The trees swayed peacefully in the soft breeze and I took a deep breath of the fresh breeze. The Californian countryside was beautiful with the tall golden grass rubbing my bare arms as I walked through the hills. My dog was bounding beside me, his stub of a tail wagging a mile a minute as he searched through the tall grass for any interesting smells. It was easy to keep an eye on him since his black and brown coat easily stood out against the golden grass. No one would have guessed that he was not even a year old, still a puppy, because he was so large even for a Doberman. I playfully tweaked his pointed ear as he dashed past me, thankful for having him with me in this new place. It had been a hard decision to leave my family and friends to live with Ahearn, a close friend of my family. I had known him practically my whole life and h had become my Popi. Thankfully I was able to take my horses and dog, the only ones who were not damaged in my past life back in the city with my family. I enjoyed taking care of my and Popi's horses but just as I began settling down, Popi announced that he needed to leave for a month. He hadn't wanted to leave me alone on the ranch but he explained to me that he was greatly needed. His nephew was a ranger on a wild horse sanctuary where a herd of extremely rare Nakota horses ran free. Every year the herd was rounded up for veterinary checks and some were auctioned off to keep the herd's number manageable to appease the cattle ranchers bordering the sanctuary. To prevent the horses from being auctioned to meat dealers, Popi helped find them loving homes and had even kept one or two for himself. I was eagerly looking forward to seeing the mustangs that Popi would be bringing home but I was wary about spending so much time alone while he was gone. Of course I never let Popi know of my wariness. After all, I had just graduated high school and celebrated my eighteenth birthday so I was past the brink of adulthood and technically I could take care of myself. At least that was what I had convinced myself. I knew that if I was really ready to move out on my own I wouldn't have so eagerly agreed to coming to live with Popi or had a desperate need to bring my animals with me.
My dog flushed out a small flock of birds, bringing my attention back to present time. I gave a low whistle, one's whose tone was uniquely distinctive to my dog. He came bounding over to me, nudging his wet nose against my hand.
"Leave the poor birds alone, Kobe," I told him as I motioned for him to keep at my side. He dutifully fell into step next to me, his pink tongue lolling out from the side of his mouth. Although he was still a curious and mischievous puppy, he was also smart and devoted. When I was still living with my parents he saved me from getting pummeled by a crazed stallion. The brave puppy had gotten hurt rather badly but he held his own and somehow chased the stallion away. My memory of the incident was hazy since I had been unconscious for most of it. When we had moved to Popi's he yet again proved his merit by defending the horses from a group of teens who had broken into the stable to cruelly abuse the horses inside. There was no doubt that Kobe was more devoted and loving than any future boyfriends could have ever been.
It had been a long day taking care of all the responsibilities that I had found myself holding since Popi had left a few days before. Feeding, watering, grooming, riding, and turning out all five horses. (Normally there were six but Popi had taken his horse, Apache, on the round up and would probably be returning with an addition to the stable) To people who were not used to horses it seemed an easy enough task but the eleven hours of taking care of the horses and the ranch was anything but easy for me. I was amazed at how Popi was able to do it all on his own but then again he only had to take care of a couple of horses before I brought my five. After the last of my chores were done I decided to take Kobe out on a walk with me. The ranch was situated on countless acres but I knew of a peaceful oak grove that was relatively close to the house and stables. We would not be returning until after dark but since Kobe was with me I wasn't afraid. When most people would have been fearful stepping beneath of the oak groves just as dusk was setting in, I was completely at home.
