Words: 3,300 (of ?)
Pairing/Charecter(s): John/Rodney, pre-Lorne/Zelenka
Warnings/Spoliers: #18 in the Ancient!John 'verse; immediately before "Allies"
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: They've taken him.
Notes: Almost everything I can say about this one would give away the story. Except that I decided retroactively that I liked ending "Messias" with part 3 and that this - and the other chappie of this, which I promise will be the last - is the end of S2. And that I tried 15k itterations of this before realizing, quite abruptly, what my problem was and, well, after that this kinda just flowed. Though needless to say this is not the story I planned on writing, and that it changes quite a lot for the future of the AJ 'verse. (Just saying.)
In other news, coniurati is conspirators in Latin and takes it's name from the CJ Cherryh book of the same name, though has little to do with it in plot or otherwise. Držte chvíli ... Zde jsme is Czech for Hold a moment... Here we are. Oh, and this takes place 2 days before the Wraith arrive on Atlantis, ie 22 May, 2006.
An Ancient!John Story
There's a screaming in his head.
There's a screaming in his head that could wake the dead, which is very nearly what it does when it wakes Evan from a deep, heavy sleep. It's not just a headache, it's like there's a wild animal trying to claw it's way out of his head through both of his ears simultaneously, and it's all he can do to stumble his way into the en suite and down a couple (read: half-dozen) aspirin with a handful of water from the sink.
Evan doesn't know how long he lays on the floor of his bathroom, waiting for the pills to get to work, only the screaming gets worse the longer he lays in the dark, and after a while he gives in and makes his way to the infirmary as best he can.
He hears the shouting there long before he reaches the door.
"No, I'm not going crazy," someone insists at full volume, and such is the pounding in his head that he doesn't realise the someone is McKay until he reaches the infirmary doors and can see the man carrying on, his arms flying widely and the entire medical night shift trying to contain him. "He's gone, and I need you to shoot me up with the nanoids I know you have from John's last blood sample if I'm ever going to figure out what the hell happened to him!"
"Rodney," Doctor Beckett says unreasonably patiently, holding his hands out as if to show he's not going to suddenly stick anyone with anything, "if you'll just have a seat and let me get you something for your head, I'm sure we'll be able to come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation-"
"How many times do I have to explain it, Carson?" McKay continues, caterwauling, "One minute I was fast asleep, the next thing I know my quarters are filled with a bright white light and not only is John gone, but 'Lantis starts sounding exactly like she did when he flew that jumper into that hive ship last year, only worse because Rory's joining in too."
"I'm sure if you try radioing him-"
"I've tried radioing him. I've run sensor sweeps for his life signs. I've checked the logs for both the Stargate and the jumpers."
"He could be on Daedalus-"
"I've already asked Hermiod. His scans have picked up exactly nothing. And before you say it, I've already tried emailing Atlantis, but all I get back is a long string of he's gone and they took him, which is why I need you to do whatever voodoo you need to do to get the nanoids out of John's blood samples and into me, so I can figure out who the hell took him."
"I'm fairly certain that's nae how it works-"
"Then figure out how it works," McKay says passionately, throwing his hands up in the air and making for the door, "or I'll find someone who will." It's then he notices Evan. "Major-"
Evan holds his hand up to forestall any questions. "I've not seen Colonel Sheppard."
"I figured that, Major. Where's Zelenka?" he asks instead, looking around as if expecting to see Radek pop out of the shadows behind him.
God, he'd not realised that his crush had gotten so out of hand that McKay could pick up on it. "I don't know, sir."
"Huh," McKay says as if this is an interesting bit of news he'd liked to investigate further before shaking himself and continuing, "Well, wherever he is, find him and get him to-"
"Actually, I'm here to get something for a headache-"
"Like there's screaming in your head, but you can't make out the words?" At his pained nod, "Don't bother. The only thing that'll stop it is getting 'Lantis and Rory to calm down, and good luck on that happening any time soon without John."
And, with that, McKay marches past him, a man on a mission, if a seemingly demented one at that.
