What is now universally known as TDCorp territory started out as one of the first "colonies" carved out around the time of the discovery of Nova vexillium, a.k.a. the New Continents; one of the best known results of this is New Armatirion, which at first actually was bigger than the mother country, and which has a big part in Vexillian modern history as the cradle of today's Westria. It was with no small degree of surprise that the international community as it then was received the news that St. Kilda, heretofore an unassuming mercantile republic best known as an offshore tax haven, announced its intention to participate in this, the first of the "land grabs" which have peppered our world's history. Not only did Phillip, the Gingach (Chief of Government) of pacific St. Kilda, suddenly reveal an imperialist streak, but he decided to exercise it in a most unexpected place; a subtropical floodplain in southern Melania, where there was not a hill to be seen and where the climate must have seemed suffocating, given that at the time a luxuriant rain forest covered everything but the farthest reaches of the territory, right up to the foothills of the great Afrazurean volcano.
This did not stop the enterprising St. Kildan ruling class, who found that the climatic obstacle was easily overcome with large infusions of a commodity which was to be indelibly incorporated into the enclave's destiny: money. In these less sensitive times, little heed was paid to environmental issues as the coast was relentlessly developed into a tourist haven for St. Kilda's citizens (hungry as they were for sun, heat and calm seas, so different from their storm-tossed island); the discovery of substantial quantities of exploitable minerals in the hills which made up the border with backward Kalesthesia gave an additional push to development along what quickly became the Coastal Road Project, branching out into these hills (now part of the Zacarías Blanco de la Barra Free Trade Zone).
One might ask, what of the native population? The answer was: there wasn't much of it. Some small population centers along the coast were all that remained of the great Mixtuptecan migration that folklore and ancient scrolls found at archeological sites deep in the jungle said had taken place from mythical Xochimecatlan to the current Mixtupteca homeland in San Patricio. Somehow, this southern remnant called the Chilango kept working links with the more numerous nucleus farther north, mainly through commercial exchanges in which the fish form bountiful Chilangan waters played an important role. This experience in commercial dealings and the maritime mindset of the Chilangos predisposed them towards good relations with the St. Kildans, who found them good partners and hard bargainers.
Thus, the colonial experience in the territory (which was now referred to as Otago, a name steeped in antique St. Kildan overtones, even though its exact meaning in that language was ever unknown, as was the reason why the St. Kildans named the territory so) was very different from the Vexillian commonplace; armed force was nearly absent, as was any feeling of inequality between two peoples who struggled together against a jungle alien to both. Chilangan adaptability and cunning soon became legendary, as did St. Kildan stubbornness and strength in the face of adversity. Intermarriage further diluted the differences that may have existed at first, to a degree perhaps equalled only in that other Mixtuptecan stronghold, the Union of San Patricio. The mercantile republic saw no reason to alter its laisser-faire, democratic approach to government, and so an Otagan Mod in the motherland's image was formed, which lustrally sent a representative to the Thane (Chief of State). The representative was usually elected form among the Bank of St. Kilda's employees with Otagan experience; that soon came to mean the majority of them, as the Bank was an important part of the enclave's prosperity, and its office the de facto seat of government, as its other offices were the de facto St. Kildan diplomatic presence in other Vexillian countries. This early experience with self-government was to be most important in the historic development of the territory.
The northern Melanian territory ehich is now part of the Union was to play another role in the colony's history; that of an almost inexhaustible labor reserve. The road and mining projects soon exhausted the never plentiful St. Kildan immigrant reserves, as well as the numbers of enterprising Chilangos; these last soon found that their relatives in the mountainous Chichén Mixtup were very willing to spend a season working for good St. Kildan puffins, if ships could be found that made the trip. Ships (mainly St. Kildan) were found, and the Mixtuptecans came, in their thousands, to bulid a modern nation out of the jungle. There are historical evidences that point to a collective Chilango slap in the forehead and a great cry of "Why didn't we think of this before?". Such are the vagaries of History.
