"What Madness Is This?" Volume II: Prophecies in the Dark

Preview of one of the most obnoxious elevated memes from this TL (especially on the Discord server) becoming canon in the next update.


OF MICE AND THE SOUTHRON MAN:
THE STORY OF GOOCH ENTERPRISES


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This is God punishing me for willing CoCorea into existence isn't it
 
OF MICE AND MEN: RISE OF THE HOUSE OF GOOCH

OF MICE AND MEN:
RISE OF THE HOUSE OF GOOCH


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Original crest of the Family Gooch


- COLONIAL ORIGINS -
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Sir William Gooch, 1st Baronet, Royal Governor of Virginia

The rise of the Family Gooch, later stylized as the House of Gooch, was an incredibly important one for the history of the Carolinas and--as the mid-20th century would prove--to the world. Sir William Gooch, 1st Baronet, was born in England in 1681. He arrived in the New World to take command as the Royal Governor of Virginia in 1727, where he would use his powers to grow Virginia's economy with laws such as the 1730 Tobacco Inspection Act. This ordered all tobacco farmers to publicly store their crops and submit to inspection to reduce fraud and poor quality, driving demand for Virginia tobacco back in Europe through the roof. While declaring that no faith other than the Church of England was the true form of Christianity, he also showed tolerance to a large number of Presbyterian settlers of Scottish blood, many of whom would later move from Virginia and to the Carolinas after the Fall of the Old Republic in 1801. Sir Gooch had many marvelous war stories and decorations, having fought under the likes of John Churchill and had gone to as many disparate places as Holland and New Spain, and he enjoyed telling these tales to his only son, William, during his retirement back home in England.

As the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and William enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of 18, . After a successful and lengthy service in the French and Indian Wars, where he survived the bloody nightmare of Braddock's Defeat with a young George Washington, William was appointed Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, then ruled by the aging Royal Governor Josiah Martin. Martin, born Irish and a devout servant of the Crown, was in ill-health during the outbreak of the American War for Independence. Despite his long period of service to the Crown, his close friend George Washington's alliance to the rebellion gave him no other choice but to tender his resignation as Lieutenant Governor and swear fealty to the new cause of liberty or death. Governor Martin declared him a public enemy and outlaw and Gooch fled into the countryside to organize Gooch's Regiment of Foot, a ragtag group of minutemen who struck hard and fast at Royal convoys and disappeared into the night. When the revolution was winding down, it was Gooch--now a self-styled general--who seized a sizable number of British ships while they were docked at Wilmington. Even though he was aware the war had officially ended, he played as if he did not and kept the ships for his own usage. This would form the original backbone of the Gooch Merchant Marine fleet that would bring the family into real wealth.


- THE OLD REPUBLIC DAYS -
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William Gooch in uniform of the Continental Army

William Gooch bought a large slice of land in Charleston, South Carolina, and went on to join the ranks of the Continental Congress, where he campaigned for a strong Federal government and supported Adams and Hamilton and was a vocal critic of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. In 1798, he wrote in his diary, "For how long shall it be till the right honorable states of our grand coalition are usurped by power-hungry oligarchs, and we find our grand creation shattered before our very eyes? We must act now, posthaste, to build a strong central authority under a strong presidency to prevent the impermanence of the so-called Perpetual Union." When the news broke that Adams and Hamilton had been arrested in New York, it broke him, as he had sincerely trusted in the Federalists to save the country.

This appears to have pushed him into directly the opposite direction from his previous statements, because when Andrew Jackson sent the call out in 1801 for volunteers to join him for a march on Charlotte to proclaim independence, signalling the collapse of an elderly William Gooch stood strongly beside him and ordered his private naval fleet to blockade the coast of the Carolinas. During brief skirmishes with Federal troops and ships, Gooch was instrumental in keeping violence to a bare minimum. Now in his 80s, Gooch could have retired to a life of quiet and solitude back on his property, but instead he was elected into the House of Citizens, where he would become an adamant Jacksonian until his death in 1810.