Once he's gone, all the eyes in the room slide to Evan. With a gesture, Beckett dismisses all but two of them. "Come on, lad. Let's see what we can do for that headache of yours."
"I'm sorry, but what part of they've taken him do you have trouble understanding?" Rodney demands, not even bothering to keep his voice down. He doesn't care if the folks in the Control Room can hear ever word he's saying - hell, he wants them to hear. He wants every one of the worthless idiots to know, as if the weight of public censure alone will force Elizabeth to be reasonable for once in her life.
And, sure his voice is starting to get hoarse from all the yelling he's been doing since God only knows what hour of the morning, but it's better than giving in to the prickling feeling that's been welling behind his eyes for almost as long.
This is not how it's supposed to happen.
This is not how their story is supposed to end.
He has no idea how it is supposed to end, but God knows it's not like this, with John being taken from their bed in the middle of the night with not so much as a by your leave. He would think he would at least merit that much, no matter what opinion most Ancients seem to have of their Descendants.
Rodney sits down. It's only by luck there's a chair behind him.
He thinks he's going to be sick.
Elizabeth puts what is surely meant to be a consoling hand on his shoulder and he shrugs it off to let his head fall between his knees. 'Lantis' song in his head has shifted from one long, deafening scream to one long, deafening wail and in the spaces between the notes he can hear the blood rushing through his head at a hundred beats a minute, maybe more. Rodney is about ready to climb up the walls from it, and he can't even hear the words. How does John stand it?
Not that it matters, because John would never have to deal with 'Lantis in a strop again if Rodney can't get him back. Which means finding a way to hear the words Atlantis can't seem to calm herself long enough to put into a way he can understand as he is now. Which means becoming pastor, no matter how much the idea still kind of freaks him out on a deep, fundamental level. All those millions of tiny robots, crawling beneath his skin, digging into his brain; altering him on a fundamental, irrevocable level-
"Rodney," Elizabeth says placatingly, "even if what you say is true-"
"-and John has been Ascended against his will, what do you expect us to be able to do about it?"
"This may be a radical concept, but how about try to get him back?" He lifts his head quickly, to better glare at her, but that really makes him feel like he's going to be sick, so he lowers it again just as quickly.
"And how do you propose to do that, Rodney?"
"I dunno. But 'Lantis knows something-"
"I'm going to stop you right there," Elizabeth says, her chair squeaking as she sits behind her desk. "Even if Atlantis knows something-"
"-and even if becoming a pastor like John is the only way to find out what-"
"-we don't have the way or the means to do so, let alone the time for you to undergo brain surgery before the Wraith hive ship gets here in two days."
"It's only one hive. John said that he could take out one hive in five minutes."
"But the Colonel's not here," Elizabeth reminds him. It's like a punch to the gut.
"All the more reason," he points out, lifting his head more slowly this time and seeing only half as many spots in front of his eyes, "that it needs to be done." The rest they can figure out as they go along.
Elizabeth takes a long, deep breath and lets it out again just as slowly. "Have you taken the time to consider that maybe John didn't Ascend against his will?"
Rodney's on his feet and shouting, "What!" before he's aware of doing so.
"He did it once before."
"To save Atlantis!" he says shrilly. "You know how he feels about, about everything, Elizabeth - the Others, Ascension, the Exodus, all of it. He would never Ascend unless it was the only way he had to protect Atlantis."
"Maybe it was."
"That's ridiculous. It's only one hive ship." John had had to keep biting his lip to keep from laughing at how seriously everyone else was taking it, as if the idea of a single hive being any match for an Alteran city-ship with charged ZPMs at its disposal was the funniest thing he'd ever head.
"Just hear me out, Rodney. What if it wasn't about the Wraith?"
"What else could it be about?"
"He did just tell the Taranins that he was one of their Ancestors."
"So what? He is one of their Ancestors."