Suddenly Kobe began whining at my side. He looked up at me with his big puppy dog eyes, begging me to let him go chase some rabbit that he had caught sent of. I ruffled his ears and made a flicking motion with my hand, giving him my permission to run off. Like a bullet he was off and running through the trees. I had only come to the grove once before and I hadn't come even close to exploring all of its expanses. I felt that it was more of a miniature forest than a little grove especially now that I was alone with the exception of my dog. I stared up in wonder at how the ancient oaks, that were well over a hundred years old, were strong and stood over fifty feet high. The dull brown bark of the trees was rough and cracked with age, Spanish moss hanging from the thick boughs. The branches bridged together creating a mosaic of brown, green, and what should have been blue. Disintegrating rays of sunlight glided through the branches and trunks to give the brush beneath the trees a final burst of light. There was a great thrashing noise as a rabbit dashed across my path with Kobe close behind. I rolled my eyes and gave a short blast of a whistle, one that Kobe couldn't ignore. He halted so fast that he nearly somersaulted. Dragging his paws in the leaves he sulked his way over to me.
"Troublemaker," I muttered with a playful smile. Immediately the Doberman seemed to forget how I reined him in from his fun as he plodded along beside me. I knew that one day his curious and playful nature would get him, and probably me, way in over our heads. Pushing the thought from my mind I submersed myself in the beauty surrounding us and soon I found myself in my own little world. Without warning there was an enormous crash and the ground was shaking harder than any earthquake I had ever experienced and that was saying a lot since I had grown up in earthquake central. I was knocked to the ground and cringed as I waited for the trees to fall on top of me. Sooner than it felt, everything calmed down but it took me a while to shakily get onto my feet. I could faintly smell the scent of burning cinder and grass. Once I was on my feet I looked around me for Kobe. My heart froze when I realized that he had somehow slipped away without my realizing it. There was a sudden yelp intermixed with what sounded like metal being banged upon metal. Even if there wasn't for the obviousness of it, I knew that something was horribly wrong; Kobe had never yelped before even when he was beneath the rampaging hooves of the stallion. He never let on to his pain so I knew that something was extremely wrong if he was yelping. Desperately I began searching around for Kobe's sleek black coat but he was no where in sight. Soon I was yelling through the trees, calling out his name. Each time I heard his yelp my heart froze and I became even more frenzied in my search. I did my best to try and ignore the violent metallic sounds that seemed to have been coming from the same direction of Kobe's yelps.
"Kobe! Kobe, where are you?!" I screamed. Standing still, I listened intently and the moment that I heard his howl I took off running in that direction.
My feet sped faster than I ever thought that they could. It was nearly impossible for me to keep from falling when the ground began sloping downward into a valley that was hidden in the center of the woods. I tripped, falling hard to the ground at the bottom of the slope. Paralyzed with disbelief I saw with horror Kobe sprawled out in a heap in the grass. There was an enormous smoking crater in the center of the valley but Kobe was far on the other side and seemed untouched by whatever had fallen. I found myself breaking through my paralysis and running toward my fallen dog. Skidding to halt I fell next to him. Kobe's breaths were shallow and labored, his sleek black coat marred with gashes and blood. Tears streamed down my cheeks and dropped onto the Doberman.
"Hold on baby boy, just hold on" I whispered to him. Suddenly a large shadow slid over us, its creator towering above. I stared around in confusion at the shadow that covered me and I had no idea what could cause it. Slowly I turned around, having to squint to see since the sun's ebbing light silhouetted the form above me. Red and black metal twisted around to form a pair of enormous legs and feet. My gaze paned upward, taking fearful note of the glowing cannon-like barrels on what appeared to be its arms. The robot stood over twenty feet tall and its red eyes were glowering down at me with disgust. My hand took a deadly grip on Kobe's leather collar as I fought with myself on what to do. There was no such thing as giant robots, let alone giant robots who were in the middle of Californian countryside. A smirk appeared on the robots face as it began lifting its foot to step on Kobe and me. Since the dog was far too heavy for me to carry, I covered him with my body in an illogical attempt to save him.
"Go away!" I screamed as the robot's foot was coming closer to me. There was an enormous crash and a thick cloud of dust covered the ground, pieces of golden glass flying everywhere. My eyes stung but I refused to look away from the black and silver foot that had lashed out in front of me.
