Everybody seemed to be nicer to him today.
Cosmos didn't really understand. Cosmos was too young to understand, surely. He had been designed to develop slowly, so that his processor could soak up more information in less time. That was what he was created for; information. And he had always been good at it too. In fact, he was better than the others at it.
But today was rather hectic. It almost felt like every adult in the Industry was having some kind of party, and Cosmos was not invited. He wasn't angry at them, just jealous. They were lucky to be invited to the party, because they were older than him. And he knew that grownups always got better things that kids did. That was just the way it worked.
Of course, having a party wasn't the only hypochondria he had on why the grownups were all so jittery. He also had another one was that today was his turn to go. That it was finally time for him to do the responsible thing. That it was time for him to do what he was built for.
So when Chug way called for him on the intercom, he puffed his chest up and walked straight to the Lunch Room.
Counting him, there were only three of them.
The others were a pair of twins that had gotten a makeover. No one explained it clearly enough to Cosmos, but he was pretty sure that something happened to them that made them feel really bad, so they got a makeover to feel special again. They even changed their names too to be even more special; now their names were Jetfire and Jetstorm. They said they didn't remember what their names were before when he asked them.
Cosmos spent most of his time playing games with them in the playground. Cosmos would win some, and other times the twins would. Cosmos had fun playing with them, though. Their playground was lots of fun, and it was different every time. Sometimes Chug way and Perplexor watched them play in there, giving them new games to play. Like this one game where they would get a piece of information, and then go through the playground. If they could remember the information when they got there, they would get a treat.
That game they played a lot. And each time they played it, Cosmos got better at it quicker than the twins did. Cosmos really only did it because he liked the treat he got when he won. Really, he just didn't want anyone to get mad at him. The twins weren't mad, though, when Cosmos won and they didn't. They liked getting their treat too, but they were still happy for him.
When the twins won their games, their treat would be going out to Crystal City and buy some Ultra-Energon or Energon Drops with Perplexor (their daddy), their mommy and their other daddy. When Cosmos won the games, he would be propped up on his daddy's shoulders, and his mommy would dance with him. They would end their treat-days with going outside to the field and stargazing, counting and naming the stars.
Cosmos loved stars. That's why he was named Cosmos, after all. Every star in the sky he would count, draw pictures with them, and then he would name them. Sometimes he would tell his mommy about the stars he named, and she would tell him whether he was right or not. Most of the stars had names, but some of them didn't yet. Daddy promised him that one day, the name he gave a star would be its actual name.
Cosmos was excited for that day to come.
He power-walked to the Lunch Room, a special room that didn't look at all like it was for lunch. There were computers everywhere, and one very large glass window to see everything outside. Chug way was standing there, staring blankly out at the rocket ship perched just outside the window, his non-face barely reflected on the glass.
Cosmos knocked on his stabilizing servo to catch his attention. He looked down at him and dimmed his optics a little, his way of smiling.
"Why hello there Cosmos. You got my announcement, I presume?" Chug way said.
"Uh-huh!" Cosmos responded with a smile. "I've practiced all day yesterday and I've remembered everything I need to do in the spaceship and everything!" Cosmos almost bounced he was so excited! Chug way probably would have smiled if he could, but decided to pat his domed head instead.
"That's good to hear, Cosmos, but don't you want to say goodbye to your parents first?" Chug way tilted his head to the side.
"Oh!" Cosmos had stiffened a little, embarrassed that he had forgotten about his parents, "Uh, yeah, yeah I wanna say goodbye to them!" Chug way nodded, and led him out to the field.
Beachcomber and Glyph were waiting for him outside, near the spaceship. Cosmos had gotten so excited, he ran straight to them, opening his arms wide to give them bot the biggest hug ever. They turned almost immediately, and returned the hug as best they could. He nuzzled into them, happy as could be.
But he still had to do his job, so he let go of them and walked inside the spaceship.
Some days, when Cosmos wasn't playing in the playground, he would walk around in the hallways like a grownup and feel like he was one of them. Like he was a part of their big businesses and their numbers and everything. Grownups seemed to like numbers a lot, especially Mister Chin. When he made a new friend and he told Mister Chin about them, Mister Chin would always ask about things that weren't important. He never asked about their voice, or their favorite games, or what time of day they liked best. He always asked how old they were, what number their room was, how many animals they had petted instead.
But his daddy wasn't like that. That's why Cosmos loved his daddy; he always knew just what to say. His mommy once said that Beachcomber's words were an art in and of themselves. He didn't know what an art was, but he thought it must have been something really pretty. Glyph never said anything mean about Beachcomber, even if Mister Chin did.
