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Writing Terminus

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It was the first of January and the world’s leaders had all made it to Duddlewane. This once-in-a-century meeting would last a week as they discussed matters of great importance. It used to last a whole month, but the absence of leadership presented unique challenges to the nations of the world. As a result, the time was shortened.

Today, among the many leaders, Ferdinand MacWalrus woke from a well-rested night’s sleep. The President of Gandonia had been looking forward to this gathering for many years, this was a meeting his father never got to attend, nor any of the democratically elected leaders before him, in the past hundred years. Though, as leader, he knew a secret about his country that he would take to his grave: there was no democracy in Gandonia. Every leader since the formation of the country had been hand-picked by a mysterious man named Phil.

Over breakfast in the Duddlewane Guest Cafeteria, Ferdinand saw two individuals that stood out to him.

“May I help you, strangers?” he asked.

“We’re here to fill in for Halberd,” explained Amperes.

As it soon became clear to Ferdinand, these two were organic androids Amperes and Bolster, here on behalf of Halberd. It was his great distress that the person he had personally asked to come here had sent emissaries instead of coming himself. For the sake of diplomacy, however, he knew better than to let such emotions show. Rather, he put on his best presidential smile and paid all due respects to the visiting duo.

The leaders gathered there that day would discover on the first day the same as all the leaders before them: the true name of The Gathering, and meet the World President and see his face. The significance of these facts often had ramifications that would last twenty to thirty years before fading from the collective memory once again.

A hall with a massive table, designed to seat all the leaders of the world, was the location of choice for this meeting. These people flooded in, knowing that punctuality was key to getting what they wanted out of the gathering.

Once everyone had been seated, they all looked forward at the entrance above the stairs. The large doors opened and someone stepped out. Their posture exuded confidence, but everything else about them seemed unremarkable. President of the World, ‘The Omnipresent’ Phil List, was there to guide the leaders through the topics of this first day.

“First, to answer some questions you may have, yes, that ‘Phil’ you might know from your home countries is one of my many clones, created to help me keep track of the world I exist within. And this Gathering, its full name is The Gathering of The World. Why this distinction? Because Duddlewane, like many islands on the Terminus, is represented by a piece of the Major Arcana, as you might have guessed Duddlewane Island represents The World.”

With that, the meeting began as normal, or would have, but this Gathering had one crucial difference, that none had been expecting. Through the ceiling crashed a mysterious figure, and before anyone could process the figure’s form, it seemed to vanish. As fast as this happened, one of the leaders found themselves in a sudden melancholy.

“Oh, how I have waited for this moment, and yet, it all seems so underwhelming. Would someone shoot me and put me out of my pathetic misery?”

Another leader wanted to point out the redundancy and lack of sense in these statements, but opening their mouth only managed a meek burbling sound.

Amperes and Bolster watched as leader after leader became downtrodden, and came to a realisation.

Once everyone except Amperes, Bolster, and Ferdinand had come down with this inexplicable ailment, an explanation presented itself, and gave a bow.

“They’ll be dead in thirteen minutes,” said a green-skinned man with a devilish grin.

“Hello Confidence,” said Amperes. “I suppose you’re why Indigo wanted to send us instead of Halberd.”

“Yes, I am sure Indigo is ever-confident in her clairvoyance. But there’s only one of us androids capable of controlling the very nature of confidence. I can give it, and I can take it away. In any event, it’s nice to see you two again.”

“You ghosted us for how many thousands of years?” asked Bolster. “Even when we called you after getting out of that bunker, you didn’t pick up. You let us believe that we were the unwanted androids.”

“Yes well, all actions and inactions have their purpose. You are working with Indigo now so you should know that.”

“You left Ferdinand alive,” said Amperes.

“Very observant,” said Confidence.

“Please, what do you want from me?” asked Ferdinand as he cowered in fear.

“You have a future in this new era, these other leaders do not, it’s as simple as that,” said Confidence.

A rumbling came from the doors above the stairs.

“Ah, there they come, right on time.”

Seven stone golems, all modified through science and magic, now served as the guardians of Duddlewane. Amperes had his concerns about their arrival, but Confidence swiftly answered them. He explained that their directives had been hard-coded by a team working ultimately for Jupiter, and that there was no need to be worried.

“So you work for Indigo too, then?” asked Bolster.

“Always have. But you know how it goes, there’s a time and a place for everything,” said Confidence.

