LOOK I'M ALIVE STILL :D Only just though, this chapter was an absolutely hideous one to write! I'm now going to curl up and think of happy things.

Oh, and artistic licence allows me to have apple trees in the middle of random grassy areas. Screw the rules, I have money!

Ah, to anon Tasha: I think I'd better not say the answer out in public! Not because I'm feeling mean (mwhahaha), but just because I feel it's better if you form your own interpretation; as you indicated, there are a couple of different ways to read it. Unless you truly want to know what I think, in which case we'll have to work out a more private way to communicate. (;

And to everyone, I surely hope ye enjoy the whatever-it-is within this chappie!


Sam abruptly woke to find Megatron staring at him and a too-pointy claw jabbing him in the side.

'Boy, boy, boy, boy, boo-y-'

'What?' the teenager interrupted blearily, shrinking back from the intruding digit and protectively covering his bandaged arm.

The mantra stopped. 'You were boring me.'

'I- you woke me up for nothing?' Oh, he was definitely up now.

'I woke you so that you could be less tiresome. What profit do I gain from you if you are boring me? You should be grateful that I've helped you become less tedious.'

'I was sleeping!'

'You are an astute one.'

'Megatron, that isn't fair- I need sleep in order to- to function properly. '

The commander considered this. 'And lack of sleep provokes which consequence?'

'General rage and irritation. And I'll snap at you and hurt your feelings.'

'I am Megatron, what need have I of feelings?' Megatron jabbed at Sam again as he yawned. 'No sleeping, boy.'

'I wasn't-' Sam broke off, unwilling to try and complicate matters further by trying to explain yawning. He wouldn't succeed, after all.

'I know you lot don't really do sleep, but you do something like it-'

'I don't,' Megatron declared grandly, 'I am Megatron and such things are weakness.'

The human narrowed his eyes suspiciously. 'I've definitely seen you-'

'You certainly have not. I was clearly being kind and waiting for you to awaken.'

'Well, it doesn't do the Autobots any harm.'

'Then they're lazy!'

''bee does it when he's got to be quiet,' Sam insisted, 'otherwise Mom'd beat him. He's not lazy-'

'"'bee"? What is this "'bee"?' the Decepticon demanded.

Surely Megatron knew him. '…Bumblebee? Autobot?'

'The yellow runt!' Megatron remembered after a think. 'As slovenly as they come. '

'Don't you insult him!' Sam ordered angrily. That wouldn't be stood for.

'His designation is perfectly adequate; why ruin and shorten it?'

'It's just quicker sometimes. And it's- it's affectionate. I know some of your lot do it anyway, don't try and fool me-'

'Why, by the same ruling you would have to call me Mega.'

There was a short silence whilst Sam died inside and searched around for something to end his physical life with.

'Hm,' Megatron let out slowly, approvingly. 'I like it.'

'I don't,' Sam gabbled hurriedly, wondering if he could papercut his wrists to death. 'It's just far too obvious, don't you think?'

'How might it be… obvious?'

The teenager gripped his short hair in exasperation, eyes psychotically wide. 'Because- because it's already a word, right, and it just sounds really boastful-'

'No no,' the commander reassured smoothly, 'it is not boastful. It is simply factual.'

'Don't you think sometimes there's a need for subtlety?' Sam tried desperately.

Megatron laughed loudly. 'Now you sound like Starscream.' He paused then, with a sudden dark frown. 'I don't like that- stop it.'

Could he actually divert the Decepticon's attention away from that hideous moniker?

'I'm hungry,' Sam complained abruptly. It was true at least, so he didn't need to fake his famished grimace.

'Good,' Megatron replied obliviously, poking at him again. 'I'm pleased.'

'No, I mean I need food!'

'So you say; tell me more.'

'Are you even listening?' Sam demanded with a flail.

'Riveted.'

'I need to eat,' he tried again.

'Eat what?'

'Food.'

'Very quaint!' Megatron chucked him under the chin; Sam gagged and fell backwards.

'Chopping my windpipe is mean-'

'I did not chop your windpipe; it is very much still intact, boy. Your exaggeration knows no boundaries!' The mech tapped his throat again.

'I could say the same for your stupidity!' Sam wheezed.

Fortunately for the human, he didn't quite manage to say this because he was too busy choking.

Unfortunately for the human, by the time he'd recovered enough to do anything, he could do absolutely nothing about the fact he'd once more been hoisted into Megatron's grip whilst the mech paced out of his room.

And down the corridor.

And out of the base.

And in fact, on Megatron strode with a whistle here and there for a good ten minutes- apart from when they entered grassland and he felt compelled to snarl at some innocent wildlife- whilst Sam obstinately maintained his silence.

He did so quite admirably during the whole journey- in fact, he managed to restrain himself until they reached their apparent destination. It was obvious when this was reached; Sam was dropped onto the grassy ground- and no matter how his flailing stomach might protest at the sudden change in velocity, it was a fairly steady landing. He glanced up at Megatron and found the Transformer already staring back.

