Maybe he shouldn't have tapped into Beachcomber's thoughts before going to sleep.

It seemed innocent enough. Sometimes when he asked Beachcomber what he dreamed about, he wouldn't remember and he'd never tell him. Beachcomber never really seemed to think about much during the daytime, though, so there really wasn't all that much to worry about in tapping into his mind and figuring out what he dreamt about. He expected to get a dream about birds or something along those lines, or maybe just going into his dreams and walking along a beach together. Cosmos liked it when he had dreams like that, though Beachcomber was never around. He honestly just thought that he'd get to go to the beach with his mentor actually present this time. This was most definitely not the beach.

He wasn't entirely sure where he was, exactly. All he knew was that it was dark and he kind of felt like he was watching things from some kind of screen. Something was keeping him from moving, and he kind of felt as though he weren't actually there. Just watching things happen. An audience. He wasn't entirely sure what was going on, since all he was seeing was some sort of birds-eye-view of a tunnel, if that were possible. He wondered what importance a tunnel had. Then he heard something. It was some kind of clanking sound… it kept getting faster and faster, and this time he was able to make them out as footsteps, and they were running. One of the set of feet was distinctly faster than the other.

Then there was a flash of blue light. Well, nearly. He could still see what they looked like (a little). There seemed to be some kind of camera following the flash as fast as it could, cutting from one corner of the hallways to another, and another, following that one streak of blue. Cosmos had no idea how this was even happening; he couldn't seem to actually alter anything that was happening around him. He could move, yes, but nothing he did seemed to do anything to change what was happening. Just to check, he extended a hand forward to try and grab onto the blue flash. His hand met with some kind of barrier, and he put it down. It was like he was watching some kind of dynamic footage of something or other. Maybe this was just part of the dream? Well, yes! Of course it was! But usually he could actually do things in the dream he was having. This time he could not.

Soon enough, the people he saw managed to slow down. Well… not really slow, more like the background was moving and not them. Cosmos' spark stopped beating. In the front was a pointy, light blue Autobot with huge shoulders and a strange pointy thing on his head that he didn't recognize. But the look on his face told him that whoever he was, he was desperate and trying to get away from something, and he was running faster than the darker-blue 'bot behind him. Cosmos specifically focused on this 'bot, because he just so happened to be very important in his life. He had lived with him for quite a while, and he would never forget that large, blank visor anywhere.

It was Beachcomber.

Immediately he knew that something was really, really wrong here. If there was anything that he knew to be wrong here was that Beachcomber did not know a very pointy bright blue 'bot like this one. He would have introduced him to Cosmos if he did. That was one of the first things Beachcomber did on Cybertron, introduced him to people he knew. Another thing was that they were running away from something without looking back. That usually meant someone was in big trouble. And no one wanted to be in big trouble.

There was a crossroads at the end of a tunnel they were running through. It was so stark that it seemed to be shaped like the English letter 'T'. They stopped for a moment, looking this way and that, apparently trying to figure out which way to go. There was blackness at the end of both pathways, so there was no sign as to what they would encounter. Either pathway could lead them to a pit of snakes or a meadow full of pink grass unicorns and rainbows, for all they knew. Though it seemed that whichever way they turned counted so far—almost like this was a maze. And Cosmos could just tell that they needed to get out.

"Maybe we should go this way?" Beachcomber offered, pointing to the left passageway.

"I'm not entirely sure if that's a good idea, but considering that we have an undercover Decepticon on our trails who also happened to used to be one of the most trusted Autobots in the High Council and is capable of forming this guise and tricking any passerby that we have gone crazy we must certainly reach the end of the road quickly and accurately and we must get there before he does so that we can warn the general public of him! With that in mind, I will go ahead and check if it is safe for us to pass through and then I will come back with my jurisdiction!"


With that, the light blue, pointy Autobot dashed off ahead, his entire sentence completely flying over Cosmos' head. Evidently it flew over Beachcomber's head too, as he had started running after him as soon as he was done with his sentence. Cosmos didn't realize how fast the light blue Autobot was until he ran without hindrance, leading him to disappearing almost as though by magic. Beachcomber only made it to the next corner where the Autobot turned before stopping and giving up trying to catch up to him.

Beachcomber had tried to walk away for a moment and get back to where he and Blurr started. That seemed like a good idea. If he was that fast, nobot in existence would be able to catch him, Autobot or Decepticon. Besides, if he was that fast, surely he must be able to get away from trouble! He'd be okay… he hoped. He was wrong. There was a really loud crash coming from the same hallway. The screen-thing or whatever wasn't moving from Beachcomber though, so neither of them knew what was happening.

"Blurr?" and now Beachcomber was running straight back to the corner. Was that the 'bot's name? Blurr? For a moment he just stood there at the corner, listening for any indication that Blurr was coming back. For a short while that felt like eternity, nothing happened. That's when a strange whirring sound started up.

