SERA DO PRADO
Provincia do Brasil
By Ben Levy
With a location fairly central in the island continent of Cabralia, Sera do Prado (Spelled "Sera" and not "Serra" since an early report in 2179 and spelled the same way ever since) is a small Estado occupied almost entirely by the mountain chain of the same name. The mountains here are the highest in Provincia do Brasil, and much of the terrain and climate are alpine in nature. Rainfall throughout the Estado tends to be highly variable, with temperature less so. Wet and Dry are the chief seasonal delineations. Despite the sub-tropical/temperate latitude of the Estado, higher elevations experience arctic temperatures, and many of the mountains are snowcapped year round. The presence of the Grand Season Cycle makes the weather patterns chaotic. Cold and wet might follow Hot and Wet, or Hot and Dry, or Cold and Dry, with no particular relation to the order of the seasons last year. The result is that the watershed for the Estados principal river, the Rio Prado, is unpredictable to the point of hazard. Explorers and experienced hikers have disappeared in narrow canyons when suddenly melting snow creates flash floods. The main river itself experiences dramatic changes in water level, being navigable during high water periods. Early in the estados history, a Brazilian Army patrol vanished to the man when an avalanche sent many thousands of tons of snow into a warm mountain lake. The lake overflowed, turning the mountain streambed up which they were moving into a torrent in seconds. A monument marks the location, and warns visitors about the dangers of the unpredictable Sera do Prado environment. Because of conditions here, much of the Estado remains unsettled, some of it even unexplored, despite the proximity to the well populated heart of the Brazilian colony.
Montanha do Brasil is the tallest mountain in the Provincia do Brasil, among the tallest on the planet, and is located in the western area of the state. Its north slope is fairly gentle and offers several very climbable routes; getting to a good base camp is half the problem. Nearby are the second and third tallest peaks in the colony, Montanha do Peron and Montanha do Bolsanaro, named for Brazilian leaders with significant roles in history.
The southeastern portion of the state is dominated by the Vale do Rio Prado, a rambling, hilly lowland following the course of the Rio Prado. The rolling terrain here is thickly forested and very fertile, being created by centuries of alluvial deposits. Arable land like this makes up about a third of Sera do Prados 714,800 square kilometers ( a little larger than pre-Twilight Texas), alpine terrain, including a little permanent ice-cap, makes up the rest. The population as of the 2300 census was 4,700,000 people, giving the Estado a very rural population density of 6.6 per square kilometer. This distribution, however, is unequal. Most of the Estado is mountainous and thinly settled. This skews the population density towards the southeast. The southeast is as urbanized as the rest of the southeastern portion of Cabralia. It is part of the populated "core" of the colony that also contains Cabo Vitorio, Lemanja, and eastern Oxala. A little more than a million live in the capitol city of Dom Monte, the remainder lives mostly in this southeast portion of the Estado.
Early surveys revealed little of mineralogical value in this area (the rich copper deposits on the Vinicao side of the Prados run much deeper here, and are consequently uneconomical as long as other sites are still in production.) Gems were first noticed much later, by fortunate laborers working in the construction stone industry. Until then, development was slow, except along the Rio Prado, and even here, the very random nature of the river, high one day, low the next, made it less desirable as a resource than other waterways in southern Cabralia. Lumbering became a strong industry quickly, as the local tree analogues were strong, and plentiful, and could be shipped down the Prado during high flows, but by the mid 23rd century this industry was surpassed by lumber harvesting in Chaparaca and Mata Centaura, and the lumbering industry began to decline. In the early years of the 23rd century, the region became a haven for the lawless, since the treacherous mountain canyons offered numerous hiding places that protected them even from satellite surveillance. It was also used as a haven for the single greatest domestic insurgency ever faced in Provincia do Brasil. The Sera do Prado citizens have been known to get quite agitated when discussing this topic, one that the polite visitor learns not to bring up.
Sera do Prado is best known as home to Provincia do Brasils one and only orbital catapult, the second one built by Brazil. The need for a space launch catapult was foreseen while the colony was still in its early stages, as developers anticipated Provincia do Brasil to be a source of bulk commodities to be shipped to Earth. Brazil had a catapult of its own on Earth, and the Brazilian Space Agency was rapidly gaining experience in catapult operation. In 2178, with survey parties deployed to Cabralia but the colony still in the planning phase, the Brazil-Tirane Space Launch Catapult Commission was established to research and recommend locations for construction of the catapult. In 2182, they selected the site in what is now Sera do Prado, based on the advantageous natural topography and relative proximity to the river system along which was built the pre-colonial outpost of Missaoprimo, which was expected to become the colonial capitol. A barge system was envisioned for the Osario-Prado river network, bringing goods for shipment on the catapult.
