Chapter 02 – The Pointed Edge of Knighthood
The entire complex went into an instant up roar. Even as that happened the queen calmly walked over to the downed soldier with a sad look in her eyes. "He served one well" she said then grasped the handle of the sword and yanked, surprising the heck out of Xander and the Secretary who had all but feinted at Xander's instant action.
Her Majesty looked at the sword with a small smile on her face, "It has been many years since this sword has tasted blood." she said simply. Then turned to Xander, "It's not the ceremonial sword in point of fact, one of my ancestors used to carry this sword into battle, it is of course well maintained, however it is a very real blade. It is a weapon of war, and you Sir Harris are a man of war. We thank you on behalf of the nation and personally for your action. It has long been considered that the FREAKS may one day find use for one of my loyal subjects. No one suspected such an act as this, but that is no import." the queen of England then handed the blooded blade to Xander. "One wishes you to have this blade as a small token"
"Oh no heck I can't..."
"You will" Her Majesty said firmly. "It was meant for battle, not a comfortable seat on a cushion. But give the sword a taste of the monsters responsible for this I implore you."
Xander took the sword with all the good grace he could muster, and nodded firmly, "I will do as you ask Ma'am"
"I feel that you may indeed" Queen Elizabeth the second said with a ghost of a smile. Then she turned back to her downed officer. "Arrange for a full state funeral. Captain Price would never attack me on his own accord."
"As you wish Ma'am" the secretary said, pulling himself back together instantly. Now that he had something to do.
The guards then rushed into the room to face a very angry Queen, with a what the hell took you, look in her eye.
Rifles were drawn and cocked though at the sight of Xander with the sword. But the fact the queen herself called for them to stop made sure no one so much as thought about pulling a trigger.
Xander sagged slightly in relief. He wondered if Giles was going to believe this story when he got a chance to finally call him.
"Take Sir Harris to his car and arrange for his personal effects to be placed in his estate. I want my personal lawyers to handle his case." the queen ordered, looking as calm and fresh as a daisy.
Xander liked that, he really really liked that. Apparently some of the things he'd heard about the English were true after all. If their Monarch was anything to go by, he may even actually get used to the cold.
"I'm not kidding Giles" Xander said into the phone with a smile.
He listened for a moment then barked out a laugh, "No way she's cool. Totally. I liked her."
"Yeah I know, but don't go buying me any tweed yet"
"Yes I know you're not all tweed wearing tea swilling people, but the image just sticks in the head for some reason" Xander said with a smirk.
"Yeah, you too Giles, I’ll call another day. I've got a meeting or ten tomorrow to get through so it may be kinda late when I'm done. Or early over there."
Xander smiled fondly, "Thanks Giles that means a lot. And I may just take you up on it too."
Xander replaced the receiver on the cradle, yes the phone really was that old, and sank back into the chair. It was huge, the chair that was, yet it looked tiny in the 'lounge' of his at least temporarily, new home.
The place was simply put, immense. Old, slightly run down and massive. It was Xander had to admit, not half bad.
It was also empty, very, very empty. He was all on his own. His ancestor had died suddenly, and without leaving a will. As such the staff had been let go and an heir. Xander was that heir. It passed through a lot of branches to get to him, but essentially he'd won the ancestor jackpot. He knew nothing about the man who had come before him other than his name. Frank James Harrison. That was it. Oh and that he was a member of a secret organization that fought Vampires. The same organization that Xander was now a part of and if all went well would be from now on.
Xander sighed as something the Queen said came back to him. Freaks, but the way she had said it wasn't so much an insult, though she obviously loathed them, it had been a name.
Xander hoped he'd find out the following day, if not he'd have to do a little digging of his own. He liked to be as prepared as possible as a general rule. It was just that more often than not life didn't work out that way.
Xander looked at the crackling fire for a long time until finally he drifted off to sleep.
