Never in Hot Shot's life did he ever think he'd ever need to look for a sparkling.
Oh sure, the day started out nicely enough; the usual spiel of trying to persuade Rodimus to let him use his bow and arrows, annoying the heck out of the medic, the obligatory verbal fight between him and Brawn, poking Ironhide until he actually moved… yup, pretty much exactly what he'd come to expect on a regular, half-baked day on Iacon. Sometimes he wanted more than this, true. One day he even secretly wished that something, anything, would happen to give him something else to do. His team was so boring!
And of course, the higher powers of destiny were taking way too many liberties with his wish.
"So where exactly do you think he went?"
"Do you ever know anything? Anything at all?"
Such was the fate of his conversation with his blasted hippie. Hot Shot could have sworn that his processor was fried sometime during the Great Wars or something. If you asked him, the only good thing that came out of his stupidity was that he didn't take hardly anything seriously. That was good. If he had to go through one more day hearing complaints from Brawn or Red Alert or anyone, his head would burst into flames.
Of course there was also the fact that this hippie (don't ask him, he just seemed to like being called that) apparently had a kid. He had no idea where the guy was protoformed, exactly, but he knew this much from the two; he was born on an alien planet, the hippie found him, neither of them knew where or why he was there, and the sparkling had decided he wanted to be called Cosmos.
Cosmos it was, then.
The mystery of Cosmos' existence piqued Hot Shot's interest, so much so that he never really caught the hippie's name. Though from what he thought, the hippie probably didn't even remember his own name, let alone introduce himself properly. So far, the only thing that seemed to be on his mind at the moment was some song about something called 'Lobsters' that he'd never heard of, and the fact that he saw a 'bird' yesterday.
Hot Shot had no inkling of what a 'bird' was. Any questioning of the hippie resulted in something along the lines of 'Ionno' (which appeared to be his favorite compound word) or 'Issan organic thing'. The latter of the responses immediately turned Hot Shot off of questioning him further. From what he had heard while on Kalis, the biggest city on Cybertron and the location of the Metroplex, not to mention the Elite Guard, anything that was organic was never to be looked at or encountered. They were all poisonous and could spew acid into your systems and kill you while you recharged. But that wasn't the only thing that unnerved him about the hippie's obsession with birds.
It was that he called it pretty.
Hot Shot shivered in disgust. These were his exact words, and Hot Shot remembered them clearly as though the hippie were saying it to him right now, mostly because it was just so shocking to hear him talking about a deadly and monstrous creature like that.
"DUDE! I saw, like, a bird yesterday! It was, like, pretty, man. Real pretty, man. You shoulda seen it, man, it was just, like, real pretty… and stuff… hey, where'd Cosmos go?"
The ending statement surprised him at first. He didn't really care much for Cosmos. In fact, the last statement wasn't even in the same sentence; if he recalled correctly, he had exploded on the hippie after the initial statement, and he had interrupted with the last statement. The initial surprise was soon turned to panic. Iacon wasn't exactly the safest place in the world. And while there was no physical clue as to Cosmos' age, there was still one big fact that Hot Shot just couldn't ignore.
Cosmos was literally born yesterday.
Hot Shot shook his head. If he was going to find Cosmos, it definitely wasn't going to be with this hippie dude who was supposed to be Cosmos' mentor of sorts. The hippie had refused to even consider the possibility of Cosmos going to the Schooling Ward for every newly-protoformed Autobot, apparently because he "dint wanna follow The Man's ways a doin' things… and stuff," which was completely and wholly unheard of. Where the heck did this guy's processor go!? What was 'The Man', anyway? He may as well ask the hippie. The silence was killing his processor right now.
"What's 'The Man'?"
"What. Is. The. Man?" Hot Shot replied, this time loudly and clearly so that he knew he wanted an answer. Currently the hippie was balancing and walking very stiffly on an elevated strip of land from where Hot Shot was, searching the landscape for the missing sparkling.
"Ohh, you wanna know 'bout The Man? Man, you should already, like, know about The Man, man. I woulda figured you'd, like, know about yer own kind, man." The hippie replied, apparently drifting off-topic.
"What in the Universe is that supposed to mean?"
"Dude. You are The Man."
This last statement took Hot Shot greatly off guard. He was The Man? How was he supposed to be The Man? From what he could piece together of the hippie's rather mindless ramblings about The Man, he didn't seem to like it. What was it that made Hot Shot unlikable?
"Why am I The Man?"
"Huh?" Hot Shot repeated his question.
"Dude. You're like, what, a bridge keeper er sumthin, right?"
"As in Space Bridge Pyrotechnician, yes."
"Woah, like, Pyrotechnician?"
"Like, fireworks 'n stuff?"
"Fireworks. Y'know, like, it goes Whoosh and then it goes Boom! 'n then everyone goes all oohin' and ahin'… and stuff."
"No. No, I don't know. And you know what else I don't know? I don't know how the frag Cosmos can stand you and your run-on sentences and your idiotic train of thought! I mean what kind of mentor are you!? You're not even paying attention to your own pupil! You're too preoccupied with stupid and meaningless things like 'The Mans' and you have an unhealthy obsession with birds! Birds are organic! Organics are disgusting and poisonous and deadly and could kill you in a second and you think they're fragging pretty!?"
"…Dude. Harsh, man."
Hot Shot simmered in his own unbearable confusion and aggravation towards the hippie. He stared the blue Autobot down, though he hardly thought he was deserving of the symbol. Suddenly he had heard a third voice join in the conversation.