Construction began in 2189, a year and a half after President Orlando Izumidas administration replaced the entire senior staff of the commission, appointed under the Dalan administration, with members of its own choosing. Part of Izumidas campaign theme was President Dalans stalling on the development of Provincia do Brasil, accusations that were, even at the time, largely unfounded, but popularly received. Under Izumida, American engineers were hired and had a major role in the process, as they were available and experienced, the "Presidential Range Catapult launch Facility" in New England having entered service only two years prior. The project was given only moderate priority, as exports from Provincia do Brasil were still minor, and could take advantage of the ready shipping capability available in returning colonization craft. Some lessons from the Presidential Range Catapult were applied. The tubes were made more than twice as long, at 142 km each. This resulted in much reduced stress and gee forces on both catapult payloads and structural components. This was simplified by the fact that unlike New England's catapult, the Sera do Prado project cut across no developed property. As in New England, a redundant launch capability was provided. Quite the opposite- here. Development followed the catapult construction, as homes were built for catapult workers, and merchants and service providers followed, offering those workers ways to spend their paychecks. In Sera do Prado, three tubes were built instead of two, and they are angled to launch into more divergent orbits. The power supply redundancies, and other safety features are similar to The Presidential Range catapult. In both systems, for example, catapult payload pods have rocket boosters and parachuted to ensure a safe landing in the event that sufficient speed for orbit is not achieved. Unlike in New England, a total failure will result not in a landing in the Atlantic Ocean, but in mountain or swamp wilderness. This has a result of depressing real estate values downrange, although total launch failures resulting in "uncontrolled payload descent" is a very rare event, happening about once a decade. The first launch tube became operational in 2195, with the second following in 2197, and the third in 2208. The power needs of the catapult predated the solar power satellite system now in use for most of the colony's energy supply. At the same time, it was realized by another study team that flow into the very variable Rio Prado could be somewhat controlled by the creation of a series of dams in the headwaters of its tributaries. These dams were constructed between 2190 and 2215, and hydroelectric turbine generators were installed in many of them. Hydroelectric power still supplies power for the catapults, and other areas of the Estado, removing the need for an extensive power transmission network through the mountains.
The main operations center for the catapult is at the town of Lancada, a town whose entire existence is centered around the operation of the catapult. Lancada is about 180 km upriver of Dom Monte, putting the catapult terminus (A local attraction) about 50 km from the city. In 2242, a rail line replaced the barge system, which was running into trouble due to the intransigent nature of the Rio Prado. The rail line was originally a short one, with high horsepower engines designed for the steep mountain grades, but was later expanded to provide service to several quarry areas. The rail line starts in Dom Monte, the end of the line for the airfilm trains which can't handle the grades, and moves cargos to Lancada. Here they are carefully arranged into the catapult pods and hurled into orbit. The Sera do Prado catapult uses smaller pods than its American predecessor, each capable of a payload of about 25 tons.
Privatization of the catapult system has been discussed on several occasions, but the system today remains in the hands of the Brazilian Space Agency, the AEB. Elements of its regular operations, though, have been subcontracted. Launch costs vary depending on the subsidy available from the Brazilian government. Launches are subsidized for products bound for other Brazilian destinations, or for products in "disadvantaged" industries. This category includes those industries that, in the view of the Brazilian government, are handicapped by their very low value to weight ratio, making them less competitive in off world markets. Thus, beef from Campobelo and finished lumber from Campinasur can be shipped offworld. The clever shipper arranges for both subsidies, shipping a heavy weight product to another Brazilian territory, then reselling it after passing the transaction through a middleman.
The Catapult is a major employer in Sera do Prado, having about 4,000 direct workers, about a third of which are public employees. There are another 500 workers in space, working on the receiving end. This large workforce enables much of the maintenance of the system to be done with in house employees. Construction costs, which approached 2 billion Livres in current equivalents, have long been paid off. Continual replacement of catapult pods, which are good for a limited number of launches, is a major expense, although used pods are disassembled at an orbital factory and used for construction material for orbital habitats. Pre- subsidy costs are about 500 Lv per ton launched. About 900,000 tons are launched annually.
In 2294 the Brazilian armed forces experimented with using the catapult to deliver supplies to distant forces. With specially designed launch-reentry pods, cargos were sent to aviation cruisers Tupi and Yanomami, which, thousands of kilometers from Provincia do Brasil, retrieved them at sea. The tremendous forces experienced by the pods limits the types of cargos that might be sent, but a surprising diversity of supplies is deliverable in this manner. The Brazilian armed forces rehearse this technique with exercises several times a year.
Commissioned with the establishment of the Estado of Sera do Prado in 2237, the Estado government has remained small and relatively weak. A large part of the Estados importance has always been connected to the catapult, and the federal government has made it clear that the Estado government is not to interfere in or try to regulate its operations. Non-educational government workers in the Estado number 105,000. This is about 6.7% of the labor force, a fairly small proportion by Brazilian standards. The government is quite unpredictable here, the incumbent party actually losing more often than it wins. The governments buildings are perched on the mountainside in Distrito Escaderia, in Dom Monte. The strange irony of local politics is that despite the frequent changes of government, the policies that seem to appeal the most to Sera do Prado voters are those of cultural conservatism and economic populism. One would think a party would latch on to this fairly orthodox cultural view and support it, thereby gaining power in the Estado. One would also think the Partido Republicana would be the natural party to do this, as this matches their own fairly unchanging platform. It seems the voters in the Estado think that their preferred party must be frequently punished for its misdeeds.
Government consists of a 40 member legislature, half of which represent geographical districts and half of which consists of "at large" members chosen by political parties and allocated based on the success of each party as a percentage of the whole. Governors serve four year terms, as do members of the legislature, which is elected en masse in the middle of each governors term of office.
