Chapter Two

Location: Somewhere in Nevada

Timedate: 25th February 2015

Under the half-moon, a petrol station stood alone by the very middle of a long stretch of road amongst this vast desert-like terrain, glowing its aura as much as it could within the shadow of night. Any sign of life could barely heard or even seen beyond the endless and melancholy chirp of a cricket or a hushed whistling of wind. But from seemingly out of nowhere, a small metallic green and grey four-armed mech with red visors dashed and scampered about through the darkness, hoping to keep himself out of any potential line of sight.

The deceptive robot snuck its way up to behind the petrol station, carefully looking both ways to see if any coast should be clear for the moment. As far as he could see, no human or vehicle out and about within close proximity. So the green bot took one light step, at least as light as he could go, then another step, and yet another. Not even the clumping sounds beneath his feet would deter an awful lot.

Just then, a faint bleep and a brief static sound went off, nearly snapping the green mech out of his full attention and concentration to his surroundings as he tapped the side of his head with a finger from one of his four hands.

"Dispensor, report," a deep voice called in through the inter-comlink frequency.

"Yes, boss," the green con, identified as 'Dispensor' responded.

"Have you located any of the other Mini-cons yet?"

"Nope, not yet," Dispensor slightly shook his head. "I hadn't even got a chance to get a new alt mode".

"Well then you better choose one soon," the voice on the other end commanded. "The Mini-cons are the first thing we want, and attention is the last thing you want".

"Pretty much that, boss," Dispensor nodded before the comlink went off for the moment.

He looked around further to see more, figuring that at least some humans would be out and working, even this late in the dead of night. If there were to still be any humans awake, inside or outside the station, Dispensor needed to find something to disguise as in order to blend in perfectly enough. He could easily wait for any small compact car to either drive on by or stop by the station, and then take his opportunity to scan such a vehicle, even if at the risk of getting caught out in the open. But even still, no such vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter, came by at all.

However, just on the side of the station, Dispensor spotted something of simple yet intricate design, a lone vending machine of a very similar shade of green that mostly sold Mood Whiplash drinks. Closely observing the machine, her noticed its size and space being very similar to his, already he might've found his perfect alternate mode.

And so, Dispensor stepped back a bit, slowly and carefully scanned the vending machine whole, and once fully processed, he walked over and stood right next to said machine and transformed into a perfectly identical model. It was there he would remain and hide in plain sight for the rest of the night. Not even a few smart and keen eyes and minds would suspect such a thing.

Timedate: 27th February 2015, two days later

Another school day come and gone, and so Hank was already on her way home, riding her bicycle with her schoolbag in the sidecar. She took her time with little to no rush or pressure of getting home. She wore her usual attire: A light-tan T-shirt within a short red open sleeveless fleece, a plain green steel helmet and goggles, a loose gold bracelet around her right wrist, olive green baggy trousers, and khaki ugg boots.

However, as she went through a rather seemingly derelict part of town by the forests, she found herself stopping in her track before two traffic lights by the side of the road, one with the scarlet, amber, and green lights always on, and other with its lights completely off. Taking off her goggles and putting them around her helmet, Hank looked up at both the traffic lights with a cocked brow of curiosity, humming a quiet hum of bemusement.

One of those traffic lights, the one with all three colourful lights on, slightly shook and swung a bit, as if aware of the girl catching onto it, or rather him. The girl herself looked around elsewhere just to see if anyone else would be nearby as well, but none seemed to be as far as she could see. Moving her bike to outside the side boundary of the road, Hank got off and walked closely to the moving traffic light just to observe more of it.

She then looked down to see a noticeable difference. The original normal traffic light had the base of its pole firmly planted to the ground. But the out of place one had its pole base seemingly planted shoddily, with force, and just slightly off-angle, as if it was done in a rush and hurry without proper care or attention to detail. Looking back up at the lights, Hank lifted her left hand and carefully placed it on the pole to feel the cool mild metal before giving it a light knock.

Then, as if provoked or out of desperation and a last resort, the three-lighted box intensified its three bulbs before popping off the top of the pole, transforming in mid-air, and landing with a harsh thud, all much to the stunned and wide-eyed shock of the brunette human girl. Hank's lips and jaw hung somewhat open as she silently stared at the odd and sudden sight, unable to let out a scream of any kind, at best a hushed childlike gasp.

The now exposed mini mech found himself still shaking a bit before he eventually settled and calmed down. He soon stood back up to his own two feet, straightening up his own posture, as tall as roughly around five to six feet at least, certainly taller than Hank herself. Looking next to him, the bot noticed his lance pole still sticking from the ground at a more offish angle. He then took the lance, pulled it free with ease, and placed it behind on his back. His attention soon turned back to the young female human, who slowly stepped towards him, just as wide-eyed and curious as he himself was.

"I'm very sorry, I never meant to disturb you," the grey alien traffic light robot stammered. "In fact, I never mean to disturb anyone, only doing a job, if I could even get one".

"Uh, it's okay, I apologise if I made you uncomfortable," Hank returned with her own apology. "I guess we caught each other both off-guard".

"So who and what are you?" Hank asked.

"I'm a Mini-con from Prion, moon to the planet Gigantion," the mini mech explained. "My code is SL-75, but I prefer to be named Signal Lancer".

"Signal Lancer, eh?" Hank took it all quite well. She may've heard a rumour or two about shapeshifting robotic aliens from a few years, but never till here, then and now, had she got a chance to actually to meet one of such. "You wouldn't mind if I call you something like 'Sigg' for short?"

"I guess not," Signal Lancer shrugged.

"Okay then, so Sigg, how did you get here?" Hank continued to ask curiously. "And why have you come here?"

And as it seemed that Signal Lancer was about to answer just as quickly, he then found himself in another state of of awkward silence, a momentary lapse of reason.

"Honestly, I wish I could remember that," Signal Lancer sighed. "But I might've forgotten. But whatever it was, I do remember the feeling I had, this..." He paused as he tried to recollect. "...urgency. As I was trying to go somewhere, or get away from something or someone".

"Woah," Hank empathised. "Must be hard then, having to be on the move, constantly, and on your own". She continued as she glanced up at the skies. "And mostly definitely in such a big and wide place". Signal Lancer quietly nodded. "Hey Sigg, if you ever wanna have a home to sleep and hide in, my family happen to have a spare garage".

"And you think your family would be accepting of me?" Signal Lancer hinted some doubt and hesitation.

"I'm sure they will," Hank assured. "My parents say they seen and heard some weird stuff before, so you wouldn't be too much of a surprise to them. And besides, I bet they'll be wanting someone to help around the house".

"Then I guess, by all means," Signal Lancer gladly accepted the kind offer.

"Cool then," Hank hopped back onto her bike. "Follow me, I know a shortcut in case someone drives by here".

With that, Hank went off with Signal Lancer following on foot, close beside her. Taking a left turn, the two went off-road and onto a dry muddy track in between countless tall thick coniferous trees. The afternoon sun projected its rays through and between the tree tops, a faint loop of birdsong was heard, and in the distance, a gentle stream glided through the forest, reposed and tranquil.

To be continued...