The pace at which their friend had reintroduced himself into their lives, and put an end to an event said to be one of the most important in the history of the world, left both Amperes and Bolster in a state of shock, such that they could not really process what they were doing in the moment.

They listened to Confidence as he explained the situation, what their new directive was, and where they were to go next. The traumatised Ferdinand MacWalrus asked whether he had a purpose, and to that, the organic android simply smiled and said that the leader should do as he sees fit. This confused and intrigued the man, but he soon came to understand, at least he believed to, what he had been told. Through this, he knew what to do next. He scurried away, headed for the plane that would take him home.

“Are you alright, sir?” asked a steward. “The Gathering must surely be ongoing right now.”

“Don’t ask me questions, just get me the hell out of here.”

Ferdinand’s more relaxed disposition was fading away, to be replaced by his rarer, cold and serious disposition. Having no idea what would become of the world, or what that would mean for his country, his main concern was getting back. One thing that bothered him was the knowledge of Phil List, and the clones he had around the world. What would happen to the clones now that the original was dead? Were they created in a lab somewhere? What happened to the lab? Obviously his panicked mind could not help but question everything, but he had to remind himself of the position he held. There was no way he could ask such questions. He buried his troubles in a pit of relaxing music and a flight home. The plane staff too had their questions, but knew better than to ask. The flight began at midday, headed for Gandonia.

Confidence, Amperes, and Bolster had their work ahead of them as they disposed of the bodies of the leaders.

“Did you really have to do this…” started Amperes.

“Come on, my friend. These people were holding back the march of progress. They supported an oppressive system and only served to continue a cycle of complacency amongst the general population. Their deaths will change everything on this pitiful, bizarre planet. A planet that, need I remind you, is very important to Indigo’s grand plan.”

The speech made Amperes roll his eyes and defend his position, saying that he already figured something like that, just that he wondered if there was any other way. Confidence only laughed and retorted that there was nothing they could do about the ugly parts of the timeline.

The three of them continued to talk about it as they worked, up until Jupiter entered the room.

“It’s nice to see you again, Confidence,” said Jupiter. “Alright, you three have two more hours before being here would be a major issue. Admiral Whistler will be here to report about the situation in The Gathering to myself and Rudikan Sender.”

With this knowledge in mind, Amperes asked for Jupiter’s help, and she frowned. Confidence explained that there was no way that she could help them given her position. They continued to clean up, and finished with twenty minutes to spare. Bolster expressed his relief, and the three of them said goodbye to Jupiter.

Amazing to think they were able to dispose of the bodiesthough I’d expect no less of Confidence to come prepared. Jupiter noted that the android was making great use of their Fnogleity, a metal hourglass-shaped device known for its wide array of uses. She brushed aside these thoughts and prepared for the arrival of Admiral Whistler and Rudikan Sender. She had instructions from Indigo to stay and claim not to know what happened, no matter what.

It’s hard to imagine what may come in the future, but I trust Indigo wholeheartedly. It’s not her imagination, it’s prophecy.

Whistler entered the room and was shocked at the complete absence of any leaders.

“What happened? Surely I can ask you that much.”

Jupiter smiled and answered the question. “Yes, well, I have no idea. I arrived early to an empty hall. Bizarre, isn’t it?”

“Are you sure you had nothing to do with this?”

“Absolutely not. Now, may we begin the search?”

Jupiter was very familiar with procedure, and knew more about law than perhaps anyone in the world. This was, of course, due to her long lifespan giving her an unnatural advantage in the amount of time she had to dedicate to study. She knew that in the event of a leader going missing, that a search was critically important to the process. Neither Whistler nor Rudikan wanted an international incident on their hands, and Jupiter for her part played into the same concerns. She knew, however, that such a thing was inevitable, and that if something was inevitable, it was therefore necessary.

Amperes and Bolster were already en route to Barronym, as Ferdinand was also headed for Gandonia.

The beginnings of the Great Change erupted from Gandonia, as Ferdinand had been relieved of his position by Phil List, or rather the clone of him that lived there. The clone was furious that he had allowed the original to come to harm, and decided to appoint someone he could trust to declare war on Indigo International. The millions of clones of Phil List, without their master, were slowly going insane. Some had ended their own lives, others would seize power in the days to come, others would turn to violent crime.

