Title: Figures of Myth and Legend
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: Sanctuary, B:tVS. Helen Magnus stared incredulously at the low-quality images that had been sent over from the Tokyo branch of the Sanctuary network. 1400 words.
Spoilers: Sanctuary post-2.12 "Kali" and vague for Buffy Season 8
Notes: For nothorse, for the prompt "Dawn doesn't need the Sanctuary, but do they know that?"
Helen Magnus stared incredulously at the low-quality images that had been sent over from the Tokyo branch of the Sanctuary network.
"Is that what it looks like?" she asked, pointing at the more angular of the two gigantic figures silhouetted against what appeared to be the downtown sector of the busy Japanese capital.
Henry nodded. "Yeah. I've checked every way I know how to make sure it wasn't digitally modified, and I'm pretty sure it's the real deal. Unfortunately, that's the clearest picture we've got; every camera closer to the action caught mostly blurs and static."
"I'm not surprised," Helen replied. "Colossal abnormals of any kind, particularly sentients, are exceedingly rare in this day and age; most of them were hunted to extinction long ago. If a genuine colony of giants does still exist somewhere, they must have incredibly comprehensive security measures in place to prevent their discovery by the outside world."
"Which begs the question," Will put in, leaning over the desk for a better view of the screen, "of why exactly a member of such a reclusive species would turn up in Tokyo in the first place-- and who else might have known that she was going to be there."
"The two answers are likely to be one and the same," Helen agreed. The fact that the more robotic of the two oversized combatants had clearly been fashioned to resemble its counterpart certainly suggested as much. "I take it she's no longer in the city?" she added, turning back to her technology and security expert.
Henry nodded. "Disappeared off radar again not long after this was taken. But I may have an idea of where she's gone." He tapped a few commands on one of his keyboards, and a new image appeared on one of the other computer monitors: a map of Britain. A small cluster of colored dots also appeared, reminding her of old-style pushpins, grouped around a central, larger point somewhere in Scotland.
"According to Declan, the London branch has been hearing rumors for months about unusual sightings around a supposedly deserted castle up north. Ghoulies and ghosties, mostly; the kind of supernatural background noise we usually filter out until enough specific details pop up to suggest there might be something worth investigating. A couple of the more recent ones do mention a fifty-foot-tall girl bathing in a lake, but since no pictures or other proof have turned up, and there was only the one witness…."
Helen sighed and rubbed at her temples. That was part of the problem of operating in this modern age, with all its advanced technology; the oral record had been extensively devalued to the point that if proof could not be provided of any given event, it may as well not have happened, even in so esoteric a field as theirs. Forsythe's success in waking Big Bertha had been a clear example of the drawbacks to that approach; he had pursued the legends and myths about Kali with a dedication that got him right round all the hi-tech precautions Helen had taken to assure the massive sea spider's security. The Sanctuary network had had all the pieces available for years, especially the Mumbai branch, but had never taken them seriously enough to put it all together.
Still, all that technology did have its benefits; instantaneous long-range communications for one, the ability to cover thousands of miles in hours instead of months for another.
"Do the descriptions match?" she asked.
"As far as I can tell," Henry shrugged. "It's the only lead so far; I'll keep you posted if I find any more."
"Very well," Helen nodded. "It sounds like Ishii has the cleanup under control in Tokyo; if you'd like to assist him in tracing the makers of that mechanical duplicate...?"
"Sure," Henry nodded. "I can do that from here easy enough. You can't exactly construct something like that out of baling wire and chewing gum; I'll start looking into invoices for the parts that would've been required. Sometimes, a deliberate absence of records speaks as loud as the records themselves would, you know?"
"I'll take your word for it," Helen replied, approvingly. "I'll work the other angle, then. Charter a flight to London; things are quiet enough here for the time being, I think I'll take a few days to investigate in person. Will?"
"Hmmm?" The psychologist blinked, looking up from his continued study of the grainy photograph. "You want me to come along?"
"If you have no prior plans," she said, lightly. "I know you haven't had the best experiences in my homeland so far, but I wager you'll find this case particularly interesting."
A lot of water had passed under the bridge since their vituperative argument about unnecessary orders interfering with his social life, but she still tread carefully around the subject when his presence was not absolutely required. She'd lost so much else in the last year-- old friends, former lovers, her job for a time, and Ashley worst of all-- and her newest protégé had become an unexpectedly necessary rock for her in the midst of all that chaos. Will Zimmerman had faced enough danger and loss of his own since joining her staff without her giving him additional reasons to regret that choice.
He frowned a little, thoughtfully. "You're right. Before Kali, it had never really registered what the rest of us must look like to someone so much larger than the average sentient being. Literally larger, I mean; it's similar, but not the same as the perspective shifts that you encounter with advanced age or fantastic powers. I'd love to talk to someone with a slightly more human viewpoint about it."
"It's settled, then," Helen said. "We'll have Declan's people available for backup, if necessary; Kate can stay here with Henry and hold down the fort while we're gone."
"You're the boss." Henry shrugged.
"At least for now," she replied, then softened the remark with a smile. "I'll just go and pack my things, then; I'll check back with you before we leave."
Terrence's manipulations had come to nothing, in the end, but he'd been right about one thing; she couldn't expect to maintain control of the Sanctuary network forever. Especially given the recent reports about a rash of apparently abnormal female terrorists cropping up round the globe. They'd barely survived the Cabal's last attack; after everything that had happened with Big Bertha, the slightest hint of mishandling of another large-scale threat might lose her the confidence of the other section heads for good. The trip to Britain would give her an opportunity to look into those reports more closely as well; she was not convinced that the matter was truly an abnormal one, but it likely was every bit as grave as it was portrayed by the authorities, and the greater incidence of such reports in her homeland would give her a better opportunity to peel back the cloud of rumor and uncover the truth.
Such thoughts continued to occupy her throughout her packing, their farewells, the flight to England, and the final journey to their destination. She had reached no conclusion by the time they were finally in sight of the mysterious castle; one encounter with a young woman calling herself a Slayer fifty years before did not proof of negative intentions make. The current group under that name might be entirely unrelated.
Still, she had found the girl attacking an abnormal, and had listened to many hours of confused, prejudiced vitriol regarding the Old Town Sanctuary's less human residents when she'd been forced to bring her back to the infirmary to dress her wounds. The girl must have been taught those ideas somewhere. She'd exhibited unusual strength, but no other abnormality, and when years later genetic testing had become available Helen had unfrozen a blood sample saved from that encounter and found no signs of genetic mutation whatsoever. Taken together, the clues suggested a large and sinister organization, which might be only now making its presence felt on a worldwide scale.
Worrisome indeed. But the time to deal with that was after she'd investigated the matter of the giantess, and not before. She was rather looking forward to meeting her. Even if the giantess and her people turned out not to want the Sanctuary's protection, Helen was sure it would be a learning experience she'd remember for many years to come.