- THE GOOCH-PIRATE WAR -
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Goodson Gooch (on back) fends off Berber pirates with the
aid of his trusty cabin boy and manservant Rapier Fontaine


Upon William's passing, the control of the family fortune passed to his grandson Isiah Israel Gooch, a devout Presbyterian, the first of the family to adopt what was essentially the national denomination of the Confederation as his own. Isiah Gooch sought to remodel and even replace some of the family's private Merchant Marine vessels, which still mostly consisted of former Royal Navy ships of the French and Indian Wars era, and he recruited several hundred veterans of the Revolution and Indian conflicts to become marines aboard said ships. This was at a time when pirates, based out of Berber North Africa, were consistently hampering and sinking Carolinian tradesmen, as the collapse of the Old Republic gave the Berbers ideas that American shipping was defenseless and their fractured governments paper tigers. Upon Chancellor Jackson's request, a joint force of Gooch Merchant Marine and Confederation Navy ships were dispatched to North Africa to take the fight to the pirates.

Isiah's brother Goodson Gooch was the fleet admiral appointed by Jackson to oversee the conflict, and the young man was quite ready and willing to fight and die for the Vulture of the Carolinas with his trusty cabin boy, second, and manservant Rapier Fontaine. When the first high-seas skirmish between Berber and Cokie ships occurred on April 11, 1811, and the Berber pirate captain Afud Ammar was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Gooch and his men. Ammar lost a hand in the battle and was captured and sent back to the Carolinas in chains. He would be broken mentally, forcifully converted to Presbyterianism, and became a tobacco farmer and slave on Jackson's personal plantation. Jackson wrote a letter to Goodson Gooch later that year that read in part:

"I have a splendid use for these savage pirates. Continue to gather them as possible and have them transported back home. They have not the manners of the Negro nor the culinary skills, but they can withstand heat right well and make most excellent tobacco farmers on even the hottest Carolinian summer day, and their women make for exotic companionship. I say again, enslave them all, Admiral Gooch, just as they have done to white traders for generations. What is good for the Mohammedan goose, well, it is good for the Southron Vulture."

What some historians call the "Carolinian-Barbary War," also known as the "Barbary-Gooch War" and the "Gooch-Pirate War," could just as easily be labeled with honesty as the "Great Enslavement of the Berbers," and it was only halted by the outbreak of the War of 1812 and the opening of hostilities with Great Britain. But until then and for almost an entire year, Cokie ships under the command of Admiral Gooch sailed the Mediterranean, docking for supplies in friendly French and Italian cities, and then raided the Barbary States for treasure and slaves. Several ships were lost, but many were replaced by claiming pirated vessels as their own. This resulted in a large diplomatic stink and foreshadowing of what would occur in 1812, when the HMS Blackadder, a Royal Navy warship captured by Ibrahim Aslam in 1804, was seen in Milan, manned by Southrons. Britain demanded the return of the vessel, which Gooch adamantly refused. According to the unwritten rules of good faith between nations, upon capturing another nation's ship flying pirate colors, it was expected that the capturing nation return it to its original owners. But Gooch refused to do so, loudly proclaiming the 85-gun ship was the property of Gooch Merchant Marine, not a sovereign nation. This was the beginning of the Blackadder Affair, and was one of the key reasons for Jackson welcoming hostilities with the British in 1812.


- THE BIRTH OF GOOCH ENTERPRISES -
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Isiah and Goodson Gooch felt slighted personally by the British government, and they were not the type to forgive or forget. During the opening gambits of 1812, Goodson perpetrated a daring series of raids along the British coastline as the Royal Navy was busy engaged against the French, Dutch, Spanish, and Russian invaders. They used the Blackadder to barrage a series of small coastal towns and further the chaos seeping through the Royal defenders' ranks. After a few weeks spent dodging Royal Navy patrols, the flotilla escaped back across the Atlantic in time to join the conquest of the Virgin Islands, wherein Gooch installed Thomas Bragg as governor-general. While he would sail away from the Islands for now, his family would one day return.

