Astro Mines

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Crime and Punishment

Of all the penal institutions in the galaxy, saving GalPen One, the Asteroid Mines controlled by the Communist systems are most feared. After the introduction of the Ray Mark I and the People's Police, the number of pirates and freebooters in Communist systems dropped off dramatically, but they continued to be a threat to shipping. The party leaders of the more advanced systems, already disenchanted with what they saw as GalCop's 'soft Capitalist response' to piracy and crime in general, decided that fining and a few hours scraping the scuffed paint off of the docking ports of space station was too lenient a punishment for disturbing the peace and productivity of the Communist ideal. Thus they began their own legal system alongside their own police forces, to properly deal with perpetrators of 'crimes against the People', be they pirates or foreign traders shipping contraband commodities. It is also rumoured that many native political opponents of the Communists, such as democrats, imperialists and royalists have been arrested on trumped up charges and forced into the convoluted legal system of the People's Justice.

Once in the system, a prisoner's fate is sealed. The legal system appears deceptively simple, a crime has been committed, the police have identified and arrested a culprit, all that remains is to determine the sentence. For many, the sentence is often read out at the preliminary hearing and little more occurs. However, if a prisoner has connections within the hierarchy of the Communist party, it is often the case that many backroom deals are made, with the swapping of favours and advancing or demoting of officials within the party. This can result in an individual ending up under House Arrest for a period of years, or even being exiled from the system for the rest of their lives.

For the common masses, however, this is not the case and the sentence is often the exact same: life imprisonment, hard labour. Originally, the Communists had simply locked convicts up in prisons and penitentiaries, but a forward-thinking young activist objected to the fact that these prisoners were supposed to be punished for the crimes they had committed. While they languished in their eight-foot by eight-foot by six-foot cells, they were unrepentant and, worse, were an unnecessary burden upon the hard-working People. He went on to suggest enforced labour as a means to both increase the productivity of Communist systems and rid the planets of these convicts. His name was Alexei Gulag and the result of his work was named after him.


Astrogulag Penal Colony
Size (metres, W×H×L) 1750 x 600 x 1000
Manoeuvrability Pitch: 8.0
Roll: 8.0
Rotating No
Energy recharge rate 5
Armaments None
Defenders 4 Defenders
3 Scavengers
OXP or standard OXP
Beacon A

The Asteroid Mines, or Astro-Gulags as they are referred to by most Party officials, are simply Rock Hermits that have been worked out and then bought up by the system government as a means to house convicts in a near-escape-proof prison and to force the convicts to contribute to the Communist ideal, every citizen works for the betterment of all, whether they want to or not. Most Astro-Gulags are located a fair distance away from the planet, within the Witchspace beacon to planet spacelane, and are a usual sight in most medium to high TL systems. Within these massive, hollowed-out asteroids, thousands of convicts live and toil amongst noisy, dusty and incredibly dangerous ore processing machines.

The living conditions for the average convict is dire. After the demeaning process of admitting, where a prisoner is strip-washed with disinfectants, have their heads shaved, their hair follicles cauterised for ‘hygiene purposes’ and an identity tattoo lasered into their scalps, most new convicts are assigned to work in ‘The Pits’. This is the main processing floor, where they gather the fragments of asteroids collected from outside the Gulag and transfer them by hand to the processors. They perform this job for sixteen out of twenty-four hours with three half hour food periods, a half hour ‘recreation period’ and then six hours designated as a sleep period. Most convicts lump their ‘recreation period’ into their sleep period. The convicts all eat and sleep together in the Pits, resting by the silent and inactive machines, though no convict actually sleeps for a full six (or six and a half) hours, since there is always the threat that someone will try to kill you in your sleep, just so they can have more legroom. Life for the guards is somewhat better, they live in the main docking area, an entirely separate section of the asteroid, with retractable walkways and duralium walls and doors to prevent convicts attempting to escape. The docking area also comprises the approach control for docking incoming ships, a small trade port where passing traders can off-load commodities or take on the Gulag’s products, as well as the area where the Gulag’s own defence and mining vessels are stored. The guards ensure the convicts are working by patrolling along walkways suspended high above the Pit floor, armed with weapons like the 0.1Mw ‘Kurarkov’ laser rifle or, in the case of riots, the gruesomely effective ‘Sarcovitz’ plasma projector, along with electro-stun batons and military grade body armour. Order is maintained in the Pit by cadres of military-grade combat androids, whose panoramic threat acquisition sensors and in-built weaponry ensure that discipline is as hard as their duralium shells.

Only the marginally few ‘lucky’ convicts will be allowed beyond the hot, dusty, noisy and cramped conditions of the Pits to fly one of the Gulag’s fleet of Mining Pods or Scavenger Rays. These vessels are used to harvest asteroids from fields near the Gulag and as such are hardly capable of much more.

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The Astro Mines are found in the Commies OXP