The Combined Communities of Essex, Hertfordshire and London (previously Interim Nation of Essex; also known as the Combine or Essex) is a state in south east England, claiming the territories of Essex, Hertfordshire, northern Kent, and parts of East London. It is located south of Woodbridge, with which it jointly administers the Condominion of West Suffolk, and north of Southern England.
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The county was the site of the New Towns of Basildon and Harlow. Following the Second World War RAF Debden and RAF Wethersfield were used as sites for the USAF; also within the county were the airports of Southend and Stansted, which grew in size and significance at the end of the 1970s. However – and importantly – the county was home to a nuclear bunker in proximity to the village Kelvedon Hatch, which by the 1980s was intended for use by the British Government in case of nuclear war.
The county was struck hard by the events of September 26th. Nine nuclear weapons fell on the county:
- London Southend Airport – 20kt
- London Stansted Airport – 20kt
- RAF Wethersfield – 20kt
- RAF Debden – 20kt
- Tilbury Port – 20kt
- Bradwell Nuclear Power Station – 20kt
- Colchester Barracks - 20kt
- Coryton Oil Refinery – 100kt
- Harwich and Felixstowe Ports – 100kt
As with the rest of the former First World, life immediately following Doomsday was grim. Though casualties from the blasts themselves were low, due to key targets being located away from the major areas in the county (save Colchester and Southend), the days and weeks afterwards brought disaster. Being located right next to London, both fallout and panicked refugees fell upon the area, overwhelming services. However, because of the existence of the Kelvedon Hatch Bunker, a centralised government was quickly in place and able to respond with a number of drastic and draconian measures. Despite a population drop of roughly half to some 600,000 people (and still dropping by March).
Under the emergency government, which declared itself the Interim Nation of Essex, death rates began to slow and, gradually, the population started to grow again, but only after the population slumped to roughly two hundred thousand. A combination of refugees and military round-ups of populations managed to bring in enough labourers to work the farms. However, consistent mistreatment of various sectors of society, especially refugees forced to live in tent cities, meant that the tired, overworked, and abused population finally snapped. With surprising speed the urban populations rose up and rioted, slaughtering any military officials that decided not to join their side. Thousands of deaths resulting from civil violence and troops firing on civilians ensued, but within weeks the revolution had succeeded in stamping out most of the government's influence.
Essex briefly retreated into a number of townships. However, it soon became clear that cooperation would be vital to maintain integrity - the government, for all its shortcomings, had managed to re-establish basic food supply and, in some places, electricity. It only made sense to continue with this cooperation, only under democratic control, and try to rebuild a semblance of the old Britain. Creating a number of councils working on various levels the state managed to put itself back under functioning democratic control, and under its first High Minister, new socialist policies mixed with a limited barter system managed to bring efficiency to new highs and lead to towns flourishing again. By the late 1990s Essex was in the position where it could comfortably begin exercising its power on expeditions and serious border protection measures. This led it to making disastrous first contact with its northern neighbour, Woodbridge, in a brief skirmish in Ipswich. Fortunately diplomacy prevailed and the two nations became strong trading partners; through Woodbridge, Essex learned of the wider world.
The early 2000s saw Essex's economic power continue to grow; being the most populous in the region, it outperformed both of its East Anglian neighbours in terms of productivity of goods - though found itself reliant on grain imports, as its burgeoning population was starting to outstrip supply. This situation set the stage for the latter years of the decade; Essex's desire for expansion brought it into conflict with the xenophobic True British Army in 2008. A short and brutal war followed, but Essex was armed well enough to crushingly defeat the True British Army over a few months, destroying the key town of Luton and their base of operations, Milton Keynes. The True British Army and its patron state, the English National Republic, were briefly destabilised by this, allowing Essex's population to swell with immigrants. The war also created the impetus for the state to make serious progress in a local association with its neighbour states of Woodbridge and East Britain, to form the Organisation of British Nations. Energised by a new sense of national pride Essex's military and political strength became set in stone. As the British identity spread across the OBN states of the time, Essex found itself one the key members of the East Anglian triumvirate, allowing it to contribute heavily - and suffer heavily - in the 2010 Invasions (also known as the Great Anglian War). However, national pride was only inflamed by the sense of sacrifice and martyrdom.
