In the morning, Aikiko was back to her search – and had opted to go back to the tabloids. They’d been informative enough last time!
As long as you were a hyper-investigator with the ability to sort the clues from the trash anyway.
She discounted the stuff about mysterious power sources, collapsing oil and coal industries, Gilgamesh, blatant sorcery, and a winged golden angel fighting demons in Mecca.
- The Amber “Thefts” (or “unauthorized but vastly overpaying purchases”) seemed to have wound down; whoever was doing THAT evidently got enough for whatever he or she had been doing with the stuff. Perhaps a ritual or some artificing? Presuming that it wasn’t just some creature that ate the stuff or something. Well, at least it hadn’t been an obvious catastrophe.
- A small town in Scotland had abruptly been placed under martial law, and mostly cut off. The current speculation was “Terrorists”. It was some distance away from the one that Leon’s city opened up to though. Wait… it was a bit of a stretch… but if you read the towns name as if it was Old Realm… “The Place Of The Moon’s Gate”? “Where The Moonlight Enters In”? “The Path Of The Moon”?
Bah. A little more reaching and letter-substitution and she could turn it into “Vortex Of Occluded Stars” or “Where The Moon Knocks”, or any of a thousand other things. As if someone would found a town and name it in a long-dead language anyway. Next thing you knew she’d be trying to interpret Nostradamus.
- A gigantic plane of some sort was reported as having traveled from New York to Tokyo at supersonic speeds, but details were sketchy. While several chase-planes had been deployed, no pictures had been released. That… was a bit odd; unless the thing had been dragging along it’s own private storm or was cloaked or something there should have been plenty of time for all kinds of cameras to get a shot of it. Still, that could be all kinds of things.
- In the southwest, a train had apparently managed to cross a major gorge on a bridge that had collapsed in an explosion some twenty minutes before. It was reported that some passenger had cold-cocked the engineer and taken control of the train, despite attempts by the crew to intervene. Additional reports of a bandit gang chasing the train on horseback were mostly being disregarded since no one had seen any sign of such a group otherwise.
OK: That one was kind of weird. Air Aspect? Guardian or Chosen of Journeys? Raksha playing hero?
- The EPA had approved plans to construct a water system using “emerging technology” in the midwest. So… they’d decided to get Charles to build them a water-supply manse. Well, it wasn’t as if he was going to keep them a secret otherwise, what with his being about to open up hundreds of stargate-manses across the planet.
- There were claims that Mechagodzilla had been sighted in Oregon again. There were some photographs, but they were mostly being disregarded as publicity stunts for Toho – and while no one knew for sure what had stopped that flash flood, trees forming a temporary dam seemed a lot more plausible to most than Mechagodzilla.
Well… she did need to talk to Mechagodzilla anyway.
- In the Ukraine, there had been massive disruptions of the Russian military forces, lots of equipment failures, and a few command disappearances – although those individuals were popularly thought to have skipped out rather than attempting to explain the sillier failures. Of course… in a semi-invasion situation, any number of creatures might have opted to get involved. Even without the political factors half the magical beings out there were pretty territorial. Still… could that be connected to the amber-gathering?
- Iran and Iraq were both gearing up their military forces while they still had the currency reserves to buy things. Not too surprising that; even if they weren’t both so paranoid about each other they probably found Leon kind of threatening. Still, a LACK of hostilities in the middle east would have been a lot more surprising.
What was semi-serious reporting like that doing in the tabloids anyway? Oh; framing for a series of much sillier stories about mercenaries and such.
- Hm… the largest beaver dam in the world had been discovered in Canada. There were pictures. And… an attempt to vandalize it was supposedly driven off by Bigfoot? Clearly the beaver hired Bigfoot as a bodyguard once the first humans invaded his turf!
OK, that was kind of cute – and a friendly sparring match with Bigfoot had it’s appeal – but that was much more classic woo. Probably not worth investigating; at the most she’d just find some interesting scenery and someone out being “Bigfoot”.
- An F5 tornado headed through Minneapolis ran into a “dome of light” over the city which it apparently could not penetrate. The current scientific speculation was that it had lifted off the ground (which was not at all unknown, even if it was mildly unusual) and had thrown up enough clouds and dust to reflect the cities own lights.
Now THAT sounded like a Guardian. Or at least like someone with a good deal of power and willingness to oblige. Or possibly one of Charles’s agents? He certainly had enough of them running about and a “dome of light” could EASILY be a ward.
- Satellite Surveillance had revealed a massive structure in the antarctic after a massive iceburg (115 miles long, 16 miles wide at it’s widest point) cracked off of an ice shelf. It was apparently buried under the ice and appears to be made of crystal. Current speculation is that the pictures have been doctored to add a “Fortress of Solitude” for publicity for the new Superman movie; it will be 27 days before the satellite is back in position for more decent shots.
Likely a Manse. Anything else would have been ground to powder under the ice sheet a long time ago. Still, that also implied that it had been there for quite some time and hadn’t turned into a catastrophe yet. That would probably keep – at least as long as the humans didn’t get too far into some kind of investigation. Still… the most urgent thing at the moment was to get in touch with MechaGodzilla. She needed to ask him for a Kaiju-Boon, just in case! Ergo, a trip to Crater Lake was in order.