"You heard the girl, go away," a voice said from above me. The voice was calm and a bit cocky but it sounded as if it was an echo in a metal room. The red and black robot scowled but before he could aim his guns, the robot who had saved me from being crushed leapt forward, sending both robots slamming to the ground. An enormous battle, at least to me, began with metal twisting and contorting so much that I could not tell what belonged to who. Realizing that this was the only chance that I had to get away I began pulling at Kobe, begging him to get up. The dog tried but each time he fell to the ground. With no other choice, I wrapped on arm around his chest while the other was around his rear. Using every ounce of strength I lifted the large dog up, my arm's muscles screaming out in protest. I stumbled forward, desperate to keep my balance despite the shaking ground beneath my feet. Somehow I made it up the embankment and then behind a large oak tree. With Kobe safely hidden, I peered out from behind the tree to see the ensuing battle. It seemed like the robot that had saved me had somewhat of an advantage as it was on its feet the most while the other robot was frequently thrown to the ground. My mouth was open in awe as I stared in amazement at how they fought, especially the fighting style of my savior. It moved with fluid gracefulness as he dodged blows and it was as agile as an Olympic gymnast. The two combatants yelled at each other frequently in a language I didn't understand. From what I got though, the silver robot was egging on the red one; this just caused the red robot to become angrier and angrier which surprised me because I would never have guessed that robots had emotions.
I was terrified when the red robot threw the silver one to the ground and fired several shots into his legs. The silver robot let out a scream that was completely inhuman. I gasped when the red one stood over his fallen opponent, talking in the strange language as his weapons glowed threateningly. The robot who had saved me was completely immobile and at the mercy of the other. My savior was making loud noises that hinted at his pain but for some reason he looked over in my direction. I didn't think he saw me but after he looked over to the tree where I was hidden, he leaped forward as a large metal blade emerged from the top of his wrist. It plunged into the center of the red robot's chest, both of them screaming out in pain. Slowly the red robot sank to the ground, a strange liquid oozing from his wounds. The surviving robot fell heavily to the ground, grunting in the bizarre language. I was tempted to come out from behind the tree but I didn't want to leave Kobe and to put it simply I was scared shitless. Not sure what to do, I peeked out from behind the tree and into the valley. The silver robot was struggling to stand on its greatly damaged legs but what unnerved me were the lights that were emitting from its eyes. The lights were scanning the tree line, possibly in search of me, and before they revealed me I ducked out of sight. I knelt down, balancing on my knees and balls of my feet, with my back pressed against the rough bark of the tree. Kobe rested against me, softly whimpering in pain. I prayed that the robot would go far away so I could get my dog home. With my arms wrapped tightly around the Doberman I felt him stiffen up as well as the growl that shook his pained body. I easily knew what was causing Kobe to growl but when I was turning around to look behind me I was hoping that I was wrong. The enormous metallic body of the robot was knelt on one knee on the other side of the tree. I stifled a scream as I turned away, praying that it would just go away. I would have been running in a heartbeat if it hadn't been for Kobe. After all the dog had done for me, I wasn't about to just abandon him no matter how terrified I was. The robot grunted in what seemed a mixture of amusement, annoyance, and pain.
"I'm not going to hurt you" it told me calmly. I wondered for a moment how it knew English when it had just been speaking some other foreign language. I hadn't heard it approach but I heard it shift so it could see me around the tree. I scrambled to my feet and dragged Kobe with me so that we remained out of sight. The robot growled in annoyance and quickly shifted the other direction, sparks flying with the sudden movement. Once again I dragged Kobe so that we were safe out of line of vision. But the robot proved that just because my dog and I were out of its sight, we weren't safe. Two large dark grey hands emerged from either side of the tree and interlocked in front of me. The hands were slightly shorter than me but they had deep scratches, seemingly from battle. Unlike human hands there were only three fingers and what appeared to be a thumb on each hand and instead of knuckles there were gears that had wires running through them. Kobe growled even louder, the fur along his spine raising.
