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Serendip Belt: History

5068AD The Prime Claim Laws.

As the population of the Belt exploded, so the need for a new governmental structure grew, The discipline of the generation ship broke down when Crew could spend their credits on a small ship and leave for a new life on their very own planetoid.

By 5068AD, there were 150,000 homesteaders living on their very own planetoids. They accounted for 10% of the Belt’s population. Each of the big miniworlds was run as though it were a separate colony ship, by the Captain and the Bridge Crew; but the homesteaders challenged this ancient order. They claimed sole rights to their planetoids and refused to acknowledge the right of the Captains to oversee their activities.

The homesteaders banded together into a handful of Unions. The Unions were a continual thorn in the side of the Captains, who were trying to manage the development of the Belt to suit their own needs.

The Prime Claims agreement was conceived as a solution to this long running problem. It was signed by all of the Captains and by most of the Homesteaders’ Unions. The Agreement established a homesteaders’ prime right to a small planetoid (smaller than 35km in any dimension), provided that they actually lived on it.

The prime claim was a form of limited ownership. It could be sold, and allowed the homesteader to do as she wished on her own property; but it lapsed as soon as she ceased to live there. Bodies larger than 35km were considered too large to homestead. However, the rules were later modified to allow small chunks of larger bodies, and small areas on planets to be homesteaded on the same terms.

The Prime Claim Court was established in 5073AD to adjudicate disagreements. In 5075AD the Court created the “Claims Register”, which recorded every valid prime claim acknowledged by the court.

5092AD Gabriel Declares Independence

Terraforming of the Angels was slowed by wrangles over ownership between the biggest miniworlds. Complex agreements over access rights and visiting rights were negotiated and re-negotiated many times over, for as long as the construction effort continued. The miniworlds saw the Angels as a resource to be divided between themselves; they were considered too important to be allowed to fall into any one Captain’s power.

In 5092AD, Gabriel the first of the Angels, was approaching completion. Its population was already equal to that of the largest miniworlds, yet those people had no voice of their own. The bubbleworld was governed by a fractious council appointed by the Captains of all of the Inner Belt miniworlds. To overturn this unpopular arrangement, the people of Gabriel applied to the Prime Claims Court for homestead rights. Each individual claimed the piece of Gabriel where they lived; the sum amounting to the whole bubbleworld.

The Court deliberated for two years, but eventually declared that the claim was valid. The decision horrified the Inner Belt miniworlds. Many saw Homesteaders as a self-interested, parasitical scourge. And now they’d grabbed the system’s best piece of real estate, constructed at a cost of billions of Inner Belt credits.

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