The Commonwealth of Wellon
Le vieux fantassin
Carl X Robertson IV walked along Young Pretender Street, the wide central boulevard of Riverside. The view to the north and east was dominated by the huge, sluggish brown curve of the Cam River. The rest of the city was mostly built on a small plateau, its architecture was charmless but the city was charged with the energy brought about by the start of a weekend. Already the city's thoroughfares were beginning to fill up with a cross section of promenaders, revellers and partygoers.
Carl liked operating in Wellon, its cities held little of the menace of places like Libreville, Bonne Chance or Bruxelles. By and large the authorities here played their games by the rules as well, which reassured him as he'd once wasted six months of his life interred by Trilon on Kie-Yuma.
He paced through the city in the gathering evening as the air cooled and the pace of the nightlife accelerated. The weight of his briefcase began to cause an ache in his bad arm, where a decade and a half earlier a doomed 15 year old Maquis Verte had shot him in the shoulder with a Manchurian machine gun which was bigger than she was. The doctors all said it was fully healed, but Carl would always feel the ache in his soul which had more to do with a dead teenager than the bullet wound.
He was approaching the steep, crowded streets of Alexander's Steps where the student housing was clustered together. Drunken students gathered on corners, whilst others occupied tables outside bars and the latest Algerian pop pounded from open doors. At this time of the week the society rooms in the Student Union's Faraday House were empty apart for fringe and expatriate student groups who didn't share the taste for carefree hedonism of the young Wellonese. One of these groups were the Friends of the Communist Party of Nouvelle Provence and apart from being utterly misguided they were hosting a known terrorist of the CCR on a fund and profile raising trip.
At one time even the thought of murdering people in cold blood would have horrified Carl. However after brief service with the US Rangers his time as a special forces operator in the Légion Étrangère in the bitter Elysian War and now as a freelance agent for DGSE had long since worn away his youthful idealism. He was only two streets away now from the target, he'd been told to use the bomb in his suitcase to destroy the building and maintain plausible deniability, but he was tempted to use the silenced gauss gun hanging under his armpit. He had no love for the CCR or their commie fellow travellers but didn't particularly want to destroy a whole block just to kill one of them.
As he turned the final corner onto Maxwell Wynd a man suddenly fell into step with him. Carl didn't startle but slowly tensed and eased his hands slowly from his pockets of his jacket to the small of his back.
'Hello,' The man's accent was pure North Albion. 'Don't I recognise you? Don't you work for the cleaning company at the university?' Carl stopped and locked eyes with the well dressed, wide faced and earnest Wellonese man.
'No, I think you have me mistaken.' The man apologised and walked away.
Carl watched him go, then pivoted and strode off in the opposite direction. Special Branch or WI5 had either picked him up at the airport by image recognition or had been tipped off about the identity he was using. There would be no assassination tonight. Carl suddenly felt every one of his 45 years.
A tall, almost stately American stood looking out over the river on a movable pier at the tourist port. He seemed unmoved by the gathering swarm of near invisible but immensely irritating insects that hovered around him. He dropped something into a small briefcase, closed it, then hurled it out into the slow moving river. He stared after it for minutes, feeling gingerly at his shoulder as he did so. Seemingly satisfied he then stalked away back into the city.
Wellon has often been described as the 'sleeping giant' in the Tiranean community of nations. This has been largely due to two factors, its concentration on internal development and its willingness to leave the management of its external affairs to Britain proper. As with Britain, Wellon's emerging foreign policy is an essentially conservative one, emphasising stability, peace, trade and cultural links. British Foreign Office mandarins often point out that humanities expansion into the stars and to prosperity was enabled mainly by the 200 years of peace in Europe that existed up to the Central Asian War. Their Wellon counterparts are of the same mind. The mantra of evolution, not revolution is a cornerstone of Wellon's foreign relations.
Since the Wellon (Home Rule) Bill of 2277, Wellon has been slowly expanding her own network of diplomatic contacts throughout Tirane. Whilst many are co-located with their British counterparts, Wellon has now a web of consulates that spreads throughout many smaller cities where there is no British representation.
Wellon has a close and increasingly equal relationship with the United Kingdom. They work from both a common linguistic and cultural frame of reference, whilst Britain's relatively painless withdrawal from direct colonial rule has left little resentment in Wellon.
