Hard Facts, Simple Truths

Ch 2: Assessments and Assignments, Part 1

Klik (Second)

Breem (Minute) 100 kliks

Joor (Hour) 60 breems

Orn (Day) 30 joors - 15 for a day cycle, 15 for a night cycle

Deca-orn (Week) 10 orns

Groon (Month) 3 deca-orns/30 orns

Vorn (Year) 14 groons/42 decaorns/420 orns

Chapter 2: Assessments and Assignments

“I think I liked Kup waking us up with the pot and pan routine more than this.” Trenton grumbled, Hank nodding through a yawn to agree with him. It was the first official orn of training for the new recruits, their Wilds Dweller guide having finally gotten them to Ark Valley the evening before, right as a powerful new storm was opening up. After taking a shower and warming up again, Hank and everyone else had dropped off to bed without so much as a tour of the base.

When the day cycle began, though, they got their first good look at their instructor, Kup’s good friend Ironhide. The grey-haired man was easily as muscular than the Hepley cousins, and even taller than Warren. He was a flesh and blood version of a tank - strong, tough, and very, very loud.

ON YER FEET, ya lazy good fer nothin’ slag heaps!” The old timer had bellowed, stomping into the barracks room that the five young men were previously sleeping in. It was chaos for a few moments before Ironhide got them organized and lined up for inspection.

Trying and failing to stifle another yawn, Hank nearly leapt a foot in the air when his eyes blinked back open to find the old man glaring at him from a mere few inches away.

“Did I cut too much into yer beauty sleep time, boy?” Ironhide growled, easily intimidating his victim. “Should I let you go cryin’ t’ yer momma?” At a loss for words, Hank just shook his head while maintaining eye contact, hoping that the massive soldier would leave him alone to pick on someone else.

It was just then that an unexpected reprieve came, in the form of Rhea entering the room and joining the line, catching the old man’s eye.

“Glad you could join us, missy.” Straightening up, Ironhide resumed looking each of them over before returning to a central position where each of the youths could see him. “Now. As you may have been warned, I’m Ironhide, the top Weapons Specialist for this base. You will not tell me your names, as Kup has already added them to our records and there they will stay. From this now on, you will be known by your Autobot designation - this is both to protect any relatives of yours back home, and your own identities after the War ends, whenever that orn may come.”

One by one he looked at each of them in turn with their new codename. “Warpath.” Warren straightened ever so slightly and nodded.

“Cliffjumper.” Trenton wrinkled his nose up, as though remembering something unpleasant, but also nodded.

“Blurr.” Barry actually appeared a bit relieved, probably because his codename wasn’t too different from what people had been calling him for vorns anyway.

“Springer.” For a split second, Spencer looked confused, but it cleared away as he accepted the name.

Then it was Hank’s turn. “Hot Rod.” And he felt like protesting. What kind of a designation was that supposed to be? Certainly not one that would have glory heaped upon it. But before he could say anything, Ironhide had already moved on to Rhea.

“Arcee.” She frowned, but didn’t say a word, so Hank also reluctantly kept his silence.

“Well, now that that’s all out th’ way, we’re gonna spend the rest o’ today figuring out just what guns you lot can handle, and what you’ll be trainin’ with and usin’ from now on. Tomorrow we’ll do the same with blades, and the day after that will come hand-to-hand combat, followed by tactical assessments, and finally vehicle practice.” It all sounded good in theory, but Hank knew something was bound to come up that would shake his enjoyment. Ironhide barked for them all to get moving, and the group followed him out of the barracks at a jog.

“Isn’t this exciting?” He muttered sarcastically, getting Rhea - Arcee - to pause mid-step and lightly kick him. Hank got the message: shut up and keep up.

As it turned out, Kup had apparently gone easy on them in the mountains.

While each day would be dedicated to different assessments of the youths, every morning was slotted for a physical workout that left Hank nearly exhausted by the end of it. The only good thing about their run around the perimeter of the base was that he finally got to see the whole place - it would have been a very lovely little valley, if not for the various components of a military outpost occupying the area.

In the center was a three story command center, surrounded by barracks and several specialized buildings: the mess hall, an armory, a shooting range, and training center, just to name a few. Several garages and cliffside bunkers dotted the edges of the valley, with a wide driving track circling all the interior structures. It was on this track that Ironhide set the new recruits to running, with a stop every so often for crunches or jumping jacks. When they finally finished three laps, the sun had risen high enough to be visible over the surrounding barrier of mountain stone, and it came time for the weapons assessments.

“Everyone to a marker!” Ironhide instructed, getting them to assemble along a line of marks on the ground at one end of the shooting range. There was another youth already there, who couldn’t have been any older than Barry- Blurr, standing beside a table covered with guns of different sizes and types.

“Now,” their grey haired trainer drawled. “We’re gonna start off with a simple pistol. Bluestreak here is one of our premier shooters, and will be helping me with your drills. Blue?” The youth quickly selected half a dozen small, handheld weapons and brought them over. Each of the new recruits picked one up, Trenton- Cliffjumper making a face at its size.

“Please tell me we’ll get to shoot something bigger than this!” He complained, not realizing that Ironhide was right behind him.

“You’ll shoot what I give ya t’ shoot, runt.” The large man growled in a warning tone. “If yer able to go on up to a larger size, then ya will. If not, then there will be no. Complaining. Got it?”

“Yessir!” Cliffjumper waited until Ironhide had moved on, before whispering over to his cousin. “Is it just me, or does he remind you of Gran?”

“Yeah, it’s kind of scary. Think they might be related?”

“I hope not, ‘cause then it would mean we’re related to him!”

“Quiet!” Ironhide barked, getting them all to fall silent and pay attention again. “Now. Each of you will take a turn firin’ five shots at yer target, with Blue takin’ note of yer score while I correct any flaws in yer technique. After t’day, each o’ ya will be assigned a particular weapon, which it will be yer job to maintain ‘n practice with. Got that?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Good! Ladies first.” He nodded to Arcee, who took a stance and raised her silver pistol to eye level. Five rapid shots later, she returned to a normal position while turning the Safety switch back on. Ironhide grinned his approval while Bluestreak jotted something down on a datapad.

“Four out of five hits!” The youth called out, and then it was Hank’s turn. He tried to mimic Arcee’s earlier stance, squinting down the yards to his target board. The first shot had him flinching, which threw off all his others as he tried to get them all done as quick as possible.

“Er... Two hits.” Bluestreak said sympathetically as Hank brought the pistol back down. Ironhide just shook his head, moving on to Springer while Arcee had to remind the youth beside her to put his gun on Safety.

It was going to be a long day...
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