"BLURR!!" Beachcomber was running now. This was probably the fastest Cosmos had ever seen Beachcomber go in his entire (albeit rather short still) lifecycle. There were some more entrances to tunnels littering the hallway walls, making the whole thing look like some kind of cartoon cheese he saw from video feeds on organic planets, but he didn't pay much attention to them. He had to figure out where the whirring was coming from, turning his head to each of the openings and doing his best to figure out where it was coming from.

Then he hit a door. Beachcomber fell over a little, but managed to retain his balance. That was strange. This was most certainly a door and not a wall, since it split somewhere down the middle and had a pattern on it. It was doubly strange because none of the other hallway entrances had doors closed. Nevertheless, he continued right, following the path that the door was leading him through. Then there was yet another door making him go right. And finally, there were two doors blocking any way of him going forwards or right. The door on the right was different, though, in that it was opening up to another hallway, which was curiously empty save for a small cube.

The cube itself didn't seem very important. It was about the size of Beachcomber's lower stabilizing servo, and seemed to have been crushed. It looked crushed, because it had a bunch of smaller pieces of metal sticking out, and looked like a compact piece of garbage. The only difference in it was, it was light blue and come to think of it, the cube actually kind of looked like…

"BLURR!!!" Beachcomber cried out. He immediately ran straight for the cube and contemplated whether he should pick it up or not. Cosmos felt sick to his fuel tank at the sight. A bot's entire chassis had been rendered into this… this… this cube! It was the last thing anybot thought of as a plausible death. Beachcomber finally picked it up though, and once again queried for his friend, only this time in the same way he would comfort Cosmos whenever he had a bad dream. For a flash of a second, Cosmos felt jealous. A bot he didn't even know merited that tone of voice?

Cosmos stopped himself. Clearly this wasn't what he thought to be real. None of this was real. For all he knew, Blurr could have been Beachcomber's best friend here in this dream land. Cosmos felt guilty now, ashamed of himself for thinking so highly. He felt like a Decepticon—the Cybertronian 'bots that were mean and unpleasant and greedy and bad. He didn't want to be a Decepticon. Then a third voice joined in.

"My my, it doesn't seem I've managed to kill two birds with one stone. What a pity." In the corner of the hallway was a large, top-heavy Decepticon. Cosmos would recognize the symbol on his chest anywhere. He didn't seem to have a face, as the only thing he could see of it was a black nothing and one big, red optic staring straight back at him.

"What did you do to my friend!?" Beachcomber yelled out at the larger 'con. Cosmos admired his bravery. He had always thought he was pretty brave for treating everyone equally, even people of 'authority'. He always knew what to say to people who needed it, even when he wasn't sure what they were talking about in the first place. Now Cosmos could see that Beachcomber was much, much braver than he originally thought.

"Well whatever it is I did to him, I'm not going to do the same to you. Far too monotonous for my taste. Besides, you are remarkably slower than he was, and you're standing straight, so there really wouldn't be very much to gain from having two cubes. After all, what's the point of the end product if you don't have fun while making it?"

"I have no idea what you're going on about. But whatever it is, you'll never get away with it!"

"How about I come over there and shut that tiny mouth of yours, permanently?" Beachcomber held the square chassis of Blurr closer to him, and stood sideways. His face was stern and blank, and seemed completely focused on something. Cosmos didn't know what, but it seemed that he was… ready for something?

"If I go, I go with my friend." Beachcomber responded. The Decepticon laughed. A refined, pompous, menacing laugh that felt like a cannon blast to the spark. Cosmos' eyes widened—he couldn't believe what was happening. He couldn't even comprehend what was happening. It was so hard for him to wrap his mind around the situation. The way Beachcomber had said that… it was like… like he was leaving.

The Decepticon produced something from his back that was apparently always there. It looked more like a crane for a moment, but then it flipped around and transformed itself into something that he had seen countless times in Sentinel Magnus' warning feeds. A laser canon. The Decepticon aimed it straight at Beachcomber. The front of the cannon echoed the 'con's dark face and bright red optic. Beachcomber did not move, did not flinch, and did not do anything. He just stood there, battle-ready, holding the chassis of Blurr warmly and proudly next to his chest. They were going to go down together.

"Such noble nonsense."

The screen was filled with a bright red light that made Cosmos offline his optics. But it was too late. He already knew what had happened.

The light didn't stop.

It took Cosmos a moment to realize that the light wasn't red anymore either. Now it was yellow, and maybe a few specs of blue and pink in the mix. But the light kept getting fainter and fainter, until he finally couldn't see it unless he onlined his optics completely. He was scared to see what would be in front of him if he did though. What happened to Beachcomber? Was he okay? If he kept his optics closed he would never find out.

