Some Ethane Trees about to spurt. In an earlier age the vast seas of petrochemicals on Klein`s World would have been a goldmine.
The second closest star system to Sol, Barnards Star was believed to be nothing more than a dull red dwarf with only its proximity to Sol and its two gas giants, van de Kamp and Hertzlinger (first theorized way back in the 20th century) to distinct it from the millions of unremarkable type M stars in the galaxy.
†Such an arrogant assumption was dispelled however when one of the first interstellar probes completed its 9 year mission and discovered a fascinating world orbiting the star every 1.2 years and with a mass two thirds that of Earth.
Barnards Star II was a very cold world (Ė168C) and has a methane weather system, methane and other hydrocarbons rain down on the planets icey surface in a situation similar to that of Saturnís largest moon, Titan.
Unlike Titan however the planet is home to a complex and alien ecosystem unlike anything discovered by human scientists up to that point. The dominating life forms on the planet have a very different chemistry to that of more familiar worlds though basic natural laws apply, there are hunters, herbivores, tree-analogues, aquatic species and so on.
†The planet was renamed Kleinís World after the scientist Vesta Klein whose tireless simulations of similar ecosystems in the Luna Institute of Exobiology were both groundbreaking and quite prophetic.
A research expedition was hurriedly put together by various nations and organisations in the 2080s, driven partly by a desire to explore the mysterious hazy world in the name of science (and glory) but also to see what economic benefits such unusual cryochemistry would bring.
†The Beagle entered orbit around Klein`s World in 2097 and for a short while was the farthest outpost of humanity and certainly its most exotic. Whilst an army of probes explored the surface of Klein the scientists aboard the Beagle struggled to maintain life on a cramped vessel 6 light years from the nearest bar.
†Instant communication with loved ones back home helped but for some the isolation became too much, three of the shipís crew volunteered to be put into hypersleep until the ship returned home while one unfortunate cryo-biologist by the name of Chandra Thewlis suffered a psychological breakdown, stole a shuttle and disappeared in the direction of home never to be seen again (mysteriously no wreckage of the shuttle has ever been found despite exhaustive searches.)
†Despite such tragedies the voyage of the Beagle was a profound scientific success in many fields from exo-biology to the effects of severe isolation on starship crews. Some have commented that with few distractions the crew of the Beagle had little else to do apart from scientific study and becoming immersed in vee-ar dramas.
With faster ships and more extra-solar colonies blasting off every year, a permanent colony in Barnards Star was proposed in 2129, the vast hydro-carbon reserves of the two gas giants and Klein`s world proved very tempting for industry and the Barnard's main asteroid belt, though not as rich as Sirius or Sol would provide excellent material for the colony.
Barnardís Star did not start with a system government or written constitution, in fact the system became a hive of lassiez-faire capitalism (except for the scientific outposts on Klein) as industry prospered in the orbitals and asteroid colonies. Parallels with the development of Sirius can easily be drawn as both systems suffered somewhat from a lack of viable biospheres (unless you felt comfortable in a pool of liquid ethane) but whilst Sirius became the Sirian Unity and expanded into similar systems like Procyon the various factions of Banardís Star only co-operated with each other if lives were threatened (such as the evacuation of Turner City in 2245) or outsystem interests became too powerful in the economy or media.
When a wormhole from Sol was constructed in 2570 the system got a great boost in tourism from those wishing to study the haunting and alien beauty of Kleinís World to those wishing to blow their money in gaudy casinoís and nightclubs in orbit around van de Kamp. The noted Irodian naturalist Giovore Bensart made his name during this time exploring the methane swamps and forests of Klein and broadcasting his documentaries across Community space.
This time was considered the golden age of the system as despite comfortable success the system was often considered out of the way even with warp travel. With the influx of tourists and money the companies of Barnardís Star moved outwards mainly exploiting other red dwarf systems, mainly untouched even though they are right in the Core setting up colonies in places such as Lalande 21185, Ross 248, Wolf 359, the twilight world of Styx in Ross 154 and in the case of 36 Ophiuchi and &0 Ophiuchi engaging in an ambitious terraforming projects on the worlds of Willow and Klondike to finally give the settlers of Barnard a viable world to relax on.
Culturally Barnardians are rather libertarian lot but with a consideration for environmentalism even with the most alien of ecosystems. They are more comfortable than most with living in the red light around a dim dwarf even on some occasions becoming slightly agitated with life around a bright star or on hot planets.
They are very proud of their long history and society as shown in such spools as Voyage of the Beagle and Giovore Bensart: The Man, the Myth (mention the speculation on Bensartís private life anywhere in the system at your peril!) The Barnardians have quite a macho frontier culture which some attribute to the effects of living under the glare of red light from the star, or the ďtrashyĒ nature of the orbitals and habitats such as Listerburg and Rimmer Dome or just being tired of outsiders believing the systems in which they make their home to be boring dim places like billions of other red dwarfs that clutter up the galaxy.