Words: 1,938 (of 6,000)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Teyla, Hermiod, OCs; background John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: #17 in the Ancient!John 'verse; post-"Inferno"
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: The truth cannot stay hidden forever.
Notes: So, I intitially planned for this arc to be a story into itself, but decided to blend it in with the season finale, making this the last story in S2 of the AJ 'verse. IDK how many parts it will be, but that's what it'll be. It intially gave me great trouble, and admittedly the next part is giving me equal amounts of trouble, but it's my hope that by posting what I already have here that some comments will inspire the rest of it.
1) Messias does, in fact, mean Messiah in Latin - but I intend for this to be read in the original meaning of the word, ie a saviour or liberator of the people than a religious, though I suppose it can be read that way again. 2) The chess moves are taken from a RL game between Alexander Cherin and Viktor Kupreichik in Minsk, 1987 - mostly because I know nothing about chess except that I always lose to my brother, who wasted HS playing games rather than doing anything, or so it seems sometimes. The moves are 59-67 and it was the longest game I could find all the moves for online; it eventually ended after 164 moves with black winning. 3) There is in fact a story in mythology where the Norse god Hermiod is sent to Hel to bring Baldr back to Asgard. And while I included this to show how Hermiod the Asgard might feel about his time aboard Daedalus, I recently discovered that Baldr is one of the gods from the oldest Norse legends, who had the greatest ship and greatest hall ever built - all of which could be supposed to be a reference to John himself, if you really wanted to push things.
An Ancient!John Story
Iohannes has been expecting it. He's been expecting it every minute of the past two days, ever since he popped by the infirmary to ask after the Taranins they'd saved from volcanic eruption on their planet. Carson had already released most of them to their guest quarters, where they are staying until Elizabeta and their Chancellor Lycus can find a suitable planet for them to relocate to, but he'd been keeping half-a-dozen overnight for observation.
Smoke inhalation, after all, does terrible things to the lungs.
But, anyway, there had been six of them. Carson, however, had been sure that all of them would make a full recovery. All of them except for one young woman who was five months pregnant and who, for medical reason Iohannes honestly didn't understand, might lose her child because of it.
Maybe he'd done it because of 'Lantis' strange baby-fixation. Or because the young woman had been lying in the same bed he'd helped Captain Cadman to die in barely a month before. Or because he couldn't watch Carson lose another patient so soon. Or maybe...
Well, it doesn't matter why he'd done it, only that Iohannes had gone over to the young woman and, after making sure she was sound asleep, placed a hand over her stomach and done all that he could with his healing ability to save her child. And he'd succeeded in that - or, at least, Carson had thought he had - but he'd failed to ensure the curtains around the young woman's bed were fully closed.
Or that the girl asleep in the bed opposite had actually, in fact, been asleep.
He's been expecting this very thing ever since, but Iohannes is still surprised when she runs up to him in the mess on the afternoon of the second day and - clearly, distinctly, and with the presumptuousness of the very young - asks, "Are you an Ancestor?"
The entire mess falls silent. Even the Terrans, who know the truth, seem to be curious as to how he'll answer.
Iohannes hands his tray to Teyla, who's standing next to him in the lunch line, and kneels down in front of the girl. "What's your name?" he asks her.
"Raicheal. Raicheal Pero, Sir."
"Well, Raicheal Pero, why d'you think I'm one of the Ancestors?"
"'Cause there was the volcano, but you saved us from it by putting us on the Ship of the Ancestors and taking us across the stars to the City of the Ancestors."
"Lots of people helped save your planet, Raicheal. Teyla, tell her how you helped."
"And," the girl continues loudly, talking over whatever Teyla might've said, "the healer said that Caitria's baby was going to die, but then you placed your hand on her and there was this white light and now the healer says her baby's gonna live. None of the others did that."
"And all that means I'm an Ancestor?"
Raicheal nods. Vigorously.
"Well, Raicheal," he says, focusing all his attention on the Taranin girl and forcibly ignoring everyone else, "you're right. I am what you'd call an Ancestor. And you know what?"
"You're the first person to figure that out in a long time. And that makes you very smart. Smarter than most adults."
Raicheal beams at him. "Does this mean I get a prize or something?'
"Yeah," Iohannes grins at her, unable to help himself. "I think we can arrange that. What d'you want?"
She screws up her face real tight, thinking, before announcing, "Can I have another one of those cookie things? Mother said I could only have one, but I think that being really smart means I can have another."
Laughing now, "Okay. But just this once. Believe it or not, mothers usually know what they're talking about."
"I know: Mother is the smartest, bestest mother in the whole world."
"Good for her. Teyla, can you-?"
"Here you are, John," she says, handing him a cookie.
He takes it and hands it to Raicheal, who flashes him another brilliant smile before running off into the crowd.
-the crowd, which remains silent for a moment, but looks as if any moment it might erupt into a furry of prayers and protestations.
Iohannes climbs to his feet. "Y'know," he tells Teyla, who's favoring him with one of the most concerned looks he's ever seen from her, "I'm really not all that hungry anymore."
She tries to say something, but he's out the mess before any of the Descendants can find their voices.
"I find your reaction to this situation most curious," Hermiod admits, blinking at him in a way that suggests he's more amused by this situation than anything else. "Bishop to H4."
On the tablet between them, the black bishop slides itself across the board and captures white's last pawn.
Iohannes frowns and examines the board. "Knight to F2," he says eventually, adding the question, "Why?"
