Once Buzzsaw had finished playing the recording of Glory and Swindle's conversation, Soundwave opened his chest and let the cassette-bird climb inside. Buzzsaw was shy and somewhat agoraphobic, disliking being away from his creator for long periods of time, but with Ravage laid up with a broken leg and the rest of the cassettes out on various reconnaissance missions, he was the only one available for keeping an optic on the Decepticons on Chaar. Soundwave didn't like forcing his cassettes into uncomfortable situations, but on some occasions it was necessary… and in this case it had paid off.

"So Glory is plotting against Galvatron," Shockwave noted, his voice somewhat distorted over the vidscreen. "This is an unexpected turn of events… but perhaps one we can use to our advantage."

"Glory's attention span: minimal," Soundwave said dismissively. "She will lose interest in the cause quickly. Aid: unreliable."

"Don't be so quick to dismiss her," Shockwave advised. "At this point, we will accept opportunity from any quarter… even if it's from a Decepticon as young and inexperienced as she."

This particular conference took place in a tunnel some distance from the base proper, doubtless the abandoned remains of some ill-fated mining venture. Soundwave had managed to scrounge enough components to cobble together a crude but workable communications array, allowing him to maintain contact with Shockwave via an encrypted channel. Galvatron seemed to have little use for a communications officer, preferring to dump everything on Cyclonus, and thus rarely seemed to miss the tape deck when he slipped off to contact his comrade. The former Guardian of Cybertron was proving to be a far more honest source of information regarding the state of the universe outside Chaar than Galvatron could ever hope to be… and a necessary ally for Soundwave's own plans.

Early on in their communications, they had come to the same conclusion – that if the Decepticons were to survive, Galvatron must die. How to accomplish that was a matter they had yet to resolve, however.

"Condition of Decepticon forces on Beta Geode," Soundwave requested.

"Our forces are small but growing," Shockwave replied. "A coded message has been broadcast through our sector of space, summoning as many Decepticons as are able to make the journey here. Within time, we may soon have a force large enough to overthrow Galvatron and his minions."

"Our time: limited," Soundwave pointed out. "Galvatron's peace treaty with Autobots: broken. Autobot retaliation: imminent."

Shockwave's headfins pinned back. "So our esteemed leader has broken the truce. I cannot say that I'm surprised. Disappointed, really – a clever leader could have played the truce for all it was worth, using it as the perfect opportunity to build up his forces for a deadly counterattack. It seems Galvatron is not only insane, but stupid."

Soundwave wasn't so sure about that. Insane he might be, but Galvatron had his moments of clarity, even brilliance, and showed signs of being a cunning leader. Too bad his internal malfunctions got in the way all too often.

He didn't voice that aloud, however. "We must accelerate the plan."

Shockwave's headfins flattened back even farther. "Accelerating the plan would be disastrous. Gathering our forces is one thing, but consolidating them into a cohesive fighting force is quite another. Even when our numbers were greater, divisions existed in our ranks that kept us from full effectiveness, and even now those divisions exist. If we are to overthrow Galvatron, we need to be fully united, not split into sub-factions."

"Galvatron's influence: toxic," Soundwave countered. "His presence widens the rifts between factions. Removing him from power will resolve this."

"Can you guarantee that?" demanded Shockwave, and if he'd had a proper face he might have been raising a sardonic optic ridge at the tape deck. "How many of Galvatron's troops are truly loyal to him, and how many do you deem are loyal to us?"

"Troops loyal to Galvatron: one. Only Cyclonus is truly loyal. Motivation for rest: fear."

"As I suspected," Shockwave noted. "Fear can be a powerful motivator. It keeps the Decepticons on Chaar from attempting revolt or desertion. Even those that do make it as far as Beta Geode are terrified to rise against him. We need something stronger to unite the Decepticons, something that can counter their fear of Galvatron's power and madness."

Soundwave was silent, waiting for Shockwave to suggest something.

"Glory is bold to speak of rebellion so close to Galvatron," Shockwave went on. "At least one of his underlings is not afraid to take matters into their own hands. And at least one other mech shares our cause."

"Glory is too young," Soundwave protested. "Inexperienced and naïve. Ignorant of the ways of the Decepticons and the universe."

"You would be surprised what sort of accomplishments can be made in ignorance," Shockwave replied. "Perhaps a young, untried Seeker will be the ally we need to overthrow Galvatron."

