A company has lost contact with a mining planet about 12 h away from the main base. The mining base is mining a valuable metal. There has been some problems with the production in the last 2-3 month, and the last time the transport ship returned, it returned with only a fraction of the normal production.
The PC's are going with the normal transport ship out to the base after a briefing at the main base.
At the base when they arrive with a complete record/file from HQ. The base personnel are waiting to fill the transporter as usual. (Yes, as usual...) The players are invited by the base commander to get the usual tourist guide in the mining complex. All of the 20 persons on the mining base are equipped with the usual transmitter, that gives possibility to know where they are at all times. (Only the base commander can get into this program) When the players are shown the production facility, an accident happens on a random mining level, where the leading geologist accidentally falls into the main elevator, where he is crushed under the stones under the transport up to the production hall. The players in the production hall will be able to see the bloody stones, and they will think that this was NOT an accident. The base commander breaks down when he sees hes good friend crushed under the stones, and the base doctor will have to put him to sleep for 12 h. This should cut most of the party's resources. (This is meant as a delay and an obstruction for the players) Most of the valuable information is bound to the commanders personal password.
All the records on the station are NOT falsified and they show that there has been no problems with the station. They have delivered the normal production at the normal times.
Sidetrack no. 1: The dead geologist, has a photo of a beautiful girl standing on his bed table, but his personal record shows no such thing. His record has not been updated by the commander since the connection with the girl happened under his 2 month leave, from which he has returned from for only 3 weeks ago (He came out with the last transporter)
Sidetrack no 2: The dead geologist had been offered an other job by another company. (At the same place where his girlfriend works..). It is a research job, and he would have taken it when his contract was finished, because he likes to do research better then to do mining.
Sidetrack no 3: He is doing some research in his spare time together with 2 other scientists at the base. They are working on an analysis of crystals electronic possibilities. They have found a interesting crystal in a meteorite on the surface, and is now making some tests...
Solution: The dead geologist WAS an accident. The mining station HAS delivered its regularly normal production. At the HQ there was a smart programmer, that has falsified the messages from the mining station and redirected the valuable metal to his own bank account.. This should bee easily found out if the players check the messages logs in the HQ and the base. The players messages is getting edited before they get through to HQ and HQ's replay is also getting edited by the programmer before it is sent back to the players. This will allow the players to get most of the info they need to find out what is wrong..
I spun a few threads more myself, when I ran the scenario. It took my players 12h of very exiting and good roleplaying to find the solution. They did NOT like the solution, but if you build it logically up, and make the communication lines heavy (Long replay times: The computer for the personal files at HQ has gone down, and is first up in an hour... etc...)
My mining base was a large asteroid with no atmosphere, so the players could only move in the base and the mining shafts. The mining was run by robots and the persons at the base were there to plan the mining, maintain the robots and operate the refinery.