Oh, he knew that look.

'What?' he asked suspiciously/wearily/with great trepidation.

'Ascend this tree,' Megatron demanded.

'What?' Sam incredulously turned and saw that a tree was indeed right beside him.

'This foliage,' Megatron repeated, gesturing. 'Ascend it.'

Sam stamped his foot, though the impact was muffled and therefore ruined somewhat by the long, somewhat bouncy grass. 'No!'

'Is it a hard tree to scale?'

Sam did not think that was the point at all. 'Megatron, why would I climb a tree?'

'Well,' the mech answered indignantly- as though offended by the boy's lack of appreciation- 'you are a primate.'

'Humans have evolved beyond living in trees!' Sam yelled, pointing aggressively at the poor undeserving foliage. 'Have you ever seen me in a tree?'

'I did not claim that trees were your natural habitation,' Megatron pointed out. 'Simply that you might like to scale one.'

'I do not.'

'Oh,' the Decepticon said. 'Well, how disappointing. I had not thought this beyond your abilities.'

'Wh- I could climb it, I just don't want to.'

Megatron actually shrugged nonchalantly. 'I believe you.'

'You are mind-screwing with me!' Sam realised furiously. 'I don't need to prove it to you or anyone else, I know I could do it.'

'If you climb it, I will find you food.'

The Decepticon could blackmail, what a surprise. Or was it bribery? 'Not doing it,' Sam said stubbornly. 'I don't want to.'

The giant alien considered him briefly. 'Your lack of strength and repeated denials do not convince me you could.' With that, his claws swooped down towards Sam; the human was stomach-heavingly swept up and through the air towards the tree. Was Megatron going to splat him against it?

'Sam, Sam, Sam of the jungle- look out for that tree!' the teenager howled, trying to scrabble backwards and failing. The end was coming! He scrunched up his eyes, unwilling to die by bark.

But instead, soon he felt the roughness of the material scratching against his face. Unwillingly he looked and found himself pressed against the tree. Very nice too. Then Megatron moved once more, and Sam was hovering above a fairly thin branch.

The claws pincering his jacket shook him slightly- impatience?- and Sam reluctantly clung onto the trunk.

'That branch isn't strong enough!' he wailed, hugging the tree with arms and legs like some sort of retarded koala bear. 'It won't hold me-'

'Of course it will.'

The claws released his clothes then, and Sam was left to cling by feeble muscles alone- already they burned, and he felt increasinglyheavy. 'Megatron, what is the point? Help out here, please-'

'What a display of your manners!' the Decepticon said with a faint air of disturbing pride. Even more disturbingly, the back of a claw ruffled his hair. Still disturbingly, Sam could not escape. You may in fact be surprised to find out that it was turning out to be one of those disturbing days, but I promise you it's true.

'This is mean- could you just help me back down?' Sam asked the bark, mouth crushed against it attractively.

'I have been extremely generous,' Megatron said. 'Next time you shall climb the foliage completely by yourself.'

'Next time?'

'For now you can simply practice,' he continued. 'You must descend-'

'But getting down is always harder! And you can't get down unless it's Friday, and it's so not possible!' Sam shrieked, attempting to fling himself back onto Megatron's hand. It was a doomed attempt for two reasons; one being that he couldn't really fling anyway considering he was using all of his might not to fall and die, and secondly the mech moved too swiftly away, and he was completely abandoned in the tree. 'Megatron!'

'Call me Mega and I will consider it.'

'Screw yourself!'

'I contain no screws, silly boy. Climb down or you shall remain in the tree.'

Sam glared up in frustration. Something caught his eye though, something green and roundish and shiny. Something he hadn't seen in an extremely long time, and by god above it tempted with its… shininess. With a sudden energy fuelled by determination, he shimmied up the trunk of the tree towards his prize, inch by inch.

After a whole three minutes he'd risen a whole seven inches, but it would be enough, enough to reach and haul himself onto that sturdyish branch there- and then he could reach out and it was tantalisingly close-

Sam nearly sobbed in happiness as the apple dropped into his palm, even collapsing onto his branch.

A real apple.

It wasn't plastic. It wasn't metal. It wasn't even a hallucination! No, this was the real deal, and right now he would have his cake and eat it.

'What are you doing?'

Oh yes, Megatron was there, wasn't he. Sam spared him a weary glance (even from his new seat, his eye-level didn't even reach Megatron's upper leg).

'I am going to have my cake and eat it!' Sam declared delightedly. Not even he could ruin this moment!

'That isn't a cake,' Megatron said bemusedly, showing uncanny baking knowledge. 'Cakes do not grow on trees.'

Sam used a quick finger motion to show the commander where he could stick his inane mumblings, and the fruit headed towards his rejoicing mouth.

