Title: And All That Could Have Been
Location: Security Forces Headquarters, Kaon
Date: 31 January 2015
Summary: Ruiner is in jail. Arcee and Quickswitch decide to talk to the prisoner.
There's all sorts of sounds echoing off the walls in this infernal facility, but a few in particular stand out: There's the sound of some distant doors clanking open, and soon, there's the sound of footfalls approaching the enclosure where Ruiner is being held.
In one of the high security cells in the basement of Security Forces Headquarters, an identified Decepticon has been brought in. He's behind bars in a white cell brightly lit from above (while darker in the outside hall) to so that he is always visible and will have great difficulty hiding anything. His onboard weapons have been stripped or deactivated, and his tires have been removed to prevent any altmode tricks.
He sits on the lone recharge slab in the room, arms behind his head, stretched out and relaxed.
He figures the Autobots will come to do whatever it is they're going to do, and that getting worked up about it is a waste of time and energy.
Eventually, the cell doors open, and a guard detail waits immediately outside as someone rather unexpected enters the cell...not a police interrogator, or a trained detective, but...a dainty, pink femme who looks about as harmless as a toothless turbomouse. She's carrying a datapad. If she's armed, it isn't apparent, or perhaps she's deliberately not armed because the guard detail is looking out for her. "Hi," she greets.
Ruiner sits up. It's obvious from his expression he wasn't expecting a vistor of Arcee's type, though, you never know, she -could- be one of those finger-needle memory monsters that Megatron spoke /ever so highly of/. Nevertheless, he plays it cool. "Hello there. Nice digs, aren't they? I'll take them over a ruin in Blaster City any day. So what brings you here miss...?" He leaves her to fill in the rest.
"I'm Arcee," she greets. "I just wanted to talk with you for a little while. This, uh...this room you have here, it's actually one of the better ones, from what I understand. Maybe they have plans for you or something." Arcee stands across from Ruiner, not unlike the scene where Clarisse meets Dr. Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.
"Nice to meet you Arcee." He pauses and sighs a little, smiling with a helpless shrug. "Okay, they've probably got it on records outside my cell - my name isn't Ruiner, it's Gauge. Nice to meet you." Putting his hands on his lap, he glances at the energon dispensor on the wall. "I'm a real-live Decepticon so I expect they'll make a public spectacle of me. Yeah, they've likely got plans. I won't be given a fair trial or anything close."
"Is that what you think's going to happen?" Arcee asks. "...Because I'll be honest, I don't know what's going to happen to you. After the whole ordeal with Blast Off, I just wanted to make sure that...nothing bad was going on, I guess...I mean, you're in prison, it's not supposed to be a good time, but there's protocols that..." She stops and frowns. For all she knows, Sentinel will order this mech's execution within the cycle. "Are you scared?" she suddenly asks.
"... A little," Gauge confesses. "It's funny, you know? I'll admit, I've done terrible things, but I did them because I /wanted/ to get caught. I wanted to die. I was just hoping, you know, it wouldn't be slow or in prison. I'd hoped to go down in a blaze of glory." He leans back against the wall, and with that visor of his, it's hard to tell exactly where he's looking. "... Well, I used to think that way, then I got a reason to live. ... Right before this. Life's funny that way."
"If you don't mind me asking, what happened?" Arcee asks. She's currently sitting inside the prisoner's cell where Ruiner, a/k/a Gauge, is being held. An armed detail stands outside of the cell, but all Arcee is doing is just speaking to the prisoner normally, not 'working him over' interrogator-style. Because...she isn't a psychopath, that's just not her style.
"Fell in love," Gauge confesses.
Quickswitch has never met Arcee, so when the sixchanger finds her at Ruiner's cell, he gives her a curious look, "Have you been assigned to the prisoner?" He's carrying a clipboard and stylus and looks like he means business.
"Oh, now see. That'll get you every time," Arcee says with the slight hint of a smile. Then, she overhears someone approaching, and looks...oh boy, if it isn't Rung's new best friend. How wonderful, she thinks. "No, I just came here to ask him some questions," she tells Quickswitch politely.
