Straddling the Canadian border, one river, a few bridges, and an innumerable quantity of small islands, what remains of the once Eastern Commonwealth's coal-stained industrial jewel is disheartening, to say the least. Despite being spared from the main force of the Great War, the low population of the river country assured that no defensive precautions were made in advance. The already small community left an even smaller band of survivors behind. The usual estimates of the immediate number of post-war inhabitants lie somewhere between 5 and 30.
The majority of these people were, or were descendants of, the more affluent characters in pre-war society, those wealthy enough to afford private shelters in lieu of Vault-Tec's lack of interest. People of this nature were no strangers to such luxuries as leadership and bureaucracy, and an emergency government was nurtured from birth. However, ambition, leads to high infant mortality for any blooming republic. No exception was made. Today, the Thousand Islands, has become a center of bastardized imperialism and constant bloodshed as new, charismatic figures rise and fall. Knights, and wizards, and kings reign. An outsider may take one glance, and mistake the landscape for the setting to a story book. But they have not looked deep enough.
After the Bombs
The early years of the Thousand Islands post-war existence can be best described as a time of simplicity. A cooperative republic was formed (or Coop Republic for short), consisting of the residents of the area gathered in the island town of Grindstone, a sanctuary from the mainland threats. They would vote, with no class distinction, on various ideas (mainly survival and construction projects), and generally lived on subsistence farming and hunting. The Republic spread to many of the small islands in the river, eventually founding Charleton and Wolfe (later Wolf) on the islands of the same name. The people of Kingston, a cratered city on the Canadian side of the river, also joined forces with the Coop Republic. A number of small family settlements on the New York side were voluntarily annexed later on. For a time, all was well.
Soon, however, two castes began to emerge. The first being the Syos (a corruption of "CEO"), the more educated and polished personnel who came up with the majority of the ideas. The second was christened the Hwaps (after a pre-war derogatory title; Wasp). In another time, the Hwaps would be excellent engineers, boatmen, lumberers, and miners in the Thousand Islands' many factories. Yet, while they performed the most work, the rugged folk were simply barred from proposing new ideas by their lack of education. The Syos would often work together to confuse Hwaps attempting to become involved in their discussions by using obscure concepts, historical allusions, and unneededly advanced vocabulary. Through this their power was consolidated.
These practices evolved into a large-scale manipulation and control effort on the part of the Syos, and their role soon transformed from the intellectuals, to the dominators. The Hwaps worked, the Syos watched and discussed amongst each other. Corruption became ingrained through political alliances and even propaganda campaigns. Loopholes were voted on opening more often than closing. Hwap interests were mostly ignored.
As time progressed, the Ghouls emerged, dropping even below Hwaps on the social scale. At one point, in an event called The Binding, a coalition of powerful Syos pushed for a mandatory enslavement of all Ghouls. It was passed, mostly by prejudiced Hwaps who saw the Ghouls as nightmarish invaders, and Syos who wished for cheap (and immortal) labor and less competition in government. The Binding lasted for at least three years, until Ghoulism began to affect the Syos as well. The first Syo Ghouls were disguised as lepers from the lower classes, but the secret could not last forever (while the affected Syo easily could). Little information remains due to censorship by many later generations of Syos, but one thing is known for certain: The Ghouls were freed, but not welcomed.
The Ghoul's position in society is unique, in that they are brought into lives of labor, but are still allowed into government if they prove themselves to be intelligent. This is because, unlike being a Hwap, being a Ghoul does not run in one's blood.
Two other, lesser sects, arrived from the south at various points in the following years. The Hoyts (from "Whites"), pale-skinned latecomers to the new world who emerged from the Southern Shelter, in Ol Fort (once Fort Drum), and the Slicks, the greasy-haired lineage of factory owners and police officers who migrated north from crumbling Waterhole (Watertown, at one point). The Hoyts and the Slicks took their place as intermediates in society, serving as traders, law enforcement, and military leaders. The rivalry between the two strikes deep, although neither are considered to be more important than the other. By anyone else, that is.
Due to their isolation from each other, the classes began to develop unique physical characteristics. Syos were distinguished by their large eyes and prominent noses, Hwaps by their large chins, tall stature, and heavy brows. Hoyts were seen for their light skin-tone, pale eyes, and gaunt faces (despite usually being the most fit), while Slicks were generally slighter and darker than most, with thinner lips and wide faces. Another group existed, the "Mutts", who were the unfortunate product of inter-sect relationships. They were generally shunned from society, and seen as particularly lowly Hwaps regardless of ancestry.
