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Baldur, formerly Heppling, is a part of the Xezor Main, a group of eight worlds, stretching from Meadsk in Thoezennt subsector to Baldur in Oriflamme subsector.
Heppling was settled in 914 by several nations on the balkanised world of
L'Steich (Old Expanses 1333), under the aegis of the L'Steich
World Government (LWG) - an organisation that regulated that planets
off-world relations and enterprises. Heppling was the second colony world
of L'Steich, the first, Bestor (Old Expanses 1131) being settled in 661,
as a collaborative effort by several nations. They hoped that the effort
of conquering a new world would draw the fractious world together, and
these hopes were realized, leading to the formation of the LWG in 682.
L'Steich underwent an economic boom as formerly warring nations
co-operated in commercial and technical ventures. By the early 900's the
boom was slowing, for although L'Steich had reached TL E, dominating its
surrounding area, resources in its system weren't enough to sustain its
dominance. Bestor needed high tech support to sustain its own growth too.
The LWG looked for another system to exploit. It found the system 409-561,
two parsecs distant, with plenty of in-system resources.
The mainworld was a garden in comparison to L'Steich -having no Ammonia oceans, from which L'Steich got its name. But it was almost completely covered in water. Although surface temperatures were reasonable, the atmosphere, containing little oxygen, and too much nitrogen - was unbreathable. In addition, its tectonics were vigorous, driven by its 1.48G gravity, the water was laden with metal ion salts, as was the air. A dip in the sea in most places would poison anyone in a short time. Still, the minerals exposed by the tectonics were valuable, and the world could be economically exploitable at TL C. The world was named Heppling, after Adon Heppling - the first LWC Prime Minister, and colonisation commenced in 917.
The taming of Heppling was hard, many settlements foundered in the gales that periodically lashed the planet's surface, more were damaged severely by earthquakes, but by late 1067 the planet was providing a modest return to the LWG, and immigration to Heppling far outweighed that to the vacuum world of Bestor. Political stability was high - locals were given representation in the LWG, and had their own Home Rule Assembly. The L'Steich World Navy maintained an SDB base on the 4th planet, Snowball. This protected not only the Heppling system, but allowed free passage for ships insystem - no matter what L'Steichian government they belonged to. The 5th planet, Harmony, maintained an observation base of the L'Steich Mediation Council, which was set up to mediate fairly between the disparate nations on that world. Any trouble in the Heppling system would be sure to draw both LWN SDBs and LMC observers. This double cover ensured that any national friction on L'Steich didn't spill over into its colony system. The same could not be said for the world of Heppling itself. With only basic law enforcement, incidents between nations on L'Steich could lead to small, but vicious confrontations between their settlements - often over before LWN marines could arrive to separate the combatants.
One event in 1054 put a stop to most of these petty conflicts - the Bolivar blockade. This started, as ever, on L'Steich. A Nuevo Colamban shuttle was shot down by aerospace forces of the Helenic Kingdom, after deviating from its flight path onto a collision course with the Royal Yacht Zeus, with King Alixander IX and his entourage on board. Military incidents escalated after this, until examination of the wreck of the shuttle uncovered that the shuttle had been hijacked by terrorists. After intense diplomatic efforts on the part of the LMC and the LWG the two combatants declared a truce, and settled back to the normal order of things - hurling abuse at each others representatives on the floor of the LWG assembly.
In the Heppling settlement of Bolivar the reaction to the incident was much more extreme, due to the fact that the shuttle's passengers were bound for Bolivar. Luis Alvador, the charismatic leader of Bolivar's town council organised a military strike by the settlement militia on the Hellenic mining settlement of Larisa. On 02/08/54 Larisa's hull integrity was destroyed by a 'runaway' sub, and all of the 213 inhabitants present died. What seemed to be a terrible accident was revealed to be mass murder on examination of the submarine's computer. Bolivar's complicity was revealed when one of its militia members confessed to her part in the deed.