A system that had been in place for thousands of years had started to weaken. The next year would decide the fate of the world. On the first of January, not only did The Gathering of The World take place, not only did The Fool’s Twelve Captains all happen to be at Farewell Island, but on Barronym Island, Indigo had gathered a trusted group of powerful magicians to bring the magician Orange ‘back’ to life.

Of course, as she would explain to these magicians, it was an impossibility for organic androids to die - they simply went offline and that reboots were possible under any circumstance, but depending on the state of the body, some reboots may be more difficult than others.

“Furthermore, unless the brain was damaged by the event that caused the system shutdown, memories are never lost.”

Indigo was fully confident that once the procedure was over, they would have Orange awake and ready to do what he needs to, with the instructions he had received all those years ago still fresh in his mind.

Present in the underground chamber were Indigo, Halberd, Ollacosta Adams, Ernest Summers, and Harper Wales, just as the first had anticipated. This moment, that they had been preparing for over the past several months, was upon them.

“The incident that caused Orange’s death was magical in nature. He used a great deal of magic to contain Pyros’ self-destruction and protect his spirit and that of the old King’s. To bring him back from this mystic state requires a magic that will need the expertise of Ernest and Harper, and the unique position of a novice in the case of Ollacosta. Halberd and I are here to provide instruction, to guard, and to be present for Orange’s awakening, as familiar faces.”

Indigo’s explanation made sense to everyone, and as she gave the first instructions, Ernest and Harper followed suit, with Ollacosta following their example. A few hours later, the procedure was over, and the results were faster than all apart from Indigo had expected.

“Ah, it’s good to be back,” said Orange. “Hard to believe that Confidence really did it. Those Phil List clones are going to be really mad. There’s one on this island, isn’t there? If I recall correctly, they’re a brachiosaur handler.”

“Yes, well that one shouldn’t be a problem for us,” said Indigo.

Ernest wondered how Orange knew so much about the island, and the android simply explained that he had been keeping an eye on things as a spirit, via the blue tree.

“Alright, it’s good to have you back,” said Halberd. “Shall we get to work?”

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Masquer could scarcely believe his eyes at the sight of the newly rebuilt Gareth Town. The Gentleman’s Club had turned his hometown into a bustling metropolis. Not only that, but everyone he had thought to be dead was still alive. He could not process just how much Tom Sorrow’s illusions had messed with his head. At the beginning of this new century, however, he felt ready to give something new a try.

As he explored the city, trying to find a representative of the Gentleman’s Club so that he could enquire about joining, he came across the last person he expected to be up and about. Eleanor French now had all manner of cyborg enhancements, the kind where you could tell, presumably as those were much quicker to acquire, or perhaps it was her preference.

“What are you gawking at, lame brain Jane?” asked Eleanor.

“You’ve improved yourself - I’m just processing the changes,” said Masquer.

“Fair enough. My brain might be a computer now, but I feel more human than ever, so don’t worry about it.”

“So what are you going to do moving forward?”

“I’ve been offered a position in the Gentleman’s Club. It’s a Recruit position, but I have insider information that they expect me to rise through the ranks. Oh, and if you were thinking about joining up with them, you’re already a member, too.”

“Did you…”

“No, this was all Dorothy. She’s got some real big plans for the Gentleman’s Club, and for that she needs all hands on deck.”

The first of January held many opportunities and revelations regarding the Gentleman’s Club, that Masquer and Eleanor would join was just one of them.

“Oh yeah, and I have a codename now,” said Eleanor. “It’s Lumina.”

Gandonia’s former President, Ferdinand MacWalrus, was a man who had never experienced a hardship in his life until today. He had witnessed a horrific murder, fled the scene after being spared, and was stripped of his position. His country seemed to be on the verge of becoming a dictatorship and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it. He sat and curled up in a ball in an alleyway. He was left alone with his thoughts for all but three moments before someone appeared next to him without warning, coming from nowhere.

Stretching out his hand, the strange man introduced himself. “Hello, Ferdinand, I am Jack Door of the Gentleman’s Club.”

The immediate introduction put Ferdinand’s mind at ease, and soon they began a conversation that would change the former ruler’s life. He would feel a heavy guilt for the first time, but also a righteous indignation. He wondered if the Gentleman’s Club held some sort of redemption for him.

Orange, Indigo, and Halberd were out in the streets of Fort Barronym, standing in front of a Phil List clone.

