The Wellon Arctic Territories
Tiralbion's Northern Frontier
By D Hebditch
The Wellon Arctic Territories are composed of the Far North Islands to the north of New Highland and Knightsbridgeshire on to the Boreal Continent where Wellon has settled and exploited a stretch of land. It is an area of stunning natural beauty, where snow topped, thickly forested islands rise near vertically out of the icy waters. Where pods of Palestrinas broach alongside icebergs the size of Ireland and fjords slice deep into the heart of the land. People are rare in the Territories, with most concentrated in the city of Knightsbridge but other settlements are scattered around the islands and populated by hardy souls.
The area first came to the notice of the ESA teams due to the immense richness of the aquatic life in its waters, fed by the warm ocean current that flows up the western side of the Tiralbion. However the area was seen as too remote for immediate colonisation and exploitation and the area was left to the occasional BACS and later FPK scientific team to explore. The first people to come to the area were Argentine and Japanese fishermen in the late 2170's who established small fishing stations to service the ships working the area. When the New Scotland Assembly was formed in 2187 it immediately began protesting the presence of these foreign boats in what they saw as their area, however at the time most New Scots fishing was doing quite well operating in relatively local coastal waters.
The assembly decided to embark on a policy of opening commercial fishing in the Far North Islands. It lobbied the Colonial Office for a Royal Navy fisheries protection, whilst attempting to push local fishermen to venture further afield. Whilst the RN signalled their willingness to venture into the area the take-up by local fishermen was poor, even with grants from the Assembly and Colonial Office. Instead a recruitment campaign was launched in the impoverished British fishing ports of the North Sea on Earth and although the take up from east coast ports was promising it was quickly exhausted. Later recruitment was targeted at Canada and Scandinavian countries and the take up from the Atlantic Provinces, Norway and Iceland was especially good and even some Russians signed up for the scheme.
The assembly formed two cartels to conduct operations in the area, New Scots Fishing and Far Northern Ocean Resources. NSF and FNOR would go on to dominate financial dealings in the area for many years in the future. For a time the policy worked; the New Glasgow shipyards were filled with the hulls of long ranged fishing vessels, huge catches were brought in and the RN harried 'illegal' fishing until a system of licences was accepted, filling the coffers of the New Scots exchequer. However subsequent Governors of New Scotland concentrated on issues closer to home and were less concerned with issues in the Far North. Nevertheless the commercial fishing trade remained profitable and the fleet grew slowly.
As with the Argentines and Japanese the British began to develop ports in the region to support the fleets and later to process the catch. These allowed the fleets much greater time in the prime fishing areas and many entrepreneurs purchased smaller fishing vessels and based from these settlements to avoid working directly for the cartels. These settlements grew slowly but surely but never received the massive influx of colonists in other areas. The populations always looked to the sea for their living and Argentine (later Malvinos and NovoCanos) and Japanese (Amaterasujin) bloodlines mixed in parts with the North Atlantic majority. The Far Northers (as they became) developed their own culture in their icy and rugged home far from New Scotland, never mind the rest of New Albion. Self-reliant, clannish, suspicious and tough with a profusion of sub-cultures. A small boost to the size of the community came in the 2210's after the Tax Revolt in New Highland, when many families sent their more hot-headed progeny to relatives in the north. These restless folk helped open up the interior of many of the Far North Isles.
The Far North remained a backwater, home to a mere 50 000 people until the 2250's when mining prospectors moved up the fjords onto the 'mainland' of the Boreal Continent, actually claimed by the American colony of Tirania. In the interior they found mineral resources in such profusion that would merit the expense and danger of extracting them from the area. Prime amongst the backers of the venture was the Greenland Corporation, whose existing areas at the Terran poles were being rapidly exhausted yet had the technology, finance and personnel to conduct the exploitation. They lobbied strenuously to be allowed to start exploitation of the area, the British were wary of offending the Americans yet the New Scots lobby in the Wellon Parliament had their say and forced through the measure in the face of diplomatic objections.
The Greenland Corporation, FNOR and others formed North Wellon Mining which began to develop the Pendelton site and the FPK lobbied for the creation of a new city hub on the Boreal Continent. In the meantime Wellonese and British diplomats scurried to undo the damage to relations with America and Tirania. Indeed for a time American patrol ships probed the area and tensions rose with Royal and Royal Wellon Navies deploying in turn. Finally when the development of the new city of Knightsbridge was announced American corporations were included in the programme and 25% of NWM was sold to Tiranian interests. This assuaged official US anger, but the Wellonese presence on the Boreal continent remains controversial with nationalist Tiranian opinion.
