Words: 3,200 words
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John/Rodney, Elizabeth, Ladon Radim, Dalhia Radim, OCs
Warnings/Spoliers: #21.5 in the Ancient!John 'verse, set between parts 1 & 2 of "Manes;" spoilers for SG1's "The Pegasus Project" and SGA's "Coup D'etat"
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: In which the Genii return
Notes: This was meant to be a drabble. It became something far more. And is very important to the rest of this series (ie, this is where we start to get really AU.
Caduceator means hearld or messenger. Leuchaemia is leukiemia. Lymphocyi are white blood cells. Lien is spleen. Lecur is liver.
An Alliance exists betwee soverign nations. A Confederacy is between semi-independant states.
Oh, yes, and Imperator means Emperor.
An Ancient!John Story
It's a tossup, really, as to whether Iohannes hates the Wraith or the Genii more.
The Wraith, after all, are just trying to survive. They may be cruel and capricious, but they only cull the Descendant worlds to feed. The Descendants raise and slaughter cattle for the exact same reasons and no one calls them evil - for the most part, anyway. So, yes, they may have destroyed four of the five great urbes-naves that had left the home galaxy so long ago and slaughtered millions upon millions unchecked over the millennia while he slept, but they had never done any of it out of malice.
Well, except maybe what they'd done to his own people, but that was survival too, in its own way.
But the Genii...
The Genii may, in fact, be truly evil. At the very least, they're villainous in the extreme. They are liars and cheats, who've fallen prey to the same delusion Iohannes' own people had ever suffered: that, because they are the most advanced culture in the galaxy, they are naturally it's masters and may do with it as they please. They may have the most noble of intentions (id est, the destruction of the Wraith), but they care nothing for the individuals they sacrifice to this goal.
To say nothing of their attempted takeover of Atlantis and all that had entailed.
So it really is a tossup: the Wraith, who have no choice but to kill, or the Genii, who have become that which they seek to destroy. If pressed, he'll go with the Wraith, but only because he's got a couple thousand years of baggage with them.
But he still hates the Genii with the particular vengeance he reserves for those he'd gladly destroy if ever given the chance.
Iohannes enters the lower level of the Gate Room unnoticed after learning from 'Lantis that one of their allies has brought the Genii to meet their god, which is precisely how he wants it.
Most the eyes in the room are on Elizabeta and the ally in question, Caileon Pero, father of the Taranin girl who'd asked if he was an Ancestor months ago. They're paused about halfway up the Gate Room stairs, arguing as this is the sixth such introduction Caileon's made in half as many weeks despite having been told after each that Iohannes and Atlantis would rather be left alone. But Caileon remains persistent in thinking that since it was his daughter Iohannes revealed his true nature to that it is his job to spread the word of the Ancestor's existence: Iohannes' own private caduceator.
Those few eyes that aren't on Caileon and Elizabeta have guns in their hands and are directing them at their Genii guests: one a young blonde woman with shadows under her eyes and a gaunt face he does not recognise, the other a dark-haired middle-aged man he knows all too well.
"If it isn't Ladon Radim," Iohannes says, causing half the room to jump in surprise. "What d'you want?"
"I'll only speak with the Ancestor."
"And why'd you want to do that?"
"I've no wish to spend what little time we have bantering with you."
"Why?" Iohannes asks with a grin, approaching the ring the sentries have made of the space in front of the porta. "Afraid I'll give you another crack to the head if you annoy me?"
"Hardly, Major. I'm just not interested in talking to the errand boy."
"That's Lieutenant Colonel Errand boy to you."
"My felicitations," Ladon says dryly.
"And to you. Becoming First Minister, that must have been difficult, particularly when you had Cowen so convinced you were his right-hand man. Then again," he adds, a smile starting to split Iohannes' face as watches Ladon's eyes widen with surprise, "maybe not, as you managed to have Kolya thinking the exact same thing and look how it turned out for him."
Suspicious now, Ladon steps forward - not much, but just enough to stand in front of the woman, who's yet to speak and looking paler by the minute. "How do you know these things? How many spies do you have among my people? Is Caileon one of them? Is this story of an Ancestor returned nothing but a ruse to lure me here, to behead the Genii leadership and get revenge in one fell swoop?"
"It's not a ruse," Iohannes snorts, sidestepping Gunny Blake to stand inside the perimeter the sentries have formed. "And Caileon's not a spy. Misguided, maybe, but not a spy."
Ladon's eyes narrow. "Then how?"
Which is, naturally, the point at which Caileon notices he's arrived.
"Lord Iohannes!" the Taranin shouts, tripping down the stairs two at a time in his effort to reach him. "Milord Iohannes, it's go good to see you again." Caileon skitters around the Gunnery Sergeant to stand inside the circle of guns, utterly uncaring of the weapons he's placed in front of himself. "I know you said that I should stop bringing people to meet you, but then I was away trading on Genia and found out that they'd not heard about you, Milord, so I told them how one of the gods had returned to deliver the galaxy from the Wraith demons, and how you rescued my people from the volcano and gave us our new homeworld, and how you healed Caitria and saved her baby.