Being woken up by someone shaking you is never a nice thing. In this instance the person doing the shaking. Namely Mr. Spencer was the one not enjoying it. As he rather suddenly found himself lying on his back, hat akimbo and a razor sharp sword pointing at the tip of his Adams apple. He couldn't even swallow; mostly worried he'd be cut.
"Oh hell I'm sorry" Xander said, coming fully awake, “Sorry waking me up in a rush is not a good thing." he added with very little apology in his voice and a good deal of anger.
"Perhaps if you'd be good enough to let Mr. Spencer rise?" Mr. Windsor said with a hidden smile. He was really starting to enjoy being around the young American. If his taller companion had only listened then he wouldn't be at sword point. Apparently he had not yet looked at the file very closely. Mr. Windsor on the other hand had. He knew a man of war when he read about one. Men like that were often primed to fight at the blink of an eye. He'd know he had been in a war himself. Back in the Second World War in his much younger years, not that he felt he could compare to a man that had been fighting the supernatural for three years longer than most hunters lasted.
Xander backed off drawing Mr. Windsor's eyes to the sword he had used. Interesting that he had kept it so close, the story behind how he came by it was even better. It was of course ALL over the royal household. Not the details, just that a foreign dignitary had foiled an assassination attempt. Quite the scuttle but. Nothing to do about that of course, he just hoped The Sun or The Mirror didn't get a hold of it.
"Are you ready to go Milord?" Mr. Windsor said, letting his companion gather his wits and composure for a moment.
"I just need a shower and a change of clothes. This can be fairly casual right?"
"Indeed Sir Harris"
"Okay, then give me five... hey where the hell do I find the shower in this place. Better make that ten... no twenty"
Sir Xander Harris, newly minted, arrived at his first official Knighthood meeting in a crisp new suit and with the Blighty (an unofficial moniker Xander had mentally tagged it with.) attached under it. For some reason he just didn't have the heart to put it down. From the moment he had used it in Her Majesties Office to right at that moment it had stayed near him.
Even through a VERY boring day of solicitors meetings and signing papers so much he had hand cramp. Then business meetings that he hadn't understood very much of other than he was stinking rich with OLD money, he could almost imagine his father gnashing his teeth if he knew, not that he did, Xander hoped, otherwise there would be some attempts on HIS life.
He and his father were not close.
He adjusted his tie nervously once again. He didn't much mind wearing suits, it was just his nerves getting to him, this was big, his first meeting. A lot could rest on this single occasion.
'Good way to relax' he told himself off. 'Think nice thoughts'
Needless to say... That didn't work either.
Xander sighed and placed his mind in to a state of calm by sheer force of will and settled his gaze into one of a man in control of his destiny. A difficult act considering he wasn't sure of anything but his willingness to do anything to stop vampires spreading.
This, currently, seemed like the way to go. So Xander put himself into 'business' mode as he was led through the main halls of the large castle like establishment and backwards towards 'The Hall'.
A doorway opened to reveal a small reception area. He was led straight through to the main area. It wasn't much more than a standard looking conference room.
Xander allowed Mr. Windsor to lead him to a chair and he sat himself down in it.
Then he looked from face to face as their names were introduced. Then he almost came totally unglued by the final in the select group. The one he had found out was recently released from a charge of treason. One who he had assumed to be male, it was after all a fair assumption with a name like SIR Integra Hellsing.
'Oh god she's a fox' was the first thought that went through Xander's mind to be replaced by, 'Oh god she's just staring at me, what I miss?'
"Hello" Xander said clearing his throat he tried again, "Hello I'm Xander Harris from Sunnydale California"
The room sank into a hush.
"Is this a joke?" finally came out of a stocky looking man to Xander's right. "An American?" another said with obvious distaste in his voice. Xander glared at that one.
"He's just a boy" another said.
"If you remember" Integra said cutting through the din of the room like a knife through butter. Despite the fact her voice was not raised in the least. "I was 11 when I took up my father's position."
