Hard Facts, Simple Truths

Ch 2: Assessments and Assignments, Part 6

After the morning run on their fifth orn in Ark Valley, Ironhide directed the recruits over to a separate track, where they could practice driving various vehicle types that the army used for transport and missions. As usual, there was someone new waiting to help out with their assessments.

“Hey, Roddy,” Springer nudged him. “Is that the guy you talked to yesterday?” Startled, Hank confirmed that is was, indeed, Op. Now, though, the man was wearing a red and blue armored jacket, with a large blaster hung from his shoulder and a longsword at his hip, as well as a stylized helmet tucked under under his arm.

“Boys and girl, it’s my honor to introduce ya t’ the Autobot leader himself, Optimus Prime.”

Hank nearly choked.

The grown men looked on with amusement as not just Hank, but all of the recruits turned some variation of white or grey in their shock. It was a few minutes later that Ironhide finally got them moving again, once everyone had recovered somewhat. As always, they went through the order of the first day to start having each of the rookies try out the different vehicle types to show what skills they had. Surprisingly, this was the first thing that Arcee did pretty poorly at, never going above twenty miles per joor and clutching the handlebars or steering wheel with a death grip.

Hank, though, felt like he was finally able to make up for his miserable performance on the sparring mat. Behind the wheel of the scouting vehicle, a low, sleek four-wheeled car that felt like it was made especially for him, the youth really opened up the throat and roared through the driving course, avoiding obstacles with a flourish and adding in a few donut spins just for good measure. When he got back to the others, Ironhide was staring at him with both eyebrows raised, while Prime appeared pretty pleased with the show.

Springer also got to spring a surprise on their instructor. “Oh, sure, everyone over the age of fifteen learned how to fly my great-uncle’s helicopter.” He told the flabbergasted old man. “I wouldn’t say I’m a master at it, but-”

“But nothin’, if ya can fly, then yer more’n likely gonna go inta our air forces.” Thanks to that, Ironhide overlooked Springer’s lack of ability maneuvering anything that wasn’t a truck.

As could probably have been predicted, Blurr was almost as unwilling to pilot the different test vehicles as Arcee, again because of lack of prior experience. Prime promised them both that it wasn’t that big an issue, and that each could probably learn to drive a two-wheeled motorcycle fairly easily.

Warpath had a bit of an issue when it came to fitting into the actual driver’s seats, thanks to his height and thick build. The space issue affected his driving talents a bit, but for the most part he came across as mediocre on all fronts. It was his cousin, though, who really took the prize that orn for having the most unexpected talent.

“You mind repeatin’ that fer me, runt?” Ironhide asked in a tone of disbelief. Cliffjumper huffed in annoyance, but refrained from snapping at him.

“I said, do you have any tanks I could try out? I helped my aunt fix up an old husk of one that been on our ranch back in the Coldhorn Slopes, and could pilot it pretty well, but I’d love to get my hands on a modern model.”

“It’s true, sir.” Warpath piped up. “Tr- Cliff’s not half bad with handling those behemoths.” Both Ironhide and Prime exchanged a look, to which the former shrugged.

“Alright,” Optimus told them. “You can try one of ours, under careful supervision and the stipulation that you not shoot anything. I’ve heard of your penchant for large explosions, and would rather not have to rebuild anymore of my base after the shooting range.” Smart enough to look abashed, Cliffjumper quickly agreed, and Ironhide promised to arrange a time for it later in the deca-orn.

“And that,” he addressed the lot of them. “Concludes your initial assessment period. Congratulations on making it this far; meet back at the training center after dinner tonight, and we’ll have your personnel assignments for you.”

The hours after his dismissal and the meeting time were torturous for the recruits to endure - they walked around the base, checked over their weapons, even went to get some more sparring practice in (though this was mostly Arcee and Cliffjumper). Finally, though, dinnertime came, and immediately after clearing their trays all six youths were back at the training center and waiting in their line. They were met by Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Optimus and a young man who was introduced as Silverbolt.

“Cliffjumper, Warpath, the both of you have been designated as Iron Corps soldiers, the grunts of our forces, but with the possibility of you moving up to join our Wreckers unit.” The cousins had mirroring expressions of awe, because while they’d expected to become basic warriors, the Wreckers were a legendary fighting force - the heaviest hitters that the army had.

“Arcee, you’re advanced enough with the right weapons and fighting abilities that you’ll be joining Jazz’s Special Operations.” The girl nodded, relaxing slightly as she already knew that the organization was made up of spies and saboteurs - right up her alley.

“Blurr, you’ll be going into the Scouting Corps, a specialized attachment of our spy and courier network who find and bring back information from right up to or even behind enemy lines.” Knowing that this was a division made up only of the fastest of the fast, he didn’t argue in the slightest.

“Springer, we made a last minute change to your assignment. At first, it looked like you’d be going Warpath and Ciffjumper, but since you’ve handled a copter before you’ll be going into Silverbolt’s Airborne Division.”

“We’re a bit of a motley crew, with all different types of aircraft, so you should fit right in,” the other man offered, getting Springer to relax a little and nod his appreciation.

“And Hot Rod, excusing your truly exceptional abilities as a living punching bag,” this got a chuckle out of everyone, Hank included. “It’s been decided you’ll become one of the Cadets, the soldiers who study under various positions before joining our ranks of officers.”

For the second time that day, Hank found himself facing a shocking piece of news. He was hardly listening as Ironhide wished them all good luck, didn’t notice the awed and cheerful looks that the others shot him, and in fact didn’t pay the slightest attention again until Optimus stepped forward to address them.

“I understand that being young can cause one to have different ideas about what war means, but I want to make it clear here and now that you all are official soldiers of the Autobot Army, and as such have placed yourselves into a less than desirable position. From now on, there will be those trying to kill you simply because of the symbol you wear, regardless of whether or not they truly support the one that they bear.” He looked each of them in the eye in turn as he spoke. “I do not ask that you give your lives to our cause, because for any spark to be extinguished is a grave loss indeed. Instead, I can only hope that you will each do your best to help us end this War, and restore Cybertron to a way of peace and equality.”

This was the second time in his life that Hank Veer had listened to Optimus Prime make a speech that reached into his very soul. But it was the first time that he, as Hot Rod of the Autobots, silently swore to always follow this man, and try his best to uphold the same ideals.
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