'Boy, no!' Megatron snarled, claws pincering the apple and attempting to pull it away.

'Hey- get off!' Sam tugged once then lurched backwards as the fruit literally smooshed into pulpy fragments. 'Megatron, you ass-clown-'

'It could have been poisonous, idiotic boy.'

'Poison- it's an apple!' Sam inspected the goop on his hands. 'It was an apple-' He rubbed his eyes in frustration, then stopped immediately once he felt damp muck spread across his skin but too late- 'Argghh, apple in my eyes, apple in my eyes-' Quickly he blinked, then attempted to wipe his unhappy eyes with the back of his hand.

'I told you it was dangerous!' Megatron declared triumphantly.

'Only because of you!' Sam accused wildly, 'Your fault I have apple-eyes-'

'Quickly, do you see it?' the commander hissed excitedly.

'What?' Sam returned dumbly, peering away through bleary apple-filled eyes.

'Catch one!' Megatron ordered with disturbing enthusiasm.

'Excuse me?'

'You said you required food,' the mech said cheerfully. 'Behold an energy source prancing before you. You must be stealthy to sneak up on it.'

The human wearily looked around from his perch and saw a deer prancing about near a bush.

'You cannot be serious.'

'Deadly. You must be too, boy. I am sure your instincts will kick in shortly. Your progenitors must have taught you these skills by now.'

'What are you on?' Sam demanded despairingly. 'My parents don't hunt! We're not cavemen- we don't wave spears and chant or attack each other- and whilst we're on the subject, I hope you told Starscream and Soundwave off for violence-'

'Do not trouble your tiny inadequate mind,' Megatron said in a patronisingly kind manner. 'They both have been dealt with accordingly.'

'You mean you beat them up?'

'My discipline is as harsh as the extremity of the behaviour, and they were only playing,' Megatron said.

'Playing!'

'I do attempt to quell their ongoing conflict but am apparently unsuccessful. It is very unseemly.'

'"Unseemly"?' Sam repeated loudly. 'Dangerous, you mean! Life-threatening-'

'They do not threaten your life, boy!' Megatron's conviction was palpable; he sounded even cross, as if this thought was completely ridiculous.

'Hell yes they do! You threaten my life though you say you don't mean to- obviously you're just being all deceptively ninja assassin or something-'

'I would never deceive you.'

'Oh thanks. Why don't I believe you?' He tapped his chin thoughtfully before thrusting the finger in Megatron's direction with a triumphant shout. 'Ah wait, it's because you're a Decepticon and you love killing people!'

'There is no need to deceive a simple life form such as yours. There is no enjoyment in it at all; in fact, one who would try and manipulate mankind is obviously deficient in the processor if they can do no better.'

'Well, surely you need to sort them out!' Sam cried frustatedly, deciding to return to the original point. 'Have they no discipline? Can't you tell them what not to do- don't they listen to you?' He saw Megatron's optics narrow; a sore point, then. 'Are they out of your control?' he pressed, determined if nothing else to irritate the Decepticon. He deserved it, after all. ''cause if you can't control them we've got serious beef- I can't stay if I'm in any danger at all-'

Claws clenched with a harsh scraping sound; the Decepticon even raised a silver lip and uttered a low growl.

'So you admit you can't control them! What sort of commander are you?' the teenager continued suicidally.

'I suggest that you cease prattling,' Megatron said threateningly, his voice nearly a snarl.

'So why are you acting so weird with all this tree and deer nonsense?' Sam demanded hastily, sensing immediate danger. 'This is weird even for you.'

Temper-tantrum seemingly averted: '...I have been doing some research.'

Sam refrained from making a sarcastic comment and tried to have a relatively friendly conversation (or as friendly as it could be when you were being terrorised by a hideously large and powerful lunatic). 'What on?'

The mech paused for a moment.

Sam thought he recognised the look; if he wasn't mistaken (and he shouldn't be, for he had seen it many times recently), it was the concentrated appearance of Careful Avoidance of Sam's Hated Megatronisms or Explicitly Ridiculous Expressions- or CASHMERE, as he himself preferred to call it. Seeing that effort was being made to avoid hurting his feelings, the human figured it was only polite to be patient.

'Your stay hasn't been overly exciting or stimulating,' Megatron finally said.

'Ho,' Sam choked abruptly on a disbelieving snigger, 'It's been plenty eventful. Lots have happened, thanks.' He paused infinitesimally as a terrifying thought hit him. 'You- you don't mean to say you've planned something exciting, have you? Dear god, I don't think I'm up for that Megatron- you know, it's quite fine here just as it is, any more excitement and I might actually-'

'Fear not, I have planned nothing,' the Decepticon soothed. 'In the midst of my research, I simply realised that you were not being entertained enough, or being presented with the means to entertain yourself.'

Sam's mind was working in overdrive to fathom where on Earth this could be leading. 'I don't know if I like where this is going.'