"Those were fantastically unusual circumstances" the first man, the stock one said. Xander hadn't been listening to the names, just reading their eyes.
"As are these" Mr. Windsor said, calming the room once again. "Sir Harrison, as you all know, was cut down recently and Sir Harris is the last in the male line."
"This is an OUTRAGE" the stocky man said. Wondering why the room had suddenly gotten so quiet and where his supporters where all of a sudden.
"Sir Harris?" Integra asked, gaining Xander's attention, "The same Sir Harris that only last night saved our beloved Majesty the Queen of England?"
"Quite" Mr. Windsor told the hushed room.
"Indeed" Integra said re-evaluating Xander up in her mental estimation... slightly.
"That can not be so" Stocky said, "That man was surely a soldier of some kind."
"Perhaps merely a warrior to the cause" Mr. Windsor said dangerously. He had taken quite a shine to the young Sir Harris. The thought that this jack ass was going to impugn anything Xander had done didn't sit well with him.
"Thanks" Xander said with a slight smile.
"I merely state the truth."
"On to business then?" Mr. Spencer said piping up for the first time.
The room nodded, leaving a very red faced stocky man alone in his anger. There was however two other pairs of eyes looking at Xander. One set were blue and emotionless to the outside observer, studying this new member. The other were blood red and filled with humor at the situation.
"The first order of business is the Hellsing Organization's handling of the recent situation" Stocky said with a sneer.
"Oh, do you have a problem with the way my organization dealt with a threat to queen and country?" Integra asked with a cool calm tone. She reached into her olive green jacket and pulled out her cigarettes.
"Yo, time out" Xander said, "What recent situation and can you NOT light that please. I kinda like my lungs"
There was a sudden stillness to the room and Xander just KNEW he was in deep shit this time. Then the moment was passed and Integra put her cigarettes back in her jacket and focused her glacial expression on Xander. "Recently we've dealt with a class 1 vampire who tried to ascend to a class III demon. My forces were almost unable to hold him back. In the end, as was gods will, we prevailed."
"Sweet" Xander said, "The vampire?"
"The demon, the name?"
"Ohh" Xander said with a grimace, "Nasty. How the hell did you deal with a demon that powerful?"
"Their pet vampire" Stocky put in with a sneer.
Xander's face cleared of any expression, "Pet vampire?"
"You have a problem with my choice in operatives?"
"I have a problem with vampires in general."
"I think you'll find every one in this room does. However Alucard and Seras Victoria are fighting against other's of their kind."
"There's TWO now?" Xander said with disbelief in his voice, "This keeps getting better."
"Perhaps we are getting away from the point" stocky put in. This wasn't going the way he'd expected at all.
Integra's eyebrow went up a sure sign that anger was building. Anger that usually exploded out of her like a volcano when the breaking point finally came. "They are both good operatives and I do not see that it is any business of yours who I have in my employ"
"You PAY them?"
"I merely meant..."
"Look" Xander said cutting her off, much to her and everyone else's shock. "I'll shut up if you can tell me one thing. Okay two."
"One" he said without waiting for an answer. "Do they have their souls?"
"Yes?" Integra said in a confused voice.
"Are they cursed?"
"No" Integra replied wondering what the hell he was talking about. Though Alucard's seal could be considered a curse in a way. "One is bound to my family, the other to him as she is his childe"
"Okay, I don't like it but" Xander shrugged, "So what, you've lost a lot of men I'm guessing?"
"Then you need more. Everyone here has a standing force. That's what the 'Sir' is for after all. I know I have it was in all those documents. Borrow ours until you swell your ranks" Xander said.
The room hushed again and Xander wondered what he'd done this time.
"An Excellent suggestion." Mr. Windsor put in with a smile. The boy was shaping up to be even more fun than he'd thought. The queen really had a nose for picking out people and this time she had surpassed herself.
