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1 - Charles - Pacifica - Most ethnic Chinese in Vancouver already knew how to speak English when the Second Great Depression hit. And most of those who managed to escape fallen Taiwan had learned English in school. So when the Free Republic of China joined the British Commonwealth, it was easy for them to shift their official government records into English to better coordinate with allied states. English has become a primary language spoken throughout Free China in the centuries since. All public business is conducted in English, and speaking in English is in fact a sign that the conversation is designed to be public. They reserve Chinese primarily for family matters, most often in the home. It is considered rude to speak Chinese amongst foreigners, though parents will scold their misbehaving children in Chinese. At which point, everyone in earshot is expected to not understand a single word the parent says, since it is a private conversation. The primary usage of Chinese in the public square is when performing great ceremonies, which they do with relish and pride. With immediate translations to English or whatever other language is required, of course.
2 - Charles - Pacifica - The Republic of China Navy died defending Taiwan in the last days of that nation, except for the old destroyer ROCS Kee Lung and a handful of surviving frigates and submarines. They led a rag tag fleet of civilian and military transports to Japan, and then on to North America when that nation fell to the Chinese advance as well. They found a new home in Vancouver, and slowly rebuilt in the decades that followed. They soon transitioned into space as humanity expanded into the solar system and beyond, and have maintained an impressive fleet for such a small nation in the centuries since. China has always been quick to attempt to absorb Free Chinese settlements into Greater China, so Free China is quick to shoot them. This alternating cold and hot war between the two Chinas continued until The War came upon us all. And then it turned hot indeed. The Free Chinese had a bone to pick with their cousins, and they supported the Western Alliance campaigns with gusto. And I cannot overestimate how much it helped us to land on a conquered Chinese world with the Free Chinese military at our sides.
3 - Charles - Pacifica - Micronesia is an association of five small island States in the Western Pacific, north and east of Australia. There is an honorary sixth position currently left open for Occupied Palau, the only United States territory on Earth currently conquered and held by a foreign nation. Many believe it was Palau’s capture by China during the Second Great Depression that galvanized America to move to Australia’s defense. Liberating the territory was a primary goal of the American deployment, but the Chinese were too dug in to drive them from the area. Liberation of Palau has remained one of America’s primary requirements of every peace summit since, though China is loath to give up any land it has ever conquered fair and square. Or by hook or by crook. Or through the simple expedient of killing its army and leaders and appointing new and pliable leadership. Palau is governed through the latter expedient, and it has become an excellent avenue for new and promising Chinese leaders to test their abilities. Failure at governing Palau generally coincides with a regrettably terminal health condition, but those who succeed there usually attain the highest ranks in the Chinese hierarchy in the years to come.
4 - Charles - Pacifica - Palau is an island nation in Micronesia conquered by China during the Second Great Depression. It has been developed into a chain of luxury resort islands for the elite and rich Chinese leadership in the centuries since. It is far enough away from Mainland China to keep its air and water clean, and Chinese who travel there get the novel experience of walking in open air without smog protection. Its proximity to Australian and American territories makes security there a paramount concern, and it has been a hotbed of intelligence activity since the fall. Many people like to joke that more spies live and work in Palau, per capita, than any other place on Earth. And some people aren’t joking at all when they say that. Every major intelligence agency on Earth plays the Great Game there, seeking to compromise or influence rich and powerful Chinese leaders. And the Chinese leaders are happy to see what enticements they can acquire at such times. It is actually a game back home to boast about how many suspected Western spies they dallied with during their vacations, while flaunting whatever shiny baubles they came home with. All suitably scanned by Chinese intelligence to guarantee no compromise of security, of course. The Chinese are proud, not stupid.
