Gatecrasher’s Almanac #26

Name: Per Ardua

Location: 2300 ly antispinward/1300 ly rimward of Sol

Gravity: 1.21G

Atmosphere: Carbon dioxide primary

Body Type: Super-Mars

Per Ardua is one of the uglier secrets of the Solar System; thus far only accessible via the Pandora Gate on Mars, it serves as a quiet jail for those that the Planetary Consortium (and, by extension, both Oversight and Ozma) want to have alive, instantiated into a biomorph, and kept someplace as secure as possible.

The Gate itself is on a moon in orbit around the planet; a processing facility has been built up around it, built to repel attacks from the Gate to prevent rescue attempts. Staffed entirely by forks of Oversight personnel, someone accidentally stumbling through the Gate could probably mistake it for some profit-seeking venture by the hypercorps right up until they were sedated and dropped onto the planet as the newest inmate.

The planet itself is covered in a thick haze of carbon dioxide, which serves to keep the half-dozen penal colonies isolated from one another in case of a prisoner revolt. The shuttleport itself – the site of a space elevator at some point in the future, atop an equatorial mountain – is isolated from the closest prison as well, by a good hundred kilometers of rocky wasteland and canyons.

Unimaginatively named with Greek letters, the prisons become higher security the farther one goes from the shuttleport; each one has full facilities for long-term habitation: extensive greenhouses, recycling systems, high-quality life support, medical facilities, and sizable dormitories that permit individual rooms. They also have control centers adjacent, just far enough away that biomorphs will almost certainly collapse from anoxia before reaching the airlock. The Oversight staff in the centers have absolute control over the life support systems of the prisons, to the point of being able to selectively lock doors and pump the local atmosphere into sealed areas to quell any attempts at riots before going to collect stacks and sleeve the egos into new bodies grown in the control centers before dumping them back into their prison.

If this all seems rather extreme for a prison, this is the world where people the Consortium can’t afford to completely erase are stored. Everything from designers of extremely deadly weapons and nanotechnology, political dissidents who still know secrets that can’t be psychosurgically extracted, and even exhuman terrorists with useful methods and ideas are kept here, instantiated in simple splicer morphs and conditioned to avoid self-harm. Some are here by accident, having ended up witnessing something and getting vanished with the idea of releasing them at some point when what they saw no longer matters. All of them would like very much to leave, and all of them know exactly how unlikely escape or rescue actually is.

Firewall knows about Per Ardua, largely from an agent being returned to them by Ozma as a cortical stack, the ego driven mad until it simply kept repeating a message to stay out of the system. It hasn’t stopped Firewall from trying to insert agents, of course, but those have all been found by Ozma so far and quietly exterminated. They’re unlikely to stop trying, however, as the captives here are a wealth of information and utility for Firewall if they can just get their hands on them.

As such, any team being sent to Per Ardua is likely to have very specific instruction about getting in, who to find and extract, and be outfitted with complimentary deadman switches on their stacks by the proxy sending them in.


Gatecrasher’s Almanac #26

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