Helmand was a Bronze Age city-state in the Margush River Valley of Planet Bilbeis IV. In 1186 FSY, anthropologists from the Federacy Survey Service starship Leeuwenhoek were observing the city. They discovered that Helmand was ruled by a most unusual monarch, Queen Sabium, who was an enlightened patron of arts and invention. Operatives David Ware and Julian Crouzet witnessed an elaborate ceremony, dedicated to the moons-goddess Illil.
Helmand seemed to be heading toward a Golden Age of enlightenment, but for one problem: Queen Sabium was dying of cancer. Ware feared that she would be succeeded by a less enlightened monarch, who would turn Helmand back to the Dark Ages.