"And look what we have here: The mech that brought me in," Gauge says, thumbing towards Quickswitch for Arcee. Gauge stands up and puts his arms behind his back. "So what's it gonna be this time? You already blew out my tires, let one of the greatest con artists on the planet get away - here to rough me up a little more, maybe? Seems to be what Autobots do these days."
"No offense," he asides to Arcee.
The grim cast to Quickswitch's features grows in severity, but he gives no acknowledgement to Ruiner's scathing words or that they've affected him any, "...Escort the prisoner to Interrogation..." he addresses the guards outside the cell. He glances at Arcee, "On Prowl's orders."
Arcee seems conflicted, but she often is these days. Still young and impressionable, a lot of her most recent conflict has been with the concept of 'fairness' and what it means to be fair and just. Since Gauge's fate is out of her hands, she just looks at Quickswitch and doesn't say anything. He might sense some resentment there, however. Why it exists will just have to be a mystery, for the time being.
Gauge offers Arcee the crook of his arm. "Lead the way, then. Don't want to make the big guy impatient, do we?" For a horrible evil monster killer, he's.... kind of not horrible at the moment.
Quickswitch's optics blink at Arcee and the Autobot raises a steady hand to the back of Quickswitch's neck, "..No, wait a moment.. What kind of intelligence have you gotten from the prisoner..?" he trails off, not knowing Arcee's name, nor comprehending her resentment any. It merely confuses rather than bothers him.
"No, I...really can't, sorry. Thanks for the offer, though." Arcee's conflicted enough without having to deal with a POLITE prisoner. To Quickswitch, she admits, "I hadn't asked him anything important before you arrived."
"She got my real name, though, to be honest that's not hard once you look at my serial number. Y'know, you'd be shocked how many people just assume that the name you give them is your actual name. It's also really telling about who's paying attention to things and who isn't. Blurr never gave it a second thought when I told him I was an Ibex pit mechanic and that I worked for the IAA - you'd think he of all people would know there's never been a pit mechanic named 'Ruiner' working at Ibex. I mean, just think about that name. What racer's going to let a mech named 'Ruiner' work on him?" Gauge grins.
"Hm," Quickswitch taps the edge of his clipboard with his stylus, "By all means, carry on. This might prove useful." He even gives Arcee a small smile, and to Ruiner, a fierce glare," The sixchanger observes the two with faint impassivity; his emotions bare on his face, in his voice, his manner, "We can carry out the interrogation later..." Again, the tight, grim expression of the Autobot returns.
"Well, Blurr is...he doesn't really think hard about many things. It's just how he is, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know about him," Arcee tells Gauge with a shrug. "But society's in a state of flux now, and I think that it won't be long before no one takes anyone's word for...anything, anymore." She glances at Quickswitch. "...You sure? Because I mean it, if you have business and I'm in the way here, I can leave."
Quickswitch shakes his head, "By all means, stay. The business can wait a little," besides, I've got all cycle for this, Quickswitch doesn't voice.
"Stay if you would, you're probably the last friendly face I'll see," Gauge/Ruiner asks of Arcee. "You're right about society though. I guess you can call me yet another wasted life."
The hulking form moves just inside the cell and takes notes. Looking pensieve, Quickswitch's stylus skitters across the clipboard as he occassionally glances toward Arcee and the prisoner. Nothing is said in response. He waits, though it is never certain whether with infinate patience or stifling impatience, or somehow, both.
"Why do you feel like your life has been wasted? I would think that...if anything, you would feel a lot like a martyr for your cause," Arcee says to Gauge. "But I'm not getting that sort of confidence from you."
"I can't be a martyr for the Decepticon cause, because that would require a freedom of speech we don't have. I'll just be another statistic at the end of all this, a case file buried at the bottom of a stack, and no one will know I've lived or died." Except Megatron. But Gauge isn't about to bring -that- up. "If we're all just cogs in the great machine of Cybertronian society, there isn't any room to be a martyr. Cogs are replaceable - at least half our society is listed as -disposable-. What more needs to be said?"
