Prokofiev Penal Colony is a combined mining station and maximum security correctional facility located on the surface of the planet Mercury. The prison is infamous for its brutal conditions and impossibility of escape, in large part due to Mercury’s inhospitable climate.

  • Government: Autocracy (prison state)
  • Head of state: Warden Isabella Braña
  • Sovereignty: Owned by Prokofiev Penal Colony LLC, a Hangzhou-based corporation
  • Location: Mercury, Prokofiev crater
  • Established: 2039
  • Major ports: Qincheng (秦城)
  • Industries: Imprisonment, mining
  • Currency: XNY, Sigs (digital prison scrip)
  • Population estimate: 8,000
  • Languages: Mandarin, English
  • Religions: Christianity


Prokofiev Penal Colony was established in 2039 after the termination of Tharsis’ special relationship with Labyrinth. Conditions during construction were brutal: nearly one third of the workforce were seriously injured or killed over the course of the year.

In 2055, the prisoners’ mining fleet finished the excavation of Milestone 1, a site intended for private colonisation. The PPC advertised the site on offworld markets, where the prospectus failed to attract interest. Undeterred, the PPC directed the prisoners to start work on Milestone 2, a second colony site, and Milestone 3, an underground railroad connecting 1, 2, and the prison facility. At the present day, work continues on both of these projects.

The prison experienced its first and only breakout attempt in 2060. A cell block’s doors malfunctioned, allowing five of the eight occupants to don emergency EVA suits and make the perilous journey through vacuum to Prokofiev’s launchpad. Unable to find transport offworld, three returned to their cells, while two stayed in the hope that a craft would land. None did, and the escapees died of asphyxiation.


The first layer of Prokofiev’s security is Mercury’s inhospitable conditions. At the equator, a Mercurian day is nearly sixty Earth days, and the sun is over six times more powerful. Temperatures reach over 500 degrees Celsius and at night drop below -150. At Prokofiev crater the temperature remains below 0. It is unlikely that a settlement could withstand the conditions outside the polar regions.

Incoming prisoners arrive via secure barges to Qincheng Station, a trading outpost and holding facility sitting in polar orbit. Once enough have arrived that a standard intake is reached, or a resupply is needed at Prokofiev, a landing craft detaches from the station and ferries its payload to the surface landing facility. Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet is played for the prisoners, in particular the section ‘Dance of the Knights’, which is repeated on departure and on arrival. The landing craft is autonomous and has no thrust capabilities beyond the bare minimum needed to guide itself to the landing site, where it is decommissioned and scrapped for parts used to maintain the station. Craft capable of achieving orbit land every six months to rotate correctional officers.

Blocks hold 16 prisoners and are named in the hexadecimal convention, from block 0x0 to block 0x1FF. The prison is a panopticon. The prison advertises ‘100 cameras for every inmate’, including several mounted on the prisoner’s clothing. Correctional duties are conducted remotely from the warden’s facility. Individual prisoners are subdued by sedatives or pain-inducers delivered through an autoinjector all prisoners must wear. For large scale disobedience, the staff can also temporarily lower the oxygen in the air mixture of affected areas, triggering lethargy, hypoxia, and fainting.

The mean life expectancy of a prisoner in Prokofiev is six years. Surviving the first year, when the mortality rate is highest, improves life expectancy considerably.

Notable Inmates

The inmates at Prokofiev tend to fall in to one of two categories: hyper-violent repeat offenders transferred from other prisons, and political or white collar criminals being made example of by their powerful enemies.

Sarah Jane Goldsman - Venusian serial killer, recycled her victims in a private beet farm
Mao Shehui - domestic terrorist from Tharsis, planned to destroy the maglev
Evgeniy Koroviev - ship’s captain and pirate, sold victims into slavery in Belter colonies
Anthony Ah Sam - a Tharsis businessman turned drug mule for ‘Super’, illegal combat stimulant
Franklin Wu - a high rank Snakehead caught openly bribing Daniel Lee, a Hangzhou businessman
Daniel Lee - influential Hangzhou businessman, bribe recipient
Anna Potts-Lee and Michael Potts-Lee - daughter and son of Daniel, jailed by familial relationship
Sergei Kurylenko - Ceresian pro-Breakout athlete, charged with crimes against the state
Spiros Stratou - Venusian motivational speaker, charged with ‘corrupting the youth’
Pai-fu Chan - Tharsis spree-shooter with an estimated fatality count of over one hundred
Juan Cuervos - a Venusian security expert charged with undercutting the market