Hard Facts, Simple Truths

Ch 1: Prologue to Adventure, Part 3

Onslaught never did think to check to see where some of the green truck’s pieces ended up.

“Think we can get down yet?” Hank asked again. Peering down at the forest floor, Spencer strained all his senses, but couldn’t find anything to indicate that the Decepticons were still hanging around.

“I think so.” He said cautiously. “But we might want to take it slow and-”

With a whoop, Hank slid down the tree at full speed, rolling when he reached the ground and then popping back up to his feet. “C’mon, Spence!”

“-quiet.” Spencer finished. He sighed, taking a moment to grab his own bag and the remaining one of stolen weaponry before joining his companion. The two of them observed the blackened and warped pieces of Spencer’s vehicle that were strewn around the area, each grateful for the device beneath the driver’s seat that had launched the both of them up and into the tree tops.

“I’m sorry you had to sacrifice your truck.” Hank offered, a few silent moments later.

“Thanks.” Spencer returned in a subdued tone. Many times as a kid he’d asked for his grandmother to demonstrate that particular safety feature, and her response had always been that they should keep it a secret as long as possible, the better to surprise whoever they’d have to use it to get away from. He briefly wished she’d been able to see her sneakiness pay off in such a spectacular manner, but then shook those thoughts away. It was his choice to have left the family behind - longing to see them again at this point would only break his heart further.

“So, I guess this means we have a full few days of walking ahead of us, huh?” Hank joked, nudging the Roamer with his elbow.

“Yep.” Spencer forced himself to grin. “At least it’ll be more interesting now, with someone else to commiserate with over the aching feet and bug bites.”

“...I really wish you hadn’t brought those up.”

“Tough. It’s my revenge for you filching those stupid weapons.”

“Hmph. Guess I can’t complain about that, then.” Spencer snorted at him. “So, any idea what route we’re going or how long it’ll take?”

In answer, the Roamer pulled out his map, unfolding the pliable plastic sheeting. “I had been going to take the northern road up from Hillitrex, then follow the old Praxian highway to the east. Now, though, I think it’s be smarter to stay off the paved roads, and cut through these valleys towards Iacon, which should be about five orns, give or take. We might have to do some crosswise travel, and there’s always the chance we’ll have to backtrack if there’s an obstacle we can’t go over or around, but the further into the mountains we get the less risk there is of running into Decepticons.”

“Sounds good to me!” Hank hoisted up his bags as Spencer refolded the map. “Which way?”

Rolling his eyes, Spencer pointed in the direction that the sun was rising from, and his companion set off with a purposeful stride that it took a few kliks for the Roamer to catch up with.

They hiked up the forested foothills for the rest of that orn, making camp shortly after sunset beside a creek and spending the night cycle sleeping in a tree again. When morning hit, Hank woke up more sore than he could recall being in vorns. His feet, his knees, his lower back - anything and everything ached. He made sure to say so to Spencer continuously for the following joor, thoroughly annoying the Roamer and forcing him to upend one of their water containers over Hank’s head.

After Hank dried off and they both ate, the pair started walking again. They’d gotten into the mountains proper by that point, making progress over and around ridgelines that began to lose the thick tree cover. Grass stalks became thicker while bushes shrank into shrubs, and the wildlife shifted from birds and squirrels to mice and rabbits. Hank entertained himself a few times by swiping the longest energon blade, practically a sword, at some of the thick bunches of vegetation to disturb various critters.

By far the most interesting thing he disturbed, though, wasn’t a critter at all.

Hank and Spencer had been coming over the top of another low ridge, the former swiping his stolen weapon at the tops of some tall shrubs in an imitation of a master swordfighter.

“You’re going to hurt yourself if you keep that up.” The Roamer said at one point.

“What makes you say that?” Hank replied, ignorant of his friend’s annoyed expression. Just as he said it, though, he lunged forward with improper footing. Losing his balance with a yelp, Hank tumbled into the bushes, setting Spencer to chuckling. The laughter cut off, though, as the youth was thrown back out of the vegetation, something pale white and blue landing on top of him.

“Hey!” Spencer yelped as the blade was held against Hank’s throat by an angry looking teenager. Before the Roamer could move to intervene, someone else jumped out of the bushes and aimed a rifle at his chest.