But he was scared. He was scared of what he would see… If Beachcomber as dust with the non-face of that evil Decepticon glaring back at him with that one, big, beady red optic. He was too afraid of that red optic to even dare see it clearly. He didn't want to shoot him a bad look and get himself turned into dust or a cube. He just wished it was over.

Wait… wasn't it already over? Nothing… nothing seemed to be happening. Just the after-glow of the red light, which turned yellow and blue and pink before disappearing altogether. Now it was just black. Did that mean everything was over? Did that mean that he was back with Beachcomber, camping out in the outskirts of a Cybertronian city? He didn't know. And he wouldn't know unless he onlined his optics. Finally, the suspense became too much for him, and he finally onlined them again. There he was.

Beachcomber was standing up tall… well, more like leaning against a balcony. But he was still at least twice as tall as Cosmos was, even if he did lean in front a little. Wait… balcony? Where were they? They were supposed to be in the outskirts of the city, camping out and staring at the stars, trying to find pictures of birds and fish and people holding hands and that one thing that kinda looked like a goat and kinda looked like a fish but wasn't one or the other. This was definitely not the outskirts of the city.

But then, where were they? A look above them told him that they were outside. Cosmos didn't know how high they were, but they were definitely very, very, very high up. So high up, in fact, that even some of the tallest buildings Cosmos saw at the ground were much smaller than this one. He could actually see the planet curve into a round shape, with the lights so bright and beautiful that it tinted the skyline yellow and blue and pink. He couldn't even see anyone down on the ground moving, and he usually saw dots of people below him at the highest his invisi-platforms took him. He pressed his hands against the glass of the balcony wall, staring down at the brightly lit ground. He couldn't see anything past all of the lights.

He looked at Beachcomber. Once again, Beachcomber didn't seem to notice him at all. He just stared down at the lights of the ground, frowning sadly. Cosmos felt really unwell now, and he wanted a hug. Usually if he wanted a hug he could just send a message to Beachcomber with his mind, and he would immediately shoot a glance at him and tackle him in a hug, teasing him and tapping at his bubble (which he kinda didn't like, but also kinda did). But he was too scared to try.

The look on Beachcomber's face was a look he had seen before—a sad frown. He could only expect to see it often—it was his default expression. Only this time, the frown was deeper and the top of his visor was more tilted upward than it usually was. Cosmos felt kind of odd in this situation—usually it was Cosmos that needed the hug or a pat on the back, but this time it was Beachcomber that needed it. Maybe if he tried, he'd actually touch him this time…

It was worth a try. Hesitantly, Cosmos reached out his long arm, and poked at Beachcomber's leg. His finger passed through him, and stopped the moment it touched his leg. He snapped it back, both out of surprise and disappointment. So he couldn't touch Beachcomber… just like last time. Cosmos sighed, and stared up at his mentor. Once again, Cosmos was left to watch Beachcomber do what he was going to do, without any say in what was going to happen. He was the audience.

Beachcomber continued to give the ground below him a staring contest for what felt like megacycles, though he wasn't going to bother figuring out how long it really was. He could have easily just looked inside his internal clock and figure out how long he was actually taking, but usually when he did that his mind slowed time down and made it seem like it was taking longer than it really was. And that wasn't what he needed right now. Then, out of almost nowhere, Beachcomber shot his head up and stared at the stars for another eternity and a half.

"The lights are brighter down there…" Beachcomber finally mumbled out. Cosmos didn't bother responding. He couldn't touch him, so he probably couldn't talk to him either. Besides, he already tried to tell him which way to go in the tunnels, and if he couldn't hear him then, he probably couldn't hear him now. Beachcomber's head hung back down to stare at the ground again, at the lights that most definitely were brighter than the stars. Cosmos had never felt so helpless, like there was someone that needed to be consoled and he couldn't do squat for him. It was even worse when it happened to be his mentor and he was suddenly thrust in a reversal of what usually happened with mentor and sparkling.

"C'mon Beachcomber, you can do this…!" Beachcomber said. Cosmos took a step back, noticing a very drastic change in what was happening. And his voice; he wasn't talking like he normally did. Usually he sounded kinda slurred and slow, in a way that Cosmos had come to recognize as much as his name. When Beachcomber talked, he immediately knew it was Beachcomber speaking and not someone else, which was good when he was trying to find him. But now he was talking like everybody else would, and the only difference was that he sounded much, much… sadder? Beachcomber then heaved a big, deep breath, and finally stopped leaning against the balcony. He stood up straighter than Cosmos had ever seen him stand.

Beachcomber put one leg onto the balcony ledge, climbing up on it with a bit of difficulty. Then he tried to bring his other leg underneath him in a rather uncomfortable way, apparently trying to get both feet onto the balcony. Cosmos didn't know what he was trying to do… until it finally hit him. All he could think of to do was jump onto his free leg and anchor him down on the balcony, to keep him from getting onto the ledge. But he just fazed right through his leg, and was left to watch him figure out his balance on the ledge.