The Department of Transportation is the second largest Estado agency after the Department of Education and has a particularly daunting job, considering the forbidding terrain dividing the outlying regions of the Estado from the Rio do Prado core area in the southeast. They also run part of the regions public transportation, and the airports. Cargo arriving by air for shipment to orbit on the catapult, however, does not pass through Estado hands- it goes directly to national customs officials.
The Sera do Prado police number about 12,000, a large number for a mostly rural area of this kind. There is no metropolitan police force in Dom Monte, however, so the Estado force actually fulfills two roles. The national police have responsibility for the catapult area, and they have an office in Lancada. The Estado Police began using lighter than air patrol craft to overwatch the mountain areas in the mid 23rd century, and their use has spread. Typically, the sky over Dom Monte now features several "Zepatrolos" floating around at any one time. The Estado police have a fleet of about 50 of these craft. They use more traditional vehicles as well, wheeled and hovercraft, and have a few horses and mules which they use in the mountains. The Estado court system is similar in nature to other courts, with the exception of its unusual central organization. There are no major local courts. All cases beyond the most minor are tried in the court complex in Dom Monte. This system was developed to avoid the problem of popular local offenders being tried in courts stacked with friends or supporters. The government has been forced to recognize that asks a lot of people from the hinterlands to relocate to Dom Monte for a trial, so the Estado government pays a substantial stipend and provides generous accommodations to those called to the city for legal matters.
The Department of Ecology is a unique formation, and the name implies that the government of Sera do Prado has no intention of managing public lands, merely studying them. In fact the Department of Ecology does subsume the functions of a typical Department of the Interior, but the fact is, there is little they can do, so study is their most important function after water management. The two subjects are closely linked here due tot he great variance in water availability experienced in the Estado. They issue predictions on water conditions throughout the Estado, and their estimates of water level in key rivers are becoming more accurate. This department is also undertaking the ongoing survey of the Estado. Detailed maps are being produced from air and space assets, but physical on site investigation is often necessary. This is often hazardous, and Department of Ecology surveyors find their work challenging. They often work in conjunction with Army troops specialized in mountain operations.
The rugged uplands of Sera do Prado are lacking in exploitable metal ores, fossil fuels, and radioactives. What they do offer is good quality quarriable stone, in variety and great abundance, and precious and semi-precious stones. Tirane has an equivalent biochemical process to the mechanism exploited by Terran marine organisms to remove calcium, from water and convert it into structural material. The Tiranean process employs more iron ions as catalysts. As a result, the Tiranean equivalent of limestone is tinted in a variety of warm shades. Prado limestone- typically referred to simply as Prado Stone- is quarried in shades of light buff, tan, rich gold, reddish gold, and brick red. Lower grade stone, tailings, and quarry remnants are typically pulverized into gravel. Higher grade stone, however, especially the denser metamorphic version of Prado Stone known as Pradofino (Similar in form to terrestrial marbles) is capable of being polished to a high gloss. Both sorts of stone are used in architectural applications throughout Provencia do Brasil and well beyond. It is exported globally, but for obvious reasons, virtually no stone (The exception being the best of the best honed and polished Pradofino, for buyers with more money than sense) is shipped offworld. Prado stone weathers slightly faster than Earth limestone, and so, when used for exterior construction, is typically coated with a UV and water resistant polymer sealer. Some of the redder Pradofino stone is coincidentally similar in shade to the Brasi, or Brazil-Wood, the red wood of the tropical hardwood tree first exported by the Portuguese, from which Brazil took its name. This is called Brasi Stone, and is widely used for government buildings.
Significant amounts of gemstones have been recovered form the mountains of this Estado, but the individual gem bearing veins are small and widely scattered, and difficult to access. The result has been a gem industry that is almost amateurish in nature, with hopeful individuals securing permits to prospect for gems uncertain areas for limited durations, keeping all they can recover, after the government gets its cut, of course. There are barely more winners than losers in this game, and even though some of the winners have won big, the major mining companies have stayed out of it. Of great concern to authorities is the dangers posed by gem searching mobs converging on an area where word has gotten out of a high value find. Usually, news of a find isnt even real. Serious gem hunters know better than to talk about where their best finds were. But the dangers caused by gem seeking hordes, even when motivated by unsubstantiated rumors are great. First there is the very real chance of death or injury amongst themselves, accidentally, and as a result of short nerves and frayed tempers. Second, a mob of unsupervised amateur excavators can cause great ecological damage. They have destabilized and denuded hillsides, resulting in rock and mud slides. In several occasions, these have caused loss of life, and extensive property damage.
Factories in the Dom Monte suburbs supply materials for several leaders in the "low tech" end of Provincia do Brasil industry. An example is Tricasa, which owns several plants producing traditional hand tools for people who wish to make holes in the ground the old fashioned way: Picks, Shovels, Post Hole Diggers, Awls, Rakes, Spades, Hoes, and related devices normally reliant on human muscle for their operation. Not much has changed in the design of these tools over the centuries, although materials science has improved them. As a secondary line, they produce vehicle mounted tools, such as snow plows, and agricultural and mining equipment, all of the low-tech variety. Tools are now churned out made from advanced alloys, including shovels with edges so sharp that a plastic "safety strip" comes attached to the tool, to be placed back on the shovel edge after each use. Of course, no tool holds an edge for long when used for regular digging, and refinishing dull tools is a steady small profit center for many hardware dealers. Tricasa has 4600 workers and is a publicly held corporation. Gross revenue for 2300 AD was reportedly 182 MLv. The company is considered stable, with strong brand recognition in Provincia do Brasil and good prospects for steady growth as the population increases.
