Hellsing Fan Fiction ❯ Sine Qua Non ❯ Esse Quam Videri ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Now, that he had been formally fed, Alucard's defiance diminished. Due to the endlessness of her duties, Integra could not vouch for this with absolute conviction. Still, he was far less abrasive than he had been a few days ago. Those periods when she saw him, Alucard would send a meaningful smirk her way, before disappearing. Because she was not entirely certain what he was implying, Integra pushed these encounters to the back of her mind.
There were far more pressing matters at hand. Even if the Hellsing Organization was undergoing a change in management, there was no let up from outside forces. Today, Commander Ferguson was going to provide her with her first briefing on the current state of affairs.
In her blazer, blouse, and skirt, Integra felt slightly self-conscious. This was not the proper attire for the leader of an esteemed institute such as Hellsing. Sitting ramrod straight at her desk, she anxiously awaited the arrival of Ferguson. Her self-doubt was poisonous, and Integra wrestled with it till a knock sounded on the door.
Ferguson strode in brusquely, and Integra felt a twinge of awe. From the crisp uniform to the exceedingly competent aura he exuded, Peter Ferguson was the epitome of a capable leader. It was slightly unnerving. She was thirteen, green as any rookie, and in charge of this gruff, well-seasoned veteran.
Nonetheless, she was of the blood, and the Hellsing Organization belonged to her. She would prove her merit and entitlement. This postponement of dealing with inconvenient issues was rapidly becoming a habit.
"Report, Commander Ferguson?" She stared up expectantly at the man who had served under father.
He saluted. "There has been in an increase in undead activity around York. We speculate that this is the work of a small group of vampires, two or three at most. The photos are in the file."
From his side, he produced a benign-looking manila envelope. This he handed to Integra. The girl silently studied the papers. It began with police reports filed about missing persons. Besides munching tourists, they vacillated between York and the moors. As she progressed, she found the work to be that of typical young vampires. Older, self-respecting vampires failed to leave such sloppy leftovers, otherwise known as ghouls. The problem was not so much the vampires as it was the exponential increase in the ghoul population.
"Young vampires are usually easy to find. What exactly is the obstacle we seem to be encountering?"
"Their nomadic behavior is difficult to predict. We have not yet deployed enough men to the area to sufficiently scope the area. We do have a few units there- mostly for surveillance and ghoul eradication."
"I see." She drummed her fingers against the desk, desperately wishing for something to alleviate her tension. Ferguson raised a brow at this, but wisely did not comment.
"My orders, Lady Integra?"

It took an eternity for that title to register. After it did, Integra stared at Ferguson for a long time. Lady?
She was a knight. She was a member of the Roundtable. "Lady" was the correct term to address her by, however there was something far to weak about the euphonics of the title. By all formalities, it was perfectly acceptable, but the sound bothered her.
"My princess...my lady..." On cue, Alucard's mocking words rung fresh in her mind.

"Lady Integra?" Ferguson's voice, tinged with parental, almost condescending concern, brought her back to the office.
"Sir Integra," she responded automatically. The words leapt from her tongue with little forethought.
"You will address me as "Sir Integra." Is that clear, Commander Ferguson?"
It was then, looking down on the noblewoman, that he became aware of the deadly serious look in her eyes and the authority in her voice. Something about her manner overpowered him, and he spoke reflexively. "Yes, Sir Integra!" He saluted fiercely. Integra could not refrain from smiling with smug satisfaction.
"Your orders, Ferguson, are as they have ever been: search and destroy. If you come to me with this as your crisis, prepare to send as many troops as necessary." Ferguson left the office with a small smile on his lips. The command was in her blood. Yes, Sir Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing would be a fine leader.

