A/N: Some time ago, I found a prompt on the TF Random Generator at LJ: Starscream/Swoop/penance. It intrigued me, so I took it and saved it, believing I could come up with something for it right away. But I proved to be mistaken, and for the longest time, was stymied. Eventually I just put it aside and went on to other stories. However, I never deleted the prompt from my list, believing that it would be possible for me to come up with something, no matter how slim the chances. After several months, an idea did occur to me. However, the idea was related to a certain story arc being written by another author into one of her stories. I approached said author and asked for her permission to write a story based off of that arc, and it was granted. After many false starts, this story is the result. I would like to thank Balrog Roike for her generous permission in allowing me to write this story based off of her Redemption story arc in "28 Starscreams". There will be a minor reference to a chapter related to that arc within. This story will be a two-shot, and will likely be my only foray into G1.
The title is Latin for "penance".
Disclaimer: I am not lucky enough to own Transformers, only this story.
"A deed once done cannot be undone...But perhaps it may yet be mitigated!" - Dinobot (Beast Wars, Code of Hero)
That was the first thing Swoop became aware of just after onlining. In an effort to assess how bad the damage was, he attempted to move his wings. The parts and gears ground together, making the pain even worse. A scan showed several of his flight systems were redlining. He was grounded, and worse, with his wings damaged, he could not transform.
The second thing he became aware of occurred when he tried to online his optics. Upon that failing, he ran a scan in that area as well and determined that they had shorted out, likely due to a massive energy surge. Further, the wires appeared to be completely burned out.
Swoop ran several more internal scans, Spark sinking as the results came in: comm systems down; a number of energon leaks, some of them potentially life-threatening; transformation cog cracked…the list went on. With each new result, Swoop's despair increased. He was seriously injured, blinded, and miles from home. By the time anyone arrived to help him, it would be too late.
Him Ratchet going to be very mad at me. Him Prowl, too.
He sighed, remembering the chain of events leading up to this moment. It had been a lovely day, just right for flying, and he wanted to take advantage of this and go out for a fly. No Decepticon activity had been reported for several days, so it should be safe, he'd figured. Swoop went to Ratchet, and Ratchet approached Prowl and asked for permission on his behalf. Prowl at first was reluctant to grant permission, but when Ratchet pointed out that restless Dinobots could create a lot of havoc, he agreed, on two conditions: First, Swoop had to report in every Terran hour; and second, should he detect any Decepticon activity, he should report it and head back. Swoop agreed to the conditions quickly, willing to agree to anything as long as he got to fly, and headed out.
I tried to keep them. I really did.
For the first couple of hours, he had followed the condition regarding reporting in, but he was having so much fun on his flight, he hadn't really been paying attention to his long-range sensors, and was unaware of the Seekers up until the moment the first laser hit his wing. He tried to fight back and defend himself, but with three against one, the skirmish's ending was a foregone conclusion. Thundercracker used his sonic attack, knocking him off-balance, and while he was trying to recover, Skywarp teleported in behind him, and grabbed his wings, effectively immobilizing him. The next thing he knew, Starscream was in front of him, a sneer on his face and his null rays pointed directly at Swoop's face.
"Say 'good night', Auto-reject!" were the last words he heard before Starscream fired.
Swoop didn't even remember hitting the ground.
Swoop was so lost in the memories of what happened he missed the sound of soft footsteps approaching. When a hand was laid on his back, he jolted, and started to struggle against the restraint.
The voice was soft, and oddly familiar, yet Swoop couldn't quite place it. All he cared about was the fact he was injured and restrained, and alone with a potential enemy. He struggled harder. He heard a sigh, and the hand lifted.
"Please listen to me. I swear I am not here to harm you any further. But you are bleeding out, and help will not get to you before you deactivate because of it. All I ask is for you to allow me to stop the bleeding long enough for help to arrive."
Swoop was suspicious. Who was this stranger? Or was he a stranger? That voice was so familiar…On the other hand, what choice did he have? If he refused, he could very well die (and scans confirmed the stranger's words about the seriousness of his situation). If he accepted, there was always the chance the stranger would kill him anyway. Then it occurred to him that the stranger could have already done so instead of taking the time to ask. That decided him.
"Me Swoop agree, stranger."
Another sigh, and the unknown mech went right to work.
For the next hour or so, the only sounds Swoop heard were panels opening and closing as the mech searched for the worst of the leaks and either clamped or soldered them. As the surgery progressed, Swoop kept an eye on the scans in order to distract himself from the pain. Eventually the levels stabilized and the sounds ceased.
"I have done all I can. I am going to activate your distress beacon now, and then put you offline to spare you any further pain. I will stay near until your comrades arrive."
"Thank you, stranger."
"You should not be thanking me." The voice was softer, sadder now.
Genuinely puzzled, Swoop asked "Why?"
"I am merely trying to repair the damage I have done."
"What you mean? Who are you?"
"Tell Bluestreak I am aware of his gratitude and am glad he thinks of me fondly even though I am far from deserving of it."
"But who are you?"
A third pause, followed by a resigned sigh.
"I am sorry I hurt you, Swoop."
For a moment, Swoop did not understand. But just as the stranger's hand rested on the switch that would throw his processor offline, it hit him. Stunned, he cried, "It's you!"
"Yes." Came the nearly inaudible response. "Farewell, Swoop, and good luck."
The switch clicked, and a shocked Swoop slipped into a welcoming darkness.