UIU Location Dossier — "Paramax"
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Paramax

ParamaxLogoHiRes.png

United States Penitentiary

Location N/A
Security Class Administrative Maximum
Opened 1947
Status Operational
Population Classified
Warden Ulyssa van Kann
Deputy Warden Cade Ryland
Chief Psychiatrist Dr. Demetria Conroy
Chief Physician Dr. Mason Bowman
Staff 97

The United States Penitentiary, Paranormal Administrative Maximum Facility, also called Paranormal ADX or simply Paramax, is an administrative maximum security federal prison designed and constructed to contain inmates of a paranormal or occult nature. Located in an artificial orphan universe, Paramax has no permanent connection to the mainline universe, making it inaccessible and inescapable without knowledge of its exact ontological coordinates. A combination of architectural sorcery and STOP reality anchors prevents the prison from deconceptualizing into the Outside, and allows for the safe incarceration of reality benders, demigods, psychics, and thaumaturges.

Paramax is the only federal prison suitable for long-term incarceration of major parathreats, and one of the few facilities of its type in the world. As a result, it also contains prisoners from the Paranatural Warfare Command1, the Correctional Service of Canada, IKEA, and other American and allied paranormal agencies. Although these partners provide supplementary funding on a per capita basis, most expenses are paid for from the Federal Bureau of Prisons black budget, and the prison is operated solely and entirely by the Unusual Incidents Unit.

History

Prior to 1940, the federal government of the United States possessed no facilities suitable for the long-term detention or imprisonment of individuals of an occult or paranormal nature. While the idea of paracrime was not new, the prevailing conception of paracriminals was of mundane or near-mundane humans engaged in illegal paranormal activity, reflecting the focus paid to the Chicago Spirit2 by the nascent Federal Bureau of Investigation and its Unusual Incidents Unit. In the rare instances where the federal government found itself needing to detain an innately paranormal individual, the task was outsourced to specialist contractors, primarily the American Secure Containment Initiative3 and its successor, the Foundation.

Matters changed in 1940 as a result of two events: (1) the signing of the Howard-Grant Agreement with the United Kingdom and the subsequent ratification of the Three Portlands Free Association Compact, which placed the city-state of Three Portlands under undisputed American jurisdiction; (2) the formation, by executive order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, of the United States Domestic Security Council to provide unified political oversight over American paranormal policy and law. Now tasked with policing the largest paranormal free port in the Western Hemisphere, the UIU soon found itself dealing with a large number of new paracriminals who were paranormal by nature, rather than offense, and could not be safely housed within the conventional prison system.

Initially, this problem was solved by incarcerating the new parahuman prisoners in Three Portlands, relying on existing municipal facilities where possible and employing other parahumans as guards. However, this approach was complicated by local resentment of the American government and the FBI, which generated significant resistance from the city government. The reliance on municipal jails was relieved, albeit temporarily, when the United States joined the Seventh Occult War4 and assumed responsibility for the majority of Allied Occult Initiative5 prisoners of war; the terms of the Howard-Grant Agreement had allowed the AOI, via the British Occult Service6, to hold prisoners of war from the occult conflict in Three Portlands, and several internment camps had been constructed on the outskirts of the city to this end. With the American entry into the conflict, control over these prison camps was transferred to the UIU, and most existing paracriminal prisoners were relocated to these facilities.

This solution was ad hoc and deeply flawed, as evidenced by five separate prison riots between 1942 and 1945, including one in 1943 that coincided with the Battle of Portlands7. By the time the Occult War ended in 1945, it was clear that a permanent solution was needed; the end of the war had swelled the ranks of parahuman detainees with captured Obskuracorps agents and Thule battlemages, many of whom could not be executed due to the risk of hostile necromancy. Moreover, even more prisoners of war were being held by the Foundation and other AOI members, who expressed reluctance to continue doing so in the long-term.