"So the word's spreading. We've already been contacted by two of our trading partners wanting to know if it's true or not and it's only been ten days since the Taranins resettled on Pryderi. John figured that it would be six months before everyone in Pegasus knows what he was, but, at the rate things are going, I think we can safely say that's a conservative estimate. And given everything we know about the Ori..."
Her words would hang in the silence if Atlantis hadn't renewed her raging as if in answer to them.
"Elizabeth, this is John we're talking about. You know he'd never go Ori."
"He certainly seemed to think it was a possibility."
"Yes, well," he huffs, "John's physically incapable of thinking anything decent about himself."
Elizabeth gives him a look, the kind usually reserved for parents when their kids are finally coming around to the idea that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren't real. "And if he thought that Ascending would be the best way to protect us, either from himself or from reprisals by the Others, don't you think he would do it?"
Rodney gapes, then gapes some more. It does sound like something John would do, but- "But what about Atlantis? Why would she be saying they took him if nobody did?"
"Denial is one of the stages of grief," she says, standing. For a God-awful moment it looks like she's going to hug him, but she doesn't, if only barely. Instead she puts a hand on each of his shoulders and says all too earnestly, "If you want to take some time..."
He shrugs out of her hold. There's a part of him that still wants to shout, to force Elizabeth to see the sense in his words, but mostly he just feels deflated. Numb. Broken even. The prickling behind his eyes is starting to win out. "No, no, you're right. We've only got two days before the Wraith get here. I should..." Rodney waves at the door and is out of her office - and decidedly not looking at anyone - before the words are even completely out of his mouth.
He thinks she calls his name, but he's already halfway across the Control Room and not turning around for anything.
"This is Lorne," Evan says, keeping one hand on Aurora's bulkheads as he answers his radio.
The SGC can make all the noises they want about Atlantis being just another FOB, but the Expedition is really just a colony eked out of some really high-end real estate, and as such things like binnacle lists and days off tend not to really amount to much here. Before Colonel Sheppard went astrally AWOL, Evan was supposed to have the morning off, in view of the twenty-hour shifts he's been pulling trying to get Aurora and Atlantis and Orion ready for the Wraith. Now he's technically supposed to be taking the day off, in view of his rather epic headache, but he's now acting military commander of Atlantis until such time as they find Sheppard or the IOA confirms his appointment. And, for all it seems like Evan does ninety percent of Sheppard's job for him, it turns out he really, really doesn't. Sure, he may be Lord High Steward of paperwork, but Sheppard, he keeps everything going in a way he's never really had need to appreciate before. Part of it's because, well, there's a hive ship on the way and there's a lot more to keep going than usual, but also because no one seems to think Sheppard's coming back from this one.
Evan knows. He's had three calls to that effect already this morning, and that's not even counting the ones where people had danced around the subject.
Doctor McKay's voice crackled over the comm. "Major, where are you?"
"Is Zelenka with you?"
He decides to take this as an honest question, borne of the fact that Radek's the one tasked with overseeing the repairs to Aurora while McKay himself works on Orion, rather than anything else. "He's with the teams patching the hull on-"
"Well, find him. We need to talk - the three of us. You know a good place to meet up on Aurora?"
"The captain's quarters should do the trick, sir."
"Good. I'll be there in ten," McKay says before the comm goes dead.
Evan leans back and lets his head sink into the pillow. "Looks like we're having company over, Rory," he tells the ship, patting her with the hand still on her bulkhead. The lights overhead turn up slowly, giving his eyes time to adjust to the change in light. "Guess we'll have to finish the story later."
Aurora's song twitters mournfully in Evan's head.
"I know. I miss Sheppard too." He taps his earwig again. "Doctor Z?"
"I believe you are supposed to be resting, Major," Radek says immediately, struggling to be heard over the grinding of metal and the shouts of the work crews trying to patch - and, in many places, rebuild entirely - Aurora's hull. It's ugly work, in every sense of the word, but it gives her character. (Not like Orion - but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.)
"I'm not gonna ask how you know that," he grins at the ceiling. "Think the guys can spare you for a few minutes?"
