Words 2,500 (of 6,500)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John/Rodney, Cameron Mitchell, Daniel Jackson, Carson Beckett
Warnings/Spoliers: part 2 of #21 in t Ancient!John 'verse see pt 1) immediately after "Imperator;" spoilers for SG1's "The Pegasus Project," and tru SGA's "No Man's Land"
DisclaimerTitle 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: In which Daniel has various heart-to-hearts.
Notes First, this one was a b*tch to write, and appeared in several iterations before this came to me, so see the various drabbles for things-this-might-have-been. Two, I never liked Cam, but I promise that everything he says needs to be said - think Rodney in "48 Hours." Three, my html editor is giving me fits, so this has only the most basic of coding, so you've been warned. Also, Four, if you really want to waste a couple hours, see my new and improved timeline for this 'verse, in more user-friendly format than ever before; I wasted three days writing/coding it.
And we're in the final days now. I'm 46 days out from shipping out, and while it is my goal to get as far as "The Return, pt1," I cannot say for certain if the muses will agree with me. I will do my utmost best to get there, and to return to this verse as soon as possible afterwards, but there will be a period of at least 9 weeks (12 Feb thru early May) in which I will be unable to post. And while the 18 months of A schools I need to go thru afterwards should keep me in constant internet access thru the end of this verse, I have no idea how much free time I'll have to write.
But I shall try
An Ancient!John Story
"So," John asks without looking up from where he's sprawled on the floor of the Chair Room, "Ganos give you what you need?"
Daniel sputters. Upon discovering that the Map Room hologram of Morgan le Fey had not been a hologram at all but rather the actual Ascended Ancient who'd designed it in the first place, Daniel had torn through Atlantis looking for the lone inhabitant who could have known the truth - and, quite possibly, the locations of Castiana and Sahal - all along. He'd expected an argument or, at the very least, some denial of the truth, after calling John out on it. Because that's what Ancients do: they speak in riddles and half-truths and get pissy when they're called out on it. So it's safe to say that he's a little surprised that John's not playing the same games.
John glances away from his magazine - a three-month old International Journal of Number Theory dedicated almost in it's entirety to his solution to the Riemann Hypothesis - just long enough to verify that Daniel's still standing in the doorway before flipping the page. With a smirk, he adds, "Yeah, Ganos generally has that effect on people. Believe it our not, she's actually loosened up over the millennia. You'd not believe what she was like back when I had her for school growing up."
For some reason, Daniel's only able to process the tail end of this. "Morgan le Fey was your teacher?"
John snorts, as if this is somehow funny. "Why do you think she made the teaching program in the first place?"
It's Daniel's turn to frown. "Why would she need to make a hologram for you? I imagine the Ancients had one of the best public education systems the universe has ever seen."
"The Academia was shut down about twenty years before I was born," he shrugs. "There just wan't any point in keeping it up when there weren't any kids being born in the city - and there weren't for a long while. Then Ganos had Josua, so everyone thought it made sense for her to teach him, and then I was born and everyone thought they might as well have her teach me too... But that was a mistake. Obviously. I think we managed four or five months before she started building the hologram instead. Not that it was much improvement, but at least it was easier to skip out on." John looks over at Doctor Becket, who's sitting in Atlantis' Control Chair, looking nothing short of terrified as he grips the armrests, "How's it going, Carson?"
The doctor's eyes snap open. Hardly any of the whites are visible. "Bloody awful, that's how it's going. Look, I know what you're trying to do here, but I'm nae your man. I'm a doctor! A medical doctor! You should be teaching Major Lorne how to use this-"
John rolls his eyes. "Lorne can already use the cathedra just fine. But he's got Rory to look after, and I might not always be around. So the honour falls to you as the next strongest gene carrier."
"Well what about Lieutenant Edison then? He's got the gene - and the military training."
"Sorry, Carson. 'Lantis likes you more. So just close your eyes and try to concentrate."
"I'm keeping an eye on things, so don't worry: you couldn't hurt anything if you tried."
Carson doesn't look convinced, but he does as the Colonel asks.
This interlude gives Daniel the time to get his head back in the game. "You knew that the hologram was Morgan le Fey all along." It's not quite the accusation he means it to be, but it's close enough. It at least forces the Ancient to look his way, to take his outrage seriously.
