Speculah:C.I.Akemi - Homura's intel source
Homura Akemi has, ever since the start, displayed more knowledge than any other character, with the exception of Kyuubey. At the same time, speculation grew that she was a time-traveler. That was confirmed in Episode 10, along with a depiction of her past experiences in the repeating timeline, with the accumulated knowledge from those repetitions explaining how she is able to predict almost every occurrence in the current timeline. Thus, controversy on the origin of all that information subsided. Well, mostly.
However, the time reset does not explain everything. There are several pieces of intel that Homura couldn't possibly have obtained through the recurring events in Mitakihara in that fifteen day period. From her experience, she only knew that Kyuubey had tricked the girls, and the consequences and mechanics of the cycle (but not the reasoning behind it; and we have no information whether she knows it's purpose if to combat entropy). She must have gotten that information elsewhere.
- Kyuubey's real name
- Walpurgis' past occurrences in other cities
- The files and pictures of other witches
Let's analyze those three.
The first is the most significant one. It's utterly impossible that she'd obtain Kyuubey's real name, Incubator, from anyone on the current cast. The only one who has learned it so far was Madoka, during Kyuubey's explanation of the magical cycle, where he identified his race as "Incubators". However, it is safe to assume that it is the first time he does it, given the specific circumstances of this timeline. And that was only after Homura revealed she knew that.
The only other character that could have told her is Kyuubey. But there is simply no logical reason for that. Given that she had already contracted, he had absolutely no need to tell her that. One might argue he might have told her at a time in that timeline where it did no longer mattered, for example, after Madoka turned into a witch. It is something we usually see both in movies and real life. However, it requires at least one of two things: pity for the defeated adversary, and pride for knowing you've vanquished your adversary, and can speak the truth knowing they cannot do anything about it. Kyuubey can feel neither one nor the other. He is cold and emotionless: even if there was the slightest chance Homura could do something with that information, he would not tell her, ever.
Another argument is that she could have continuously asked if this or that were true, and he'd tell her when she guessed it. But for that to happen, we would have to assume that Kyuubey is incapable of lying, which has been proven wrong by his lies to Kyouko in Episode 9. This is debatable, though.
The second and third are not as strong, but still valid. Files and pictures, so-called "statistics" by Homura are definitely easier to obtain that an unknown alien's real name. However, the amount of such files is massive. She possesses a wall chock full of it, plus those on the table. And this is not counting possible absent files, and other information she obtained, without the actual file (that is, things she heard or saw herself). And all of this in the same repeated fifteen days. So, where did she obtained those files?
The obvious answer would be other magical girls, and possibly human reports of paranormal activity that matches the description of a witch attack (police reports, files from occultism clubs, etcetera).
Kyouko, being her partner in this timeline, simply does not seem to be the kind to write and keep reports (she did knew what Walpurgis Night was; however, she states that she hasn't "heard stories" about it coming to Mitakihara. Therefore, we can assume that her information comes from rumors, which she'd usually hear, being a veteran).
Neither did Mami, the only other girl in the cast that could have this information (assuming Homura would loot her apartment for them).
Kyuubey, of course, has all the information, but would not give a dime of it, ever. Walpurgis is the key for all his schemes to unfold.
Who could it be?
Getting to the main point: if this mysterious source does exist, who could it be?
Only two possibilities are foreseeable: a foreign, veteran magical girl, or another Incubator. Or an archive/intel cache left by either of them.
The first one is rather simple: a magical girl from another city (or maybe not, simply laying low on the streets of Mitakihara), who learned the truth somehow and lived through it, archived and provided her with information. Possibly on her deathbed, wanting to avenge her, or maybe moved by Homura's story (assuming she'd tell her). It leaves the question how did they meet up. Either Homura heard rumors of her, or she was the one that sought after Homura.
The second is more intricate. A second Incubator provided her with all the information on her species and Kyuubey's plans.
But why would he betray a member of their own species? There are some possibilities. Perhaps the Incubators are peaceful, even if emotionless, and actively investigating a way to stop, delay, or reverse entropy. They discovering the magical system, but discarded it due to to it's consequences, and proceeded to find other methods. Kyuubey, being the asshole he his, refused to accept that, and started making use of the magical system as means to obtain energy. This could have been done either under the Incubator's noses, or at open sight, making him a rogue element of his race. Thus, an Incubator was sent to Earth (or, in the undercover possibility, an Incubator that discovered the truth alone) to stop Kyuubey's madness. Having made contact with Homura in one of the timelines, he transmitted all useful information to her.