In the solitude of the office, Integra had the spare time to muse over her new title. Sir Integra? Perhaps she would be taken more seriously? She scowled slightly at that foolishness. A change of title did not hold that much power. To be a good leader, she would have to be strong. She would have to live up to the name, "Sir Integral." It was something to work at. Comforted by this, she allowed her mind to meander back to the question of apparel.
The proper crisp attire of a schoolgirl was professional, but it was not impressive, not right for this line of work.
Sir Integral.
Perhaps she could choose something more masculine? Integra leaned back, wondering. There were benefits of not being in skirts. Those haughty, chauvinistic geezers of the Round Table presumed to command her because of her age and sex. Of course, underestimating her ability, because of her lack of experience, was understandable. It was the issue of gender. She was no rabid feminist. Her aptitude, in no way, could be correlated with her sex. She could and would accomplish her goals because she was Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing. Sir Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing.
Her eyes fell upon the portrait of her father. He had worn suits. Yes, there were suits, and from Integra's limited, fashion-oriented perspectives, plenty of military-influenced garb. She was a modern-day knight, and could damn well look the part.
The office, in its seclusion, became stifling. With this atmosphere and her excitement over her wardrobe resolution, Integra stood and stretched, before going off to search for Walter.

Walter stood at the delivery entrance, inspecting today's shipment. The usual fare of silver bullets, MREs, and body armor lay in their respective crates. What caught his attention was a small package marked "Handle with care."
It was a familiar wrapped parcel, and without touching it, Walter knew that beneath the wrapping was a tin. Within the tin, were ten cigars, Henry Winzerman small cigars to be exact.
Sir Arthur had been terribly fond of those cigars. He had been forever importing those things from Holland. They probably hastened his already premature death.
Almost tenderly, he picked up the small box. Walter involuntarily reveled in a wave of nostalgia. How and why those things had shown up a few weeks after Arthur's death was a mystery to Walter. The Englishman rather vainly contemplated what to do with them.
It was then that Integra came upon him. Walter immediately felt like a maudlin fool, but stayed his tongue.
"What is that, Walter?" Integra inquired.
Integra's eyes widened with understanding.
"They arrived...and I really have no idea what to do with them." He chuckled sadly. "I never did develop a taste for those things."
Integra held out her hands. "I'll take them."
"Pardon me?"
Integra really had no intention of keeping them for anything but a memento. "I would like to save them."
Walter quirked a brow, and handed the box to his mistress. Habit had almost obliged him to give her a speech about the evils of smoking, but he refrained. Integra was of age now, she had new many responsibilities...and freedoms.
"Walter, I came to ask you about modifying my wardrobe."
The butler gave her a once over.
"It needs to be more practical and befitting my profession."
"Yes, we can do something about this immediately, Miss Integra."
"It's "Sir Integra" now, Walter."
She was just full of surprises today. Walter smiled. "Understood, Sir Integra." He bowed at this statement and nostalgia whacked him again. Arthur was gone, and little Integra was rapidly growing up. "We will take your measurements and obtain more suitable garments."
"...Thank you, Walter."
"It is my pleasure, Sir Integra."

In some ways, it was a twisted version of a girl's day out. Integra went shopping, and for clothes. The style just happened to be quite...different. For her office days, there were suits. Black, pinstripe, and for some odd reason, olive green. The military-produced outfits would arrive later. She also procured a khaki trench coat that was far too large, but she could grow into that. It was after being fitted for both suits and combat-specialized clothes, that Walter presented Integra with a gift.
"I thought, perhaps, though we have an abundance of them, you might want one for your very own." Almost reverently, Walter bestowed her with a familiar Beretta 93R. "It's a bit old, but it's been modified. Fully automatic, you knowit was your father's."
Integra examined the pistol with loving care.
"It fires in single shot or three-round bursts. The magazine holds twenty rounds. I know it's small, only 9mm, but it's easier to conceal than some. It's only standard issue, I knowbut there was some sentimental value attached."
"Thank you, Walter. Thank you very much," the sincerity of her words surprised her. Fondly, she stroked the cool metal.
"It's better than nothing," Walter conceded. "I should hope that you choose a larger gun for field work."
She smiled at him.

