Warriors of St. Antoni is the first of my new Portal Worlds series. The book is still being written and edited, so what you read today is subject to change without notice in the published version.
On St. Antoni you got tough or you died. The only defense is a gun; your security is your ability to use it. This is the story of three sisters and the choices they make to survive on St. Antoni. Bethany marries a mercenary warrior to shield her family from a predatory neighbor. To protect her sister, Iris chooses between an arranged marriage with a beloved friend and an outlaw. Jeanne and the son of her greatest enemy defy both their families to find love.
Technology to find and open gateways to alternative worlds was found on earth in the late 21st century. Those expecting to get rich off the tremendous resources on these new worlds controlled Access to them. People talk though, and it wasn’t long before the new technology became common knowledge and unregulated Portals cropped up. Illegal settlers passed through Forbidden gates looking for new places to live and find adventure and liberty.
With only the technology they could carry or build from raw materials on St. Antoni they built a new way of life. To survive they must rely on themselves. The learned to master deadly plants and animals. On St. Antoni, Adventure was a one-way trip to a hardscrabble life and Freedom meant relying on yourself for food, a roof over your head and safety.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any persons living or dead is unintentional and accidental. © Gail Daley 2017 All Rights reserved. Any duplication of this work electronically or printed, except for brief publicity quotes, is forbidden without the express written permission of the author. Cover Art © by Gail Daley’s Fine Art 2017
Serial Chapters are posted on Fridays. Check in next Friday for the next chapter of Warriors of St. Antoni
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THE PROPRIETOR of the Ferry Boat Hotel in Junction City was a canny man. The railroad was coming across the desert to Ferry. And the settlement once a convenient crossing place on the Wild Mans River was the only stopping place reachable by train from the Eastern City States. There were rumors that the railroad planned to build a fancy hotel to take advantage of travelers who wanted a break before riding the on to the Western City States but that was for the future. In the meantime, Tom Clancy expected many folks who couldn’t afford a high-priced hotel would need a place to stay, and who knew, perhaps his place would one day rival Fred Harvey’s El Greco Hotel in Breakwater Port. In the interim, he had divided his Miner’s Rest Saloon in half and separated the halves with batwing doors. On one side, his regular customers could still congregate for food, liquor and cards. On the other, a man could safely bring his family for a nice meal or courting couples could enjoy a soft drink from the new soda machine.
On the Saloon side, Henry and Alec were enjoying a quiet supper before heading up to their room for the night. It was early evening. Arriving well before the rush from the incoming train, the mixture of miners coming off shift and cowboys in town for a weekend spree, they had could choose a table against the wall dividing the two areas, providing them a good view of all the customers.
At the bar, a tall, raw-boned man with dusty clothes leaned his double-barreled shotgun against it and ordered a whiskey. “You, better check that gun Mac, the bartender reminded him. You know how Sheriff Melody is about not following the town ordnance.”
“Yeah, just as soon as I get a drink,” the man called Mac replied.
At the sound of the name, Abner Johnson looked up. Like Mac, he hadn’t turned in his tied down handgun. Pa had said to wait, but here he was with a golden opportunity to rid the family of this McCaffey. He strode to the bar and bumped the man, knocking the shotgun to the floor.
“Hey, watch it!” he said loudly, shoving Mac again.
Instead of reaching for the fallen shotgun, Mac slowly turned to face him. “Kid, you need to settle down,” he said mildly. “Joe, set him up a drink.”
“I don’t drink with dirty Irish Micks!” Abner sneered.
“You got a big mouth, Kid,” one of the other men offered. “Maybe we ought to shut it for you.”
“Now, Tim,” Mac drawled, “he’s just a baby with a loud mouth”.
Across the room, Henry touched Alec with his hand and jerked his head towards the bar. “Trouble building,” he remarked.
Alec turned his chair to watch. “Both with guns, this could get ugly. Kid’s looking to make a rep as a gunfighter.”
Henry shook his head, “Big man’s shotgun got knocked down, and he hasn’t got a handgun; besides, he’s a blade man. He’s got a big-ass knife in his boot and another down his back under his shirt. My moneys on him.”
Abner slapped Mac across the face and stepped back so he could draw. A cowboy sitting nearby stuck out his boot and Abner tripped. He went down on his rump, accompanied by jeers and laughter from the crowd. Furious, he scrambled to his feet and jerked at his gun. His draw was fast and sure, but before he could fire, ten inches of steel flashed across the room and speared itself into his throat sticking out the back of his collar. Abner’s bullet went into the sawdust floor.
“What’d he make me do that for?” the man called Mac complained.
“Guess he was looking to make a name,” suggested one of the bystanders.
The outside doors swung open and Ira Johnson came running in to kneel by his son.
“Who did this?” he demanded. “It was a fair fight. He tried to pull his gun on Mac here Mister,” offered the cowboy who had tripped Abner gesturing to the tall rawboned man standing at the bar.
Sheriff Melody pushed his way past the crowd. “Anybody, see it?”
“I saw it, Sheriff,” the bartender said. “Mac here was minding his own business when the kid shoved him and then slapped him. He was looking for a fight. He tried to pull iron and Mac knifed him.”
“That’s right, Sheriff,” corroborated several witnesses.
The sheriff eyed Mac with disfavor. “Jeb Mackenzie, maybe I ought to have you check that knife and the shotgun.”
“Sheriff, my son was just a boy,” Ira protested. His son was dead and he would grieve for him later, but perhaps the situation could still be salvaged. “This man McCaffey is a known gunfighter. I say this was murder.”
“Didn’t use a gun, used a knife. And Mackenzie here is a pain in my ass but he’s no gunfighter,” the sheriff retorted. “It looks like a fair shooting to me.”
“His name’s not Alec McCaffey?” Ira asked.
“Nope. This here’s Jeb Mackenzie.”
At the back table, Alec exchanged looks with Henry. “Well now,” Henry observed. “Looks like Mike was right and you’ve bought chips in this game whether you anted up or not.”
“Yeah. I think we better check out and take the train tonight instead of in the morning.”