After protracted negotiations overseen by President Harry Truman and Domestic Security Advisor Moses Howard, an agreement was reached whereby the UIU would assume responsibility for all of the remaining prisoners captured during the Occult War and in the immediate post-War manhunts. In exchange, the Foundation and the newly-chartered Global Occult Coalition would lend their technical expertise in constructing a suitable permanent prison facility, which would also be used to detain American paracriminals. Prometheus Labs was selected as the primary construction contractor, and work on the prison began in 1946, concluding in 1947.

The prison was constructed inside of an artificial pocket universe, which was anchored via Way to the existing federal prison on Alcatraz Island. The new penitentiary was given the designation Paranormal ADX, but quickly came to be called Paramax. Orlando Hugo Harding was named the first warden, and oversaw the transfer of the prison's first inmate, the powerful Obskuracorps battlemage Konrad Weiss, from Foundation custody.

Several expansions and upgrades of Paramax would be performed over the subsequent decades, with the most significant occurring in 1963, when the Alcatraz prison was closed. Rather than maintain the anchor to Alcatraz Island or relocate the endpoint, the permanent Way was deliberately collapsed, orphaning the prison's pocket universe and casting it adrift in the Outside. A new system of entry and exit was implemented, relying on thaumatological contagion-links between a set of prototype targets to aid in the calculation of the prison's ontological coordinates and allow the creation of temporary Ways to and from Paramax. Major improvements were made to the prison's reality anchors in order to allow it to survive untethered in the Outside, which consequentially allowed for the incarceration of much more powerful reality benders and deific entities.

Paramax is considered to be one of the most secure facilities in the multiverse, rivaled only by the Foundation's Lunar containment site and the GOC's Farpoint Station. As of 2024, no prisoner has ever escaped from Paramax, and no one has ever entered without authorization.


Facilities

Paramax is located within an artificial orphan pocket universe. Topologically, this universe is a sphere half-a-mile in diameter, which terminates in a discrete discontinuity with Outside unspace. This boundary with the Outside is perceived as a blank white void, although in reality it is both featureless and conceptless. Anything which crosses this boundary is immediately deconceptualized. Gravity is equivalent to Earth standard, and is oriented perpendicular to and towards the equatorial plane. There is no natural light.

The most prominent feature of this universe is the Rock — a single piece of cratonic granite, approximately 750 yards in length and width and 50 yards deep, upon which the entire prison is built. The Rock was apportated in its entirety directly from the Earth's crust to its current position, in what was then the largest peacetime act of thaumaturgy ever performed8. The nature and composition of the Rock give it exceptional conceptual solidity, offering a firm foundation for the architectural sorcery of the prison and acting as a low-grade natural reality anchor.

The cornerstone of the prison's security and onto-structural integrity are the set of nine Spatial, Temporal, and Ontological Protection (STOP) anchors distributed throughout the complex. These massive reality anchors define and enforce the spatial and temporal dimensions of the prison, prevent metaphysical conceptual modification, and inhibit reality bending by anything less than a fundamental demiurge. They play a critical role in preventing the prison's deconceptualization into the Outside, reinforcing the realness of the Rock to make Paramax ontologically self-sufficient. The STOP anchors incorporate a large number of blackbox and/or classified paratechnologies, not all of which have known origins: the temporal technology of the anchors is derived from a Xyank Anastasakos Constant Temporal Sink, a device apparently provided by causally displaced agents of a time variant Foundation; isotope analysis of the beryllium-bronze alloys used in several critical components suggests that Prometheus Labs received some of the finished parts or raw materials from an adjacent multiverse; at least one of the anchors is known to have been manufactured entirely via metafictional methods.