Soundwave rather doubted that himself. Then again, it was hard to see someone as a noble revolutionary when they used to cling to your legs and stuff your weapons full of glittery confetti on a regular basis. Even years later, he was still accustomed to thinking of Glory as a sparkling, not a fully-fledged Decepticon warrior.

"You wish me to summon Glory here?" he asked.

Shockwave pondered a moment, then shook his head. "Not yet. I want to see what she does on her own, and what she is capable of. Perhaps we'll be lucky and her efforts at a coup will succeed. If she fails, however, do whatever it takes to ensure she survives. Then, and only then, will we intervene."

Hook didn't even bother to look up from his datapad as Glory walked into the repair bay. "Unless you're leaking to death, suffering a full system crash, or are carrying your own severed components, get out."

"Glad to see you too," she replied, pulling a stool over with her foot and sitting down on it. "I need to talk to you, Hook."

"Later," he replied. "I'm quite busy at the moment."

"That's fine. I can wait." She settled in and watched him as he scanned the datapad, occasionally making notes on another 'pad at his side. Was he making an inventory or acquisition list, or studying some sort of medical text?

After a few minutes Hook gusted a sigh and set the datapad aside. "Fine, say what you came to say. I can't work with you staring at me like that."

She couldn't help a bit of a smile at that. "I was counting on that, actually. Why do you think I didn't leave when you told me to?"

Hook snorted. "You may be Thundercracker's niece, but you have Skywarp's penchant for deliberately getting on one's sensory circuits. What do you want?"

She glanced around the tiny repair bay, making sure they were alone. None of the other Constructicons were around, and Hook didn't appear to have any patients at the moment, so she judged it safe to continue. "I need your help, Hook."

"Let me guess," he said disdainfully. "Some mech has caught your fancy and you want some sort of cosmetic upgrade to get his attention. Go see someone else about that – I have better things to do than cater to the whims of a vain newbuilt…"

"Hook!" she exclaimed, grimacing. "I'm not here for that! And besides, none of the mechs here even appeal to me. Seriously, who am I going to fancy here, a Sweep? I'd sooner kiss a Dinobot."

"At least you have some standards," Hook noted. "What are you here for, then?"

She leaned forward slightly, hoping she could word this well enough to hold his attention. "I want to make a deal with you. I want your help in overthrowing Galvatron."

Hook's visor flashed at that. He rose from the table, strode toward the medbay doors, and shut and locked them. Then he made his way back to the table and sat down, folding his hands before him. "Keep talking."

Well, he hadn't kicked her out at that. That was a hopeful sign. "Galvatron's getting more and more unstable. He's almost killed us multiple times, and he blames us for all his failings. And even worse, he's broken our truce with the Autobots. They could retaliate against us any day now, and we're completely unable to fight them off. If this keeps up, he's going to lead us to our extinction."

Hook nodded. "All old news, Glory. Tell me something I don't know."

"The Decepticons need a new leader," she pressed. "One who's not only strong, but smart and knows what he's doing. Hook, you're one of the smartest mechs on Chaar, and as the leader of the Constructicons and the one who controls Devastator, you'd be a far better leader than Galvatron could ever hope to be. If you could help me defeat him… then the Decepticon throne would be yours to take."

Hook almost smiled at her praise. "Such flattery, young one. Not entirely unwarranted, mind you… but what's in it for you? When I'm leader of the Decepticons, what are you going to want in return?"

"Nothing," she insisted. "I just want to see a proper leader take charge of the Decepticons. Not the joke of a commander we've got now. Someone who can rebuild the Decepticons and help them take Cybertron back. Someone who can get us home again."

"And so you try to bribe another mech into doing your dirty work for you?" Hook asked dryly.

She sighed deeply. Why didn't anyone trust her? "I'd do it myself if I thought I could. But I'm not strong enough to take him on my own. I need an ally."

"An ally you'll promptly abandon once you've accomplished your goal? How am I to know you won't stab me in the back and seize command the moment Galvatron's spark is snuffed?"

Was he purposefully trying to bait her into something? "I promise you, Hook… if you help me defeat Galvatron and put him out of power, I won't stand in your way while you take command of the Decepticons."

Hook's visor flashed again, as if she'd spoken the very words he'd wanted to hear. "Swear it."

"I swear it on the Well of All Sparks."

"Good enough." He extended a hand across the table. "I take you up on your offer, Glory. We overthrow Galvatron together."