In the development of Knightsbridge the Wellonese went back to basics, dusting off procedures last used in the development of New Cleckheaton. The city was built from the bottom up, with infrastructure and nascent underground put in place before the building of large civilian and industrial areas commenced. The subsequent build up of population was quite rapid with over 10000 in the first year. The city grew quickly alongside the expanding complex at Pendelton, around which the economy of the area relied on.
The development of Knightsbridgeshire was a mixed blessing for the Far Northers. It brought economic benefits as fishermen could sell their catches closer to home and many Far Northers got jobs on the merchant ships that distributed the minerals mined at Pendelton. However it also drained the population as young people moved to the more vibrant Knightsbridge. Later as the region became more developed the Far North Isles attracted a continuing stream of people from across Tirane looking for isolation, and the population began to grow again.
In 2277 Knightsbridgeshire and the Far North Isles were removed from the jurisdiction of New Scotland and given their own assembly to administer the region from Knightsbridge. The formation of the Wellon Arctic Territories Assembly was widely welcomed as the New Scotland Assembly was seen as too remote by many in the region. Although the Far Northers dismissed both bodies as irrelevant to their daily work. Not surprisingly the agenda of WATA became quickly dominated by the major corporations of the area, North Wellon Mining and FNOR especially.
A result of this was perhaps the greatest white elephant so far in Wellonese history, the Far North Railway. This was an expansion of the maglev network up from southern New Highland all the way up to Knightsbridge. Fifteen years later the Far North Railway has still to be completed, although a few passengers can now move with great speed between Knightsbridge and Thorkillshafen little else has been achieved. Although a stunning feat of engineering it has nearly crippled the finances of the WATA, and only large cash injections from an increasingly frustrated central government has kept the project alive. It is doubtful whether the project will ever be financially viable in the longer term. However the FNR has already gained a place in the affections of rail enthusiasts with its stunning views and bridges vaulting between islands.
Today the Territories are home to some two million Wellonese, with over three quarters of these living in Knightsbridge, where a standard of living recognisable to any citizen of Wellon is maintained. The half a million or so (the census in this area is notoriously unreliable) Far Northers continue to live full lives in the face of the conditions and their remoteness from the rest of Wellon. For the Far Northers life is hard and dangerous still with many settlements routinely loosing people to the sea, and many smaller towns struggle to survive. However conditions in the larger settlements are good and the sense of community is unmatched.
The Wellon Arctic Territories is an area where the Tiralbion and Boreal Continents meet and is an area of significant volcanic and earthquake activity especially in certain of the Far North Isles. Another key feature is the very changeable weather conditions that plague the area, when the wind comes from the south and south-west the conditions are usually pleasant and calm, if wet. However when the wind shifts to a northerly storms and blizzards are quick to follow and can close the region in and force shipping to the nearest safe port.
Knightsbridgeshire covers a vast area of the Boreal continent, but only a small slice of it is free from ice all year round. The ice free coastline in the area around Knightsbridge is an area heavily indented with fjords as the coast climbs out of the ocean. As the coastal plateau drops away it becomes a rare area of Tundra, which is the centre of the Pendelton mining complex. The land then climbs up again to the North Ridge where the permanent ice sheet starts, and beyond this point there are no permanent settlements in the many hundreds of square kilometres of Wellonese territory.
The most significant of the Far North Isles is Thorgill's Island which lies some 340 km to the south of Knightsbridge. The island is nearly 1000 km long and 400 km wide and is roughly the same size as the British Isles. The west of the island is predominantly low lying tundra (which becomes a marsh in the Grandsummer), although some coastal strips are sufficiently warmed by the ocean stream to support limited agriculture. Two of the Far North's main settlements are in this area with Thorkillshafen in the north and Tougou Idchi in the south, and the area around the 'cities' are home to most of the island's 250 000 population.
From the tundra the island begins to climb steeply into a vaulting range of mountains that forms the north-south spine of the islands. These are heavily forested with Tiranean tree analogues and infested with Afancs, there are many active volcanoes are in the range contrasting with the heavy covering of glaciers. In the centre of the mountains is a towering peak continuously wreathed in storm clouds, with dark humour the Far Northers call this Mount Bifrost. Although slightly smaller than other peaks it has a murderous reputation and many experienced climbers have perished on its flanks and only one man has ever climbed it twice.
