Hard Facts, Simple Truths

Ch 2: Assessments and Assignments, Part 3

The next morning started out in the same manner, with Ironhide getting them all up before the sun and out running laps around the base. Once the exercises were over and done with, though, the recruits were led to indoor training center. Every single one of them balked a bit upon seeing Jazz standing by an arrangement of energon blades and grinning manically at them.

“Apparently you’ve already met this here rascal, so I’ll skip the introduction today.” Ironhide barked, getting the youths focused back on the matter at hand. “We’re gonna follow th’ same basic idea as yesterday, so git in yer line - or do I hafta yell it out for ya?” Instantly, the six rookies were standing half an arm’s length away from one another along the wall. Their instructor nodded his approval, before motioning Jazz forward to start explaining about each of the weapons types they’d be going over.

“Now, since there’s way more variety here th’n what y’all worked with yesterday, I’m gonna ask ahead o’ time what each a you’s got previous experience with.” As before, they started at one end of the line and worked their way down. Arcee was familiar with knives and daggers, able to wield them in a close quarters fight as well as throw the things, with almost as much accuracy as her shooting skills. Hank could only claim to understanding the basics of sword fighting, though Springer’s snickers as he said so didn’t help matters. The former Roamer said he could fight with both short and long blades, being most familiar with short axes. Blurr, again, couldn’t lay claim to any sort of experience, but Jazz was willing to bet that a lifetime of playing sports that tended to involve some form of ball or puck being controlled with long sticks or paddles would help the athlete out more than he expected. Warpath and Cliffjumper said that, from a young age, they’d been set to practice fights against one another using everything from swords to battleaxes. When Ironhide asked who had first trained them, and the cousins replied that their Gran taught the two, the man threw back his head and bellowed out a laugh. Jazz looked as startled as all the youths.

“Ooh-kay then, now that you’ve gone and broken th’ man, let’s see what y’all got on the fightin’ mats.”

While Ironhide got over his attack of unexplained mirth, Jazz had the recruits pull out some weapons they could use, and set the group to going up against some practice dummies so he could take note of stances, grips and the like. Once the older man joined him, the pair set about moving through their trainees to adjust faults and get a closer look at how much skill and power everyone was able to supply. The cousins were definitely able warriors, with Ironhide wanting Warpath to start doing advanced training with some of the larger battleaxes and broadswords. Cliffjumper was once again irritated to find his height working against him, as the Weapons Specialist insisted he use a smaller blade.

Arcee was already very proficient at working with a dagger in each hand, taking her mock opponent apart at the seams. When Jazz brought up her earlier mention of having some skill at throwing, the girl’s response was to toss one of her daggers up, grab it by the tip of the blade, and hurl the thing at a dummy at the other end of the row. Hank near about leapt out of his skin when it embedded itself into the wood of the thing’s head, directly between the painted representation of eyes.

“Remind me not to do anything to frag her off,” he muttered to Springer, standing behind him.

“Could have told you that the first day we met her, dude.”

Having taken one of the longswords from the assortment, Hank was asked to demonstrate a bit of what he could do. As Jazz corrected the position of his feet and a few of his movements, the youth didn’t notice Ironhide frowning thoughtfully at him. What Hank did notice was Arcee’s interested attention, and he nearly fell over himself trying to perform what should have been an impressive spinning attack on the dummy. Jazz doubled over laughing as the older instructor huffed in irritation.

Springer managed to impress the both of them with his sure grip and manipulation of a hatchet, not only performing sweeping attacks against unseen enemies but following Arcee’s earlier example by successfully throwing it at one of the dummies. Blurr, though, was the most surprising of everyone when Jazz gave him a couple of short paddles to hold.

“Hey, these are like the sticks we use in Blast Ball!” The teen exclaimed happily, giving the set a quick flurry of motion.

“Yep, now howsabout we see just how fast ya are, kid.” Smirking, Jazz moved to a machine with a long tube emerging from it, and activated the thing. Taken by surprise when the first ball came shooting towards him, Blurr yelped and twisted to avoid it. Cliffjumper wasn’t so lucky, getting socked in the gut and nearly falling over from the force of the hit.

“Are ya gonna dodge or are ya gonna fight, boy?” Ironhide barked, getting Blurr to realize just what this test was. Another ball was shot towards him, and this time, the athlete struck it with one of the paddles, sending the projectile whizzing at a ninety degree angle towards the door.

Gradually, Jazz increased the pace the balls were being fired at, and Blurr deflected every single one. His fellow recruits were in awe, for as long as they were standing in an area behind him, it was guaranteed that they wouldn’t be in danger from the projectiles. Blurr was breathing heavily by the time the exercise was over, but he had a large grin on his face.

“That was the most fun I’ve had since before the Cons started pestering me back home!” He told the others, still riding the high from his achievement.

“War ain’t about fun, kid.” Ironhide interrupted his joy. “Imagine ya were holdin’ a couple a shields in those fast hands a yer’s - think ya’d be able to move ‘em quick ‘nuff t’ deflect bullets ‘n shrapnel?”

“Yes.” Blurr responded without a trace of hesitation.

“Good. We’ll git ya outfitted fer some then, along with settin’ ya t’ learnin’ how t’ move a pair a blades like Arcee does.” And with that, he sent them off to get their midday meal.

Jazz of course accompanied the group, finally getting some of the info he’d been after the orn before. When they reached the mess hall, he also started pointing out to them some of the other Autobots stationed in the Valley. Bluestreak waved at the group from another table, along with a young man wearing similarly styled clothing. Ratchet was also in mess hall again, sitting and glaring at the two men having a discussion at his table - one with spectacles, who looked rather reserved, and another in a soot-stained lab coat, who was getting more and more animated about something.

“Blue and Smokey both been here since they were kids, so I ‘spect you guys ought ta get ‘long with ‘em just fine.” Jazz mentioned as the rookies all sat down with their food. “I don’ think I gotta warn ya ‘bout steerin’ clear o’ th’ Hatchet when he’s in a mood, but the other fellas sittin’ over there ‘re okay. Percy’s a bit bland, but ‘Jack’s always willin’ t’ help a guy out - jus’, be careful ‘round his inventions, they got a tendency ta go boom when ya least expect it!”

“He makes new weapons?” Cliff asked, excitedly.

“Eh, sometimes, but that man could be workin’ on a toaster an’ it would still explode.” He chuckled at the looks of scepticism. “Hey, that’s fine if’n ya don’t believe me jus’ yet - by the end o’ the deca-orn, you’ll see wha’ I mean.”

The six of them resolved to take the man at his word, for the time being.
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