She clasped his hand in hers, sealing the bargain. Her spark shivered a bit in a sudden thrill of fear. With this meeting, this deal, there was no going back. They would either topple Galvatron from the throne, or suffer whatever consequences awaited a traitor under the tyrant's command. There would be no third option, and no escaping the deal now.

"So did you come here with any sort of plan?" Hook asked, releasing her hand. "Or will that be up to me?"

"This isn't something I decided yesterday," she replied. "I've been watching Galvatron and Cyclonus for a few years now, trying to find their weaknesses."


"Cyclonus has no weak spots that I can see… but he himself is Galvatron's weak spot. Cyclonus is the one thing that keeps the Decepticons from completely falling apart under Galvatron's rule. He enforces his commands, makes some amount of sense out of his plans, and protects him from any attempts on his life. If Cyclonus is out of commission, it's only a matter of time before Galvatron self-destructs or the Decepticons turn against him."

Hook nodded. "Excellent deduction. Though have you thought about how we're going to eliminate Cyclonus?"

She hesitated. "I was hoping you would have some ideas. You're more experienced than I am."

"Not at assassination," he admitted. "But a sufficiently clever CPU should be able to come up with something… hmmm." He tapped a finger against his chin as he considered. "Cyclonus is one of the more powerful Decepticons. If we're going to offline him, we need to use stealth. Simply challenging him to a fight will be suicidal."

"We could go after him in his recharge, perhaps?" asked Glory. "And we wouldn't have to kill him… just damage him enough that he's unable to perform his duties."

"You're too soft-sparked, young one," Hook admonished. "If we merely incapacitate him, Galvatron will just order him repaired and he'll take his revenge on us. If we're going to do this, we're doing it right. I'll not leave a loose end that can come back to ensnare us."

Her fuel tank clenched in disgust. Deep down, she knew she wouldn't be able to get out of this without oil on her hands, but she had been hoping that they could keep the kill count down by at least one life. She hated Cyclonus, but perhaps, if he knew Galvatron was dead, he would submit to another leader and not be so fanatical and difficult. Hook's answer might be the safer, more efficient way, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

"Still, the idea has some merit," he confessed. "The trick would be sneaking into his quarters to do the deed without waking him up. He's a notoriously light recharger, and who knows what sort of security measures he has set up in his quarters." He rested his elbows on the table and steepled his hands before him, pondering. "We need to catch him asleep on the job, as it were, and someplace where he's vulnerable."

A wild idea clicked into place in Glory's CPU at that moment, and hope flared in her spark in response. "What about the medbay?"

Hook gazed up at her, and had his optic ridges been visible he might have been arching one at her curiously. "What about it?"

"He has to come in for repairs or maintenance sometime, doesn't he?" she went on. "What if you happened to find some sort of malfunction during the examination that needs to be repaired immediately… and if it was something you had to put him under to take care of?"

Hook was silent a moment as he considered her words. "Galvatron's blasted lieutenant offline and vulnerable on my own operating table…" He smiled wickedly. "Perfect. He can't come online unexpectedly in the middle of the attempt, and he won't suspect a thing." He reached out and patted Glory's arm. "You're thinking like a true Decepticon."

Glory shivered a bit at that. If thinking about how best to kill another mech was thinking like a true Decepticon… she shoved that thought away. This was for the good of her friends, and of the Decepticons as a whole. If she had to dirty her own hands to protect those she cared about… then so be it.

"When… when would we do it?" she asked.

"He's not scheduled for another maintenance scan for another lunar cycle," Hook replied. "I doubt we can wait that long, however… do you and him ever do flight drills together?"

"He won't have anything to do with any of the other fliers," she said disdainfully. "It's like he thinks the Seekers are beneath him."

"Hmm… still, there have to be times when the two of you occupy the same airspace. If you were to have some sort of mishap that would result in damages – say an air collision – we could get him into the repair bay sooner."

She winced. Air collisions were among the messiest and most painful accidents a flier could have. Her uncle had told her horror stories of mechs losing limbs and wings, shredding internal components, and even getting torn apart due to such accidents. He hadn't gone as far as to show her images of the victims of collisions (despite Starscream's repeated suggestions), but her imagination had done more than enough to fill the gaps. And Hook had to have seen such victims cross his operating table before, so for him to so casually suggest she deliberately cause a collision seemed a little sadistic to her.

