The Acadian Expanse

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The Acadian Expanse

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To be leisurely expanded at will...

Acadian Expanse

"Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life,
The flag o'skull and bones
A merry hour, a hempen rope
And 'hey' for Davy Jones!"

- J.M. Barrie, 'Peter and Wendy'

The Acadian Expanse first entered the European consciousness in the late 18th century, when the French explorer and contre-amiral Hyacinthe Laurent Chaste set off on a Pacific voyage that the French crown hoped would rival that of the British explorer James Cook, who in 1776 had just set off on this third (and what was to be final) voyage. Chaste traveled to the French colony of Réunion in the Indian Ocean first, then onward to New Guinea before, after a narrow escape from a band of Papua headhunters, finally setting off into the South Pacific. The admiral sighted an archipelago in 1777 and named its largest island 'Caillou' or 'Rock' in 1777. He made landfall there and claimed the uninhabited island as part of the French colonial empire. Shortly thereafter many of his man and indeed even Chaste himself came down with a terrible fever. After a forced stay on the island the admiral eventually recovered but many of his sailors did not and, now critically undermanned, Chaste was forced to cut his journey short, pulling into the port of Nha Trang in the Vietnamese Empire in late 1777.

Chaste eventually returned to Réunion, from where he sent word of his discoveries to France. He spent the next three years in the Indian Ocean, battling European pirates, native raiders from Madagascar and the Royal Navy before King Louis XVI granted his repeated requests to continue his exploration of the Pacific. Chaste set off on his second Pacific voyage in 1781, mapping the seas east of Australia in the name of the King. Despite his best efforts however he was unable to find his way back to Caillou, and after months of fruitless searching, during which his ship the Bretonnet traversed the entire span of what would come to be known as the Acadian Expanse Chaste gave up on the search, sarcastically referring in his journal to his 'Îles Perdu' or Lost Island. He continued to map the width and breadth of the Expanse for several more months before once more returning to Réunion.

With his second mission a considerable success, Chaste was recalled to Paris to be féted at the royal court. The admiral ran into considerable difficulties along the way however, at one point being forced by his duties as a gentleman to chase the notorious pirate and arcanist Ojo Rojo all the way from San Pedro on the Ivory Coast to the Lesser Antilles colony of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, in order to rescue the daughter of the governor of San Pedro, who would eventually become the admiral's wife. All this adventuring meant however that by the time admiral Chaste arrived back in Paris the it was 1786 and the Kingdom was embroiled in the stirrings of the French revolution. Hyacinthe Laurent Chaste would prove instrumental in saving the King from the terror of the Communes and rapidly became King Louis XVII's most trusted lieutenant, but this did mean a definite end to the admiral's Pacific adventures.

In more recent times, the Expanse has been divided between various colonial interests. Originally claimed in its entirety by France, several islands were conquered by the British Empire during the Clockwork War of the mid-19th century. During World War 2 parts of the remaining French possessions were invaded by the Japanese and subsequently subjected to heavy aerial and naval bombardment by the Allies. During the Cold War the area was a hotbed for covert activity not in the least place because of its vicinity to French nuclear test sites, but also because the governments of Red China and the USSR recognized the strategic position of the Expanse on the route between the United States and Australia. And at the turn of the 21st century it has become a haven for adventurers, criminals, rogues and tourists of all stripes, all of whom have their own reasons to come to the Expanse.


Places to be

Eventide Archipelago

The Eventide Archipelago is an area of the Expanse conquered by the United Kingdom from the French Empire during the Clockwork War, and has been maintained as a British crown colony ever since. As the name suggests the Archipelago is a small collection of islands, some of which saw fierce fighting during WW2 when Japanese forces tried to take them from the Empire, and were left devastated afterwards. On many of these abandoned islands one can still find old Japanese fortifications or, on occasion, beached and rusting IJN warships.

Acadia The largest island in the Eventide Archipelago is the namesake of the Expanse, on which Pearl Bay can be found. Pearl Bay is the second-largest city in the Expanse, a lively city of some twenty-thousand souls, situated on a beautiful lagoon surrounded by pristinely white beaches. Here can be found the seat of the governor, a small airstrip and a sizeable harbour which is also home to the entire Royal Navy presence in the Expanse, small as it may be. A volcanic island, most of Acadia is covered in dense jungle forests dominated by Old Smokey, the dormant volcano that nevertheless on occasion still smoulders and rumbles.

