You know, whenever I’m talking to someone about the Summit Attacks late last year, the subject of the matter always turns to just who was it that attacked, and what to call them, and the person I’m talking to just sort of spaces out and I can almost hear the gears in their head grinding to a halt. I half expect to see smoke begin pouring out of their ears.
It’s obvious to me, but then I’m awake. I’m able to see the connections. Where there’s smoke, there is fire, as they say. And this big, blue clad smoke casting a haze over our oh so wonderful Imperial alliance has not blinded me to its source.
I’ve been talking about them for years. Other, more cowardly types in positions of power have whispered about them in hushed tones in the back rooms of tobacco dens and I’m sure more than a few of them have shaken hands with the culprits at fundraisers. They’ve shown up in Penny Dreadfuls as villains for decades. And, for good or ill, they’ve charted our course as a society for much longer than any of us can imagine.
I’m speaking, of course, of the Ephemeral Cartographers. ‘Oh, pish posh!’ someone might say when I float the possibility in conversation. Not the reaction I want, but it’s the one I often expect, and at least it jars them out of that dumbfounded blank stare before the drool starts pouring from their mouths.
But I ask you, who else could it be? Who else could amass such a massive fleet and attack the world’s foremost military tactician, Allie Handro Julie Anus, other than a society that has been acting in secret for centuries and very likely coined the term ‘compartmentalization’? Who else would have the funding, and the personnel, and the knowledge to do such a thing, than an entity so shadowy that it only exists in the majority of our minds in whispers and campfire stories?
I really wish our illustrious leaders would stop beating around the bush and start calling the perpetrators of this attack the Cartographers, if for no other reason than to give them a name so we can move on to more important matters, like where the hell they came from and what the hell do they want?
For the first question, I posit an answer: they come from everywhere. The Cartographers have no nation…no, that’s not right. Their nation is our nation; the Cartographers are us. They’re our best friends, our business owners, our politicians, perhaps even our families. They are citizens of the Triumvirate, or Sarnwain, or wherever else they operate. You could even be reading one right now! But you wouldn’t believe it if I told you, right?
As for the second question? I’ve no clue, sadly, and that’s embarrassing. I, who often deign to know all the answers to life’s little riddles, have absolutely no idea what it is exactly the Cartographers want…why, after hundreds of years of lying in the shadows they’ve suddenly chosen now to reveal themselves (and the Summit was just the loudest, most brazen example; there have been reports of personnel matching the description of those who attacked the Summit operating in the colonies for months). And not only have they chosen to reveal themselves, they did so with a massive fleet, which then proceeded to try and bomb our leadership to hell and back.
Many use this as a way to deflect my insistence that these are indeed the Cartographers; if the Cartographers were real, they’ve always been so subtle. Why so brazen, all of a sudden? And I admit, that is a missing piece of this puzzle. I look at the Summit and see what a Cartographer might call a desired outcome of their supplying new weaponry to rebel movements around the world. Typically, that would be the end of it: the Cartographers nudge, and the world bends accordingly. Never before have they been so direct about it.
Perhaps this missing piece of the puzzle will eventually fall into place. I only pray that it does so before it’s too late. Until then, dear readers, Stay Awake.
Welcome to the first installment of The Ex-Humanor. Oculus is a character I introduced way, way back when, who’s cropped up a couple of times in the Gazette as a charlatan and rumor monger, but this is the first time I’ve given him a full article.
One of the things I wanted to do this year was explore what the alternative media in the Blackwood Empire might look like, and Oculus is the result. He’s a riff on certain radio and podcast personalities, a way to explore the weirder side of the world as well as poke a little good natured fun at internet conspiracy theorists and some of their quirks (like accusing anyone who doesn’t agree with them of ‘being asleep’, or taking the name of someone they have an issue with and turning it into an immature, school yard insult, like ‘Allie Handro Julie Anus’…as though that solves anything). If the Gazette is somewhat a way to examine the media as a mouthpiece for the powerful, than the Ex-Humanor is a way to examine what happens when things like fact checking, editorial oversight and objectivity are chucked out the window.
And if the Gazette is one extreme, and the Ex-Humanor is the other, then I’m hoping the third feature I’m planning, Adella Chatelaine Reports… finds a happy place somewhere in the middle.