In 2126, the fragile Syo oligarchy would be brought to its knees. A young Syo by the name of Sanford Q. Hydes, the son of a pre-war Military History Professor in Kingston, would use his advantages, and his knowledge of tactic to cripple and neuter the Coop Republic. He is better known as Alexander the Great the Second, or simply Alexander.
In his childhood, Sanford had been the bane of his tutors due to his constant questioning of legitimacy, justification, and especially the status quo. To his father, many fellow Syos brought concerns of Sanford’s startlingly rebellious attitude, paired with his seemingly limitless commitment to any task he was given.
These worries were proven to be very well founded when, in 2126, Sanford declared himself Alexander, founded the Alexandrian Empire, stated the date as “Year 1 of the New Age”, and mustered a uni-caste army twice the size of the Coop Republic’s own.
Alexander preached of an end to the Syo oppression of the other classes before cheering crowds in his new capital, Alexandria, wherein he took up residence in the island fortress of Bolt Palace (Boldt Castle in the old times). Every day, new supporters flocked to his city and pledged fealty to the cause. The movement was labeled “Civilization”.
The North Bank War marked the third time in Republican history that a levy was raised against an immediate threat. The Coop Syos, after days wasted debating the smallest details of their strategy, agreed to face Alexander in open war. What happened over the next month was a series of crushing Republic defeats, in exchange for a one-house island and half of an empty convoy. Their army in tatters, their resources exhausted, Alexander launched his own offensive against his Coop rivals. In the second month of the War, Alexander conquered Pless, founded Issus, was welcomed into Grindstone, and laid siege to Charleton.
The Republic was evacuated to Kingston Court House, where they frantically deliberated the outcome of the situation. According to legend, Alexander entered the Court House as the Syos were rehearsing their appeal for peace. Amused, he asked them to read what they had so far. They did so, and then in turn asked of him how he had gotten so deep into the city while they were busy planning. His response: “Because I was busy acting”.
The war lasted two months and five days, ending on June the 7th; Alexander Day as it became. The terms allowed Alexander’s independence, and direct control of Alexandria, Pless, and his military center Issus. Charleton was returned, and Grindstone was made independent (although its popular opinion was always swung in Alexander’s favor).
The Alexandrian Empire became known as the Lightning Empire for the speed at which it destroyed the old regime. The quick adoption of the red and yellow Lightning Standard, and the coincidental name of Bolt Palace insured this reputation would remain for years to come.
The Republic would never recover from the defeat. By 2128, it existed nowhere but in memory and in certain Syos’ aspirations. Kingston would return to its previous state of confusion, dabbling in a Rule by Court for a time, before becoming a sort of Mayoral Dictatorship. Charleton and Wolf were made unimportant island settlements, a band of criminals took up residence in Joontown (Junetown prior), and another village, Wiksy, fell into the St. Lawrence river due to lack of maintenance. The entirety of the region was decentralized, nearly tribal, with the important exception of Alexandria. Perhaps the most radical result was the creation of a Hwap oligarchy (complete with Syo forced labor) in Saltin. Although created in his name, Alexander renounced the action as immoral, and completely contrary to “Civilization”.
Alexander died at 43, in 2148, leaving behind an immortal legend, a strong, stable empire, and the everlasting admiration of the Alexandrian people. His only son, 14-year old Wyatt, would inherit. He named himself Alexander the Great the Second the Second to preserve his father’s legacy (usually rendered Alexander II-II). His younger cousin, Barry, also laid claim to the title, sometimes called Alexander the Minute. He was quickly appeased with the rank of Mayor of Issus, and brushed aside before any trouble could be made.
Alexander II-II reigned for only one year before being mauled to death by squatch-bear while, supposedly, attempting to impress the daughter of a Slick General. He left behind an impressive 3 children (and 1 possible bastard), of whom none would inherit. The title would instead be passed to his twin sister, Alexandria The First.
Alexandria’s reign was marked by peace, prosperity, and a communal dialogue on the morality of Mutts (of which the Empress herself was). Alexandria, who inherited the throne at 15, would safeguard the Lightning Realm and restore Bolt Palace to something closer to its pre-war state. She reigned for 20 years (2149-2169), during which the focus of the Thousand Islands shifted from Alexandria to Kingston.
The temporary Alexandrian Occupation, and following Rule by Court, left a bitter taste in the mouths of all Kingstonian citizens. The period was hectic, violent, and a major step backward from even the corruption of the Old Republic. Although their iron fist was hard to parry, the Judges’ Guild, a ruling clique of Syos, was finally overthrown during a combined rebellion in 2141. What ensued was confusion, nineteen years worth of confusion, often divided into four periods.