Compass Key A smaller coral island at the edge of the Eventide Archipelago, Compass Key was used in the early-19th century as a pirate hideout. During the Clockwork War however it was invaded by one of the Natatoric Engines, the great amphibious clockwork warmachines the British Empire built in its Hong Kong wharves. But something went wrong: the Engine malfunctioned and disappeared into the jungle, coming to a final shuddering halt at the centre of the island. There it has rested ever since, dreaming its strange clockwork dreams. It remains powered, though barely, by the heat of the island's volcanic heart. The fevered clattering of its machinery has attracted a cult of natives, who worship the great engine as a God.

Aurora Gulf

Dividing the Eventide Archipelago and the Îles du Perdu, the Aurora Gulf is historically a no-man's land between the French and British, which made it an easy target for the Japanese invaders during World War 2. Remnants of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy are said to still linger on some of the small islands of the Gulf, and it is true that many a small ship has vanished in this area... Though whether that's due to Japanese or more nefarious forces remains yet to be seen.

Certacia A great, mist-covered island on the edge of the Gulf, Certacia is home to a secret outpost of the Dinosaur Uprising. The highly intelligent creatures have established a secret underground base with the intent of spreading their influence across all the Pacific. Unfortunately during one of their first missions they ran into the forces of Kolonel Panzerfaust, and they have been tied up fighting a secret conflict with the clone forces of the evil Nazi scientist ever since.

New Thule Another great, mist-covered island home to yet another secret base, this one ruled by the -literally- iron hand of Herr Kolonel Doktor Jakob Panzerfaust. One of the many clones of the Theozoologist, Doktor Panzerfaust was on his way to Japan after the defeat of the Reich by the allies when news reached him that Japan had also surrendered, leaving him with no other option but to go into exile with the small flotilla of u-boats under his command. He has since established the Nazi colony of New Thule, where he hoards as many of the hidden secrets of the Third Reich as possible. These include a Hitler organ vault, a cloning lab he uses to produce his henchmen, a huge collection of looted art, a rocket base and a submarine pen for his improved u-boats.

Windward Islands

New Chervona A formerly uninhabited, medium-sized volcanic island in the Aurora Gulf, it was in the wake of the dissolution of the USSR seized by Captain Kaz Alvei and his crew of the rogue Soviet missile destroyer Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya. His men have since declared their island the 'Socialist Republic of New Chervona'. The legitimacy of this micro-state is universally rejected, but none of the other powers in the region have gone after Alvei and his men so far – mostly because the Soviets have enough ordinance to level much of the Expanse. Local authorities seem more inclined to wait until the Russian government takes steps to bring in Alvei and his crew, but so far this does not appear to be fast in coming.

So far Alvei's men have constructed several facilities on their island, which are guarded by at least a company of former Soviet naval infantry. Power to these facilities is provided by geothermal energy stations, which complement the nuclear power plant of their ship. It is unclear what the ultimate goal of the Neo-Soviet colony is; gossip varies from simple piracy to the construction of a modified Lenin Engine. Patrols by British and French warships close to New Chervona have on occasion picked up the massive sonar signature of a Typhoon II class nuclear submarine, which may indicate that the colony is either under surveillance by the Russian government or that it is secretly being supplied by the Kremlin.

Tsuchinoko Strait

A treacherous area of sea dividing the Windward Islands from the Îles du Perdu, the Tsuchinoko Strait is home to unnavigable razor-sharp reefs that abruptly fall away into a warren of deep oceanic trenches. The interplay between deep and shallows, wind and water causes the weather in the Strait to be stormy, unpredictable and highly dangerous. To make matters worse ships trying to navigate the area frequently suffer compass and sonar problems or end up in sudden inexplicable fog banks, and the Strait is said to contain a 'dimensional sinkhole' that allows passage into this reality by kaiju and related creatures: great krakens or serpents of the deep are frequently sighted in this region, and the disappearance of many ships and aircraft in the Strait are usually attributed to these creatures, leading many mariners to stay away from the Strait altogether. The only ship in the Expanse large enough to ply the Strait with any degree of safety is Winthrop Harrison Ironcroft's aircraft carrier, the Silver Dollar.

