Hellsing Fan Fiction ❯ The Tribute ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Evan, done with his shift, relaxed in the solitude of the greenhouse and watched the moon rise.  He fidgeted, still uncomfortable in the tie and starched shirt his position required him to wear.  At least the vest made him look good, he reasoned.  And they let him wear his hair long, provided he kept it braided.

Monday marked the end of his first year at Hellsing.  For him, it was a stressful one, filled with one jarring event after another without cease.  He unhappily remembered his first week at Hellsing, witnessing most of the household staff being murdered by a carefully orchestrated attack on the mansion.  The terrorists and their leaders, the Valentine brothers, had been wiped out, but the casualties were staggering.  Only the kitchen staff had survived unharmed by hiding in the freezer.  He had tried to save whoever he could and was attacked for his pains.  Sheer luck had saved him that day.

Luck, and a most unlikely savior, clothed in scarlet.     

Evan briefly considered the duties he had been assigned only a month ago, which was attending to Hellsing's most lethal associates.  Only one day a week for now.  Perhaps that, too, would change in time.

He couldn't imagine for a heartbeat why Hellsing required him to train for what was now Walter's job.  Not that it mattered.  Anything was a vast improvement over working in culinary, cleaning tables and washing dishes for hours on end.  Even if it meant working with vampires. 

He fished around in his pocket for cigarettes, then remembered that he currently had none. 
 A movement caught his eye.  Evan turned to look.  

A dark-haired man in a red greatcoat now stood beside him.  His face was narrow and angular, pale as salt, deceivingly young in appearance.  Evan couldn't even begin to guess his age. 

But then, he didn't have to. 

Brilliant red eyes now stared up at the moon that now shone through the window, a silvered gold disc that paled as it rose above the horizon.

Evan bowed his head.  "Lord Alucard."

Alucard acknowledged the accolade with a scant nod.  His attention never wavered.

"It's a nice night," said Evan.  "I didn't expect to see you here."

"Such a night only makes me restless."  Alucard continued to stare out of the greenhouse windows.  "Inactivity bores me.  There are no vampires or freaks to destroy.  Even the Vatican mongrels seem to have disappeared into the woodwork.  With nothing to do, I grow weary of waiting for something worthy of me."

"Waiting is boring," said Evan.  "Maybe I can help."

Alucard did not move.  But Evan caught a glimpse of one crimson eye now fixed on him.

"I have a story, sir," said Evan, "if you have the time and patience to listen to it?"

"I have nothing if not too much time," said Alucard.  "Does this story concern me?"

Evan nodded.  "It does."

Alucard settled back against an unused potting bench.  "Then go ahead," he said. 

"This story has two parts.  I believe you already know the first," said Evan.  "It has to do with a man from Dublin, during Queen Victoria's reign.  By trade he was a clerk and a theater manager.  By aspiration, he was a writer."

"I see," said Alucard.  "Go on."

"The interest of the time was horror fiction," continued Evan.  "The principal subject of most of these works was vampires."

”Vampires."  Alucard's lips quirked.

Evan nodded.  "He resolved to write a horror novel of his own, to make his mark in the literary world of his time.  Vampires seemed as good a topic as any, he reasoned, in an age that was obsessed with death and dying.  But where to begin?"
"As a manager, he was by nature precise and methodical.  Even a book of fiction, he thought, should have its facts straight.  This need for accurate research took him to the Albert and Victoria Library in London.  By chance he happened on a historical volume written about a foreign prince, the ruler of a small realm from a forgotten time.  His curiosity now piqued, he read the book with avidity, that spoke of the exploits and deeds of that ruthless prince, descendant of Attila the Hun, scourge of the infidel Turkish invaders.  Here was the answer to his problem.  In this biography of an icy, bloodthirsty ruler was a better monster than any he could hope to envision.  And so he began writing."

"During this time, he made the acquaintance of a man whose trade was the eradication of evil creatures that threatened the safety of mankind.  Vampires were quite real, he was told, and quite dangerous."

The writer and the vampire hunter formed a pact.  The writer would be allowed to tell the other man's story, so long as the ending and vampire hunter's story were changed.  So that no one would ever know that story was real.  Or that its villain was none other than that prince whose history he had carefully studied."  Evan looked at Alucard.  "I trust that you are familiar with all of this?"

"I am."  Alucard stared into Evan's eyes with predatory intensity. 