5 - Charles - Pacifica - Four of the five surviving Micronesian American States are scattered throughout the Caroline Island Chain, the Mariana Islands, and the Marshall Islands. American Samoa exercises political allegiance with Micronesia, despite being well outside the geographical borders. The Line Islands are American territories that have never pursued Statehood, and most of the Gilbert Islands remain members in good standing of the British Commonwealth. All of them rely on tourist dollars to keep their economies running. Tourists and of course the various Western Alliance military bases scattered all over the island groups. The Micronesian Islands, and the various island chains protecting Australia from Chinese bases in Occupied Indonesia are some of the most heavily militarized islands on Earth. If a hot war ever started on Earth, those islands would be some of the first strikes. Until then, the local soldiers live the high life in some of the best resorts on Earth when they go on liberty, and people throughout the Western Alliance come to enjoy those same resorts. It is an odd mixture of laid back islander life and high energy partying, and you can often see both lifestyles in minutes by walking down the block.
6 - Charles - Pacifica - The Caroline Islands are dominated by two political entities. Occupied Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. Officially registered as a single State for representation in the United States of America, the Federated States are one of America’s primary front lines with Red China. They are heavily militarized, and the southern tip of America’s Great Pacific Firewall is planted firmly in the Caroline Islands. It is primarily built on the small coral atolls that dominate the area, spread across hundreds of kilometers to keep individual security failures from crashing the entire network. Whenever Chinese hackers break the systems on one atoll, it is dropped from the firewall, burned with extreme prejudice, and a new, fresh firewall section is flown or shipped in to replace it. Individual atolls, or even entire atoll chains, may be compromised on any given day or hour, but the Great Pacific Firewall as a whole continues to shield America from the truly massive number of cyber attacks it receives each day without collapsing.
7 - Medron - Wolfenheim Emergent eARC -
8 - Charles - Pacifica - The western parts of the Federated States of Micronesia border Occupied Palau and are home to both a massive military presence and the southern tip of America’s the Great Pacific Firewall. The eastern islands are where most of the civilian population lives and where most of the fun happens. They have massive hotels, clean beaches, shining casinos, and anything else they can use to tempt tourists into coming to Micronesia. Or soldiers on liberty. The combination of tourists, locals, and soldiers can sometimes result in complications, the least of which is…intelligence in nature. Much like Palau, the Federated States are a hotbed of those who are romantically called spies, and there is a very non-romantic cloak and dagger war raging throughout the region as different intelligence agencies attempt to pull one over on all of the others. Or police their own. American soldiers are admonished against accepting any gifts while on liberty, and many have found their careers shortened or derailed when caught doing so despite this. But things can get stickier when it comes to the exchange of cash and favors. It is true that you can buy almost anything in the Federated States, whether you are in the bright and shiny tourist markets of the day, or the dangerous dark alleys of the night, but one should always be careful about bringing it home with you.
9 - Charles - Pacifica - The fall of Palau and Okinawa to China’s unstoppable juggernaut changed politics in Micronesia forever. They’d been spending the last half century slowly moving towards independence from America, while at the same time seeking close alliances with the nation that liberated them from the Japanese Empire. Watching a new, or very old depending on your point of view, empire arise crystallized their choices with remarkable clarity. As the largest and most populous island in Micronesia, it fell to Guam to accept most of the refugees fleeing from Fallen Asia. It also fell to Guam to be the target of China’s first step into the realm of those nations capable of conducting blue-water invasions. China had spent the last half century building its navy up from being barely able to patrol the brown-water straights between it and Taiwan, to boasting the best blue-water designs the First World nations sailed with. And it was those ships they used to attack the rag tag collection of refugees at Guam, defended by the waning military power of an America caught firmly in the chaos of its Second Great Depression.
