Nothing in the Dark
How did I get talked into this? Sparkplug asked; passing the same rock for a third time.
The young, blonde-haired girl trudging next to him looked equally puzzled, Because a challenge presented itself; Kayla couldnt pass it up, and we didnt want to leave her by herself.
Can hear you, the aforementioned teen replied; her cane guiding her through the forest brush, with her two amigos occasionally helping her. However, if one were associated with the Autobots, then he or she would know that the forest was actually nothing more than an allusion; a mirage if you will. Funny, for that was the very mech our three heroes were searching for.
In the early days of the Bots residence on our planet, it quickly became clear that Earths terrain had plenty of drawbacks, as well as advantages compared to the entirely metal planet of Cybertron. The pros and cons of said land would have to be familiarized as well as experimented with in trying to battle and outwit the Decepticons. However, the heroic mechs had no desire to tear up the beautiful landscape during training exercises, much less actual battle. Therefore, to not cause collateral damage during the tests, an alternate form of training was required.
Nature loving, hologram expert, Hound, came to the rescue, and thanks to some of Spike and Sparkplugs old comic books, a rather inventive solution was found. It took a few weeks to build, but eventually, the Autobots became the proud owners of the equivalent to the X-Mens danger room. Located in a far off corner of the Ark, this danger room was about as large as a gymnasium; lined with nothing but white tile all around. A two-way mirror was the only way for onlookers in a nearby control room to see into the arena of sorts, while mechs in the room couldnt see out. And with just the push of a button, the plain, white room could be transformed into any earthen landscape imaginable, courtesy of the jeeps amazing hologram projectors. Remembering her father, who was still off in the military, Kayla couldnt help but consider the potential this new technology could have for training our soldiers, as well as the everyday populace for anything.
Speaking of whom, the young musician was perched on Jazzs shoulder when the saboteur entered the control room to see what his buddies were up to. The gathered Bots were just getting ready to start another one of their training missions; this one being modeled after the old game of hide and seek. One mech, or group there of, would be given time to hide, and then theyd have to use whatever means necessary to allude the other Bot or party trying to find them. Simple enough, or so the teenager thought, causing her to ask the question of if there was a way she could play. Naturally, her gargantuan friends were a bit put off at this strange request, especially since a blind girl was essentially asking if she could play hide and seek. But the red head attempted to alleviate the confusion by stating that she always enjoyed a nice challenge, and she had her ways. Jazz swooped in as her backup, explaining that despite the illusions seeming very real, all n all, everything in that room was still just holograms, and she wouldnt be in any danger.
In the end, the Bots decided to try it, stemming from the previous argument, and the fact that in all the time since the danger rooms creation, none of their human friends had ever been inside it, much less played a game before. A deal was made, however; someone had to go with her. And if she wanted to put her skills to the test, a giant robot stomping around her wouldnt help her; the companion had to be human. But Spike was on reconnaissance with Bumblebee, and Chip was assisting Wheeljack with his many Back to the Future-style inventions.
That left Sparkplug and Carly. Spike had introduced Kayla to his girlfriend not long after she met Chip, and although the first meeting went fine, admittedly, the blonde couldnt quite wrap her head around a blind person being the Bots newest recruit. But any and all previous assumptions were dashed the moment she dropped by Jazzs quarters to say hi, and witnessed the red head playing her guitar with incredible skill. The two girls later got to talk mano a mano, and the musician reassured that she understood that Spike was already taken, and only saw him as a friend. Besides, she had added in, Jazz and I click better anyway. Both women were on good terms after that, and even had the occasional G.N.O. (Girls Night Out). It took a little convincing, but with nothing better to do, the younger girl and mechanic agreed to go along on this little adventure.
That led to where they were now; locked in a watered-down version of The Most Dangerous Game. Despite trying to concentrate on the task at hand, the three humans couldnt help but marvel at the intricate details of Hounds illusion. Cybertronian holograms werent like Earth ones; they could be heard, felt, touched; it was as real as everything else. Only five minutes into the hunt, and the trio unanimously agreed that the jeep did a darn good job in creating this forest, right down to the lush colors, the wind and bird chirp sounds, the shadows, and the tiny, annoying bugs flying around. The group formed a bit of a line; Carly leading, Kayla in the middle, and Sparkplug bringing up the rear; all of them determined to find the three Autobots that disappeared into the greenery. Two of them were discovered, and now, only one remained.
Cliffjumper was the first to be caught. Not long after the game began, Sparkplug eventually noticed the large tracks the Minibot failed to cover, and it led the group to the red mech hanging up in a tree. Hound proved to be a bit harder, thanks in part to his green paint job camouflaging him amongst the green trees. But with Carlys sharp eyes, he too, was eventually found hiding in the foliage.
