I wondered what pieces of forbidden technology they had been trying to carry through. That was one of the few restrictions on people wanting to leave this overcrowded and chaotic world for a new life in one of the many planets the door could take you to.
I nervously started checking through my pockets and pack, just in case, as I looked at the queue in front of me. It would be my turn soon to be checked by the customs guards. Being so close to the door they too were not allowed any modern technology and their curved scimitars hung menacingly from their belts. The cut off date for allowable technology was 1325, one year before the first recorded description of a gun. Even carrying instructions for making a later invention was forbidden, though I'm sure that many people had memorised details for what they thought were the most important ones for them.
Behind me in the line I had seen a family dragging a small cart with mill stones and sacks of seed corn and even a great strong man with a blacksmith's anvil on his back. They were hoping that their services would be in demand wherever they were going. I hoped to eek a living as a minstrel using my wits, voice and the ud, an early form of lute, I was carrying.
The queue moved forward and I could see the next person presenting themselves for the customs guards. Even they seemed taken aback by the striking woman who stood before them together with a full grown male lion. Even without the lion, in her rich blue silk gown and huge red hat and bare feet she seemed out of place among the rest of the people in their rough hard wearing homespun clothes and tough boots. The guards seemed nervous about approaching her and as if to show her mastery of the beast she reached down and held the lions jaws open.
I wondered which planet she had chosen as a destination, I imagined she might make a very interesting travelling companion. She certainly could inspire some interesting ballads at least.
Her inspection completed the guards opened the door to another world. It was night there and I glimpsed a myriad of stars and a crescent moon hanging over rolling hills. I did hope this was Nova Albion where I was destined. The lady and her lion stepped through the door and I could see them vanish into the night on a new world.
My turn next. I could see the guards already casting suspicious glances at my ud. I held up the certificate of acceptability I had paid for when I bought the ud. Though the ud looked like a 15th Century lute it had fewer strings and had been invented before the cut off date. I did however have some spare strings, a drill and some tuning pegs and would be able to add the extra strings after I went through the door. That would make it a lot easier to play.
'Hmmph!', grunted one of the guards, "Yet another ud and a fool who thinks he can sing his way through life.". I expressed my surprise that anyone else had come up with the same idea. The guards laughed. It seems I was the third one this week. "Were any going to Nova Albion?" I enquired. "Don't know, don't care" was all the response I got. "Packs and any weapons onto the conveyor, empty your pockets into the tray and walk through the metal detector." growled the other guard. I beeped, I always beep. This time I knew why though. All my buttons might look like plain cloth covered ones but under each cover was a gold coin. If I did get robbed on the other side of the door I might at least be able to keep my clothes. After inspecting a couple of the buttons the guards were satisfied, only keeping two of them as presents. I was on my way, next stop Nova Albion .....