10 - Charles - Pacifica - The new Empress of Japan fled Okinawa and traveled east across the Pacific Ocean in the last great fleet to leave Fallen Asia. But not every refugee, civilian or military, was able or willing to set sail with her. Most of them found their way to Micronesia in the West Pacific Ocean. Guam was the largest and most populous islands in Micronesia, and had been one of America’s primary military bases in the Pacific after the Second World War. So every surviving military asset that didn’t leave with the Empress found safe haven there. American. Korean. Vietnamese. Taiwanese. Japanese. Guam represented every fallen nation in Asia by the time China sent their very best blue-water invasion force across the Philippine Sea to crush the last great impediment to their Pacific strategy. America had shackled them for too long, and it was time for China to rise. But while China had the very best ocean-going warships in their fleet, they lacked the centuries of ocean-going experience built into the spines of other, older navies. That would prove devastatingly important when the storms came to lash the Philippine Sea and all upon it.
11 - Charles - Pacifica - Guam was the most populous Micronesian island before the Second Great Depression fell upon us. That is why it became the heart of the last defense against China when it reached its hands out to grasp all of Asia. America’s diminished military was the heart of the defense, but every surviving free military unit of Fallen Asia bolstered their numbers. Korean stood beside Vietnamese or Japanese in defense of Guam’s beaches, while scratch-built squadrons flew every flag of Asia. China owned some of the best blue-water warships and transports in the world, but it lacked the experience of projecting power far from the coast. America could no longer project her power, but those naval crewmen who remained were heirs to the institutional knowledge of the greatest navy the world had ever known. Even in their twilight, they gathered together the rag tag remnants of Fallen Asia’s fleets and air forces and charged out into one of the greatest storms of the century as it lashed the Philippine Sea and scattered China’s invasion fleet all over the ocean. They sunk or captured every single Chinese vessel that set sail to attack Guam. It was one of the most lopsided victories in naval combat history, and not a word of it is ever spoken of in China to this day.
12 - Charles - Pacifica - Guam is the largest and most diverse island in all of Micronesia. The Second Great Depression and the desperate defense against Chinese aggression wedded them firmly to the United States for their survival, and they soon became an official American State. Guam boasts contingents that fly every flag of Fallen Asia, though in a notable difference from the Continental States, they fly the American flag above their own. Older States often find that practice provincial or backwards, but Guam uses the American flag to unite all the peoples who fled the Chinese juggernaut and can still see its smog banks on the horizon to this day. This diverse and energized population has built Guam into one of the bustling centers of industry in the Pacific. They’ve built or settled hundreds of tiny islands all around Guam, and their western air purifying towers are some of the best on Earth and beyond. They are the bulwark of the Western Alliance, living in the shadow of China’s legacy, but holding the light of freedom aloft as Fallen Taiwan and Japan once did.
13 - Charles - Pacifica - Guam boasts the largest armed forces in Micronesia, and probably the most experienced in all of Pacifica. They maintain small and fast warships for both the blue and black navies, and specialize in escort duties for larger fleets, or spoiling attacks against said larger fleets. Their blue navy conducts daily missions defending the western approaches to Guam from Chinese saboteurs, while their black navy’s primary mission is defending the numerous interstellar colonies or fleets one can find their people in. Guam also plays host to one of the central nodes of the Great Pacific Firewall that keeps Chinese hackers at bay. Cybernetic intelligences on Guam coordinate the cyber defenses located throughout the entire Mariana island chain, while the primary firewall is actually spread out over a network a hundred kilometers wide from east to west so as to absorb any cybernetic attacks before they reach the island chain.
14 - Medron - - Wolfenheim Emergent eARC -
15 - Charles - Pacifica - Guam takes its place on the front lines with China very seriously, but all work and no play would quickly result in an extremely unhappy populace. Which is one reason for Guam’s heavy emphasis on tourism. Their climate is beautiful, their beaches impeccably maintained, and their hotels are some of the best money can build on Earth and beyond. And they maintain a hard ten percent of all rooms permanently available for servicemen in need of a serious prescription of relaxation after long days or weeks of defending Guam from Chinese attacks. Paid for by the Guam Defense Force, and handed out as needed or wanted based on availability. Mixed in with the tourists just coming to have fun and see the sights, the island brings in enough money to maintain a healthy economy independent of the military industrial complex It also hosts an impressive grey market where you can buy anything the smugglers can bring in from Chinese ports. After the boats are carefully scanned by cybernetic sniffers to make certain they have no computer products onboard. The island government turns a blind eye to anything else, a fact that makes citizens and visitors alike extremely happy.