"Organics are not disgusting!!!" Hot Shot turned frantically to his right and to his left, trying to locate the source of the ominous new voice that had come from nowhere.
"Hey, there, little man!" the hippie said to nothing in particular, it seemed. Hot Shot was completely bewildered for quite a moment, before suddenly a stout, triangular shape appeared in front of him. The triangular shape and strange nacelles jutting out from his shoulders immediately told him who it was.
"Organic things aren't disgusting!! They're all beautiful and different and green and brown and a whole bunch of other colors and they're really strange but they're still really pretty!!" Cosmos spouted from his vocalizer, clearly showing that he was willing to defend all those organic things. Hot Shot stayed silent as Cosmos started to list off all of the beautiful organic things he could name. Initially Hot Shot didn't have the slightest interest in learning about these organic topics.
Then something happened.
He wasn't sure how, exactly, but his best guess was that this was his special power. Maybe he had some kind of telepathic abilities or something. But, however the heck he was doing it; it still took Hot Shot greatly off-guard.
He started with what he called 'trees'.
All of a sudden, large, thick brown sticks shot up from the ground and then finally stopped at a certain level, ultimately spreading out into branches of brown… stuff. Then green, red, orange and yellow stuff started sprouting from the tops. Hot Shot was completely taken aback by all of this. What was all this!? The stuff at the top completely blocked his view of the sun-filled sky of the Asteroid.
Wait… wasn't the Sun due for another three solar-cycles? It was supposed to be space. Night. He shouldn't be able to see the sun today, even with that stuff blocking its view. And yet, rays of undeniable sunshine poked through small gaps. He looked back at his eye-level. He stopped. Cosmos and the hippie were both gone, and he couldn't hear Cosmos anymore, but that wasn't what took him off guard.
It was the view.
All around, colorful things and green things and strange other vegetation or whatever were littered all over the ground. Somehow, they were all wet, and the droplets of liquid shone in the thin sunlight. For a split second, he thought that these things couldn't be organic. How could they be organic?
They were so pretty…!
Then the scene changed. Whatever Cosmos was talking about, it made an enormous wave of salt water splash him from his left. He braced for impact, but felt nothing in particular. Suddenly he was underwater, with rocks and landmarks sprouting up from newly-made cliffs. The colors and shapes the ocean-dwelling objects took immediately astounded Hot Shot, and were much easier to accept. Mostly because they were just rocks.
Then new organic creatures sprouted from the inside of a pouch-like rock he saw on one of the cliffs. They were orange with white stripes, and the pouch was revealed to have tentacles inside of it, and it began to sway and flow for no reason he could discern. Suddenly, more and more of the aquatic life forms sprouted from absolutely nowhere, swimming in front and behind and around Hot Shot. They were all different; no two the same, save for a select few. They all had their own thing, their own design, and their own idea of how to move in this inconsistent body of water.
He looked up again, to see that, like the trees, there was sunlight shining through the surface of the water. And on the ground below, the sunlight and water made a beautifully intricate pattern of light he couldn't even begin to explain. This was too beautiful to be organic.
And then, finally, Cosmos talked about birds.
To fully understand birds, he must have had to be in the sky, which immediately scared him to death. Decepticons lived in the skies! He had no reason to be up here unless he had a death wish! Which, despite Red Alert's and Kup's (the two medics that alternated shifts in his Space Bridge team) suggestions, he did not want in the least. He froze completely while in the sky, somehow balancing on a cloud. He had no idea how he was standing on a collection of water vapor, but from what he could feel, it was more like some sort of giant collection of fluff.
Then he saw the birds. A million different kinds of birds, big or small, blue or red, every single color of the visible spectrum and every possible body-type for a bird suddenly flew up from out of nowhere. He was completely astounded at all of them; there were so many! Cosmos must have told him the names to some of them back in the real world, wherever it may be, because he had somehow learned the names of every bird he saw.
He saw flamingos, pink birds that preferred to stand in a puddle than to fly, but flew anyway. He saw eagles, graceful brown birds with impeccable eyesight. And so many other kinds of birds, all flocking around him. Bluebirds, hummingbirds, killdeers, robins, sparrows, pigeons, seagulls, crows, ravens, and doves… perhaps every bird he would ever see in his life. And the only birds.
Because the illusion was over.
He found himself back on the sturdy ground of the meteor city of Iacon. The brown, lifeless, and flat-out bland landscape of the asteroid made him think that this was some sort of dumpster. That this couldn't possibly be the city he had come to call home. It wasn't as beautiful as the organic creatures he had seen through Cosmos' illusion. He didn't like Iacon anymore.
"Now do you know why we like birds?" His attention was shot straight at Cosmos, the very child that had, through some sort of telepathic means, introduced him to the most beautiful spectacles he had ever seen, and probably the only organic beauty he would ever see in his life. He wanted the illusion to start again, to be in those organic planets full of green and trees and water and birds. He wanted to see the birds again. Because out of all of the nature he had seen through him, birds were the absolute prettiest.
He decided to be funny with his answer. Make the kid laugh. There was no harm in saying the same thing the hippie had said on multiple occasions. There was no harm in asking questions about if he had really seen it, nor was there any harm in chanting the name of the beautiful species in a ritualistic way. When he was done with his chanting, they all burst into laughter, and Hot Shot smiled for what he thought might have been the first time for that day.
He saw a bird once. And it was pretty.