Since the collapse of the Alcatraz Way, access to Paramax has relied on the Contagion Target Prototypes: a set of conceptually inert silver cubes which have been bisected, with the halves divided between Paramax and facilities in the United States. Each half of a Target Prototype is thaumically linked to the other half as a result of the Law of Contagion9. Using this link, federal thaumaturges can calculate the relative ontological coordinates of Paramax, and can then open a temporary Way between the prison and the baseline universe. The Earthside halves of the Prototypes are distributed among the highest security federal facilities; the Paramax halves are kept under constant guard in the central Transit Room, and can be immediately destroyed to force the prison into lockdown — although this is a last-resort contingency, only to be used in the unlikely event of a total loss of control of the prisoner population.

While Paramax does receive regular shipments of supplies from the baseline universe, for most purposes, it is fully self-sufficient. The prison's proximity to the Outside, and the weakness of the barrier to unspace, makes it easy to perform metaphysical manifestation of raw concepts from the void between universes, so long as it does not conflict with the reality enforced by the STOP anchors. Paramax possesses several simple conceptual generators, which are used to produce basic and generic supplies from platonic concepts; these generators are hardwired to only be capable of producing a limited set of food, clothing, and other essential supplies, and cannot be easily modified to create contraband — although even if they were, they would be rendered non-functional by the STOP anchors.

Although Paramax was constructed with the intent that it be used to hold the most dangerous parahuman criminals, it has since become the primary federal prison facility for any paracriminals that cannot easily be handled by conventional penitentiaries, regardless of reason or parahuman status. As a result, it now has a low-security wing — dubbed the Presidential Wing, in reference to its most famous inmate — which is broadly similar to a normal prison. It is used to house mundane or near-mundane paracriminals who have proven resistant to amnestics or geases, or whose very existence poses a threat to the Veil. The Presidential Wing is the only portion of the facility that permits personal visitors, albeit rarely and under extremely limited circumstances.

The majority of the prison's inmates are housed in the two medium-security wings, which are designed to contain wizards, psychics, minor reality benders, and other parahumans with limited paranormal abilities. Anti-occult sigils, psionic dampeners, and other specialized countermeasures are worked into the architecture of the medium-security wings, allowing for the safe incarceration of moderate parathreats in an otherwise conventional prison environment with shared cells and common areas. Additional countermeasures may be present in specific cells, but most prisoners that require custom restraints are placed into maximum security.

Prisoners kept in the maximum-security wing are battlemages, major reality benders, demigods, and others whose paranormal abilities exceed their humanity — while some of them may technically be human, the power at their disposal has warped their worldview to be fundamentally alien. Many of them do not recognize any human authority at all, and are consequently serving life sentences. Most prisoners in maximum security are kept in individual cells, with countermeasures tailored to their specific abilities. Interactions between prisoners are rare, and tightly monitored when they do occur. The most dangerous prisoners are kept in indefinite solitary confinement, but the majority have regular contact with the guards and prison psychiatrists.


Administration

All Paramax staff and guards are members of the UIU, although only a few are active Special Agents. The psychological fortitude and knowledge of the Veil required mean that most staff are recruited from other normalcy organizations, or from paranormal enclaves such as Three Portlands. Prison staff live and work within Paramax for months at a time, and frequently have to deal with some of the worst people and non-people in the federal prison system. As a result, despite the lucrative salary and benefits offered, turnover is high.

Many members of the staff are themselves parahumans, although the percentage of thaumaturges and psychics is lower than in the rest of the UIU — the same countermeasures that keep the prisoners contained also neutralize the occult and paranormal abilities of the guards. As a result, parahumans with abilities based in abnormal biology or technology, and even mundane humans, are preferred over those with more esoteric capabilities.

Regardless of individual abilities or attributes, all security staff are armed with advanced paraweaponry, allowing them to deploy both lethal and non-lethal force even against major parathreats. Non-security personnel are not routinely armed, and are required to be accompanied by security staff while outside administrative areas. Visitors and outside personnel, including Special Agents, are prohibited from carrying weapons inside the prison, and must be accompanied by security staff at all times. UIU agents may visit the prison pursuant to active investigations, but visits for any other reason, and visits by non-agents, require the explicit prior approval of the Warden.