Evan found it difficult to meet that gaze, and looked away.  He ignored Alucard's deep-pitched chuckle at his unease.

“The second part begins ten years previous to that," continued Evan, his face now flushed.  "A botanist on a field expedition to Colombia chanced upon a blooming plant, whose flowers possessed a singular beauty unlike any other.  He recognized it as an orchid right away, and brought it back to England for identification.  Once identified, its popularity grew rapidly."

"Originally thought to belong to a known genus of orchids, its name became the point of controversy that grew with the discovery of every new species.  After one hundred years it was finally given a name of its own."

"So much importance in a name?"  Alucard's tone was dry.

"Well, yes," admitted Evan.  "There are over one hundred thousand Phalaenopsis hybrids listed alone.  Add to that the fact that there are over nine hundred genera, not counting the manmade ones, and you can see the problem."

"So many."  Alucard motioned for him to continue.

Evan nodded.  "But what to name it?  A classical Greek or Latin name would not suit it, or its bizarre charm.  The taxonomist thought long and hard on it."

"At length, he recalled a novel written during the Victorian era, and its charismatic villain, a historical prince who had been the ruler of a small realm from a forgotten time.  The depiction so moved him that he named the plant after that prince."

"After this, the story takes a more modern twist," said Evan.  "Ten years ago, a gentleman from Nagasaki who was a devotee of those orchids, crossed two specimens of his best specie in hope of creating plants with flowers that were better than either of its parents.  He harvested and sowed the seed as soon as it was possible to do so.  After months of anxious waiting, the seed sprouted and grew."

"Several years later, the first plant bloomed.  Its flowers were beautiful, as were the ones to follow it.  But not more beautiful than its parents had been.  The breeder waited in patience, believing that the best was yet to come."

"As chance would have it, the thirteenth plant from that cross bloomed on Hallowe'en that year.  Even as a young plant it was stronger, more heat tolerant than its parents.  When it bloomed, the flowers were larger and more strikingly marked than any he had ever seen before.  Larger, perhaps, than any ever recorded.  This surely was the moment he had waited for.

"In excitement, he took his plant to the Tokyo center for judging, where it was unanimously awarded an First Class Certificate, garnering an unprecedented 99 points out of 100 on its first bloom."

"The World Orchid Conference was being held in Tokyo the following year, where the plant was awarded its second FCC.  From among thousands of orchids presented by the best orchid breeders in the world, it was chosen to be Grand Champion.  The very best of show."  

Evan reached into the refrigerated case behind him, and took out a many-flowered plant with thin leaves that resembled grass.  The large flowers, covered with short white hairs, were shaped like elongated arrowheads with long, trailing tails on the points.  Each was  marked heavily with concentric reddish brown bars across white petals.  In the center of each bloom was a pale pink segment, frilled like the underside of a mushroom cap, shaped like a tiny tongue.  The scent that rose from it bore the faint but unmistakable odor of decay.  "This is that plant."
“Unique," said Alucard.  Cupping a bloom in one white-gloved hand, he studied it.

"As sinister and as beautiful as the one who inspired it," said Evan in agreement.  "Its name is Dracula vlad-tepes 'Blood Honor'."

Alucard's eyes showed surprise and interest for the first time. 

"So there you have it."  Evan shrugged.  "A tale of two men, separated by a continent and a century, yet bound by a thread of commonality. Two prodigious works, one created by each.  The first, a book regarded to be the archetypal gothic horror novel, a template for all that followed.  The second, a plant of unparalleled beauty, a pinnacle of the breeder's art.  A standard by which all others of its kind will be judged for a long time to come." 

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

Evan smiled.  "All in tribute to the everlasting memory of  that now legendary prince of a small realm from a forgotten time."

"I understand."  Alucard looked at Evan.  He grinned, the long, white eyeteeth now prominent.  "It is a worthy tribute."

Evan smiled, too.  "I just thought it was something you needed to hear."  His attention strayed to the door of the greenhouse.  A pale-haired woman wearing a double breasted man's style suit stood there.  "If you will excuse me, Lord?  I believe Sir Integral is waiting for you."

Alucard didn't bother to look.  He had already sensed her presence, and her impatience.  Neither were of any importance to him.  "Yes, it is a nice night," he said.

Evan bowed his head again.  "It is, Prince Vlad.  May it remain so."