It was late, but Integra found she could not sleep. She sat up, pushing back the covers. The light came on, and as she reached for her glasses, Integra's hand fell upon a hard box. Putting on her spectacles, she examined the simple parcel.
Her father's cigars.
They had always smelled nice and Integra felt herself longing to see them. She reached into the drawer of her nightstand for a knife, and took the box into her lap. Deftly, she opened the package and removed one cigar. Curious, she placed one in the corner of her mouth and looked in the mirror.
It was different, to say the least.
Fumbling around her dresser, she found a flint fire starter that her father had given her for one of her thirteen birthdays. Striking a spark, she somehow managed to light the cigar. Almost breathless with anticipation, Integra inhaled deeply on the cancer stick.
Hacking uncontrollably, she tried to expel the foul tasting air from her lungs. She scuffed the cigar out in a dish and gazed wryly at the remains. Licking her lips, she found there was a sweet aftertaste. It was a strange experience. Perhaps an acquired taste? She would have to find out.
Almost involuntarily, Integra's attention fell on another object.
Walter's gift was better-equipped for dealing with humans, but Integra did not question its necessity or downplay its significance. Besides, she was secretly very pleased by the gift. Her own gun, that belonged to her father before her She acknowledged that it was a childish pleasure, but reveled in it nonetheless.
Integra owned weapons. She had years of fencing behind her, as well as a collection of blades. Still, it was a gift from Walter, a vote of confidence. If he thought her ready, to give her such a piece
Or it could have been out of worry. Integra wrinkled her nose at the thought. A weapon given for times of desperation; like her father had done with Alucard.
It could be a mix of both. Walter would not have given her a gun if he did not believe she could handle it. Of course, he gave it to her for protection as well Perhaps her father had come to the same conclusion?
Alucard. He had made himself scarce for the past few days. Integra was certain that he was always there, somewhere, watching. To her mild surprise, Integra found that the concept left her nonplussed. Alone or with him- it did not matter. A week ago, despite her vehement denials, she would loathe to be in that monster's presence. Nownow it was different.
It was these thoughts that fluttered about Integra's mind as she wandered down to the shooting range.

Integra slid on a pair of black leather gloves and carefully adjusted a pair of earmuffs to fit her. She turned the dim lights on, and let her vision adjust.
After loading the magazine, Integra took aim. She glared at the moving target and pictured numerous undead. The gun had minimal kick, a good rate, and decent power. Rather pleased with her aim, Integra reloaded.
Father had put her on the shooting range at an early age. While normal boys and girls got their training wheels taken off, she had graduated to using live ammo. In the chaos that the last few weeks had held, she had not found the time to come down and play. The exercise was cathartic and Integra enjoyed the release.
Her aim was true, and cute perforation dotted the paper of many targets. As she reloaded the gun once more, she realized that she was no longer alone. Turning around, back to the range, she found the hazy form of her favorite vampire antagonist. His gold and red flecked eyes lazily focused on the pistol in her hands.
"Sir Integra, eh?" He chuckled darkly. "Your father's suits, your father's cigars, your father's gun." He strode passed her languidly, before circling her predatorily. "Do you seek to be exactly like him?"
"I seek to be as a good a leader as he was."
"Better!" Alucard growled, fiercely. "He could not control me! Do not become like him!"
Integra bared her blunted teeth at him. "You will not speak of my father!"
Alucard did not acknowledge her outburst. "Tell me, Sir Integra, do you know what it is like to kill a man? How easy it is? Have you ever put one of those pretty shiny bullets through the head of another creature?" Alucard's expression was giddy, and he was only amused by her anger.
"I could do it," she snapped back.
"Really?" Alucard's face was the picture of maddened glee. "Or are you only bluffinglike your father?" He leered.
"I told you not to"
"Or what, little princess? You bluff. You feint. You fake. There is no substance to your threats. Congratulations, you are exactly like your father."
Integra's hands were shaking. That unholy bastard dared to slander her father? Her rage peaked at Alucard's infuriating demeanor.
Raising the gun, she pulled the trigger once, twiceshe lost count, watching the ordinary bullets explode in his face.
His demanding voice narrated her frenzied actions.
Integra's eyes widened at their synchronization, but she continued to fire the empty gun at Alucard.
The vampire's head reformed and with a dark, knowing smirk, he melted into blackness. Integra sighed, relieved by his exit. She was somewhat shaken, but far more angered than fearful.
She turned to retrieve some more bullets, and found her way blocked by an ebony mass, dotted with vermilion eyes. Before she could scream, he engulfed her in the blackness, and they were gone.