Amai

Other names: Amai-of-the-Wormholes, City at the End, Grease Trap of the Universe, Endsville, City of Wormholes

Population: Approximately one million

Size: Approximately 32 kilometers square, with some variance in the Frontiers

Government: Multiparty oligarchy, with various groups of stakeholders represented on a city council

Executive: The Entity (de facto)

Amai is a conglomeration of organic and inorganic debris that has accumulated at a neutral point in space-time, primarily consisting of material that has been lost in artificial or naturally-occurring wormholes. It has been likened to “the grease-trap of the universe” in this regard. Additional material accumulates at a steady rate, and the city has expanded several times to take advantage of the additional real estate.

The earliest inhabitants appear to have been an interdimensional survey crew from skein 1AA056K4, who gave the area its name. It means “end” in the native language of one crewmember and “sweet” in the language of another, reflecting their view of the place as the ”end of everything” but also a “sweet refuge” from being scattered to the quantum winds. This crew was en route to deliver terraforming tools to a colony, and it is their cargo of oxybushes and babel trees that is responsible for the current, habitable, state of Amai.

Over time, the population grew with accidental arrivals, refugees, explorers, and religious pilgrims. The city council eventually arose as a way to mediate disputes without violence thanks to the intervention of the Entity. During a fierce war between groups of new arrivals and entrenched inhabitants, the leaders of the largest and most powerful groups received a powerful psionic summons to the dead center of Amai. Those who did not attend were struck dead where they stood, and their lieutenants appeared in their place.

During this meeting—the First Council—the Entity manifested itself as a globe of crackling blue energy. Speaking to the assembled council for the first and only time, it told the assemblage that they were to keep order in Amai and that any unacceptable conduct would be met with banishment or death.

All of the leaders of the First Council died within a standard year of various exotic and aggressive cancers, but their successors kept the loose structure of the council in place. Understandably, the Entity’s silence in the millennia since has been seen as a blessing by the current council.

The Entity still appears from time to time, wandering in or above Amai, seemingly at random, seemingly unimpeded by any form of matter or energy. Those who get too close are annihilated, even if they stumble onto the Entity by mistake, while those who stare too long at its eerie blue light inevitably succumb to cancer or stroke soon after.

These “inspections” or “sojourns” serve to remind Amaians that the Entity remains in ultimate control of the area. Other than that, there are few hard and fast rules—the Entity occasionally alters Amai to suit its whims, and any sort of organized invasion or attempted coup has failed within seconds, though armed troops seem to be permitted if there by accident or to keep the peace.

Other than the terraforming performed by the First Ship, another habitable curiosity of Amai is its gravitation—precisely .904 G. This seems to be comfortable for a majority of living beings that stumble across it, but there is no mercy for those for whom .904 G is too strong or too weak; they die on arrival. There is also a day-night cycle of a sort, with a gradual illumination building up, fading away, and returning with a period of 1479.5874 minutes. It does not vary with any seasonal cycle, though the incandescence does bring with it a certain heat. While plants and solar panels will readily accept the light thus generated, for some reason it will not cause tanning or burns, and will not cause reactions in the photosensitive.

Near the edges of Amai, there is an area called the Frontier. Here, the density of the material on which the sixty is founded gradually tails off, as does the gravity. There is no hard and fast border, but those who stray too far will find themselves drifting away into the endless void. Those who do are ever seen again, although objects with known vectors have been tracked for years.

A popular theory making the rounds is that there is a group of near-parallel universes—a “Local Skein”—from which most material is deposited in Amai. This would go a long way toward explaining the prevalence of generally-compatible forms of life within the city, and suggests that other groups of skeins may have their own Amai-like structure as well. For the moment, though, this remains conjecture. An astrophysicist once attempted to approach the Entity to ask about this issue; she was known to have shouted “Of course!” before she died, in agony, of cerebral hemorrhaging.

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