This was an entry in Freelance Traveller Contest 2008-02, and was reprinted in the May/June 2022 issue of the PDF magazine.
Nathir - A6369A5-D Hi In 304
Nathir represents a barely habitable system that has become an industrial power house.
The thin atmosphere allows water to boil at a much lower temperature. This results in broad, shallow seas with a high salinity as the water evaporates quickly leaving dissolved materials behind.
Nathir is the largest moon of the inner most gas giant in the system. With four gas giants sweeping up most of the planet forming material in the system, there are no planetoid belts nor even other planets orbiting the primary. Everything is gathered into moons or rings orbiting the gas giants or into clusters of moons in the Trojan points for each gas giant.
Nathir itself represents the center of power in the system even though most of the population is scattered across the other moons and orbital facilities. On the surface of Nathir is where the government offices are located, along with the main residences of the wealthiest portion of the population.
Nathir began as a rather common Belter enclave. As the capacity to extract raw materials from the many small moons and rings grew, companies providing first level refining operations moved into the system to shorten transit times. Over time more extensive refining operations were established which increased the population to the point where importing common consumables became very expensive. This lead, in turn, to manufacturers moving operations closer to the market.
Ultimately the Nathir system became a complex web of interdependent orbital facilities that now generate many finished goods for export where once they had just exported bulk raw materials.
One of their main manufactures is space craft, both jump and non jump capable. From the raw ores through the finished hulls and components, every part of a ship can be produced here, up to and including Jump-4 drives.
The previous government of Nathir was a Self Perpetuating Oligarchy (Code 3) where the owners of the major local corporations managed the system. Through carefully crafted profit sharing plans they encouraged the rank and file labor to support them.
Over the last two decades one businessman, Ayamhati Bhimenari, has both gained control of more and more businesses and gained a reputation as the best leader. He is a flamboyant personality, favoring bright colored clothing, a lavish lifestyle which includes impressive tipping and investing in the arts (though some have noticed a bias in favor of arts involving women in minimal attire and dubious actual artistic ability).
His exact heritage is unknown; his name does not conform to traditional Vilani and some believe that it is derived from minor Solomani dialects. He denies being Solomani, though.
The former Nathir System Council still exists, but Bhimenari has been the chairman for the past three years. The Council rarely meets anymore other than when Bhimenari needs formal approval of something. There generally no debate, the vote is taken quickly and the Council then adjourns to celebrate the passage of the legislation.
Bhimenari is popular with the general populace for two reasons. First is the idea that he rose from the ranks and gained his wealth and power by determination, skill and personal effort. The second is that he has made no effort to dismantle the profit sharing plans in place even as he has bought up companies. The more successful he is, the bigger the profit sharing distributions are and the happier the rank and file are. Bhimenari always gets the biggest share, though.
Caution does need to be taken. Out of three billion inhabitants, some are bound to be less than happy with the situation. Dissidents range from the idealistic who support democratic reforms to those who have lost their fortunes to Bhimenari's maneuverings to those who want to take his position and power. There are not, as of yet, any reports of overt armed actions, but covert activity is certainly taking place.
The popularity of the preceding Nathir System Council and now of Bhimenari has meant repressive laws have not been needed. Whether this situation remains the same is yet to be seen. There are rumors that Bhimenari has used extralegal means to achieve his success. The general opinion is that these rumors are the sour grapes of the envious. It could be to Bhimenari's advantage to have a looser legal standard to live up to (or circumvent).
For a population of three billion to occupy a system that has only one very small world that barely qualifies as habitable means that there must be trade. As has been noted, the products produced by Nathirian companies are primarily space/star craft, subsidiary craft and components. Domestic consumer goods production is focused on simplicity and mass output which opens demand for whatever isn't locally produced.
Most domestically produced food comes from platforms designed for agriculture that are orbiting the primary. Various companies in Nathir produce the components for these platforms and sell them. The local platforms not only feed the inhabitants of the system but serve as functioning sales models to be shown to prospective clients.
The platforms are optimized for production which does mean minimal variety. Crops favored are those which produce large harvests with minimal effort. Cereal grains are heavily favored. Extensive use of aquacutlure provides fish for protein. Grazing animals, however, are considered to consume too much in space and resources for the food value produced. Hence, the common Nathirian diet is comprised of rice and fish or fish and porridge. Free Traders arriving with a hold of fresh beef will be met by brokers bidding the price to unbelievable levels.
As with food, Nathirian clothing industry is mainly aimed at providing mass quantities of low cost, functional clothing, usually made of synthetic materials derived from the byproducts of refining or manufacturing processes. Everyone, though, wants to have that one good suit made from natural cotton or wool.
Nathirian manufactured furnishings tend to plastics, metal and ceramics. While some of the agriplatforms have fruit and nut bearing trees, they are rarely cut for their wood. As such, natural wood products are highly valued by Nathirians. Even the ship building industry will make purchases of wood to provide custom paneling in select ship models.
A natural side product of the extensive cereals agriculture is local beer and whisky, but viniculture is considered too specialized and potentially low output for the agricultural platforms to be interested in. This opens the local market for importation of wines.