Dominated by Fort Hades and the Arachnos Watchtower, Port Oakes lies at the heart of Lord Recluse's ocean dominion. A mixture of modern high-rises, sprawling slums, and dubious commerce, Port Oakes is a den of thieves with a history steeped in mass murder.
The pirate known as Blackbeard had just captured the Concorde and rechristened her the Queen Ann's Revenge. He sought a place to test her in battle, and narrowed his choice to one isle in particular with a newly completed French fort. Lacking a full complement of guns, the fort and its French defenders were no match for the bloodthirsty assault made by Blackbeard and his crew.
The overwhelmed soldiers surrendered and asked for quarter, but none was given. The fort became a ghastly scene of mass carnage. Only the sight of a frigate on the horizon ended the massacre. Though the ship never approached the isle, Blackbeard and his crew slipped away, beginning their now infamous course of fire and blood.
When the French finally arrived with the rest of the fort's cannons, they found only death and destruction. Despite the ominous pall that hovered over the isle, the new cannons were installed and the ship's marine complement was left to garrison the fort.
The hauntings began on the very first night. The spirits of the slaughtered French soldiers materialized from the darkness and attacked the marines. The terrified marines left the fort to the ghosts, never to return. Abandoned and haunted, the nameless fort remained relatively unused for over a hundred years. Many bands of pirates sought to use the fort as a refuge, but each time the angry spirits rose with a bloody vengeance. Most of those slain by the phantoms joined their ranks the very next night as lesser spirits. Over time, the original spirits have come to be called 'Red Hands' for the blood that stains their ethereal forms. Their servants are called the 'Night Haunts'.
During the early 19th century, the long-ignored harbor below the fort provided an attractive hiding place for mutinous crews and any other scum looking for a remote place to hide. This community of dregs eventually came to form a village simply called 'Dockside'. The locals tried to occupy the fort on several occasions, but the Red Hands were as relentless as ever.
Finally, an aging Jesuit priest named Padre Gerard Henri took it upon himself to cleanse the fort and lay the spirits to rest. Henri performed a sort of exorcism on the place. When he finally finished the ordeal, the spirits were laid to rest.
Or so it was thought. In truth, the spirits were driven from the fortress only by day. They returned each night with a vengeance.
The settlers on the island used the fort as a residence but had no modern armaments to properly outfit it. Thus the town of Dockside was easy pickings for Sergeant Westin Oakes when he 'lberated' the town in 1901. He rechristened the isle Port Oakes but Dockside itself retained its name. Oakes' followers reoccupied the fort and used it to watch over the murderous scum below. Order was imposed and despite the draconian nature of the new rulers (or more likely because of it), Dockside prospered. The wanton criminals of the town were rounded up and put to use creating a new market for smuggled goods.
The coming of Arachnos was not unwelcome by the people of Dockside. Arachnos provided security against several mercenary, hero, and government agencies who had threatened to clean up Dockside on several occasions. Several new buildings were erected downtown in Arachnos' wake, though construction slowed soon after. Heroes who could no longer directly threaten Dockside instead put pressure on those they did business with overseas; generally derailing anyone who traded with Port Oakes.
Some of that eventually spilled back into Dockside in the late 1980s, so Arachnos occupied and refurbished the old fort to give the crime bosses more tangible protection. They also finally gave it its name: Fort Hades, for it was truly a place of the dead.
Lord Recluse's agents took quick notice of the Red Hands of Fort Hades. They've been studying the ghosts to see if they might be used as a sort of ethereal army. The problem is that the Red Hands are bound to the site of their horrible death. If the spirit-bond could be removed, however, they would make deadly assassins.
At this time, there is no Governor of Port Oakes. The former governor was arrested by Interpol, leaving a power vacuum that has sparked a gang war between his son, Emil Marcone, and his former consigliore, Guido 'the Mooch' Verandi. Emil claims the governorship is his by right of blood. Guido has a more 'enlightened' view and says there's no such thing as bloodlines in Arachnos' republic.
Lord Recluse could easily end this pointless fight if he were simply to appoint a governor. He finds the fight amusing, however, and firmly believes in 'survival of the fittest'. He'll wait and see who earns the governorship. It won't hurt to erode the Family's power a bit in the meantime; they were becoming a bit too strong for Recluse's tastes.