'You won't be going anywhere,' Megatron explained. 'But you should not be left unstimulated.'

'That's- that's very kind and hospitable and generous,' Sam rambled, 'but- but do I get a choice in this at all?'

The mech thought. 'Would you prefer a choice?'

'Very definitely yes.'

'That utterance does not make much sense.'

'YesIwould,' Sam rushed. 'Having a choice is only fair!'

'Of course,' Megatron said.

'You never give me choice!' Sam accused.

He abruptly plucked the human up once more and raised him to optic-level. 'Boy, you have been making choices all orn.'

'I have?' Sam squealed, more focused on the hideous drop below him.

'I have not made you do anything.'

'Liar!' the teenager spluttered. 'You thrust me into this tree- for a moment I thought you knew about my ace climbing skills but clearly Soundwave hasn't violated my past that much- mind you, I did stop when I met Carly but Mikaela- who knew she liked climbing too? Miles sure knew what he was doing-'

Megatron pressed a giant metal claw to Sam's mouth in somewhat of an oppressive be silent gesture. He himself didn't speak for a short while, seemingly thinking if the gentle frown was anything to go by. 'Back to the base, boy,' he said suddenly. 'You seem to be over-excited once more.'

In other words, back to the cage.


An hour later and completely alone, Sam was pacing said cage with violent energy. What could he do?

What can we do?

We could all try to get along, a tiny voice at the back of his head suggested.

Oh hello, Sam said to his mind. Where've you lot been?

Off our heads, angry!Sam snarled. How could you get us taken to a hospital? Twit-

Genius!Sam explained a little better. Suppressants, Sam. There's nothing we can do if we're suppressed.

But you're back now, Sam replied brilliantly with a confused frown.

They've worn off, you idiot!

Angry! genius!Sam berated wearily, leave him alone. Clearly stupid!Sam is less suppressed than I am.

We're coming back as fast as we can, sweet!Sam chirped. But it's tricky!

Like wading through bog, seeing in the dark, finding that needle in the haystack, repetitive!Sam added helpfully.

But we can only help so much, genius!Sam said. You got to help yourself.

Ah, now that was an idea. But how? Sam's eyes darted around the room, then the cage (not his cage, he refused to think of it as his). The cushion, his bag, the surreal reality of cage bars- wait, the bag! Skidding down beside it (skidding being Sam's natural method of traverse), he ripped it open and tore through the contents until he found- ah yes, here they were! Pen and paper, man's creative best friend.

Filled with purpose and determination, Sam plonked himself down on his cushion and unconsciously bit down on his biro until the plastic cracked loudly. Startled, he jolted out of his daze and began to write.


Full of jittery energy, Sam scratched the back of his head and glanced around the new large, sparse room he'd been carried to.

Skywarp, whistling shrilly whilst waiting for the teenager to start, was the only Decepticon actually paying unthreatening attention to him. Starscream was scowling disbelievingly and snarling something to his trinemates whilst Thundercracker kept a wary optic on Soundwave (the Communications Officer's intense stare was definitely in their direction). Meanwhile, Megatron was sitting on a large block and growling. Though Sam wasn't quite sure what was irritating the commander now, he'd been growling for such a long time that it was almost unnoticeable; the human had become acclimatised as though he'd been standing next to a plane's engines or something.

Yes, Sam had managed to call a 'meeting', though really it was more of an intervention (rather, he'd harassed/begged/reasoned with Soundwave by howling at the room until the telepath had agreed to call a few mechs together). It proved a worrying point though; clearly the Decepticons had surveillance in the cage. Unfortunately, Megatron had also turned up. This wouldn't be a bad thing if Sam managed to get his points across- he imagined if he could convince Soundwave and Starscream (clearly the brains behind the Decepticons) then he was pretty much sorted. Megatron was sure to throw awkward spanners -and probably a minion or two- in the works, though.

'I have decided,' Sam declared, 'that you don't know how to look after a human properly.'

'Do you?' Megatron asked.

Sam watched him witheringly for a moment to try and decipher whether the commander was being serious or not. As ever it was futile and so he grudgingly replied, 'Got a better idea than you.'

'What is your evidence?' Soundwave enquired as Megatron's optics unbelievably shuttered.

'I'm a human myself, Soundwave. That an acceptable reason?'

'Justification: sound,' the mech announced after a brief pause.

Wearily, Sam realised that Soundwave had actually been considering his argument. He gathered his resolve and continued bravely with his pre-planned speech. 'As thus, I have drawn up a list of things that must be done.'

Soundwave approved of the organisation with a rumble whilst the teenager struggled in pulling the folded paper out of his pocket. Eventually he succeeded, and uncrumpled the list the best he could before holding it up for the aliens' viewing.

