How can I beat this space prison blockade?

Juliana

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I need your help, dear Chronners! Okay, so my current wip is a very soft science fiction, with a lot more emphasis on the fiction than on the science... :ROFLMAO: But I do need a logical explanation for something and I'm having trouble finding one.

My story is set on a moon-based juvenile prison camp. There's some sort of blocking system in place, meaning that anyone who wants to land on the moon has to first arrive at an Orbital Station, then be authorized to descend in one of the official ships. Same procedure to leave the moon.

It's a prison, so not sure it's enough just to say that they do a full sweep of surrounding space for approaching ships? Or is it?

The thing is, I need two separate, small ships to beat the block and land. One are my bad guys, who go through official channels upon arrival but will need an retrieval ship to leave. The other is my rescue team, who will have to land and then leave again with four prisoners on board.

I'm a bit stumped as to how to make this believable and not ridiculous. After all, if it were as easy as landing under some sort of cloaking device, there wouldn't be a lot of prisoners left...
 
This is a tough problem. If you have technology advanced enough that it makes sense to have a prison camp on the Moon, you must have enough technology for any vessel of any kind to be detected (and attacked, if necessary.)

Some possibilities, depending on your story's background:

1. Can the intruding vessel land very far away from the camp -- the other side of the Moon, maybe -- and then can the invaders make a very difficult, long journey over the surface of the Moon? Maybe in a vehicle of some sort until they are within a certain perimeter, then maybe even on foot? (In spacesuits, of course!) Maybe the prison authorities don't expect anybody to go to all the trouble and danger of approaching by land.

2. Could the vessel disguise itself (in some way) as, say, a meteor of unusual size. This would require it to approach in a dangerous fashion, maybe even a deliberate crash landing; again, the invaders have to go to a lot of trouble and put themselves in danger.

3. Similarly, the vessel could fake (in a convincing manner) an emergency landing. Maybe the prison officials would be forced to send out a rescue team, which could lead to a pitched battle.

I hope this helps a little bit.
 
Right quick idea that popped into my head...

Protocol. My idea is this:

The bad guys are going through official channels so will try and get out again via normal channels and via the official ships...

But when there is a riot or some sort of insurrection at the institution there is a lock down so that there is no approach allowed of any ship except a 'swat' team of some sort who are sent in to quell the disturbance. The 'swat team' could be your good guys, who have also organised the riot to take place - and disabled/taken over the real swat team. The bad guys are already frustrated and can't move, so the good guys take your prisoners onto the only working ship and escape before anyone knows?
 
Couple of options:

Perhaps some scheduled ships that are automatically not scanned (maintenance or automated drone ships) being compromised in some way. It would also provide a reason why this hasn't been done before - because it gets detected after the first time. Maybe it involves some moon jail grid hacking to initially compromise the drone ships.

Maybe an inside man?

I always find with escape movies/scenarios that the ones that utilise things already happening within the prison seem the most plausible.
 
As with genuine prison breaks, some succeed with inside help. Guards have been bribed to turn off alarms or look the other way.
 
If what I've read in detective fiction is true, then most prison escapes commonly use existing maintenance and service vehicles.

So in this instance, you could simply utilise an existing service/supply ship, then perhaps have your second ship rendez-vous with that once away from the lunar secure zone.

2c. :)
 
Perhaps one of the maintenance shipped transports something quite deadly and the regular security sweeps routinely ignore the "dark spots" in this particular maintenance vessel.

Inside help seems like a good idea.
 
Could you have a cloaked ship in extremely close proximity to one that's going down normally? If a cloaked ship had a low reading (or suchlike) on whatever space radar is called, then it could be masked by being both cloaked and immediately adjacent to an official ship, perhaps.
 
Here are some scenarios. One, you fool everyone with forged permissions. Two, you disable the system for a time. Three, you have a man on the inside. Four, you fool the system with what looks like a rock colliding with the moon, but it is in fact a life pod. Five, you defeat the prison guards in battle either killing or disabling them. Six, you pretend to be in distress have the officials take you onto the moon for help. Seven, since this is SF light, you might resort to magic or Jedi mind tricks. ----- Probably could come up with a few more.
 
Perhaps they can steal or hijack a prison shuttle from wherever the shuttle flies from and come from. Or come in as prisoners themselves.
 
So many great ideas... *sigh*

The thing is, there isn't an actual prison facility – the entire (smallish) moon is the facility, with prisoners scattered around as forced labor in a variety of places (mine claims, jungle clearance crews, town labor etc). So any insurrection/riot type scenario is out. Also, the MC doesn't know anyone is looking for him (until they actually find him!) because he's had his memory wiped.

I like the idea of using a regularly scheduled run between the Orbital Station and the moon; maybe my rescuer can cloak her very small ship and attach it to the transport barge that travels up and down the official route.

As for the bad guys (who are bounty hunters – both parties want my MC but for very different reasons), I think I'll go for the inside help lots of you have suggested. They can have a deal with the person responsible for the facility, and plan to switch my MC's identity with one of the prisoners who has just completed his sentence, sneaking my MC out 'legally'.

Does that sound vaguely plausible?

edited to add: Also, it's close 3rd, so any explanation has to be simple enough so that it can be told to my MC without taking too long.
 
It sounds more than vaguely possible. It sounds like the most likely way it would happen.
 
Could the prisoners' diet be different from the food the guards eat, and maybe the guards eat poisoned food, brought in on a supply ship, organised by an insider.
 
Not really, Crystal, as there are very few guards stationed on the moon, which kind of runs itself. I'm going for a sort of Wild West/ California during the gold rush feel, with a dash of Lord of the Flies. But nice idea!
 
I need your help, dear Chronners! Okay, so my current wip is a very soft science fiction, with a lot more emphasis on the fiction than on the science... :ROFLMAO: But I do need a logical explanation for something and I'm having trouble finding one.

My story is set on a moon-based juvenile prison camp. There's some sort of blocking system in place, meaning that anyone who wants to land on the moon has to first arrive at an Orbital Station, then be authorized to descend in one of the official ships. Same procedure to leave the moon.

It's a prison, so not sure it's enough just to say that they do a full sweep of surrounding space for approaching ships? Or is it?

The thing is, I need two separate, small ships to beat the block and land. One are my bad guys, who go through official channels upon arrival but will need an retrieval ship to leave. The other is my rescue team, who will have to land and then leave again with four prisoners on board.

I'm a bit stumped as to how to make this believable and not ridiculous. After all, if it were as easy as landing under some sort of cloaking device, there wouldn't be a lot of prisoners left...
An inside job? Perhaps a programmer on the security team helps with the documents. This gets them onto the moon, but the real action starts when they are discovered mid-mission. If you want to make it interesting and include the meeting of the two invading parties who start fighting over the prisoners. This along with the alerted security forces would make for an exciting get-away.
 
Yes, probably not a great idea. I was thinking more about the orbital station where the shuttles go from. If the people who run that are stopped then a shuttle could be taken to the moon.
 
If your blockade is automated it must have some way of recognising the official ships, possibly some sort of signal or transponder to tell the blockade not to stop/ attack them? That way all your characters would need is to bribe/ trick someone into giving them the code or frequency and they could fly down on the far side of the moon to the orbital station, so as not to be seen. If the codes are changed regularly that could give you an excuse for some time pressure to leave within a given window, possibly with a seat-of-the-pants getaway...
 

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