Mister Chin was a very mean bot. He always knew how to make daddy cry, always knew how to make him feel sad and unloved. Cosmos and Glyph would pick him up again, though, and make sure he was still happy. Cosmos knew how emotional daddy could get, but also how accepting and caring. Cosmos loved his daddy, because he knew that his daddy loved him more than anything.
But Mister Chin didn't love Beachcomber. Mister Chin didn't even like him. Mister Chin would always do mean stuff, to both the twins and his daddy. The twins always tried to make Mister Chin happy, trying to make sure they got their stuff done and doing nothing else (that he knew of). Cosmos didn't care about Mister Chin, but he did care about his job.
Cosmos' job was to get information about something far, far away, and then send it back to the Industry. He had been practicing all he could for his job, waiting for his turn to go out and do it, just like the grownups. He had even practiced on his own, made his own playground to practice and everything. He knew that if Chug way and Perplexor could, they would smile.
So when Cosmos walked into Mister Chin's office once (because the blue bot that smelled like detergent told him that's where his parents were), he heard just how important his job was.
"This is for the entire Autobot race, you two!" he said, "This is for our future!" he said. Cosmos didn't remember exactly what he said, and he used a lot of big words, but he did know what Autobots were, and what the future was. He knew that whatever he had to do was very important.
But daddy wasn't happy about it, and neither was mommy. Cosmos didn't understand why. Did they think he couldn't do it? That he was too young? Nonsense! Cosmos was perfectly capable of doing his job! Cosmos slammed inside the room like he had seen Mister Chin do so many times. He immediately had four eyes and a really big visor. For a moment he was embarrassed, unsure of why he did that. But he soon puffed up his chest and said;
"Don't you worry, Mister Chin! I know exactly how important this is, you don't need to tell me!" He paused, "It sounds like a big responsibility, but… But I know I can do it! And I'll do the best I can too!" Cosmos finished. He smiled really wide, completely confident that he would be able to do his job perfectly.
The only one who smiled back was Mister Chin.
A roar and shaking.
Cosmos had hidden inside the small compartment made just for him. It was supposed to protect him from something, but he wasn't entirely sure what. All he knew was that he wasn't supposed to move at all inside of it, but once all the roaring and shaking stopped he could get out and do his job. One thing was doubly certain for him; this was all really scary!
Cosmos was motionless within his alt-mode, making sure he didn't bump into anything inside his compartment. Eventually the shaking stopped, but he was far too scared afterwards to move. He stayed there for a few moments, before he got a message.
"This is Ground Control to Cosmos, do you copy?" The telephone in his head told him.
"Yeah, I copy." He responded, opening up the hatch of his compartment and crawling out. He stretched his back and looked outside. He caught his breath as soon as he did. Stars! Thousands upon thousands of stars, much closer than they had been before! Each direction he faced was the same night sky again and again, surrounding him.
Cosmos cracked his fingers, ready to do his job.
Photos littered the ground just eight mega-cycles later.
He had listed planet after planet, star after star, naming each and every one of them. Mister Chin told him that he should number them too, so for his sake he gave them silly little numbers that made no sense. He decided to keep two copies of the maps he made; one with the names he would show to mommy and daddy, and the one with the numbers he would show Mister Chin and Chug way.
He was almost done too. He could tell, because it was getting a little hard for him to breathe, and that only happened when he got really tired. And once he got really tired, he would go to sleep and wake up the next day, to do what he needed then.
Of course, it wasn't completely silent while he was there. Daddy had called him on his telephone, told him how proud he was of him and how much he loved him. Cosmos didn't see the need for it—he knew exactly how much his daddy loved him—but it was nice to have something in the background for him to work to. Someone that he could talk to when he wanted to.
Mommy had called too, and when she did she told him about how much this meant to her and to the Industry. She told him how much the twins had cheered him on, how happy he had made Chug way, how he even made the blue bot that smelled like detergent crack a smile (and that was something daddy had been working on for a very, very long time)! Cosmos was happier than ever when he heard that.
That was when mommy started to cry. He didn't know why she started to cry, she just did. But when Cosmos had begun to reach out for his mommy's legs to give her a hug, she wasn't there. That was when he realized just how alone he was, locked inside the spaceship in the middle of the night sky, the ground nowhere in sight. So he did the next best thing; he told mommy not to worry.
"Don't worry mommy, I'll be okay." He told her, pausing from his map-drawing.
"Oh, Cosmos, I just wish I could be there with you! It must be frightening up there!" She responded, her voice getting higher, like it usually did when she was nervous.
"Well, it is, but don't you worry! I'll be able to last through this scary thing just fine." Cosmos smiled, even though he knew she couldn't see him. She didn't respond at first, so then he said "And when I get back home, everyone will praise me and love me and pat my head and tell me how good I was at my job, right?" But no one ever did any of that.
Because Cosmos never made it home.