After the end of the War of 1812, the Gooch family founded Gooch Enterprises, one of the world's largest tobacco manufacturer. Gooch Cigarettes became one of the staples of the South and remained a popular brand well into the 20th century. Cigarettes were soon supplemented by cotton, and then by textiles and leather. During the Cuba War, which resulted in the greatest defeat in Carolinian history, the death of Chancellor Jackson, and sewed the seeds for the Great American War decades down the line, Gooch Enterprises switched production in several factories over to bayonets and musket balls. By 1840, Gooch Enterprises had purchased Carolinian Arms, establishing them as the preeminent armaments company for the Carolinian Army and Navy. During the Great American War, the foundry kept the Carolinian forces supplied when shipments were cut off from the allied Republican Union.

In 1870, with the foundation of Jacksonland in Portuguese Angola, with its capital of New Raleigh, Gooch Enterprises was one of the chief engineers of the project. Since the deaths of Isiah and Goodson, the company had been split into numerous branches, each run by individual family members and descendants. In 1880, Gooch Enterprises was the single largest owner of slaves in the Confederation when the Emancipation Act was signed. Future Chancellor of the Confederation and then-current Colonial Governor of Jacksonland, Nathan Bedford Forrest, encouraged the Gooch family to dump their slaves in the African colony and continue using them as unpaid labor, off-the-record. This included many, many descendants of captured Berber and North African pirates. A large number of these former slaves and their descendants would eventually help construct the Transcackalacky Railway through the Carolinian Corridor and across to Yonderland, following the creation of those two colonies in 1916, following the Great World War.

- RISE OF THE HOUSE OF GOOCH -
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In 1929, Gooch Foundries would produce the M-29, the preeminent clone of the American M-25 G.I. Rifle, the first mass-produced semi-automatic rifle to gain widespread adoption. It was with M-29's that the Colonial Administration seized control of the Vanderburgh Family Mining Company, arresting its CEO and nationalizing its interests. However, ever the monopolistic opportunists, Gooch Enterprises purchased several of the largest diamond mines in Africa from Chancellor Gamble's government, founding the "Gooch Mining Company." America was a huge fan of diamond engagement and wedding bands, and thus the opportunities for expansion seemed endless. Around the clock, Gooch "minewhelps," usually small children, would dig for jewels and, later, uranium, as the Carolinian Corridor in particular was rich with the key component of nuclear bombs and lovely glowing artisanal dinnerware.

One of Chancellor Gamble's favorite "Gamble suits" was adorned with over 500 African diamonds from the Gooch pits sewn on in a bedazzled, blindingly gaudy design. This triggered an immediate obsession with "Gamble suits" and they quickly became one of the most profitable items in the entirety of Gooch Enterprises. Realizing they had a chance to capture lightning in a bottle and become one of the most influential clothing companies in the world, the Board of Trustees-- made up of an infinite pool of cousins and Gooch-spawn--created the "House of Gooch" fine clothing and jewelry company in 1944. This "suited" the Board just fine, and they didn't protest when the general public began referring to Gooch Enterprises as a whole as the "House of Gooch." Every Carolinian celebrity began sporting the finest, often most absurd House of Gooch products, which quickly expanded into items like rhinestone- and diamond- encrusted "Gambler Hats," "Raleigh Dinner Plate" belt buckles which frequently bore the initials of the owner or simply read "GOOCH" in huge gold or silver letters, and even severely, near-painfully pointy-toed "Cackalacky Cockroach Killer" boots with ornate silver conchos and trim. Amid a wave of nostalgia for the Barbary Wars, thanks in part to the Cokie 1940 cinematic masterpiece Rapier Fontaine in the Land of the Infidel (the start of a franchise that would go on for decades) made Arabesque "sheik" style popular, especially with women, who enjoyed blousey, transparent sleeves, decorative tiaras, and loose-fitting trousers known as "genie slacks."