It took forever for him to get into a standing position on the ledge. Beachcomber had managed to get his shin onto the ledge. Was… was he practicing flight or something? No, Beachcomber couldn't fly. Beachcomber was now sitting on the ledge properly, once again lifting a leg up. Cosmos started to pace around, and kept thinking up different reasons for Beachcomber to want to get up onto the ledge and stand on it. All of them turned up with the same answer. Beachcomber was squatting on the ledge now. Trapeze practice? No. Balance practice? No, that was the same as the last one. He couldn't think of any reason that garnered a 'yes'.

"Come on, Beachcomber…" Beachcomber sighed again, and was currently standing with his legs close together and his arms spread out, on the ledge. On that stupid, stupid ledge. He couldn't see his face properly, but he could tell that he was feeling very sad at the moment. So very, very sad. And he didn't know why. Until he finally told him.

"Maybe someone will care about you in the Well of All Sparks."

Cosmos cared about him.

As soon as he jumped, Cosmos jumped himself onto the ledge of the balcony. His mind scrambled, and he only managed to register bits and pieces of what he was doing at the very moment. He saw flashes of bright lights and a blue thing getting smaller and smaller, and then he darted into the building he was in. He practically flashed down the staircases, down and down. His stabilizing servos ached to the core, but he didn't care. He wasn't going to stop until he finally reached the Lobby, hoping to have gotten there before Beachcomber, to catch him or stop him or put a giant pillow on his landing spot or… or something! He had to do something!

Finally, he was at the Lobby. At the entrance there was a wall of glass, and he ran straight for it, slowing down a little once he got to the door. But it wasn't enough. He slammed right into the glass, and was very thankful that he did not break the glass. That was good. Beachcomber told him never to break glass, no matter what happened, unless something specifically said 'in case of emergency, break glass'. And at the time, the glass walls of the Lobby didn't say 'in case of emergency, break glass', so he was glad he could avoid Beachcomber getting unhappy at him for breaking the glass.

But then he realized Beachcomber would be unhappy for drastically different reasons.

The door that Cosmos had been running for at the Lobby suddenly disappeared.

Cosmos was glad he stopped, because now he probably would have just rammed himself into nothing but glass and the door wouldn't open. But then he made a new realization; he was trapped. He couldn't get out through a door or anything, and the glass wouldn't budge without him breaking it. A quick glance behind him told him that the stairs were gone too, and that he wouldn't have any chance of getting back the way he came. He was surrounded by glass. An enormous glass dome that shielded him from what was outside.

He couldn't go outside and look for Beachcomber.

There was a lot of screaming and yelling from behind him now, and he turned. He couldn't see exactly what was happening; there was a large group of Autobots surrounding what he thought was a crime scene. He could understand that whatever was going on, it was not good. There was one really big and bulky red Autobot ordering the mob away and it worked; only a select few decided to stay, but most of the ones that were impairing his view of what was happening left. Now he could see exactly what was happening. There were some Autotroopers holding some yellow guy back, and one other Autotrooper that was holding the limp body of…

"BEACHCOMBER!" Cosmos couldn't help but cry out. He glued himself to the glass, which refused to move and let him through. Beachcomber didn't look too good, but he was awake and he was alive, which was definitely good. Well, from his view, there was some really exposed circuitry in his shoulder, and his torso seemed to be much scratched. Cosmos feared the worst. Did another Decepticon get at him?

"I'll ask you one. Last. Time." The big red Autobot threatened, enunciating clearly, and adding sound effects to his speech pattern, "What exactly did you BAM do to Furao?" Beachcomber lifted his head up, and Cosmos did not like what he saw. Half of his visor was cracked immensely, and he squeezed it to its thinnest form to keep it from breaking any more than it already was. The thingy that he had around his small mouth had been torn off, and his helm had been torn open, revealing some bright blue circuitry. Cosmos hoped to the AllSpark that the blue circuitry wasn't his processor.

"I dint… do… anything!" Beachcomber finally managed to wheeze out, his voice fuzzy and heavily synthesized. He kept having to pause and process energy from the oxygen around him, just to speak. He was clearly in a terrible state, perhaps even one worthy of going to the Medical Ward. The Autobot punched him in the face, and Cosmos could have sworn his spark stopped beating.

"Fine. If you won't talk, then I'll just ask Furao. Y'know, the one who got BAM hit in the head with the Plasma Dynamic Thruster?" The red Autobot turned from Beachcomber to the struggling, whimpering 'bot with the yellow chassis and odd head. He stayed motionless and frozen, afraid of the Autobot. Cosmos was scared of him too. Why was he being so mean? Beachcomber didn't lie, ever. If he said he didn't do something, he didn't do something. But the red Autobot didn't seem convinced, and instead walked over to Furao regardless, getting his face up close and personal to his. Cosmos couldn't hear what the red one said, but he could definitely hear what Furao said. He could vaguely understand what he was saying, since Beachcomber had downloaded an entire library of organic languages into Cosmos' processor. Cosmos still had to process the words for a while, since he was still a sparkling, but he could understand what was basically being said.