The most obvious association is militarily. Wellon contributes a large proportion of the operating budget of the Royal Space Navy and provides some 40% of the Spacers in its ranks. On Home Rule it was decided that Wellon simply could not afford its own space navy and that by attempting to build one it would also cripple the British space navy. As a result the running of the RSN is a partnership and governed by treaty with both Prime Ministers and Defence Secretary's sitting on the Space Naval Board.
The other three services are separate establishments but with common doctrine and traditions. Indeed a commission gained at one of Wellon's military academies is automatically accepted in Britain and vice-versa (the same applies for the Dominion of Alicia). British forces continue to use Wellon's vast training areas to exercise on and develop doctrine far from the prying eyes of Earth, and Wellon benefits directly from this. Lastly Wellonese and British units undertake regular cross postings into each others formations at all levels.
Economically the two nations remain intertwined and the Wellon Pound is linked to the value of the Sterling creating a powerful trading block across more than 400 million people and six worlds. Anglo-Wellon corporations are not above playing upon different parts of their heritage in order to win contracts, sometimes they make most of their London offices, sometimes their Wellonese background becomes more important.
Politically the two nations co-operate most often in the realm of external affairs and stay scrupulously out of each others internal politics. Wellon's periodical republican debate can sometimes provoke comment from the British press, but never its politicians. What is emerging now is a partnership, Wellon still follows Britain's lead off-planet but increasingly Britain follows Wellon's policy on Tirane. Whilst some lifestyle commentators talk of Wellon's continuing 'cultural cringe', in terms of diplomacy that is increasingly not the case.
Wellon suffers from what is sometimes known as an 'embarrassment of Commonwealths'. It is a Commonwealth itself, belongs to the British Commonwealth (as the British colonial holdings are known, sometimes 'New Commonwealth') as well as the Commonwealth of Nations (as the former British Empire/Commonwealth became, sometimes 'Old Commonwealth'.) Consequently this section refers to Wellon's relationship with the other British colonies.
Wellon's economy is intimately linked to that of the United Kingdom, indeed most observers have difficulty precisely delineating between them. This is especially true of the large British trading concerns that ply human space, generating much of the two nation's wealth. Consequently Wellon has always has cultivated a keen interest in the development of the outer colonies. Whilst leaving the day-to-day administration to the British.
The FPK especially has interests in building up the infrastructure of the colonies, and played a key role in the planning of the colonies on Beta Canum-4 and Joi. Notably the FPK had no part to play on Crater, which began life as a 'company town', and rather smugly likes to point that fact out whenever that colony's periodic political difficulties erupt. Wellon's main aim is to assist the colonies along the path to self-sufficiency and eventual home rule. The Wellonese see themselves as the most successful and stable of all humanities colonies and wish a similar outcome for the other British colonies in particular, and other colonies more generally.
Wellon's relations with the Dominion of Alicia can be sometimes testy. Alicians see themselves as 'More British than the British' and sometimes look at the polyglot Wellonese with an element of disdain. Wellonese in turn see stuck up prudery in much of Alicia's attitudes and enjoy scandalising their more uptight cousins. However cultural and economic links are strong, with the Consolidated Alicia Corporation owned by the Duke of Alicia having substantial holdings on Tirane.
Wellonese and New Africans share an altogether closer view on life, and indeed several million of the colonists actually came from Wellon in the last half of the last century. The attitudes of the urban elite especially are very close to those of the Wellonese. Crater is a sore point within the British Commonwealth as the industrial unrest there continues, the official Wellon line is in favour of increased development and autonomy whilst decrying the provocation and violence on all sides. As always with Crater sorting fact from rumour is even more difficult for outside observers than it is for the locals.
The last major colony is that of New Cornwall on Joi which has gone through a long slow build up of infrastructure and is ripe for full scale colonisation. However with the ongoing Kafer War it is likely that these funds will instead go towards the war effort. The War has in fact caused Wellon to reconsider its 'back seat' approach to the British Commonwealth.