Îles du Perdu

The French overseas department of Îles du Perdu (the 'Lost Islands') is the largest set of colonies in the Expanse, covering a full third of the region. Many of these islands however are only claimed in name and rarely see any human presence at all; others were reduced to little more than cratered reefs during WW2, and yet others were used for a series of French nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s. The latter atoll is entirely off-limits – officially due to hazards of lingering radiation, unofficially because of the strange phenomena that manifest on the island.

Surmontez The main French colony in the Expanse, Surmontez is a great lump of white sand, rusty rock and precipitously clingy vegetation that rises almost two hundred meters above the waves and is almost completely covered by the capital city of Mont Saint-Nicholas. The top plateau of the island is an airfield. Just below the top can be found the Palais de la Pacifique, a great edifice built in Second Empire style that is the seat of government. The roads and buildings that are home to the island's twenty-six thousand inhabitants cling to the sides of the rock as if they were glued on, and much of the port of Surmontez has actually been hollowed out of the island itself and is defended by several shore batteries; Surmontez itself is widely considered untakeable, which is why neither the British in the 19th century nor the Japanese in the 20th ever tried to conquer it.

Sous-la-Soleil Officially the site where the Lumière nuclear tests were conducted in the '50s and '60s, Sous-la-Soleil is in reality a convergence of ley lines, the interaction of which has weakened the barriers of reality between our world and the Dreamlands. With some regularity strange creatures spilled through the breach, leading the French government to take drastic measures: they repeatedly nuked the island until the problem went away – mostly. Problems still arise from time to time, particularly during the Hour of the Tangerine Moon, an irregularly occurring alignment of celestial bodies over the Expanse that corresponds with a dramatic increase of kaiju and other supernatural activity.

Caillou The mysterious island that contre-amiral Chaste first set foot on in the latter half of the 18th century, Caillou bizarrely seems to shift around in time and space, rarely being located in the same place twice. This has lead some to believe that it is in fact the island of the infamous Dr. Weir; though this rumour has yet to be substantiated, it is indeed true that the people who have set foot on it report many unique things... Varying from bizarre fauna, an inexplicable loss of time, strange artefacts of seemingly extremely advanced technology and even stranger, purple-skinned natives.


Characters to meet

Kaz Alvei Ukrainian former captain of the Soviet Pacific Fleet. After the fall of the USSR he and his entire crew went rogue, taking their hypermodern missile destroyer Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya with them. After seizing a small uninhabited island he is now the secretary-general of the 'Socialist Republic of New Chervona'. Mindful and foxy, Alvei mostly stays out of local power plays and appears intent on expanding the facilities he and his crew have been constructing on the island.

Butch Baylor Leader of a Philippine smuggling ring, he makes a living trafficking mostly harmless contraband. He has ties to forgers of all kinds: be it fake Rolexes, fake Armani suits or fake papers, as long as it's fake Baylor can probably get it somehow. His crews are experts on evading the authorities, running illegal products on miniature submarines or, if there's pressing need, on hired third-hand ekranoplans. His base of operations is a tugboat formerly of the Hong Kong police, tied to a pier at Surmontez. No-one seems to know exactly how the boat survived the trip across the Pacific.

Sascha Bershadensky Disillusioned FSB station chief on Surmontez. A former Spetznaz colonel, her official mission is to sabotage whatever Kaz Alvei and his crew are up to in the Expanse, but Moscow has given her almost no assets to actually accomplish this. Spends most of her time in the seaside bar of Jerome Lefèvre, with whom she shares an on-again/off-again romantic relationship. Behind the cynical, hard-drinking exterior she hides a sense of right and wrong remarkable for someone with such a long history in black ops.

Sir Sheadon Castle, CGC, CBE Tall and handsome egomaniac commodore of the Royal Navy Expanse Flotilla (RNEF), a fleet of three rusting cutters (little more than re-purposed mine hunters) and a single survey ship. Cocky and flamboyant, it is easy to write Sir Sheadon off as a bigheaded poof, but his vainglorious ways are matched by his very real courage under fire, a fierce dedication to his duty, and a surprisingly adroit approach to making the most of what little assets he has. He is arguably one of the main reasons why the Union Jack still flies over Acadia.

