Words: 1,645 (of 16,683)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, sentient!Aurora; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: part 5 of #14 in the Ancient!John 'verse (see part 1, 2, 3, 4). General spoilers for "Aurora"
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights.
Summary: In which Iohannes' mother makes an appearance of sorts.
Notes: I know I promised more cursing in this installment, but then I was like, I like this section, I'll post it now and, well, that was that. That being said, I've switched from "< >" for mental communications to "/ /", largely because I got tired of having to go in and edit it for AO3 and ff.net. Oh, and Aurora's speak is fiddly, I know, but she's a young intelligence, so bear with her. She'll get better with time.
Broceliande was an dangerous forest in Arthurian legend. Caracalla was a type of Gaul cloak that lent it's name to a Roman emperor, who favoured the style. Acadia is a version of Arcadia, a legendary utopia. Hemiolia is the Alteran name for a puddle jumper. Ingeniarius is engineer. And I'm working on revamping my glossary, so hopefully it'll actually be helpful for the future.
An Ancient!John Story
/Lan-te-an?/ the voice asks, thin and plaintive as it brushes against his mind, no stronger than the rustle of new leaves in spring or silk folded upon itself.
"Yes, delicia," Iohannes answers aloud, willing his voice to steadiness as he press both hands flat against the floor. The ship beneath him starts to pulse with life – slowly, painfully, uncertainly – beneath his touch, but it's still not enough. "I'm pastor Atlantis. I'm here to take you home."
/We are so lost, past-or,/ she whimpers. /We tried for so long but home is so far a-way and we did not know which way. Please, take us home./
"It's okay, delicia. The linter I came on is going to grapple on to you and take you home."
/It is not Lan-te-an./
"No, it's not. The Muspelheim is Asgard."
He can feel the confusion racing through the linter, even through his thick rubber gloves. /As-gard?/
"Yes, Asgard. They're in your databanks somewhere, aren't they?" he asks worriedly. "They're part of the old Alliance. Allies."
/Where are the Lan-te-an lin-ters? Where are our sis-ters? Why have they not come for us?/ Aurora asks, quaking not, he thinks, because of grappling hooks hitting her hull but her own anxiety and agitation.
It's enough to bring Rodney's voice over the comm again, demanding to know what is going on and then, when no response is immediately forthcoming, to warn him that the rest of the team is suiting up and will be beaming over in five.
But Iohannes is keenly aware that the linter he's on has never known another intelligence. She's come into sentience in silence and, no matter how grateful she seems to be, his presence is something foreign to her. Even if she's not obviously mad, she could kill him with her actions out of thoughtlessness alone. Add to that the fact that Rodney's gene is artificial while Teyla and Ronon lack it entirely and he's not letting anyone else step aboard Aurora until they get back to Atlantis. At least not until he's managed to calm her down somewhat.
He doesn't say all this, however, not wanting to frighten – or aggravate – such a young and largely unknown intellegentia artificialis. All he dares say is, "Negative. Do not beam until I've given the all-clear," before quickly turning his full attention back to Aurora and asking, "You do remember the war, don't you?"
/The war,/ she repeats, as if the words don't strike any immediate cords.
"The war against the Wraith. You were Antonious Alder's flagship, part of the fleet that destroyed the Wraith stronghold in the Brocelianden Massing. You were at Sagremor and Caracalla and Acadia. Don't you remember?"
/We re-mem-ber Sag-re-mor. Er-y-the-i-a was de-stroyed. The nav-arch-us was so a-fraid for his frat-ris fil-ia. We took man-y hits to res-cue her hem-i-ol-i-a. She be-came our her-es af-ter./
"Yes. She was Chief Engineer of the Erytheia from almost the moment she joined the Guard." She was brilliant, his mother, and blond, and beautiful. In a way, he's glad not to have known her, if only to be spared her inevitable disappointment with him.
/Most of our in-gen-i-ar-i-i were killed in the last bat-tle. The her-es tried to help but could not./
"What happened? What do you remember?"
The floor beneath him jerks, violently enough that, had Iohannes still been standing, he'd most likely have been sent tumbling into the nearest wall. As it is, he's thrown a couple of feet into the base of the nearest console and, as one might expect, his pressure suit does little to soften the blow. /It is sec-ret./
Suppressing a groan, "No, no, delicia. It's okay. It really is. You can tell me, I'm pastor Atlantis, remember?"
Her music falters, the linter momentarily uncertain, before picking up again stubbornly. /It is top sec-ret./
"Ah, but I'm Trebal's son, Iohannes Ianidedus Licinus Pastor. You can tell the heres' son what happened, can't you?"