By the late 1940s, the word "Gooch" gave rise to the slang term "gooch" and "goochy," meaning what Yankees would call, "cool." While the exact start of the usage of this term is unknown, a prominent use of this new slang that helped further its use appeared in the 1939 coming-of-age novel by celebrated Cokie Hiram Levon, The Great Goochy. The epic was about a young man obsessed with the latest clothing, dances, drinks, wines, women, and songs trying to get into a plantation owned by a wealthy shipping magnate whose life seemed an endless party. "The Great Man" is never named but is heavily implied to be a Gooch-spawn by logic and a simple reading of the tome's title.

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The Great Man himself, adorned in the finest silks and twills and the grandest of New Cackalacky crystals, waved his hands in the air, proclaiming grandly in his genteel and drawling intonations, 'Party over here! Party over there! Party! Party! Forsooth, I say, party everywhere!' A philosophy as solid as any learned at Chapel Hill, that cyclopean monolith of collegiate knowledge. Grab your sweetheart in the velveteen glove of exuberant youthful manner, swing her round and round as the world turns, and as the jive overtakes your soul and soles, shout out loudly, proclaiming throughout the grand hall that your tender dosey-doe is the belle of the ball. Let us live large, as the Great Man, and when they say to cease gyrations, to turn down the phonograph of life, let us ask simply, 'Turn down? For what?'

In his magnolia and dogwood estate, belles and Southron gentlemen came and went like moths among the whisperings, and the mouse wine, and the stars. And as the moon's precious rays gleamed off the Great Man's precious stones affixed with expert artisanal care to his Gamble suit, I saw all for it what it was. Marvelous. Fabulous. Goochy. For what is 'goochy' but a state of mind, a grand party all the time, a masterpiece painted by masterstrokes in shades of lavender, seersucker, and wafting with the scent of elderberries and chamomile. A lifestyle. In that moment, I was goochy too. We all were, in that time and that place, and we lived as if tomorrow were a distant, glimmering star somewhere overhead, a sea of infinite possible grand parties until at last there would be darkness and the end of the universe and time itself. But death be damned, and the apocalypse with it, for we are all goochy in this moment, at an endless plantation hoedown, in an infinite sea of possible diamond tomorrows.

Goochy. Goochy. As my head swam with the gentle succor and sweet tang of a fine mouse wine, dispensed from enormous fountains adorned with cherubic angels and filled with marinated mice like pink pennies in a well, I declared to never again be without the wondrous and rapturous, yes, magical feeling of being supremely goochy. Some of have said that bright things fade, and don't come back. I say that, though indeed the body may age and youth may wither on the vine like a raisin in the Pacifican Yankee sun, the indelible art of being goochy shines like an African stone in the hands of a Cackalacky minewhelp, basking oneself in the effervescent light of a silvery Carolinian moon for all time. By being mentally and physically and magically goochy, we pickle ourselves in this moment, at this time, at this glorious hour, and age like fine mouse wine. We are all goochy baby mice, adorned with our Raleigh dinner plates, off-the-shoulder sequined gowns, and Gamble suits, soaking up all the festive and fabulous flavors of life in a frantic, whirling, crystaline sea of gooch juice. I am goochy, and that is the beginning and the end of everything. And when I pass into the ethereal realm, let me fade not silently into history, but into the eternal and everlasting gooch. As my Southron spirit flies away to the tune of the banjos and trumpets, I have only one thing left to say to this world:

Stay goochy."