"TU ERES UN MONSTRO! Tu piensas que Beachcomber hacía algo mal, pero tu no puedes ver que el único que el hico es hacer daño a mi procesadoras de lenguaje! Nada malo! Va hacer un poquito inconveniente, pero yo puedo vivir! El no necesita ir a la estacada!" Furao reassured.

"Hmmm, it's POW worse than I thought." The red Autobot stood up tall, "He says that this 'Beachcomber' guy did BASH something to his central processor, and that he should be sent to the stockades for it."

"Que!?" Cosmos was just as shocked as Furao was. Furao hadn't said anything of the sort! The red Autobot got a few of the words down correctly, but they were completely out of context. He had taken them as meaning that he did, when in reality, he. Did. Not.

"Calm down, citizen. Don't you worry; we will have this convict BLAM dealt with properly once we get him into Isolation." The red Autobot waved Furao away.

"Tu no me entiendes! Yo no quiere que él va a las estacadas!"

"You say you want him to go to the stockades?"

Furao glared at him angrily, completely frustrated. Cosmos was very angry, angry enough to want to end that red Autobot a message, telling him exactly what Furao actually said. He wanted to make him know that what he was 'translating' was dead wrong!! The red Autobot glared back, though, and Furao had been reduced to a simpering pile of fearful goo.

"Hmmm, he seems to have done OUCH worse than I thought. Don't worry, we'll BAM deal with him." the red Autobot said, pounding his fist into his other hand to emphasize the beating he was planning.

"Dude, you're not listening to him!" Cosmos jumped up and down pressed himself as close as he could to the glass. Beachcomber was wise, and he had experience with organics, yes, but if there was anything he could garner it was that this red Autobot was not someone to argue with!

"Say that again, convict." The red Autobot threatened, getting closer to Beachcomber and standing up tall and menacing, ready to pounce and destroy him.

"You're not listening to him properly, man. If you, like, actually listened to what was, you know, being said, then you'd actually hear that he doesn't want me, y'know, thrown into the stockades. Yer just, like, listening to what you wanna hear." The red Autobot widened his optics in surprise. Everything was silent for a moment, the previous clatter from the mob dying down to a deadbeat silence. Nobody moved. They were all just standing there, waiting, listening for what would happen. Cosmos' eyes were peeled, and he swore the glass should have broken by now, with how much he was pressing against it.



"WHAM! BANG! BOOSH! POW! PSH-SHWANG!" and onwards. Cosmos couldn't bear to watch, but his body refused to move. He clawed at his bubble, pressing against it, trying to keep himself from screaming. Right before his eyes, the giant, burly, powerful Autobot was beating down his mentor. And it wasn't just one-punch-knock-out like most Autotroopers did, it was an all-out beating. He punched him in the head, stabbed him in the abdomen, kicked him in the gear shaft, and slammed him down. He did everything he could to his kind, gentle, wise mentor. He was mercilessly beating down one of the kindest, most well-meaning 'bots in the Universe.

Then Cosmos had no choice but to scream. Beachcomber was left on the ground for a moment, and he could have sworn he heard the red Autobot taunt him to get up. How could he!? He was beaten down to his core components now! His wheels were torn off, his legs were shaking, and his arms hung uselessly on either side of him. Then that red Autobot, after not receiving a response, he… he tore off his arm and used it was a weapon, mercilessly whipping at him. Cosmos couldn't take it. He turned away, unable to bear watching.

He wished it would stop. He heard Beachcomber cry out and moan in pain. He wished it would stop. He heard the crowd scream in either fear or excitement, he couldn't tell. He wished it would stop. He heard the yellow Autobot scream out incomprehensible babble, finally being reduced to crying and begging. He wished it would stop. He wished it would stop. He wished it would stop.

It didn't stop.

The glass dome he was imprisoned in suddenly disappeared and he fell face-first into a big pile of wet… something. He didn't know what it was, but it smelled terrible. Was he in a Dumpster or something? Yeah… yeah, he was pretty sure he was in a dumpster. What sort of mental anguish was he supposed to endure now? He really wanted to get out of it right now, and not just the Dumpster. He wanted to get out of this stupid nightmare loop. He wanted to stop watching his mentor die in front of his eyes over and over again.

There was a crash from above him, and that's about when he started to scramble out of the garbage he was in. It took him a small while, but he finally managed to stand up and wade over to the edge of the dumpster. Then he stopped himself. What was he doing? He would just see Beachcomber die again. He hated seeing him die so much today, it felt terrible. He hated seeing all of these terrible things happen to his mentor. His big, kind, wise mentor. Why did he have to suffer through all this? Well, technically he wasn't suffering, Beachcomber was. But it hurt all the same, to see someone he cared about go through such terrible times. It was even worse when he couldn't even help him.

