Abe Sapien and the Case of the Sub-Opera Siren
Rating: T, for some language and some violence.
Summary: The BPRD is called in to investigate attempted drownings in the lake under the Palais Garnier in Paris, and who better for a mission in a lake than Abe Sapien? But things are not entirely as they seem, and Abe is going to have to deal with something he never expected in the underground lake.
Disclaimer: All original Hellboy material belongs to Mike Mignola, though this particular version is Guillermo del Toro's as well. Gaston Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera, and so technically the Siren is his, though this version of her is respectfully borrowed from my friend Stef.
Author's Notes: This is my first Hellboy fic, and also the first fanfic I've completed that I've been willing to share. It is movie-verse, and a crossover with The Phantom of the Opera. Enjoy!
"You know, the man who rang at the siren's door just now--go and look if he's ringing at the bottom of the lake-well..."
--Erik, Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera
Abe Sapien had always wanted to visit France. He just never thought it would have to be a working vacation. In fact, since this was a working vacation, he suspected he wasn't going to get all that much "visiting" in at all.
Oh well. At least he'd actually be in France.
Agent Piedra sighed mightily as she flopped into the seat next to him. She looked harried, and as the only person on the team who spoke fluent French, she had every right to be. "The pilot's giving us a hard time," she explained at Abe's inquiring look. "Seems to think it's a bit dodgy not to be landing at any of the major airports." She paused long enough to recline the plush back of the seat before adding wryly, "I told him to sod off, of course."
"Of course. Did you get our ETA?"
"He said twenty minutes," Piedra said. "I think. It was hard to tell with all that whining about having to land at a private airstrip."
"Makes you wonder why our employers hired him," Abe remarked mildly.
"Competitive bidding?" Piedra suggested.
"I hope not."
Piedra chuckled and leaned back in her seat again, covering her eyes with one arm. "Wake me if we die in a horrible fiery crash, will ya?" she asked.
"I'll be sure to." Abe opened the mission dossier on his lap, even though he'd read it before and already knew what it said. It was a bizarre case, and one that called for his talents in particular. According to the brief, the Palais Garnier was having trouble with the lake in the fifth basement, trouble of the watery death kind. Common consensus seemed to be that it was a haunting; Agent Marble (asleep in one of the rear-most seats since the little plane had lifted off outside of Trenton) had jokingly suggested they'd get down there and find the Phantom of the Opera.
Agent Marble was new, and so Abe had refrained from telling him it was just as likely they'd find the ghost of the Opera Ghost as anything else. Stranger things had happened.
So people were dying (or very nearly so) in the basements of the Garnier, and the current owners and managers of the opera house had gotten in touch with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. They didn't care what it was; they wanted it out. That was why Agents Piedra, Marble, and Granite were the ones escorting him across the Atlantic--Piedra spoke most of the Romance languages at least a little, and Spanish, French and Italian fluently. Granite was particularly adept at exorcisms, and Marble was a newly discovered medium being trained to handle his abilities without going insane. And of course, who better for working anywhere underwater than Abe? They were a crack team for dealing with a ghost in a lake, and should things turn out to be more difficult to handle then they'd expected, Hellboy and a very fast jet were on call at headquarters. (He'd wanted to come from the outset, but the guys from the Garnier who'd contacted the BPRD wanted their building's foundations to remain intact unless there was absolutely no way to avoid it. His inclusion was out of the question.)
It wasn't long before the private plane had touched down and the team disembarked. The managers of the Garnier were there to meet them, two men and a woman. They looked distinctly relieved that the team from the BPRD had come--and distinctly uneasy that they'd had to be called in at all. Agent Piedra immediately bustled over to them and introduced herself, asking after any changes in the situation that might have cropped up in the time it took them to get to France.
While she kept the three managers busy, Marble, Granite, and Abe unloaded their equipment from the plane. A large van had generously been provided, and it was into this their cargo went, for the trip into Paris. Piedra joined them just as they finished, looking even more harassed then she had on the plane.
"Garnier's closed to the public for the next couple of days," she told them as the team boarded the van. The managers apparently weren't coming with; they'd all climbed into a plush looking sedan and departed at high speed. "They want us in and out as soon as possible--apparently this is a big inconvenience for them." The tone of her voice made it clear that she now knew intimately just how much of an inconvenience it was, and regretted the information.
"It sounds straightforward enough," Marble remarked with a shrug. "Go in, find our ghost, get rid of it, get out. What could go wrong?" At that, Piedra groaned and Granite dropped his head into his hands before fixing the young agent with a hard stare. Marble looked between both of them and then, with entreaty, at Abe. "What'd I say?"
