The party members spend the night at the hostel and await further information regarding when they will be transferred to the prison.
At 1030, a Sternmetal ATV arrives at the hospital and tells the party members to hop aboard for the transfer to the downport. Half an hour later and they are back at Circle City down, where they arrive at the section which is solely for the use of Sternmetal, a hive of activity where a large number of company owned shuttles are transferring ore plus supplies to the prisons.
The party members are soon transferred to a rusty shuttle which is already loaded with crates of provisions which are also due to be transported to Prison P239. No sooner are the party members aboard and the shuttle takes off, accelerating fast heading towards the southwest of Circle City.
The journey lasts a little over 40 minutes, but has travelled 2000km in that time before it returns through the smog and approaches a small outpost in the seemingly endless cold desert that covers Mithras.
Prison P239 seems minute, comprising just a few buildings surrounded by a fence of barbed wire. The party members guess, correctly, that the majority of the facility is located below ground, however. Outside the compound is the landing pad, which is just large enough to take the 100-ton shuttle. Next to it is a conveyor belt, leading from the compound to a large container which is slowly being filled with ore. A triple-beam turret is the only evidence of any major offensive weaponry at the site.
A couple of ATVs emerge from the compound to meet up with the shuttle. One ATV ferries the party members into the compound while the other contains some of the inmates, escorted by three shotgun wielding guards.
“You ain’t got no diseases have you?” asks the driver.
“No, we were all checked in Circle City,” Will lies.
“I’ll just drop you off at the guards’ recreation room,” says the driver. “I will let Assistant Warder Wallace know that you’re here and he should come to see you soon.”
The guards’ recreation room gives the first clues that the level of comfort at the prison for guards leaves a lot to be desired, consisting of little more than a few outdated arcade machines, a warped pool table and some holovids that are decades old.
The party members try to amuse themselves while waiting for the Assistant Warden to arrive. He doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry as he eventually turns up some two hours later.
Wallace is a cruel looking man in his mid-forties with large sideburns. He doesn’t smile and looks disinterested at the new recruits which he has to deal with.
“You do what your told and you won’t have any problems here,” is the only welcome that he gives.
“Right, let’s get you some equipment and a billet and then we’ll see where to assign you to,” he says.
He opens up some lockers in a room in the same building as the entertainment centre and starts handing out equipment to everyone. They all receive a suit of padded mesh, a regulation filter/respirator combo with inbuilt radio, a stunstick, one gas grenade and an autopistol with a couple of spare clips.
“Look after your kit,” Wallace says sternly. “You’ll be in a world of hurt if any of it goes missing.”
He then issues everyone with bed linen and escorts them over to their dormitories. Taeva and Jie are together in one of the women’s dorms. It doesn’t look too bad. There are much fewer female prisoners and guards than male and so they have quite a bit of space to themselves. The others are taken to a much more rundown dorm where the bunks are squeezed together tightly.
Once everyone has dumped their kit, he calls them together again and walks them over to his office.
“Right, now we need to decide where to assign you,” he says studying a handcomp. “So what useful skills have each of you got?”
“I can cook plus I passed basic investigation skills at the Academy,” Arvor replies.
“Sir, if it helps, I was a Life Support Engineer once. At least until the accident aboard the Empress…” says Grim.
“I can fix stuff a bit too,” says Taeva.
Jie reaches for a paper weight on Wallace’s desk. She crushes it in her bare hands and places it nicely back on his desk.
“I have some skills with computer and also understand first aid a little as well,” says Will.
Wallace studies his handcomp intently then barks out duties.
“Wiksaren, you’re overseeing the prisoners’ kitchen. Grimstead and Traske – you’re with maintenance. Okasawa – you’re looking after the female hard cases down in the mines. Shaunnessy – you’re assigned to records and will be transferred to the Med Bay if they are ever short-staffed.”
“Any question? No? Good? You start on the day shift tomorrow. You can spend the rest of the day getting to know your way around.”
“You are dismissed.”
The party members head out of the Assistant Warden’s office and head back to the recreation room.
The party have the room to themselves for a while but, later in the afternoon, some of the other guards start to arrive after they finish their duty for the day. The guards seem friendly enough – certainly a lot friendlier than the Assistant Warden. None of them really sticks out as being exceptional – they are all fairly simple blue-collar guys who are resigned to their fates, mostly having escaped from poor lives on one of the overcrowded worlds where jobs are scarce. They each relish the small amount of power they have in making the inmates’ lives miserable, not realizing that their own lives aren’t a great deal better. There doesn’t seem to be any criminal geniuses among them, and nor does there seem to be anyone who has anything to hide as all of the guards are happy to answer questions.
The party members are the quietest ones there, keeping their ears open and their mouths closed so as to take in as much information as they can in case someone reveals some information that might be useful. But it seems as if all of the information they learn is all quite mundane.
It starts to get a little late and the guards start to head for their bunks. Not wanting to incur the wrath of Wallace before they have even started, the party members head off to sleep as well.