Bolivar was given an ultimatum by the Heppling Home Rule Assembly, backed by the LWN and LMC - surrender Luis Alvador at once, or face a blockade. This was refused by the settlement. After 201 days and 215 deaths due to the blockade effects Alvador was surrendered to the government. After a lengthy trial he was sentenced to death, and those who took part in the massacre had all possessions confiscated and were sentenced to state labour for life. Before the sentences could be carried out, the Ambassador for the Hellenic Kingdom suggested more apt sentences.
They were: that the settlement of Bolivar would become the joint property of the Hellenic Kingdom, the surviving relatives of the dead Larisans, and any persons in Bolivar judged blameless. Those sentenced to life labour would work instead to return Larisa to a habitable state, and after doing so be free to pick up what was left of their lives. Alvador would do the most demeaning and dangerous work that this task required, and then be deported to Nuevo Colamba. The Nuevo Colamba government protested - but they couldn't resist the public sentiment on Heppling.
In addition, the assembly declared that:
(1) All settlement militias would come under assembly control.
(2) Any more incidents like the Larisa Massacre would lead to the guilty settlements being depopulated - and their inhabitants returned to their planet of origin.
(3) The assembly reserved the right to monitor the proceedings of the settlement councils on Heppling, and overturn any local ordinance or decision adopted by said councils by a majority vote in the assembly.
Over the next few years Heppling grew from a mildly fractious colony to a well ordered and co-ordinated one. LWG estimates of the economic independence date of the colony was revised down from 1135 to 1122 - unfortunately the Rebellion interrupted this.
When the Solomani began their push into the Old Expanses in 1116, L'Steich adopted a 'refuel and go' policy. All vessels were allowed free passage through their systems - as long as the system mainworlds were avoided. With the voluntary incorporation of the Old Expanses into the Solomani Confederation, L'Steich's resources were put on a full war footing supplying ships and armaments to the new Solomani bases in the Expanses. L'Steich and its two colonies re-formed as an independent Solomani state - the L'Steich Federation. This weathered the war well, being deep enough in the sector to avoid the devastating strikes of the Black War, and also having enough resources in its systems to maintain its tech level during the Hard Times, which didn't hit Solomani space as hard as the Imperials.
Even though they had advanced warning of the virus in 1130, L'Steich didn't have enough time to prepare its TL-16 environmental systems for it. One by one each nations life support systems failed. L'Stechian vessels jumped for Bestor and Heppling, looking for a refuge from the madness. Those that reached Bestor found a dead world, habitats open to the vacuum of space. Heppling was struggling against the breakdowns - but surviving. Its massive C-class orbital Starport, designed to accommodate and train up to 100,000 colonists at one go took in the refugees from L'Steich, and the few that arrived from Bestor. After processing they were assigned to wherever on Heppling their expertise was needed most. Many Baldurians believe that this extra help enabled them to survive the collapse.
The first few years after the Final War were hard ones, ships sent to investigate L'Steich and Bestor disappeared without trace, entire settlements succumbed to the planet's environment. Eventually Heppling stabilised its systems. Most outlying settlements were closed, some by force, so that their systems, power couplings and power lines could be put to better use maintaining the systems in the more geographically compact equatorial region.
To aid in such internal scavenging missions the government set up the office of procurement, tasked to ensure that Heppling's resources were put to the best use for its people. The Proctors, as the office's personnel came to be known, had the right to 'borrow' any equipment they deemed necessary for Heppling's survival. Only the Premier or a 90% vote in Parliament could rescind one of their orders.
In 1152 shoddy repair work at VenKlemst Industries' Accommodation Block at their Low7 Fusion Plant resulted in the deaths of 57 technicians and their families. The subsequent proctor investigation found that Herbe VenKlemst had been siphoning off money marked for the plant's operational budget to fund his extravagant lifestyle. They appropriated VenKlemst Industries, and put the scientists, technicians and administrators employed there in charge.
