Sort of a take on an Irish immigrant to New York City in the mid 1800's.
Arrival in Baggle
Anpor was a beacon of hope for people around the world, and lately, this was especially true for the residents of Carn Isla. They were coming over by the boatload to Baggle, the biggest city, in Anpor where they would be second-class citizens, toiling away at the most menial of jobs.
But that there were jobs at all made it leaps and bounds better than staying and starving on the ancestral island. Certainly you'd scrimp and save in Anpor, but you had no real chance back home. There was plentiful food in Anpor, expensive, but there was often nothing to buy back in Carn Isla.
Katerin Smalley wrote back to her kin that Anpor was the greatest nation on Earth, even while living in the tenement slums of the poorest district of Baggle. Most others who had come to Anpor before the Carn Islans looked down on them, mistreated them and were continually surprised by how patriotic these newcomers were.
Two weeks in the bowels of the steadily rocking ship, Yeoman, had left Yalan sick to his stomach. He would be vomiting a lot if he had eaten enough to purge. All he had was a ratty old mattress in the crowded storeroom with more stains than he cared to count, interestingly of many different colors.
The sound of the bells from above got everyones attention. The furry wolfish female in the cot next to his growled and snapped at him when he perked up. This Perkin was ancient, she should know by now that Carn Islaners had no interest in her species. They were completely incompatible.
Yalan might be small enough to make a good thief, when healthy, but those crowded into the hold with him were as poor as he was. He had a hidden pocket in his trousers where he had a small, shiny coin of melulin. It would be enough to keep the immigration inspectors from declaring him a vagrant and sending him back across that heaving and hateful ocean.
Baggle was home to many species, they mixed but they never matched. They all lived in the same crowded city and got along, more or less, by ignoring everyone else. The politics of Baggle was controlled by bosses, most of them were of the Prosters or Poshists persuasion. Elections there were often fought with fists and sticks or bricks.
It didn't matter. It was still better than starving to death in Carn Isla. At least in a city like Baggle one had the chance to work and survive. When he was invited by his cousin Dandru Lin, he accepted without having to think about it. He had thought about crossing for years before the invitation and Yalan was as ready as ever.
It tooks months of begging all of his kin and backbreaking work to scrounge up the resources to get a passage scrip on a ship and the coin. He hadn't eaten much on the voyage, finding the tossing and rocking of the vessel made him ill. He drank water and ate enough gruel, in his estimation, to not die.
The bells. The dark hold was lit up as someone opened a hatch, Yalan joined everyone else in getting up and moving toward the exits. A shout went up. The spires and towers of Baggle were seen in the distance, after weeks of merely existing, excitement was bubbling forth. The land of opportunity was within a days reach, and Yalan found himself being shoved aside by all of the larger species crushing to get a glimpse.
Through the hatch and up the stairwells, Yalan found a railing to stand on, keeping stable by wrapping his toes around it. In the distance, just a shadow loomed through some fog. Towers and spires could be made out, larger than any constructed back in his home nation. Yalans' mind hardly conceived how such a thing were possible, such wealth.
They say Baggle never stands still. Commerce moves at a rapid pace and this is where the opportunity was created. For while the currency of Carn Isla was usually hoarded jealously, here it was spent or invested in new things. There was no opportunity for the truly poor back home, some escaped through the work houses, hiring out to serve the wealthy or doing things not talked about in polite company.
Here, though... Yalan grinned at the thought, “here”, he was definitely here. Here the poor had a chance in a bustling crowded city where commerce was king. A poor girl might sell hot corn in the Autumn and sweep the street in winter to make enough coin to live another day, poor boys could sell news sheets and do manual labor.
Dandru Lin had written about her experiences, good and bad. How she finally rented a tenement in the Middle Points District, took in sewing, did laundry, sold corn and many other things. Somehow she had survived and met a fellow Carn Islan emigre named Isra, whom she bonded.
Just before the star dipped below the horizon Yalan was able to see the city of Baggle close up, it was a marvel. It seemed to be larger than all of Carn Isla, and as tall as the clouds. There were many other ships coming and going, churning steam while some used windsails. The city might not physically move but the commerce never stopped, he could feel the vibrancy of the place just from the shipping alone. No sleepy burg was this.