But he couldn't just give up. What if the illusion was over? What if all the bad things that happened before had finally stopped? No. No, they didn't stop, because he was supposed to be in the outskirts of the city staring up at the stars and listening to Beachcomber snore lightly and hug him and feel warm and fuzzy and stare at the stars because they were important.

But no. He was in a dumpster, next to a building that smelled like some sort of poison. He actually kind of recognized it… Either way, he couldn't bear to watch Beachcomber go through any more terrible things. He couldn't watch. But wait… If he just stopped now and ignored him, wouldn't that mean that he didn't care? If he just sat here, in the dumpster, and be away from his mentor while he died, without so much as an 'I love you' for him to take to the Well of All Sparks, that… that would be terrible. He couldn't just sit there and wait for it to happen! If he had to go, then he'd be around to help him. He had to be there for him, to let him know that he was there for him. That he wanted to help. That he always wanted to help. He had to at least try to stop whatever bad thing was happening. Even if it was futile.

With new resolve and a goal in mind, he crawled over the wall. It wasn't all that hard, especially with his nacelles to help him out. Once they hooked him up onto the edge he just had to stretch a bit and pull himself. It wasn't too hard, though he kinda expected it to be a lot harder. Maybe that was just him. He had gone through quite a lot anyway, he probably got stronger somehow. Or maybe it was just his psychic powers giving him some extra strength. His mind temporarily started to contemplate what it would be like to have super-strength instead of psychic powers. Until he found Beachcomber lying on the ground.

Immediately after he saw him he scrambled over the top of the dumpster and let himself stumble over and fall on his face. It hurt. Especially because it was metal he fell onto—it definitely wasn't as soft as mud or sand, which he had encountered a few times with Beachcomber, searching for things that he thought were interesting. For a while he just lied there, imagining all the good times, but it wasn't meant to last. Beachcomber was lying in front of him, and he couldn't just lie there and let him die! He managed to lift his face and looked at Beachcomber. He wasn't moving. That he was used to that—Beachcomber often turned into a statue when he was asleep or unconscious—but this time it felt… he didn't know how it felt. Something about his just didn't feel right. Like his motionlessness was unnatural, and that something bad was going to happen. Of course.

Timidly, he crawled over to Beachcomber. Nothing about him looked right. The wheels on his back seemed like they were drooping, and he didn't move his face to intake oxygen instead of metal. Was he suffocating? Was he… no. No, he wasn't. He wasn't gray. If a 'bot's not gray, he's a-okay. He kept reassuring himself with that phrase, all the while slowly getting closer and closer to his mentor. If a 'bot's not gray, he's a-okay. If a 'bot's not gray, he's a-okay.

Finally Cosmos managed to get pretty close to Beachcomber, enough that he could see him a bit better. He still couldn't see his face—it was just buried into the metal, it seemed. Though he did see something quite peculiar in his hand. It was a can of… something. He didn't know what, but it was half-full with a black-ish liquid that didn't really seem all that tasty. He couldn't really smell it very well, but he knew it probably didn't smell very good either, since it came from the rancid building the dumpster was next to.

The silence from Beachcomber became very frightening. Usually Beachcomber would mumble something in his sleep or say some sort of random nonsense when he was awake enough to form intelligible words or just snore a little, tiny bit. Cosmos was tempted to poke him, but he was fairly certain it wouldn't work. He had already tried that back at the tower, and that didn't work very well at all. But maybe it would this time. He had to try, anyways. He had to let his mentorknow he was there for him. He crouched down a little bit, and poked Beachcomber on the shoulder. He moaned in response.


"Quit yelling, half-pint…" He barked at him. His voice once again sounded different that his usual kinda-slow drawl. This time is sounded like some sort of talking bear with a disease in its throat. And he also sounded as though he were in pain. A lot of pain. Beachcomber dragged his free hand over to his audio receptor and blocked out all of the sound he could, though Cosmos could tell it took quite a bit of effort. His other arm still held the can firmly, and he even tightened his grip on it, as though his life depended on it.

"Beachcomber?" Cosmos tried again.

"I said quit yelling!!" He shouted back at him.

"I'm not yelling!" Cosmos returned the shout. He lifted his arms only a little, in a mock fighting pose. Secretly, his heart was stabbed a thousand times over, and he wanted to cry. But he would not cry. He would not drown in his own tears, inside his stupid, stupid bubble!

"Cut it out, kid," Beachcomber bit his lower lip, "I ain't got nothin' else on me, so just back off."

Cosmos shook his head no. Beachcomber grumbled a little, and scraped at the metal ground with his fingers. Cosmos didn't understand what he was trying to do, but apparently it wasn't working, and his hand stopped moving. All of Beachcomber stopped moving. Once again, Cosmos was left to deal with a statue. Only this time, unlike all of his previous visions, he could actually interact with him. Maybe… maybe if he just asked him what was wrong, he could tell him, and Cosmos could prevent whatever bad thing was going to happen to him. He would avoid it and nothing bad would happen! He had to save him.