This swelling British identity infused itself into a broad swath of the Essaxon citizenry, leading to a change in the political scene. More zealous and confident politicians - for example, Jim Barker-McCardle - stepped up to challenge High Minister Lee Evans' slow-changing regime. Barker-McCardle and politicians who shared his views proved instrumental in forcing the partial annexation of Hertfordshire. They played to the growing British nostalgia to secure votes in the 2011 elections.
Essex is a mostly rural and low-lying country. The highest point in the entire nation is Botley Hill, located just inside the southern stretch of the M25 and is 269m. The North Downs, which run through Kent and Surrey, contain most of the highest points in Essex. Outside of Kent the highest point is 245m, at a point near the village of Tring on Essex's far-western border.
For the most part Essex is a rural country, and the vast majority of land is intensively farmed and cultivated. Indeed, the pressure for farmland is what drove the expansions in Hertfordshire and Kent. Some forests exist, mostly Epping Forest in northern London, and Farningham Forest, north of Sevenoaks. These are both managed to provide firewood for the nation. The majority of Essex's urbanisation is located in the south of the county of Essex (Southend) and the north of Kent (Chatham), around the Thames Estuary. The largest town by area is Milton Keynes, though it is thinly-populated after the War of 2008; the largest town by population is Essex's capital, Chelmsford. Other major towns are North Colchester, Luton, and Canterbury.
Essex claims the entirety of London though the area is almost entirely abandoned and mostly unexplored. The city is known to be extensively flooded with estimates of up to a dozen nuclear strikes creating long-lasting irradiation issues. These contribute to Essex's absurdly high cancer rates and the nation's lack of any efforts to cultivate inside of the M25.
Much of Essex sits on the London Basin, and as such is particularly rich in chalk and clay, as well and sand and gravel for quarrying. Chalk mining is one of the few industries in the otherwise ruralised Hertfordshire, where the majority of industry has been moved to the economic heartlands of the Chelmsford-Brentwood-Southend triangle, which is the most urbanised and densely populated portion of Essex.
Essex's politics are unusually divergent from the other nations of the former United Kingdom. An unusually high level of importance is placed on working in communes and direct democracy. In order to accommodate several thousand communes of varying size across the nation, the governing system is multi-tiered. The result of this is to make some simple processes quite slow as they filter up and down the correct levels of government, but also builds strong, independent and productive communities.
The current High Minister of Essex is Jim Barker-McCardle, a Southend policeman who was isolated in Kent for a while after Doomsday. Barker-McCardle tends towards a protectionist and mercantilist economic policy and his work tends towards supporting the urban population from which the majority of his votes are drawn. He describes his political moves as the Resolution Policy which supports urban growth, establishment of chartered companies, and cancelling many schemes introduced by his predecessor, Lee Evans. His current term began on June 21st 2011 and will end on June 21st 2014.
Essex remains a vocal member of the Organisation of British Nations, and represents the largest power of the member states both in terms of population. Despite this it is still very dependent on its neighbours, particularly Woodbridge for the supply of military equipment, and Newolland which is one of the main buyers of Essex-produced agricultural equipment.
See Culture of Essex
Essex's cultural life is similar to other nations in Britain, appealing to the overwhelmingly young population with a 'live fast die young' attitude. Due to the high number of refugees and deliberately displaced populations - Essex has a policy of concentrating its urban growth - there is a proliferation of the 'Little London' phenomenon. These are places where populations from various urban areas have been shifted and the gathered communities have assumed names such as 'Little Upminster', 'Little Stratford', 'Little Luton' and so forth.
See Economy of Essex
On June 1st 2010 converted to the New Pound (N£). The New Pound was adopted because of long-standing misgivings around the stability of a bartering economy.
Essex's economy is centred on agriculture and recently its foreign policy has been dedicated to seizing enough territory to provide the food supply for the population. As available land runs out the government has encouraged growth in other parts of the economy to increase buying power for food.
Industry is limited to the heart of Chelmsford and along the Southend Arterial Road, with most other manufacturing equipment from Kent and Hertfordshire being transported to these hubs. Essex trades primarily with other members of the OBN and British survivor states, as well as with the Celtic Alliance. Beyond Britain it also trades with the Nordic Union, Kingdom of Prussia, and Lille-et-Terres-Flamande. Trade deals with North Germany are also being considered.