"Now you've got nowhere to go," it said coyly. "So will you come out so I can prove that you'll come to no harm? What's the Earth phrase?" There was a pause as if the robot was thinking. "Ah, yes. Will you please come out?" it said, answering its own question. Unknowingly it had answered one of the questions I had thought of but would never have had voiced; if this thing was unsure of Earth phrases than it obviously wasn't from this world. I mentally hit myself in the head. Of course this thing wasn't from Earth because there was no possible way it could have been. The hands began moving towards me, forcing us into either the tree or toward the robot. Kobe whimpered as he rose to his feet as we were pushed out from behind the tree. We kept backing up away from the hands and I let out a short cry when my stumbled over the metal foot.
"Hey, easy there" I was told. I felt like one of the mustangs that Popi would bring home and that the robot was trying to talk me into calming down just as I would with the horses. I wasn't exactly thrilled with the comparison that popped into my head but it was pretty obvious who was the superior and authoritative one between the robot and I. I turned around and stared up the enormous being kneeling above me. It shifted slightly back so it could get a better look at me. Lasers shot from what I perceived as its eyes, moving up from my feet to me head. Again I would have run away if it wasn't for leaving Kobe behind and the fact that the hands could easily catch me.
"Despite a few cuts you're functional. But your heartbeat is extremely rapid and your perspiration is high" The voice was now becoming familiar but it was bizarre for me to hear the metallic quality. I had no idea what I was dealing with especially since some sort of visor or mask covered its features except for its glowing blue eyes. The robot cocked its head to the side as if being able to read my thoughts. The mask lifted up and folded away into the contours of the head. The features that I was staring at were kind of human. I could discern two optics that resembled eyes, a nose, and even a mouth but all were distinctly robotic. The robot seemed to sense that I was studying it and it remained completely still to let me do so. It looked as if it was studying me too as shutters expanded and contracted around its optics. Suddenly a great pained expression crossed its face. It winced and asked if I was going to try and run away. I shook my head, feebly telling him that I wouldn't. Accepting my answer the silver robot sank backwards to sit down. It then ignored me and turned its full attention on its injuries although I saw it glance every once in a while over to me.
Keeping to my word, I didn't dare run away. After watching it kill a fellow robot I knew I wouldn't have stood a chance. As I watched the robot use lasers to examine its body, I became curious. It eyed me when I took several cautious steps forward. Soon I was close enough to reach out and touch him.
"Don't come any closer to the fluid. I don't know how humans would react to it" it warned preventing me from coming any closer. It was then that I knew that I could trust the robot at least a little bit. Kobe whined softly and I walked the short distance back to him. As I knelt down stroking him I watched the robot. Its build was tall and a bit thin but it still possessed a certain solidness. His whole body was a mesh of metal and wiring that somehow resembled a man's frame. Even his feet were bizarre to me and there would have been no way for me to describe them. Thinking about its voice I realized that it had masculinity to it and if robots did have genders than this one was probably a male.
"How bad are you hurt?" I warily asked. The robot turned his head towards me, a fleeting smile crossing his features.
"Nothing I can't get over" he told me confidently. There was a lapse of silence before I ventured my next question.
"Who…what are you?"
"I'm called Quicksilver. I'm a warrior and sniper for the Autobots from the planet Cybertron. The Autobots and Decepticons have been at war with each other for well over a millennia and a small group from each side came here in search of an object called the Allspark. It was found and then destroyed along with the leader of the Decepticons. The Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, sent out a message offering all Autobots shelter here on Earth. I answered the call but I'm a bit late on getting the good action" I was speechless for quite some time, letting the summary sink in a bit. It was hard to believe that aliens, especially twenty five foot tall ones, were present on our planet and I was completely oblivious to it. A slew of questions ran through my mind and I was having a hard time deciding which ones to ask or if I could even ask any more questions. Quicksilver once again glanced over at me as he was fiddling with his wounds. Every once in a while there would be a spark accompanied by a grimace. He was completely covered with damage, from simple dents to what seemed pretty major wounds on his legs.