Still, there weren't a lot of other options. Firing on Cyclonus would earn her a death sentence, and simply grazing or nicking him wouldn't be serious enough for him to go to Hook. She would have to hit him in midair… and she would have to make it look like an accident. That would be the tricky part, but she figured she could manage it when the time came.

"I can arrange it sometime in the next few days," she replied.

"It doesn't have to be you precisely," Hook told her. "Perhaps you can talk one of the other Seekers into it."

"I can try." She rather doubted Thrust's trine would be willing to help her, however – they spent most of their time trying to hide from Galvatron, and the few times they ever showed their faces around the base they mostly pretended she didn't exist. "One way or another, Cyclonus should be paying you a visit within the next week."

"Excellent." He chuckled softly. "This has been a most productive discussion. I look forward to the eventual shift in our leadership."

She didn't know what to say in response, so she settled for simply standing and turning to go.

"Oh, and Glory?"

She turned slightly. "Hook?"

"Do try not to get killed. The Decepticons can't afford to lose another soldier, even if it is for a noble cause."

She nodded. "Hook… thank you."

"No… thank YOU."

As she left the repair bay she couldn't suppress a tremor of apprehensive excitement. It was happening… they were finally going to be free from Galvatron's mad clutches. Part of her protested that this was all happening much too fast, but the rest of her was simply thrilled that someone had finally agreed to help her. And more than that, they had an actual plan set in motion. This was far more than she could have hoped for just an hour ago.

A couple of Sweeps lurked around a corner, exchanging small talk, and she tried not to make optic contact with them as she passed them by. It felt as if they were staring at her, reading her body language and realizing she was up to something. Now that she was actively engaged in a plot that could be counted as treason, she felt as if her every move would betray her, as if every mech she saw could see what she was planning and would report her at the first opportunity…

She shook her head and pressed on to her quarters. The safest thing to do at this point would be to tell no one of the plan. Not even Swindle or the cassettes would know what she was about to do, and she trusted that Hook would be smart enough to not let the rest of the Constructicons in on the secret. If they kept this to themselves, they wouldn't risk betrayal. It was their best hope to succeed.

"You need to find yourself a better hiding spot."

"GAAAH!" Rumble leaped nearly a foot in the air, dropping the datapad he'd filched. He whirled, gun in hand, to face the intruder, but relaxed a touch the moment he spotted who it was. "Don't scare a mech like that! Primus…"

"For being one of our top spies, you pick lousy hiding places," Swindle noted, peering over the cluster of boulders where Rumble had taken refuge. "Whatcha got there?"

"None of your fraggin' business," Rumble muttered, snatching up the datapad and stowing it into subspace. "Why're you so nosy anyhow?"

"Excuse me for asking a simple question," Swindle huffed. "What, you're trying to hide something?"

Rumble just glared, figuring he could always use his piledrivers to make a distraction and bolt if Swindle pressed the issue. Soundwave didn't want any mech knowing his and Shockwave's plot unless they were absolutely sure of their loyalty, and seeing as Swindle's loyalty could be bought by the highest bidder, they weren't about to take a chance trusting him with any of their information. Thankfully Swindle hadn't recognized the datapad as being stolen from Cyclonus' office…

"Never mind then," Swindle muttered. "You haven't seen Glory lately, have you?"

"Nuh-uh. Just got back from my last mission. Haven't had time to talk to the kid."

"She's not a kid anymore."

Rumble snorted in laughter. "I'm old enough to be her creator. Seeker or not, she's always gonna be 'kid' to me."

Swindle didn't argue that point. "Do you know if she's talked to Soundwave at all?"

"Nope. Not that I know of, anyhow. Why?"

The Combaticon frowned. "Weird…"

"What's eatin' ya, Swin? Still tryin' to keep tabs on the kid? She's old enough to take care of herself, ya know."

"Just… worried, is all."

"Worried about what? C'mon, spill it!"

"You're going to harass me until I tell you what's going on, aren't you?"

Rumble grinned. "You know me too well. Now start talkin' or you're gonna wake up in the morning with a Hello Kitty paint job."

Swindle half-sighed, half-groaned. "I guess she won't mind if I tell you… you're one of her best friends after all." He crouched down, lowering his voice. "She's talking about overthrowing Galvatron."

Rumble had to reboot his audials to be sure of what he was hearing. "Say that again."