"She's near to bursting, Caitria, by the way, and she says that if it's a boy she's going to call it Iohannes after you, Milord-"
"-or maybe John, since it'll be easer for a young'un to say. Either way, I was in the marketplace, telling the folks about your return when Genii Gendarmerie came and took me to the Reichstag so I could tell the Ministers. And then First Minister Radim here asked me to take him to meet you and maybe see if you could heal his sister, Dahlia, and so here we are. I knew you wouldn't mind."
Iohannes pinches the bridge of his nose.
He can feel the faith bleeding through the Taranin's words, Caileon's ardent belief in Iohannes' divinity creating sending a steady stream of strength to his god. It's not much - barely a thimbleful against the barely-constrained ball of energy Iohannes has become since his Ascension, - but with every convert the self-made missionary makes, more thimblefuls make their way across the galaxy to him, the one man within it who can make use of it's power.
The word of his existence has made it's way to twenty-three worlds already. Not every person on each has heard nor do all that do believe, but the faith of thousands makes a respectable addition to the power already at Iohannes' command. And this number grows daily, to the point that word will have reached every ear in Pegasus before the year is out.
Iohannes has little temptation to use this power as of yet. For the moment, mastering the most basic of skills is enough for him. It is a struggle still to touch, though he can manage it with some concentration. Even then, it is only the crudest of facilities - pressure without subtly, sensation without sharpness - lacking any fine detail. He may not be able to feel the heat of Rodney's body or the softness of his skin, but he can now at least feel the body wrapped around his when they lay in bed. That he has managed so much in six weeks gives Iohannes hope that the rest will come to him with time.
But time is his curse. Perhaps, while the faithful are few, he will be able to resist the urge to use the power they give him. Perhaps, while his friends live, he will be able to check the urge even after the entire galaxy has fallen prey to their particular brand of haeresis. Perhaps he will be able to combat it for a long time after.
But thirty thousand years is a long time. Iohannes doesn't know how strong he may be, but he knows that when the moment comes and his ill-gotten power is the only thing that stands between his enemy and the destruction of Atlantis - and that day will one day come, - he will use every ounce of it at his command to save her. And then the others will carry out their threat and destroy the homeworlds of all of his worshipers and he will be left alone and powerless in an utterly lifeless galaxy, unable to anything but contemplate his own damnation among the echoes of an empty city-
That is, unless he is powerful enough to prevent the others from doing all those planets, in which case he will be no better than the Haeretici the Terrans now fight and equally deserving of destruction.
No, it is better that it never comes to that. Best to squash this new haeresis now, before it becomes a problem. Which Iohannes may very well be able to do, but only if he can convince the likes of Caileon Pero that he is not a god, has never been, and never will be.
Iohannes releases the bridge of his nose and opens his eyes. "Caileon."
"I know you mean well, but we've talked about this."
"I know you say, Milord, but what other explanation is there? No one but a god could do the things you've done."
Iohannes breathes in deeply and exhales slowly. It serves absolutely no purpose but he's discovered that there are times when deep breaths are necessary irregardless of one's metabolism. All too many of these involve Caileon.
Elizabeta, luckily, saves him the trouble of coming up with something to say after this breath by saying herself, "Caileon, why don't we go to my office so that Colonel Sheppard can sort things out with Ladon? I'm sure there's a lot they need to talk about."
It's a minor miracle, but Caileon takes the bait and bounds back up the stairs, either completely missing or misreading the look Elizabeta sends Iohannes' way. The one that says he's going to owe her for this, big time.
And then there is silence-
-but only for a moment.
"So," Ladon enjoins at the end of it, examining Iohannes as if he were something small and interesting beneath a microscope, "you're an Ancestor."
Ladon nods thoughtfully, as if this new information explains some things he had been curious about. "You're also obviously not a god."
"No," Iohannes agrees, so pleased to have someone recognize this that he catches himself smiling at the Genii First Minister. He can't bring himself to care. "My people may have created yours, but we were as mortal as you are."
Ladon continues nodding. "I have often argued that the existence of so many Ancestral artefacts is proof enough that our forebears were not divine beings, but it is not a popular philosophy among my people. Most would rather still believe that our good luck and level of advancement are proof that we, out of all peoples in this galaxy, are the Ancestors' chosen people."
Yes, Iohannes remembers now. Ladon is a man of science above everything else, even his political aspirations. He was only a soldier because all Genii were soldiers, at least for a time, and had only remained in service as long as he had because his skill-set had been deemed irreplaceable. He is the Rodney of the Genii, and if that isn't a moderately disturbing thought, Iohannes doesn't know what is.
"If you do not believe, why did you come?"
"It is as Caileon said: my sister is sick." He gestures at the woman behind him. "I had hoped there was truth enough to his claims that she could be cured of the illness in her blood."
"We can have Carson take a look at her. There might be something he can do for her."
"No," Ladon says, shaking his head. "I have seen your medicines. They are advanced, but not much more than our own, and our doctors say she has very little time left to her. What she requires now is a miracle."
"You don't believe in miracles."
"I would believe in anything, for her sake."