Cause? What cause? Quickswitch doesn't wonder long. Of course! He's a Decepticon! Quickswitch stabs his stylus into the clipboard and writes 'Decepticon' severely on the tablet. "Decepticon," Quickswitch whispers to himself. He smiles, a not-at-all pleasant expression. I think I'm gonna like this. He continues to listen in on the conversation.
"That seems kind of nihilistic. I'm not sure what I was expecting," Arcee admits softly, "But maybe I thought you had more dedication to the cause or something. It isn't as if there's any 'right' or 'wrong' answers...they're just not the answers I expected to hear. Because...okay, if Megatron is right, then wouldn't every sacrifice to his cause have some sort of meaning?"
Gauge/Ruiner turns to look at Arcee, and laughs weakly, shaking his head, before sitting back down on his recharge slab. "What were you expecting? A leaking, wild-optic fanatic ready to throw himself at the first opportunity to die for a mech? I'm a just another bot. If it weren't for the fact that I threw my lot in with people who looked like they had something more to offer me than the status quo, I'd still be taking beatings from every racer that didn't feel my touch up to their paint was good enough. Here I am - A fully licensed, qualified medic specializing in degenerative malfunctions, and I'm worth less to society than someone who can go really fast in a circle."
Quickswitch's frenetic writing slows, pauses, stops. He remembers something Rung showed him, the Empties in Kaon and shudders visibly and the Autobot curses himself for that show of weakness. His brows knit together and he bites down on his dentition. But. He says. Nothing.
"I'm just trying to understand, is all. According to the records, you really do appear to have the qualifications you claim, and yet...I'm just wondering why you threw it all away. Clearly, it wasn't for this cause, so then...it must have been for love?" Arcee ends that as something sort of like a question.
"The love was an accident along the way. I did what I did because I was just tired of being a slave. I was punished for doing my function, I was punished for not doing my function. The Ibex Athletic Association bought me and had me in so much debt I'd have to do whatever they wanted just to keep fuel in my tank, and you know who came to me first, to drag me into the shadow?" Gauge asks.
He pauses poignantly. "The -cops-."
"There were officers who wanted to get rid of bodies for them. They offered me a lot of money to break them down on the sly, and when you're tired of being kicked around, tired of feeling like your life has no hope and no meaning, you grab on to what you can." He laughs bitterly. "It was some of the enforcers in this -grand establishment I am in right now- that started me down my criminal career." He leans back against the wall, flashing a handsome grin. "The money was what it was all about at first, but once I had enough to buy myself out of the IAA's grip, I was left with an even bigger problem: Rich or poor, /my life wasn't worth anything/. -No one's is-. We're all stuck in the same rut, wearing ourselves out until we collapse, trapped in the same damn functions from ignition to burnout. And if life has no meaning - if there's no Primus or Pit - if this world won't let me be anything but what my altmode says - then frag it. /Frag it all/."
As Gauge speaks, Quickswitch's face falls. His lips part in dull increduly, his mouth falls open, unnoticed by the mech. Quickswitch has only ever known a single function despite his many alternate modes, never minded it. It surprises him that these others, these 'dual-modes' could be so constricted by their fates and so unhappy, and so abused. He shivers, again tapping the stylus to the edge of his clipboard and growing irritable, "Are you finished?" he asks Ruiner. Looks like the Decepticon has hit a nerve somewhere.
"Well, that's all I had," Arcee comments tersely, looking up from her tablet briefly toward Gauge and then quickly looking over toward Quickswitch, as if to say, (It's your move now.)
"I do believe you were in here to get a confession from me," Gauge points out oh-so-helpfully. "But hey, if we're done, that's fine." He then goes right ahead and lays on his side on the berth.
Arcee watches Quickswitch as he heads back out, he's probably waiting for a more opportune time to come in here and tip Gauge's neural sensors out one by one because she definitely wouldn't stand to watch anyone get treated like that -- even this mech. "Well as you can tell, I'm no interrogator. I'm not here to extract anything, least of all a confession," she mentions.
