Author's Note: Here is the epilogue; it's kinda short, just clearing a few last little things. Now I can definitely declare this story complete.
This took a long time because, at the same time, I've been brainstorming and drafting for another story. It won't have any relation to this one, and - fair warning to anyone that read this story that plans on reading my next one - it's going to be a bit darker and angstier.
Thank you to everyone who read - and, hopefully enjoyed - my work! I look forward to continuing to publish here!
England and France took the same flight to Paris after the Geneva meeting was over. France brought England to the hospital where the fake Lithuania was being kept. The two nations needed to evaluate their patient before formulating a plan of what to do to try to restore his health and human status.
Neither one liked what they saw. While the fake Lithuania had been exhibiting early symptoms of the nation-killing disease immediately after being infected with the drug, his condition had worsened at an alarming rate in the last three days. He was pale, appeared to have lost some weight, and, according to the doctors in charge of him, had been experiencing increased severity in his 'episodes'.
England regarded the sick imposter nation with a sense of guilt and dread.
"America's boss reported something similar happening to the fake America, literally the morning after we cured the real America," England said. "America called his boss earlier today, and from what he's told me, the fake America's condition is just as bad, if not worse, than the fake Lithuania's."
France's eyes widened, and he swallowed hard.
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"It means that we somehow sped up the drug that we infected the fake nations with," England said. "They could both be dead before the week is out."
"That doesn't make sense," France said. "How did we 'speed up' the drug?"
"I can't say if he's absolutely correct or not, but Japan had a theory, which he explained to America's boss," England said.
France arched an eyebrow. "Oh? What is Japan's theory?"
"A nation infected with the nation-killer loses memories at the same time their 'replacement' gains them," England explained. "We actually saw this happening with America and his imposter counterpart. Based on that, it looks like, by infecting the fake America and then subsequently curing the real one, we've reversed the flow of memories."
England lowered his gaze to the floor and sighed heavily before continuing. "The fact that the fake America's condition deteriorated so fast makes me think that the amount of memories a nation has affects the speed of the nation-killing drug. He doesn't even two centuries' worth of memories; and the real America lost those to him in about a week. Now that the situation is reversed, it'll take the same amount of time for the drug to transfer all of the real America's memories back to him, and kill the fake."
France's face fell. "If your reasoning is accurate, then the fake nations only have a week or so to live, unless we somehow fix this…"
"There's got to be something in that document Germany sent you," England said. "We may also need my magic. Look through that document again, and I'll get all the spells prepared."
Almost immediately after Charles had been escorted back to his cell, he received an unexpected visit. Russia entered the room, gleefully twirling his water pipe in one hand. He leaned up against the wall and grinned at Charles through the bars.
"Hello," Russia said.
Charles made no response, but stared expressionlessly at the Russian nation. It took over a minute of awkward silence before Russia's grin slowly faded.
"Not very talkative, are we?" Russia said.
He stared pointedly at Charles, but still there was no response. Russia shrugged, apparently undeterred by the prisoner's unwillingness to cooperate.
"You and I both know that your so-called execution won't succeed," Russia said, setting his pipe up against the wall, making sure it was far enough away from the bars that Charles couldn't reach it.
Charles lifted his head and finally looked at Russia. He still remained silent, however.
"Remember, back in America's lands? You tried to escape us, and I shot you in the head?" Russia continued. "You recovered just fine with no medical attention. No human can do that."
Charles rolled his eyes. "What is your point?" he asked.
Russia grinned again. "We all know you're a personification," he said. "The question is: of what?"
"I thought that was obvious."
Russia shrugged. "Perhaps…" he said, now pacing slowly in front of the cell. The Russian stroked his chin thoughtfully as he paced.
He abruptly came to a halt and let out a small chuckle.
"You know, regardless of what you actually represent, you're probably just as vulnerable to that nation-killing drug as I am," Russia said. "What's to stop me from injecting you with your own drug?"
Charles' eyes briefly flashed with what looked like fear for the first time. He recovered quickly, however, and adopted an unimpressed expression once more. Russia pretended to not notice Charles' brief lapse, and allowed the other apparent personification to speak.
"You don't have the drug," Charles said. "And you're not going to be able to find any more of it, either."
"Why? Because it's been carefully sequestered away in one of your bases?" Russia asked. "Do you really think we're not going to find them?"
Charles chose not to respond to Russia's challenge, which only seemed to amuse the Russian.
Russia grinned. "Although, I suppose that your other bases have been alerted, and will self-destruct – like back at Brandenburg – before we can find the drug," he said. "That's almost a sound strategy; unfortunately for you, we already have some of your drug. Instructions on how to make more, too."
Charles broke eye contact, and he shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
"If you already have all of this, then what do you hope to get from taunting me?" he said.
"Tell me what exactly it is that you personify," Russia said. "And – for the safety of your people – the location of all of your bases. Trust me, it will be much better for them to just surrender to us."
There was a long, uncomfortable silence.
"The organization that I command and personify would have been the state controlling the rest of the world," Charles said. "Basically, the head of a worldwide empire."
Russia nodded thoughtfully. "That makes sense," he said. "Okay, so why replace the world's countries with imposter nations?"
"To ensure that the world cooperated," Charles replied. "If I control the personification, I can control the whole country."
Russia gave a dark chuckle. "That is not true," he said. "You can ask me, or America, or France, or anyone who's had any kind of revolution or civil war tear their country apart why that doesn't work. You're supposed to conquer the actual country, and then the personification is at your mercy."
There was another pause.
"Anyway, you haven't answered my other question – where are the rest of your bases?" Russia said.
Over the course of the next several days, France and England managed to create a modified version of the nation-killer using a combination of the original drug and a complicated cocktail of restorative magic spells – courtesy of England – and successfully cured the fake America and Lithuania. However, there were a number of problems. The cure was unable to restore the men's original physical appearances, nor was England able to piece together their memories, which had been thoroughly obliterated by the magic used on them during their transformation into the fake nations. Both men, along with China's incompletely transformed imposter, were sent to a rehabilitation facility, the starting point on their journey to starting life over as normal humans.
Russia returned from his interrogation of Charles with information on the location of every single base. After some collaboration with his fellow nations, strategies were formed, then carried out, slowly eradicating all traces of Charles' would-be regime from the map. Charles himself was executed just a few days after being infected with his own nation-killing drug.
In the meantime, America and Lithuania quite suddenly regained all of their missing memories after their fake counterparts were successfully turned human again. During the raids on Charles' bases, however, more incompletely transformed fake nations were found, although, fortunately, there were only a few. In an underground base just a few miles outside of Saskatoon, a fake Canada was found. A fake Russia and Belarus were found in a base near Minsk. Several humans who had not been put through any part of the transformation yet were found inside cellblocks of other bases, and were quickly freed.
Two weeks after the last raid was conducted, America finally had the free time, and went down to South Carolina, the location of the last raid. Charles seemed to have a habit of having only one base per country, and America was curious to see what was in the base that happened to be in his own country.
"What'd you guys find?" America asked the captain that had been in charge of the raid.
"Not a whole lot," the captain replied. "They must've been warned that we were coming, there really wasn't anything there. Certainly nothing of use."
"Really?" America felt let down. "Did you find anything other than men to take prisoner?"
The captain hesitated, then said, "No."
America left the captain to his business, and went back to the parking lot, where he got in his car. He sat there for a minute, staring contemplatively at the wheel.
South Carolina was the last one, they said, America thought. And Charles is gone now; it's finally over…
America turned the key in the ignition, shifted the car into drive, and sped out of the parking lot.
I wonder if Canada's up for a game of baseball later….