Nexus Islands

A chain of four large islands and numerous subsidiary rocky outcroppings and tidal hillocks that lie between the West Indies and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Nexus Islands are most renowned as the setting of a series of so-called 'American-Ruritanian' romance and adventure novels by authors like Robert Howard. In reality, the islands have been home to a few isolated colonies of shipwrecked sailors, missionaries and the like for several centuries. The indigenous population seems to have died out or emmigrated before European explorers arrived, leaving only adobe shelters on the beaches and cliffsides, and tantalising hints of subterranean ruins further inland.

In the late 70's, the four major islands (Tumba Gran, Provedencia, Isla de Cadaveras, Cresta Esmeralda) were infiltrated by agents of the Ariadne Compact. Mercenary teams and dissident merchants marine set up various small ports and covert docks, from which they began subjugating the islands and interdicting sea traffic. World governments did little until it was too late, and their efforts were constantly stymied by corrupt politicians and distractions planted by the Compact. By the time an inspection and neutralisation force could be assembled, the pirates and terrorists were too firmly entrenched. The international forces were repelled on the coasts and beaches of the Nexus Islands by well-armed and fierce mercenaries with metahuman backing, and fled in disarray.

Today, the islands are an odd mix of sophisticated technology and old fashioned piratical barbarism. Some of the settlements, like the slightly exaggerated Excel City, are warrens of factories and labs in which the Ariadne's own research teams conduct cutting-edge tests on stolen technology. Other labs are leased out to teams from Triland, the Second Renaissance and black book research agencies from a variety of governments. Excel has the feel of a massive industrial park set amidst beautiful, steaming jungles. However, there are more settlements like Reaver's Nest, a wretched hive of scum and villainy where the Compact's privateer fleet harbours and military talent scours from around the world come to look for ruthless guns-for-hire of both the human and enhanced varieties. Despite overflowing with escaped criminals, international drug dealers and deserters, Reaver's Nest has a kind of tense peace about it. Everyone there is armed and desperate, and this mutual distrust produces a semblance of stability, broken only by the odd bar fight. When it does break, though, the Compact is forced to step in and prevent a full scale crime war igniting. The only law on the Nexus Islands is the law of might makes right. However, certain gaps in international treaties allow the islands to be used as a tax haven and shelter for illegal activities, and the Compact makes sure that there is enough security for these lucrative businesses to be maintained.

In the centre of Isla de Cadaveras is what appears to by a slumped, half-ruined citadel of rusty metal and vine-covered stone. This decrepit exterior hides a sophisticated fortress called the Adytum, the headquarters of the Ariadne Compact. From here, they operate a powerful network of automated weapons and watch stations that protect the Nexus islands from outside aggression… and ensure that no internal forces challenge their authority. The inhabitants of the islands tend to either accept the Compact's power as the price for having such a free and lawless haven for their depredations, or to be so poor and powerless that they have no choice but to knuckle-under to the 'thugocrasy'.

Not everyone has given up the hope of making the islands a law-based society, however. In a rare show of co-operation, the Cuban and American governments fund and arm a resistance group called the Marquis, which works to gather warnings bout upcoming Ariadne Compact attacks and to disrupt the criminal groups on the islands. Led by a wily Cuban named la Lebrel (the Harrier), the Marquis strikes hard and fades back into the jungles and villages. Some members are full-time resistance fighters, while others maintain cover identities as ordinary residents or even members of the Compact security forces.

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