A/N: It's a 2007-movie AU. I think that this could EASILY have happened, had circumstances been slightly different. Be warned... this is dark and probably rather creepy. :) I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless.

EDIT: No excuse. I got tired of writing this story… so I came back and moved things around and merged chapters together so hopefully it's a more cohesive read…?

1. Nightmare

The nightmare burst from the bowels of the stone-and-concrete construction, twin engines thrumming deeply as he rocketed into the sky, thin trails of condensation forming a double helix as the alien jet spun into the air. His lieutenant took to the air as well and the two soared gracefully in a twofold loop about each other before transforming and landing, shrapnel flying out from beneath their landing struts. Before the dust had even settled, the smaller of the two shifted into a cautious, submissive half-crouch, letting loose his hissing, hoarse voice.

"I live to serve you, Lord Megatron."

Almost before he was finished, the massive silver mech gave a derisive slash of his clawed hand through the air and ground out his own demand. "Where is the Cube?"

The smaller mech scowled, irritation showing in his quick, jerking movements. "The humans have taken it."

A low growl made the smaller flier cringe as Megatron's sharp head swung around to glare. His voice lowered, taking on its most dangerous tone as it hissed and whispered across his fangs. "You fail me yet again, Starscream."

Starscream's frown deepened. "But my lord-!" he began indignantly, but he fell silent as Megatron closed the distance between them, towering over the other mech.

"I have been held captive on this world for astrocycles… frozen, half in stasis and half out, while filthy organic fleshbags prodded me and tested me and copied me, always feeling the Allspark so close and yet unable to reach out and take it. For vorns I thought that perhaps my faithful Decepticons might be searching for me and that my torment would soon end… but no. It took you astrocycles to get here, and now that I am finally free I find that you allowed the pitiful Autoscum and the humans to spirit away the Allspark."

"The others are moving to intercept—"

"Let them go," Megatron snapped. "We don't know the strength of the Autobots."

"We should attack before they can hide the Cube."

"There is no place on Earth or in the universe where they can hide the Cube from me," Megatron promised, optics glowing in anticipation. "It is folly to attack the Autobots in this unfamiliar territory. I've waited this long to take the Allspark, and I can wait a few orns more. There is no reason to rush in and fail because of impatience." Sensing the restlessness that lingered still in his companion's frame, he added, "Have patience, my Seeker. When I have gathered my strength, I will be unstoppable."

Starscream looked less-than-content. Megatron narrowed his optics, leveling his most intimidating glare at his second-in-command. He was rewarded by a half-guilty, half-terrified flinch. "Are you not… pleased to see me, Starscream?" he said, voice silky-smooth. "I'm sure you spent this time that I've been gone searching desperately for me, isn't that right?"

"Of… of course, my lord," the smaller flier answered nervously. Megatron bared his fangs in something that only barely resembled a smile, taking his subordinate's shoulder plating in a hand that was anything but gentle. Claws dug painfully into armor and the circuitry underneath as he increased the pressure, pushing Starscream to his knees. The Seeker trembled but made no attempt to move as Megatron's claws slid deeper, scraping over vital energon lines.

"You enjoyed your power," the silver mech said in a sibilant hiss. "And you took your time in coming here. But here I am, Starscream, and here I'll stay. And you will stay where you are… always beneath me." He tightened his grip, razor-sharp claws pricking dangerously, and his second shuttered his optics, tensing. The silver titan bent forward slowly until his mouthplates were level with the other's audios. "Do you serve me, Starscream?"

"Yes," the Seeker murmured, fear staining his voice.

"Swear it," Megatron purred, flexing his claws to make the other mech's wings shudder.

"I- I swear it, my lord," Starscream whispered. "My wings and my Spark are yours."

"My Starscream, I know they are," Megatron hummed, drifting the claws of his free hand over the flier's wings before releasing him and letting him stand. "Hail Cybertron."

"And destruction to all Autobots," Starscream agreed hoarsely, and stood beside his master.