WHEN THE technology to locate and open gates to other worlds was discovered on earth in the late 21st century, access to this knowledge was strictly regulated by the governments and industry hoping to exploit the vast resources on these new worlds.
Humans talk though and the knowledge that it was possible to open Portals to other worlds couldn’t be kept secret for long. The new technology was leaked and unlawfully created Portals soon abounded. Settlers slipped through the illegal Portals in search of freedom, adventure and escape. These adventurers had only the technology they could carry with them to defend themselves against alien plants and animals on their strange new worlds.
On St. Antoni, it took the new settlers a short time to learn that Adventure was a one-way ticket to a hardscrabble existence, and Freedom meant no law to protect you. To survive, these hardy men and women created a new society with less government interference. They had to depend on themselves to grow their own food, develop their own industry and handle their own problems.
Technology levels in the forbidden portal worlds differed, but in all of them a rich trade in books, diagrams, information and other things flourished. These items were brought in by daring Portal Runners who made the trip back and forth to earth, risking discovery and imprisonment each time they went. Of course they didn’t do it for free. A Portal Runner who made the dangerous trip to smuggle in people and technology charged a high price.
The world of St. Antoni was named for one of the first settlers fondness for a little jingle that goes like this: “St. Antoni, please look around; something is lost and must be found.” Being a maverick at heart, he changed the spelling of the original rhyme to suit himself.
On some illegally settled worlds, the new communities failed miserably, but some like St. Antoni thrived. Civilization on St. Antoni succeeded where some of the others didn’t, because of a few lucky conditions; The evolution of animal and plant life on St. Antoni had taken slightly different pathways from that of earth, but it was compatible and supported human life. Many native species on St. Antoni evolved with varieties of colored stripes to enable them to blend into their habitat. These Native species, similar to earths livestock were out of necessity, domesticated and adapted to human use. A prime example of this were the tricorns. Tricorns resembled large horses with two forward pointing horns coming out of their broad foreheads and a shorter one on the end of their noses. Tricorns came with a variety of colored striped coats but the most common was red and black. The stripes enabled the wild tricorn herds to blend in with the natural red grasses found on much of the plains of the planet. Once tamed to man’s use, the settlers rode the tricorns and used them to pull plows and other forms of transportation.
Overlarge, shaggy coated goats were another native animal that proved compatible with humans. Both sexes possessed huge curved horns on the sides of their heads used for defense. Living mostly in small herds in the rocky areas, they fed on the short, dark grass growing there. Like their namesakes, goats produced drinkable milk and edible cheeses. Most Goats had developed black and white stripes and their long hair was suitable for shearing and then woven into cloth.
Early settlers also domesticated a large multi striped bird, who made honking noises reminiscent of the geese they were named for, laid eggs and substituted for edible poultry.
The cattle of St. Antoni caught and herded by the settlers for meat and leather, looked a like a Texas longhorn cow with a shaggier coat and a spiked tail. Like their Texas namesakes, they came with a mean disposition.
A species of feline named Bobcats by the settlers who first saw them because of the resemblance they bore to that earthly wildcat, adopted the human settlements as a place to find much of the small game they fed on. It wasn’t long before they became household pets. A St. Antoni’s Bobcat weighs around twenty pounds. They have a short-haired coat, a stubby tail and tuffs on the ears. Their stripes are gold and black, like an earthly tiger.
After several hundred years and a steady trickle of new immigrants, St. Antoni’s City States developed a system of government loosely based on the mining districts and cattle associations popular in the early nineteenth century, with a smattering of that found in feudal medieval societies.
The Seven City States were generally run by single families or groups of individuals who had seized power during periods of civil disturbance. While most of the ruling families gave lip service to elections, somehow it always happened that those elected were related to or owed allegiance to those in power. Over the years, these City states hammered out a set of regulations which they enforced inside the larger cities.
A loose agreement between the large cities authorized roving marshals to track down lawbreakers in the wilderness areas between them.
A general set of laws was enforced inside towns by locally elected sheriffs. Outlying ranches and mines kept their own retainers armed to ensure the safety of the workers and families living on or around them.
Steamboats plied the waterways and a railroad system brought travel between the City States. By necessity, St. Antoni, like most of the other illegally opened worlds, survived by using technology that didn’t require massive amounts of electrical power, although someone had brought through a copy of the Tesla theory and experiments were being done to build a machine.