"Are you okay Beachcomber?"

"Who…" Beachcomber groaned, trying to get back up, but failing. His voice sounded strained this time, as though it took all his strength just to form one word. "Why d'you care, kid?" Cosmos didn't know how to respond to this.

"Um… Don't you… recognize me?"

"Are you workin' for some hot shot drug dealer er something?"


"Whaddaya want from me then, kid? Who're ya working for?"

"I'm not working for anyone!"

"Rattletrap? Swindle? Hubcap?"


"Well whoever you working for, tell 'im this; I ain't got nothin on me anymore, so jus' back off. Ol' Beachcomber's a goner now."

"What do you mean…?"

"You dunno 'bout me? Shoulda figured. No one knows about me. No one gives a frag about poor ol' Beachcomber. I ain't got nothin on me to sell, an' not another half-credit to spare."

"You have that can." Cosmos then pointed at his hand, taking the letter of his words instead of the spirit. He would have listed all the things he still had and that he could use. He had a functioning visor that served as his optics, he had hands and arms to use, he had legs to walk with, and he had wheels to roll along the ground with. Cosmos would have said this out loud, but Beachcomber cut him off before he could form another sentence.

"This is my can, ya 'ear? My can's my can an' nobody else can have my can."

Cosmos didn't like his can. Something told him that it was that can that was causing all of this. That it was the can that made Beachcomber talk like this. That it was this can that made him think his own sparkling was working for some shady businessman that wanted to strip him of his parts and sell them at an auction or something. That it was this can that made Beachcomber so miserable. He had to get it away from him. He had to make this all stop. Maybe… maybe if he took he can…?

Cosmos focused on the can, and focused on it hard. He didn't know what would happen—maybe an invisible hand would snatch the can from him, or it would crumble into itself. But as long as Beachcomber didn't have the can anymore, anything was okay. And if things weren't okay, then Cosmos would make them okay. It only took a while for the can to slip out of his grasp, and that's when Beachcomber woke up. Then the invisible hand was gone.

Cosmos had to snatch the can as quickly as he could. There seemed to be some sort of fight between the two to get the can; Beachcomber had suddenly regained strength and started lifting his arms to grab hold of it, and Cosmos could barely get at it with his long arms. When Cosmos finally grabbed it, Beachcomber piled himself onto him. The weight was too much, and Cosmos had fallen down on his back, with Beachcomber losing his grip and slipping onto the ground. The can they were fighting for crashed somewhere behind Cosmos, but he didn't care anymore. He just looked at his mentor.

Beachcomber was hurt, but Cosmos swore he didn't touch him. He looked really tired, and it seemed to take all of his efforts just to keep himself up. The fact that he was in a transform-up position (which was uncomfortable) only made it seem harder for him to keep himself up. But he was. And he was only up for that stupid, yucky, evil can. Cosmos hated that can so much.

Beachcomber threw up. Cosmos had absolutely no idea how to respond to that; he never experienced having to throw up before, and this was definitely not something that happened often enough for him to know how to respond. Heck, he didn't even know that Autobots could throw up! But Beachcomber did, and then he finally collapsed onto the ground. Right. Next. To. Puke.

Cosmos hated seeing his mentor like this. He didn't look very good at all, almost as though he were about to… Oh. So that's why he could touch and do stuff this time. Because now he couldn't do anything to help or stop him, so it wouldn't matter. He was already sick enough to have gone before Cosmos even made it over the dumpster. Next to the building. That sold him that one. Stupid. CAN! Cosmos hated it! HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED IT! Cosmos felt like crying and standing and thrashing and breaking something. But he just plain couldn't. If he cried, his bubble would fill up, and he'd drown. If he hit something, he could hurt himself instead. And that wouldn't do any good. If Beachcomber was going to die, then Cosmos was going to live for all of the good things he did in the world, and for all the things Beachcomber couldn't do because he was gone.

Beachcomber was almost gone, he could tell. Cosmos wished it was over. It was already over, wasn't it? He saw him throw up and go crazy and get himself sick and everything. He saw him get arrested for something he did on accident but never meant to do any harm. He saw him throw himself off of the tallest building on Cybertron because no one cared about him and he thought he was useless. He saw him get blasted by a Decepticon for actually trying to do something good. Why was Cosmos still here? He wasn't even moving…

Beachcomber grabbed Cosmos' leg, and made him scream. He lifted his head up one last time, and Cosmos felt as though he were talking to a zombie. There was no expression on his face, no indication as to what he was going to do. He didn't know. He didn't know what was going to happen now. But he did know one thing; he wasn't his mentor. He was a mean, sick, scary 'bot that only cared about his precious little can. What in the world could he want?