'These are not rules,' Sam nearly pleaded, hoping fervently that it would not be misconstrued. 'I don't want to order you around. These are just things that have to be done in order to- to maintain my health.'

'This sounds quite greedy,' Thundercracker mused, peering at the words. 'Three feeds a day?'

'Fascinating,' Starscream said, inspecting the list with a snide expression. 'His puny body is so inefficient.'

''Do you mind?' the human snapped. Food is an important issue! I need a certain amount to- to sustain my life, right. I-' and begrudgingly he continued, 'I understand that you don't want me to go out myself. I don't like it, but I sort of get it. But if you bring food to me, it has to be appropriate. I cannot eat a live animal.'

'Why?' Skywarp asked.

'I may be an omnivore, but I'm not a predator.'

'But that's the fun of it!' the black Seeker cried.

'Oh,' Thundercracker said with a faint air of disappointment. 'I did want to see you kill.'

'Starscream,' Megatron suddenly interrupted, 'I have an itch.'

The Air Commander wearily flounced over and prodded at Megatron's shoulder armour sulkily. 'Well?'

'Not even close.'

'Shame,' Sam coughed whilst Starscream poked different parts of his lord's body, 'I'm a killing machine, I mean there's just so much killing I want to do- I have to repress the urge- my instincts, my need- continually.'

Skywarp shook his helm in wonderment. 'And how do you manage it?'

'Supreme self-control.'

'Impressive,' Thundercracker commented approvingly. 'I certainly couldn't. Why do you bother?'

'So you feel the desire now? Do you yearn to kill just mammals, or would you like to attack me, or-'

'Will you cease your prattling?' Starscream demanded mid-prod from behind Megatron, directing the command at both Sam and Skywarp before focusing on the former wearily. 'You are deceiving this first-rate idiot. Stop it.'

'He can work out if I'm lying or not,' Sam returned. 'You're all meant to be way more clever than I am.'

'Cleverer,' the silver Decepticon corrected.

'See?'

'Skywarp is- special,' the Seeker continued. 'He doesn't understand these subtler language techniques. Stop leading him astray.'

Sam considered this. Starscream almost sounded like he was desperate: could it really be true? Was Skywarp really that naive? He decided to test it out. 'Optimus is actually a Decepticon,' he said loudly.

Skywarp gawped.

Thundercracker froze, an optic twitching.

Even Soundwave visibly frowned at this- then glanced to his commander. Megatron still hadn't moved. Was he actually listening at all?

Starscream screeched with wordless rage, hands flying to his helm. 'Boy!'

'Starscream,' Megatron snarled, 'why am I still itching?'

'Oh my,' Skywarp said, 'that sounds ridiculous.' His Air Commander (having immediately returned to prodding) visibly relaxed with a long, relieved sigh, but the black mech unexpectedly continued: 'Yet now I think about it that makes so much sense! That surely explains why Prime has never killed Lord Megatron-'

'No,' Starscream interrupted earnestly, 'that is because Prime is not strong enough- Thundercracker, make him see sense.'

The blue Seeker looked desperately torn and confused. 'The boy is lying, isn't he?'

'Of course he is,' Starscream snapped. 'Why on Cybertron would you consider that such extravagant statements could be accurate?' He glared down at a faintly amused Sam. 'You will pay for this, child-'

'Every time you call me a child, I am going to tell Skywarp something,' Sam threatened. 'And I'll make it count.'

Starscream looked half-impressed and half-infuriated by this blackmail. 'You have been around Decepticons too long.'

'I'm human,' Sam said. 'We aren't as simple as you seem to think.'

'Rubbish,' the silver mech snorted. 'You are every bit what I think of you. Besides, you cannot know precisely what I think of you, presumptuous child.'

'Was that childI heard there? Hey Skywarp,' the teenager suddenly announced, 'did you know that if you say supercalifragilistic ten times really fast in front of the Autobots that they start to sing and dance?'

Thundercracker ogled. 'I cannot even imagine it.'

Skywarp clapped his talons together in glee. 'What was that word again, boy? Why, what I would give to see Ratchet-'

'You absolute imbeciles,' Starscream snapped- his subordinates quailed. 'You genuinely believe his lies?'

'The boy speaks the truth!' Skywarp piped up miserably but defiantly. 'As the vessel-'

'The Allspark does not spew out of his mouth!' Starscream raged. 'It resides within him, yes, but that is all- what is your ridiculous excuse of a processor thinking, considering the boy could be a predator!'

'It's my fearsome claws,' Sam said, clawing his hands appropriately, 'and my sharp teeth.'

'Shut up,' the Air Commander said, 'you're making this worse.'

Thundercracker sighed heavily. 'I did wonder how you managed to kill things.'

'I actually tend to whip out a blade or two,' Sam continued dryly, 'or sometimes I just go crazy with my guns.'

'No,' Skywarp gasped. 'You are proficient with weapon-'

'Have you done absolutely no research on this planet's lazy, disgusting inhabitants at all?' Starscream asked wearily. 'I clearly expected too much of you.'