16 - Charles - Pacifica - One thing to consider is that we often talk about China as if it is one nation, one culture, and one people. We speak of the Chinese Menace as an enemy of freedom, but that is not truly accurate. The people or even the nations are not synonymous with the governments that lead or represent them. I have many contacts within China, Free China, and Free Hong Kong, and they are more alike to each other than different. It is The Party that runs the government of Mainland China that is the enemy of the Western Alliance. It is The Party that conquered most of Southeastern Asia back when they still called themselves Communists. It is The Party that ranks the peoples’ social credit to determine if they are allowed to travel, communicate, or even live. It is The Party that forced Free China, Free Japan, Free Tibet, and all the other Free Peoples of various conquered nations to flee their homes and seek freedom in Pacifica or California. We have never been at war with the Chinese people. And that is something we have often allowed ourselves to forget.
17 - Charles - Pacifica - The New Hong Kong Contingency was a project of dissident wealthy members of the Hong Kong establishment started after the British turned the rich city over to Communist China in 1997. They did not believe the Communist Party would hold to the agreement with Britain to maintain democratic freedoms in the city until 2047. And even if they did, these rich businessmen wished to keep their money in their families and fifty years was a short span of time as families measured it. So they created a long-term plan to squirrel their assets and families safely out of Communist Party control in the nearby Micronesian Islands. They purchased plots of land on numerous islands all over Micronesia and beyond through shell companies to keep their involvement secret, and prepared for the day when Hong Kong would inevitably fall. When the 2019 Freedom Protest began they knew it was time to trigger at least part of their plan.
18 - Charles - Pacifica - The New Hong Kong Contingency relied on several factors. They needed large enough islands to act as a base for their long-term plans that were also near enough to Hong Kong to make trips easily planned. They needed to be outside traditional Chinese waters, and outside the waters the Communist Party looked upon with envious eyes. And they needed something with minimal local laws and infrastructure in place. A deserted ocean island. Which were depressingly rare. And large ones were even rarer. So they compromised by buying plots on numerous sparsely populated large islands. They built boltholes on all of them, and arranged numerous methods of transport to get them there at need. They triggered some of those plans in 2019 when the Freedom Protests took over the streets of Hong Kong, but otherwise continued business as normal as best they could in the years that followed. They kept their heads down, kept their families safe, and continued to funnel resources into their boltholes.
19 - Charles - Pacifica - The New Hong Kong Contingency involved escape plans for when they judged the fall of Hong Kong to the Communist Party of China to be a fait accompli. Their first bolthole was the Micronesian Island of Tinian. It fit most of their requirements, being close to the major island of Saipan while being sparsely populated in its own right. It was near the major American base at Guam, while being outside direct American control. They could do what they wanted through the time-honored tradition of buying local politicians without having to worry about the terribly annoying American ethical naysayers screaming at them and causing unwished for publicity. They wanted a quiet getaway from the Communist Party, and Tinian fit the bill. When the day came, they pulled the trigger, hopped aboard ships or planes, and made their way to an island already bought, paid for, and prepared for them.
20 - Charles - Pacifica - The thing you must understand about the New Hong Kong Contingency is that was not merely a bolthole for rich Hong Kong businessmen. It was not a place for them to retire and waste away their years in quiet contemplation. It was not designed to protect their families until their money ran out. No. They did not siphon their fortunes away so they could fade into history and disappear from memory. They were Hong Kong businessman. They sat astride the economic tides of the world, and no trumped up Communist Party was going to take their power from them, even if it was going to inevitably take their home. But they could build a new home, a New Hong Kong, anywhere they wanted to. Because the secret of Hong Kong was not its location. The Communist Party would strangle and kill Hong Kong, but a New Hong Kong could arise anywhere the right men and the right money put their mind to it. And the New Hong Kong Contingency was just that right combination.
