A/N: I broke this into two parts as I felt that the aftermath of the encounter deserved its own chapter. I am hoping this one will answer some questions and will not be a let-down for anyone's expectations. Again, my thanks to Balrog Roike.
Two Earth weeks later
Swoop stood at the entrance to the Ark, pondering over all that had happened since the incident. He had awakened in the medbay six days following the skirmish. His brothers were surrounding his berth, not allowing anyone except Ratchet and Wheeljack near. The medic released him a few days afterwards, with strict instructions for him to take it easy for the next week. He was lucky to be online, the medic said. Swoop certainly agreed with that one, and gave the medic no argument.
Prowl hadn't been happy, as Swoop had expected. He gave Swoop a stern lecture on following the rules, only ceasing when Swoop stated that his sensors had given no warning prior to the attack. After considering this fact for a moment, Prowl decided that perhaps Skywarp had teleported the Trine on top of him in order to attack him unawares. Certainly it was not the first time an Autobot was caught out by that tactic. However, Prowl said, there would be someone accompanying him from now on in any future excursions, to provide cover as necessary. Swoop willingly accepted this condition.
Prior to his release from the medbay, Swoop was questioned as to who had repaired his main energon lines, for his levels were dangerously low when Ratchet and a few others finally got there and no one else was detected in the area. In fact, the medic said that he should have deactivated before his distress beacon had ever gone off. The delay prior to the distress beacon triggering was further puzzling to them.
In-between the time he awoke and the time he was questioned, Swoop had thought hard about how to answer this inevitable question. He knew the truth was rather unbelievable, but at the same time, lying didn't sit well with him either. In the end, he responded by saying he had been in too much pain to really note who his benefactor was. He knew from the looks on their faces he wasn't really believed, but the matter was dropped silently. It helped that Grimlock was present, effectively discouraging further questioning. Swoop knew his brothers wondered as well, but collectively seemed to have decided that he would speak when he was ready.
Perhaps one day, Swoop decided. But not now. Grimlock has already spoken of going after the Seekers and did not understand when I insisted that he and the other Dinobots not retaliate.
When word of his request got out, none of the other Autobots understood it either, particularly the Twins. Swoop responded to the general disbelief by declaring that he just simply wanted to put it behind him. There were grumbles, but his feelings were generally accepted though he had the feeling some would go after them on principle anyway.
The moment he got the opportunity, he delivered the stranger's message to Bluestreak. The gunner had momentarily been at a loss for words. Then he hugged Swoop and thanked him. The message meant more than he knew, Bluestreak said. He told Swoop the story of what had happened to him at the time Praxus occurred. After finishing his tale, he then asked if Swoop could identify him, becoming slightly downcast when Swoop said he couldn't. Swoop felt guilty on seeing this and quickly added that he was sure the mech was still looking out for them and perhaps one day he'd get to meet him. The wide smile Bluestreak gave him suggested he'd said the right thing.
Even now, two weeks later, Swoop didn't understand why his enemy had assisted him after nearly killing him, but there had been something in his voice, an old sadness. It had the air of someone who had seen too much and truly regretted his actions, which didn't seem to fit with what Swoop knew about him. Plus, the silent approach he'd made didn't seem to fit his profile, either. It was almost as if he was talking to another mech entirely. Or maybe he was talking to...
Suddenly, the air around him seemed to grow colder.
No, it's impossible...Isn't it?
Swoop shivered. This line of thought was making him uneasy somehow.
On second thought, I think it best if I say nothing and go on as if nothing happened. Perhaps one day, I shall tell the truth to Bluestreak as well as my suspicions, explaining to him that I said nothing at the time as I felt it seemed unbelievable. Given his experience, plus the description he gave of the mech, something tells me he would believe me and understand.
Upon making the decision, Swoop pushed himself off the entrance frame, sparing one final thought for the matter.
Good luck to you, Starscream. May you one day find peace.
Swoop turned around and entered the Ark, stopping only when he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard a soft "Thank you." He whirled back around, but saw nothing. Completely unnerved now, he turned and fled to the room he shared with his brothers, glancing over his shoulder the entire way.
The Seeker stood in the hall, unseen, observing Swoop flee down the corridor. The moment the pteranodon Dinobot disappeared around the corner, he sighed.
Starscream was fully aware he had taken a great risk confirming his identity to Swoop, but it appeared the Dinobot realized no one would believe him if he did say anything, and besides delivering the message to Bluestreak, had chosen to keep his own counsel.
And yet, so often Starscream wished he could declare his identity. Just as he so often wished he could do something to change or influence the events leading up to the war, but aside from the oh-too rare times where he could solidify himself to aid when he could, he was powerless to do so.
All I can do is continue as I have been, making sure that events play out as they should.
Perhaps, if I do this, I will finally be granted forgiveness and allowed to rest.
I will make things right.
A sad smile appeared on his face.
Even if it takes an eternity.
"Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest...is silence..." – Dinobot's final words (Beast Wars, Code of Hero)