At the far edge of the massive galactic empire known as the United Federation of God (UFG) lies the small star system of Jericho. As with all recently colonised systems, Jericho has a frontier feel to it. It lacks the technological gloss of the more settled worlds that lie behind it. Here, at the edge of civilisation, life is hard.
The Jericho system is special though. Rich in minerals and ores, with an extensive asteroid belt and many small, easily exploited planets, the Jericho system is a major source of raw materials for the Federation. Unusually for such an important resource, the system is only under nominal Federation control. Instead it is owned and run by White Sands, the giant mining and shipping conglomerate, who effectively act as the system's government. The head of White Sands in Jericho, Alan Sandage, has all the powers of a Federation Governor, while the White Sands' Security Service is the equivalent of a normal System Defence Force.
The Federation's presence is limited to the system's only orbital space station, sited around the system's major planet, Jericho-4. This lack of Federation presence draws all sorts to the Jericho system, which has a galaxy-wide reputation for violence and is considered by most as a haven for criminals. This view is readily supported by both White Sands and the Federation but, as the inhabitants of the system know, this is all an exaggeration to keep the system free from an influx of disenchanted people.
Away from the oppressive rule of the Federation, the people of Jericho have a freedom unheard of in the Federation proper. Although there is surveillance, it is nowhere near the constant levels found in the Federation. As a result, life in Jericho is relatively free, making the system the ideal haven for a variety of people. These range from political dissidents, through criminals, to those who just resent the rigid order of normal life in the Federation.
However, this does not mean that Jericho is a nest of dissent and revolution. Both White Sands and the people of Jericho take great pains to keep themselves free from this sort of thing. No-one, least of those who have fled the Federation to find safe refuge here, wants to give them any excuse to crack down. The Resistance and the Organisation, only rumours in the Federation, are not welcome in the Jericho system.
The Jericho system has 18 main planets. All bar two of them are small and rocky, the other two being gas giants. There is also a large asteroid belt. All the planets and the belt are extensively mined by White Sands, the former from surface bases, the latter by giant mining ships which move from asteroid to asteroid. White Sands' prime motive is profit, so there is plenty of scope for freelance miners. These are individual people, or small co-operative groups, who mine the areas where White Sands finds the profit margin too small for its large, automated systems.
None of the planets supports life. Their atmospheres, such as they are, are too thin and contain far too many toxic substances. However, on the larger planets (such as Jericho-4), large atmosphere-domes have been built, within which various settlements have sprung up. Virtually all planetary travel is by aircraft or small interplanetary shuttles. The terrain is too rough and often the gravity too low to allow for efficient surface travel.
The main economic, social and administrative centre in the system is Jericho-4, an Earth-sized planet, 4th closest to the sun. Here one can find the headquarters of White Sands and the system's only major city, both under a huge atmosphere-dome and located next to the system's main spaceport. Since the orbital space station is Federation run, most craft prefer to use Jericho-4's spaceport, which is a good place to go to find all sorts of discreet transport around the Jericho system and beyond. The exceptions are the majority of interstellar (ie jump-capable) space craft and White Sands' giant ore carriers, neither of which can enter Jericho-4's atmosphere, and hence are forced to use the Federation space station.