Warden

The current Warden is Ulyssa van Kann, who was appointed in 2015. A half-gorgon from the New Amsterdam gorgon clan, Van Kann served with the 23rd Paranatural Operations Group10 in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. While with the 23rd, Van Kann engaged in combat operations against agents of the Organization for the Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts11, djinn insurgents, rogue ghouls, and other parathreats. She was seriously injured by an IED during a mission in Kandahar, resulting in the loss of her left hand and both eyes. Although she received advanced prosthetics to replace these losses, she was given a medical discharge from the Army, and subsequently joined the UIU as an irregular agent. She was assigned to Paramax in 2012, and quickly rose to become Security Chief under Warden Corcoran, eventually replacing him after exposing his corruption.

Warden Van Kann is noted for her strict approach to command and discipline, her willingness to lead from the front and by example, her attention to and familiarity with the details of the duties of her subordinates, and the exacting standards she demands from herself and her staff. Her term as Warden has seen a sharp increase in turnover among guards and prison staff in their first six months at Paramax, accompanied by an equally sharp decrease in turnover among long-term staff — those who can function within Van Kann's system tend to function well, and the operating efficiency of the prison is at the highest level it has ever been. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, she remains deeply unpopular with other elements of the UIU, especially those who have to regularly deal with her and her uncompromising attitude.

Past Wardens

Name Term Notes
Orlando Hugo Harding 1947-1962 First warden of Paramax, and the former Jail Superintendent for the City of Three Portlands. Recruited by J. Edgar Hoover to run the AOI internment camps on behalf of the UIU during the Seventh Occult War. Lost his left ear in the prison riot during the Battle of Portlands. One of the strongest advocates of a permanent paranormal penitentiary. Heavily involved in the design and planning of Paramax.
David Perry Morris 1962-1979 Formerly an Assistant Site Director for the Foundation, responsible for humanoid containment at Site-6, a role which brought him into frequent contact with the UIU during prisoner transfers. After being passed over for promotion multiple times by the Foundation, he accepted a position as Deputy Warden at Paramax under Warden Harding, succeeding him a year later. Oversaw the collapse of the Alcatraz Way and the switch to using contagion-targeted temporary Ways.
June Harriet Monday 1980-1987 First female warden of Paramax. A full Sidhe from Three Portlands, and one of the first non-human irregular agents in the UIU. Transferred to Paramax after completing a degree in psychiatry, eventually becoming the longest serving Chief Psychiatrist in the prison's history. As Warden, instituted several reforms aimed at improving conditions for prison staff and reducing the rate of turnover.
Jeffrey Trajan Christophers 1987-1993 Nicknamed "the Roman" by inmates and staff. While a guard, killed three prisoners during the first and only prison riot in the history of Paramax. Deconceptualized after falling off the Rock and passing into the Outside. The mystery of his demise remains unsolved, and the possibility of foul play has not been eliminated.
Chase Brigham 1993-2006 The illegitimate son of a Librarian12. Originally joined the UIU as a metafiction expert. Rapidly rose through the ranks after orchestrating the capture of Professor James Moriarty. Possessed a perfect sense of direction that allowed him to open Ways to Paramax without using a Contagion Target Prototype. Abruptly retired to become a monk. Last seen meditating in the Mojave Desert.
Leonard S. Corcoran 2006-2015 Political appointee demanded by conservatives on the Domestic Security Council. Formerly the Special Assistant US Attorney assigned to the Southern District of New York for Veiled prosecutions. Instituted reforms meant to reduce perceived fraternization between guards and prisoners. Arrested after being caught embezzling funds from the prison's budget.

Notable Inmates

For a semi-comprehensive list of Paramax inmates, refer to the Domestic Security Council briefing memorandum.