The mountains shelve rapidly down to the eastern coast which is immensely rugged, with the only settlement being the rescue post at Petersonshaven. North of Petersonshaven is the Slartencoast, 450 km of coastline heavily indented with fjords marked especially in the northern spring by mountain glaciers calving into the fjords, rendering them extremely hazardous.
To the west of Thorgill's Island is New Kirknes a 'j' shaped island some 350km long and wide. Like Thorgill's Island it is relatively flat in the east and mountainous in the west. It is sparsely populated normally but is currently home to many workers of Colonial Macro Engineering working on the Far North Railway. South of New Kirknes are four islands known as the 'Stepping Stones', these are each roughly the size of Belgium and are home to several small settlements. The northern three islands are officially part of the Territories whilst the southern is part of New Scotland. Most of the populations are descended from New Highlanders and consequently are not regarded as 'real' Far Northers. Although the islands live from fishing CME now have a heavy presence on the Stepping Stones as they prepare for Phase Three of the FNR project. This has raised hackles on the islands, with some hotheads threatening militant acts of sabotage against the line.
Two hundred km East of Thorgill's Island's Slartencoast is Storafanc Island. A roughly square shaped, mountainous island which is almost continuously under snow cover. It gained its name from the voracious breed of Afanc found on the island, the first human contact with which resulted in the deaths of all but one of a trawler's crew. The viciousness of these Afancs has caused the islands to remain virtually devoid of humans. A small FPK research centre is on the island to study the Afancs and the intriguing feature known as the Ring at the heart of the island. Resembling a gigantic ring of standing stones it continues to baffle scientists.
South east of Storafanc Island is North Georgia, a very long thin ridge of an island that climbs out of the ocean. It has many excellent deep water ports and its coastline is studded with settlements, East and West Hessle being the most prominent. Far Northers from North Georgia are always in competition with those from Thorgill's Island. This goes back to the last century when those working from North Georgia were usually from the British Isles and worked for New Scots Fishing and those from Thorgill's were predominantly Scandinavians working for FNOR.
There are thousands of other smaller islands in the area. The more important of which are the Isles of the Southern Cross close to New Highland and Kidney Island 900 km west of Knightsbridge. Kidney Island has risen to prominence in recent years thanks to the settlement on the island of a group of Tiranian nationalists protesting Wellon's presence on the Boreal Continent. American and Wellonese governments ignored the problem, hoping that the protesters would tire of the harsh conditions. However three years on they show no sign of moving, indeed they have developed a trading post catering to fishing vessels to survive, and there is talk of the Royal Wellon Navy being brought in to evict them from the island.
The City of Knightsbridge is the capital of the Territories and is the home to the vast majority of the islands population, some one and a half million. The city was founded in 2259 as a hub for the region and to provide a dormitory for miners working in the Pendelton mining complex. Knightsbridge is a classic Wellonese city, with its initial infrastructure installed prior to full settlement being commenced.
The city is built on either side of Haakon's Fjord and is joined by a single bridge, an arch designed by Sir Charles Alvin which provides the city's signature image, and a number of tunnels. The city stretches for several kilometres along the sides of the fjord, with industry near the mouth of the fjord followed by commercial and domestic districts. It is noticeable for the bright colours of its buildings which are a riot of colour. Knightsbridge is a city almost always under snow, thawing only at the conjunction of Summer and Grandsummer, an event that provokes great excitement amongst the children (and adults) of the city and is marked by several festivals.
Knightsbridge is generally a very middle-class city, dominated by those employed by North Wellon Mining and its various off-shoots such as the port and shipping operations. In the last decade North Wellon Vehicles, established initially to service NWM's vehicle fleet has branched out into vehicle production with the all-terrain tracked vehicle the Redkat being purchased by the Wellon Army. Most of the remainder of the Knightsbridgers are employed in service industries or as networkers. An increasing tourist market is also being catered for.
The heart of the city is the Haakon Civic Building which juts out into the waters of the fjord like the prow of a ship. It houses the WATA and City Council as well as a variety of other facilities such as the Courts, Central Library and the Civic Hall, often used for concerts and other meetings. Across the fjord from Civic Building is the North Wellon Hall, a sprawling building home to the corporate headquarters of North Wellon Mining and all its off-shoots which is the other centre of power in the city. Knightsbridge has excellent shopping facilities, including many unique boutiques selling the wares of local designers and has some renowned bars and hotels.