- SHIPPING OUT THE POORS AND THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE CAROLINAS -

The House of Gooch was by no means the sole reason for the gentrification of the Carolinas, and indeed, this movement was already well along on its way by the time the family became synonymous with luxury and over-the-top glamor. Many of the upper class of the Confederation absolutely despised the "hillbilly bumpkin" persona most of the world affixed to their nation. Chancellor Johnny Gamble, in particular, tried to exile even the pettiest of criminals to the African colonies. "What I do, ya see, is what my father done before me. I give everyone an option. Either join the army or get the hell out of my sight and take your trailer trash bastard crotchbubbies with ya," Gamble said to a gathering of Office of Public Virtue (OPV) brass in the 1920s. By the 1940s, the gentrification of the Confederation was near total. Every inch of usable, decent soil was bought up by oligarchs and wealthy, entrenched families. Even in former Hispaniola, bombed to rubble and captured by the Confederation as "East Carolina" during the Great World War, pleasure palaces and casinos and film studios set up in a lush, blooming tropical paradise. The ruins of St. Domingo City were rebuilt by one Robert Jackson Stowe as "Forrestwood," named for assassinated Chancellor Nathan B. Forrest. Stowe, a textile tycoon who was himself married to a granddaughter of Goodson Gooch and who subsequently owned a two-percent share in Gooch Enterprises, offered the government in Charlotte ten million Cokie dollars to buy the city outright. This he did, establishing Forrestwood as a "special corporate development zone."

Gooch Merchant Marine stepped in, relieving Cokie Armed Forces of their occupational duties, and began the process of shipping out most of the original inhabitants to the African colonies. The city was leveled, taking inspiration from the construction of Metropolis in America's New Canaan, and a brand new "traditionally Southron yet stylistically modern" city was created. Despite racial conflict with the remaining natives, things were looking up for Stowe, Gooch, and company, in part thanks to Bobby "Bubby" Graden, an imaginative and accomplished young filmmaker, the first such in the Carolinas to achieve any sort of success or recognition elsewhere. Graden saw in 1922 a perfect opportunity in Forrestwood to shoot his short fictionalized recounting of the founding of Charleston. The film, dubbed The Gentlemen of Charles-Town, was an hour long and was somewhat accurate to the true story of how Charleston was founded by the sons of English Barbadian plantation owners who had want of more land. However, the movie indulged heavily in propaganda, to the surprise of few, portraying slavery as a benign, even beneficial institution, and implying that the founders of Charleston, not the Patriots of the Revolution, were Carolina's real Founding Fathers. The film was a smash hit, especially with the planter elite who were completely, totally hijacking and whitewashing the Confederation like a picket fence on a Sunday afternoon.

The success of the film enabled Graden to remain in Forrestwood, establishing the first competitor to the Republican Union's Kissimmee film industry. Bubby's Film Studio opened for business in 1925, as did a string of competitors seeking a life of tropic fun and beautiful camera shots. Naval stories always were a popular, cheap, and logical choice to film, such as Bubby's Studios' Rapier Fontaine series, featuring Raleigh-native Atticus Avery as the swashbuckling right-hand man of Goodson Gooch, and Palmetto Studios' Jolly Roger serials, depicting the life of fictional Southron pirate Roger Jackson as he struck terror on the Main during the 1700s. Another popular choice was to fly out to America's Old Mexico to shoot Biblical stories and the lurid tales of "Barbarian Sheiks of the Burning Sands" and their harems of blonde, pasty-white Appalachian women. But by far the most popular Cokie film was the 1940 adaptation of The Great Goochy, wherein the consuming of "Cackalacky mouse wine," a beverage popular with roughnecks and soldiers who fought in the various Corean conflicts in Asia, went from a lowly pleasure to a status symbol. The Great Goochy author Hiram Levon claimed an addiction to the beverage since his own service in Corea, saying in a 1942 interview, "I simply cannot get through a day without the taste of delicious marinated mousey morsels in my mouth, darling. Their skin is like velvet and their insides like succulent tapioca."

