The Golden Gate Skyprison is a massive aerostat complex floating two miles above the Mojave desert region of the Republic of California. The structure is nearly a mile long, and houses the worst of the worst criminals, terrorists, and malcontents that cross the Pacific Rim Coalition.
A One Way Ticket
There is only one way out of the Skyprison, and that is death. The prison is notoriously engineered to be the pinnacle of human inventive cruelty, and that life inside the hull of the skyprison is deliberately the worst place on earth, and that death is highly preferable. The main body of the skyprison is a large open chamber that runs the length of most of the hull. Inside, it is full of garbage and wreckage that the inmates are forced to pick through to find tools, hygiene supplies, improvised weapons, and shelter. There are periodic food and water drops, which tends to set off melees among the inmates for the meager supplies offered.
There are a number of autons who are present inside the skyprison, and they work to ensure that chaos reigns, and that no single inmate becomes too powerful, or that things become too peaceful. In the event of melees and violence, the wardens will collect the corpses of the dead for disposal, and will gather the wounded and take them to the Mistress of Needles, the skyprison infirmary. The wardens also break up hoards and stockpiles of supplies, and destroy weapons the inmates have made if they are too dangerous.
The Mistress of Needles is a med-pod and a squad of medical autons who serve as the butcher surgeon of the Golden Gate Skyprison. The Mistress is very efficient at saving lives, and specializes in amputations and creating very cheap prosthetics, or grafting limbs from corpses onto the living. The level of medical science is high, and the body horror is likewise jacked through the roof. Everything is designed to be a horrorshow from start to finish.
Suicide Booths and the Grand Balcony
The staff of the skyprison does what it can to prevent natural death, and homicide related fatalities. When an inmate dies, it is fully intended to be a conscious decision on the part of the inmate. To facilitate this, there are two ways out, booth and balcony. There are twelve suicide booths in the skyprison, and the inmate has to enter the booth, hook themselves into the seat inside, and then verbally pick their method of self destruction. The list of options changes, but common options are electrocution, lethal injection, firing squad, and blades. None of the methods are anything other than cruel and inhumane. Voltages are tuned to ensure the longest and most painful burn, chemical injection is designed to be as painful and horrific as possible, and picking bleeding out is never a knife across the wrist, but more commonly disembowelment or dismemberment.
The Balcony has to be found, and inmates searching for the access path to the balcony trigger a surveillance system, where their trek through the ship is broadcast so that those who are morbidly interested have the option to watch the subject of their hate/scorn struggle and fight through obstacles for the chance to find the Balcony. The balcony itself a 150 foot viewing platform on the bottom of the Skyprison. Monitors and speakers hang from the bottom of the hull, allowing the inmate to see the people who are watching them, and to receive messages from them. This is a cacophony of hatred, scorn, people telling them to turn back, and all the rest of the noise the CogNet can generate. Then, it is a two mile drop to the hard stone of the Mojave desert below.
The Golden Gate Skyprison is an anachronism of cruelty and barbarism in the Cosmic Era, and it goes against the more common themes of criminals being subjected to nerve stapling, psychotronic reprogramming, or being implanted with behavior modification cybernetics. It is a Snake Plisken-esque escape from super prison, a place full of the worst human beings, from the inmates up through the entire staff that maintain and operate the facility. The Skyprison is a place to put a VIP the PCs need to find, or a place for the PCs to end up themselves and they have to find a way to bring it down and destroy the monument to human cruelty that it represents.
Operation Deadman - in the case of the Skyprison's command and control center being compromised or taken by a revolt, Operation Deadman will activate, causing the skyprison to rise to a height of 4 miles, and then vent the buoyancy tanks, and cut all power to the A-pods, causing the prison to plummet four miles to a terminal velocity impact in the desert.
Operation Blackout - similar to Deadman, Blackout causes the Golden Gate Skyprison to rise in altitude, to it's maximum capacity, and then depressurize. The loss in hull pressure wont damage the skyprison, but the event will cause the majority of inmates to blackout due to oxygen loss. This can be done short term to quell revolts, or in more serious cases, be sustained so that a large portion of the inmates die from asphyxiation. This is highly discouraged, as it defeats the purpose of the cruelty designed into the Skyprison.
Operation Red Dawn - Red Dawn is the code name for activating Golden Gate's self destruct protocol.The process is straight forward and causes the aerostat's power core to overload and then explode. The way the engineering section is designed, the explosion will be channeled up and into the body of the aerostat, gutting it and killing most all of the occupants. The flaming plummet to the ground will kill the rest.
Author's Note: Golden Gate Skyprison was inspired by Space Pirate Cobra, a laughably bad anime from the 90s. The prison sky ship thing appeared in a single scene to show how bad the big bad was, and the info drop said that the only way out of Big bad's prison was a suicide jump from one of the exposed windows, this being explained after watching an inmate Wilhelm scream their way to freedom and a splat in the mountains.