Knightsbridge is notable for its almost complete lack of vehicle traffic with most movement taking place on the Knightsbridge Metro local rail system. However most Knightsbridgers have a love of off-road driving and many head off into the interior in bulky all-terrain vehicles on their days off. However relatively few have any interest in the seas and oceans around them and sailing is not particularly popular. This plays to the perception Far Northers have of Knightsbridgers as being a soft and comfort seeking people. For their part Knightsbridgers view Far Northers as uncouth, backwards and more than a little dangerous. The Far Norther quarter of Knightsbridge is far rowdier than the norm for the city and is heavily (some say heavy handedly) policed, although the Police point to the Far Norther communities role in the smuggling trade as justification.
Thorkillshafen sees itself the capital of the Far North Islands, although virtually no one else in the region agrees it is also seen as such in the rest of Wellon. Thorkillshafen was settled initially for the quality of its harbour which is superbly sheltered from the harsh weather, but notoriously difficult to approach over shifting shoals and sand banks. The harbour was discovered by the legendary rogue Thorgill Cusack (after whom both island and port are named) in the 2180's and used initially by FNOR and independent fishing crews. Although a back water compared to Tougou Idchi the town began to grow.
In 2240 Magnus Sigmundson, a Far Norther of Icelandic extraction, came into a substantial inheritance and used it to set up a small boat yard and repair business in Thorkillshafen. This business quickly became popular as local fishermen wanting to break out of the NSF and FNOR cartels bought their own boats from him. He reinvested his profits back into the community dramatically improving local facilities and tempting more people to move to the town. In the 2260's Sigmundson's activities became publicised in Iceland and strangely attracted several thousand Icelanders to settle in this remote town. Today Thorkillshafen is home to some 35 000 Far Northers and remains the most noticeably Scandinavian town in the region.
The town's economy revolves around the Sigmundson & Magnusdottir Yard but has diversified. Many residents are highly educated networkers employed by companies across Wellon, and the town's educational establishments are of an excellent quality. The town lies picturesquely across hills on the coast and is dominated by the Cathedral, noted for its palastrina bone arch, and out to sea by a recently constructed lighthouse. In the last five years the town has increasingly become a tourist destination as the opening of the first stretch of the Far North Railway has meant a land link to Knightsbridge cuts travel time dramatically. Although Thorkillhafeners are amongst the more cosmopolitan of Far Northers they aren't pleased with the large numbers of tourists (let alone Knightsbridgers) visiting their town.
Tougou Idchi, located on the south west coast of Thorgill's Island, has been in use almost since the first people started to fish on Tirane. Discovered initially by Japanese crews they were later joined by Argentine, French and British. Tougou Idchi remains one of the most cosmopolitan towns in the Far Isles. Its anchorage is at the mouth of the Spring River and offers easy access but is not particularly well sheltered. The town sprawls chaotically back from the port and still shows its roots as a stop-over with bars, brothels and other 'amenities'. It is now slightly less of a frontier town but the rough edges still show.
The key feature of the town is its compounds and internal walled communities, surrounded in the worst parts of town by housing that wouldn't look out of place in a shanty town. The town has a strong presence of police from the FNIP and a couple of officers from the RWC. Tougou Idchi has two organised criminal gangs that divide the sin strip between them; the Irizar family, Argentines who came to the islands and never left and the Johnson family, an off-shoot of a Cam Valley Firm. Tougou Idchi is the centre of most intrigue and smuggling in the island and consequently usually has a patrol ship from the RWN Arctic Flotilla in the nearby area.
West Hessle is the main settlement on North Georgia. It has an excellent deep harbour but the rest of the town is built into the cliff that rises from the back of the port facilities. It was originally founded by trawler crews recruited by NSF from Humberside on Earth, and they named the town after the heart of their community back home. The town is solidly built from large blocks of local igneous stone and appears drab and grey from the outside. However the nearly 15000 folk of West Hessle have a lively community life, and thanks to satellite links the town is well connected into the Wellonese networks. Shops and other amenities are certainly limited however, and the life of the town is focused solidly on the ocean.
Depot 33A is the largest settlement on New Kirknes and it is the central depot and living quarters for workers helping to construct the Far North Railway. It is a soulless place of pre-fabricated buildings, surrounded by chain link fences, dominated by huge machine shed housing tunnelling machines and lit by night by sodium lights. There is little for off-duty workers to do but drink and fights and low morale are endemic. Far Northers who work in the Depot are increasingly the target of verbal abuse by certain of the well paid and bored outsiders who live there. Resentment is rising.