"Well consider my guys; yours on one condition."
"That would be?" Integra asked coolly.
"You treat them as you would your own family." Xander said gaining a lifted brow from the platinum blonde and a nod of her head.
Xander hadn't actually met his standing force yet, but he wanted any man under his command direct or otherwise to be well treated. "Now I'm sure the other's will do the same. Right?" Xander said to the table as a whole.
There was an awkward sort of shuffle before they all nodded their ascent.
Integra's anger vaporized and was replaced by quite another emotion, pure amusement and a hint of anticipation. She had a feeling that working with Sir Harris would be at the very least interesting. At most it would be positively un-nerving.
Hellsing Manor – Night
"Well well" Alucard said fading into view. "That was a most interesting meeting."
Integra nodded, lighting a cigarette, she was absolutely dying for one at that moment.
"I am most amused by your new member" Alucard told her, gaining a slightly surprised look from Integra.
"Oh why is that?"
"For one, he wasn't the least bit phased by that anger glare of yours My Master." Alucard replied with his trademark crazy smile.
Integra narrowed her eyes at him, "I'm armed you do realize" she told him out of sportsmanship.
"As was the boy" Alucard told her, "A sword at a meeting of the knights. How long has it been since that happened do you wonder?"
"I seem to remember doing it myself"
"You are not a knight Mr. Master you are in fact a Dame"
"A ridiculous title"
Integra shot him a sharp look and slipped her hand into her jacket. "What do you mean by that?"
Alucard just smiled at her and kept smiling even as the bullet went straight through him. "Ohh tickles" he said with a manic gleam and faded away to her annoyed yelling.
Harrison Manor – Night
Xander looked down at the report with real anger building in his eyes.
"I don't believe this" he growled glaring at the paper so it was fit to burst into flame.
There sat in plain figures was the sum total of his standing force. There on the piece of paper next to it was the equally plain fact that he didn't in fact have a standing force. It was all a hoax, or rather a con. His estate got a nice subsidiary from the government for the standing force which apparently had been 'redirected' into god alone knows what, not a force of men that was for damn sure.
"What the hell am I going to tell the Knights" Xander swore to himself, though he had a horrible feeling that they may understand. Mostly, because they were probably in the same boat, it appeared from what he could tell that the knights had been relying on the Hellsing Organization to do it's fighting for them.
That made Xander really, REALLY mad.
"Ignorant old bastards" he swore to himself again.
He was also damn angry with himself. He had made a promise damn it. How was he supposed to be able to keep that promise when he had no 'actual' people?
It was times like this he wished he had asked Giles to come with him. He knew however that it was important from the watcher to remain with his slayer. Still, he could do with the older mans guidance, it wasn't like he knew that many people over here.
Then suddenly and for no reason a smile appeared on his face.
Hellsing Manor, the Next Day.
Walter C Donez, retainer to the Hellsing's for many years steeped into his master's office with a polite knock.
"Yes, what is it Walter?" Integra Hellsing said. A cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth as she attacked a mountain of paper work, her jacket slung over the back of her chair carelessly in such a manor to make Walter wince. Of course, he himself was perfect down to his shiny shoes. He'd always been somewhat of a dandy though, especially in his dangerous youth.
"Sir Harris is here to see you Integra"
Integra looked up from her paper work, smoke curling around her face. "Sorry?"
"No I heard you I was just surprised. What does he want?"
"Perhaps you could ascertain that yourself?"
"I'm rather busy" Integra said sardonically.
"He asked me to pass on his apologies but he said it was rather important."
Integra sighed, "Very well. Send him up."
"As you wish" Walter said backing out of the room like a ghost.
Integra frowned to herself slightly but got up and slipped on her normal olive green jacket. She then sat down again and stubbed out her cigarette. She frowned a little deeper and lit another. She'd be damned if she wasn't going to smoke in her own home just because some yank had a problem with it.