"The Asgard have often found it expedient to pose as gods among those civilizations not advanced or aware enough to understand the truth of our existence. I do not understand why it should be any different for you with the people of this galaxy... Bishop to G5."
"I think you'll find the keyword in your sentence to be posing. It's not sliding into a role, it's..." He trails off vaguely, wishing that they were playing with something other than digital pieces, so that he might have something to fiddle with while he searches for the right words. Eventually, "When the Asgard go to some primitive civilization and pretend to be gods, that's all you're doing: you're pretending. Sure, some of the stories that they tell about you might be adapted from things that really happened to you, but, no matter how much truth gets mixed in, it's still always just a part you're playing."
"Indeed," Hermiod agrees, adding wryly, "though I must admit that the Tau'ri of old told a tale wherein I was sent on a journey to their underworld, Hel, which I find most apropos to my current situation."
"Hey, now. The Terrans aren't that bad. Certainly more interesting than my people ever were."
Inclining his head, he agrees - with the caveat, "But very young."
"Eh, maybe. But you've got to admit they're learning fast."
"Precociousness isn't wisdom, but a suggestion that the child might one day be wise."
"Careful now, Hermiod. It's starting to sound like you actually like the Terrans."
The Asgard's eyes narrow. "Do you intend to place your move or not?"
"Oh, I dunno... Rook to B6."
"King to H5."
"That's just... Rook to E6."
"Rook to A2."
Iohannes scowls. "Next time, we're playing cards. Poker, I think. I bet you'd have a great poker face, buddy."
"Or you could simply abandon the pretense of this diversion and ask outright for my advice on this matter."
"Rook to E2," he says, his scowl sliding into an outright pout even as his piece moves to capture the one of the two remaining black pawns. "It's not like you haven't made your opinion on the matter painfully clear."
"I believe I have only expressed my surprise at your reaction, rather than any particular suggestion regarding it. Rook to A1. Check"
"Knight to D1. But you think there is nothing wrong with pretending to be one of their gods if it suits our ends."
"Indeed. But," Hermiod adds, raising a finger to forestall the protest already on his lips, "as I believe you were attempting to explain, the Asgard have only ever pretended to be gods. We have never claimed divinity in our own right. The people of this galaxy consider the Ancients - and, therefore, yourself - to be gods precisely as you are, without exception or reservation. To be rightfully acknowledged as a member of your own race is also to be considered divine, which is a wholly different matter entirely. King to G4."
"But the cat's already out of the bag - the whole mess heard me tell Raicheal I was one of their Ancestors, and odds are that anyone who wasn't there has heard about it three times over by now. Rook to B2."
Hermiod is silent for a long moment. Then, unblinkingly, "Licinus? May I ask you a question?"
Iohannes used to hate his cognomen. He used to hate it with the same passion Rodney seems to hate his praenomen, Meredith, but, stellis in universum, he's almost pleased whenever Hermiod uses it. It's ridiculous in the extreme, but it's nice to be reminded that John Sheppard isn't all that he is - some of the time, at least.
Still, he raises his eyebrow before saying, "Sure. Shoot."
"Why did you heal the Taranin woman's unborn child?"
"'Cause I didn't want the kid to die. Obviously."
"And why," Hermiod continues, blinking once with painful slowness, "did you not tell the Taranins who you truly are when you first learned of the Ancient warship in their possession?"
"''Cause I didn't want it to seem like I was tricking or forcing them to hand the linter over."
"But you told the truth when the child asked."
"Look," he sighs exasperatedly, "it's not like I could outright lie to her face. What are you trying to get at here?"
"If, as you say, the cat is already out of the bag, the Taranins will worship you as a god regardless of your actions or explanations. But you have been nothing but kind and selfless in your interactions with them and all the peoples of this galaxy. So, if they must worship something, should it not be someone such as yourself, who embodies all the traits of a good and principled person, who acts with integrity and honor in all things?"
Laughing darkly at this, "I think you think far too highly of me, my friend."
"And I think you have become so used to thinking poorly of yourself that you are inured to your inherent goodness."
Iohannes stops laughing. "You're delusional. You mean well, Hermiod, but you're completely and utterly delusional."
"Or allowing others to acknowledge it's existence. King to F3."
He's quiet for a long while, finally moving his rook to B3 - and checking the black king - before saying, "It's Haeresis to let them think I'm a god."
"It is impossible to control what others think. King to G2."
"So what?" he snorts. "I'm just supposed to let them pray to me? Treat me as a god? You do know what happens when my kind starts thinking of themselves as gods, right?Rook to B2."
"Tell them the truth. They are a reasonably advanced race and their knowledge of the Wraith has prepared them to accept the existence of other intelligent lifeforms more readily than had their civilization been allowed to take its natural course. But do not expect them to believe you right away. It will take time and patience on your behalf for them to rid themselves of their superstitious beliefs, as it will with all the other peoples of this galaxy. In time, they will come to understand the truth, but, until then, so long as you remember that you are an Ancient and bound by all the limitations thereof, I do not believe it will constitute your Heresy. King to G1."
Iohannes ponders this. It sounds reasonable enough, but still leaves him feeling uncomfortable, like he's treading dangerously close to a line which must not be crossed. "I'd sooner let Atlantis be destroyed than allow myself to become like the Haeretici."
"And for that reason you will not," Hermiod says reasonably. "Your move."
On to Pars Dua