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...it is an unweeded garden

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.

--Hamlet, Act I, scene II

Charr, Cyclonus reflected, was a planet peculiarly suited to its current occupants.

After the war they had retreated here—far enough away from the victorious and accursed Autobots to allow themselves to lick their wounds in peace, but still within reasonable distance of Cybertron. The planet itself was utterly desolate, scattered with ruins of earlier dwellers' construction. But Charr's most valuable characteristic was undoubtedly the fact that it abounded in natural rock formations which exploded with a satisfying noise upon being hit with fusion-cannon blasts. It was, Cyclonus thought to himself, a perfect device for Galvatron to vent his unending fury on.

The Decepticon commander was taking full advantage of this geographical feature. Cyclonus noticed absently that he'd gone through five rock outcroppings already this morning. He would have to get the Constructicons to check over the rubble and see if there was any interesting ore in it.

He watched his leader, half a mile out on the desolate plain stretching before the Decepticon headquarters, causing irreparable damage to millions of years' worth of geology. From this distance Galvatron appeared to be no more than a speck of violet and silver-grey, dancing up and down in rage and blasting the already well-blasted landscape with vivid heliotrope bursts of light. Most of the Decepticons had either retreated to their quarters out of harm's way, or had buggered off the planet entirely until Galvatron's temper subsided a little. He, Scourge and Soundwave were the only ones left in the command center.

Soundwave, impassive as always, wasn't paying attention to the performance; Scourge, however, was watching Galvatron avidly through a high-powered scope.

"He's foaming again," Scourge reported, a hint of glee in his voice. Soundwave, predictably, ignored him, and Cyclonus folded his arms and attempted to follow suit, but it was difficult. "Cyclonus, you've gotta see this, it's amazing."

The jet lost a brief battle with himself and took the scope Scourge offered him. It took a few seconds to focus, and then Galvatron in the grip of one of his fits suddenly sprang into digital clarity before his optics.

Cyclonus winced. His leader's face was twisted in rage, his mouth set in a snarling rictus, optics savagely bright; Scourge had been right, dully glowing energon foam was dribbling from the corner of his mouth. As Cyclonus watched, Galvatron shrieked something and loosed another burst from his cannon, then staggered a bit and sat down hard on a handy heap of rubble.

Cyclonus handed the scope back. "He's depleted himself," he said dully, "again. He'll want energon when he comes in."

Scourge gave him a glower—he recognized this one as you slagger, why is it always ME who has to fetch and carry around here?—and stalked off in search of energon. Cyclonus returned to watching Galvatron, his optics dark.

Mostly Galvatron's attacks were brought on by completely ridiculous and inoffensive circumstances, but this time Cyclonus had to agree that there was some justification for his anger. They had just returned from an apocalyptically unsuccessful raid on an Autobot outpost near Goo, an attack which had resulted in the loss of two Sweeps and the incapacitation of both Razorclaw and Blast Off. He himself had been hit in his right wing, and had been meaning to go and get Hook to do some work on it, but just then Galvatron had gone screaming off to blast the livid slag out of a few rocks, and he had felt it incumbent upon him to hang around until his leader came back.

He sighed. It was better that Galvatron should shoot rocks than Decepticons, of course, and Cyclonus gave him credit for holding his rage in check as much as he had; but his attacks were getting worse and more frequent, and he was now regularly depleting himself to the point of total exhaustion. They hadn't won anything particularly impressive against the Autobots in some time, and Cyclonus couldn't help wondering how much Galvatron's deterioration was affecting the Decepticons' chances at a final victory.

Cyclonus tried not to think about Torqulon, about his abortive efforts to get his leader some competent mental treatment. It had been some time since that unpleasant little episode, but he still woke from recharge with the organic stench of the place sharp and sour in his olfactory receptors. He thought to himself, now, that he would never be able to rid himself of the memories of Galvatron struggling in the grip of the world-web, of the look in his optics as the Alia converged on him, the desperation and the pain and the fear.

Galvatron feared nothing, Cyclonus reflected, except losing control to another entity. Perhaps that was another side-effect of the plasma bath that had caused his madness in the first place; but Cyclonus rather thought it was due to Unicron, and Unicron's utter command of him, after the reformatting. He remembered Galvatron's red-lit agony as Unicron had punished him for failure, and the equally brilliant red flare of his optics as that pain became fury at the planet-transformer's presumption.

Cyclonus could just about remember what he had been, before Unicron. He had not had a choice in the matter, of course, no more than Galvatron had; but he remembered, dimly, the conversation between Unicron and Megatron, hanging half-destroyed in the void, still proud despite the pain. No one summons me.

But Unicron had; and Unicron had altered Megatron in body and in mind, and Cyclonus could not imagine his leader's fierce pride taking that particular indignity with any sort of grace. Galvatron, like the mech he had been before, refused to countenance anyone's power over him. Cyclonus couldn't help but think it was due to the memories of being Unicron's slave.

Galvatron had said it himself, struggling so fiercely to escape the web-bonds of Torqulon that his joints groaned and sparked: "You have no right to change what I am...."

And it was he, Cyclonus, Galvatron's most loyal follower, who had brought this on. It had been his fault. Cyclonus would have given anything to take it all back, not to have listened to that accursed Quintesson or signed the committal papers. He had relished the pain of his crushed armor when Galvatron had attacked him after being freed. He had wanted nothing more than to look down the barrel of that copper-gold cannon one last time, and find absolution at the end of it.

But there had been a moment, he reflected; a moment after he had said his piece: "Mighty one, forgive me, I did not realize..." when Galvatron's optics had seemed to clear a little, to lose some of their febrile, manic brilliance, and he had said quietly, "No..." as if he understood Cyclonus, and was agreeing with him.

Of course, the madness had snapped back at once, and he had hit Cyclonus so hard he couldn't get his gyros straight for several minutes—and then he had killed the planet. Galvatron was not one to hold grudges for very long; he tended to kill those with whom he had a problem, and be done with it.

The command room door hissed open again, and Scourge stepped through, carrying a stack of energon cubes that pulsed with a clear rose-coloured light. "He's on his way," he reported. "Looks like slag."

Cyclonus rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Wonderful," he said, and stepped away from the windows. He knew there would be no reasoning with Galvatron, not in this particular mood, and wondered fatalistically if there would be enough left of him to be worth repairing.