An alternative could be the opposite: the race itself does not care about the means to obtain energy, but one member developed emotions (in a shout out to V), and went on a quest to stop the use of this abhorrent method. In this case, the "good" Incubator would be the rogue.
Finally, it could simply be an Incubator with a grudge/personal rivalry with Kyuubey.
Whatever the case, it's needless to say the information obtained from another Incubator is, of course, invaluable.
All of this is, obviously, assuming the Incubators are separate individuals and not some sort of hive mind.
The main problem to this theory is that, poorly executed, would lead to a horrible ending. But if there is one great thing about Madoka, is that the story is good, but the execution is flawless. So, no need to worry about that.
Points against the theory
- The doubt of how Homura learned Kyubey's name is based on the hypothesis that he is indeed capable of lying.
The act of lying is not an emotion, it's a purely rational decision to not tell the truth when it is not to the liar's advantage. Plus, there have been some examples of his ability to lie (namely, telling Kyoko that saving Sayaka wasn't impossible, when he later states it indeed is).
Still, it's an open debate. In the case that he is indeed incapable of lying, then he might have told her his real name, and the reason behind the cycle (as Homura, as far as we know, only knows the mechanics of the cycle, not the reason behind it). But one thing that is certain is that he omits important parts of the truth, even when asked. Therefore, in that case, Homura would have to be very specific with her question, for Kyubey to tell her the entire truth.
- Note that Kyubey also openly calls his race "Incubators" to Madoka, so there would not seem to be any reason to hide at this point.
- Also note, this whole theory is based on the fact that Homura might have met said source outside the screen. So, until that character appears on screen, or Homura confirms it's existence, this theory will remain just a theory.
- Some have considered traditional means of attaining the intel. Not only, like said above, police files of witch-like attacks, and reports from occultism clubs, but others like ancient books, and even the internet. While the first three are plausible means of obtaining some of the information (but never all of it), the last one is doubtful. The magic world is a seclusive one: it can't be expected to see magic-related news on the internet, or maybe even magical girl forums. Even less possible is to find actual photographs of the witches, and even more when we're talking about Walpurgis' previous attacks on other cities.
- There are also some of Homura's lines, that she uses to reinforce her position as a lone wolf. The most significant of which being Episode 10's title, "I Won't Depend on Anyone Anymore". It's an ambiguous statement with a lot of interpretations, but given that the people she relied on until then (namely, the other magical girls) were depended on for fighting, training, and moral support, it's likely that she means not depending on anyone else for those actions. Relying on information given by others is likely not included.
In fact, if Homura is truly willing to take down all witches, including Walpurgis, and saving Madoka at the same time, all of this by herself, it would be foolish of her not try to obtain as much information as possible, for whatever source was available. And Homura may be a lot of things, but one she's not, is foolish.
Information is power. And for her herculean task, she needs all she can get, wherever it may come from.
The example being, she accepts Kyubey's advice that Sayaka is falling into despair faster than he thought. She knew she would fall, but, like Kyubey, not as fast. She accepts that, and tries to save her at the parking lot. Had her sentence applied to information as well, she would not trust him, and would not have tried to save her there.
- It is worth noting that a lot of the stuff found on Homura's wall is stuff you can find by googling Walpurgis Night; it's historical references, paintings, and other stuff that would really not be hard to find on the web; and let's remember this is the girl who can make pipe bombs that take out witches in one hit using only the internet.
- In Drama CD 1, Homura does exactly that to figure out what Walpurgis is.
- In a similar vein, the aerial pictures of the city could just be taken from an equivalent of Google Earth; alternatively they were stolen from the same military depot she took her weapons from or from another random source.
- Pictures of witches and magical girls can have two realistic sources: either she has a magical girl friend who takes pictures of witches, or she can use her time magic to analyze past data. This would actually explain how she's generally able to know exactly when and where things are going to happen. A third possible source is simply that she's used her knowledge of each witch to track them down in their magical girl forms and document them thoroughly.
- A point for the theory that her time magic can be used to analyze this stuff is her apartment, which itself seems to be something that she'd have done with her magic, lending in to the idea she can do more than stop time or rewind it.