The Eternal Empire operates on the principle of matriarchy; the reigning ruler is always an Empress and she is regarded as a direct descendent of the Goddess. This line of descent is considered to be important enough that there can never be any uncertainty of birth–as a mother is always indisputably the mother of a child that she brings forth, while the father may be cuckolded.

Not that the Eternal Empire believes women to be superior–far from it. Outside of the palace, the vast majority of generals, functionaries, and administrators are men. However, only a single man is ever permitted inside the palace–the consort. Empresses have on occasion made exceptions for their fathers, brothers, or sons, but nevertheless it is considered essential that the Empress be exposed to the depredations of none but her freely chosen consort.

Among the courtiers it is an open secret that this is regularly flouted, both by Empresses sneaking in male lovers and Empresses taking female lovers. Producing a heir is important enough that these events are typically covered up. In the event that no female heirs are produced, or the Empress dies in childbirth, the next adult female of the line inherits the throne. The Imperial Geneologist maintains exhaustive family trees to facilitate this. Genealogically senior claimants tat are not yet of age are typically killed by order of the Empress upon her acession in memory of the devastating Sisters’ War.

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Wicklow struck the crate with the butt of his rifle and it burst, scattering dozens of red bags onto the floor. “What do those look like to you?” he said to Ortiz.

“Doritos,” Ortiz replied. “My kids love ’em.”

“Look closer.”

Ortiz flipped one of the bags over gingerly. “What the hell? These say ‘Nachitos.'”

“Yeah. Lil’ Nachos,” Wicklow said. “The logo’s similar enough that most people don’t look twice. But it’s contraband. Snack chips from a dextrose-amino-acid skein.”

“I’ve heard of this,” Ortiz said. “If you’re from a different reality, you can’t eat our food?”

“The lucky ones can, but it’s about a fifty-fifty chance,” laughed Wicklow. “And you can, if you don’t mind it passing through you like a bucking bronco and maybe sending you into anaphylactic shock to boot. Some people even use ‘me as a diet food, since you’ll lose a lot more than you gain–if you don’t wind up red and gasping in the hospital or dead, that is.”

Ortiz stomped on the bag, bursting it and scattering the chips. “I don’t get it. How can your reality be so bad that you want to squat in ours, and still be making snacky chips?”

“Bad’s in the eye of the beholder,” Wicklo laughed. “Besides, a lot of these snacky-snacks come from skeins that are doing just fine. Imagine if you were living in a dextro-amino-acid reality and you could sell ordinary snack chips for ten times what you paid for them over here?”

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Are you sick of having to pack, wash, and store pyjamas and yet lack the conviction to sleep in the nude?

We were too. That’s why we invented new Pyjama Paste!

With one simple application, you have a strong, form-fitting, and disposable pair of pyjamas! It’s water-soluble, too, so you can just wash it off in the morning!*

Pyjama Paste. Spread the love.

*Water solubility may include perspiration in some rare** cases. Do not wear outside, in precipitation, or high humidity. Covering sensitive areas may require the Extendo-Spray Arm, sold seperately. For external use. May not work as intended on males, especially used in a state of arousal. Side effects include but are not limited to: rash, temporary dyeing, involuntary defoliation, alopecia horriblis, and The Clottening.

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Reality Refugees
Many have been heard to mutter that he current world is the oust possible version of itself. Try telling that to denizens of Skein-227764, which suffered a worldwide nuclear war in 1983, or Skein-001327, which was invaded by the Scourge in 1919.

While the technology to cross between realities is expensive, complex, and delicate, the allure of finding an alternate, better world in which to build a new life is tantalizing and an average of 500-1000 reality refugees arrive each year.

Our reality is particularly enticing because it is of middling development and far from perfect–making it easier to enter than, say, the universal utopia of Skein-999861. Nevertheless, their presence and any artifacts they might bring are considered destabilizing and are prohibited.

Mutual repatriation agreements signed with other realities require that these refugees be identified, detained, and returned. In some cases, refugees from reverse-chirality skeins are incapable of digesting food and will die without the proper nutrition. This in turn has led to a thriving black market in dextro-amino-acid foodstuffs, which have no nutritional value for beings like us and can also provoke dangerous allergic reactions.

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“I don’t let silly things like self-righteousness or ignorance bother me. And yet here I stand, bothered by you.”

She held up her fingers, poised and pressed together as if to snap. “Shall I do it? One quick click and you’ll be immolated and I’ll never have to listen to your whining again.”

Hearing no response but sullen silence, she nodded. “Very well then. Get out of here.”

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I thought he was joking when he said he’d pay me good money never to speak to him again.

Then, half an hour later, his lawyer arrived by taxicab with the forms, signed and notarized. After taking my check for two thousand dollars, I wwas informed that I had five minutes to make myself scarce sinceI had agreed to never see him again either for a double payout.

And that, long story short, is why I can never go back to New York.

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Menzenith
Formerly Deathbell, this telecom company rebranded itself in 2001 by combining mendacium, Latin for falsehood, and , Arabic for highest. The intent was to give a sense of unseat he being the highest form of life, but in true 2000s rebranding fashion it only showed that the parties involved probably failed Latin. Nevertheless, it remains the #1 choice for undead telecom users in the USA thanks to its aggressive “Can you bier me now?” ad campaign featuring a zombie employee.

Mortal&T
Founded as Mortal Telegraph in 1885, Mortal&T is the oldest provider of telecommunications equipment to the living impaired, recently deceased, and post-necrotic beings. As such, it has considerable brand recognition and loyalty from those who were living or undead in 1885, despite lagging in recent customer service satisfaction surveys.

Z-Mobile
Established by a startup in a Napa Valley graveyard who were upset by the lack of telecom options for zombies. Based largely on the strength of its groundbreaking speech recognition and translation protocols for zombies without tongues or jaws, it has become the preferred service for younger affluent zombies.

Shamble
Despite the massive and historic bankruptcy of its parent company UnderworldCom, Shamble remains a major player in the undead telecom market, especially in its traditional stronghold of the Midwestern United States. Many Gen X and Gen Y undead still fondly remember the pervasive “needle drop” advertisements for cemetary landlines in the 1980s and 1990s.

Maggot Wireless
The premier “pay as you rot” wireless service, Maggot promises “connectivity that won’t eat a hole in your bank account.” It is popular among the poorer undead for its lack of contracts, and is the number-one source of “burner” phones used for short-term travel and illicit ‘long pork’ dealers.

V-Pire
Formerly Redblood Cellular, V-Pire is the largest privately-held telecom service for the undead, with major inroads among the Old Dead families of the southern USA. Founded in New Orleans by a group of vampires in at became known as the Sillicon Swampland, it is the only option across large swaths of the rural southern and western United States.

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