The Seekers visibly wilted.

'Go now,' he abruptly ordered, 'and do not return without an advance on your human knowledge.'

Sam nearly choked, seeing a very dangerous and distressing flaw. 'How about don't reveal yourselves to the humans- you know, like let them see or hear you- and planes aren't the most conspicuous forms of transport- so they aren't very common and-'

'Valid point,' Starscream unexpectedly agreed. 'Any surveillance is to be done at distance. Am I clear?'

Skywarp definitely gave a miserable pout, and Thundercracker a wry salute.

'Goodbye, boy!' the black Decepticon cried mournfully, optics fixed dolefully on him. 'Remember me-'

'How long are you going for?' Sam asked, a little disturbed at the passion.

'Any excuse for drama,' Starscream overrode. 'Be off, the both of you.'

Skywarp was gesturing at Sam frantically, long talons twitching. 'Can't I-'

'Certainly not, now begone!'

With a soft short whine, Skywarp grasped Thundercracker's forearm.

'Nononono!' the blue Seeker cried, looking extremely sickly, 'not the telep-'

And then they were gone in a VOP and blast of air.

'What did he want?' Sam asked, patting his hair down

'Who, Skywarp? I don't think you require such knowledge.'

'You know,' Sam said unwisely, frustrated at the lack of cooperation, 'I killed you in my dream yesterday.'

Unexpectedly Starscream roared with laughter.

The human kicked a stone sulkily. 'It isn't that funny.'

'Of course it is! Imagine it! I, Starscream, Second in Command and Air Commander of the Decepticons- the greatest army that ever fought and ever will- I who have vanquished more beings than you'll ever see in your lifetime- I, destroyed by you?' He let out a breathy giggle. 'The orn that comes true would also be the same orn Autobots started killing your race, boy-'

'Yeah well, get used to it,' Sam said stupidly. 'It's coming.'

'-he same orn Megatron would want peace!' Starscream was continuing to cackle. 'The same orn Optimus Prime forsakes justice and honour and his inane moral code!'

'Hahaa.'

'The same orn Soundwave speaks properly and starts stroking humans!'

'This isn't funny anymore,' Sam scowled. 'Oh wait- it never was in the first place. And that brings me onto something else. Could- could you just stop with the insults?'

Soundwave unexpectedly spoke up. 'Decepticons do not insult boy. Decepticons convey facts.'

Starscream shifted slightly. 'It isn't your fault that your race is particularly flawed.'

'See, see- that's what I mean,' Sam said angrily. 'Humans aren't so bad!'

Starscream snorted.

'Species is primitive, weak and unintelligent,' Soundwave said. He said it politely, neutrally; this lack of aggression somehow made it worse.

'It isn't even really your pathetic size,' the Air Commander added. 'There have been smaller races far more agreeable- tolerable, rather. But yours is simply infuriatingly arrogant.'

'You can't say those things!' Sam shouted.

'Wrong: Soundwave and Starscream just did.'

'Well they're not true!' the human insisted loudly, stubbornly. 'If you took the time to know us at all you'd change your mind-'

A short growl erupted forth from Megatron. 'Enough.' Quiet fell near immediately; the titan slowly turned his helm to look at his lieutenants. 'Despite this being one of those wonderful occasions I find complete agreement between my second and third, it is in fact my ruling which will affect anything. Should I decree humanity Cybertronians' equal, our equal they would be.'

'Affirmative master,' Soundwave responded smoothly.

Starscream made a low gurgling choking sound, but quickly inclined his helm in acknowledgement.

Megatron held their gazes a moment longer before looking down upon Sam. 'It is unfortunate then that I think your race crude, unintelligent, repulsive and abhorrent.'

Sam flung his hands up in exasperation. 'Aw, c'mon!'

'You want more freedom, boy?' Megatron asked darkly. (Sam mentally prepared himself for yet another putdown/rant/lecture/insert hurtful and/or embarrassing remark here.) 'Well then, of course you shall have it.'

'M- Lord Megatron?' Starscream demanded disbelievingly whilst the human was still realising what had been said. 'What on Cybertron are you doing?'

'You will remain when we are finished here and I will explain it to you in intense and condescending detail,' the commander snarled.

The Seeker instantly regretted speaking; no doubt Megatron had seen his (admittedly somewhat aggressive) incredulity as a challenge. 'So… kind of you, master.'

'I am good to my favourites.' And with that, Megatron's attention returned to a bewildered Sam. 'But naturally boy, you may see that there is something I require of you in return.'

Of course there was a catch. 'Being? As in, what do you want? I haven't agreed to anything so don't think I'm going to sign my life away to you or anything-'

'Oh no no no, I don't expect that now. In actuality I don't expect that at all- unless you truly fancy it-? No? Good; that isn't what I want from you.'