See Military of Essex.
Essex operates one of the largest militaries in England, owing to its significant population. Historically the army was primarily involved in defence and manning frontiers, but following a large war with the True British Army in 2008 the army saw itself adopt a more aggressive stance. This culminated in the 2010 Invasions and the 2011 conquests of Kent and Hertfordshire, along with combat in Rutland. Under the Resolution Policy the army is being returned to defensive posture with final annexations planned for 2012, with an increased emphasis on engineering.
Essex's navy was no more than a scattered handful of armed yachts until the formation of a more formal system in the 2000s. Between 2009 and 2011 this was supplemented by a number of refitted freighters bought from the Nordic Union which form the new core of the navy. These freighters are more armoured cargo carriers than actual warships; the majority of dedicated combat vessels in the Essaxon navy are littoral gunships or skiffs deployed to defend Kent.
Essex's air force is composed of three airships and a number of hot air balloons for scouting purposes. The oldest of these is the EAS Cavalier, which has seen action in a number of fields. Under the Resolution Policy plans exist to continue construction of a variety of smaller airships.
Essex first made contact with Woodbridge in 2000, and following a minor diplomatic incident the two nations opened their arms to each other, becoming close partners in trade and local militia suppression. From Woodbridge Essex has also learned of the other survivor nations in Britain and the wider world. It is considering requesting access to the League of Nations, mostly to capitalise on foreign trade. Essex is a founding member of the Organisation of British Nations and has played a major part in its expansion and administration since then.
Essex is careful to place its loyalties in foreign countries. For example, it has amicable relationships with both New Britain and the Celtic Alliance, but opposes both on cultural grounds. Essaxon citizens generally stereotype British citizens in New Britain as cowards who couldn't stand up on their own two feet, and whilst they appreciate the economic and political strength represented by the Celtic Alliance many are nervous that the country is trying to replace the old British culture with a Celtic one, and is therefore a threat (a view common throughout nations in the OBN).
Attempting to expand its military Essex has purchased airships from the New Zeppelin Company, based in Prussia, and (following a joint bid with Woodbridge) purchased five old freighters from Sweden and received two as gestures of goodwill from Norway, the same number going to Woodbridge. This caused some concern as the Nordic Union and Prussia have been at odds for several years, but Essex assures that it is not out to make grudges. Essex is currently searching to produce market objects that will hold real value, as the majority of its goods are agrarian in nature and its manufactured goods are of poor quality in comparison to the competition. Because the majority of Essex's usable land has been converted to crop growth it has very little in the way livestock-based products, as these offer insufficient returns on the space invested (a field put over to producing crops will give more food in total than one used for rearing livestock). As such, Essex trades intensely with Woodbridge for livestock-based goods, which the latter country can afford given its smaller population density and subsequently reduced need to maximise the efficiency of every acre of land. However, some steps to self-sufficiency have been taken with the establishment of the Chartered Company of Sheppey.
On June 1st 2010 a ceremony took place to mark the adoption of the New Pound as the official currency of Essex. On the stroke of 1pm Woodbridge's ambassador to Essex walked into a shop in Chelmsford and bought a collection of goods to the value of N£10 with a banknote printed in Woodbridge while at exactly the same time Essex's ambassador to Woodbridge did exactly the same with in Woodbridge with a N£10 note printed in Essex. Speeches were then given by both men stating that this would be the beginning of a new economic era between the two nations. However the speech of the Woodbridge ambassador was interrupted by some hecklers who voiced the opinion that Essex's adoption of the new currency was the first step in an attempt by Woodbridge to gain control of Essex. The protestors were arrested but it did show that not everyone in Essex was completely happy about the move. The ceremonies were the main new story on the radio stations of Woodbridge and Essex that evening and the event was also reported on radio stations in the Celtic Alliance. Despite these initial misgivings the currency has become readily assimilated into the nation's culture and has cemented economic ties between the nations, as well as creating the serious potential for the New Pound to become common currency throughout former England.
On April 5th 2011 delegates from Essex and Southern England began negotiations over the future of Kent, which both nations had expressed an interest in colonising. This culminated in the Invasion of Kent later that year.