Into this Melanian paradise a few serpents (not related to the magnificent specimens of tropical fauna now seen in ecotourism ventures) must crawl; and so it happened that in the course of the mad expansion fueled by the Bank of St. Kilda's ever-growing appetite for Otagan profits, the foothills of the Afrazurean Massif were finally opened to settlement and exploitation. The terrain was radically different from the rest of Otago; here was born the greatest Otagan river, the Zanjasmeo, and here, finally, was a place the St. Kildan soul could relate to: wind, snow, crags, snug valleys, small, colorful flowers and limpid blue skies, far above the ever-present clouds of the jungle. The relative remoteness of the place and the relative absence (at first) of economically important mineral deposits made this far northwestern corner of St. Kilda's tropical empire a world apart; a place of self-sufficent, hardy sheepherders that transplanted their mountain lifestyle whole, and adapted it to the humongous scale the new territory afforded. One of them, a half-brother of the then Gingach, Phillip, managed to own enough land to equal one of the Isles in area. Over the years, the area around the Massif came to be known as Welfenia, after the ancient St. Kildan name for the abundant wolves that made life difficult for the great stationmasters.
Time also meant a reinforcement of isolation, for the Welfenians, as they became known, did not place much importance on contacts with their brothers in lower elevations; the great mining concessions in what was then known as the Frontier absorbed all the mutton and wool they could turn out, and exports through the curvy and difficult road to the coast were never more than a token amount to satisfy their longing for contact with the motherland. This led to the formation of two distinct cultural groups: the coastal entrepreneurs, clustered around the beach resorts and the Otagan capital (also named Otago), who cultivated contacts round the Vex, made possible by the Bank's insistence on the most modern telecommunications technology, and who quickly coalesced into what could be termed a corporate consciousness separate from the nominal St. Kildan "headquarters", and the Welfenian landed aristocracy, who cultivated values much more related to feudal lords of Vexillium's past history, and who were soon to clash with the rest of the Vex.
The enclave prospered, and with it St. Kilda; The Bank's services were increasingly in demand due to its proverbial discretion and its seemingly miraculous ability to multiply investors' capital, due to the opportunities Otago's status as a rapidly modernizing society afforded. The Frontier mines, now the second greatest population center in the territory, soon demanded more of the Welfenian ranches than could be produced, and this situation was remedied at first in the time-honored St. Kildan mountain manner: by taking more land to raise more sheep, as had been done for centuries in the unfenced fastnesses of the Isles. After all, so went the Welfenian reasoning, nobody's on the other side... no matter that the other side did not belong to St. Kilda, but to the mysterious Wwww... who were never there to complain, or to advise of their presence or suzerainty. This expedient course of action was soon derailed by a most distressing outcome, that of the death of all sheep sent to graze north of the hitherto little-noticed border. What was at first a minor nuisance soon took on the greatest of imports, as the mines' ravenous hunger and punctilious scheduling meant great trouble for even one sheep lost. When station hands sent to find the carcasses failed in turn to report back home, the Welfenian ranchers united in their wrath and decided to send an armed party to whomever was in charge on the "other side" and demand prompt redress. All this, of course, without recourse to the colonial authorities in Otago, or to the motherland... as was the immemorial custom in the isolated highlands of the Isles.
The return of one pitiful survivor, whose rants of “just punishment" “smiting of our guilty souls", and the gruesome tale of his companions’ fate at the hands of the wolves and the unknown, invisible but apparently hostile Wwww were horrible enough to be memorialized in writing, galvanized the ranchers into radical action; the richest of them traveled post haste to Otago capital with a terrible embassy; a motion tabled before the territorial Mod to start immediate military action against Wwww with what forces were available in the colony, and his likewise immediate request to the St. Kildan government to send the Constabulary’s best men in support of this action, and to exact reparations and solemn guarantees that the “peaceful conduct of business" would not be so rudely interrupted again. All this backed by undisguised blackmail: should the Mod refuse to support the motion, an embargo would be declared which would deprive the mines of all wool and sheep byproducts from Welfenia.