VenKlemst pulled all the political strings he could and got the order overturned by the Premier. Soon parliament was debating the dissolution of the Proctors. During the final debate all power was cut to the Parliament Buildings - except that routed to the Video screens. On them appeared Marlena Goltbloc, the government Chief Scientist, Harald Fukiyama, the head of the Technician's League, and Albina Vondrol, the Chief Proctor. They accused the Government and Parliament of putting the rights of a privileged few over that of the planet's people, thus proving their unsuitability for office. They announced the formation of the Council of Science - whose members would each be responsible for a vital part of Heppling's infrastructure - and be qualified to administer their duties. Parliament's authority was rescinded, and elections were announced to an advisory assembly to keep the council in touch with the Public's opinion.
Premier Cusberson escaped and tried to mobilise the militia - but the technicians had shut down their bases. He then made a stirring appeal for the people to march on parliament to reclaim it from the tyranny of the 'unelected technocrats'. The people marched on Parliament - to support the Council of Science. Cusberson eventually gave in and announced the 'official' dissolving of parliament, and then stood down.
Today, Baldur has enjoyed 50 years of relative stability under the
Council's smooth rule. Classed as a Feudal Technocracy, the government
rules for the good of its people, not the aggrandisement of an isolated
class, like on Oriflamme. Many citizens resent the planet's designation as
a Feudal Technocracy by the RC, but the Council finds it helpful, as the
centrist nature of that bloc means Baldur gets more help as a member.
The official reason the RC gives for Baldur's political definition is the
outright ownership and control of many corporations by individuals who
inherited them. The real reason was because of Baldur's centrist stance.
All assets in the system are overseen by the council, and technocrats run
their domains only if they run them well. The owners of such assets are a
varied bunch, some inherited them from their families, others because
they were the sole remaining authority for the L'stechian governments
who owned them.
There is a good deal of democratic government on the planet. The settlement councils still exist, and members are elected by universal suffrage and proportional representation. Each council sends at least one representative to the outer circle of the Science Council's advisory assembly. The outer circle can bring up topics for discussion in the inner circle of the assembly, but cannot vote on the inner circles proceedings. The Inner Circle is selected by a proportional representation vote. In large settlements the whole settlement elects one member to a seat, smaller settlements group themselves into voting blocks, by decision of their councils, and elect a member to a seat. The inner council controls planetary transportation, welfare, medaid, immigration and emigration, law enforcement, Settlement-Government relations, and industrial and infrastructure development. It can also make recommendations and pleas to the Council of Science. The speaker of the assembly is the head of the largest party, and any motion needs only a simple majority to pass.
Political parties on Baldur include the Federal Front, Centrist League, the Empty Stars Alliance, the L'Steich Federal Party, and the Voice of the Dispossessed. Terrorists associated with the latter occasionally target council offices in protest at the forcible closures of outlying settlements in the 1140's. Their eventual aim is to reopen these settlements, some wish to set up their own state.
The Council of Science consists of 17 members, and controls defence, taxation, space transport, space habitats and industry, power production, mineral exploitation, biological research and technology, physics research and technology, chemical research and technology, engineering research and technology, exploration and colonisation, foreign affairs, and Proctor control. The Chief Scientist is the chairperson of the Council, with the Head of the Technicians League and Chief Proctor as vice-chairpersons.
In interstellar relations Baldur is strongly Centrist, and has close links with Oriflamme, but only because they both support the centralisation of the Coalition. Many in the Science Council despise Oriflamme's obsession with personal aggrandisement, and Proctor Intelligence suggests that Oriflamme's Technarchs are bypassing the auction somehow, enabling them to profit more from their recovery missions. But this also means they avoid the associated salvage bills, possibly denying Baldur the equipment they need to grow and prosper. Once the council has amassed enough evidence it intends to confront Oriflamme privately and demand it stop. An additional requirement will be that Oriflamme will have to support Baldur's plan for the upgrade of its starport to B-class standards in the RC assembly. They want this because, although Baldur's starport is a massive facility, with berthing available for over 1 million tons of ships, and repair facilities to sustain them, it cannot manufacture spaceships or starship hulls, or conduct quick jump drive overhauls. The government fears that with Oriflamme's imminent upgrade to an A-class port, and the possibility that Nike Nimbus' starport may regain its pre-collapse B-class, Baldur's auction, the second largest in the RC, will be hit as ships divert to Nike Nimbus or Oriflamme.