"You said the worst thing there is to say when you want a mission to be routine," Abe told her soberly. He leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. "'What could go wrong', indeed?"
The Palais Garnier was every bit as impressive as Abe had expected it to be, but he had no opportunity to linger, as he much longed to. Even though the building had been cleared of all public and most of the staff, they were still hustled through the upper levels and into the basements below the building. Monsieur Beauvais, one of the three managers, led them as far as the third basement, but refused to go any farther.
"I am a superstitious man," he explained, through Agent Piedra. "I don't want to anger the ghost any more that it's already been angered. So I'll just stay up here...where it's safe."
Well, it wasn't like they could fault him. After all, it was their job to deal with this, not his. So he gave Piedra detailed directions on getting down into the fifth basement, and they left him. It was actually easier going with him gone; Abe didn't even have to be in contact with the man to read the waves of dislike and unease that had radiated off him. It was very nice to be out of his company.
The directions were good, and they found their way easily enough to the fabled lake under the Opera house. The BPRD agents began to unload the equipment, breaking out the flashlights first, so as to get a little illumination. The electric lighting around the lake was weak, at best, but they'd anticipated that, and had brought some of the Bureau's most high-powered portables. While Abe divested himself of the clumsy gear that let him remain for so long above water, Agent Granite began to investigate the sloping shore of the underground lake, looking for a clue as to what they might be dealing with.
His deceptively casual remark of, "Huh. This is strange," had all of them gathering where he stood. He knelt, pointing out long, shallow scrapes in the layer of muddy silt that had gathered at the waterline. "What do you make of these?"
"I dunno," Piedra muttered. "It looks like something got dragged through the muck there. Has anyone been down here lately, you think?"
"It's not that," Abe said quietly. "I'd know." If anything had happened recently enough that the water hadn't obliterated the marks in the mud, he'd feel it. Mental echoes of horrible death-by-drowning tended to linger in a place. Since he wasn't picking any up, nothing like that had happened. Recently.
"They look like the tracks my dad's rowboat leaves when we push it into the water," Marble remarked. Both Piedra and Granite looked at him strangely. "What?" he demanded defensively. "Just because we're here doesn't mean there isn't a mundane explanation!"
"...Good point," Piedra acknowledged wryly. "So there might be a boat out there."
"I don't like that," Abe said, returning to the equipment cases. "A boat could mean that people are involved, and that's bound to turn messy." He packed away his out-of-water gear and turned to the other agents. "There's only one way to find out for sure." He smiled wryly at them and waded into the lake.
The water was cold, but that was to be expected. He didn't like it, but it certainly didn't stop him from diving in as soon as it was deep enough; he was so much more comfortable underwater than he was on land, even with the equipment that helped him breathe.
For a very short moment, Abe allowed himself to forget the mission and just revel in being submerged again. That moment over, he returned to business, switching on a hand light and stroking farther out into the lake. The waters were still and quiet, disturbed only occasionally by condensation dropping from the ceiling or a fish swimming by. He didn't see anything out of the ordinary...yet.
There was no denying that something had happened in this lake, though. People had died here, even if none had in the immediate past. He could feel their last moments, whispering horror and agony about the back of his mind. The impressions were dim, faded, like old photographs, but undeniable nevertheless. It was unsettling.
His hand-light's beam picked out something unusual on the floor of the lake, and he drifted down cautiously for a better look. Whatever it was he'd been expecting, it certainly wasn't the series of crude doodles in the silt on the floor of the lake that he found. He examined them closely, but couldn't really make heads or tails of the succession of stick figures. They were, after all, stick figures, and by virtue of that alone not particularly unique.
Abe crouched on the floor of the lake and pressed one hand into the mud, disrupting the edge of what looked sort of like a cat. He opened his mind to whatever impressions there were in the drawings. What came to him rocked him like a physical blow; the clearest and strongest emotion radiating out of the stick gallery was...loneliness. He jerked his hand back, confused.
Abe kicked for the surface. The others should know about this, he thought. He broke the surface of water, looking around to orient himself with respect to the shore, and was rather worried to find that he could no longer see the rest of the team--he'd penetrated farther into the labyrinth than he'd originally thought.
also found that boat that made the strange tracks in the mud
Author's Notes: The next chapter is already completed and should be up in about a week. All feedback is welcomed; let me know what you thought! Thank you!