Common Ground 1

A Transformers Prime Fanfiction Commission for ScreamtotheStars

Dust in the Sky

A gunmetal grey semi rolled down a dusty stretch of highway. There wasn't a cloud in the sky to diffuse the glaring Nebraska sun that beat down on the cracked asphalt. Heat waves and mirages rose and flickered off of the grain fields rolling in either direction. The driver sat easily in the seat, more caressed than confined by the seatbelt. Even though the summer heat permeated the cab the air-conditioning was not running and the wind from the open window stirred the few jet black strands of hair that escaped from his ponytail. Out of habit his dark eyes flicked occasionally to check his mirrors and his hands followed the gears as the engine shifted but neither action was strictly necessary. A deep contented rumbling emanated from the engine compartment. A low chuckle bubbled out from the human's smile and he caressed the dashboard.

"What's got you in such a good mood?" he asked of the empty air around him.

"Do I need a particular reason?" an astonishingly deep voice replied. "I am with my best friend, doing a job I enjoy, I have a full tank, several full stomachs, nobody I care about is suffering at the moment, and for the first time in far too long I am warm and dry."

Another laugh from the young man.

"It has been a long cold winter," he admitted, "but you have a fine warm, dry hanger."

"Yeah, but I can't get out on the road and soak in the sun."

The brown-eyed youth opened his mouth to point out that his companion had spent the majority of last summer's southern drives complaining about overheating but only shook his head; might as well let his brother enjoy it while he could. The CB crackled to life distracting them both as the radio tuned to the proper frequency.

*…and it wasn't just that I swear I saw something strange,* an obviously agitated voice was saying.

The young man arched his eyebrows at the dashboard.

"I don't know Zech, never heard him before."

*Tall-man! You been carrying your hip flask again?* another voice broke in. *You'd better be careful. A DUI would ruin you!*

*Thunder and roadblocks Road Tracker! You know I'm clean!*

*Sure I do good buddy, and I'd tell every brownie I meet that.*

A rumble of amusement came from the engine of the grey semi.

"Watch it Sal," Zech reprimanded him, "a drinking problem is no laughing matter for a trucker even if it is only a rumor."

The big rig snorted and was about to reply when the static cleared again and Tall-man's voice came in loud and clear.

* I am telling you I saw two giant robots duking it out out there in the desert!*

There was an audible growl from the engine compartment and the young man stiffened.

"Isolate and match their frequencies Sal," he ordered urgently.

"Right."

Dials turned as if of their own accord and the sound quality on the friendly argument suddenly increased. Zechariah Franklin grabbed his CB mic. and took a deep breath.

"Are we secure?"

"As secure as I can make us," the deep voice responded. "I scrambled the frequencies bad. I'm still ticked off that the army didn't give me any boom toys but the fancy radio training sure comes in handy."

"Breaker, breaker, Tall-man, Greydawn. Come on back."

*Greydawn, Tall-man. How's it rolling? You're the Franklin boy right?*

"Roger that Tall-man. Hey, could you come back again on what you saw?"

There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment and the young man could almost hear the gears turning in the older trucker's head. Would the other believe him?

*I saw two big ole robots throwing down across the brown flats about ten mile back.*

"Can you give me a description?"

*What?* there was incredulity in the voice. *You actually believe me?*

"Let's just say I may know something," Zech replied cautiously, "and it would probably be a good thing if you didn't mention this again to anyone."

*Oh! This is Clan doings. *

A look of consternation flickered across the dark face and a derisive grunt emanated from the engine.

"Not exact… you see I," with a final sigh Zech shook his head. "No. It's not Clan; just something I'm personally invested in."

*And you're Clan,* Tall-man affirmed. *That makes this clan doings. A big red and blue bot was mixing it up with this smarmy little one. I wouldn't have seen them but I pulled over to take a nap on the brown flats and parked behind that ridge that separates them from the highway so's the sounds of the road wouldn't disturb me. Don't worry; I'll keep my yapper shut. I'm just glad I wasn't flashing back to sixty-eight again. Over and out.*

There was silence in the cab for several long moments as they passed the two big rigs and watched them fade in the mirrors.

"He's right you know."

"What Sal?"

"Tall-man was right. Even if we try to keep these things to ourselves the Clan is composed of people like us. Every time we get involved that makes it more and more the Clan's business."

Zech stared morosely out at the approaching brown flats.

"Still," he finally responded, "I am going to try and keep the two worlds as far apart as I can."

"Yes, there is no reason for the rest of the Others to know how many times we help the voidwalkers," the deep voice agreed calmly.

"Absolutely, wait. What?" a look of confusion caught on the human's face.

"I said that there is no reason for the clan to know how many times we."

"Don't you mean helped? As in past tense?" Zech demanded.

"You mean you never plan on helping them again?" Sal asked far too innocently.

"No, Salcha."

"What are you saying 'no' to?"

"NO SAL!"

"Oh come on! Please." All pretense of innocence suddenly dropped from the deep voice. It rose several octaves and began shamelessly begging. "You know you want to."

"Salcha Franklin! Neither of us is a trained soldier. We would only get in the way."

"I faced them before and was an asset in the battle."

"And you nearly got yourself killed! I don't ever want to have to spend that much time pulling shrapnel out of you again! Face it, we're civilians, if there is a firefight going on we would only be a liability."

"But Red Warrior could be hurt. He could be lying bleeding out there in the sand."

Salcha could sense his brother's determination weakening at that. They were abreast of the brown flats now and could see tale-tale spires of dust that indicated where the warriors had been fighting. The flats were a wide barren stretch of desert devoid of most life. There was no native ecosystem; no plants, no lichen. The few things that did crawl across its surface were fanged and poisonous. They fed by trapping the unwary who wandered across the plain. In addition to the logic screaming in his brain, there was something else that warned the trucker away from the unnatural place. Despite the heat a cold shiver ran up his spine. For some reason he was suddenly very afraid for the ally who might be out there.

"Look, I'll just get close enough to see what's going on. If it looks too dangerous we'll either hide or peel out of there."

"Sal," Zechariah objected weakly.

When they finally came to the turn that led out over the flats neither could say which of them exactly turned the wheel towards the dust clouds.