Zoe Chaste Great-granddaughter of admiral Chaste, Zoe has inherited the family taste for adventure. She is a tourist guide and freelance sealife photographer with an intimate knowledge of the Expanse. Pretty, athletic and sunburnt, she owns a small sailing yacht called the Bretonnet. Despite her occupation (or perhaps because of it) she somehow frequently ends up tangled in the intrigues of the Expanse.

Teoh Daiyu Chinese pirate queen of the Black Scorpion triad. Seized power over her siblings by forming an unholy alliance with the execrable Hong Kong underworld boss Mr. Li. She commands the Widow Ching, a fast pirate mothership, with which she occasionally terrorizes the smaller islands of the Expanse. Most of her time however is spent hunting arcane artefacts and exotic plant-life for her master in Hong Kong.

Victorin Didot Sedate President of the French overseas department of Îles du Perdu. A rotund, well-meaning man of limited imagination who likes to do things by the book, he often has difficulty keeping up with the weirdness that keep cropping up in the Expanse. With the help of some of his more savvy subordinates however he has so far managed to keep the peace in the French quarter.

Winthrop Harrison Ironcroft III Megalomaniac American telecom billionaire whose long-term goal is to secure domination of the entire Expanse through the search for a mysterious Cyclopean city rumoured to be hidden below the waves somewhere in the Tsuchinoko Strait. His nefarious plans are backed by his vast personal wealth and resources. Ironcroft resides aboard a fully operational aircraft carrier, the former USS John F. Kennedy, which he purchased from the US government after its official decommissioning. It is now named the Silver Dollar, and by moving almost all his assets onto the ship Ironcroft has become effectively a state of his own.

Jerome Lefèvre Former Cold Warrior and special agent for the French secret service, turned intelligence racketeer, turned owner of a popular seaside bar on Surmontez. Despite having moved on from wetworks to mojitos and bikini watching he remains reliable, consistent and very well connected within the French Départment Perdu. He is the godfather of Zoe Chaste and fiercely protective of her.

Nova Mysterious hacker and high-tech rebel rumoured to be based somewhere in the Expanse. He controls a network of data-towers, satellite-uplinks and server-stacks hidden in abandoned Japanese bunkers and other deserted locations, as well as a collection of cybernetically enhanced dolphins and other wildlife. His goals and motivations are largely unknown, but judging from their frequent clashes he appears to be in direct opposition to Teoh Daiyo and Mr. Li, as well as Jakob Panzerfaust.

Enock Yeardleigh Lyngrove Liaison to the governor of Acadia, head of RACKET's pacific office and agent of Gargoyle Manor, Lyngrove is the irreverent scion of a British wizarding family of some political influence. An ageing man and survivor of quite a few close encounters with the occult, he arranged a posting in the Pacific as an easy way to retirement only to find the Expanse wasn't as quiet as he'd hoped. Insolent and impious whether it's kaiju he's facing or the baroness, Lyngrove still knows how to handle himself with a wand.

Herr Doktor Kolonel Jakob Panzerfaust Clone of the Theozoologist, former member of the Technowaffe and erstwhile Nazi, Jakob Panzerfaust is dedicated to the restoration not so much of the Reich itself as much as of its crazy science. He commands a small but elite Nazi remnant force and is a master of fringe science, who has formed a strictly quid pro quo relationship with the distant Mors Totenkopf of Kragoreshtan. He lost his hand in a long-forgotten accident, and now uses a cybernetic replacement of pure wrought iron.

Irene Pascoe Kiwi captain of the schooner Jack Rackham's Revenge and a true businesswoman. Pascoe plies the waves of the Expanse with a head for interest rates and margins of profit unmatched by any of her rivals. With little interest in heroics, Irene Pascoe is determined to turn the maximum profit from any situation. She possesses intimate knowledge of the geography of the Expanse and is fast becoming one of its richest women.

Fiona Sheldon-Pryce, 5th Baroness Pearl Bay Young British aristocrat and governor of Acadia, she is the heir of an unbroken line of nobles that goes back to the privateers who captured the island from the French. She is beautiful and headstrong, but at age 27 very young and frequently out of her depth dealing with the conspiracies and machinations of the Expanse. Despite this and the very limited resources of the minute British holding, she has so far managed to do not just survive, but also do a good job running the crown colony.