The Mod, used to the ranchers’ rather explosive collective mien, decided to await response from the Isles; meanwhile, the ranchers’ representative had already boarded a plane to St. Kildaport, where his pleas fell on surprisingly friendly ears: those of his half-brother, the Gingach. Together, they managed to influence the motherland’s parliament to not only grant the rancher’s request (whose character can be understood by reminding oneself that St. Kilda proper’s population was only 3,000, and the St. Kilda Regiment’s strength at the time only 250), but to demand from the Wwww free transit and economic rights in an area roughly equivalent to the total surface area of Otago as it was then, as a preparatory measure to outright annexation of what a paroxysmal Gingach called “Greater Welfenia".
This second imperialist phase in St. Kilda’s history ended in unmitigated disaster; the mutterings of discomfort heard in Otago capital when the Klagstein jumbos full of armed men arrived turned into heated argument by telephone when the entire Regiment, plus a considerable force recruited from among the biggest companies’ sizable security elements, was annihilated by… an enemy who nobody could see, nobody could fight, an enemy that waited until Welfen Pass was out of visual range to attack under cover of night… an enemy that first drove mad those it would destroy.
The disgruntled Otagan elite (by now joined by a few of the smaller ranchers who were suffering from the embargo) soon suffered a body blow when the Wwww government, aided by the then-powerful state of Mauretanie, denounced the whole scheme before the recently-created UNV and demanded an immediate end to the St. Kildan aggression. The scheme’s naked imperialist nature met instant disapproval from all nations in the Vex, and heavy sanctions followed, in a show of international solidarity seldom seen in Vexillian history; most of these sanctions were bilateral, and due to the political composition of the New Continents at the time (297 AP), almost all Melania was closed to Otagan business, along with most of the great nations of the Vex at that time. The unexpected Vexwide relevance of what had begun as a quiet semi-private land grab precipitated two simultaneous crises in Otago and, most importantly, in St. Kilda.
Outrage now infused those Otagan captains of industry who boarded the plane meant for a victorious Regiment, and who, exercising a right seldom claimed by a St. Kildan citizen: that of Haro, direct recourse to the Thane, demanded the dismissal and imprisonment of the government and the members of the two Mod, in the territory as well as the motherland, on charges of general corruption and high treason. This unprecedented demand was supported by an important part of St. Kildan society, especially those who had lost relatives in the Regiment, more so when the relationship between the ranchers’ representative and the then Gingach was fully exposed. The St. Kildan Government fell by a majority vote; however, the Gingach still held enough political power to gather a numerous faction to his cause, and the Mod was not dissolved. St. Kildan society was split evenly across the middle, and the then Thane, a man given to compromise, did not achieve anything like a majority consensus on a course of action to follow.
The political instability was compounded by the extension of sanctions to St. Kilda proper, a measure that in effect led to the failure of the entire governmental structure save for those functions the Bank of St. Kilda provided. The country disappeared from the Vexmap, in a very peculiar sort of anarchy: there were no riots or chaos, only the widespread ignoring of all government orders. The government, now paralyzed by the internal divisions between those who still recognized the old Gingach and those who insisted the authority rested with the Mod, was further immobilized by the absence of any coercitive element; the St. Kilda Constabulary had early on declared a “work stoppage" on all activities not directly related to what crime existed on the Isles, and the Coast Guard went on strike after the Welfen disaster, refusing likewise to obey all orders and concentrating on rescue activities. Moreover, the Bank announced that the only orders its personnel in foreign branches would obey were those of its shareholders and private depositors; in effect, the Bank carried out a silent coup d’Etat, as it effectively seized all government funds.