The National Corps of Engineers has studied potential hydroelectric locations at numerous sites in the Estado. None of them are usable without the construction of major dams, as the natural water flow is too variable. These dams have been built at a small number of the available sites, and today the Estado produces an excess of electricity, much of which is sold to consumers in Vinicao. Although Provincia do Brasil receives most of its power from the power satellite system, power transmission across mountain ranges still represents technical obstacles, and the dams present a cheap alternative. Of great advantage to the Estado is the relative proliferation of small generating stations, rather than a few large ones, offering redundancy in the event of an interruption in the transmission net. A few remote settlements in the mountains are not even connected to the net. In these cases, local hydroelectric generators provide for their limited needs.
The capitol of Sera do Prado began as a rough frontier town devoted mainly to law enforcement and administration in a wilderness region. In the early years of the 23rd century, Sera do Prado became a haven for the lawless, since the treacherous mountain canyons offered numerous hiding places that protected them even from satellite surveillance. Brazilian socio-historians are divided as to how the new colony acquired a criminal underclass so quickly. The theory has been advanced that some early colony ships were used as escape vessels by Earth gangsters, who had bribed colonization officials tgo place their people on the colony ships. Dom Monte was established as a military base (in those days, many areas of Provincia do Brasil had not yet been given over to civilian authority) in an effort to seal off this traditional route for fugitives, and capture those already hiding in the Prados. By 2227, this activity was stepped up further, as the decision had been made to build an orbital catapult, and the national government, while desirous of the site in Sera do Prado, had no desire to place the catapult in a high crime area. Operations to secure Sera do Prado took much of the next decade, overlapping the beginning of the construction of the catapult.
One of the problems of development in this Estado has been transportation. Provincia do Brasil has an airfilm standard for public transportation, chosen as it offered an inexpensive way to cover the great distances of the colony. Airfilm, however, is disadvantaged in steep grades, and Sera do Prado has a lot of steep grades. Dom Monte is located at the point at which airfilm train lines can no longer be built efficiently, and here freight bound for the Orbital Catapult must be loaded onto conventionally railed trains. In a way, the placement of the city echoes the historical placement of cities at navigation heads or portage points, where riverine cargo traffic could go no further. Much of Dom Monte is on level ground where airfilm can operate easily. About a quarter of the city is on fairly steep slope, with a fraction, the District known as Esdacaria (Staircase) being located on extremely steep ground.
Dom Monte has a large heavy industrial base, and much of it is located in this district, which also happens to be a major ground freight transportation terminal. Housing in this district is of low quality, and rare. In addition to the industrial plants and endless warehouses, Distrito Industrio is home to the citys infrastructure, including the sewage reclamation plant, the water purification plant, and the communications net center. The District is well served by public transportation, which is airfilm like most of the lower area of the city. The public tracks run through this area as often as they can, as there are few residents to complain about the noise generated by airfilm trains. In fact, some airfilm tracks here area above ground, and not enclosed with the noise baffles used elsewhere. When a train goes by, people in the Distrito Industrio hear it. With readily available transportation, the District has also become the home of some public amenities such as Estadia Montana, the citys sports arena.
The Brazilians have a strange habit of pursuing offbeat engineering projects, when simpler solutions seem available. The clearing of the Rio Osario was one, (See Lemanja) and the creation of Porto Paradeo another (Chaparaca). In Dom Monte, a residential and office district was placed on the side of a very steep mountain, even though it was possibly easier to extend the city along the Rio Prado. The design was similar to that used for parts of Basilicade in Acre, but the planned district here was larger and the mountain steeper. It is so steep, in fact, that only one major roadway goes up the mountain, and it follows a rather roundabout course as it does so. Most residents with private vehicles keep them at parking facilities at the base of the mountain, literally downtown. Escaderia is also home to the state government buildings. The buildings that housed the pre-Estado government were sold off, mostly to national level agencies, and the Sera do Prado University, and new buildings built high on the mountainside to physically emphasize the mountain nature of the region. From the Legislature gallery, one has an excellent view of the entire city below. Some office buildings have moved up into the slopes, as the commanding views seem to make up for the relative lack of convenience. From the commercial point of view, being seen is more important than seeing, and a distinctive mountainside office building is a hard site to miss. The major buildings of Escaderia are visible from all over the city. Specialized trams serve the district, climbing the slopes on rack and pinion type tracks. The views are impressive from the trams, and locals ride them well into the night, when they become inexpensive getaways for romantic couples. The uppermost are of the district has naturally become a park and restaurant center, and the Hotel Gran Prado occupies a position of prominence, cantilevered out over the mountainside with the finest views in the city.
West of (and immediately below) Escaderia is the small Distrito Centro. This was origianally an office district, but many of the corporate offices have moved up the slopes into Escaderia. Left are many of the general retail and especially service oriented businesses. Centro is the transport hub of the city, here one can catch airfilms, including long distance airfilms, to other neighborhoods or other cities, trams for jurneying up into Escaderia, or busses for the outer regions of Dom Monte, the surroudnign towns, and Lancada. The heart of the whole thing is the Terminal, where it all meets. This is a structure built in the 2260s, and added to several times.