"So, who are the good guys and who are the bad?" I ventured. There was a possibility that the robot would be lying when he gave his answer but I wasn't exactly in any position to challenge him.
"Autobots are what you refer to as 'the good guys'. You probably don't know but Prime saved your whole species and planet from Decepticons"
"So that other robot you were fighting…"
"Was a Decepticon," Quicksilver finished for me. "My guess is that it caught signs of my incoming ship and decided to try and finish it off. Didn't know who he was reckoning with though" The robot gave a cocky expression that I recognized as a smile.
"How do you know English?"
"I downloaded every language from the world wide web. It was a bit of a trip here so I caught up on all of my Earth culture"
"How many of you are here?" Now that I knew Quicksilver would answer my questions it was easier to talk to him. He seemed to appreciate my change in attitude as he gave an approving smile. The robot focused his attention on his injured leg yet still easily answered my questions even though he would give out a groan or grunt of pain every once in a while.
"Not many. I am almost positive that I'm the first to arrive on the planet besides Optimus and his original team"
"Where are they?" Quicksilver paused and a sullen expression passed over his face.
"Now that, is a good question that I'm hoping to find the answer to. That great brute damaged my navigation and communication processors before I could lock onto my companions' position"
"But you can communicate with me and you can look things up on the Internet" I pondered, somewhat confused.
"My audio is separate from my communication processors and it would take too long to navigate the Internet to get a fix on the other Autobots"
Finally I came up with the question that was weighing most heavily on my mind and despite my newfound confidence I was still wary about asking it. Quicksilver was flexing his hands, arms, and a bit of his legs when I finally rediscovered my voice.
"Why are you telling me all this? You just met me and for all you know I could call the media or government and tell them that you're here" It was a bit shaky and I asked the question so softly that I wasn't sure if he would hear. There was a circle on the side of his head that was raised a bit and had strange markings. They whirled a bit and I realized that they served as his ears. Finally Quicksilver turned to look at me, his optics narrowing slightly. At first I thought it was because I had finally gone too far but then I realized he was staring at how I was still holding Kobe close to me.
"I don't think you'll betray me. You risked your life for that…" he paused as he scanned Kobe and, by my guess, looked him up on the Internet, "dog. I've processed a lot of data on humans and I realized that the devoted nature you show for that dog reveals you to one of the more compassionate members of your species. That and I saved your life so you owe me" Once again I was quiet because I knew that what he said was true. At least about my not betraying him since I was not only the kind of person who took pride in loyalty but also he was completely right in the fact that I owed him. If it wasn't for Quicksilver, Kobe and I would have looked like a bug that flew into a windshield.
"Now I have my own questions," the metallic voice declared, ripping me from my thoughts. I mentally prepared myself as the alien turned his full attention over to me.
"All right. Shoot" It was probably the wrong choice of words because the Autobot looked at me in confusion. He was silent as he searched the web and then a knowing, and amused, expression crossed his face when he found the definition of the slang term. Putting aside his new found discovery he became serious.
"Is there any secluded shelter that would accommodate my size that is close by? This atmosphere is new to me but I sense that it is rapidly changing and there's heavy precipitation in the air. I don't know about Earth metal, but Cybertronian metal does not mix very well with water"
"The ranch that I live on has a large barn. It may be a bit cramped but I'm sure that there'd be enough room for you"
"As you probably realize, it's important that I remain hidden from the rest of the humans but there is also the problem that I'm no shape to travel long distances"
"Not a problem. We're on the ranch right now and the barn is within walking distance. The closest neighbors aren't for miles" Quicksilver was quiet as he thought over what I had just told him. He nodded his approval and prepared himself for the great feat of standing up. Just before he was about to though, he looked over at me.
"My last question…at least for now. What are you called?" he asked with genuine interest.
"My name is Faith Abraham. And this is my dog, Kobe"