"She's talking about overthrowing Galvatron. And she's looking for allies. Soundwave was on her list of mechs to talk to, and I was just trying to see if she'd approached him yet and how it went. She's been way too quiet the past few days, and I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad one."

Rumble gave a low whistle. So Buzzsaw hadn't been joking when he'd pinged his brothers with the news. When he and Frenzy had heard about Glory's conversation with Swindle, the two of them had laughed it off as a complete joke and assumed Buzzsaw had been pulling their legs. Hearing the bird had been speaking the truth just opened up a whole new slew of questions, though – such as how was Glory going to pull this off on her own, why hadn't Soundwave recruited her to their cause, was Swindle going to sell the kid out now that he knew about her traitorous plans…

"Gutsy," was all he said aloud. "Knew that kid was gonna make an interestin' 'Con when she grew up. Guess she's gonna prove me right. She found anyone to help her yet?"

"That's what I've been trying to find out," Swindle replied. "I suggested she talk to either Soundwave or Hook about it, and was just checking to see if she'd done it yet. Hook just called me an idiot and threw me out of the medbay, so I assume Glory already approached him and got no for an answer. I was hoping you could tell me if she'd talked to Soundwave yet."

"Not that I know of."

Swindle sighed again. "If she gets a no from him, then I just hope she drops this whole idea. I know she wants to be helpful… but this is going to get her killed."

"You worry too much," Rumble chuckled. "She's a tough little scrapper. Always has been. She'll be okay."

The roar of thrusters cut into their discussion, and the two of them glanced up to see Cyclonus soaring overhead in jet form, cutting across the lead-colored sky. Rumble suppressed a smirk at the sight. How many times had Glory complained that Cyclonus' flight skills lacked artistry, that he had no passion for what he did in the air? Rumble wasn't a jet-former, but even he had to agree with her – the lieutenant was a skilled flier, but he went through his aerial maneuvers mechanically, without flair and the obvious love of flight that Glory always had and that her uncle had matched.

Speaking of the kid, she soared by just moments after Cyclonus had passed overhead, twisting through the air in a graceful barrel roll. Rumble couldn't help a smile, feeling a surge of pride at seeing her. She certainly had her uncle's skill in the air, and seemed to actually enjoy her flights – unlike Cyclonus, who seemed to see flight drills as a chore that must be endured.

"I just want to protect her," Swindle went on, as if their conversation had never been interrupted. "I promised her uncle I'd keep her safe. If anything ever happens to her, I'll never forgive myself."

"Dude, you can't coddle her forever," Rumble countered. "Sparklings grow up. They screw up, fall and get hurt, fail at things. It's how they learn. Ya gotta let her push her limits and see what she can do, even if it means she crashes and burns a few times."

Swindle gave him a puzzled look. "When did you become so wise and all-knowing, Master Yoda?"

"Hey, I'm just speakin' the truth-"

At that moment, disaster struck. Glory had pulled up to attempt a particularly tricky maneuver, flying vertically with her nosecone pointing skyward for a few moments. Even as a non-flier, Rumble knew it was a difficult and dangerous move, not the least because it rendered the jet virtually blind during said trick. And unbeknownst to the young Seeker, her trick had put her right in the path of Cyclonus, who had banked around and was heading back for the base… and straight for Glory.

Before either the cassette or the Combaticon could shout out a warning, the two jets slammed into each other. The horrific boom of the impact and the screech of tearing metal drowned out any cries either jet might have made.

"GLORY!" Swindle took off running, optics bright with horror. Rumble was right on his heels, swearing long and creatively. Frag it all, why hadn't the stupid Air Commander looked where he was going? Or had he just assumed that everyone he met would just automatically get out of his way and it was their fault if they didn't?

Cyclonus hit the ground first, skidding a good fifty feet before coming to a halt, smoke billowing from his thrusters and from the stump that remained of his right wing. Glory's crash-landing was far more spectacular – she tried to touch down normally but hit the ground at a bad angle, and she tumbled and cartwheeled for an agonizingly long time before finally coming to rest. She, too, smoked ominously from her thrusters, and her entire frame was badly crumpled and dented from the collision and crash. Her wings were shredded, and oil and energon bled freely from deep gashes in her underbelly.

"Kid!" Rumble dashed to her side, wincing at how much worse her damages looked up close. "Kid, can you hear me? Talk to me!"

