Hard Facts, Simple Truths

Ch 2: Assessments and Assignments, Part 4

Another morning, another three laps around the base, another orn of assessments. This time, though, the recruits were more than a little startled at the sight of Ironhide’s latest assistant.

“He’s just a kid!” Cliffjumper protested when they entered the training center to find the blonde boy waiting for them. Said kid rolled his eyes while Ironhide chuckled.

“True, but he’s a kid that’s lived here fer as long as the War’s been goin’ on.” The old soldier told them. “An’ I suggest ya see what he can do ‘fore you go sayin’ things like that t’ his face. Right, Bee?”

Nodding, the kid gestured for Cliff to follow him onto the sparring mat. Grumbling about how fighting someone half his age was just wrong, the rookie nonetheless stomped after him.

Less than ten kliks later, Cliffjumper was flat on his back, the kid crouched over him and smirking like a smug cyber-cat. As he stepped away, Ironhide leaned over to raise an eyebrow at the wheezing Cliff.

“Now, learned a valuable lesson have we?” A weak nod was all the answer he needed. “Good. I suggest that th’ next time y’ call Bumblebee a kid, it had better be in a pleasant manner, got it?” Another nod, and then Ironhide was helping the stunned rookie up and over to a wall.

The remaining five all exchanged wide-eyed glances, mixtures of shock and amusement. Noticing them, Bee just smiled in an innocent way that totally belied the punches and dropkick he performed just a few moments before.

“So! Who’s next?”

Fortunately, the rest of the hand to hand combat assessments did not actually involve the recruits fighting Bumblebee or Ironhide; instead, the pair of Autobots set them against each other and then just sat back to witness the results.

Arcee was, as expected, the best on the sparring mat. She took down her opponents with ruthless efficiency, striking at their weak points before delivering a decisive punch or kick that threw them out of the fight. Hank was the first who suffered a hit to his nether regions, a move that had all the observers wincing. (Ironhide applauded Arcee’s use of it, but asked her to reserve its use to the actual battlefield.) Springer was also a beast once he got hands on his opponent, using some wrestling moves he’d picked up from older cousins to pin the other person to the mat. Blurr made the most of his speed, dodging any hits that came his way, but had a trickier time throwing any worthwhile strikes of his own that tended to have Ironhide call time on his matches. Perhaps scariest out of the recruits were Warpath and Cliffjumper, both of whom could launch some pretty powerful punches, and neither of whom were ever that hurt by the blows they received from the others.

Hank... felt more and more like a punching bag as the orn drew on. He didn’t manage to win a single spar, instead experiencing the pain and bruises build until he was having a hard time getting up at all from his seat on the floor. When it came time to break for lunch, he waved the others on and just stayed in the training center, ignoring the looks of concern sent his way. Hank was surprised and more than a little touched when the kid, Bee, came back a breem or two later with some food for him.

“Thanks,” he said earnestly, getting a small grin in return. The boy then sat cross legged on the ground beside him, pulling a small datapad out of his pants’ pocket. As Hank ate slowly, Bee typed up something on the screen for him to see.

I’m guessing you’ve never been in a real fight before?

“Yeah, no, not like this.” Hank swallowed his mouthful of food. “Back home, it was more like the occasional scuffle between kids, and the tanning our parents would give us afterwards was always worse than any injuries from actual hits.”

Bee nodded in understanding, taking the pad back and typing out another message. I can help you get better! Lots of Autobots have taught me how to take down opponents bigger than me, which for you would be half the training group.

“I’d really appreciate that.” Hank told him. “Anytime you can spare, I’ll be here.” The kid beamed at him.

That’s great! We’ll probably want to space out our practice with the actual training days, or you’ll be so tired that it’s hard to do well at all.

“Yeah, the whole point would be to make it harder to kick my butt, not easier.” Hank’s smile turned into a frown when it looked like Bee was silently laughing. “Hey, um, I hope you don’t take offence to this, but do you make any noise at all?”

Instantly, the kid quit smiling and instead tensed up, growing pensive. Hank started to apologize and say forget about it, but Bee had already taken the datapad back.

It’s... Hard to explain. For as long as I’ve lived here, whenever I try to talk or laugh or cry, or anything really, it’s like there’s a voice at the back of my head saying it’s a bad idea and I can’t. My throat just closes up, and nothing comes out.

“That’s, kind of awful, kid.”

Yeah, well, it’s just the way I am. I work around it. Hank watched the downcast expression, wishing he hadn’t brought it up at all.