"Why does the world feel so cold?"

And then…

It was over.

"Li'l man? Uh… li'l man…?"

Cosmos didn't realize his optics were offlined. He wondered if he was back at the tall tower Beachcomber was going to throw himself off of. But this didn't feel like the tower. His back was on metal, and there was nothing around him for a while, save for a small bit of pressure being placed on his chestplate. It felt warm, and welcoming. Almost… familiar. With reluctant bravery, Cosmos opened his optics, ready to see whatever new horror would happen to Beachcomber.

He couldn't believe what he saw. After all of that… after watching Beachcomber go through so much… He saw him get blasted to death protecting his friend in a tunnel by a Decepticon. He saw him throw himself off a tower because no one noticed him. He saw him get beaten up by a Police Officer for something he didn't do. He saw him get himself sick to the core by that evil can. And now, finally, after all of that…

He saw him waking him up in the morning, on the outskirts of a Cybertronian city, where they were counting the stars and singing Rock Lobster for the millionth time just that night. They were on Cybertron, in the Milky Way Galaxy, in the real world. He couldn't help himself. He jumped straight into Beachcomber's arms, squeezing him as tight as he could, happier than he had ever felt in his entire life. This was real. This was okay. Beachcomber was alive, well, and innocent. Beachcomber was here. And Cosmos was in his arms. Nothing bad was going to happen this time.

"Woah! Li'l man, uh… yer kinda… crushing my torso…" Cosmos didn't respond. He just loosened his grip a little, but not too much. He didn't want to let go of his blue, tall, brave, wise, kind mentor. He didn't want to lose this. If this was another vision, if this was just a prelude to get him happy before another bad thing was going to happen, he was going to enjoy it for as long as he could.

Then, Beachcomber returned the hug. Getting a hug from Beachcomber felt so much better than it would have been. It was like saying 'it's over now, I'm here for you'. He was so very, very glad Beachcomber decided to hug him back. It was exactly what he needed. It was finally over. It was finally over. And now…

He had to tell Beachcomber. He had to let him know why he was suddenly leeching onto his torso and on the verge of tears. He wasn't going to cry. He wasn't going to drown in his own little bubble. He was going to tell Beachcomber what had happened, to get it out of his mind. To get over it.

"I had a terrible dream last night…" Cosmos finally hiccupped.

"Ya did? Aw, shucks, li'l man. I'm sure it wasn't that bad."

"Yeah it was."

"What was?"

"My bad dream."

"Ya had a bad dream?"

"Yes." Cosmos wasn't angry at any of his questions. He had gotten used to it eons ago, and it was part of his signature speech pattern. Beachcomber had a rather high-pitched, slow, comforting drawl that kinda slurred the words he said. Not like a normal person. Not fuzzy and difficult to hear. Not like a sick grizzly bear. He was glad to hear him speak properly this time. Beachcomber was talking just like a Beachcomber should.

And he was rubbing his back now. Cosmos was glad—he needed to get rid of all these bad visions. All those terrible things… Why did he see them? All he had tried to do was try to share Beachcomber's dreams for the night. Surely he didn't dream of himself dying? He never woke up from a nightmare—he just smiled and snored and hummed to himself and looked so content and happy when he slept. It wasn't at all like he was having terrible dreams like Cosmos did. Why did he see such terrible things happen to him?

"Can I tell you somethin', li'l man?" Cosmos looked up, and Beachcomber stared down with a wide, tranquil smile. Cosmos just stared at his face for a moment, glad that he wasn't broken down and that the thingy on his face was secured right where it needed to be. He gave a small, terse nod.

"There've been lots o' bad things happen in this universe…" Beachcomber started, staring up at the stars. Cosmos stayed silent, waiting for him to finish his sentence,

"There're wars, and hunger, and climate change… There's been people dying because they were sick, and people dying because someone thought they did something wrong, people dying because they killed themselves, and people dying because of wars…" Cosmos' optics started to widen. He… was he describing what he just saw? Did he actually go through all of that in his dreams? Beachcomber looked back down at Cosmos, the same, sincere, serene smile glued onto his face.

"All of these bad things can happen in the universe, li'l man. And y'know what?"

"No. What?"

"If it weren't for you, Cosmos, I prolly wouldn't e'en be alive right now."

And then it hit him like two kilounits of bricks. That was why he had seen all of those things. He had seen all of the things that were avoided because of him. Because of him, Beachcomber wasn't around when Blurr was cubed. Because of him, Beachcomber knew someone cared about him and didn't throw himself off a tower. Because of him, Beachcomber had been teaching him how to do things and what things were (when he knew what they were himself), and not being beaten by a Police Officer. Because of him, Beachcomber had no reason to drink from that evil, horrid cup. It was all him. Beachcomber was alive because of him.

And for the first time since ever, Cosmos cried.