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Serendip Belt: History

5200-40AD Corporate Expansion.

Interworld treaties and tensions, as well as public sentiment, had precluded multi-body government for 50 years. With most habitats committed to free commerce, interworld corporations grew to fill the gap.

The first half of the 53rd Century saw small, local corporations grow into huge multi-body conglomerates, with fingers in every commercial pie.

5241AD The Shard Contract

The government of Shard became increasingly complacent over the decades. But, in 5230AD, it fell into the hands of right-wing modernisers. Many of the government’s services were put out to tender over the next ten years, and the size of the Bridge Crew bureaucracy was cut down to a bare minimum.

In 5241AD, the Serendip Belt Corporation (SBC) was awarded the contract to staff and operate Shard’s defence force. SBC was Shard’s biggest and most important corporation. It already constructed and serviced 90% of the defence force’s equipment, so the contract seemed to be a logical one.

5258AD The Blackshine Affair

Over the following twenty years, SBC won similar contracts with several of the Inner Belt miniworlds. In 5258AD there was a skirmish between SBC forces (on behalf of Harvest) and the “Outer Belt Alliance” over ‘Blackshine’.

The Outer Belt Alliance was a cooperative between Honeycomb, Waystation and other Outer Belt miniworlds. Blackshine was an uninhabited ‘large body’ asteroid in the Outer Belt.

The SBC forces proved themselves to be highly effective in combat. A number of Alliance patrol craft were destroyed, and Harvest’s claim to Blackshine was assured.

A number of defence contracts followed, including Waystation in 5261AD. Shipyard transferred its defence contract from Starways to SBC in 5262AD.

5268AD The Battle of Shard

Despite losing out during the Blackshine Affair, Waystation still moved in mining equipment and started to commercially exploit portions of the asteroid. Harvest had awarded the Blackshine mining contract to SBC, and the corporation’s operations were adversely affected by the illegal competition from Waystation.

In 5267AD the Commerce Council declared an embargo against Waystation, for its illegal mining activities on Blackshine. SBC successfully lobbied its home government, and Shard decided to enforce the Commerce Council’s decision by destroying the offending mining operation. Despite warnings, Waystation personnel were not evacuated. 1500 were killed when the base was attacked by SBC fighters; part of the Shard defence force.

Waystation dispatched fighters to strike Shard in retaliation. Both Waystation and Shard had awarded their defence contracts to SBC. So Shard was both attacked, and defended by SBC personnel! Waystation’s target was port facilities and refineries used to support Shard’s mining operations on Blackshine. Many of these facilities were owned by SBC itself.

The SBC fighters fought bravely against one another. Shard had far more defences than Waystation knew about, but Waystation’s fighters won through, against the odds. The targets were successfully destroyed.

After two years of legal wrangling, the Commerce Council declared that the Serendip Belt Corporation had conducted itself “entirely properly” throughout the crisis. They had acted wholly impartially, and had not hesitated to destroy their own assets when required to do so. Consequently, SBC won many more defence contracts from Miniworlds impressed by their handling of the Blackshine Affair.

Waystation on the other hand, was condemned. They found themselves a virtual pariah amongst the Belt community. In 5271AD the government of Waystation decided to contract out the operation of their foreign policy to the Serendip Belt Corporation. This unprecedented decision opened the way for a whole new chapter in the history of the Belt.

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