The words, "Stand down," tumble out of Iohannes' mouth almost of their own accord. Despite his hatred for the Genii, he cannot deny the sincerity behind the First Minister's words. It may make him as big a fool as Cowen and Kolya, but he wants to trust Ladon.
The sentries lower their guns.
"Thank you," Ladon's sister says. So far, it's the only thing she's said the entire time she and her brother have been on Atlantis, and sounds so thin and reedy it's heartbreaking.
Ladon steps back and wraps a protective arm around her shoulders. "My sister does not like guns."
"Yeah, well, I don't like it when people try to take Atlantis from me, so forgive my men for being a little twitchy."
"As a member of Kolya's strike team, I was following orders. I harbour no ill will towards you or your people, Ancestral or otherwise."
"I believe you."
"Then you will allow us to return to Genia?"
Iohannes bites his lower lip. It's stupid and will probably only fuel the haeresis when Caileon hears about it, but... "I'd like to try to heal your sister first. If that's alright with her."
He holds up a hand, letting it flare with white light. "Let's just say I'm a tad bit further along the evolutionary ladder and leave it at that."
Ladon looks to his sister. "It's your choice, Dahlia."
Dahlia looks between Iohannes and her brother several times before asking, "Will it hurt?"
"Then what do I have to do?"
"Give me your hands," Iohannes says, stepping forward, "and try not to pray."
Dahlia's hia's sickness is a leuchaemia of the ymphocyti.
In some ways, this is lucky, for, order to become tangible, Iohannes has had to learn how his own body is supposed to work. Carson's focus for this week's Intro to Alteran Biology had been on the circulatory system, and so the knowledge how how her blood is supposed to be is fresh in his mind.
But Dahlia is also in the final stages of her disease. There are diseased cells in her lien and lecur as well as her blood. A mass as formed within her left lung. Her body is dying. Dahlia will be dead within a month without intervention.
So Iohannes intervenes. He cannot repair the diseased cells, but he can burn them from her body and fix the error that caused them in the first place. He can do nothing for the mass either, but Carson should be able to remove that easily enough once she has created new lymphocyti. But there are so many diseased cells...
He heals her in under five minutes.
He doesn't even feel winded.
They take her to Carson anyway, just to be sure. And while the good doctor examines Dahlia in the Observation Room, her brother questions Iohannes on the balcony above.
It's oddly like being questioned by Rodney - or, at least, as it had been, when he'd still been a shiny new specimen for Rodney to study, in the first weeks of the Expedition. Now that it seems his sister will live, Ladon seems hopeful, almost cheerful, and the scientist within him is starting to bleed through.
So is the politician.
"I do not understand. Why do you chose to hide what you are?"
"The Genii did just that for millennia."
"For self-defence," Ladon protests. "We never would have been allowed to develop as much as we have if the Wraith had known the full extent of our civilisation. But you are an Ancestor-"
"Alteran," he concedes. "Your knowledge and power is unmatched by anyone in this galaxy. What have you to fear from the Wraith?"
"I am just one guy."
"You have two hundred soldiers under you command."
"You have several thousand."
"But don't you see?" the Genii First Minister is practically vibrating now, as if his excitement cannot be contained within his body, but must form a haze of feeling about him as well. "An Ancestor would be a rallying point for the peoples of this galaxy. Too long have our individual worlds waged individual wars against a common enemy. We must all of us join together or the Wraith will destroy all of us in time. And the only thing that could unite us under a single banner is an Ancestor."
"No," he insists. Vehemently, pushing away from the balcony railing and retreating to the far corner. Bracing himself against the wall there, Iohannes crosses his arms and reminds him, "I am not a god and won't pretend to be."
"Then don't be one," Ladon persists. "The people of this galaxy are not stupid. They have merely been denied the chance for their civilisations to progress. Give them a little science, teach them a the true history of this galaxy, and they will see you for what you really are."
Iohannes snorts. "And what am I, First Minister Radim?"
"The last member of the greatest race that ever lived. Not a god of old, but a teacher of men - and a friend to all the peoples of this galaxy, even those who would do him harm."
He arches an eyebrow now. "And are we friends, First Minister?"
"Dahlia is the only family I have left in the universe, Colonel, and you healed her without asking anything from my people in return. If that does not make us friends, then I would certainly like to become so."
Iohannes uncrosses his arms. "I will not be a god."
"You won't be," Ladon promises.
"I've no burning desire to rule the galaxy either."
"Nor do I. Honestly, that was Cowen's dream. All I want is what's best for my people. And if that's a thousand planets united beneath an Ancestral ruler, then that's what I'll take. And if that ruler is little more than a figurehead, ruling in title alone, so much the better for all of us.
"So, what do you say? Do we have an alliance?"
Iohannes shakes his head. "The time of alliances is over," he says, recalling the broken pact that had once remained between the Asgard, Alterans, Nox, and Furlings and of which he would soon be the last surviving member. "They may, however, be ripe for a confederacy."
Ladon smiles at him, wide and honest and true. "Then I think we've the start of a very profitable friendship, Lord Iohannes."