea, I neglected to inform you of this connection. The English Court of Vampires is rather like our own dear Hellsing, but acting as a larger government for the Isles in terms of the Courts around the world.”



            “Master…?”



            “Globally, my dear, vampires have put together secret capitols to connect and monitor the populations, providing services to help protect humanity from our presence. This man is likely much older than even I.” The girl’s jaw hung open at this news. A glimmer of recognition had started in Gideon’s face, and with the mention of Integra’s family name, he was practically jumping with excitement.



            “You’re the agents from the Hellsing Organization? Damn, nearly everyone who frequents the Court knows about you!” Gideon looked genuinely excited. “Is it true…? You’re the Dracula?” Vlad nodded sagely.



            “And I really thought Stoker was full of it! Ha!” The corners of his mouth shot in opposite directions. “This is a treat. I think the two of you ought to come with me. I’ll need you to provide evidence against these men anyway, and if there is anything you need…” Vlad had already pulled the final paper from his jacket. The circled ad “for night owls” was proffered.



            “Well, we were actually apartment hunting. Perhaps you know if this means what I think it does.” Gideon took the ad and read it. After a moment he burst out laughing.



            “It appears we would have met eventually. That ad was written by my brother and his wife. They are both vampires, and former Court leaders. As a family, we seem to provide a fair number of social services.” Vlad wrapped his arm around Vicky’s shoulders as Gideon dragged the prisoners to their feet. “What do you say? Will you come?” he finished, while turning his mental will upon his targets and forcing them to obey.



            “Without a doubt. I suppose we couldn’t have acted as hunters in this city for long without the Court’s involvement.” The former trashman said. The commissioned officer nodded, and gestured with his head toward the door. The small group went mobile, burst from the apartment, and headed carefully back down the stairs.



            “Really wish you’d told me all this sooner, Master,” Vicky said in a slightly frustrated tone. Gideon shot a look back at her over his shoulder as he led the criminals before him. They were burned by the irons and quelled by their jailer’s indomitable power. “It was tough thinkin’ I was all by meself you know.” Vlad chuckled softly.



            “And you spare Sir Integra from keeping you ignorant?” he teased. True to her nature, Vicky’s cheeks stained bright and one of her comical faces bloomed. With short hair she resembled an angry kitten when riled, but with the braid she was more of a lioness. He liked it tremendously.



            “I see we have much to talk about in the near feature. I can just imagine the Lady Penfold’s face in particular.” The officer said, his statement colored by emotion. What an interesting pair, especially considering their human mistress for so long. True, the agents behind him were famous, but no one had ever met them before. Immensely curious. Gideon paused a moment to urge one of his charges (his face a mess of bloody tears) out the front door. The perps’ ground-floor apartment was another door at the back of the staircase, and would need to be investigated, as well as the upstairs. “I know from official reports that your Order was only just retired, with the death of its head. My condolences.”



            “Thank you,” the two chorused in harmony, soft and melodious.



            The sun was finally dipping below the horizon when they got outside, and Gideon nodded to a figure leaning against a tree, obscured by the shadow in the sunset. Fluidly the figure approached, and seemed to appear in reality at once. He was barely twenty to the eye, with dark hair and incredibly contrasting bright blue eyes, not unlike Seras Victoria’s had been. Vicky stopped dead, afflicted by a sudden burgeoning power, resembling her Master’s in strength. Gideon and the two criminals (now at the feet of the youth, and being searched) emanated quite normal levels of power and would not be noticed by humans. But this one was clearly something else on the same scale Alucard had occupied. Vlad, next to her, was a far toned down version. She shuddered against him and clutched his jacket sleeve reflexively. Midstride her cease of momentum caught him, and he stopped to look at her face. Well, it had been quite some time since such a strong force unfolded before them. But she could tell there was no threat, and so could Vlad- his existence was simply so unrestrained. Gideon, hunched over his quarry, spoke up.



            “This is my nephew, Theo. He’s… Probably best the one to introduce himself.” Busy with his work, Gideon pulled out a two-way radio and began to speak into it, reporting back and requesting certain actions. There were muffled responses squawking from the box, all part of routine police work, no matter the circumstance. The ancient tracker was putting in the call for the forensics squad, one that was far better than any human investigative crack team of experts could be.



            Theo, at the sound of his name, walked past his more than capable uncle and stuck out his hand, grinning pretty broadly for someone who radiated such an immense energy. Starting with Vicky, he patiently waited for her to unglue herself from her lover’s arm, and take his hand. She did, weakly, still unsure as what it meant. But she returned his warm smile with a sheepish one.