The Kafer War has forced Wellon to look at its place in the wider universe beyond Tirane. It watched the fall of the colonies along the French Arm with horror. The British colonies were trading and cultural partners, so Wellonese corporations suffered huge financial losses. Worse still, many expatriate Wellonese and workers were caught up in the fighting bringing some of the suffering in the outer colonies back to Wellon. Wellonese servicemen were fighting in British ranks and one Wellon Army battalion on exchange with the British saw action on Beta Canum.
Political and public outrage about the lack of protection of the colonies was fierce and deepened with each additional loss of a colony. When even well defended Beta Canum fell a touch of despair entered into the debate; what if humanity couldn't stop the Kafers? Would Wellon also be in the firing line? Condemnation of Britain and the other colonial powers was stringent, but typically the Wellonese also looked inwards. They too reaped great financial benefits from trade with the colonies, so should they not also bare a part of the responsibility for the defence of the colonies?
The preparation of the Wellon Expeditionary Force was a major step for the new nation. It still had to ride on the coattails of British organisational and logistic support but it was a first step. The WEF would be prepared to fight at Beowulf or on Earth should the worst come to the worst, and would aid the liberation effort if things went well. As it was the WEF missed the Battle of Beowulf and the subsequent rapid liberation due to shortages of troopships, but was soon involved in mopping up operations on Beta Canum. These actions and the return of the 'Lions of New Africa' hugely popularised Wellon's involvement in the war, and led to increasing commitments of troops.
Wellonese public opinion is almost totally united behind Wellon's involvement in the war, and is starting to think that maybe Wellon should increase her involvement in other areas. Possibly even going as far as increasing the using FPK led enclave on Syuhlahm as the basis for a colony and then looking at other possible colonies in the Chinese or American Arms. At the moment though most concentration is locked on to the war and news of Wellonese units in action is eagerly devoured by a proud but anxious public.
HMWG is a strong supporter of the Tirane Council as a force for stability on Tirane, although it has problems with the grandstanding sometimes undertaken by some nations in this forum. One issue Wellon has been very strong on is the prevention of Brazilian attempts to gain a seat on the Council for the Roman Catholic Church, Wellon is very much in favour of the Council remaining secular and not an arena for religious one-upmanship .
Wellon's relationship with Nouvelle Provence are going through a somewhat changeable period. Traditionally Wellon has played the same role to Nouvelle Provence on Tirane as Britain does to France on Earth. A loyal, supportive ally who has usually been able to restrain her neighbour from overstepping her bounds, whilst also profiting from the stability the French brought. It is noticeable that recent French troubles have occurred when the advice of the British was ignored, her involvement in the Central Asian War was eventually catastrophic, as was the piecemeal handling of the Kafer War.
Nouvelle Provence has shared the recent travails of France. The overthrow of the 12th Republic, military rule and the return of the Empire has caused upheavals in Nouvelle Provençal society. This has coincided with the emergence of Wellon following 2277. The arrival of this economically vibrant state whose solid infrastructure gives it immense growth potential has worried some in France's colonial elite. Together with Wellon's cultural flowering and increasing national self-confidence this has caused no little discussion in Nouvelle Provence.
Freihafen is one of Wellon's principle trading partners on Tirane. Wellon provides many important resources for Freihafen's heavy industry. Similarly Freihafen produces several large components for Wellon's starship building industry at Hawking Station. Diplomatically Freihafen has been the cause of the most obvious recent upset on Tirane, when she refused to accept German control after Reunification. Whilst German bluster about control of the colony was not taken seriously by most, Wellon's Prime Minister Singh at the time privately offered the Freihafen leadership the option to deploy Wellon troops to the colony. (The letters were leaked two years later in The Victorian) Soon after the independence of the colony was recognised, units of the Royal Wellon Marines took part in defence exercises in the new nation.
Several explanations for this unusually 'forward' policy have been advanced. The most plausible is that although Britain was largely unconcerned by German Reunification, the annexation of Bavaria and the war with France were steps too far. A strong Terran Germany was one thing, a strong Germany spread across the stars could well fracture the status quo beyond saving. Unwilling to see the new Germany absorb Freihafen, but not wanting to overly antagonise an economic partner, the Wellon government instead agreed to support Freihafen. Wellon's links with Freihafen remain strong.