The Wellon Arctic Territories falls under both the national Wellon government and the local Wellon Arctic Territory Assembly. The WATA is a unicameral body elected under universal suffrage and by proportional representation. It sits in Knightsbridge's Civic Building. Also housed there is the Knightsbridgeshire Council, many of whose members are also elected to the WATA. There is a widespread belief that these two bodies are too close together and duplicate each other in too many ways. Far Northers also point out that they are largely ignored by the WATA which is largely interested in goings on in metropolitan Knightsbridge.
Government in the Far North Isles is much smaller. The Far Northern Islands Council sits for two months a year in Tougou Idchi, and otherwise conducts its business across the net. The FNI Council is mostly composed of local worthies and is a very regional body with little in the way of conventional political parties. Decisions are usually reached through back-door dealing between ad-hoc coalitions and most time is given over to getting as much money as possible as possible out of the WATA. Local government in the Isles varies from settlement to settlement and ranges from egalitarianism through corporate authoritarianism to neo-communism.
Policing in the area is conducted by three main forces, the Royal Wellon Constabulary, the Knightsbridgeshire Constabulary and the Far North Islands Police. The RWC is present in small numbers as the area is relatively free of the sorts of crime for which it has responsibility. However members of the Knightsbridge Office are often called upon to deal with border violations by young Tiranians who enjoy planting national and colonial flags on the North Ridge and other parts of the Wellonese territory. The Knightsbridgeshire force concentrates on policing the City of Knightsbridge and is primarily an urban force. The FNIP is a widely dispersed service that also conducts search and rescue duties on the interior of the islands.
A further presence in the area is provided by the Royal Far North Rescue Service, which provides maritime search and rescue in the region as well as a flying doctor service. The RFNRS was formed at the turn of the last century as a charity when the people of the region despaired of the lack of emergency rescue support to the people of the region. Initially financed by individual charitable donations a wildcat strike forced NSF and FNOR to contribute to the funding of the service. The RFNRS received its royal charter in 2277 and began to receive state funding at the same time. It is highly regarded by Far Northers, and many serve stints in its ranks.
The WDF has a small but potent presence in the Territories, one which is justified by three main factors. The area remains incredibly rich in mineral resources and fisheries, it is one of the oceanic choke points on Tirane (being on the main northern Amaterasu-Nouvelle Provence route) and to maintain Wellonese sovereignty in the area.
The Royal Wellon Navy is represented by two main formations, the Arctic Flotilla and the Northern Fleet. The Arctic Flotilla is based permanently in the region at New Scapa close to Knightsbridge although parts of the flotilla can be found throughout the area. The Arctic Flotilla is descended from the original RN Far North Fisheries Patrol and still continues that role and is equipped with long range, multi-purpose vessels as well as smaller littoral craft. The Northern Fleet is based at Dartmoor in New Scotland but operates in the Territories during the summer months. A powerful squadron built around the carrier Ajax it has substantial combat power.
The ground force presence in the Territories is relatively limited with usually only a battalion of 4 Light Brigade being deployed to Knightsbridge. However further elements of that brigade alongside other unit sometimes conduct training in the region and could deploy there in times of tension. Perhaps the most visible presence in the area is the 2nd (Home Service) Battalion of the Royal Arctic Rifles, detachments of which are found in most of the major settlements. The riflemen often aid search and rescue missions.
The Royal Wellon Aerospace Force has a sizeable base located at Knightsbridge International Airport. Known as RWAF Oates is home to the Fury fighters of 902 Squadron and the Artemis maritime patrol aircraft of 940 Squadron. Long range search and rescue detachments from 945 Squadron are found at Thorkillshafen and West Hessle supplementing the RFNRS. RWAF Oates excepting the RWAF has no permanent presence in the area, but could operate from the numerous dirt strips across the area if required and has plans to do so.
Travel to the region for the outsider is usually undertaken by air. The usual route in is to Knightsbridge International Airport which has daily SST services from New Camelot, New Glasgow and Dartmoor and weekly services from most other Wellonese cities. International flights are relatively uncommon, with flights to Mirambeau being most frequent. Thanks to the continuing low-level dispute with Tirania direct flights are not undertaken to the region, although some Tiranian carriers run services through Dartmoor. Knightsbridge International is also the main hub airport for the regions and tough STOL or amphibian aircraft run local services throughout the day to a variety of destinations. The airport is a very large facility and is capable of taking large orbital landers but rarely does so.