Still, all his anger gets him is a nonchalant shrug and the words, "Yeah. It was kinda hard to miss," before John turns back to his goddamn magazine, apparently uninterested in Daniel's protests.
"Why didn't you tell us?"
John doesn't even bother to look at him this time. "What good would it have done?"
"Good?" he repeats, sounding shrill even to his own ears. "Who cares about good? Do you have any idea how big a deal something like this is to us?"
"I had noticed something along those lines, yes."
"Then why didn't you come back? You could have convinced her to stay, to help us in our fight against the Ori. You could have made her listen to reason!"
The Ancient snorts, continuing to flip through his magazine. "I think you're grossly overestimating Ganos' opinion of me."
"But you could have helped!"
"Forgive me for getting distracted by more important things, like whether or not Atlantis is about to be invaded by a militaristic race of Descendants with an overdeveloped sense of jingoism and an underdeveloped understanding of the atom."
"And what might happen to Atlantis is more important than what will happen to an entire galaxy unless we get some help, and soon?"
"Yes, exactly." John says this so simply, so causally that for a full thirty seconds Daniel has no idea what to say.
Silence reigns. Even Carson, busy trying to get a reaction out of the Control Chair as he is, seems shocked at this. Then, utterly disbelievingly-
"You can't mean that."
The Ancient tosses his magazine aside carelessly. It lands with a louder thud than Daniel would've thought possible from that sort of thing. "Yes, I can," John says slowly, as if his words might get confused if he goes any faster, "and I do."
"How can you say that? I know what Atlantis is and what she must mean to you, but what's one city against the lives of hundreds of billions of people?"
"If you can ask that question, you'll never understand the answer," John tells him, rising to his feet and making for door opposite the one Daniel's still standing in. "C'mon Carson. I promised Ronon and Teyla I'd pick them up from the mainland. We can try this again some other time."
Carson mutters something under his breath about never again as he climbs out of the Control Chair, but Daniel isn't paying him much attention. He's too busy trying to tamp down on the surge of anger that's rising in him.
Ancients are supposed to be moral-
-and, "God damn it," he's suddenly saying to the Colonel, who's already halfway out the far door.
John turns in the doorway, his robe swirling around him like shadows, and looks at Daniel expectantly. And in that instant, he looks to Daniel's eyes to be incredibly alien - not just different, but utterly beyond human understanding. It's only for an instant, but the impression lingers, as if what was once seen can never be unseen.
It only makes Daniel angrier. "I'm sick and tired of all these hidden clues and cryptic messages," he snaps. "I know you think of us as little more than children, and maybe we are compared to you. But we can't help that. We are young. We're still evolving, still growing. But we're the only ones out there fighting them. And maybe we don't have a chance of winning, but we're the only chance you've got.
"So just stop already with all these stupid games and tell us what we need to know," he implores, "Or, better yet, actually help us, because it's your neck on the lines too. Because, if we lose this war, every soul left alive is going to be praying to the Ori, feeding their need to be worshipped. And then they're going to come after you. And they will utterly destroy you."
John is unmoved. Hell, he doesn't appear to have moved at all, or even breathed. "I've given you all the help I can."
"What help?" Daniel tsks, still fuming. "The only help I've gotten from you is a couple of words about how nobody's going to help us."
"There's no white knight in this scenario, Doctor Jackson. No one's going to come riding to your rescue. There's nothing more I - or Ganos, or Moros, or the Asgard, or anyone - can do to save you. It's time for you to start saving yourself."
"What help?" he repeats, outrage slowly giving away to bitter resignation. He should've known that John would be as useless as the rest, for all the noise he makes about not being like the others. He's still an Ascended Ancient. Despite the pretences, he's still working from the same playbook. The apple cannot fall far from the tree and all that.
John just shakes his head, looking amused and indulgent, like Daniel really is nothing more than a kid in his eyes. "Look, Terra isn't the centre of the universe. It's not even a particularly interesting corner of it, if you ask me. It just happens to have beaten the odds a couple of times, But, yeah, you're family, so if I can help you out, I will. But don't expect me to forget about my responsibilities here and go running off to save it."