“Do you have any idea how much of a relief it is to be free from the tyranny of my genetic benefactor?”

“Not a remark I was expecting, but you’ve always seemed like a laid-back person to me,” said Halberd.

“I’m among several clones that long to work independently. Now that I have that opportunity, how may I help you?”

Fse Fso, the World Chancellor, had heard the news that Phil List, the President of the World, had died, through his personal Phil clone. He slumped in his chair, very disturbed at the news.

My options are slim now, thought Fse. The world I sought to preserve is now on the verge of collapsing. The balance will shift dramatically. Indigo’s ultimate intentions have escaped me over the years, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she had plans to take control of this planet.

I don’t know what to do next, for the first time in my long life. I’m mad at Indigo, but I know that she has her reasons. Are the ambitions I’ve held all my life just wasteful in the grand picture of all things? Well, at the least I know better than to let myself ruminate for too long. I will come to a decision soon.

Lachlan Baron had recently done something reckless and exhilarating: after being relieved of his position, he broke into the re-education facility where his wife had been held and escaped with her to the sea. However, neither of them had been ready for their next destination. The result came as a shock to their system, one not even leaving that island would solve. They came ashore on the beaches of Camelot, with a look of dread in their eyes.

“So we’re agreed?” asked Lachlan.

“We will never speak of what we saw to anyone, under any circumstance,” said Alessandra.

As they walked toward the mainland, Lachlan recognised where they were. Hope filled their minds just a little.

“What a relief to be back here. Reminds me of old times, right Lock? We could relive those days…”

“Sandy, there’s no guarantees that Camelot is the same as back then. We just need to approach this with a level head, and see what happens next.”

“Well, I believe we should be safe here…”

“Perhaps, but like I said…”

“Look, we don’t really need to talk about this. Let’s just do the thing, alright?”

To the surprise of many in the Gentleman’s Club, Phileas Fogg had elected to retire, nominating Dorothy Gale as his successor. Though indeed it was surprising, it was welcome, as her meteoric rise through the ranks had been noticed, and she was well-respected in the organisation.

Phileas was packing his things when Nemo came in to talk to him. It seemed he had something on his mind.

“It couldn’t have been easy to retire, friend,” said Nemo.

“No, but it was necessary. There are a few of us who are overdue to have our final voyage. I take it the Nautilus awaits us?” said Phileas.

“Of course, friend. Both you and Alexander coming on this trip with me is all I hoped, but more than I could ask for.”

“But you did ask, and I’m glad that you did.”

“We have a few destinations in mind, first I thought about Forbuda, for I think it would do Alexander good to-”

“Listen, I don’t need to hear about the itinerary, just know that I’ll be with you, wherever we do end up.”

Phileas finished packing and joined Nemo and Alexander in the Nautilus, taking a travel chair to the secret port in the Atlas. Pierre Aronnax gave a slight smile as the former Gentleman Guides boarded the submarine as guests. Also joining them was Phileas’ assistant, Jean Passepartout. Once all parties were accounted for, the vessel submerged, and began its route to the Terminus.

Dorothy Gale had been entrusted with the position of Grand Gentlelady, and the seventy-ninth leader of the Gentleman’s Club. She smiled as she walked up to the podium in the midst of the great main hall, to give her acceptance speech.

“First of all, I want to thank everyone for the quick turn around in casting votes, once again it seems this organisation proves its ability to vote unanimously, or rather, its confidence in those nominated by the previous leaders.”

Dorothy paused, wanting to chose her next words carefully.

“I hope to be the leader that the Gentleman’s Club needs. I am my own person, so I hope the transition from Phileas to myself will not be jarring to any of you.”

The look on her face seemed to almost betray something on her mind, but it was so slight that no-one noticed.

“There is but one thing as leader, however, that I believe is imperative to establish as soon as possible.”

She paused to allow a small amount of anticipation to build.

“The world is ever-changing, and the rigid walls between the different powers may crumble. If we are serious about making this world a better place, then rather than sticking with the power structures that currently exist, we must do something differently. That is why I propose that we enter an alliance with Indigo International.”

There was a great shock and silence that came across the room. No-one was quite sure what to say to that. The silence hung in the air for a little while, but then Tristram spoke.

“Yes, a radical change like this might just tip things in our favour, what does everyone else think?”

“As someone who has been fairly cognisant of the need for this, I stand in support,” said Thomas Dreamer.