"Glory!" Swindle, too, hurried to the jet's side, crouching beside her and placing a careful hand on her side. "Glory, please be alive, please…"

For a pump-stopping moment she didn't respond. Then a soft whimper emerged from her vocalizer, and a shudder ran along the length of her chassis.

"You're going to be all right," Swindle promised her. "Can you transform?"

"No," she moaned, voice faint. "Something's… jammed…"

"Don't try to force it," he urged. "And no more talking. Redirect as much power as you can to your self-repair." He touched the side of his helm as he made a radio call. "Combaticons, I need a hand here! Glory took a crash, we need to get her to the repair bay!"

A deep groan caught Rumble's attention, and he turned to see Cyclonus transforming. While the Air Commander looked to be in better shape than Glory, he still looked like he'd been run over by Metroplex – he was missing an arm as well as a wing, and gashes and tears marred his chest and torso. He shot Swindle and Glory a venomous glare before turning and limping toward the repair bay, clutching the stump of his missing limb.

Had he not been so worried about Glory at the moment, Rumble probably would have made faces or flashed a rude gesture at Cyclonus now that his back was turned. Trust the mech to blame Glory for this whole mess, despite the fact that he could have looked where the frag he was going for a change. Besides, why would anyone deliberately cause a collision, especially when it made such a painful mess for both parties involved?

"Onslaught and the team are on their way," Swindle reported. "Rumble, can you run on ahead and let Hook know he's got a serious collision victim heading his way? Or… two, I suppose…"

"Can do," Rumble replied, and bolted for the repair bay. Privately he thought that if Cyclonus could walk to the medbay, he could slagging well wait for repairs. But he suspected the fragger was going to pull rank and insist that he be completely repaired before Glory even saw as much as a pain-reduction program. Primus, he hated the fact that it always seemed like the biggest jerks were in charge.

Cyclonus scowled at Hook, as if by his very gaze he could make the surgeon wither away on the spot. "Are you so incompetent at what you do that you cannot make repairs to me while I'm still online? I was under the impression you were the best at what you do."

Hook fought the urge to sigh, groan, whack his patient with a wrench, or exhibit any sign that he was reaching the end of his patience. "For the fifth time, sir, this will go much more smoothly if you simply consent to being shut down during the procedure. There's much more to do than simply reattach your wing and arm – I must close those wounds in your chassis, and most of them appear deep enough that I'm certain you've sustained internal damages. And it's nearly impossible to conduct repairs on internal components while the patient is still online. Besides, it will be far less painful if you are offline for the repairs."

Cyclonus snorted. "I am not weak. I can withstand the pain."

"Yes, sir, but I would rather not risk one of your internal systems misfiring in the middle of a delicate procedure and causing even further damage. I only ask that you shut yourself down for an hour or so. That will give me ample time to repair you and close your chassis up without complications."

The Air Commander regarded Hook coldly, and for a moment Hook began to wonder if it wasn't simple stubbornness that prevented him from acquiescing. Did Cyclonus suspect what he was up to? Was he somehow aware of their plan, and was doing everything possible to botch it for them?

In the end, though, he relented. "Fine. You have half an hour." He turned to address the rest of the Constructicons. "You will see to it that I am brought back online when the time is up, whether or not Hook is finished by then."

"Yes sir," Bonecrusher replied, infusing his tone with as much disdain as he possibly could. Cyclonus ignored his insolence and lay back on the berth.

"Commencing the operation, then," Hook announced, taking the shutdown device from his equipment tray and touching it to Cyclonus' neck. "Shutdown in three, two, one…"

A soft buzz issued from the device, and Cyclonus' optics went dark, his joints slowly relaxing as he slipped offline. In marked contrast, Hook felt every servo and cable in his body tense. This was it… he'd get only one chance at this. He had to make it count.

"Scrapper, stand by to assist. Everyone else, see to Glory and ensure she's stabilized and free of pain." He unlatched Cyclonus' chest plate and opened it, surveying the damage.

"Doesn't look that bad," Scrapper noted. "You could have done this without shutting him down."

Hook shook his head. "For what I had planned, he needed to be offline and unaware." He reached down to trace a fuel line's path with a fingertip, surveying the damages. Hopefully at least one of these wounds crossed a vital system – it would be a simple matter to exacerbate said injury and speed his termination along. Failing that, though, he could simply fake a hardware malfunction and claim the shock of the collision had done him in…

"You're going to kill him, aren't you?" Scrapper asked abruptly.

