Title: Redstone Vignette: Good F*cking Riddance
“We’ve reached the required safe distance from the blast zone, Ma’am.”
Grace Grave, Head Warden of Caravan and Acting-Warden of Redstone, calmly folded her hands in her lap. “Thank you, Lieutenant Hendricks. Put Redstone on screen, please.” The floating penitentiary sprang into sight, a misshapen reddish ingot slowly twisting its way through space. Grace’s fingers tightened so much she felt her knuckles crack. How she had come to loathe that place during her brief tenure there.
Grace was no stranger to distasteful things. She had served with the Federation army for almost fifty years, working her way up from Private to Colonel. She had participated in and fought against invasions, occupations, and guerilla warfare on nine different planets. She had seen atrocities committed on a mass scale, felt the helplessness of inaction, and the futility of her own burning desire to make a difference. The army was too regimented to enact meaningful change even if she became a commanding general, and so Grace had taken an early retirement and moved on to a far more focused and controllable environment: prisons.
There were just as many laws on the Federation books concerning treatment of actual prisoners as there were for enemy combatants and prisoners of war, but while no plan survived the battlefield, in a closed system, Grace felt she could enact real change. Not that it was easy: she’d had to justify mass firings of irredeemable guards, retrainings for the ones that could be taught, and new methodologies for rehabilitation and prisoner interaction. It had cost most of her political capital and a great deal of personal grief to make Caravan into a place where she could look upon her work with quiet pride. That Grace had no one left to share that satisfaction with was…disappointing, but the work was more important than her private life.
She had known Redstone was bad. The whole time she’d spent shaping up Caravan, she’d been aware of the worsening reputation of the only other maximum-security penitentiary in the Federation. It was where the hardest cases were sent, where men and women went to never be seen again. She had heard, and to her shame, she had remained silent, content to better her own small, grimy corner of the universe. And her reticence to get involved had possibly cost the lives of two of the best men she’d ever known.
Don’t dwell on it. Grace had already lost too much sleep over Robbie and Wyl Sinclair. As hard as it was to put them aside, she had a whole new population to work into Caravan now: a prison population that was used to much more vicious circumstances. Over half of the inmates from Redstone had been transferred to her facility, and it would take a lot of oversight to keep them from sliding back into bad habits, or encouraging those habits in the current residents. Grace would have to be vigilant, and she couldn’t do that if she spent all her time worrying. God willing, she would meet that couple again someday. But as for today…
Today was entirely about her personal satisfaction. “Arm the mines.”
“Arming.” Hendricks nodded a moment later. “Mines are live, Ma’am. Control routed to your station.” He paused, then said, “Any last words?”
Grace smiled coldly. “Good fucking riddance.” She jammed her thumb into the activation panel. A moment later, the empty carcass of one of the worst blights in the Federations’ bloated regime exploded, disintegrating into atoms with the force of the blast. Light filled the screen, reflected in Grace’s rapt gaze. She captured the force of the explosion in her memory, the intensity of her own pleasure at seeing it destroyed, and then—the light was gone. It was over.
Redstone Penitentiary was no more.