            “Vicky…” they shook hands, and yet he stared into her crimson-stained gaze. It was unnverving.



            “And the gentleman?” he said. She could smell the cigarette smoke, acrid and nasty, in the back of her nose. Pip laughed in her mind, fluttering awake as he did whenever thought of.



            Sacre bleu, Zeras. Who eez dat?



            I don’t know Captain… but he’s somefin’ else for sure.



            “That’s… Cap’n Bernadotte…” Theo saluted and turned his attention to the dapper man at her right.



            “I’d be a fucking twit not to know who you are,” he started zealously, “you’re Vlad Tepes, bearer of many names, practically the most famous vamp in the world.” Theo shook the so-declared famous prince's hand robustly. “It’s a hell of an honor, sir.” The native Londoner in Vicky heard his accent's posh tilt used roughly.



            “I thank you, young Theo, and as easily as you recognize me, I recognize another prince among vampires. We have much to talk about indeed.” Vlad always spotted the unusual among their race, as he was the result of honing and experimentation by humans, and therefore odd, himself.



            “Let’s be fair,” Theo replied with some humor, “you fucking look like Vlad Tepes. I look like every other London-born street punk.” Everybody laughed, and it broke the tension. Vicky felt the weird nervousness abate, and she eased off her Master. Gideon interrupted as a couple of others were arriving stealthily, the dark giving them even more leeway.



            “Alright, I’ve got to take charge here and investigate the premises, haul in the criminals… Theo, take these two to your parents. You can all get situated and informed quickest there.” The kid, who was youngest among them in both face and years lived, tipped an invisible hat to his uncle, mimicking a grand air.



            “Right-o, guv.” Gideon took a moment to smile at his older brother’s son, who right up to the stormy age of 19 at which he remained frozen, had been one of the least smiliest kids he’d ever seen. But given purpose, he’d changed. And he was changing other things now. Deep inside Gideon stirred the ancient blood of his birth, the homeland now a thousand years lost to him, and a promise made between he and his nephew. Gravely, the officer nodded, and sent them on their way. Theo beckoned his new friends forward.



            “So, I’m Theo Penfold, and I was born and raised. You see that building over there?” Theo pointed to a tall, sleek white skyscraper that had been built in the early 2000s. It was the center of a charity for children, and had been the site of many activities in the London social public. Everyone knew it.



            “Of course,” Vicky chimed.



            “That belongs to my family. My parents live there, at the very top. That’s where we’re headed.” Both of them were surprised, and more than a little impressed. Vicky whistled.



            “Are your parents famous or somethin’?" she asked. Their host laughed in response.



            “Well, yeah, but mostly among us.” They were already heading toward the building in the vibrant light of the moon. “My mother and father are among the most ancient vampires remaining in the modern age. Hell, my uncle’s seen two millennia.”



            “Really? ‘Ow old are you, Theo?” The lad smirked.



            “Thirty-five,” he remarked immediately. “Though I kept my physical age at nineteen.”



            “Thirty-five? But that’s impossible,” Vlad cried out, until then content to enjoy the exchange, “if your parents are vampires…”



            “‘Ay, there’s the rub’, eh? Yeah, that’s one of those interesting things about me nobody believes at first.” There was a quick pause. “Fuck, why would they?” He looked like a gorgeous Cheshire, walking backwards now to speak with them. “But hey, let’s take the scenic route. Meet the locals. Have a chat, and you’ll see. It’s a bit of a story, and I wanna hear yours first. I know who you are, but not who you are, you know?” The frank eloquence of this youth astonished them both, and again Vicky was reminded of Alucard, the way he wore a mien of strange wordy regality and that incredible raw power like an exquisite costume.



            “Dear God Master, I can’t believe me eyes, and I’m using all of them at the mo’. I really think he’s telling the truth!” The girl sounded somehow overwhelmed, but her lover squeezed her hand tightly. It was well known among their kind that no vampire had ever been born of two full-turned parents. No female vampire could bear. It defied all logic and lore!



            “It would take an act of God for such a thing to be true,” Vlad uttered, still surprised. The small party took a left, down a street where many figures were gathered or walking along, beginning to all turn in their direction.



            “Funny you should say that…” Theo retorted.



            What a night it had become, the girl thought. What a debut.



 



 




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