Hook felt his spark sputter in response, and he forced himself to pause and collect his thoughts before looking up to meet his fellow Constructicon's visor. It was impossible to discern his expression, but he could practically feel the calculating stare being leveled upon him. Was his own teammate about to destroy him for treason?

"The Decepticons would be better off without this mech," he said carefully, pitching his voice just low enough that the others couldn't hear. "You know that. He is a scourge and a stain upon our kind, and is of more worth to us dead than alive."

Scrapper's stare never wavered. "Is that a yes or a no?"

Knowing the answer could very well bring his death, he answered: "Yes. Yes, I am going to offline him, and do it in such a way as to make it seem the result of his crash."

Scrapper gazed at him a moment longer, then nodded. "What can I do to aid you?"

Hook allowed himself a slight smile of relief. "Open a few of the fuel lines directly around the damaged areas, and scuff up the paint a little more. We want this to look worse than it really was." He tapped a finger against Cyclonus' spark chamber, noting that one of the tears in his chest had veered dangerously close to the very source of his life. "A few cracks in this should speed the inevitable, and if we alter his chest wound to match then no one would be the wiser."

Scrapper chuckled dryly. "Should I be concerned the next time I cross your operating table?"

"Don't give me cause to damage you and you won't," Hook replied, then raised his voice. "Long Haul, status report on the femme."

"She's stable," Long Haul replied. "Going to need an energon transfusion, but otherwise she's hangin' in there. When can we start her repairs?"

"As soon as I'm sure Cyclonus will not be a problem," Hook replied. He mulled over his tools, finally deciding on a small hammer – an item normally used for loosening locked joints or pounding out dents. It would do for fracturing a spark casing, he supposed…

A hand clamped onto Hook's wrist, freezing him in place.

"Clever, Hook." Cyclonus' voice was never one for being warm and welcoming, but Hook had never heard it this cold and deadly. "Far too clever for your own good. Now drop it."

Hook released the hammer, letting it clang back onto the tray. "You came online much sooner than expected, sir."

Cyclonus smirked. "I never went offline at all. More primitively built mechs might be forced into shutdown by your contraption, but Galvatron and I have backup systems." His grip tightened, and Hook grimaced as pain seared up his arm. "I heard it all, Hook. And you and your comrade will suffer for this."

Scrapper lunged, a laser scalpel raised to plunge into Cyclonus' spark. Cyclonus kicked out, his foot catching the bulldozer in the chestplate and slamming him back into the wall. The sound of the impact startled the other four Constructicons out of their focus on Glory, and they turned to stare at Cyclonus as he hauled himself upright, never releasing his death grip on Hook's wrist.

"Constructicons, place Scrapper and Hook under arrest," he ordered coldly. "They are guilty of treason against myself, and by extension against Galvatron. They shall be punished for their crimes against the Decepticons."

Hook snorted. "The Constructicons are loyal to me, Cyclonus. Do you honestly expect them to side with you over their leader?"

"Perhaps… but if I were to tell them that refusing to obey my commands results in instant deactivation, perhaps they will change their minds."

"We outnumber you," Hook retorted. "We can easily overpower you."

"Perhaps… but can you overpower the Sweeps?" His smirk deepened as the doors to the repair bay slid open, and a dozen of the blue mechs began to crowd into the repair bay, pushing past the stunned Constructicons and moving to surround Hook and Scrapper. "If your comrades have any intelligence, they will know not to interfere."

Hook struggled to control his panic, and played the last card in his hand. "Without myself and Scrapper, Devastator is powerless. You will effectively destroy one of our few precious gestalts simply to brand us traitors?"

Cyclonus tightened his grip, and Hook snarled in pain, his damage readout registering crush damage to his wrist joint. "We can find ways to make Devastator work without you two. If we cannot… it is a small price to pay to weed out the infidels in our ranks."

Clawed hands grabbed Hook's arms and forced them behind his back, fastening cuffs to his wrists. On the other side of the room, Scourge hauled a still-dazed Scrapper to his feet and turned him around so the Sweeps could cuff his hands as well. Bonecrusher, Mixmaster, Scavenger, and Long Haul merely watched, and when Hook caught Mixmaster's gaze the chemist simply spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness. Team loyalty only went so far, apparently, and none of them were willing to put their necks on the line to come to their leaders' defenses.

"Get Swindle in here," Cyclonus ordered. "He will stand in as our medic. Get this scum to the brig immediately."