Mare Stellatis was a lunar observatory installed in the far side of the moon so that observation wouldn't be affected by the Earth's light. It was named "Sea of Stars" because of the view from its instrument dome.
It became an Alliance military base supporting the far-ranging starships; robot mining machines mined ice from tunnels beneath it, which went to the Farside Colony. After the end of the Secession War, it was abandoned as scientist moved to deep space and starships found ice in Saturn's rings.
Corrective Services decied to C.S. clean the incorrigibles out of the rehab colonies (those who failed to conform to the requirement of the rehabilitation programs or escaped rehab centers). Anyone who went there never came out. The inmates were isolated, with no C.S. staff or councellors.
Because of the lack of information, there was plenty of speculation about it and was a popular subject of netfeeds and newstapes when news was slow. Theories wanted it to be a cover-up of a secret execution program, or that it didn't exist at all, only as an official bogeyman. Most believed it to be a hell of anarchy and violence, full of criminally insane inmates forced to labor to meet their quotas.
As in the case of the Farside Colony, which was built on the same formation, its locatin was chosen on a site where a comet hit the moon, resulting to the presence of water and lava tubes. Life support is based on convection heating and ventilation except on a grand scale, with an ecosystem in the Garden providing food and oxygen .
At some point armed forces expanded it and dug concentric circles that form the "City". An outer curved corridor is broken every 100 meters by T-junctions where other tunnels led away to the center. The cross tunnels ran straight intersected by a dozen tunnels (ring corridors) every 50 meters and converge to a circular hub, with 8 doorways. One led to the store-room and the airlock, the opposite to it led to a loom room. The hub's walls are lined with hand-drawn bulletins and posters. It lies right under the observatory instrument room to which it is connected with a spiraling ramp.
The instrument room's outer edge is occupied by a large desk whose scientific intruments had been removed. Its walls covered with some kind of sprayed foam insulation. A portable wall unit sectioned off the Coordinator's office and the ramp continued up.
Right above that room there stood the observatory dome, a thin shell of long-chain polycarbonate, a perfect hemisphere 100 meters in diameter and so transparent as to be invisible. It was done up as a formal garden, with ferns and potted plants arranged artistically. When the base was converted, the C.S. took out the pressure seals. Its base was ringed by 20cm cubes to be detonated once someone caught outside, popping the dome and killing everyone.
It was a socioeconomic microcosm and their survival depended on exporting ice to Farside which supplied the facility in turn with power for life support. The mining of ice was left to the Downsiders; their quota is 1000 metric tons per day, which they mine in return for food; the Upsiders feed the ice to a pipe which directly leads to the deuterium refinery of the Farside. Shipments as well as new inmates (newlings) came in cargo pods on lunar shuttles from the Earth Transfer Station.
It was ran by the Coordinator who sets things up. The Checker is his right-hand man, responsible for seeing that everything happens and checking everything (storage, water quotas, work roster, transactions with the C.S.). The inmates belong to 50 work groups with different jobs, whose structure is set up by itself; the leader of each group participates n the Council, which breaks down what needs to be done and the teams take care of it.
The roster portions out 14 hours per week per citizen (deskwork and light labor) plus kitchen shifts. Goods, like clothes, are hand-made in the prison, and are traded for workhours. Basic needs like food are shared to everyone, and outside this, inmates barter trade goods among themselves. More demanding jobs have a time bonus and extra work hours for community services reward more goods.
During the war it held 200000 plus fleet crew and transients. Their living quarters became the personal space rooms ("perspace") for the later inmates. Less than one criminal in a million arrives there, resulting to almost a dozen in a year. 2000 populated the facility.
All of them were typically sterilized so that no children would be born there, with the exception of "special transports", prisoners that those high above wanted out of the way.
- Anton Vincennes or The Coordinator, a balding middle-aged but powerful looking man with an aura of authority. He had a dark complexion and a scar across his left cheek.
- Stelchek or The Checker, a short bookish person. He showed Lewis Tyrell around.
- Storna was a tall, buxom negress who moved like a cat. She came to the airlock and harassed Lewis Tyrell when he arrived.
- Miklos "Mike" companion to Michelle, he came to the evening gathering at the Garden.
- Michelle "Miche" a blonde woman companion to Miklos, she came to the evening gathering at the Garden.
- Cynthia friend to Mike and Mich, he came to the evening gathering at the Garden.
- Valia a woman o Asian features that was in the airlock when Tyrell arrived, she came to the evening gathering at the Garden.
- Lorili "Lori" an attractive middle-aged woman who works in the loom.
- Lewis Tyrell
The name is wrong Latin for "Sea of Stars"; it actually means "Sea at/with the Starry". It is probably supposed to represent Mare Stellatum (Starry Sea) or Mare Stellarum (Sea of Stars).