There are two rail services in the region; Knightsbridge Metro and Far North Rail. The heart of the Metro is in the underground circuits that provide the everyday transport for the bulk of Knightsbridgers, the Metro is clean, fast, reliable and is mostly safe, both from the occasional earthquake and from antisocial elements. The Metro has three auxiliary services, one that runs out through the port to New Scapa, another that runs to Knightsbridge International and the last out to Pendelton.
As mentioned above Far North Rail is the project to build a mag-lev railway link from Knightsbridge through the Far North Isles to the south of New Scotland where it would join the rest of the Wellon Rail network. So far this troubled project has yet to be completed with the last leg down the Stepping Stones and from New Kirknes and Thorgill's Island. So far FNR has only three operating stations at Knightsbridge, New Scapa and Thorkillshafen between which 12 trains a day operate mostly 90% empty. FNR is an incredibly expensive solution to a problem that many people think did not exist.
The traditional means of moving about the region is by sea. For paying passengers there are a number of services joining Knightsbridge and the Far North Islands. Most of these are slow moving, sea-worthy ships that slowly navigate the area calling at a number of ports, but the Royal Wellon Mail runs a small number of fast hydrofoils between the larger settlements but these are swiftly forced into port by bad weather. There are a number of luxury cruise ships that ply the area loaded with holidaymakers viewing the spectacular scenery in 5 Star luxury, the Northern Princess and Northern Duchess are the most prominent of these. Lastly for those not worried about luxuries passage can be bought on many trawlers.
Lastly travel overland in Knightsbridgeshire is usually undertaken in robust all-terrain vehicles or ACVs. Whilst there are trails there are no permanent roads outside of those running between various sites at Pendelton.
The Far North Isles has a timber producing industry, but one that is primarily for local use mainly for housing on certain of the islands. However many smaller boat yards also use these timbers to produce small ships and boats. A high proportion of the local fishing fleets are wooden boats and some Far Northers refuse to serve on anything else. Island timbers have recently started to come into fashion in Knightsbridgeshire and further afield. Consequently companies may begin to open up more exploitation of the woodlands of the area.
Knightsbridgeshire continues to be rich in the minerals and ores that first drew development to the area. The Pendelton mining complex is the largest employer in the north and the area's financial health depends heavily on it. A variety of ores are produced from the complex but the only tantalum strike played out long ago. Much of NWM's continued interest in the area revolved around hopes of another tantalum seam.
Power generation depends on two main types. Most of Knightsbridgeshire is fed by solar power satellite through a rectenna farm to the north of the city. Settlements in the Isles are predominantly powered by geothermal systems pioneered by an Icelandic company, which provide both power and hot water. The advance of the Far North Railway, bringing a link to the Knightsbridgeshire power systems may slowly supersede the geothermal systems.
Industry in the region is mainly limited to the support of the Pendelton mines and the FNR. North Wellon Mining has been trying to diversify its operations but with limited success, as a result most consumer goods are imported from outside of the region.
Commercial operations in the Territories are dominated by three main corporations; New Scots Fishing, Far North Ocean Resources and North Wellon Mining. The first two of these have deep roots in the region and continue to be the largest employers in the Far North Isles, in fact they operate as little more than a cartel being the only concerns with sufficient factory ships to take away and process the catches of the smaller operators. In the years of their operation they have diversified and now control many smaller settlement through ownership of ports, shops and even medical facilities. A majority of the Far Northers are either directly or indirectly employed by either NSF and FNOR. A love-hate relationship exists and most Far Northers will cheerfully fleece anything they can from either member of the cartel.
North Wellon Mining is a much larger operation than the other two. NWM was set up specifically to exploit the Pendelton mines and has several key corporations as shareholders. It has never failed to deliver substantial profits and over the years has managed to buy back some twenty five percent of its shares. It too has diversified its operations both in the Territories and outside. NWM has serious clout within the close confines of Knightsbridgeshire and Territory politics and was largely responsible for the debacle with Far North Rail.
Other Wellonese corporations have a presence in the region but none has the influence of the three big players. However one wild card is the Royal Greenland Association, a small foundation which has consistently operated with an enlightened altruism. However its substantial financial resources have often be deployed to stymie the efforts of the NSF, FNOR and NWM a situation that has raised some questions as to the foundations motives.