“So... ten vorns with the Autobots, huh? Bet you’ve seen some pretty epic stuff.” Bee shrugged at that, but answered anyway.

I’ve never left Ark Valley, so I haven’t seen any battles, if that’s what you mean. I always watch for when people come back from missions, though, and run to tell Ratchet and First Aid how many wounded we’ve got.

“Oh.”

I have, however, gotten to help out with some awesome pranks before.

“Oh? That sounds a little more up my alley.”

Bee smirked at him. When the training assessments are done, remind me to introduce you to the Twins.

-HF-ST-

Conversation with Bee aside, Hank’s orn of sparring had gone miserably, and he woke up the next morning feeling stiff and sore all over. Springer had to actually come over and help him get up out of bed. When Ironhide arrived, and saw the state that the youth was in, he ordered the others to head outside to join Arcee for their workout, while the crusty old soldier himself led Hank to the building where the medical bay was located.

“Now, whatever ya do,” ‘Hide told him as they approached the doors. “Do not tell Ratchet it was my fault - or I’ll have you sparring with Arcee for a vorn, got it?”

“Yes, sir.” Honestly, Hank was too much in pain to say anything else. Ironhide nodded, opened the door, and immediately had to duck the metal brace chucked at his head.

“‘HIDE! I warned you what would happen if I had to treat another one of you recruits!”

“Right, well, good luck kid.” With that, he clapped Hank on the shoulder and took off. Ratchet appeared in the doorway, cursing as he prey escaped. The he turned his glare onto Hank, glowering at he took in the youth’s tense posture and haggard appearance.

“Alright, get in here, Hot Rod was it?”

“Um, yes, sir.” Cautiously, Hank followed him into the bay, ready to dodge any tools thrown his way. The young woman watching from the hair end of the bay was watching them with an apologetic smile.

“Don’t worry,” she called, tucking a strand of long blonde hair behind her ear. “Ratchet’s just annoyed that ‘Hide broke his promise not to break anymore newcomers.”

“Aid, where’d I leave the bone scanner?”

“Counter top to your left.” As the doctor let out a triumphant noise as he located the tool and set to checking Hank for any breaks or fractures, the woman made her way over to shake the youth’s hand. “First Aid, Assistant Field Medic, nice to meet you.”

“Uh, hi, I’m Hot Rod. Er, new recruit, as you’ve clearly noticed.” He tried grinning at her, only to wince as Ratchet concluded his scan and smacked the device against Hank’s head.

“No flirting with my assistant.” Instantly, the youth tried to protest as Aid let out an annoyed huff.

“Ratchet, not every young man who comes in here is trying to flirt with me. And even if one was, it’s my sister and brothers’ job to chase them off, not yours.” She told him sternly, before shooting an apology to Hank. “Sorry about that, I swear he’s starting to turn into my father.”

“Uh, no, that’s fine. I totally get it. No romantic silliness anywhere near the medical bay.” He held up his hands in position of surrender, hissing in pain when Ratchet took the opportunity to start probing his torso.

“Well, at least this one learns fast,” the medic muttered. “Shirt off.”

As Hank striped off the article of clothing, he caught the identical expressions of concern on Ratchet and First Aid’s faces once they saw the layer of multi-colored skin.

“What in the Pit is that idiot doing to them?” Aid wondered, heading off to grab the muscle relaxant and bruise salve.

“Actually, this was mostly Arcee and Cliffjumper’s doing. A little bit of Blurr and Springer. Pretty sure there’s a couple imprints from Warpath’s fists in here somewhere, too...”

Ratchet snorted at him, pulling up a blank medical file on his monitor screen that he started to fill in. “What, did they just elect to make you the training dummy for the orn?”

“Sure felt that way at the time... Fortunately, though, Bee stuck around after the session and promised he’d help improve my chances of holding my own.”

“Good for him!” Ratchet approved while Aid looked a little ill.

“Why you lot had to go and teach that sweet little boy how to fight is beyond me,” she shook her head.

“If you’d gotten here about six vorns earlier than you did, girl, you might have had a say about that. As it is, all of us would like to see that ‘sweet little boy’ survive this war, no matter what happens to the rest of us.”

Hank got the uneasy impression he’d managed to send them into another round of what sounded like a well-repeated argument. He just hoped that the pair of medics wouldn’t start throwing things at each other, because then he’d be stuck right in the firing line...

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