Title: Legati (8/8)
Words: 2,237 (of 16,683)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, Elizabeth, Zelenka; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: part 8 of #14 in the Ancient!John 'verse (see part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). General spoilers for "Aurora" and "The Lost Tribe," and anything to do with the Asgard
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: Things end. (Finally.)
Notes: *insert profanity here* Words cannot explain how glad I am this installment is over (that'll teach me for biting off more than I can chew), or the depths to which I sunk to finish it. Well, I say depths...
It should probably be said that this, while containing mostly the same content as what I'd planned for this chappie, in no way came out like I expected it would. I, personally, think it's too dialogue-heavy, to say nothing of how chunky it is. I almost deleted it the way I deleted no less than 12 of it's predecessors, but then I figured hell, it's never going to get any better than this, so, yeah. It's done. finally. *insert more profanity here*
(Also, when I say Atlantis' Avalonian Point of Orgin, I mean the circle-and-line bit from the Beta Gate, not the pyramid from the alpha gate they use on their patches.)
An Ancient!John Story
"So that happened," Iohannes says, pushing off the door of Elizabeta's office.
She looks up from her laptop, clearly startled. "Colonel. I didn't know you were back."
"Thor just beamed me down. Major Lorne's sticking around for a while longer, just in case they need a gene user."
"Why would they-?"
"Well, it's kinda a long story."
Elizabeta gestures at the small couch in the corner – the one he hauled into her office himself after the first time he'd caught her dozing at her desk, waiting for a team to return from off-world – and he gratefully sinks into it. Words cannot describe how glad he'll be when this day is finally over.
"Well, first of all, I'm sorry for being such an ass earlier."
"No, I was. It's just..." he sighs. After a moment of twisting, he lays supine on it, legs bent at the knees to make them fit. "Having the Asgard here was supposed to help, y'know? Heimdall and Sigyn were supposed to find the answer to their cloning problem with the old incubiti, so that they could help with the Wraith and the Haeretici and mopping up what's left of the Goa'uld in your galaxy. Them being here was supposed to solve everything."
"John," she says softly. "The Asgard have been trying to find a solution to their cloning problem for millennia. I think even they knew coming here that the chances of success were slim."
"I know, but still. You've no idea how much I wanted to save them."
"I'm sure they'll come up with a solution in time."
"Not so much, no. The problem is worse than they're letting on. They'll be extinct within a few years."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. It's one of the more useful tidbits I brought back from when I Ascended." More gruesome as well, but Elizabeta doesn't need to know that. No one does. Not even the Asgard, though Iohannes supposes they're just as privy to all the painful details as he is.
"Yeah. After he checks out some things on Sagremor for me and drops Lorne off here, Thor's going to take the Muspelheim back to Orilla. Things to get in order, y'know."
Elizabeta very carefully says nothing. After all, what can anyone say when learning Terra's oldest and most stalwart ally is going to be dying a very painful death sooner rather than later?
"But anyway," Iohannes continues after a moment, his voice hoarse from lack of sleep (and nothing more). "He and Lorne are going to Sagremor because the ship that attacked us, the Brísingamen, was looking for something. A key of sorts, to a weapon Father built there when attempting to find a way to destroy the Wraith."
He can hear Elizabeta's chair squeak as she leans forward. "What sort of weapon?"
"Well, it wasn't a weapon in the traditional sense. It was more of a device, one that could jam up the Wraith's hyperdrives without harming our own, basically leaving them easy pickings for our lintres. He dismantled it when he learned that one of its side-effects was the spontaneous detonation of the portae."
"Yes," she says slowly, "you mentioned something along those lines once. The Attero device, I think? I tried looking it up in the database but all my searches came up empty."
"Huh. That's odd. It was actually Council-sanctioned research for once so it should've been there..."
"Maybe he deleted it himself?"
"Possibly. I dunno. All I know is he promised me – he swore to me on the ashes of our forefathers – that he'd destroyed Attero after seeing what it could do. But, apparently," he adds, weary but unsurprised – Father had never kept any of his other promises; he's hardly staggered to find he's broken another one all these thousands of years later – "all he did was hide the key, 'cause the Vanir found the device, figured out what it could do and came looking for the rest of it."
"I'm sorry, who are the Vanir?"
"Rouge Asgard with a history of human rights violations longer than they are tall. Your lot have never heard of them 'cause the Asgard took care of them while I was in the cathedra. Or, at least, they thought they did. Thor's a little embarrassed about that, so he's agreed to destroy the research outpost on Sagremor – the planet where the device is located – for us. And when I'm done here, I'm gonna try tracking down the key."
"Atlantis is a big city. We've been here eighteen months and have barely explored a third of it. There's a chance you may never find it."
"Did I mention Thor took prisoners before blowing up the Brísingamen?
There's distinct exasperation in her voice when she says, "No, you didn't."
"Yeah, it's another reason he's so keen to get back to Orilla. But, as I was saying, he took prisoners and the prisoners said that they didn't pick up the subspace signal they tracked here until a week or so ago. Since I started showing Rodney around some of Father's more secret labs around then, it's probably a good bet the key's in one of them."
"And the Vanir?"
"My guess is that they came in cloaked, saw the Muspelheim in orbit and decided to wait until she was gone to try getting their hands on the key."
"So," she surmises, "when Thor left this morning to fly you out to the Aurora, they thought he'd left for good and planned their raid for that night, not knowing that you were coming straight back."