21 - Medron - Wolfenheim Emergent eARC
22 - Charles - Pacifica - The New Hong Kong Contingency did not need Tinian to survive. It was one of many islands in the Western Pacific they had purchased large tracks of land on over the decades, and all had been prepared as potential fallback positions in case the Communist Party’s reach was greater than Hong Kong’s estimate. Make no mistake that the island was one of their favored locations, though. And they were relieved when Guam’s defenders destroyed the Chinese invasion force that would have taken the rest of the islands around it, including Tinian. It meant they did not need to execute another evacuation plan. It also allowed them to heavily invest in the island with little fear of losing their investment. Especially after America recovered from its Second Great Depression and helped create the Western Alliance. New Hong Kong quickly became a founding partner in the area, and many of the casinos and hotels all over Micronesia benefited from funding they had squirreled away during their decades-long plan to escape the Communist Party’s grip.
23 - Charles - Pacifica - New Hong Kong is a crowning jewel of Micronesia and all of Pacifica. Their business is business, much like Hong Kong of old, and all major international corporations maintain at least an office in their skyscrapers to better negotiate business deals or potential funding. Many lease permanent space in the massive harbors built all around Tinian and other nearby islands for transshipping cargo from all over the world, and their proximity to Australia’s Jayapura Elevator that they helped fund gives them easy access to the interplanetary and interstellar trade routes as well. They practice a laissez-faire free market with minimal government intrusion, and have long made it a practice to lend or gift money and other resources to any business venture they think has a good chance of succeeding. They are even extremely lenient when ventures fail. They never forgive the debts, mind you, but they do not break kneecaps until they get repaid. That would be uncivilized. But there is no declaring bankruptcy on a debt to a New Hong Kong businessman, and a failure today may make themselves a fortune tomorrow. New Hong Kong is willing to wait for such fortunes to rise, which has greatly helped their own fortunes as lifespans have increased over the centuries.
24 - Charles - Pacifica - New Hong Kong has numerous business interests in Micronesia and beyond. Australia. Mainland America. Even some in Mainland China after sufficient cutouts to keep their involvement from being recognized. One investment they made long ago is one few people recognize. The combined businessmen of New Hong Kong hold a forty-nine percent minority partnership in Constantinople’s entire interstellar trade empire. They funded the city’s commercial dreams early in their rush to space and the profits have made New Hong Kong nothing but richer in the centuries since. The New Hong Kong Dollar is in fact one of the most stable currencies on Earth and beyond, and is accepted on all Western Alliance and non-aligned worlds. Even Russian Federation spaceports will convert Dollars into local currency for a small handling fee. They are obviously not accepted on Party-controlled Chinese worlds, though Republic of China worlds are happy to take the Dollars and spend them. New Hong Kong is here to stay in the interstellar halls of power, a testament to the Chinese people’s stubbornness and refusal to surrender. Even if that means standing up to The Party that took over their very homeland and quelled all visible dissent within it.
25 - Charles - Pacifica - The Northern Mariana Islands are famous for being the home of New Hong Kong and its various business interests. Their central government is largely funded by minimal taxes from New Hong Kong and the other business enclaves spread throughout the island chain, but to call any government of Mariana central is a bit of a misnomer. It is a Commonwealth of islands that prosper under the protection of the United States garrison on Guam and have little need to project any power of their own. So each island is effectively a law onto its own. And the law on most islands belongs to the majority shareholder that effectively owns the island. It is a feather in any corporation’s hat to own a Mariana Island, lock stock and barrel, partially because it make the mailing address rather short on their business cards. Company Name, Mariana Islands, Earth. Also, it is rather nice to own the law in your own backyard.