The ship was ported the next morning as soon as the star gave its light. Gangplanks were erected and the passengers were quick to walk down and touch the land of Anpor. They were divided between species and then by male and female to different points of the immigration process. It seemed that Carn Islans made up almost half of this batch.
Yalan found himself lined up with other Carn Islans waiting in a long snaking line into a large, wide brick building. Soon they were prodded and poked through a healths screen. The medic attendant declared him healthy “besides seasickness” and he was graduated to the next table.
The little furry official with round bifocals looked at Yalan and asked, “Have you any family in Anpor? Who is your contact? Guarantor?”
“My cousin, Dandru Lin... “ He answered while digging through his small bag for the official invitation document, “Here it is.”
The official looked closely at the piece of paper and then stamped it. Then he looked at Yalan again, “Are you going to be a burden on society? How will you support yourself?”
“I have worked cutting wood, as a cobbler, I have worked on farms too. I have a strong work ethic and I would..” Yalan paused, maybe he misunderstood, “Are you asking if I'm broke?”
“Yes, sorry about that,” the creature answered with a grin.
Yalan reached into his trousers, which caused some alarm, but he pulled out the coin.
After examining the coin and weighing it to make sure it was real melulin, which weighed more than almost anything else of the same size, he was satisfied.
“That's worth about 12 pops at the present M price, so you aren't indigent according to the law. Fill out this information card and then wait over there until you get your official paper. After that, welcome to Anpor, you are a free citizen.”
“That's it?” Yalan asked.
“The free immigration period ends in a few years, maybe it won't be renewed next time. For now, though, yes that is all.” The official waved him through.
As he waited for his official document he watched the street outside. It was busy, so many people and so many species walking one way or the other, wagons, handcarts and trolleys in the street moving as if they had to get somewhere important.
You could get an idea of the social ladder by seeing how they were dressed. A young Carn Islan boy in rags was selling newsheets and a passing Poshist purchased one. The Poshist was wearing a fine, clean gray suit and read the headlines for a moment before another poor Carn Isla boy offered to black his boots for him. This made Yalan a bit shamed of the patched rags he wore.
His cousin had described all of this to him in her letters, Yalan marveled at her accuracy.
Yalan was free. With his official papers and ID card, he was walking. The sidewalks were wide, the buildings were tall and there were so many storefronts. A hulkish Walan hawking tomatoes from a pushcart said “Good day, sir” as he passed.
Yalan never expected to see so many of different species getting along. The walking and the freedom made him feel better, no more seasickness. Instead his stomach was rumbling and demanding food while his brain was trying to figure out the way to find his cousins home.
Yalan didn't want to spend the coin but after eating so little on the voyage, the hunger was real and insistent. He found a Carn Isla woman selling bread loaves on the street.
“Two pence!” She stated the price.
“I only have this coin, I don't suppose you could...”
She looked disappointed, “Do you really think a poor woman like me is going to be able to change that, sir?”
“I'm sorry. Are you from Shiredun?” He asked.
“Yes, I guess I still have my accent. I'm Arvi-aya from the Aya clan, kind sir.” She informed him.
“Good fortune to find someone who was a neighbor back home in the old country! I am Yalan, of the Iva clan.” Yalan exclaimed, “Miss Arvi, could you tell me where I can make change for this coin? Therefor allowing me to purchase bread loaves from you?”
After being told that a bank was nearby, Yalan returned with a pocket full of smaller denomination coins to purchase bread.
“Do you happen to know the best way to reach the Middle Points neighborhood? I am due at the home of my cousin in the Fourteen Dorchester building,” Yalan said, finishing off the first bread loaf.
The woman shook her head, “You really are fresh off the boat, ain't ya? I live right by there, I know it well.”
Yalan followed her instructions, but wondered if it was correct as the buildings got smaller, more squat and everything became dirtier and more squalid. Then he found a street sign, Dorchester and followed it to building number 14.
It was a four-story building and looked to have several tiny apartments on each floor. Once inside he climbed the steps to the third floor, loosening his collar as the air was warm and unfresh. Finally he found the right door, with the broken 32 and knocked.