Completely lost, Sam side-glanced Starscream (a faintly disgusted face if ever he saw one), then Soundwave for good measure (absolutely unreadable, why did he even bother?).

'Soundwave, you will provide Rumble. He will guide the boy.'

Another two oh-so-subtle side-glances caught Soundwave actually wincing and a slow grin spreading across Starscream's face.

'Thanks,' Sam said stiffly. 'Much appreciated.'

'It will be,' Megatron said mysteriously. 'But of course you must uphold your end of the bargain. Will you?'

'Yes- er, wait- you haven't told me what it is!'

The commander extended an arm lazily and dropped something small- Sam dived to the side, expecting it to explode as it hit the ground. Fortunately the thing did not detonate, unfortunately he'd managed to land his entire body weight on his injured arm.

A bolt of agony blazed through the limb; screwing his eyes up tightly, Sam instinctively curled up with a sharp pained gasp.

He had to be strong though, had to be for the Autobots. The Decepticons thought him weak anyway, but that didn't mean he had to be pathetic. He'd had worse injuries; the hurt would pass. And so with a wince but determinedly, Sam slowly pulled his limbs inwards, rose to his knees gingerly and wobbled to his feet once more.

Physical pain was thrust aside as he recognised the object on the floor- it couldn't be, could it? ...It was.

Sam wailed. He couldn't help it; the sound just burst out unstoppably.

Thirty plus foot above him, Megatron watched intently.

'Not pink!' the human finally howled intelligently. 'Not pink!'

'But you like pink collars, boy. Your rodent has one.'

'My-my rodent- Mojo? That's my mother, not me!' Sam suddenly realised something peculiar. 'Wait- how do you even know that?'

'Soundwave's reconnaissance skills are second to none,' Megatron replied.

'Bumblebee's better- hang on,' the human said with a sudden sly smirk. 'Second to none?'

'You repeat me well.'

'So… you mean he's better than you? Funny, thought no one was better than you. But clearly I was wrong-'

'Boy-' It was deep, threatening, but Sam couldn't care less.

'All hail Lord Soundwave,' he cried suicidally, bowing flamboyantly in the telepath's direction. 'May your reign be long and your days merry!'

Soundwave's tentacles quivered in distress as he glanced at Megatron pleadingly. The larger mech's claws rippled slowly, ominously.

Sam suddenly realised that antagonising the Decepticons was not the best way to get his own way. 'Look, dogs have collars- I am not a dog!'

The silver alien was surprisingly collected. 'But you are human. Besides, you are incorrect. Soundwave's research has proved that some humans do indeed wear collars.'

'Shi- what kind of kinky research have you been doing?' Sam was well aware his voice was bordering on shriekily hysterical now.

'Research: thorough,' Soundwave informed.

'Yours is a moot accusation,' Megatron interrupted. 'Despite your misleading comments, it appears that this not unusual human behaviour- if you want to wander more freely then you shall wear it. Soundwave, you are dismissed.'

The blue Decepticon swept his tentacles into a bow and wiggled his way out of the room whilst a hypnotised Sam tried to gather his inarticulate thoughts. It didn't work- as usual, his words just splurged out incoherently. 'Megatron, I thought we'd discussed this, I thought we'd come to a reasonable conclusion- I don't want one, I don't need one, and I will hate you forever if you put that anywhere on me!'

'We could starve you into submission,' Megatron suggested.

'Oh my god, you try it. Do you think I'll like you if you starve me, genius?'

The huge commander was silent for a long time before he narrowed his optics. 'The boy isn't capable of sarcasm,' Megatron said, 'but had I heard that same utterance from Starscream instead I would have had been forced to beat him for impudence.'

Starscream noticeably bristled, wings pricking up indignantly.

'Why the hell aren't I capable of sarcasm?' the human demanded.

'It is a higher life function.'

Sam literally couldn't think of anything to say. Worry not! Just because he couldn't think didn't mean he didn't speak. 'I am a higher life- being thing!'

Two bright optics settled on him with what Sam construed as utter disbelief. Or perhaps it was complete scorn? He couldn't tell; the Decepticons were still somehow harder to read than their counterparts. It could even have been humour.

But incredulously Megatron said, 'Justify.'

Pressure. Sam's mind flailed hopelessly for a good second or two before, with a screwed up face of thought, he had an offering. 'Er- I can talk?'

'All species communicate.'

'You talk my language!'

'It is not your language,' the alien said. 'You do not own English. How may you lay claim to something you neither spawned nor bought nor rule over? No, boy, languages are borrowed.'

'But-' Sam had to admit he didn't particularly know what justified the classification of a higher being. Instead of confessing defeat, he thought for a longer time. 'I feel,' he said. 'I feel pain and hurt and loneliness and regret.'

Megatron thought it was slightly curious that the boy had mentioned no positive emotion. 'You are capable of more than that.'

