- Motto: "I can totally prove that I'm not a zombie! Just lean over hear, and let me take a little nibble out of your brains."
- Weapon: Double Barrelled Shell Launcher
Steelhand's smile had completely returned when Copperhead instructed the senior guard where he was to work. He spun his pickaxe in his hands with enthusiasm as he could hear the familiar clink of tools hitting the surrounding rocks.
"You don't need to worry about that.", he happily replied before heading down to the shaft where he'd been instructed.
Steelhand took in a deep intake as he savoured the sounds and sights of the mines. It was like he was back home again, no war, no prison. Walking down the shaft he walked past several other miners hard at work until he found an open area at the end of the shaft for him to work. The walls were still glittering, a sight Steelhand felt he would never tire of.
"This looks like as good a spot as any.", he said to himself.
He set his pickaxe down for a moment and rubbed his hands together, then took a firm grip of his mining tool. With great anticipation he pulled his pickaxe back, then swung it at the wall with all of his great strength. The head of the axe hit the rockface with a loud clanking noise, as a good sized chunk of minerals shattered from the wall. Steelhand couldn't help but give a hardy laugh.
"This ain't no dream.", he chuckled, "I'm finally back home!"
Once the initial joy had settled in, Steelhand swung his pickaxe at the wall again, and again, and again. It wasn't too long before the guard had gotten into a solid, almost musical rhythm, his pickaxe hitting the wall at a regular pace, chunks of glittering rock flying off with each clink and clank. As Steelhand kept going, he started to remember a song he and the other miners used to sing as they worked.
"Diggin' and pushin' 'til the end of day, workin' for the mech down Iacon way.", he sang to himself, keeping with the rhythm of his pickaxe, "My servos are achin' and my tank is low, but deeper and deeper and deeper we go."
Though initially relieved when Fort Max said nothing to him, deep down Armor Aid couldn't help but feel disheartened. Though he hated being reminded of his constant failures, getting little to no feedback from his superiors felt even worse. He couldn't help but wonder if the warden had simply given up on him.
Maybe he's just accepted that anyone who get's hurt will die while I'm here. Maybe I really am just here as an executioner.
Before the acting CMO could dwell on that thought, Rung led the gigantic mech out the door, leaving the just the two of them. The psychoanalyst wasted no time to get right to Armor Aid, offering the acting CMO a seat. Rung sat down first,
"All right, I'll sit.", he sighed as he sat down, "But I don't want to get too comfortable. If there's an emergency I'll need to get out of here right away. Of course, maybe they'll stand a better chance of survival if the medical drones take care of it."
When Rung mentioned that they would be recorded, Armor Aid's optics widened. He didn't worry so much about Rung reviewing their talks, or even the oft chance that this session would make it's way to any of his superiors. It was the thought of anyone who wasn't supposed to listen getting ahold of this recording. His optics scanned around the room as he wondered where the recording device was, not to menion whether there were any other recording devices that Rung wasn't aware of.
"I don't mind if you record this.", he mumbled as he continued to look around the room, thinking to himself, Though I doubt you'll be the only one listening to this later.
Armor Aid sat riggedly in the chair. Despite Rung's intentions, the paramedic had no desire whatsoever to relax. He just felt nervous being out of his office and the medical ward which had become something of a sanctuary for him, and the growing withdrawal from his drugs weren't helping matters. Without thinking he tapped the armrest of the chair with his fingers as his mind began to wander away. It wasn't long, though, before his optics focussed back on the smaller orange mech, as his audio sensors picked up the name of the most important mech of his life; Lancet.
At first Armor Aid calmed down, as the sound of his mentor's name brought up many cherished memories from his databanks; Lancet teaching him more about Cybertonian medicine than he had ever known, bringing mechs back from the brink of death, enjoying drinks at the Grease Pit, relaxing in the office and talking about plans for the future when the war finally ended.
In a blink though, those memories were overridden by one very dark memory, a memory that Armor Aid would do anything to be rid of. His hands gripped the chair's armrest hard, his fingers digging into them. He looked away from Rung at first, but eventually brough his optics back to the psychoanalyst.
"We were. I would have followed him to the Pit and back.", he replied, barely containing the bitterness he felt before quietly adding, "I should have."
Armor Aid stopped to shut off his optics for a moment, stroking his forehead. So many mechs had tried to convince him that Lancet's death wasn't his fault, but no matter how many times he heard it, he wouldn't believe it. None of them knew what really happened, and knowing what he knew, Armor Aid had no desire to tell anyone the whole truth. Armor Aid turned his optics back on and looked back at Rung, his fingers slowly tapping the chair.
