Author's Notes: Bunny adopted from balrog_roike on the LJ Bunny Farm. Because I need to write a Prime fic with only Prime characters…and I fell in love with the bunny. For anatomy references, I consider Soundwave's 'wings' the upper parts of his shoulders.

Title: Tantibus

Characters: Decepticon-centric

Universe: Prime!

Warnings: dark, mild torture.

Summary: Starscream has been fighting a battle that's finally catching up with him.

Soundwave sensed it as only someone like him could. It was an intangible frequency that lived on the edge of his consciousness for nearly as long as he could remember. It was not something that bothered him or distracted him from his work, but it was something he often heard while observing the many battles for leadership of the Decepticons.

The silent mech roamed the halls of the Nemesis, content to let the signal wander his mind as it was prone to do. The ship itself was silent to any ordinary being, but Soundwave was perfectly in tune with every hum and creak and exactly what it meant. Being semi-sentient, the Nemesis was sensitive to the moods of its tenants, and now it was anxious. Anxious for its master to reclaim his place at the bridge.

After, of course, he finished pummeling Starscream into the floor.

Soundwave was doing his best to control the ship's mood. When sufficiently aggravated, the Nemesis was prone to malfunctions – dangerous ones such as dropping the energy dampening field at the most inconvenient of times.

One way, or another I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha!

He stopped in his tracks. The Nemesis fell silent, sensing his surprise.

The signal had spoken to him as a sentient being would. Soundwave cross-referenced the data he had received with the human's Internet, curious of the odd phrasing. A short search told him it was a song. However, it didn't seem to be getting stronger or weaker. No change was apparent.

It was the same, but now it was speaking to him. Soundwave closed his optics for a moment, allowing the frequency to completely wash over him for the first time.

It was all over the ship, but centralized below decks. Directly under Soundwave.

He hesitated only for a moment. This was a chance to find out exactly what was making this noise in his mind. To discover if this could help or hinder him. And to get rid of it, if necessary.

Quickly, half expecting the frequency to vanish, he entered the lift, entering his pass code to let him into the stern. It was newly repaired from their last battle with the Autobots. As far as Soundwave knew (which was quite a lot) no one had been down here save the repair drones.

The signal started getting stronger. It was pulsing in his mind. It was calling out to him.

Soundwave began to run, long legs carrying him down the hall in pursuit of the noise.

One way, or another, I'm gonna lose ya, I'm gonna give you the slip, the slip of the lip or another! I'm gonna lose ya, I'm gonna trick ya trick ya trick ya—

The words cut off immediately as Soundwave rounded a corner, coming face to face with Starscream. He was so surprised he nearly spoke, breaking his customary silence. He had not heard a single one of Starscream's thoughts, or any of his movements: the frequency had encompassed his entire considerable processor.

Soundwave looked into Starscream's optics, wondering if he was down here for the same reason as Soundwave. Had he heard the music as well?

"It took you long enough." There was an edge to his voice, a sort of double voice that made Soundwave suspicious. He started to back away, but Starscream grabbed him by a wing, twisting it painfully out of place.

"Don't try to send a message to anyone." The Seeker's voice was eerily terrifying in a quiet sort of way. "They can't hear you."

Soundwave squirmed, trying to get out of the other Decepticon's grip, but to no avail. With a quick move, he was pinned against the wall. Soundwave tried to assess the wounds the Seeker should have received from Megatron, but there were none. It was as if he had never been damaged.

Starscream smirked, but there was something empty about it. Something that Starscream always had was missing now.

The Seeker ran a talon along the contours of Soundwave's face plate. Soundwave shrank away, not sure exactly why he was so afraid. Starscream used his free hand to force Soundwave's face to his level, making optic contact.

Then his mind was opened – forced open – and Starscream made his way in.

Usually, his 'special' brand of interrogation was used on some hapless Autobot or a Decepticon stupid enough to cross his faction. It was never used on him.

His mind was wrenched apart. He went limp, held up only by Starscream's grip on his dented wing. He heard the thing that inhabited Starscream and saw that Starscream certainly was still alive in there. He saw what the being in front of him wanted to do to him.

"Let's get started." Starscream whispered, leaning his forehead against Soundwave's.

He moved with a speed unheard of, ripping Laserbeak off of Soundwave's body. The smaller Decepticon had been in recharge, and the violent awakening sent a burst of pain into Soundwave's mind. Starscream casually threw him to the ground. He didn't move.

Soundwave found his mind and lunged at the Seeker, intending to rip him apart for his crime. Starscream dodged it deftly ducking behind Soundwave to grab hold of a wing.

And he pulled.

Soundwave arched away from the pain. Starscream's pede was in his lower back, giving him enough leverage to rip off his appendage. His wing clattered to the floor and he followed, feeling the pain racing through his systems as Energon began pouring from the wound. His arm was limp, unresponsive to any of his commands.

"Have I clipped the bird's wings?" Starscream asked rhetorically. He stepped on Soundwave's back and grabbed his other wing. "Feel free to scream when the time is right."

His talons dug grooves into the floor. He tried frantically to send messages to Megatron, Knock Out, Breakdown or even Arachnid but they were being blocked.

Starscream flipped him over, moving chest armor aside to find his prize. Soundwave tried to get away, offlining his pain sensors and error messages as Starscream effortlessly cracked the glass in his Spark chamber.

Agony, disregarding Soundwave's orders, burst into his chest as particles of dust filtered into the crack, disrupting his body's neural network. Every circuit of his body felt like it was on fire and dipped in acid, sending him into a tormenting oblivion.

He didn't even feel it as Starscream carried him to the airlock, keying in the code using Soundwave's number. Nor did he feel it when Starscream opened his mind once more to install a block, preventing him from releasing a distress beacon or any other type of message.

Then the door opened; air pulling Soundwave's body into the atmosphere, to land wherever it would.

Starscream smiled as the Nemesis roared in response to his act.

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