26 - Charles - Pacifica - The Northern Mariana Islands are best described as a collection of corporate-owned islands prospering under the protection of a major United States base that are mostly American. Partially. They are part of Micronesia, which is a Member State of Pacifica, which is a State Alliance in the United States of America. But do not make the mistake of thinking them just another piece of American real estate on the ocean. Their business is business, and anything that makes business harder is against their moral code. Which has led to a number of unhappy incidents over the centuries, especially when labor unions and businesses disagree over those matters. Many islands have actually banned labor unions at one time or another, or to a lesser or greater degree, but the United States Supreme Court has struck those laws down at every opportunity. They still try to break the unions as much as possible, though the businesses that crossed the line into outright breaking of union members have not enjoyed their treatment when the Department of Labor walked in to do the breaking.
27 - Charles - Pacifica - The Northern Mariana Islands are American, which means they must abide by the Constitution, but they have the most business-friendly laws of any American jurisdiction, and they constantly push the edges of Constitutional protections of individual rights. Make no mistake. They are not Socialist Hell Holes where individual rights fade under the banner of supporting the great “collective good,” but the businesses that write their laws are much more concerned with their own profits than anything else. Including, in many cases, the employees that live on their islands. They are always stretching to see what extra profit they can generate, or which laws or Constitutional protections can be…rationalized with appropriate corporate verbiage. Which is why every single civil rights organization, both public and private, in America keeps a tight eye on every single Mariana Island. Most islands may not offer extended civil rights on their territory, but God help any corporation that outright violates Constitutional civil rights of any kind.
28 - Medron - Wolfenheim eARC -
29 - Charles - Pacifica - I will note that New Hong Kong in particular waves the United States Constitutional flag with near religious fervor, which should be no surprise to anyone. Everybody knows what the Communist Party of China did to the original Hong Kong when they finally got all their hooks into it. Most citizens of New Hong Kong can track their family tree back to people they lost in that catastrophe. So as ruthless as even they are when it comes to business, they support Constitutional protections of all citizens like true believers. And the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands echoes their stance, even as it keeps its laws as business-friendly as possible. Without violating Constitutional civil rights, of course. The trick is agreeing what those are, and many global corporations do not agree on that. So countless court cases have gone all the way up to the Supreme Court over the centuries, and not every decision has been greeted with great praise and adulations.
30 - Charles - Pacifica - The Mariana Islands are not hotbeds of tourism like so many other Micronesian Islands are. They are just as beautiful as many of those islands are, but you see very few people walking around in sandals and shorts while enjoying the beach life. Their business is business, and so you see business suits everywhere you go. The luxury hotels and convention centers spread throughout the Mariana Islands focus solely on providing the best locations and services for their corporate partners on Earth and beyond. Whether you wish to book a week-long retreat for the team that just finished a major contract with flying colors, or you are bringing the team leads together for a strategy meeting, the Mariana Islands has a place devoted entirely to your every requirement. Their business is business, and their every service comes with a smile.
31 - Malcolm - Happy Halloween - image Happy Halloween, from my Family to yours.
This is a nice picture of a young Malcolm McDonnell, Caroline Murphy, and Danaka Murphy dressing up as wizardry students for a fun party. I don't think we ever really got together like this, but a man can dream, right? And modern computer imagery can make the very best of those dreams come true. Or at least realistically fake.
I had a thing for Danaka back in the day. Me and most of the boys my age. We were the next generation of the Family when this picture could have been taken, ready to build a Brave New World in our image. Instead we came apart like a defective merry-go-round.
In writing my memoirs, I see where we failed. And where we succeeded. We were young. We thought we knew what the world could bring against us. We thought we were ready for it. We were wrong. But in our failure, we grew and we became ready.
It is my supreme hope that we can take what we have learned and build a world where the next generation can grow up the way we should have. Like this. Innocently playing at dress up for parties that are only hosted for the amusement of our children.
So Happy Halloween, from the Family I intend to build, to yours…