The somewhat enigmatic Azanian colony of Tundukubwa is perhaps the 'grey man' of the Tiranean nations. Although still ruled by Azanian the colony is becoming increasingly semi-detached with its entrenched ruling elite gathering more power to themselves. Azanian mining corporations have long had strong interests in Wellon and these continue to this day with Azanian mining expertise being much called upon in the Tiralbion. One source of tension exists between the two settlements is caused by the problems in New Capetown where a large Azanian expatriate population resides.
It is with the American colony of Tirania that Wellon has its most complex relationship. Whilst the current Liberal Democrat government remains friendly towards the American Colonial Administration, elements in the FPK and the Social Alliance party are believed to be in close contact with those in the American colony who want freedom from what they see as absentee Federal government.
In additional Wellon has a large and influential population of Tiranian immigrants whose forthright views on the situation in the colony are frequently aired in the media. Tirania has also been in dispute with Wellon over Wellonese exploitation of the arctic region and the establishment of the city of Knightsbridge. Many theories have been advanced towards why these two Anglophone settlements have such a spiky relationship but none have yet proved particularly convincing.
Relations with New Canberra are somewhat complicated by the situation in the Nuevas Malvinas district of the colony. The formerly Argentinean area is still the hotbed of much pro-Argentina agitation, which retains a strong anti-British rhetoric. Wellon's strong diplomatic relations with Provincia de Brasil, and lingering Wellonese resentment of Argentina's role in the establishment of the 'illegal colonies' on the south coast mean relations with these areas are often stormy. Wellon Rugby teams touring in Nuevas Malvinas always expect a hostile and mutually brutal match, they are rarely disappointed.
Overall relations with New Canberra are good both culturally and economically although the Wellonese often laugh at what they see as the NovoCano's stereotyped view of them. Wellon prefers quieter diplomacy and can be somewhat patronising about New Canberra's 'Latin' temperament and its somewhat overdone attempts to challenge Nouvelle Provance's perceived cultural dominance of Tirane.
Relations with the Japanese colonists of Amaterasu remain correct despite the occasional fishing dispute in the Western Ocean. However trading and industrial collaborations over the ocean are strong, leading to an increasing colonial Japanese presence in the western coast cities. Victoria especially has recently become the home to several large Japanese commercial concerns, exploiting that city's much looser financial regulations. Amaterasu's continuing tense relations with New Canberra over Duffer's Strip brings much trade Wellon's way that would more logically go to New Canberra.
Japanese Colonial and Royal Wellon Navies have slowly developed a strengthening bilateral relationship to avoid misunderstanding in the face of the fishing disputes. These links are perhaps the closest anyone has with the mostly stand-offish Japanese colonial forces.
Wellonese diplomatic relations with Provincia do Brasil are perhaps the closest on Tirane. With the colonising nations frequently mutually antagonised by the Argentines on Earth and in the 22nd Century on Tirane quiet but secure links have grown up between the colonies. Whilst these links were originally in the diplomatic and military fields they have increasingly grown into economic and cultural links. One bone of contention remains, the general inability of Wellonese football teams to beat their Provincia do Brasil counterparts with any frequency.
In spite of Wellon's generally good links with the Manchurians, Tunghu is regarded with some suspicion as consistent rumours and evidence point to Tunghu as providing much of Point Sterling's illicit trade. Wellon consequently has a fairly large diplomatic presence, a cover for intelligence and security service operatives present in the enclave.
America's relations with Wellon are quite separate to those of the Tiranian colonial administration. This is largely that because of terms of population Wellon has the largest extra-Solar population of colonists claiming American descent, either from direct immigration or indirectly from Tirania. American corporations have a strong presence on Wellon and find it an easy place to do business. Consequently the American government maintains very cordial links with Wellon, and since home rule has seen it as an increasingly important trade market.
Links with Argentina are largely non-existent and contact is minimal. In fact Argentina is widely regarded as something of a bogie figure in Wellon, following the Alpha Centauri War and Argentine encouragement of illegal immigration to Wellon. These misconceptions have meant that many Wellonese of Argentine extraction suffer low level prejudice whilst attempts to widen trade links have been stillborn.
Australian links with Wellon are largely governed directly through New Canberra, although direct cross-cultural links are well developed.
Azanian diplomatic and economic contacts are normally conducted through Tundukubwa.
