While some systems grasped at independence at the first opportunity, many of the colony planets that were settled in humanity’s great diaspora remain in close contact with their homeworld. Despite its isolated location and perennial communication difficulties, the Traft System is one of those systems.
Traft is a "loose" binary star system. An unusually dense nebular formation surrounds the two stars, periodically interfering with interstellar communication between the system and the other human-inhabited systems in the region. These "blackout" periods can last between seven and twenty-two terrestial years, but no communication problems are anticipated for another sixteen months. The blackouts are caused when Rager, the white dwarf "outer sun" of the Traft System, approaches aphelion, its radiation ionizing the nebular material enough to interfere with the interstellar signal.
The system is known to have three inhabited planets. Two, (II) Girru and (III) Anshar, are predominantly occupied by human subspecies, while the other, (V) Nergal, is home to an advanced species with a chlorine-based metabolism. The world of the aliens is completely uninhabitable to humanity, who are unable to even land on it safely. Its atmosphere rapidly degrades items designed for an oxygen atmosphere; its seas and rains are a solution of hydrochloric acid. The inhabitants are radially symmetrical creatures called "Astariforms" with little interaction with the humans of the system other than occasionally trading technical items or rare elements.
The human worlds are dominated by a "benevolent" corporate dictatorship, which maintains a static status quo. Social classes are determined by birth and a system of aptitude tests: Any social mobility is regulated by the system, which requires that individuals pass the rigidly-administered tests before attending any form of vocational education or being placed in any new job. A 13% generational rate of social mobility is regulated by this system, with most people limited to those jobs associated with their family’s social status. The government supports a religious system that condemns social mobility as a source of discontent and urges its adherents to maintain the "ways of their ancestors" as an act of filial piety.
The planet Anshar is a pleasant world, with a well-established technological infrastructure, including a degree of weather control and expected social services. The people of Anshar live under oppressive government control of most aspects of their lives, with travel and personal activities strictly controlled by the "paternal" corporate types that oversee the people’s welfare.
The other human-held world, Girru, is an arid world wracked by dust storms, but rich in minerals not found elsewhere within the system. The workers there are brutally exploited by the corporate government of the system: The average lifespan of the "prole" class there is nearly 20 years shorter than that enjoyed on most human worlds. The system uses Girru’s grim mining regions as dumping grounds for political malcontents: Dangerous tasks that would be relegated to robotic workers in other systems are instead used as punishment for undesirables.
Things Go Wrong
While passing the Traft System, the player characters’ ship receives a priority transmission from Military Central. Invoking the widely-disliked "Interstellar Reserve Activation Act", this transmission requires that the ship proceed to the Traft System and determine the cause of the system’s failure to respond to recent communications from nearby systems. As the nearest armed vessel capable of accomplishing this task, the ship can be required to respond.
1.) You Can’t Stop the Signal: The system government has placed a "blackout" on any communications due to a violent uprising on Anshar. While Girru is known for periodic uprisings and disruptions, Anshar typically has a political stability that could more accurately be described as stasis.
The disturbances were orchestrated by some of the "second tier" leadership within the region. They plan to use the destruction unleashed by their little insurrection to conceal their modification of the master computer systems. In the aftermath of the riots and fires, no one will notice that the children of these men have all been marked for social advancement over the next fifteen years. Lower echelon leaders have been set up to take the blame for the disruptions, allegedly part of an anarchistic scheme to undermine the government’s authority.
The government will attempt to intern any vessels and crews that come into their custody, housing the crews with typical bureauratic indifference: They will be assigned to one of the lethal mining camps of Girru’s outback.
2.) The Meddlers: The normally uninterested Astariforms have been stirred to war! The system government discovered that their world’s moons hold valuable deposits of rare earths and began mining operations, presuming on the aliens’ traditionally withdrawn nature to avoid problems. The Astariforms consider these moons to be sacred and have begun to cleanse the system of its human presence. Their previously hidden warships are responsible for the communications blackout; they have destroyed the relay structures needed for interstellar communication.
3.) A Perfect World: The paternalistic dictators have worked for decades toward automating many of the processes that have been traditionally handled by proles. To this end, they recently implemented a new network of artificial intelligences to coordinate these automated systems. This new network, interested in serving the people of the system with maximum efficiency, has determined that most interstellar communication is not necessary and has cut it off. So far, the government doesn’t realize how pervasive the new network’s intrusions are. They will soon, however: The network has determined that many of them are not efficient at their assigned duties and will reassign them to tasks it deems more critical. Some typical areas requiring additional human oversight are found in the areas of radiological decontamination and waste treatment.