By 1950, Forrestwood was the "Jewel of the Caribbean." Cokie soldiers and sailors on their way to participate in the lingering, never-ending aftermath of Operation Manifest Climax frequently made it their port of call. Huge casinos, frequently of a cartoonishly Arabesque or garishly Romanesque style, with onion domes and huge plantation pillars, sapped their money and provided escorts for those with still more money to burn. Atticus Avery, the star of the Rapier Fontaine flicks, owned and operated the infamous Atticus' Playhouse, where he frequently made headlines for drunken brawls, cocaine use, and involvement with the rising Carolinian Mob, a group who also found East Carolina a pleasant vacation spot. Even Americans would frequently visit Forrestwood and cause international incidents.

- CACKALACKY MOUSE WINE AND THE GOOCH ISLANDS -
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By far and wide one of the most recognizably Carolinian culinary abominations, Cackalacky mouse wine had its origins in Corean "baby mouse wine," made by drowning and soaking newborn baby mice in rice wine. Many soldiers drank the beverage on dares or out of desperation until they began to actually like it and even invent their own versions. Many of these veterans were awarded huge tracts of land in the New Cackalack African colonies, where their craving for the mousey morsels made them become even more creative. So many years passed that the drink lost its Asian connotations almost entirely and became a "roughneck drink," associated with the new generation of "Cackalacky Cowboys" settling the Sub-Sahara, working on the Congo Dam, and surviving on the swampy badlands during the aftermath of the creation of the Congo Sea. But, as said earlier, mouse wine's bizarre, almost surreal appearance in the most bourgeois of Cokie novels, The Great Goochy, thanks to its author's insane addiction, suddenly made mouse wine, specifically of the Africa, Cackalack variety, a raging fad for the ages. And the House of Gooch was not one to dismiss a potential license to print money.

In 1942, the House of Gooch created the "Squeak Caroline" distillery in the Virgin Islands Confederacy, a "nation" totally tied at the hip to the Carolinas since its inception. It had received heavy, heavy damage during the Great World War, and the growth of East Carolina as a vacation spot ruined much of the glamor of the Virgin Islands. However, there was a breed of mice on the island known as "Bragg's field mouse" that was deemed a most-succulent and fertile breed for mouse wine by Cokie sailors in the area. Always looking to cut out the middle-man and with the government near bankrupt, the Virgin Islands Confederate government accepted a buyout. For the first time in history, a company outright purchased a (debatable) sovereign nation. Deep pockets of lobbyists in Charlotte prevented the Carolinian government from doing anything about it. Nothing could touch the House of Gooch. This was similar in nature to the ownership of the Goodyear Islands (formerly Hawaii) by Colonel Goodyear Enterprises, but the similarity would not end just there. In 1943, the Virgin Islands were renamed to the Gooch Islands. Although nominally independent, the House of Gooch promised to respect and follow Carolinian law and the commands of Chancellor Gamble, who toured the islands extensively in 1944.

The House of Gooch had underestimated the demand for mouse wine. To put it quite simply, the craving for the drink drove the Bragg field mouse to extinction. While several varieties of African, truly Cackalacky mice were tried, they lacked several key "flavor notes" in initial testing. The sommeliers of Squeak Victory were tickled pink as baby mice when none other than Slogwell "Slog" Thomas, CEO of Meat Mountain Ranch, made contact during a vacation in Forrestwood.

"You tell your Board of inbreds that I can and am fully willing to breed the Bragg mouse by the millions. Being the 'King of the Carnivores' as the papers call me, I have sampled and supped on most animals in Jev's Creation. Including your 'extinct' Bragg mouse. Even better, especially with animals so small as your gin-soaked little compatriots, I keep several pairs around for mating, so I don't have to go halfway across the world again to eat tiger tongue or the formless blobfish of the South Seas. I can assure you, within two years, the supply of Bragg mouse for Squeak Caroline Cackalacky Mouse Wine will be nearly infinite. In return, I want one percent of the profits from the booze, the run of the escorts in Forrestwood--for man cannot live by meat alone--and a two-percent stake in Forrestwood proper, off the books."