In the early days of the city, this was a market where prospectors and self styled mountain dwellers sold the finds they acquired in the Estados difficult hinterlands, and loaded up on the wares of civilization, before returning to the highlands A large open air market grew up surprisingly quickly. This was finally removed in 2269 to make way for a modern shopping arcade. The arcade designers attempted to capture some of the ramshackle frontier feel of the earlier market, but many people felt the charm was gone. Today the market is given over to discount and second hand shops, but is the center of the citys northernmost District. Vendano is a blue collar working class area with strong local spirit. Estadio Vendano is close to the old market site.
The riverside suburb of Dom Monte was both an early and late development. The suburb exists today on the site of a series of quarries that were cut into to the river bank, simultaneously excavating future wharves while providing building materials to the newly established city. The wharves, though, were little used. In the 2280s, the neighborhood was developed as a residential suburb as a commuter airfilm line was extended to the old quarry site. Apartment buildings now line the river front, with shopping and entertainment areas extending on to the old stone piers.
In its southeastern quarter, Sera do Prado is well provided for. Airfilm trains follow the Rio Prado basin regularly towards cities in Lemanja and Oxala. Federally operated trains are faster and link Dom Monte with Kantzauropolis, Porto Jardim, and Missaoprimo with non-stop express service. Local trains, operated by the Estado, follow the same routes, connecting the smaller towns along the route. The airfilm corridor between Missaoprimo and Dom Monte is the busiest in the eh colony, with citizens of Dom Monte representign a disproportionate share of the passengers.
Ground Transportation in the mountainous region is next to non-existent in comparison. Road nets are wide with enormous gaps in coverage. Roiad distance is deveptively longer than map distance as roads snake around mountains, naking curnves and switchbacks to reduce grades. Roads hug steep slopes and are never in as high a state of repair as the population would wish. Another threat exists in the local drivers, who are very familiar with local stretches of road and drive at what seem, to visitors, to be frighteningly high speeds. Medical and rescue services, though they exist, are thinly spread except near towns and military sites. This region has the highest per-passenger ground traffic fatality rate ion Provincia do Brasil.
A conventional rail system connects Lancada to Dom Monte, and other towns along the route. This line is primarily for the movement of freight to the catapult launch system there, but other cargos are welcome.
Dom Monte has an unusual amalgamation of urban transportation systems. Airfilm trains serve the lower elevation, central areas of the city, and connect to several suburban stations as well. The slopes are served by specialized cog-trams. The sprawling outer regions of the city are connected by a semi-automated bus system. (The busses are manned, however, passengers select destinations from touch-screens at kiosks located at bus stations, and the routes of the busses are adjusted as necessary to accommodate demand). This results in an old fashioned, traditional approach to Urban transit, the hub and spoke pattern, as the only interface between the different systems is in the center city area. The urban service is unusual in that it uses tokens, not more advanced electronic account systems, as the means through which riders pay. Tokens are available at numerous outlets throughout the area, and trips within the city proper cost one token, typically valued about a third of a Livre. Trips to the suburbs cost two tokens. The airfilm system is gradually expanding to the north and west. This involves blasting and excavating to create slopes suitable for airfilms, and is an expensive undertaking.
Dom Monte has an airport, but service is limited and tends to be local. There are daily flights over the mountains to Sao Leonardo and Recuoco in Vinicao, provided mainly by Impulsos. This same airline also serves a number of the smaller towns of the area- smart visitors prefer travel by air in this region to the vagaries of the roads. Flights to the cities of Lemanja are fewer, as short range flights in this direction must compete with the airfilm train lines. Flights are also available to Kantzauropolis in Oxala, again limited by the competition from Airfilm. A charter air service flies out of Dom Monte and several other towns including Balia on the Prado river, Lancada, and Monte Bolsanaro. This small airline is frequently used for sightseeing, or for delivering mountaineers to remote areas.
The Brazilian military commitment in Sera do Prado is a small one. There is an army logistics group near Dom Monte, and all but the 2nd battalion of the Montano Prado Brigade, a large light infantry formation designed for alpine operations. The Air Force has defense units guarding the catapult site, and elements of the 16th Regional Support Group. There is a substantial military liaison office at Lancada, and the catapult personnel have occasionally participated in military exercises.
Economically, Sera do Prado belongs to the sophisticated urbanized southeastern portion of the island-continent of Cabralia. The Estado is well linked to the southeasts transportation and communications nets. Dom Monte is the hub of the Estados commerce.
In the outlying areas of the Estado, prices tend to be much higher, reflecting the small markets and the cost of transportation. The standard of living tends to be poorer as a result, and many of the mountain dwellers make periodic shopping trips to the Estado capitol to load up on supplies. This is especially prevalent before any expected period of inclement weather. Dom Monte is the major retail center of the area, and most of the action happens in Distrito Centro. Excellent public transport connections allow hundreds of thousands to descend upon this area from homes and parking areas in outlying city areas- congestion makes driving in to Centro a frustrating experience.
