- Motto: "Victory needs no explanation, defeat allows none."
- Weapon: Nuclear Charged Fusion Cannon
Cell Block B --- Warden's Quarters
The Ascetic Cybertronian.
It was the next on the list of works to read that Stingray had put together. And it turned out to be a lot more enlightening than the title had suggested.
Stingray was a little wary of anything that carried religious undertones, for she could only interpret them as voluntary delusions of those who didn't have the strength to stand up for themselves. But this particular essay had nothing in that regard.
Rather more, it described very simply how the irrational pursuit of wealth, pomp and power would inevitably lead to corruption and conflict and a high percentage of society plummeting to povetry, anarchy and rebellion, and suggested what should be done to prevent it. Mostly, moderation of state expenditures, a purposeful restructuring of Cybertronian society for scientific ventures and explorations to space, to provide as much of the populace an occupation as possible. Stingray read it with fascination, many of the thoughts laid out striking a similar chord to her own.
She had faced the exact same problems before the war as the author, Dominus Ambus described in his work. Wanting, hopelessness, every cycle a painful struggle just to stay functioning. The only solution she had seen then, had been to cry her anger at the skies, lose herself in pointless violence, to burn down all she had hated, to take what she couldn't have had. That's why she had joined the Decepticons in the first place. They had been the embodiment of that philosophy.
But as she read, it all cleared up to her. There were other ways of progress, that did not involve the horror of war, cruel obsession with power and so many vorns of agony and loss.
Stingray stopped reading and looked up, staring emptily at the wall. She remembered a short period of her service when she had been assigned as a guard to a prison camp. On a megacycle basis, she had seen and heard the captives submitted to ghastly tortures. Carving out optics. Sawing off limbs. Crushing joints underfoot. Dissected while still functioning. And not for the purpose of drawing hidden access codes, officer designations, or secret base locations from them but for sport. To provide rotten entertainment to a ruthless batch of guards.
Then, she had handled it with apathy, if a little discomforted, and had just closed the door behind her to shut it out. And why? Because she had believed in the righteousness of all those atrocities. That the poor sparks who had had to suffer, had deserved to.
Now, as the scenes flashed up before her optics so vividly like nothing ever before, she could feel fear, shock and disbelief cut into her like super-heated energon-blade thrust right through the spark.
How could she have been so callous?
She shivered so intensely her joint servos gave low, whining sounds.
It could all have been avoided... could it...?
Sharp, successive chimes pulled her back to the reality of the present. At first she thought it was a defensive measure of her imagination, trying to wake her from reliving her her memories too intensely. But soon she realized it was the opening mechanism of the door to her cell clearing an access card for entrance.
Stingray quickly composed herself.
The electromagnetic lock that kept the sturdy metal slab in place sizzled as the generated magnetic field dissipated, and the door creaked open.
A mech in the livery-marks of the prison guard entered. In one hand, he held a wrist-cuff. The mag-lock holster on his waist was open, allowing free access to his sidearm, should he need it.
"Come," he said flatly. "The Warden wants to see you."
Stingray merely nodded in response, warily. She slowly put the datapad down and got up, holding out her manual actuators. The cuffs closed around her wrists with a buzz. The guard checked if they held properly, then ushered Stingray outside.
Two other guards waited there. One of them didn't have as many shoulder stripes as the other two and Stingray recognized him as the mech on stationary sentry duty for her cell and the opposite one. The other appeared to be an extra escort in support of the one that had taken her out. None of them said anything, they communicated with each other by means of curt nods and hand gestures. Stingray was grateful for that. Right now, the last thing she needed was the kind of prison staff that liked to jab barbs at inmates or pull humiliating pranks on them. In stark contrast to the prison camp that had just been dredged up from her memory, there were very few of the abusive kind of guards here at Garrus. But they did exist.
She was lead away, through a long corridor into the central areas of the prison facility, one guard in front of her and the other behind to ensure she didn't get lost or try anything she shouldn't. A damp silence hang in the air, save for the clanks of her and the two guards' steps, and the occasional whistle and bawdy comment on her figure from inmates whose cells she passed by. She didn't particularly care about the latter. She had had time to get used to it at Decepticon posts.
After making their way through a zig-zag of intersections and up two levels by elevator, they finally arrived at a door Stingray wouldn't have guessed hid the Warden's office. It was the same roughly plated, rust-spotted metal like all the cell doors.
It slid open, allowing them entry. The back guard took up position outside.
The imposing figure of Fortress Maximus was apparently busy, working by a massive computer terminal. For a second, Stingray was halted in her step by the sheer size of the Warden's accommodations, the three levels of which housed barely less equipment than a fully functional research lab.
And a beautiful, majestic sight of a moon through an immense plas-glass viewport. Apart from the size of the place, that was what caught her attention.
"Inmate GB-563, Stingray, as per your instructions, sir," the guard in front announced and nudged the femme forward.