The Otagan representatives returned to the territory expecting anything but the breakdown that followed; this breakdown was felt in Otago as a gradual disappearance of all St. Kildan influence in the territory’s day-to-day affairs, starting with the very visible police and health services, whose personnel had been hurriedly pressed into Welfenian service and who now lay bleaching under the relentless desert sun. Justice soon followed, as the cases remanded to the motherland languished for months without resolution; even the hitherto reliable telecom link began to falter, and soon only the Bank had word of what was happening in far-off Longerath.
The “state of war" with Wwww was one of the breakdown’s first casualties; nobody even bothered to call it off, but the sanctions remained, and with them the animosity toward a motherland that seemed to have cut Otago adrift. The distressing news from the Isles combined with the increasing reliance on corporate services to produce a novel idea in the minds of those heads of the Federation of Otagan Industry that had made the trip to St. Kildaport: privatization.
But first, there was the Welfenian mess to clean up. In what was the first non-governmental action in the territory, the Bank of St. Kilda’s branch manager announced the recall to Otago capital of all armed persons as remained in the vicinity of Welfen Pass and the immediate restoration of the recognized border with Wwww. The recently elected head of the Pastoral Council (Otago), chosen to replace the ex-Gingach’s half-brother, issued a formal apology to the Wwww government at the same time and pledged a substantial amount in wool and Christianan crowns to redress any damages that may have been caused in the course of the “conflict". The UNV was asked to mediate in any discussions, and a request for peacekeeping forces was made.
The Vexwide response was unexpectedly friendly, given the circumstances; sanctions were totally lifted by almost all involved nations, and those who didn’t made partial removals; the Wwww government refused observers and reparations, accepting the apology and warning only of further disasters should their border be breached again. Nobody seemed to have noticed that all these exchanges had taken place vis-à-vis an entity that held no sovereign power according to Vexillian international law as was then understood.
This extraordinary course of events led to a consensus among the Otagan captains of industry in favor of privatization, which in turn led to a series of secret consultations with the King of Cruisiana, the UNVSC and the organization’s Secretary General in which the possibility of a private corporation having sovereign powers was raised and found to be compatible with the current international consensus.
With international approval secure, the Federation of Otagan Industry tabled a proposal for privatization before the territorial Mod in October 298; the legislative body, discredited by its support for the Welfenian disaster and its inability to provide a stable government since the fall of the motherland’s authorities, duly approved its own demise when faced by a united front of the colony’s real power brokers. The Federation then did something totally unexpected: it organized a referendum on privatization, appealing to all the territory’s inhabitants to become part of a historic experiment in Vexillian history; the abolition of government, and the hiring of private individuals to provide these services.
In the absence of both an effective government and of an organized opposition to the proposal, November 298 saw the widespread approval of the privatization plan, which offered an additional sweetener; instant “citizenship" for anyone able to prove 3 months’ residence (a sop to immigrant Mixtuptecans fleeing recent disorder in what was then Maurétanie) and a share in any profits the new corporation would make at a later date.
Thus the stage was set for December 3, 298. In a low-key ceremony held at the Bank of St. Kilda (Otago), Lachlan Machrihanish, branch manager (and sole St. Kildan authority in Otago for more than a year) and a guard of his personnel saluted the St. Kildan national flag and the Government flag, and then lowered and removed the Government flag, symbolizing the end of St. Kildan government power in former Otago. The flag was in turn folded and given to the branch vault officer, who then boarded a Bank armored car to the capital’s airport, from where he would be flown to St. Kildaport. As the vault officer left the building, Mr. Machrihanish introduced Juan A. López, head of the Federation of Otagan Industry, to whom he handed a copy of the Otago Mod Decree on Privatization, as a symbol of the transfer of sovereign power. After a handshake and the traditional Otagan hug and pat on the back, Mr. López approached a microphone placed in the Bank’s lobby and announced to the people and the Vex:
“As of this day the privatization of former Otago has concluded. The Trade and Development Corporation is now responsible for delivering basic market stability per its charter. To all of us in this new venture: good luck and much profit".