"Possibly. Why? What trouble have you managed to get yourself into?"
"None at the moment, but McKay is on his way, so that's sure to change any second now."
"Why is-? No, on second thought, it is better if I do not know. Tell me where you are and I shall come and take him off your hands for you."
"You're a lifesaver, Doc."
"But not mindreader. Location please, Evan."
He pauses, trying to think of a way to say it without sounding off his rocker, then blazes on anyway because, well, a ten thousand year old Ancient warship thought they are married, so who was to say he isn't? "Aurora's captain's quarters."
"I see," Radek says, clearly amused.
"Don't laugh. It's quieter."
"I am sorry, Evan, but I am having trouble hearing you over the shiplift - it is quite loud - and my English is not so good sometimes. Could you repeat that?"
"Yes, but inside it's all nice and quiet. Especially now that I've got Rory calmed down some."
"Now that," Radek insists, the sounds of the repair work starting to fade away, "I would have thought that would be impossible, considering the circumstances."
"To be honest, I don't think she fully understands what happened."
"I do not think any of us fully understand what happened."
"There's that," he agrees, "but Rory less so."
"Perhaps the quiet, as you say, will help McKay as well."
"Maybe," Evan says, although personally he doubts it. He'd not seen McKay in the infirmary this morning, looking not so much like the world was tumbling down around him but rather that it had simply ceased to exist and no one else had noticed. People don't just bounce back from something like that, if they ever do.
Radek sighs heavily over the comm, as if he'd heard everything not said. "That is my fear as well. Držte chvíli ... Zde jsme." The line goes dead at the same moment the cabin doors slide open. "Ah," he continues as the doors slide shut behind him. "Maybe you are right. If this is quieter, I do not wish to know what louder is."
The light is still dim enough to hide Evan's blush as he pushes himself into a sitting position, leaning heavily on the headboard with his legs spread in front of him. "It's worth it, though."
Radek doesn't argue the point. He just sits down at the opposite end of the bed and starts telling him about all the progress the repair crews have made installing the new hull platting this morning until Doctor McKay arrives a few minutes later and announces without preamble, "It looks like we've got to get John back ourselves."
"What's the plan?"
The plan is this:
Amongst many of the other complaints that can be made for Carson's form of medicine, he is a vampire probably intent on bleeding them all dry before the Wraith have a chance to do it in a slightly less literal way. Which means that he invariably has blood samples for half the Expedition on hand at any give time. Add to that John's rather accident prone ways and there's almost a guarantee that Carson will have a fresh sample of his blood.
And John's blood contains nanoids. Not a lot - they mostly live in the brain and spinal fluid - but they use arteries and veins to get around, just like everything else in the body. They'd be lucky to get a couple dozen nanoids from a normal-sized blood sample, and it takes a couple million of the things rattling around inside a person to allow them to speak to Atlantis.
Because they've got to talk to Atlantis. Because she's got to know more about John's disappearance than just they took him. And they've got to find out who has him (Rodney refuses to believe that he Ascended of his own free will, whatever Elizabeth seems to think) before they can get him back.
But as long as they can get at least a few nanoids, Hermiod should be able to replicate as many as they'll need using Asgard technology.
("Of course he'll help. He's not going to let John disappear until he gets a chance for a rematch after their last chess game."
"Hermiod and the Colonel play chess?"
"It's part of their alien support group or something. I don't ask questions when it comes to those two.")
And once they have the nanoids, they have Aurora's fully operational infirmary to preform the surgery.
("Rodney, in case you have forgotten, we are not that kind of doctors."
"But we've got two custodiae anda sickbay full of Ancient medical equipment, and all we really need to do is drill a hole in my head. People have been doing it for hundreds of years back on Earth without bothering with the useless degrees before hand.")
Then, once the nanoids are in place, he can find out just who took John, and they can figure out phase two from there.
Presuming everything goes according to plan.
"Just one problem, sir."
"Only one?" Radek snorts.
"You're not having the surgery. I am."
Onto Pars Dua