“I had never thought about such a thing before now, but I trust Thomas Dreamer with my life, and I trust Dorothy Gale, as she was nominated by Phileas Fogg, someone of extraordinary character,” said Gerard Lofty.

It was the words of these three that swayed opinion in the new leader’s favour. The decision was agreed upon, and the council of Guides was dismissed. Dorothy called Indigo, and was redirected to someone else.

“Who am I speaking to?”

“I could ask the same of you,” said this individual.

“It’s Dorothy Gale, I have business to discuss with Indigo.”

“Sorry, she’s conducting business of her own. If you want to let her know something, she probably already knows.”

“Yes, well, you work for her, then?”

“In a way. The name’s Umbrella. I’m an android, too.”

Jupiter had been called to a meeting early on the morning of the second. Fse had decided to confront her head-on, and with the backing of Esther Maddock, made some hefty accusations.

“Ah, so you do think I was somehow involved in the tragedy of the forty-first Gathering of The World. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I know nothing except that this is the timeline that was always meant to be.”

“Don’t start up with that Indigo bullshit, I’m swimming in a world wide crisis here… we haven’t even begun to see the worst ramifications yet,” said Fse.

“The reign of the false monarchs is coming to its end.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, Jupiter?” said Esther.

“Your paranoia bores me. I’m recusing myself from duty.”

“Hang on, let’s not get hasty now…” said Fse. “The world is going to need someone in your position.”

“Yes, and it won’t be me. I won’t be able to do the job with the way the other high-ups distrust me. Before I leave…”

She let a silence hang in the air as Fse and Esther began to anticipate her next sentence.

“Think about your priorities, you only have so many allies.”

Jupiter walked out of the meeting, and called Indigo. Orange answered, to her surprise. She commented that he had been brought back online, and was glad to know that the androids were slowly but surely coming together.

“The great unity approaches. Who’s next?”

On Notably Small Island, now completely abandoned, Gold and Nougat landed on the shore.

“Are you sure Amperes and Bolster called from here?” asked Nougat. “For some reason this place makes me nostalgic…”

“No time to ask questions. From what I hear, Indigo is on this planet. It might not be a good idea to stick around.”

“What are you so reserved about, Gold? Despite her far from conventional methods, she has the same directive as all of us. We must approach this logically.”

“Perhaps you’re right my love.”

Zephyr and Darque Storm were surprised to hear of the new alliance, but as the former was an organic android and thereby a key member of Indigo International, he was quickly informed and given new instructions: to rise to the rank of Gentleman Guide as soon as possible.

“Don’t worry about setbacks, if they happen then they were meant to happen. Just keep moving upward,” said Indigo.

On her end, in Barronym, the third of January was the day that Halberd overturned old traditions and appointed a new ruler, Queen Ollacosta Adams. This was all in preparation for Halberd to leave Barronym: after all, the value of an organic android in that position had served its usefulness. With the leaders of the world now dead, and Orange resurrected, there was nothing more to be gained from an android being limited by a position of power.

On the fifth of January, in the secret headquarters of Indigo International, another historic meeting, the first of many, would occur. Amperes, Bolster, Confidence, Elephant, Gold, Halberd, Indigo, Jupiter, Nougat, Orange, Umbrella, and Zephyr were all together in one place. Twelve androids, more than had ever been united in their history, were ready to discuss their plans for the future. There was a tension in the air as the androids shot each other knowing glances and smiles.

“Alright, I’d like to start by saying that it’s good to see you.”

This short sentence from Indigo had her contemporaries all immediately quiet and attentive.

“I’m sure I don’t need to spell out that this moment in time is only the beginning. We have our work cut out for us.”

“You’re sending us to Kerosene, right?” asked Amperes.

“In due time, some of you will go, but there are multiple missions that must be completed over the next year. This time in history is critical, more than you can know.”

“I believe it,” said Confidence. “I can’t wait to see Dancer, it’s been a while.”

“Mint and Pretzel are some of my best buds, but I haven’t seen ‘em in a while and don’t know what they’ve been doing lately,” said Nougat.

“Easy now, listing off everyone who isn’t here won’t bring them to this planet any faster,” said Orange.

“Well, at any rate, it sure is odd to see so many familiar faces after all this time,” said Zephyr. “And I look forward to seeing how these new missions will shape our future.”

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