With so much of the Estado poorly linked by the communications net, electronic transactions are not as common as elsewhere. Even in Dom Monte, some of the mountaineer distrust of invisible cash is evident, with most merchants charging a finance processing fee to customers who pay electronically. Visitors should be forewarned: Estado laws severely restrict the fees that can be charged to Estado residents, but no such protections are available for visitors. You can generally get the best deals with cash.
The Estado has no major financial centers, with most operations being processed elsewhere. Bank offices in Dom Monte and other towns tend to be branch offices devoted to serving local customer bases, not corporate offices.
Despite good land along the Rio Prado and in the other river valleys that make up its watershed, agriculture is not strong in this Estado. Less than three percent of the labor force is employed in agriculture. Many work in commercial farms in the southeast, fewer work in the smaller farms scattered through the remainder of the Estado. There are about 3,000 small private family farms in the Estado. Many of these are poor establishments producing at slightly over the subsistence level. An unknown number of inhabitants, primarily in the rural area, grow food, but the government doesnt count them as farmers unless they sell their produce commercially. Together, these farms, producing a mix of grain, produce, dairy, and meat products, are insufficient to meet the needs of the Estado, and about 40% of the daily needs of the Estado must be imported. This amounts to over 5,000 tons daily, and accounts for much of the traffic up the River Prado, and the airfilm line not far from its banks.
Game hunting still accounts for a significant proportion of nutrition in the more remote areas. At least one species (noted below) has declined due to human pressure.
This is a primitive colonial microbe, outwardly similar to the Earth lichen in some respects, that grows on rocks faces in many upland regions of Sera do Prado, as well as some areas in surrounding Estados. Its greatest abundance and variety, however, is here. The organism has some commercial value to the cosmetics industry, and supports a small number of daring collectors. One would think that a simple organism like this would be grown in artificial surrounding if found to be valuable, but the cosmetics industry doesnt seem to feel that way. Part of the substance's appeal to consumers seems to be the difficult and dangerous conditions under which the material is collected. This helps justify higher prices as well. Verrugi based products are exported throughout human space. The scarcity of the material, as well as the sellers' desire to maintain Verrugi's image as a extraordinarily rare and exotic material, keeps the supply low and the demand high. Naturally this attracts those individuals who believe they can climb a mountain or two, scrape some rocks, and retire. From the Verrugi collectors' point of view, this would be a bad thing.
To deal with this problem, collectors and processors of Verrugi convinced the Sera do Prado government, in 2288, to require collectors to be licensed, and limited the harvest of Verrugi to "ecologically sustainable" limits. What that is, no one really knows: the stuff has been the object of research, but not research of the ecological kind. Nevertheless, the government sets arbitrary limits, and to a fairly weak degree enforces them.
There are still those who ignore the whole official system, harvest what they can, and smuggle it out. And there are those licensed collectors who get fed up with the government allowing this to happen and take matters into their own hands.
Sera do Prado is a one of the most religiously conservative regions in Provincia do Brasil. Small, rural parishes are the focal point of organization for rural society, with many local priests serving in multiple roles as civil servants. The Archbishop of Sera do Prado, headquartered at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, in the town of Serafe, west of Dom Monte, is a significant voice in the Estados politics. Almost all of the citizens of the Estado are practicing Catholics, and life is paced tot he festivals and rituals of the Church. Their fervor can be intense even by Brazilian standards. As one ArchBishop put it:
"These people truly believe I can work miracles. I hesitate to say how they may turn if I cannot live up to their expectations. I have never seen a people demand so much from their clergy. They hold us to strict behavior, and are quick to correct. We are more used to seeing things in the reverse."
The Cathedral of he Holy Trinity is a half hour from the center of Dom Monte on airfilm, the western extension of the urban commuter system. The trip is somewhat longer by auto or bus, but worth the time for visitors. This is nowhere near the tallest, but it is one of the most massive cathedrals ever built. It began as a labor of love by quarry workers in the 2230s, who bit off more than they could chew. By 2260 they had a huge foundation and curtain walls built, with great arches and buttresses rising over a structure that seemed more Roman era than modern. Able to supply cut stone in abundance, they had neither the skills nor the money to progress further. Progress slowed to a halt. The Cathedral gained fame during Sister Rosas Rebellion (see below) when a group of volunteers and policemen, supported by local clergy, defended the fortress like edifice for three days, long enough for government forces to secure the route from Dom Monte and move into the area in overwhelming numbers. To be sure, Rosas priorities were elsewhere, and the force she through against the Cathedral was small, but they were still many times the number of the defenders, and this was the high water mark to her movement eastward. Afterwards, the newfound fame benefitted the Cathedral. The Roman Catholic Church took over the project and completed it, although not to the grandeur dreamed of by the original builders. Today, the building still has an ancient, fortress like look, much squatter and blockier than it has to be, in a design given mostly to huge stone blocks. The interior finishings, however, are some of the best the Church has on Tirane. Dia des Santos Tiranos
This is a festival day commemorating the native Tiranean Saints, off which there have been four, two of them Brazilian. Four seems a number two small for the celebrants to accept, so they make a point to include, as objects of their adoration, those Tiraneans currently in the process of canonization. It is a three-day festival featuring parades and feasts, primarily in Dom Monte but also in other towns in the Estado. The holiday has begun to spread, and is under consideration in Basilicade as an official addition to the calendar. Dia des Santos Tiranos is a vestige of the exuberant, decadent carnivals known in Brazil centuries ago. There are still parade floats, pretty girls, and alcohol, but the floats have themes reflecting contemporary values, the girls are conservatively clad, and the alcohol is generally consumed within limits. The locals, especially the more devout working class youth, keep it that way. In 2297, a dozen Tourists from Tundukebwa were attacked by a mob of local youths, who apparently failed to show sufficient deference towards parade floats honoring locally popular saints. Apologies and compensation were duly provided, but the media in Tundekubwa noted the level of sympathy awarded the young thugs by area priests in sermons over the following weeks.