"I've already reported what happened at least a dozen times, but fine.", he huffed, "I'll tell you, if only to get you off my back."
Armor Aid took a deep intake as he recalled the events from his databanks. It didn't take long because he had recalled them more times than he could count.
"I strained my shoulder during a break, so I came to the medical ward early to get it taken care of before my shift started."
Armor Aid entered the medical ward, his left hand holding his right shoulder as he slowly rotated it. The pain wasn't too bad, he could have bared with it for the rest of the cycle before his shift started. But as much fun as the Grease Pit was, he was looking forward to learning from Lancet even more. This just happened to give him an excuse.
"Lancet?", he shouted as he looked around the medical ward, "Hey Lancet, you in here?"
>>"Armor Aid? Oh, uh, You're here early. Just- just come into my office if you'd like."<<
Armor Aid looked puzzled as he heard his mentor's voice over the intercom. He didn't sound his normally cheerful self. His mentor had been quite busy with paperwork lately, though, so he thought little of it.
"Lancet was just finishing some reports for Maximus. We'd been running some routine maintenance exams on the inmates for the past megacycle."
"Well you were right, as always.", Armor Aid said with a smirk as he walked into Lancet's office, still holding his shoulder, "Arm wrestling Steelhand after he's had a few was a big mistake. I think I may have-"
Armor Aid stopped talking as he looked at Lancet, and realized that something really was wrong. The thin, white mech was sitting at his desk, his head down in his hands. He was clearly bothered by something.
"Huh?", Lancet said in a daze before he finally looked up at his protege, a thin white tube fell out of his mouth, "Oh, uh, Armor Aid. I'm sorry, what did you say?"
Armor Aid looked down at the table and picked up the small tube. He looked at Lancet with disappointment and confusion.
"A cy-gar-8? Lancet, you said you quit these over a vorn ago! You know how they can clog up your cooling systems and damage your cerebral processors!"
"I know, I know....", Lancet apologized as he shook his head, "I just......."
Lancet looked down at his desk, pausing as if he was trying to think of what to tell the young paramedic. This worried Armor Aid. As long as he had known Lancet he had always been honest and forthcoming.
"Lancet, look at me.", Armor Aid pleaded, which made the doctor finally look at him straight in the optics, "If something is wrong, please tell me! You've known me long enough to know that you can trust me!"
Lancet took a deep intake. He opened his mouth as if he was about to say something, but stopped and shook his head.
"No, Armor Aid. I can't tell you....", the doctor said painfully, "I can't tell anyone. They've already- no, no I'm sorry, I can't. If I tell anyone, I'm a dead mech."
"Since I was back earlier than he expected, Lancet decided he'd bring the reports to the warden personally."
Armor Aid didn't know what to think. He'd seen a number of violent inmates threaten his mentor countless times, only for Lancet to brush them off as meaningless outbursts by desperate mechs. This had to be serious, he had never seen the doctor look so scared, so uncertain.
"Who's 'they'?", the paramedic inquired, "Which inmates are threatening you?"
Lancet looked up at Armor Aid and took another intake.
"It's not just some of the inmates.", Lancet reluctantly said with a whisper, "Some of the guards, too. There's a lot going on behind the cell walls than you know. I don't think Maximus even knows how deep it goes."
"And you're just going to sit here and do nothing?!?", Armor Aid asked incredulously, "I can't believe I'm hearing this from you!"
Lancet shook his head, and picked up the cy-gar-8 that had fallen onto the desk, "Armor Aid, I just..... This is too big for me to deal with, all right? Too many are in this, and they know that I know. I try to do anything and I'm dead, and Autobot Medical is already stretched too thin to send a replacement any time soon. I mean no offense when I say this Armor Aid, because you really have grown as a medic since you came here, but you're just not ready to be Garrus 9's only medical officer. For now it's best if I lie low, and hope someone in security finds out about it."
As Lancet was about to put the cy-gar-8 back in his mouth, Armor Aid slapped the doctor's hand, sending the small tube flying across the room. Lancet looked up in surprise, Armor Aid had never done anything like it. The paramedic looked down at his mentor with a scowl.
"What was it you always told me? 'If you don't cure the disease early, it will destroy the body over time'? Well it sounds to me like Garrus 9 has a disease, and it needs to be cured right away!", Armor Aid said with fire in his optics, "How many have died by these mechs? Because if it's more than one, than it's too many if you ask me. If this is really going on and Fort Max doesn't know it, then you need to tell him before it's too late!"
Lancet looked down for a moment, and slowly a smile came across his face as he nodded his head. He looked back up at Armor Aid.