Agriculture in the Territories is relatively limited thanks to the poor fertility of the soil and the effect of the Grandseasons. As a result Knightsbridge in particular depends heavily on intensive hydroponics facilities to produce enough staples for its population. A large number of the cargo ships that take the ores produced by Pendelton to the south return with loads of fruits and other food stuffs. The situation is somewhat similar for the Far Northers, although some agriculture is possible on parts of Thorgill's Island and New Kirknes, including some specialist produce like the ice pear. In addition there are populations of Polarbuck on both islands than often add variety to the table.
The bulk of the diet of the people of the region comes from the sea. Mostly in Tiranean fish analogues but also in varieties of float-weed and larger animals such as Paddlers. Fishing is the second biggest industry in the region and a major exporter to the rest of Wellon and is the main employer of Far Northers. A whole range of vessels from huge FNOR and NSF factory ships to Amaterasujin long-liners and boats from the Bijagos down to small wooden vessels from tiny, marginal settlements can be found in the area.
The people of the Wellon Arctic Territories undergo much the same schooling as their counterparts anywhere else on Wellon, especially in the city and larger towns. In smaller settlements education is usually undertaken through the Wellon University on the net, and although geographically remote most children are excellently educated. However many richer citizens choose to send their children to boarding schools either in Knightsbridge, New Scotland or further south.
There is one major further education institution in the region, the University of Knightsbridge, a well respected seat of learning. However most of its students come from outside the region and most Knightsbridgers go to university further in the south. Far Northers tend to attend the Knightsbridge University if not studying at home through the Wellon University.
The scientific community has long had an interest in the Far North, initially through the BAC Survey and later through the FPK. The FPK has an array of installations in the region which monitor sea life, the geology of the region and also keep an eye on the pollution caused by the Pendelton mines. The FPK works closely with other institutions including the University of Knightsbridge and the RWN's Arctic Flotilla.
Traditional 'high' cultural pursuits in the Territories are usually limited to those found in Knightsbridge. Outside of the city only amateur performances of 'high culture' are found. However the Territories have developed their own cultural pastimes. The Far Northers have revived the old tradition of the Saga, oral histories of the region that verge on the mythical are commonplace in the area, especially in the depths of the Grandwinter. The territories have also become home to many artists, both home grown and incomers, who use the stunning natural beauty of the region as an inspiration for their work.
Despite the remoteness of the region the area is well served by satellite broadcast and HMWG subsidises the hardware required to keep the area a part of the mainstream of Wellon media. The main local broadcasters are subsidiary stations of the Wellon Broadcasting Corporation and New Scotland Broadcasting Service, whilst Channel 3 Knightsbridge is the largest locally based media company although owned by the Albion/Sunrise Media Group. Knightsbridge in particular is well served with media outlets across the spectrum, but other towns of the region are generally limited to radio and e-print services.
In recent years the Territories have become a fashionable subject of many films and series. Notably the WBC's quirky, long running drama 'White Dawn Again' set in Thorkillshafen. This has encouraged a school of filmmakers to establish themselves in the region, notable for their off-beat, alienated and stylish presentations many have gone on to bigger and better things in the south. Other artists from elsewhere in Wellon are frequent visitors as many use the natural backdrop and remoteness of the area for inspiration.
Sports in the Territories are somewhat different from those found elsewhere in Wellon. Knightsbridge has a thriving Ice Hockey league, whilst pelota is played with relish indoors. The very best players are the true sporting heroes of Knightsbridge, even if it puzzles other Wellonese. Outdoor sports are more of a winter nature with skiing (down hill and cross country) being popular along with the nearly ubiquitous Knightsbridger love of rally driving. Life in the Far North Isles leaves less time for sports, however many settlements play a violent variant of Shinty and inter-community matches can be brutal affairs. Far Northers naturally look to the sea and most learn to sail at an early age. Walking and climbing in the interiors of the Isles are limited by the danger from Afancs and other wildlife, but with the influx of tourists many Far Northers have taken jobs as guides.
High stakes fishing is also a growing sport in the region for visiting tourists. Many wealthy huntsmen cannot resist an attempt to take a black palastrina or hunt a Cthulhu Squid on the ocean floor with a specialist ROV.
The Palestrinas are some of the most photographed and widely known about wildlife of the region. Of the same family as the riverine Crapauds Tiranais, these are creature who stayed in the deep oceans. They fill niches usually the preserve of cetaceans and sharks on Earth and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but are notable for their lack of fins, streamlined bodies, double flukes and long necks. They are generally omnivorous although some specialise, like the Black Palastrina in Ocean Paddlers or Rinn or the Giant Palastrina with krill like creatures. In any event all Palestrinas are noted for their singing, usually during night-time, which when first heard by fishermen was regarded with superstitious awe. Even today it is a rare person who can hear the alien song of a Palastrina without the hair standing up on the back of their necks.