“Hold it right there.” A serious looking, dark-haired young woman wearing a black and pink shirt growled at him. “One move and your buddy is toast.” Slowly, so as to avoid being shot at point blank range, Spencer raised his hands into the air and attempted to look as nonthreatening as possible.

Hank, however, had no such desire, and once the blade was removed from his throat he started spewing curses like there was no tomorrow. “Primus! What the frag is your problem?! Jumping people for no slaggin’ good reason-”

“Get up and shut up.” The girl snapped at him, the barrel of her gun providing the incentive to obey. Still grumbling, Hank got to his feet and went to stand beside Spencer. Unlike the Roamer’s position of surrender, though, he retained a wide stance with his arms crossed and a glare trained on their two assailants. The teen who’d first knocked him down remained crouched on the ground, holding the handle of the energon blade with a white knuckled grip.

Spencer did a double take. It wasn’t just the teenager’s knuckles that were white, all of his skin was - what little could be seen, anyway, which was mainly just his hands and face. His hair was a silvery color too, and behind the tangled curtain of it Spencer could just make out a pair of pink eyes.

“Now,” the girl started speaking again. “Where are your friends hiding, and how many are there?”

The young men blinked first at her, and then at each other. “Uh... What friends?” Spencer asked.

“Don’t play dumb with me, Con.” She snarled at him. “We all know you creeps travel in packs! So quit stalling and tell me where the rest of them are!”

Hank’s jaw dropped. “You think we’re fraggin’ Decepticons? Lady, did you take a knock to the head or something?”

“You’re the ones with Con weapons.” The albino teen offered, holding up the blade in his hand.

“We stole them! Just before those slaggers blew up my friend’s truck, and after they’d completely wrecked my mom’s eatery!” Indignant, Hank shook his head at the accusation. Seeing the new hesitation in the girl’s eyes, Spencer went for the clincher.

“If it helps,” He said softly, reaching for the collar of his shirt. “I’m a Roamer.” That said, he pulled out the same caravan pendant that had identified him to the Decepticons. It was a rectangle of soft green leather, strung on a black cord and embroidered with the symbol of his family’s line, the Greenbacks, as well as the specialized glyphs for The Spark cannot be Restrained.

No one other than a member of his people could wear such a thing, as they were crafted at such a size as to be placed over the heads of infants, who wouldn’t be able to remove the pendants again as the children grew. Fortunately, the pair across from him and Hank obviously knew this fact by the way they lowered their weapons. The four of them continued to stare at one another for a moment, until the girl broke the silence.

“Well.” She said awkwardly. “Um. Sorry about that. Bye!” With that, she turned and started to disappear back out of sight. Spencer and Hank both began to protest but were beaten out.

“Rhea! Hold on!” The pale teenager cried out. When he saw that she had paused, he looked at the other two with a beseeching expression. “If you guys aren’t Cons, then what are you? Autobots?”

“Uh, no - but we’re on our way to Iacon in order to sign up with them.” Hank said hastily, instantly triggering a wide grin to appear on the teen’s face. The dark haired girl quirked an eyebrow at them, but slowly returned to her original position, fortunately with rifle returning to its holster hanging from her shoulder.

“My name’s Spencer Ringer, and this is Hank Veer.” The Roamer introduced them, gesturing to each in turn. “We met two days ago in Hillitrex, while I was escaping from a group of Decepticons - you’re right about them travelling in packs, by the way.” He added as an aside to the girl.

“Hmph. I’ve dealt with enough of them to know.” She muttered darkly. “I’m Rhea Curtis, from Hivus. This is Barry Fleet, of Axiom.”

“The Pale Blurr?” Spencer asked, incredulous.

Hank looked at him in confusion. “Who?”

“Only the most famous rookie athlete in all the Paxian Forestlands!” His friend exclaimed. “What in Primus’ name are you doing all the way out here?!”

“What I do best.” Barry shrugged. “Running.” Frowning, Rhea reached out and hesitantly set a hand on the slim teen’s shoulder, then sent a meaningful glance at the older boys.

“Come on.” She said. “We can all swap stories back at camp.”
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