There's a long, dragging silence, in which even the heavy percussion of Aurora's song is dulled and mute. Then, /You are the her-es' son?/
/The nav-arch-us' grand-nephew?/
"Yes," he says, and there's another pause before-
/We still can-not tell you. Please, pas-tor, take us home./
Iohannes sighs and climbs back onto his feet. "Okay, delicia. I'll take you home now. Are your hyperdrive engines working or does the Muspelheim need to use the grappling hooks?"
/Hy-per-drive and sub-light en-gines are op-er-at-ion-al. Shields, life sup-port, and nav-i-gat-ion sys-tems are non-op-er-at-ion-al. Stasis u-nits are at sev-en-teen per-cent of op-ti-mal func-tion-al-i-ty."
The cold, sinking feeling returns to his stomach. "How many made it to the pods?"
/Six-ty-three, in-clud-ing the nav-arch-us and her-es./
"I see," he says shakily. No one can survive for that long in stasis, he reminds himself, forcing himself to ignore the fact that he'd done exactly that. All he's going to find when he opens the pods are slightly warm corpses. Then, more steadily, "If the Muspelheim opens a hyperspace window, do you think you could follow after it, or will you need to be towed?"
/We can fol-low, pas-tor./
"Good. That's good, delicia. That's very good. Now – Rodney, you still listening?"
His comm crackles to life. "Yeah, for all the good it did me. Now, why do I have the feeling you're wanting to do something even more ridiculously stupid than beam onto a damaged ten-thousand-year-old spaceship by yourself? Like, oh, say, hitching a ride back to Atlantis on said damaged ten-thousand-year-old spaceship?"
Iohannes smiles to himself. "They don't call you the smartest man in two galaxies for nothing."
"Well, it's easy when it comes to you; all I have to do is think of what a normal, sane person would do in any given situation and assume you're doing the exact opposite. But seriously John, you can't stay aboard Aurora when we're trying to pull her through hyperspace. Even Thor doesn't think it's a good idea and you know how pro-Ancient he is – what?" Rodney says, presumably to the Asgard in question, "Well, you are. And don't try to deny it. If somebody other than John had asked you to fly us out here, don't tell me you would've agreed so readily."
Iohannes doesn't hear Thor's answer – that is, if he even bothers to give one – and just shakes his head before continuing, "Her engines are working, so you won't need to grapple her. Just make sure the hyperspace window stays open a couple extra seconds and we'll follow after."
"Yeah, but I think you might find the lack of life support to be a bit more problematic."
"I've got eight hours of air. Well, seven-and-a-half. I'll be fine."
"You say that now but what about when Aurora breaks down halfway back to Atlantis?"
"Rory won't break down," he says, running a soothing hand along the console he'd crashed into. "She's a good girl."
"Rory now is she?"
"Well, Aurora is an awfully long name for such a little girl, don't you think?"
Rodney just snorts. "And you say I have no naming capabilities. But look, you just can't ride a damaged spaceship through hyperspace."
"I think," he says delicately, "Rory would be happier if I stayed."
"When you say happier, do you mean in a Madison, stay with me until I fall asleep, happier way, or something more HAL, this mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it, happier?"
"Er... the first, I guess. Kinda depends, though."
"Depends? Depends on what?"
"Who or what is a HAL?"
Iohannes can practically hear his amator's nonplussed expression over the comm. "Right," he says after a moment. "Never showed you that one for a reason. Look, as long as the ship's not homicidal, I'm beaming over there."
"What happened to you can't ride a damaged linter through hyperspace?"
"Nothing-" Rodney begins, only to be cut off, apparently by Thor beaming him aboard, as the Terran appears a second later in the engine room next to him. "Seriously? Right in the middle of my sentence again?"
"The Asgard are known throughout the universe for their bad manners," Iohannes sympathizes – though it's less for Thor's treatment of him and more for the way Rodney's hands fly up to his ears (or, rather, as close to them as he can get through his helmet) as Aurora's song takes a turn for the fortississimo. "Hey now, delicia. It's okay. This is Rodney – but you can call him Moreducus. He's a custodia. And an engineer. He's going to fix you up real pretty, okay?"
/Cust-od-i-a?/ she repeats.
"You remember what that means, Rory?"
Her song calms at this, which Iohannes takes as confirmation. /He will fix us?/
"As much as he can. There'll be whole teams of engineers waiting to fix you when we get back to Atlantis but he's the best – she's asking," he tells Rodney, who's pulled out his tablet and is presumably working on interfacing with Aurora's systems, "if you're going to fix her."
"Well, I'm certainly going to try. But first things first: life support, then shields and then-"
The Terran is cut off once more as the linter makes the distinctive lurch that signifies a jump into hyperspace, which is strong enough to send both of them crashing into the far wall before leaving them in an inglorious heap on the floor.
"Make that inertial dampeners, then life support, then shields," Rodney groans.
"Good idea," Iohannes agrees.
Aurora just laughs and her voice is like bells on a cool spring night.