Conservative, religious culture carries with it the seeds of Fundamentalism, and the dangerous belief that ones actions, however frightening, are justified by ones deity. Provincia do Brasil endured one frightening and disturbingly recent episode of this behavior, and while it touched most of the central Estados, it is most closely associated with Sera do Prado.
In the 2250s, a nun in Acre began receiving what she claimed were angelic visitations, advising her of her duty to route out Church complacency and corruption, and found a new Holy Order in Provincia do Brasil. At the time, the Roman Catholic Church was developing its holdings in Acre, and the charismatic nun attracted attention, which Church officials decided wasnt an entirely bad thing. Sister Rosa gained a reputation as a fierce, fire and brimstone style speaker, and attracted a core of loyal followers. Later, she began personal attacks on Church officials, and this is where, originally, the Church tried to draw the line. The Archbishop of Basilicade met with her several times. Unrebuffed, Sister Rosa continued her campaign of accusations, and in 2264, a number of her claims proved surprisingly close to truth as a series of corruption scandals hit the Church in Provincia do Brasil. That set off Rosa and her followers. They marched across broad areas of Sera do Prado, Oxala, and Basilicade, "cleansing" the region of those she declared "hypocritical Catholics", leaving a trail of assaults, widespread property destruction, and a growing number of murders. The Brazilian military was called in to suppress Sister Rosa, and found itself facing a hard core of fighters convinced they were doing Gods work in defending Rosa, regardless of the consequences. They could not long hold off the Brazilian military, however, and eventually, as anti-governmetn forces had done in the past, retreated into the brutal terrain of Sera do Prado. For six years they held out, their forces diminishing despite the support of many orthodox Catholic settlers in the mountains, until Sister Rosa herself was captured by a Rural Police unit. The remnants of her rag-tag army were rounded up soon afterwards. Rosa was sentenced to life imprisonment, and remains incarcerated. Some of her supporters, those that have not been convicted, still live in the western area of the Estado, in remote mountain villages.
Sera do Prado is often portrayed as a region devoid of intellectual entertainment, where things that are done are usually overdone. The music is sappy and conventional, the comedy juvenile and slapstick, the art standard and uninspired. This is low praise indeed in a society already known for its conservative, repressive stance towards the arts. If Brazilians can be entertained by watching trees walk, it is said, Pradans will be entertained watching the rocks oxidize. This is not at all true- Sera do Prados culture is vibrant and often quite noisy. Its just that many Brazilians just wish the Pradans would just shut up and watch the rocks oxidize.
Dom Montes home futbol players are the clowns of the sports arena, hated and ridiculed by many, appreciated by enough to become well known stars. Three decades ago, an entertainment entrepreneur of legendary foresight had the teams athletes make a token appearance in the "pre-game" show, the circus-like performance that had been entertaining Dom Monte sports fans before the start of each game, since the 2250s. It was an instant crowd pleaser. The teams pre-game antics became more involved, and eventually, some say inevitably, the mirth and silliness they were known for before the game managed to drift into the game itself. Initially, other franchises within the Provincia do Brasil Futbol League objected to the unique style of the team. The Lancadeiros toned down the act, and league executives quickly learned that fans wanted to see the funny routines. Eventually, the Lancadeiros were granted several exemptions form League rules. They are allowed to keep many more players on the official roster, enough to allow them to deploy a team playing comedic "exhibition" games while another squad makes sure the team gets in enough "official" matches (although the silliness often creeps into these as well) to keep them in regular league play. Their popularity has spread far beyond Provincia do Brasil. In 2296, they pulled off a comedic coup during a game with a Wellon team, in the Wellon teams home stadium. They managed to replace the game ball with a carefully made Pentapod bio-construct, which promptly sprouted legs and led both teams on a chaotic chase around the field. Other typical stunts include entering the field wearing absurd costumes, using exploding and other "trick" balls, kicking the ball into concealed tunnels, playing a "mime" game with a non-existant ball which the other sides goalie seems never able to block, and a frequently used but wildly popular gag in which the goalie pulls out a pistol and shoots an incoming ball. (Its all a technical trick and very safe, of course). The Lancadeiros are popular throughout Provincia do Brasil and have played throughout Tirane, even touring Earth a few times. There arent many announcements that will get a stadium full of Brazilians to their feet, wherever the game is being played, faster than the Lancadeiros traditional introduction:
"Senhoras e Senhors, Os Lancadeiros dos Dom Montaaaaaaay!"
