Charon, the skeletal boatman of the River Styx, will often meet with friends for cards, drinks, and chess at his modest boathouse with a lovely view of Hades and the confluence of the Lethe and the Styx.

The Reaper, the even more skeletal figure who brought Charon his souls to ferry, was a usual guest. Hades himself would show up from time to time, usually when he was on the outs with his wife. More typical guests included Malak al-Maut, the Angel of Death; Yanluo, the ruler of Diyu; Chitragupta, the Tallyer of Deeds; and Morena, the Winter Nightmare.

As one might expect from the guest list, these gatherings were restrained affairs. Reaping souls and the like was dour, tiring work, and low-key games of chance and skill helped diffuse some of the innate tension. Charon always paid for everything, as he was the only one to command a fee for his services; this also meant that his boathouse was the only domicile with full high-speed internet.

People have long-suspected that wireless signals are in fact living beings in their own right, imbued with malicious and mischievous souls. Charon knew this to be true, and he would haul in powerful signal-spirits by the boatload for his gatherings, plying them with promises of an escape from Limbo, where they resided after power outages or upgrades. Alternately he’d threaten them with a descent to Wireless Gehenna, a land of constant zero bars, sunspots, and Saudi Arabian signal jammers.

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Hades, the Lord of the Dead, was exceptionally put out. This was in both a literal and figurative sense; he had been booted out of his home by his wife Persephone and was currently hunched under a metal bus shelter in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas.

He’d been forced to sleep on the couch before, but this was a whole new level of humiliation. “One time,” he told himself. “You get a little too handsy with a naiad one time and out you go.” Hades sighed and looked around morosely. Time was, he’d had to beg Persephone to stick around, had to kidnap her for a little attention. How times had changed now that she was sitting alone on the bone throne and he was flat on his face.

The Lord of the Dead wasn’t exactly sure why Persephone’s portal had spit him out in Kansas. The Underworld was, of course, connected to everything, but…

“Why not Las Vegas?” Hades asked the portal 30 feet above him. “Vegas I could work with!” The aperture blinked shut in response; he wasn’t getting out of this anytime soon.

“Hey, dude, Topeka Nerdicon was last month!” shouted a local embarrassment from his Tahoe, idling at a light. Hades, in response, cast back his hood and let loose the full power of his baleful gaze. Skeletonized, the driver careened of the road as the Lord of the Dead enjoyed a dry chuckle.

“I just need to crash with someone until Persephone comes around,” Hades muttered. He wandered for a bit, skeletonizing all who crossed him as a bit of a pick-me-up. “But who do I know in Kansas?”

Eventually, it hit him: General Juan “Mad Dog” Contigo, former dictator of the Republic of Valverde, was living in Topeka under an assumed name. He owed Hades a favor, too. A few hours later, the god of the underworld stepped out of a grimy cab on the outskirts of town, rewarding the cabbie for his service by releasing him from his mortal coil. Contigo’s pad was a gaudy stuccoed villa surrounded by a tall wrought iron fence draped in festive Christmas tinsel even though it was April.

“You call this living incognito, Juan?” Hades groused. “This is why Comrade Conmigo overthrew you.”

As Hades swung open the door–which, to his surprise, he found unlocked–he was surprised to see a gigantic metal crucifix in the entryway. General Contigo had never been the religious type, not after the Nun Massacre of 1987. But even more surprising was the figure beneath the hanging crucifix: Posidon, god of the sea.

“Brother?” Hades gasped. “What are you doing here? what have you done with Juan Contigo?”

“Did you really think I wouldn’t find out, Hades?” Poseidon snapped. “All water flows to the sea, and that naiad was my granddaughter!”

“We’re all related to everybody else,” Hades said. “Look at Zeus! He’s regularly cheating on the people he cheats on Hera with-”

“Silence!” Poseidon thundered. “I cast your sleazy friend into the depths for a spell in my mines, and I will see my granddaughter avenged. You will serve every minute of the punishment we have devised for you.”

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