'I was describing how I feel right now,' Sam returned shortly. 'Not that you care or understand.'

'These things do not make you my equal,' Megatron said casually. 'They do not even make you Ravage's equal. How many creatures communicate with others and feel, boy? Near on every single species on your planet. And do you consider them higher beings?'

'Are you telling me I'm no better than- than a fly?'

Megatron thought about this. 'But have you considered the complexity of such a tiny creature? It is not necessarily a bad thing.'

'You fail to consider my complexity,' Sam retorted.

'And you fail to see mine. Put it this way, boy: I can do anything that you are capable of. I can undoubtedly do it faster, more accurately and generally better. And that would be nothing-'

'No you can't,' Sam said slowly, interrupting without thought. 'You can't do everything I can.'

It was a challenge, and Megatron's optics narrowed in acknowledgement.

'I'd like to say work it out and see if you really are that smart,' the human sniped, 'but that would take forever. So I'll just tell you: you can't empathise. You can't sympathise. And by god you don't even care about anyone. So you tell me how you're better than me when you don't love.'

Megatron's growl was the lowest he had ever heard, vibrating and savage. 'You cannot pride yourself for love.'

'I can.'

'Can't.'

'You're trying to get me off point but it won't work!'

'Love is a weakness. Why would I want to love? The fewer things you love the better, boy, and I know it well. I abide by it well.'

'So you don't love anything.'

'Oh but I do.'

Sam did not point out the major contradiction the alien had just made. He didn't have the chance to; Megatron continued too quickly.

'I do not love anyone,' Megatron said, 'but that does not mean I do not love something.'

Sam was intrigued. 'What?'

'Prove your intelligence to me: discern it.'

'Hey, that isn't the point at all- I've just pointed out your flaw and you won't recognise it!'

'That is because it isn't a flaw.'

'Prove that it isn't!'

'Prove that it is. But where did you get these materials from?' Megatron demanded suddenly, pointing with a long claw at Sam's piece of paper.

Sam shifted slightly, feeling cornered. 'Hospital.'

'You stole them?'

'No,' he said with as much dignity as he could muster, 'I did not steal.'

'But you took without permission?' Megatron stood suddenly and swept out of the room without explanation.

Sam gestured feebly, finger half-pointing at the commander's exit in shock. 'Is- is he upset because I stole something? The lord of doom and death and destruction himself?'

'Naughty boy,' Soundwave reprimanded with a flash of his visor.

'You disturb me,' Sam replied immediately. 'Don't ever call me that again.'

''Query: cause of boy's demand?'

'You're very creepy,' the human re-explained. 'You disturb me, Soundwave. You have tentacles and some creepy voice and you call me a naughty boy. That's something no one even completely demented could fantasise about.'

'Why would boy fantasise about Soundwave?' The mech's visor brightened as he leaned closer.

'Oh my god,' Sam began inarticulately. 'Oh my god, Soundwave, stay away from me.'

'Justify.'

'Because you're being such a creeper right now! You're making my belly crawl!'

The mech's gaze ever so subtly lowered.

'Gah,' Sam screamed- torn between turning awkwardly around to hide his stomach or covering it with his hands, he ended up doing an odd mixture of both- 'stop!'

'Soundwave is only inspecting your abdomen to see that it functions normally,' Soundwave commented whilst ignoring his order. 'Conclusion: nothing creepy about it.'

'What, suddenly you care?'

'Negative,' the mech replied. 'Priority: Lord Megatron.'

That didn't make any sense. 'Struggling to connect the dots,' Sam hissed. 'That was so unrelated and out there-'

'Explanation: Lord Megatron must be pleased by the boy. Boy must be in peak condition to please Lord Megatron.'

'I'm not pleasing anybody!'

He heard Starscream laugh, then: 'Oh, you have no idea.'

Soundwave leant in uncomfortably close then, and caressed the side of his horrified face lightly with a tentacle. 'Soundwave: never wrong. It has begun.'


four: I have great pride in my extremely Americanly Amercian usage of 'creeper', because it's (as far as I know) not in common usage at all in England. SEE, I even put effort into researching Americanly things for this fic, oh yeeeass. Americaaaaan. I try.

three: I had to steal a TF:Prime Starscream line. If you saw it, kudos. (; Steve Blum is an absolute genius!

two: Also, tumblr. I don't understand you. WHY SO CONFUSING

one: I swore to myself that I would update The Edge of Reason before anything else, but then the amount and quality of reviews for chapter nine actually gave me a happy tear and I couldn't help myself. Thank you to everyone who did review, anon or otherwise! You have provoked a sooner update. (;

If you leave the shortest comment just to let me know you liked it, that's brilliant. If you have a little more time to review or you're excited or you've got a burning question, press that button! That's the way to my heart. That's also the way to get something you want in this fic, my dears.

Toodledoo, have a good one! :D