One would think that Sera Do Prado, home to the most rugged terrain in Provincia do Brasil, and some of the tallest peaks on the planet, would get the lions share of Provincia do Brasils mountain seeking vacationers. They dont. Chalk it up to bad marketing, because the mountains are spectacular. The northern tier Estados of Acre, Vinicao and Chaparaca, however, have outdone Sera do Prado in terms of self promotion. The Holy sites in Acre, the quaint wineries and vineyards of Vinicao, and the stormy forests of Chaparaca add to the appeal of the mountains in those regions. All Sera do Prado has in that respect are the mountains. But what mountains they are. These heights attract the most serious of mountaineers, the true alpinists. About 20,000 people visit the Estado annually in search of peaks to climb, and empty wilderness. They fill out the requisite forms indicating their understanding of the dangers: the Estado is vast and the rescue services thinly spread. A few perish each year, but to many climbers, that only heightens the sense of challenge. Independently owned travelers lodges are located near a few of the more popular mountain areas. These provide somewhat civilized "home bases" for mountaineers. The lodge at the base of Montanha do Bolsanaro has become the centerpiece of a small town, called Monte Bolsanaro, which has a small but comfortable resort with modern amenities, and a notable restaurant.
A number of species noted in neighboring Estados call Sera do Prado home as well, naturally, as wildlife tends to ignore borders. In fact, some species and subspecies are more plentiful in the thinly populated mountains here than they are elsewhere. Both the Wisenta Montana and the Gobo (PdBs variant of the Drukey), listed in Acre, are common in Sera do Prado. Hunting is common in Sera do Prado, and is often used to supplement the food source in remote villages.
Killer. No. Appearing: 1-10 Initiative: 10 Melee Hit Chance: Easy, Size: 2 Kg Speed 40 Armor 0, Consciousness: 1 Life: 2 WPM -4 DPV 0.1 Signature None
This is the smallest in the Weasent, family, and apparently evolved from the Wisenta Montana. Its niche is more specialized, and it is a burrowing predator, seeking out insects, worms, and small burrowing prey, in a addition to being a capable scavenger. The Sharp "shovel teeth" that allow the animal to dig also give the small animal the ability to cause wounds far in excess of its size, however, they will attack humans only in extremis. Their chief threat is based in their inquisitiveness. They will investigate strange objects left on the ground at night, entering vehicles as well as chewing their way into packs, sleeping bags, etc. They will often bite when startled, then run. Females give birth to a brood of up to eight simultaneously, but no more than six generally survive until adulthood. This brood stays together throughout their adult life. They do not mate amongst themselves, but mate with members of other broods when broods encounter each other during the mating season. This "pack" strategy helps them survive in an inhospitable environment. Brood members assist in rearing of young, digging of burrows, and watching for danger, like terrestrial prairie dogs, but also hunt together, like terrestrial wolves. Lone animals will not join another brood, unless they are fortunate enough to come across one composed of siblings. In this way, a brood will often be larger than a single birthings worth of animals.
In some areas, the ranges of the Wisenta Pradoa and the Wisenta Montana overlap. The two species diverged, most likely, several million years ago and are now competitors, since the upper end of suitable prey for the Pradoas includes the lower end of suitable prey for Montanas.
Grazer. No. Appearing: 2-20 Initiative: 2 Melee Hit Chance: Difficult, Size: <2 Kg Speed 30 Armor .1, Consciousness: 1 Life: 1 WPM -6 DPV 0 Signature None
The bizarre "Alpine Rock Shrimp" were common in the region when the settlement began, but have become rare in many areas, and have vanished entirely from others. Their numbers still decrease steadily. Part of this dramatic species loss is due to a raging epidemic brought about by Earth microorganisms. The poor little creatures seem to have now ability to fight off Earth-native yeasts, which appear to find the animal quite tasty. Unfortunately, humans and their pets find the Camairicos tasty as well, and collection for consumption has finished off what the epidemic began near many human settlements. (Properly cooked, even an infected Camairico poses no threat to humans when eaten, and handling an infected creature is safe.)
The camairico is about the size and weight of a Terrestrial Guinea pig, with a rough gray covering making a sort of leathery carapace ending in a strong tail, composed of a stiffened, strengthened section of the same material as the carapace. The tail, which reminds many of the tails of shrimp, is used for digging, and as it wears down it is replaced by freshly growing material from the creatures back. It crawls among the rocky slopes at high altitudes, scraping Tiranian simple plants equivalent to Earths lichens, mosses, and algaes from rock surfaces with two sets of unique tandem tongues. The creature is a speedy burrower, using a burrow for rest, egg laying, and escape. The Camaraico actually has to burrow into rocky ground, or the tail will continue to grow. Burrowing wears the tail down. Specimens in zoos have been known to grow tails so large the creatures could not walk. Where the animals cannot be housed with ground in which they can burrow, zookeepers must frequently trim the tail. This does not harm the creature- it is akin to cutting human finger nails. Once burrowed in, a Camairico reverses itself, placing the strong, sharp tail closes to the entrance of the burrow. Predatory Wisentas Pradoas will often dig them out by excavating parallel tunnels.
Humans generally find the creatures very edible, and the Camairico is one of the reasons why remote settlements and recluses have been able to survive in the brutal mountain terrain of Sera do Prado. Ecologists are concerned that the loss of the Camairico will upset delicate alpine ecosystems as other animals that depended on the Camairico for food also decline. This has already been seen in some areas. Not only have stocks of other native animals fell, but the simple plants which the Camairicos ate have spread, coating come rock surfaces with a greenish brown fuzz.