President Steele was outraged. Viewing mouse wine as "Asiatic-Southron degeneracy," he immediately declared the importation of mouse wine into the Union forbidden, with the punishment being hefty fines and a varying number of years with pleasant, smiling "camp counselors." This was a big issue. Carolinians would feel ripped off or even angry if they discovered they were consuming "Yankee mice," and now the government was banning the sale of the drink in America. This was when the next key player in our story entered the picture. Hopeless mouse wine addict, Charles Oswald. Or rather, his wife, Steele's daughter Wyetta Arkham Custer-Steele Oswald. Suffering from mental health issues and still dealing with the pain of losing her "Antichrist" brother Marcus, she had turned to mouse wine after a state visit to Forrestwood in 1943. Chuck, in a rare moment of true care for his bride, illegally imported Squeak Caroline with no clue as to the repercussions if Steele discovered it. The ORRA Supreme Chief even went so far as to make it clear to any immediate staff that were in the know that it was, in fact, himself who consumed the vast quantities of mouse wine. Now, with insider knowledge from ORRA spies in Forrestwood, he offered to intervene in the situation. He would turn the blind eye to the exportation of mice to the House of Gooch, and he would also ensure that, upon his ascendancy to the Presidency, mice exports would be legal and would receive low tax rates. In return, he would have a steady supply of mouse wine for his wife, the run of the escorts in Forrestwood, for man cannot live by wife alone, and a two percent stake of Forrestwood proper. The two percent was to be owned and managed by the shell company Blue Moon Financial and would keep the slush fund in the form of gold and silver in the Gooch Islands, a literal off-shore bank account. In the event of his exile from the Union or general fall from grace, Oswald could retreat to the tropic paradise and have enough money to do whatever he wanted. Off-shore accounts were a treasonous offense at the time in Steele's Union, so this was an extremely risky move. But it was also a risky move to squeal on the Supreme Chief of ORRA, so he had little fear of stool pigeons that wouldn't be dead before they had a chance to open their mouths. And with Steele's rapid decline, this seemed an excellent opportunity to solve multiple people's problems in one go.

The deal went through in 1946. For his part, Slog Thomas did indeed breed massive hordes of Bragg field mice, in a far more cost-effective and reliable way than Gooch was able to do on its own. At a new S.P.U.D. packing facility in Mayame, Florida, thousands of Bragg field mice were tossed into vats of unflavored gelatin to develop the consistency of Meat Mountain's typical timeless stand-by potted foodstuffs, before being shot through slop-hoses into tins marked as S.P.U.D.. These tins would then be loaded into shipping containers in the Port of Mayame and steamed off to the Gooch Islands and their final destination, the bottoms of Squeak Caroline bottles. While the Mayame Port Authority was entirely corrupt and in Slog's pocket, several "white knights" attempted to blow the whistle, discovering to their horror that tins of S.P.U.D. accidentally smashed open by forklifts were full of newborn mice and gelatin. After waking up with your entire bed covered in dead mice, or finding your mailbox stuffed with them, even the staunchest of patriots would know to keep their mouths zipped or else. Since they were essentially their own nation, the Gooch Islands Customs had absolutely zero reason to look into the vast quantities of S.P.U.D. arriving monthly.

Business boomed. In 1949, Squeak Caroline created a second product named "Squeak of the Devil", spiced and peppered Cackalacky mouse whiskey. With notes of cinnamon, and Jacksonland reaper crossed with spearmint and oak, the motto for the new drink was "Fire and Mice." The individual mice themselves were cut open and stuffed with pimentos and Jacksonland reaper, as well. The popular saying at the time was, "Any man worth his salt can down Squeak of the Devil, but it takes a demon of a guy to bite into the mouse at the bottom." In 1952, the third and final flagship product was unveiled in time for the holiday season. Featuring a doe-eyed, cute mouse mascot, Susie Squick, "Naughty or Mice" was the first ever Cackalacky mousenog. After soaking in cream, the mice would then be coated in butter, cut open, stuffed with cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, and more butter before being dumped into the cartons of eggnog. Unlike the other two labels, Naughty or Mice was packaged in cardboard cartons with a narrow opening, leaving the mice trapped inside. After a barrage of complaints from irritated customers who said they were sick of sawing open the cartons to access their treats, an official statement put out by Squeak Caroline's PR team said:

"Hark the sound of Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog! Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog is the hottest, goochyest treat this holiday season. Susie Squick and Friends wanna tell y'all about how it alllll starts with our classic recipe eggnog, made just like granny used to whip up but with the alcoholic zippidee-doo-dah (25%) that made pap-paw sing the song of the South all December-long. Inside every carton of Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog you will find five newborn buttered-up lil Bragg field mice floatin' around that have made Holiday Cheer their port-of-call! Each lil fella is stuffed to the brim with spices and good stuff that will make you feel and taste and smell the Christmas spirit even in sunny, tropical Forrestwood or warm your insides high up in the Smokey Mountains while you're cuttin' down your tree. Due to some consumer questions about the lack of an easy way to consume the five wee tiny friends contained in every carton of Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog, Squeak Caroline and its parent company, the House of Gooch, would like to remind everyone that we do not recommend supping outright on them, as unlike our other products, the milky nature of our mousenog tends to result in curds becoming trapped inside the bodies, resulting in possible low-level rancidity. We recommend treating the five newborn Bragg field mice inside every bottle of Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog as meaty lil teabags. Y'all don't eat your teabags, now, do you? Of course not. Again, Squeak Caroline and its parent company, the House of Gooch, take zero responsibility for any ill effects resulting from the consuming of the five Bragg field mice contained in every carton of our Naughty or Mice Cackalacky Mousenog. Squeak Victory and the House of Gooch would like to wish you all a very Cackalacky Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous New Year. And always remember, it's not real Cackalacky Mousenog... unless it's Naughty or Mice: A Southron Christmastime Tradition! Available wherever fine beverages are sold."

This did not stop many people from still trying. But even worse, some took to mixing the mice in with a sort of fruitcake, creating Cackalacky Mouseloaf. The alcohol tended to result in mouseloaf maintaining its "freshness" for a good amount of time, and became the subject of fear and disgust from year to year, as dads joked with a wink and a nod about regifting last year's mouseloaf.

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I WRETCHED from laughing trying to read the Mousenog PR statement aloud in a Paula Deen accent, and I dare you to try doing it and not break down as well.

Absolute beaut of a chapter to write, and plenty of callbacks and even direct quotes from one of our resident Cokie Murica1776's Expanded Universe additions! The whole chapter is a bit of a love letter to the meme culture around the timeline and great bit of mostly comic relief before we get the death of Steele, but there is also actual lore and important stuff all throughout! Enjoy!
 
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- CACKALACKY MOUSE WINE AND THE GOOCH ISLANDS -
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By far and wide one of the most recognizably Carolinian culinary abominations, Cackalacky mouse wine had its origins in Corean "baby mouse wine," made by drowning and soaking newborn baby mice in rice wine. Many soldiers drank the beverage on dares or out of desperation until they began to actually like it and even invent their own versions. Many of these veterans were awarded huge tracts of land in the New Cackalack African colonies, where their craving for the mousey morsels made them become even more creative. So many years passed that the drink lost its Asian connotations almost entirely and became a "roughneck drink," associated with the new generation of "Cackalacky Cowboys" settling the Sub-Sahara, working on the Congo Dam, and surviving on the swampy badlands during the aftermath of the creation of the Congo Sea. But, as said earlier, mouse wine's bizarre, almost surreal appearance in the most bourgeois of Cokie novels, The Great Goochy, thanks to its author's insane addiction, suddenly made mouse wine, specifically of the Africa, Cackalack variety, a raging fad for the ages. And the House of Gooch was not one to dismiss a potential license to print money.
Oh my god they gentrified MOUSE WINE.
 
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