"I guess I taught you too well, didn't I?", the doctor warmly said as he patted Armor Aid on his non-injured shoulder, "You're right, I need to report everything I know to Maximus right away- in person, there's no telling if the comm-lines are bugged."
Armor Aid noticed several datapads on the desk- the ones that Lancet had kept the maintenance reports on. He picked them up and handed them to the doctor.
"Take these- that way you'll have a legitimate reason to see the warden. They'll be less suspicious", Armor Aid assured, "And I'll go with you, just in case someone tries to stop you."
Lancet got out of his chair and raised his hands, walking past Armor Aid to the door.
"No, no, they'll know you're there to protect me, and that'll just make you a target as well.", Lancet explained, "I can make it there on my own."
The door slid open and Lancet walked out of his office, Armor Aid following right behind.
"Lancet, let me go with you!", Armor Aid pleaded, "You know I can take a lot more than you can."
"No Armor Aid, and don't make me order you.", Lancet insisted, "Besides, someone needs to stay behind and keep an eye on things. And you can gain some experience by fixing up that shoulder of yours."
As Armor Aid was about to protest again, Lancet turned around and smiled. It was the same warm, reassuring smile that put Armor Aid at ease, that said no matter how bad things might seem, everything would be all right in the end. Armor Aid relented and went to the nearby med station.
"All right, Lancet, I'll stay. Anyway I'm sure there isn't much to worry about. They wouldn't dare try to kill the CMO in a crowded hallway, right?"
"I stayed in the medical ward and fixed up my shoulder. Turned out to be nothing serious, just needed a little more lubricant and a couple of servos realigned."
Sitting in the chair, Armor Aid seemed to get more rigid. He tapped his fingers harder on the armrest, his optics looking around the room, away from Rung. Without thinking about it he opened a small storage compartment on his hip, and without looking pulled out a data rod. He held the data rod between two of his fingers, and started tapping it against the chair.
"Right after I fixed up my shoulder the medical ward doors came open, and one of the guards ran in.....", Armor Aid paused as he could feel lubricant start to well up in his optics, he choked up a little, "Carrying what...... what was left of Lancet...... in stasis lock......"
For a moment Armor Aid did nothing but stare in horror at the sight. Lancet, his superior officer, teacher, mentor, and best friend, with a gapping hole where his chassis was. He could feel his fuel tank try to purge his system as he saw the trail of fluids and scraps of metal that followed behind. The guard carefully laid Lancet onto one of the surgical slabs, by which point Armor Aid came out of his shock and hurried over.
"Drone 2 and 3 over here, NOW!' he ordered two of the medical drones, which in turn came over, "I- I need a neural stimulater and, uh, uh," the paramedic stumbled as he desperately tried to think of what he would need to save his mentors life, "An energon regulator, and, uh-"
Armor Aid stopped as he felt something weakly grab his hand. Hesitantly he looked down, trying not to focus on the mess of broken parts and energon that lay below him. He didn't look down at his hand, for he knew already who was holding it. Instead he looked to Lancet's face, and was shocked to see his optics glowing dimly, and his faceplate had the same warm smile from earlier.
"It...... It's all-all right, Arrrrrmor Aid.....", Lancet weakly assured his protege, his vocallizer struggling to function, "It-t-t-t's all r-r-right....."
"Don't worry, Lancet!", Armor Aid said motivated as he held onto his dying friend's hand, "I'll fix you up, I promise! I won't let you down!"
Lancet barely shook his head, though his smile was still there, "Y-you were my b-b-best stu-student-t-t..... I-"
"SLAGGIT, DON'T TALK LIKE THAT!!!", Armor Aid shouted, as he tried to find where to start operating, "YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE IT!!! I'M GOING TO SAVE YOU, DON'T GIVE UP YET!!!!"
Lancet's optics went dark, though he was still smiling, "I'mmm prrroud..... of youuu....."
Without realizing it Armor Aid had placed the data rod in his mouth. He couldn't have been more tense as he looked at Rung, cursing the psychoanalyst for making him remember that awful day. He stared at the small mech like he was trying to shoot lasers out of his optics.
"I did everything I could think of, everything that Lancet had taught me.", he said in a huff, taking the data rod out of his mouth and tossing it behind him, "Reconstructive surgery, electro-dynamic nullification, systems realignment, I practically used up the medical ward's supply of energon for transfusions, but nothing worked. And after 5 cycles .... I finally had to admit that I'd lost him, and recorded his time of death at 1840 hours......"
Armor Aid shook his head, a shiver came over him as he remembered the sickness he felt when it was over, and he was covered in his mentor's fuel. He wished he hadn't left his office, he needed his cy-gar-8s more than ever.