The C-Squid, named for the shock of the first sighting of this animal, is truly a thing of nightmares. A mass of spines and tentacles, allied with a foul disposition and the ability to jet blinding venom. However the meat at the heart of the creature is a rare delicacy, although who first discovered this is not known, and it is a rare delicacy that fetches a high price. These are usually ocean floor dwellers who ambush other wildlife and are very hard to find, however at certain times on the grandseasons they move en-masse to breading grounds and it is at this time they are most easily harvested. Landing a C-Squid is no easy matter and many a fisherman bears the scars to prove it.
The Ocean Paddler is another distant member of the Crapaud Tiranais family and is closely related to the fresh water Paddlers found elsewhere on Tirane. The Ocean Paddlers resemble large, shell-less turtles and come in a range of shapes and sizes. However virtually all are extremely palatable to humans (Palestrinas and other animals) and have been heavily fished, many environmentalists are beginning to worry about the viability of the species. Far Northers continue to insist on their right to fish for them however. The Ocean Paddlers are a nomadic species who mate in the Far North before heading down to the west coast of New Albion to lay their eggs in various river deltas, before returning north to begin the cycle again. Baby Paddlers grew to adolescence in the fresh water of the rivers and must face an array of threats and predators before heading off into the oceans and arriving in the breeding grounds as newly mature adults. Ocean Paddlers are immensely long lived creatures which, if they survive, can reach very large sizes.
The Fenris Afanc is a member of the Afanc family found on Storafanc Island and in other parts of the Territories. It is an animal noted by its white coat during the Grandwinter (a trait shared by other Afancs) and its extreme viciousness. The Fenris are unusual in working in packs and in being nomadic rather than territorial, so far it has always responded aggressively to human intrusion into its range. FPK teams studying the Fenris have, after several attempts, abandoned efforts to study the Fenris in-close as their small teams were requiring a fully armed military escort. Instead they use remote drones from an off-shore platform as they attempt to unravel the secret of the Fenris. People are warned away from Storafanc Island, but those who insist on visiting it are warned to be armed and treat every Fenris as a man-eater.
Carl Jesperson is the current Chief Minister of the Wellon Arctic Territories. He is a first generation Wellonese of Greenlander extraction. His father was a mine manager brought to Knightsbridge by NWM and after studying at university in New Capetown Carl also joined NWM. However the young Jesperson soon became disillusioned with working for the company and the damage it was doing to the environment. He became politically active with the Tiranista wing of the Social Alliance Party. He worked steadily within the party gaining a reputation for probity and intelligence, and holding several positions within coalition governments in the Knightsbridgeshire Council and later the WATA. He has since risen to the position of Chief Minister by exploiting the back-lash over the Far North Rail affair but has so far proved a lacklustre chief minister.
Jesperson is young for his position, only just in his forties, and has a wife and three children (two by an earlier marriage). He is a committed politician who believes in the policies he proposes, however he is less capable when it comes to implementing them. He has Tiranista leanings and has been actively encouraging links with Tiranian secessionists.
Sigmundson is a well known figure in the Far North Isles and a patriarch in Thorkillshafen where he is a noted local grandee. Although in his eighties he is still hale and alert and holds a position on the Thorkillshafen council even if he has just resigned from the FNI Council at the last elections. He is a true Far Norther with a sprawling family and connections across the region and a healthy dislike of the Knightsbridgers. However some members of his family want to see his money invested out into the rest of Wellon where they believe it could make more money, in response he plans to bypass almost all of his family in his will. A move which could have severe repercussions in Thorkillshafen and Far Norther society, but one Sigmundson is willing to take.
Johnson is a resident of New Kirknes, a third generation deep sea fisherman whose livelihood came under threat thanks to a management decision by NSF. Consequently he managed to get a job at Depot 33A with Colonial Macro Engineering in order to support his wife and children. However his time there was not a happy one and he was sacked summarily after several months in the job, a further move to Knightsbridge resulted in divorce from his wife and the break-up of his family. He has since returned to New Kirknes nursing a grudge, he has gathered together several like minded Far Northers and intends launching a programme of sabotage against FNR and CME. He has recently managed to acquire some mining explosives, RWC Special Branch is aware of his activities but not how far his plans have progressed.