The unitary status of Terran and Tiranean Brazil mean links are mostly undertaken by Provincia do Brasil.
Canada has close links to Wellon both culturally and economically. Before the establishment of Canada's own colonies Canadian colonists and corporations had nearly open access to British colonies thanks to the long and close links between the two countries. Some areas like the twin cities of Grafton-New Hamilton were predominantly settled by Canadian colonists although Wellonese of Canadian descent can be found across Wellon.
The relationship between Canada and Wellon has strengthened with the support the FPK has given to the Canadian colonisation effort along the Chinese Arm from just after the turn of the century. Indeed Wellon corporations such as Colonial Macro-Engineering won key contracts on Doris and the Canadian government intends to allow some Wellonese immigration to Doris. Lastly Wellonese education establishments work well with their Canadian counterparts and many Canadian universities have campuses on Wellon.
Imperial France sees Wellon as still being a satellite of Britain, and is often rather condescending to this new nation. However this doesn't prevent occasional attempts to bring Wellon closer into the sway of France. Wellon though is an increasingly self-confident and mature young nation and is generally amused by these French blandishments. Wellonese harbouring of French émigré political radicals annoys France almost more than it annoys Nouvelle Provence, and several right-wingers have taken to issuing thundering rhetorical denouncements of Wellon from Paris.
Germany has mixed feelings about Wellon. Although Wellon doesn't particularly share Britain's political and popular concern about the occasionally aggressive new Germany, it has always sided with Freihafen in disputes between the two. The strong trade relationship between the north German states and Wellon has continued unabated, although politicians on both sides are somewhat wary of each other. Germany's Ambassador Ute Schnorr has started a concerted program to improve understanding between the two young nations.
The Japanese government has formally correct relations with Wellon, but most contact is conducted through Amaterasu.
Manchuria has only a small presence on Tirane, and economically its interests are fairly limited but nevertheless has fairly good links with Wellon. This has been brought about by the FPK's strong presence on the Chinese Arm over the last century. Consequently Manchurian scientists and students are a common sight on Wellon campuses, and conversely the Wellonese counterparts often work with the Manchurians on several worlds in the Chinese Arm. Wellon's sympathies during the Central Asian War were definitely split, especially when several Wellonese citizens were killed in French raids on Manchu colonies.
Mexico and Wellon keep each other at arms length. Mexico regards Wellon as still entirely British and an enemy of its Argentine ally, as well as having close links to the Americans. Wellon sees Mexico as overly militaristic and authoritarian. In spite of the diplomatic and economic coolness between them there is actually a small but significant population of Mexican (mostly from the Northern and Caribbean provinces) colonists on Wellon.
Many Scandinavians emigrated to Wellon, especially from Norway and Denmark before the creation of the Union. Scandinavian influences have had a major effect on the culture of most of the northern communities. Commercial concerns also followed in the wake of the colonists and there are several important Wellon-Scandinavian corporations active. However the recently more proactive Scandinavian government was interested in creating further settlements in the Tiralbion, but under closer Scandinavian Union control. Wellon however didn't find this idea particularly attractive however and relations have soured somewhat.
Prior to the creation of the Dominion of Wellon in 2241 the defence of Wellon was in the hands of the British garrison formations from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. These units were backed up by locally raised forces recruited for service on Tirane, which formed an integral part of the order of battle. Local Army units were formed into Territorial Defence Forces under the auspices of New Scotland, North Albion and South Albion.
It was in this time that most of the fighting undertaken by local forces occurred. In the south especially, illegal settlements sprouted up on the coast and in the Southern Archipelago. Whilst many of these desperate colonists wished only to live in peace, many took to banditry and piracy. Military action occurred in this region for many years and occasional piracy still happens despite the integration of these populations into Wellonese society. Further north less rooted banditry was not uncommon especially in the more remote regions, and self-defence militias existed in most settlements.
When the Dominion of Wellon was formed British forces remained on Tirane in some strength to guarantee Wellon's security and to make use of the excellent training areas. However to gradually take over many Tiranean roles the Wellon Defence Force was formed as a part of the Government of Wellon Act. The Royal Wellon Navy, Wellon Army and Royal Wellon Aerospace Force were formed from the nucleus of Territorial Defence Forces and from local service units. A result of this was that the RWN and RWAF maintained very close links with their British parent services, whilst the Army through its own regiments swiftly consolidated its own separate identity.