Ruiner remains on his side. "That's why I'm telling you everything," he explains, settling in as if to rest. "I suppose it's just one more way I can blow exhaust in the faces of the bots that think they own everyone. I may not be a raving glitch, but yeah, I was inspired by the Decepticon manifesto. It's more hope than I've had in a long, long time."
"What makes you think you'll die for sure in this place, and you won't get remediation or rehabilitative probation?" Arcee asks.
"Guess who killed all those intellectuals and took out their brain modules and sensor hubs," he answers simply.
Arcee ohs. She looks down at the floor, looking somewhat depressed. "I guess you probably *are* going to die in here, then," she says, feeling very much like she lives on the wrong planet. "Have they sent that really weird mech in here yet to talk to you, guy named Rung?"
"Nah. I haven't even been read my rights. No Xaaron-approved attourney," Gauge says. He notices Arcee looking at the floor and hehs faintly. "Don't worry about it. Justice -is- going to be done when I die. I killed, and I admit it... I just thought that, maybe, if I did something horrible enough, it would get everyone's attention. Make them wonder WHY, and then, when I was taken in, and brought out to die, I'd tell them. I'd tell that for once, the Intellectual classes wouldn't get first seats on the evacuation ships. That -they- would be the ones that would supply disposables with the lifesaving parts they needed, instead of the other way around. I knew that it would kill me to leave that message, but I was willing to become a monster, and take all that evil on me, in hopes that it might slap bots out of the fear and complacency of their lives. then -- then I could die and finally get out of this hell of a life."
After a moment of silence, he adds, his voice cracking. "... I just didn't expect that someone would give a damn about me first. Now? Now I'm gonna die with regrets. It wasn't part of the plan."
"Want me to communicate anything to your love? Because I can do that...if you let me know who it is," Arcee offers. "Obviously, it can't be anything other than personal. I'm not a courier of enemy secrets. But I think you should at least be able to communicate one last time."
"... I don't think you can get to him, and I wouldn't recommend you try," Gauge says earnestly. "I think you'd get yourself in over your head with both your superiors, and him, if you sent a message. It's all right. I recorded something just in case. So... now I just wait."
Arcee just frowns, and says nothing for a little while. "...." This situation is really getting to her, and she never intended for it to affect her so much. It isn't so much that she feels 'sorry' for Gauge; he's a criminal and he's confessed to his crimes. But in her mind, death is too harsh a sentence, and it's handed down far too often.
"... I hope to Primus he isn't thinking of rescuing me," Gauge suddenly blurts out.
"It isn't Megatron, is it?" Arcee suddenly asks, with all the impetuous curiosity of a youngster.
"... You're an exceptionally good guesser," Gauge replies.
Arcee suddenly laughs. "No I'm not," she insists. "That was a terrible thing of me to ask, anyhow, it's none of my business, at all. I don't even know why I asked you that, it just slipped out."
Gauge laughs just a little as well. "No, no, there's nothing wrong with asking - you're the authority figure here, after all - but you can see why I hope there's no rescue party coming.
"Yeah, I can see it, now." Arcee admits. "Do you believe, or did you believe at one time, that mechs trying to keep the social order are evil or corrupt? Or does the power just eventually do the corrupting?"
"No. No to all of that. I don't blame bots trying to keep some kind of order in the world, there has to be -something- or we don't have a civilization at all. I don't blame bots doing their job, because like me, they might have been just assigned to do a job they hate and they can't escape. As for power corrupting... I don't know. I've never had power, and I'm pretty corrupt. Maybe it's the lack of power that causes corruption."
"Well, thank you for talking to me, I need to get going. I might see you one more time," Arcee notes. "And I'm not sure about Quicksilver, he may have orders to question you. I didn't. I just wanted to come talk."
Ruiner nods. "Thanks," he says, and it sounds like he means it. "If there are bots like you around, maybe there's hope for this planet yet. Good luck with your life, Arcee."
Arcee smiles sadly, because...what can she say to that?? "...Thank you," she says softly, then heads on her way, feeling very, very much conflicted.