That left Mirage, who was by far, the most hardcore player to date. It was to be expected; he was a spy after all. With his Predator-like power of invisibility, he could easily get the drop on unsuspecting Decepticons, and then disappear without a trace. With said facts in mind, the Liger held the honor of being the only mech that none of his fellow comrades could ever find when playing this game. A select few were bound and determined to get him, but eventually, boredom would settle in, and theyd call the game quits after a while. And the Bot would relish in another mission accomplished.
Sparkplug checked his watch and sighed, Weve been in here for over an hour and a half. The guys invisible; were never gonna find him.
Im not throwin in the towel just yet, Kayla said with a look of determination, Sometimes, you just gotta approach things from a different angle.
Maybe, Carly interjected as she glanced about, But Im with Mr. Witwicky on this one; five minutes, and then Im outta here.
But just as she was about to continue on speaking, the red head suddenly froze in place; held up a hand, and immediately shushed her. The blonde and mechanic cast quizzical glances at each other, then turned back to the teenager, who stayed rooted to the spot; pale blue eyes darting about with apparent interest. After a minute of stillness, Sparkplug whispered, Kayla, whats wrong?
Without turning, the girl answered quietly, Do ya hear that?
Carly tilted her head and listened a moment, hearing nothing but birds chirping, Hear what?
Slowly, but surely, the musician took a few steps forward; trying to be as quiet as possible. Needless to say, a specific sound caught her attention. With all the patience she could muster, the teen listened intently at the world around her. The wind wisped through the trees, making the leaves rustle in almost a rhythm. But what had caused her alarm was this sound
or at least, the sound that came along with it. Every now and then, she couldve swore that during the rhythm of the rustling trees and bushes, thered come a sudden crackle that didnt fit the pattern
the crackle of someone stepping on leaves.
With much inquisitiveness, Kayla walked toward the sound; her friends left to wonder at what she heard, and/or where she was going. Luckily, she didnt have to wander very far, for the minute she began making her way through the bushes, the odd noise stopped. A moment went by, and when the sound refused to come, the girl inhaled a deep breath and continued to listen. Thats when she froze a second time. Her intake of air brought an odor to her attention
energon, and a touch of grease, along with the distinct hum of machinery
and it sounded close; real close
like it was
right in front of
Her heart pounding, the red head swung her cane and hit something with a loud clang
something metal. The two other humans stared at her in wonder, while her face broke into a huge grin, making her utter but one word.
A few seconds went by, and then Mirage slowly materialized in front of her. As he did, the whole forest seemed to melt away and disappear into the floor, leaving nothing but a white room. The Bot starred down at the teenager; flabbergasted. Kayla merely smiled; Sparkplug and Carly looked on in amazement, and then everyones attention was diverted by the sound of applause. Cliffjumper, Hound, and Jazz had entered the room; cheering, no less. The spy glanced back at the girl and scratched his head in disbelief, But
Told ya I had my ways, the red head replied in wry humor.
Hound made his way to the front of the group, You three put up quite the hunt. Im impressed.
Jazz lifted Kayla onto his shoulder, An you, lil lady, jus became da first person ta ever find Ol Mirage.
The girls eyebrows went up, Really?
The Liger stared at the floor, clearly downtrodden; how did that girl possibly find him? He was perfectly invisible, wasnt he? And she couldnt see-how did she do it? Still, itd be rude of him not to congratulate her, so after heaving a pained sigh, he stepped forward, Erm
I have to admit
you-did perform rather well.
But Cliffjumper could notice the sullen lilt to his comrades voice, Admit it; youre just jealous cause she broke your winnin streak.
I am not, Mirage defended, Though I am curious. He turned his attention back to the victor, I was perfectly invisible
how did you do it?
Kayla shrugged, My whole worlds invisible. She said it as if that explained everything; apparently it didnt, judging by the awkward silence. Chuckling a little, she further explained, Because I cant see, I need to use my remaining four senses to my upmost advantage; blind doesnt mean deaf. I smelled the grease; heard the footsteps
youre not as invisible as you think you are.
After a moment of thought, the spy nodded in understanding. Now it made sense; he always went by the notion that people constantly relied on sight. While that was true to an extent, he apparently looked the gift horse in the mouth, and overlooked the sound issue. He was invisible to the eye; not the ear. Hed have to take that into consideration next time.
Jazz turned to his charge with a smile, I think dis calls fer a victory jam. Whatcha think?
Sure! the teen replied with an equally happy grin. With that, the saboteur began walking out of the room with the others following close behind. But before they got too far, Kayla turned her head behind her to address the Liger, Sorry I broke your little record there, but just remember; your gadget makes you invisible, not mute.
To that, Mirage actually smiled; maybe getting found wasnt so bad after all. He certainly learned a valuable lesson from it, Youre right
Ill have to remember that.