Glen Goodlin Duke, Jr. Self-professed capitalist Yankee air pirate operating from Acadia, Glen Duke says he can fly anything with two wings. He pilots a heavily modified Catalina flying boat, the Kokomo Lass, and divides his time between flying people between the various islands of the Expanse, and pulling side-jobs for Butch Baylor. This latter part of his profession means he frequently clashes with Sir Sheadon, with whom he shares a long but friendly rivalry that dates back to a period in the 1980s when they were both involved in black ops of questionable legality for their respective nations. Duke is a stocky man, in his early fifties but in excellent physical shape. He insists on wearing his brown leather aviator jacket even though it really isn't suited to the tropical climate of the Expanse.

Ahorangi Hawke A native of the Expanse and one of the few surviving members of a tribe that used to live on the Sous-la-Soleil before it was almost completely eradicated by Dreamlands creatures in the '50s. He and his mother were rescued by French marines, and he witnessed the first nuking of his ancestral home from the French battleship Valeureuse . The cataclysmic event instilled in him a drive to understand what happened and, as his understanding of the incidents grew over the progressing decades, filled him with a deep revulsion of anything Dreamlands-related. Today, he is a shaman and close advisor to Victorin Didot on supernatural matters. He is reviled by most of the other native tribes of the Expanse however, because the Dreamlands intrusions onto Sous-la-Soleil were covered up by the French as a series of nuclear tests. These same nuclear tests are the explanation given for the disappearance of Hawke's own tribe, and few of the natives can understand why Hawke would willingly aid the people who destroyed his entire people. Because what really happened on the atoll remains a crown secret, Hawke is unable to come clean about this.
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

This is the greatest summer destination ever.

:D
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Booted Vulture »

There is a list of characters attached that out does the cast of some full universes. Excellent stuff, Siege.

Another Baylor? Man, that guy seems... familiar. In an art imitates life kinda way. :D
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Malchus »

Siege, you mad and ridiculously awesome tank!

I mean, man, this is pretty much a ley point of Comix influence. There's a little of something from everyone, and in a unique insane combo that makes it a perfect setting for pretty much anything.
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

The psychic-pterodactyl Matriarch in charge of the Dinosaur Uprising base must also be charged with obtaining kaiju genetic specimens and due to her extended stay outside the standard crummy Uprising submarines and undersea bases, must've gone a bit native from flying around freely in open air and living outside of those crammed confines. She must like eating the captured meats of kaijus and dines regularly on Coelacanth meat. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Malchus »

For added irony points, she should be named Matriarch Equanimous (meaning in full-control of self; not easily disturbed by external influence).
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Ford Prefect »

lol what the hell Siege, where did this come from? It's like you asked whether anything was going on in this part of the world, then fifteen minutes later we got this. It must be demons, I tell you.

Mysterious and nefarious sources aside, it's a really good article. It's very rich as a location and feels 'alive' in a good way. The cast of colourful characters gives it that sense, I think.
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by speaker-to-trolls »

So is this place a kind of wild colonial frontier in the modern day, far away from central authority and full of pirates, vagabonds, savage tribes and monsters? Sounds fun, though I must ask why the Americans don't have more of a presence there if it's between America and Australia, particularly if as seems to be the case, the French and British are not as interested in the expanse as once they were.
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Siege »

The USA doesn't fit the vibe I was going for. I wanted a place where it's always sunny except when it storms, where buried treasures abound, where a tall ship can outrun an aircraft carrier and where Royal Marines still wear cutlasses next to their Webleys -- a place without hyper-powered meta's or overdoses of military gee-whats. Doesn't mean the occasional yankee can't show up, but I explicitly want to avoid dreary OORAH PACIFIC FLEET nonsense in my picturesque tropical paradise of adventure.
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

The Billy Lightning administration is not too keen on interventionism anyway. :D
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Re: The Acadian Expanse

Post by Siege »

Two more characters have been added to the motley inhabitants of the Expanse.
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

For, now De Ruyter's topsails
Off naked Chatham show,
We dare not meet him with our fleet -
And this the Dutchmen know!
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