Of course, the Cauldron-Born knew that SHE knew about Crater Lake – and might well meet her there – which could be VERY bad…
Oh, wait! She was one of MechaGodzilla’s shrine maidens – and thus a priest of his! She could just hype up a prayer with a little linking magic and basically phone him up! That was a LOT less likely to result in being ambushed too.
And she managed 11 successes on 16 dice.
(Aikiko) “Hey there! What are you doing, performing civil engineering like that?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Greetings small worshipper! You have shown my grandeur to another potential shrine maiden! Congratulations! And why not protect the little ones? A simple blast of the Absolute Zero cannon in passing to preserve many worshippers! And putting in an appearance is no bad thing!”
(Aikiko) “Thanks… anyway, I was wanting to ask you for a boon! I think there’s going to be trouble in Heaven soon, and I want to help protect it. Is that something you’d be interested in?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Ah, protect a giant city from some terrible attack? This seems appropriate!”
Aikiko facepalmed. Of COURSE it did.
(Aikiko) “Can you… heh. Can you make me and Skoll Ultraman-size when the time comes?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Hmmm…. Grow to giant size? Easy enough!”
(Aikiko) “OK then… now if I accept that, what were you expecting in return?”
It did seem wise to ask! Deities could get weird, and Kaiju Deities might be even weirder!
(MechaGodzilla) “It is a small enough thing! Do show my movies at your parties though!”
(Aikiko, with a breath of relief) “OK, done!… Um… so what are your creators up to in there?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Preparing for something or other! Some sort of battle I think… It should be fun!”
(Aikiko) “Do you know where?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Off in the god-city I think!”
(Aikiko) “Do you know whose side they were on?”
(MechaGodzilla) “Must be against other Kaiju! What else would be worthy? Maybe Tournament!”
Was it possible that the Cauldron-Born knew about the Neverborn Kaiju?
(Aikiko) “I don’t think the Heaven-and-Earth Invitational allows kaiju, unless there’s some style that makes you into one…”
(MechaGodzilla) “Less silly than some styles! Heard about one that involves nothing but going to sleep and contagious yawning…”
(Aikiko) “Sidereals are weird-but then one made you, sooo… Not that I think you’re weird or anything! You’re pretty cool, all things considered.”
(MechaGodzilla) “Of course! I am MECHAGODZILLA! How could I be anything BUT cool?”
She rather hoped that he was not wearing his distracting hat right now, because that WAS silly. Of course it WAS a Raksha artifact. So many of them were silly.
(Aikiko) “Well, thanks, Mechagodzilla. Stay out of trouble, now!”
(MechaGodzilla) “Not likely! But you are welcome!”
(Aikiko) “Huh… Oh, is your pilot still after me?”
He or she might already be headed her way!
(MechaGodzilla) “Off in Chaos at the moment!”
(Aikiko) “Ah, okay then…”
Well… it was hard to scry from outside Creation into Creation. Unless they had some Manse for it. Or were using the Eye somehow (who knew what all that thing could do?). Or were using Sidereal charms. Or…. Well, OK; there were a lot of ways.
Time to look into that train incident. The more she thought about that, the odder it sounded. Sure, temporarily fixing a bridge wasn’t one of the great acts of magic – but who would have a charm for it? That was kind of specialized. Even if it was a general “repair road” effect… it would still be kind of specialized!
It was easy enough to get to the area. Not too surprisingly, one of the drier areas of the west (they could REALLY use that water supply). The bridge was currently being repaired – and the current speculation was that the timeline of the incident must be wrong; it must have held up just long enough for the train to pass.
She was no demolitions expert – but while there might have been some dynamite stored around or something – even if no one sane would store it under the supports for a train bridge in the middle of nowhere – but the placement had been awfully convenient; the main support struture. Overall, it looked more intentional than anything else, but there wasn’t much of a crater or any other signs of a large enough blast. Essence-senses said… there had been an essence-blast here – fire essence, and apparently well-targeted. Those traces were almost drowned out by the flood of necrotic essence however… Of the fifth or sixth essence rank. Some sort of high-powered – if fairly transitory – summoning from the underworld. That was a pretty powerful ghost or Abyssal, though! Not a neverborn Kaiju – but perhaps its charms?
Nah. There should be a lot more destruction and dismay if it was THAT. Hekatonkire? But how would it imitate a set of train tracks well enough to avoid a derailment.
Oh! There HAD been something very big that had just been sent to the Underworld! The bridge itself! Now… that was a clever (if likely mote-intensive) use of a MUCH more sensible charm. That must have really irritated the people who’d blown it up! Those horse riders… Ghosts? Train robbers? After all, presumably the point of blowing up the bridge was to wreck or stop the train. The train crossing a spectral bridge must have been quite a sight.
Were there any shadowlands nearby?
A small and minor one; a ghost town that once centered on a gold mine that collapsed, sealing several hundred miners underground. No one knew how long some of them might have survived – but attempts to reopen the mine had never gone well. There were a number of robberies of course; a sizeable load of gold was a very tempting prize. Most of the bandits were caught and hanged eventually – but no doubt at least some found their way to the other side of that shadowland.
She might have to pay that one a visit.
Still, somebody had really wanted to stop someone or something on that train – and possibly acquire it. Perhaps she could get the passenger and cargo list?