Name Term Reason Incarcerated Notes
Konrad "Kord" Weiss 1947-1961† War crimes; crimes against humanity Director of Advanced Research and Applied Archeology for the Obskuracorps from its inception until his capture by the Foundation in late 1944. Veteran of two Occult Wars, and one of the most powerful battlemages in the world. Transferred to federal custody after the War, becoming the first prisoner of Paramax, where he lived the remainder of his life. Died of natural causes. Ghost defeated by Warden Harding and trapped in the walls of the maximum-security wing.
Carl Reiter ("Doctor Deuterium") 1966-1986 Nuclear proliferation Rogue Pentagram physicist. Sold nuclear secrets to Switzerland. Attempted to hold the UN General Assembly hostage with a para-nuclear device. Six months after his release from prison, he was assassinated by an unknown assailant in Jamaica.
Imhotep (Ghost) 1976- Vandalism Chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser, architect of the Step Pyramid, and high priest of Ra. His ghost appeared in Washington, D.C. in 1976, accidentally summoned by the bicentennial celebrations, and attempted to construct a pyramid on the Capitol Mall. Standard exorcisms failed to dispel the shade, but federal chaplains succeeded in imprisoning it within a canopic jar taken from the Smithsonian. The jar is now stored in Paramax.
James Earl Carter Jr. (Clone) 1978- Forgery Further information classified by executive order of President Carter.
Robert Starr ("Doctor Langoustine") 1990-1995 Tax evasion A man with a crab claw for a hand. Self-proclaimed "Czar of Crustaceans". Displays no other paranormal abilities or attributes.
Jordan "Submarine" Raybon 2004-2010 Involuntary manslaughter Notorious multiversal smuggler based out of Three Portlands. Despite numerous and repeated arrests beginning in 1991, avoided long-term incarceration by turning state's evidence in other prosecutions. Official policy of the Three Portlands Field Office was to treat him as an involuntary informant. After accidentally causing the death of Vale Fairburn, turned himself in and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Yeshua Avtomatovich Kalashnikov 2007- Grand larceny; kidnapping; assault on a federal agent. One of a number of alleged second comings of Christ incarcerated in Paramax, Kalashnikov committed eleven bank robberies in Europe and the United States between 1991 and his arrest in 2007, using the proceeds to fund a network of underground Marxist-Leninist organizations in the former Soviet Union. Theurgic abilities dampened by placing his cell between the cells of two alleged antichrists.
Hamilton Burke 2011- Racketeering Presumed leader of the Lighthouse Mafia13. Evaded federal prosecution for almost two decades. Believed to be responsible for the deaths of multiple UIU Special Agents and informants.
Salvador Garcia 2015- Lemoning Former rugby player for Deer College in Three Portlands. Transferred to federal custody from the Three Portlands Police Department.
Leonard S. Corcoran 2016-2021 Embezzlement Former Warden of Paramax.
Sierra Dustin 2017- Anart terrorism Responsible for multiple art-based terrorist attacks aimed at disrupting the Veil. Attempted to trigger a memetic bomb in Three Portlands. Captured during a joint operation with the Foundation.
Rukmini Mankanshoku ("The Rookie") 2020- Domestic terrorism Criminal mastermind behind the Chicago Spectre14. Guilty of trafficking in controlled substances, homicide, assault and battery, unlawful possession of firearms and paraweaponry, opening Ways within restricted spaces, crossing state lines in the commission of a crime, sending threats by mail, racketeering, and armed robbery. Captured while posing as a biochemistry student at the University of Pittsburgh. Claims to have been framed by alternate self.
Alexis Norwood 2024- Paratech trafficking; seditious conspiracy Researcher for Anderson Robotics, involved in the development of androids and prosthetics. Believed to be a co-conspirator of Vincent Anderson in the infiltration of the US Congress by Saker androids. Arrested during the UIU-Foundation raid on Anderson Robotics. Fiancée Myra Rider, wanted on similar charges, is still at large.

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