"Exactly – although I think it's yesterday morning by this point."
"For almost two hours now."
"God," she groans before snapping her laptop shut. "I hadn't meant to stay up so late."
"So you weren't waiting up for me then?"
"Goodness, no. I figured you'd show up at breakfast refusing to tell us about any of it and decided to cut my losses and try to put together a report for Stargate Command about all of this."
"Now that's just hurtful."
"Well honestly, John? You don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to full disclosure on these things."
"I think I've been awfully upfront with things, actually."
"Really?" Elizabeta laughs with obvious disbelief.
"Hey, I told you when you did it that you'd end up regretting making me your military commander. That's pretty upfront."
"Oh, John, I don't regret that at all. It's just..."
"You just wish I was the kind of Alteran you wanted to find." He finishes for her. "Don't worry about it. You're not the first person to ever think that."
"Look," he sighs, "in case you haven't noticed, I take pride in not being like others. It's kinda my thing. Maybe not the best thing to have but it's worked out pretty well for me so far. And, I mean sure, sometimes it means I end up giving C4 to people like the Genii but it also means that Atlantis and everyone on her is still alive, so I'd guess the books are still balanced in my favour."
"Which I suppose brings us to the other side of this conversation."
Iohannes sits up, surprised. "This conversation has sides?" When had that happened?
"Yes. It does," Elizabeta insists. Now that he's sitting up, he can see her fiddling with the pendant on her necklace and trying to meet his eyes. "If you feel the need to apologize for earlier, it's only right I apologize for having put you in that position in the first place. I know how uncomfortable the very idea of you or your people being worshipped makes you, especially in light of everything that's going on with the Ori back in the Milky Way, and I should have seen the position I was putting you in."
"It's not your fault. You didn't realize you were doing it."
"Maybe not, but that doesn't change the fact that I was putting you in an impossible position. For that, I truly am sorry."
Iohannes isn't good with feelings but he puts all that he has into, "I know you are."
"Elizabeta. It's okay. Really. Now stop apologizing, please. It's starting to make me feel guilty again."
"Okay than," she smiles, rising to her feet. "Now, it's been a long day and I think we could both use some rest. So, see you at breakfast?"
Iohannes doesn't even try sleeping. He knows he won't be able to, not while Rodney's still hooked up to Aurora's neural network. So he stops by his quarters for a book and the mess for a Thermos of the Athosians' trademark stout tea then heads to the linter's infirmary.
Though on some level he'd known that they wouldn't have left his amator in here alone, he's still surprised to find Zelenka there with a tablet and a carafe of coffee doing much the same.
"Colonel, I thought you might show up. Come; let me show you what I've been able to map of the damages to the ship's systems, as well as a preliminary schedule for repairs. Provided that Daedalus has not left Earth, it may be possible to have her space-worthy by the end of June. Maybe earlier, depending on what you know about these vessels and what McKay is able to learn from the crew."
"They're not going to show him anything," Iohannes says, slumping on the floor next to the Czech. "They're probably just running him around while they try to get a handle on the situation themselves. When they finally come to terms with the fact that what he's telling them is the truth, they'll probably demand that we shut off the pods right away and let them die peaceful deaths."
"You sound awfully certain of this, Colonel."
"Believe me, I wish I wasn't."
Zelenka sighs heavily before handing over his tablet. "Well, is no matter. We will figure out how to make this ship work with or without their help."
"That's the spirit."
Iohannes is, naturally, exactly right on what Rory's crew decide to do. Sure, it takes them twelve hours to come to their decision, but they come to the same conclusion regardless; they want to be disconnected from stasis as soon as possible and the only help they're willing to give in the interim is the sort which the Expedition doesn't really need, id est, lessons on how to run the life support and toggle the inertial dampeners.
He could almost hate them for that, except that even that much is more than he would ever have expected his people to do for any of their Descendants. It's interference of the most minor sort and when Iohannes learns of it he almost demands that Rodney hook himself back into the neural network and stay there until he's managed to brow-beat them into more. He doesn't but only because he knows that the only arguments that could work would have to come from his own lips and there's no chance of that ever happening, not when he can't enter the network without seizing and they can't come out without dying. Not even long enough for him to say goodbye.
The biggest surprise, however, comes after they start removing the crew from stasis. Specifically, when they're about to remove Mother's body from from her pod and Rodney suddenly shouts, "Hang on a second. I almost forgot," before removing the orbis from her collar and handing it to Iohannes. "She wanted you to have this."
"No she didn't," he says automatically, looking at the small silver disc in his hands. It's old and worn, with Atlantis' Avalonian point of origin symbol embossed upon its surface, and more than likely an heirloom passed to her by her grandfather, Iohannes Alder Legatus, for whom he'd been named. Odds are it goes back still further, to some distant legatus in his maternal line whose name has been lost to the ages or, at least, to him.
In short, it's exactly the sort of thing he doesn't deserve and Iohannes moves to place it back on Mother's collar, where it belongs.
"Yes," Rodney insists, pressing the orbis back into his hand and looking like he can't quite understand when Iohannes had gotten so dense, "she did. I told her everything I knew about what you'd done since she'd gone into stasis and she said you deserved it, particularly if you were going to be commanding a ship, so stop fishing for compliments and just take it already."
"But-" he starts, uncertain as to which hole in his logic to exploit first, but Rodney, being Rodney, cuts him off again.
"She wanted you to have it," Rodney repeats, and that's the end of it.
Iohannes thinks he could get used to that.