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The Belt is far more complex than anyone really gives any credit for. A myriad of mining claims, refineries and small colonies dot the thousands of objects that make up the belt and it is one of the administrative nightmares of modern times. People will generally only go to the belt for three reasons: they want to get rich, they want to break the law or they want to become lost, and sometimes they try for more than one at once.

Mining, therefore, is a risky business, far be it from actually being a simple process anyway and, while the belt is not as dense as some would have you believe, it is sufficiently isolated that most ships run armed as a precaution. The actual threat of being boarded has dropped like a rock over recent years, due to the ongoing war on piracy, but it is traditional for even merchant shipping to own weaponry, though with the control laws so strict, and not having been updated for about twenty years, these guns can rarely penetrate the modern hulls without some ‘modifications’.

The larger corporations have several roving foundries, some larger than the asteroids themselves, refining the detritus in the belt for export, but there is also an old habit of attaching rockets to the rocks and firing them gently into terrestrial orbit, a practice that has been on the way out recently due to the bad PR more than any actual risks. Smaller, private, mining efforts are more traditional, with the classic drill bit method and then carting the rocks for refining, and the corporate vessels form their own local hub for the independents in this regard.

There is a lot of legal preamble that goes along with the asteroid belt and ownership, but I won’t go into that, mostly because I don’t understand enough about law to really model it properly, not to mention it would probably be phenomenally boring. Never the less, there is very much a, it’s mine unless you’re willing to do something about it, attitude among the belters and skirmishes do break out on occasion, though this is much rarer now that it was in the golden days.

Colonies in the belt are no where near as developed as the planetary ones, being purely private funded ventures. They ironically have a far more complete biosphere than the governmental ones, but most would just say a hollowed out cave lined with grav’ panels does not constitute an ecosystem. These colonies are technically independent nations, with no particular ties to any faction, and no faction is particularly interested in them as they constitute no tactical or economic advantage. The larger of these colonies tend to either be aspirational settlements or tax havens and there has been much debate and tension over the latter of these two.

Random Fact: One of the 2100 leads, Gale Paget, is technically a resident of one of the larger asteroids. She’s never actually set foot on the place, and could only just find it if pressed, but technically she is a resident.

Authors Comment: Another area that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves, and most of my out of system Vast Worlds characters haven’t even heard of the place. Maybe I should set some short stories here.

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