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by Eamon Watters

Beltan (1218) was run by the Solomani Navy prior to the Collapse, and the Base Commander, Garlos Yehina was also titular System Governor. When word was heard of the Collapse he was able to secure the Base Computers and Infonet. While all hell broke loose on Beltan, he consolidated his hold on the system. After mopping up rogue fleet elements in the system he focused his attention fully on the planet. Analysis from orbit showed which Co-ordinating computers were going amok, Meson strikes eliminated them. With the Virus's havoc confined to smaller, less capable computers and robots he sent Marines down to work with local forces to contain the damage. Strongholds were eliminated by orbital strikes, but within a year of the Collapse all major Virus infestations were wiped out. The next fifteen years were hard ones, starvation, guerrilla warfare from the Robots, unrest in the populace - but by the end of it Beltan was growing again.

Study on the Virus also provided Beltan with a weapon against the Virus - the Invader. This weapon projected multiple copies of the Virus into specific areas of a computer, they would instantaneously start fighting the Host - and themselves. The end result was a computer pockmarked with Virii, but with each isolated behind protective firewalls. Then the computer could be purged of the Virii using a deactivation code, the original Virus excised, and after reconstructive work an operating, but less effective computer resulted, protected by the 'Watchdog' virus strain as well as normal isolation procedures. By 1146 recovery of Relic technology was enabling all fleet elements to operate near perfectly. However, 1146 also saw the arrival of the first elements of a Hiver Vampire Fleet.

The Home Fleet was able to keep the Vampires from Beltan - but Yehina knew they'd be back. He Instituted his plan codenamed 'Turbulent Times'. Fleet scouts were sent into neighbouring systems, and waited powered down until they detected the approach of a large fleet - then they were to jump to Beltan and inform Fleet Control. A year and a half after the first scouts were sent out, the Scout Elric jumped insystem and announced the approach of a large Hiver Fleet. They made for the inner Gas Giant, Ar Maka, and defeated the puny attempt of the SDB's to stop them. The Larger ships dropped down to refuel, while their escorts took high guard. Halfway through the refuelling their monitors read massive explosions as the first of Beltan's Starburst mines detonated, smashing most of the Hiver Ships to pieces. Those not destroyed outright were sent tumbling into the crushing depths of the planet. The Beltanian Fleet, cued by the Elric started closing on the escorts left in orbit. Some tried to refuel and jump out before the engagement - but more Starbursts, guided to their target by monitoring posts on the Giant's Moon The rest gave good account of themselves, but with Yehina directing the battle from the Bridge of the Flagship Hebernia, they were outclassed. In days all Vampires in the system were destroyed, and Yehina returned home - to a welcome fit for a deity. The trouble that had been brewing in the younger generation, those not alive when Yehina saved Beltan before, evaporated.

It was the start of the Golden Times.

Yehina changed the government to allow more free enterprise, and set up an advisory council, consisting of Industrial, Commercial and Public notables to help form policy on non-military matters.

By 1157 Beltan's Merchants had visited most of the worlds within 10 parsecs of Beltan. The Naval Base at Alexandria had been reactivated, and the Starport at Leiby renovated for voyages to anti-spinward, where most of the profitable trade was. There, worlds such as Assinibola and Orichalc traded Hi-Tech goods of their own manufacture for that of Beltan, and by 1168 Beltan's Tech Level rose to B.

In 1173 the Yehina tried to destabilise the Assinibolan Government, and install one that would accept closer ties with Beltan. This went terribly wrong, with the faction he was supporting turning to acts of vile terrorism to try and win the day. They were fighting a loosing battle though. A Beltan Merchant ship recovered the empire's agents and the Rebel Leaders in 1174 - but it was intercepted and destroyed by Assinibolan Naval Vessels. When word of this reached Yehina he ordered a retaliatory strike - but it was defeated by an unexpectedly powerful Naval force.

Yehina was furious - after having the force Commander executed he ordered all Beltanian Vessels to stay within two parsecs of Beltan. The Empire would spend it's resources developing a powerful core of worlds, and would not give succour to it's enemies with trade. The Advisory Council was dissolved - as it had been responsible for getting the Empire into this situation. The only ships that left the 2-parsec boundary were Naval vessels on patrol or recovery missions, and Beltanian Traders on recovery missions, some of which were officially sanctioned, others not.

With the agreement of the Commander of the Naval Base at Alexandria the Merchants started diverting a small number of the recovery ships that would comb Garnadon for relics to the coreward reaches of the Subsector. Good trade relations were started with some of the states on Abide, and some trade in Tech Level B goods was conducted on Perdu, Eden and Kranak.

With the general degradation of Beltan's tech level to A by 1186, trade with Perdu dried up, and the Merchants were restricted to trade with Abide, Eden and Kranak.

Meanwhile, Beltan's empire grew to encompass the systems within 2 parsecs of her. Settlements were started on Leiby and Clerkson in 1179 - for the purpose of eventually strengthening the area bordering Assinibola. On the other side of the Empire, increasingly profitable trade in agricultural products on Werldt attracted Yehina's attention.

When Bakarish Nefud, the major TED of that world destroyed a Beltanian Trader in 1185 the Empire's forces intervened, smashing his forces and installing a Governor in his place. Then Darukaash Zen and it's alien inhabitants were incorporated in 1189. Blenkinsop was incorporated in 1182. Yehina was content with these holdings, and save for occasional support for the more open nations on Freiwelt, was content with his dominions.

He was not happy with the state of affairs on Beltan however. Technical recovery had stalled - there was not enough relic material being brought back from the wild. What was worse was that missions to Grkaan Loc and Newton and Beta Silab had failed to bring back enough equipment to restore the Naval starport to class 'A'. Missions to Drydock were repulsed with high losses.

Yehina was becoming more and more repressive, and no one seemed willing, or capable to do anything about it. Fate seemed to take a hand though. Late in 1199, whilst being shuttled down from the Naval Base to the Starport Yehina's Shuttle suffered an engine malfunction. He ordered the pilot to make for a remote airstrip instead of the Starport for fear of inflicting damage on the civilian area about it. They bled too much speed off trying to divert to the airstrip, and crashed. the resultant conflagration killed Yehina and all personnel on board. A tyrant for too long, he died a hero.

His second in command, Sub-Admiral Ferd Jesos took the reins of power, and reformed the Advisory Council, giving them control over the economy. Currently an independent judiciary is being established, and already the Citizens are seeing a great reduction in the scrutiny they have to live with. Increased trade, especially with Assinibola, has enabled Beltan to reach TL-B again. Beltan is booming.

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