After a few moments Walter led a very casual looking Xander Harris into the room. He was wearing Jeans and casual shirt, new of course, and a very long dust type jacket. It swept the room as he walked and made him look impossibly tall somehow. There was also a vague clanking as he walked that told of a sword moving under the jacket.
Integra raised a brow at that. Walter never normally allowed people in to see her with a weapon on hand. "Sir Harris" Integra said calmly. Glancing at Walter who nodded at her, apparently he knew the young man was 'packing' and had done nothing about it. She'd be sure to take that up with him later.
"Sir Integra" Xander said with a charming smile and a hint of nerves.
"What can I do for you today? Was there a matter we didn't cover yesterday?"
"No actually this is to do with something we did."
Xander shifted nervously, "Yes you see... ahh hell I'll just say it. I don't have any personal troops"
Integra nodded, "I thought as much. I have had several similar calls. Though you're the only one to meet with me face to face."
Xander smiled at her, the nerves seeming to leave him. "Yes I wondered about that. But it doesn't matter"
Integra raised an eyebrow. It did matter and had right royally pissed her off in fact.
Walter took that moment to glance out of the window and saw something that he'd remember for sometime to come. A company of her majesty's best marching in perfect time straight through the gates of Hellsing. "Integra" he said with a level tone despite it all.
"I think Sir Harris has something to tell us?"
Xander smiled wolfishly. "Oh yeah"
"Well" Integra snapped, still not realizing what was happening just yet.
"I urh... called in a favor. With her Majesty, coming through your gates are 150 of the Royal Franklyn Regiment, they helped clear out a few of the nastier things over the years. They aren't SAS. They're the good ones right? Anyway, they've got knowledge of vampires and some training. You've still got your work cut out for you but... This should help out until you can give them back to me."
"To you?" Integra said, holding her shock under a layer of pure calm ice coolness.
"Yes, they're mine now. I will need a standing force after all. Just because my predecessor was an old fart doesn't mean I am." Xander said firmly. "I intend to live up to my heritage and my royal calling." he added with eyes of flint. "Now I've taken up enough of your time but I was hoping..."
"Perhaps I could arrange a tour. See how the pros do it over here?"
Integra had a ghost of a smile on her face as she said, "I think that can be arranged."
Xander smiled, bowed slightly and ... left. Leaving a smiling Walter and once again pleasantly surprised Integra.
Once Xander had left a red coated form faded out from the wood work and looked at the door through which Xander had just left. "An Interesting man" Alucard commented, drawing looks from the other two occupants of the room.
"Indeed" Integra said, "He's just rather nicely solved our immediate problem of numbers. We now have breathing room in which to recruit forces of our own."
"And found himself a standing force of 150 fully trained men. Not to mention the extra training that we'll give them." Walter said, "Astute thinking I'd say."
Integra smiled slightly, "Interesting."
"I think you should have police girl show him around tomorrow Master" Alucard said.
"Oh really, why?"
"I sense that he has a weakness for blondes and we could do with a man such as he on our side of the fence." Alucard said with his normal glimmer of manic humor, "Unless you would like to do it My Master"
Integra narrowed her eyes at her challenging subordinate. "In point of fact, I WILL show Sir Harris around tomorrow, but not to subvert him you malign creature."
"Of course My Master" Alucard said with more than a hint of disbelief in his voice.
Walter dodged out of the way as Integra's gun made an appearance, "You try my patience Vampire!"
Alucard just laughed and faded out of sight leaving, "Of Course My Master" on the wind.
Integra blew out an annoyed breath.
"Will you really show Sir Harris around yourself? There are many things that would be better served by you doing them" Walter suggested gently.
Integra nodded, "I shall. Frankly I need to see the troops myself and get some fresh air. Now I'm going back to work, try to keep out any other visitors no matter what gifts they bring."
"Of course Sir Integra" Walter said bowing.