One major issue raised in this defence re-organisation was the retention of the RSN as the primary agency in interstellar and insystem defence. It was successfully argued that Wellon had no real need, and indeed could not afford to create its own space navy. As a result any exclusively Wellon insystem assets were to be controlled by the RWAF's Orbital Command.
The creation of the Dominion of Wellon in 2275 saw only a little change in the status of the WDF. The major moves were the transfer of Marine and Parachute units from British command to that of. the WDF. The WDF remained somewhat amateur, with the accent on self-defence. Only one armoured division (11th) was in existence as part of III (British) Corps alongside the 4th and 5th British Armoured Divisions. Several light formations existed, but most of the army was locally raised defence units.
The Central Asian War and increasing nationalist tensions in Europe caused a major rethink in British and Wellonese defence thinking. The 2285 Defence Review withdrew many British forces from Tirane whilst the Wellon Army was expanded. A second armoured division was formed whilst III Corps gained many more Wellon personnel in the higher echelons, and became III (Wellon) Corps. Light units were formalised into a division structure and the regional divisions were reinforced with Mechanised Brigades. Similar expansions also took place within the other services.
On the surface of Tirane itself national security is guaranteed by:
The Royal Wellon Navy - split into four fleets, the Northern (based at Knightsbridge and Dartmoor), the Western, (based at Victoria), the Eastern (based at New Camelot) and the Southern (based at Point Sterling). These fleets contain a lower proportion of aircraft carriers than the Royal Navy based on Earth although the RWN operates far from any shore based air-support most of the time. What carriers the fleet has are organised for force projection and convoy escort roles. The commissioning of the new HMWS Ocean has greatly enhanced Wellon's capability in these sort of missions.
In addition to the four Fleets, the RWN also has three flotillas. The Arctic Flotilla provides patrol boats and landing craft from New Scapa naval base specially trained and equipped for operations in the far north. The Southern Flotilla operates from Point Sterling in the Southern Archipelago and provides naval support to anti-piracy operations. Whilst the Amphibious Flotilla provides ocean-going support to 7 Commando Brigade.
The Wellon Army - the army is comprised of a number of regular armoured, mechanised and light rapid reaction units backed up by lightly equipped volunteer formations. Currently the armoured and light units are trained for overseas and increasingly off-world deployment, whilst the mechanised forces reinforce the reserve formations in defending Wellon proper.
The increasing tempo of the Kafer war has caused the government to approve the planning for a further expansion of the Army, which has led to the formation of 14th and 15th (Wellon) Mechanised Divisions consolidating the mechanised formations. Training budgets for all of the Wellon Army's regular and reserve units have been vastly increased.
The Royal Wellon Aerospace Force - split into four Commands - Fighter, Bomber, Transport and Coastal. Its main role, in conjunction with ground and naval forces is to defend the mainland and other territories of the dominion from hostile attack. Secondary roles include supporting other elements of the armed forces in operations away from Wellon itself and controlling Wellon's orbital assets. In line with this the RWAF and RWN have combined to form Joint Tactical Air Group-341, a formation of two fighter and three strike squadrons deployment with the Wellon Expeditionary Force.
Wellon Expeditionary Force - is in control of all Wellonese forces off-Tirane and is currently stationed on Beowulf. The WEF is an administrative unit controlling a divisional HQ, 3 brigades, an air forces group and numerous independent units that are all integrated into the Commonwealth's II or V Corps or under direct command of the Theatre Commander. The WEF forces are well trained, equipped and motivated and proving a valuable addition to the human war effort.
Each of these forces whilst institutionally independent from their British parents are supported by contingents from the UK's armed forces. It was recently estimated that over twenty five percent of officers of the rank of Captain (army), Squadron Leader (air force), and Lieutenant Commander (Navy) are on secondment from the parent services back in the Mother Country. There is no Wellonese resentment at this because a similar percentage of Wellon-born officers are currently serving in the parent services on Earth and elsewhere. It has been noted that most of the senior ranks in these services on both planets are individuals with what has been called "dual planet" experience. Recently the proportion of exchange personnel from other Commonwealth of Nations members has increase markedly.