Serendip Belt: History
4665AD Marianus van der Lubbe.
The Marianus van der Lubbe limped into the Belt system in 4665AD. Her 100,000 crew had spent the last five years of the voyage from Topas crowded into her forward compartments, in order to escape from deadly radiation leaking from her reactor core. Nearly 1000 of the crew had died en route. These heroes had given their lives to tend the ships faulty reactor; to keep it going so that the ship could make it to the safety of the star system which lay ahead.
Conditions aboard Marianus had been so unhealthy that births had been entirely banned for the duration of the five-year crisis. The danger of radiation damage to unborn children was considered too high.
The star system, which was designated NI-0503, was found to have a marginally habitable gas-giant moon. The crew named the world Serendipity, for it saved their lives. The Marianus set the crew down on Serendipity for a year, while her drive system was shut down and the hot reactor core dismantled and removed from the ship.
Meanwhile the crew explored their (hopefully temporary!) new home. It was a strange binary system, with two separate asteroid belts. Between the two belts was a bizarre double planet, which the explorers named Castor & Pollux. So unusual was the system, that some astrographers theorised that it showed signs of ancient planetary engineering.
Once the reactor core was removed, and the ship decontaminated, the crew moved back into their quarters. A year of planet-bound life had been a strange and unpleasant experience for them. However, Marianus was still without a main drive, and the crew did not relish the prospect of an eternity spent orbiting a single desolate world.
They set about building a heavy construction industry in the Inner Belt, so that they could repair their ship and resume their interstellar wanderings. After 15 years, they had built up a very respectable industrial capacity. Not only did the Marianus get a new and more efficient main drive, but she was also completely refitted.
By the time the refit was complete there were more crew than could be accommodated by the ship. The construction asteroids had been fitted with life-systems and room to grow. Generations of pregnancy planning had been disrupted.
In the end 20,000 crew remained behind. Their mission was to provide repair and construction facilities for Crew starships. And to build new ships so that the Crew culture could expand. They planned to spend long periods in cold sleep. The facility would only be fully reawakened when it was needed.
4698AD Marianus Leaves the Belt.
The Belters who stayed behind after the Marianus left worked hard at expanding their facilitys industrial capability. For a decade they worked, before more and more of them opted for the cold sleep.
The Crew had a long history of using cold sleep to travel in time to the future. On the long flight from Earth they used it to achieve a cultural stability and continuity that would not otherwise have been possible. These Belters cheerfully opted for the cold sleep, despite its dangers, for the opportunity to meet travellers who had visited strange new worlds, and to take part in the greater story of the Crew.
By 4750AD most of the Belters were in hibernation. There were 25,000 cold, while at any one time only 1000 warm remained active to keep things going. They cycled in and out of hibernation, a society in slow motion, for 150 years.