As was the case with the previous days, everyone is up again at 0600 in order to get ready for another tough day on the job.
Everyone remembers that they need to make some more research so as to have as much information in place as possible.
In the kitchen, Arvor naively asks his fellow guards how P239 compares with some of the other prisons on Mithras. The other guards don’t seem to have a great deal of actual experience working in other prisons as most of the guards don’t get transferred that often – to most of them, P239 is the only prison that they have worked in. The only information that they are able to give him is hearsay that they have picked up during their R&R time in Circle City.
Arvor gets the idea that P239 is quite an average prison. It is quite a small prison compared to the other and one of the higher-security of the prisons that are on the world which houses some of the more dangerous prisoners. The equipment here is pretty run down – the level of equipment is higher in most of the other prisons. Some of the other prisons are low security and have practically no fences – the distance from Circle City and the inhospitable atmosphere are enough to stop anyone from trying to escape.
Some of the prisons are much worse though, such as the ones where they mine uranium. Although the prisoners mining the uranium are supposed to wear radiation-proof suits, accidents and mistakes happen and some guards have died there as well as prisoners.
The information that Arvor receives is all quite general – there’s nothing here that makes him think that the guards might be trying to cover up something.
Grim also questions the other maintenance engineers about other prisons, but all he gets is confirmation of the information that Arvor learns and little in addition to it.
Jie (after being issued a new uniform) investigates who the unlucky sot is that will be ‘Taken’. She asks the guards and squeezes the info from the prisoners. She knows it’s going to be someone who won’t be missed.
Her investigations lead to a great amount of debate among her fellow guards who argue as to who is going to be taken next. There’s even a pool open among some of the guards who are betting on who is taken. The shortest odds are on Francesca Niebells who is a psion and thus pretty much universally reviled by both prisoners and guards alike.
“Psions don’t tend to last too long in P239,” one of the guards tells Jie. “We all hate them and the ones who take them seem to like them.”
Jack Shansir is another candidate. Jack is a complete psychopath who got locked up after killing five people with a cement block. He should really be kept in a straitjacket in an asylum rather than a regular prison. He’s caused too much trouble in the past couple of months and so could well be another victim.
Stiv the Blade is not much better than Shansir. He’s a violent drug addict who is getting his fixes from somewhere and they often send him into a homicidal rage. Not as big as Shansir, Stiv is sneaky and has caused the guards a lot of troubles as they try and contain his rages.
Anna Iijima is an outsider in the pool. She’s fairly harmless but she’s a devout member of a sect called the Church of the Traveller. Her non-stop attempts to convert everyone around her annoys the hell out of prisoners and guards alike.
A Vargr who is known solely as ‘The Vargr’ is the only alien in the prison and thus is also highly unpopular and so could be a candidate.
Finally, there is a prisoner called Robilar Zemich. He used to be a guard here but, for reasons Jie can’t get the other guards to tell her, he was arrested for being part of a brawl in Circle City and is now very unpopular with the guards and the Wardens, and so is another good candidate for leaving.
Will continues investigations in the admin dept, using his investigate and diplomacy talents, as well as streetwise when he gets a chance to speak with prisoners or less honest guards. In particular he’s listening for rumours (or more substantial facts) about the disappearances or any other funny business, especially about the Warden or other high-ranking guards. He checks out soft and hard-copy files on those people too.
He finds little of use about the disappearances though other than what the party members have learned already – it’s prisoners that no one likes and no one is going to miss that are taken, the ATV comes to take them and nothing is ever heard of them again.
He finds more information on the Warder and the Assistant Warder though. The Warder used to be Captain of one of Sternmetal Horizons freighters – but not a terribly good one, it would appear as he was ‘moved sideways’ into being a prison official. The Warder seems little interested in the day-to-day running of the prison, happy to leave it all to the Assistant Warder. The guards think that he is a harmless buffoon and the prisoners have little to do with him.
The Assistant Warder is very different, however. He has been the Assistant Warder for 15 years now and is bitter and angry that he has not yet been made the Warder and that he has to report to a buffoon. He’s a cruel man who runs the prison with a rod of iron and is universally feared by the guards and the prisoners, whom he treats little better than animals. From some of the comments Will receives though, he gets the idea that the Assistant Warder is quite corrupt and could be bought if the price was right and no one else would find out about it.
Taeva, meanwhile, tries to find out more about what the ATV is likely to do when it arrives in a couple of days’ time. She learns that it always comes through the south gate. From here it usually parks outside the Guards Recreation Building where the guards have a meal – all of them, none stay in the cab. There are usually six guards in total, armed better than standard guards’ equipment with SMGs and shotguns and cloth armor. Once they have eaten, they park just in front of the south gate where they await the delivery of the prisoners up the passenger elevator. As soon as the prisoners are onboard, the ATV departs. The area is pretty well covered with cameras, although they are not always watched some carefully.
The party members finish their shifts as usual and then head to the Guards’ Recreation Room where they compare notes of all that they have learned.
It’s New Year’s Eve – not quite the party of the year that many of the party members had been hoping for. The other guards are in a celebratory mood though. One of them passes around some moonshine that he has managed to get his hands on some way or another and the bottles are secretly passed around from one guard to another. It’s incredibly foul stuff – the hangover starts to appear almost before there’s any feeling of drunkenness.
Everyone tries to get into the party mood, but it’s hard under the circumstances. They all stay up to see 1107 in, but then they realize that they have to up for their next shift in under six hours and so they are forced to head for their beds.