The first period (2141-2142) is often remembered as a time of great famine and misery. It was during this year that the cold began to truly set in (earning it the moniker “twenty-one hundred and froze to death”), which, when, combined with the Joontown Raids and a great Super Mutant Assault, left the city even weaker than the brittle state at which the year was begun. Both of the latter events were overcome, barely, through the use of Kingston’s forts and defense towers. But the damage was dealt, and the limestone city began to fall into disrepair.
The second period (2142-2145) was a turning point in Kingstonian History. Under an elected Mayor-Dictator, Martin Girard, the Kingstonian militia army aligned itself with Joontown-based mercenaries, and crossed the river to Charleton. The town was taken after a small skirmish, which cost Girard his eye as its greatest toll, and the Joontown Corps became a de facto element in the Kingstonian Military. For the rest of his reign, Martin Girard focused on solving the hunger issues and rebuilding the old capital Court House. Girard stepped down in 2145, after his blindness became all too apparent.
The third period (2145-2151) spanned the First Waterhole War. Sparked by Waterholer interception of Kingstonian trade goods travelling the river, the war ended in a mutual truce and a slight respect. Waterhole and Kingston remained uneasy trade partners as a direct consequence. The Greenadiers, the enforcement arm of Green City, came into prominence during this time. There were four Mayors in this period, but their purpose was mostly ceremonial. The military, due to the war, held the true power.
The fourth period (2151-2160) marked the beginning of the end for whatever ghosts of Kingston's past still haunted city limits. The military leaders rapidly lost favor during peace time as the Mayoral Police asserting their authority. The force, however, was far too disunified to effectively hold the city-state together. By the second year. Joontown was completely alienated by the sudden surge of power given to the law, and within Kingston itself divisions began to fester. The Slicks of the police force refused to share their power with the Hoyts in the military, and often worked competitively against them to undermine their influence. This ethnic bias was masked as two-way anti-corruption missions, and the Hwaps, Mutts, and Ghouls began to take sides.
A frontless Civil War broke out when Empress Alexandria agreed to help fund the Hoyts if they promised to have fair, and inclusive elections. The city and its surrounding territory splintered tenfold. Kingston, as an entity, ceased to exist.
It was then that James Chester, a half-Hwap Syo (who resembled a Syo enough to get by), led his party of Knights Etna (named for his hometown) and, somehow, managed to claim Kingston as his own. He afforded himself the style King of Sten, and reformed the city into a sort of feudal domain. The ethnic classes still clashed, as had been custom, but personal wealth and power were made to be unrelated. Waterhole was quick to become an enemy once more, but the war between them was, again, unprogressive.
The Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Waterhole Wars occurred between the years of 2161 and 2170. As had been previous, they weren't true wars, but instead almost playful rivalries between Chester's new Kingdom of Kingston and the Martialalitationshipism of Waterhole led by his cousin, Dean Kayser. The Fifth declaration of sort-of-war became known to the Alexandrian Empire during Alexander the Second the III's coronation ceremony, following his mother's abdication. The new Emperor's very second royal decree was to join the war on the side of Kingston, in order to expand Alexandria's influence on the southern side of the river. His first decree was to change his title to simply "Alexander the Third". Although made with good intentions, the other member of the ruling house decided to convince their Emperor otherwise, citing the fact that shortening the title would make it far too easy for anyone recording the family history. And the Alexandrians valued good work ethic in their servants.
Unbeknownst to the, once again, well-meaning Alexander II-III, the Fifth Waterhole War was not actually intended to be a dangerous war. Instead it was a planned event, beneficially boosting the growth and prestige of both Kingston and Waterhole. King James of Sten even went as far as to deny Alexandria any involvement, but by the time the message was sent the damage was done. Actual, real, legitimate killing was conducted by Alexander's elite warriors (known as the Companions); who then preceded to take control of a small farming village, become intoxicated, call it "Fishland", strip its inhabitants of their clothing, drown them in the river, and dance around the blaze that became the town after the force's leader set fire to a barn stocked with Waterholer prisoners of war, two dogs, and a potted plant they named "Waterhole Paul".
This did not go over well with either Kingston or Waterhole, who both looked to each other for aid against Alexandria. But seeing as neither wanted to be the first to make a move, no further communication was pursued. Fearing for his life, Dean Kayser fled Waterhole for the Kingston colony of Camelot, where he soon became heavily involved in the local cult, and adopted the persona of Sir Gareth.
The Fifth Waterhole War was ever raging by the year of 2172, when Alexander II-III led his legendary siege and "reclamation" of Tyre, extrapolating Alexandria's southward manifest destiny. The war has not ended since. In fact, it has grown to include the entire region, and even attract the attention of the Brotherhood of Steel, who have taken up Ol Fort in an effort to pressure peace between the local factions.
To be completed....
To be completed....