"I don't understand. You're Ascended now. You could stop them right now, if you wanted."
"Not that strong, Doctor Jackson," he chuckles, "but thanks for the vote of confidence. Now if you could just make it a little less like blind faith, that'd be great. I've got enough feckless worshipers already; I don't particularly want another one."
Daniel throws his hands into the air. "Then you could convince the others to help! I'm sure all of you together could stop them easily."
"Probably." John flicks his eyes towards the ceiling, - "Possibly," - and back to Daniel. "Maybe. I don't really know. I don't think anyone does. The kind of power a whole galaxy of worshipers must give them..." He shudders. "Now, I've really got to go pick up Teyla and Ronon from the mainland. We have some heavy-duty pow-wowing to do for next week."
"Why?" he narrows his eyes suspiciously, still not certain that the excuse isn't just a cop-out for the rest of their conversation. "What's going on next week?"
"Treaty talks with the Genii. If everything works out, we'll be well on the road to having a real life Federation of Planets, Pegasus Edition, before the year's out."
Daniel blinks. Definitely not what he'd been expecting, that's for sure. "Seriously? That's amazing."
"Oh, yes," John says dryly, starting off down the stairs, "'Cause emperor of the galaxy was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up."
Daniel blinks again. "Wait," he says, then blinks some more. "Wait, Colonel Sheppard," he asks, running after him, "what do you mean, emperor of the galaxy?"
It takes three days for Odyssey to limp back from the black hole, damaged as it is by both passing too close to the event horizon and an attacking Wraith hive. It takes another three days to get it space-worthy enough to risk the trek between galaxies, but, in truth, Daniel's grateful for the delay. Any time that he can spend in Atlantis is worth it, despite the hurried nature of their visit.
"It's not like we can't visit again," Cam tells him on the day they finally leave as Odyssey enters hyperspace.
"I know, it's just, I can't help but thinking that, if I only had a little more time, I could convince Colonel Sheppard to actually help us."
"I don't know, Jackson. That guy is weird, even for an alien. I think you'd have a better chance of convincing the sun not to shine or, I dunno, Amy Vanderburg to go out with me."
"Who's Amy Vanderburg?"
"Doesn't matter," he says, shaking his head. "The point is, the dude's whack. I mean, I think he spent half the time we were there talking to himself."
"You mean the city," Daniel corrects, though even he has to admit he found that creepy, especially when Atlantis didn't reply in ways mere mortals could see.
"So he claims. Just face it Jackson: the last living Ancient in the universe is bat-shit crazy. I mean, I'm sure he wasn't exactly a model of sanity before, but ten thousand years plugged into a giant computer has got to mess with your marbles - and not just a little bit, either. I'm talking about two quarters short of a dollar, half-a-burger short of a Happy Meal here."
"Maybe, but when you consider what John's been through, he's holding up remarkably well."
"When you consider what Sheppard's been through," Cam snorts, "you've got to consider if you want a guy like that in charge of a military outpost."
Daniel looks at him askance. "What are you saying? That just 'cause Colonel Sheppard's got a few issues he's got to work through he should be replaced?"
"A few issues? Jackson, the guy can't even touch anything without thinking about it for ten minutes, to say nothing of the fact that he's got the start of his very own religion going over here. I mean, if this keeps up, John Sheppard could be the next Big Bad we've got to deal with."
Shaking his head, "I'm not so sure. I mean, he's done a remarkable job up until now..."
"Yeah, but now he's one step away from becoming the mother-fucking God-Emperor of Pegasus. I don't care how good a guy you think he is underneath all the crazy, nobody's that good. And you know what they say about absolute power. You've certainly seen what the Ori have done with it."
"Maybe, but Colonel Sheppard's got two things that the Ori never had."
"What's that? A boyfriend and a sentient, fully-armed flying city?"
"No," Daniel says dryly, "Well," he admits, "you're half-right anyway. Rodney and Elizabeth will keep him in line, you'll see."
Cam just crosses his arms and stares out the window at the streaks of light going by, unmoved by his words. Daniel just hopes to God that he's right about John.
And then Daniel remembers that the God of the Pegasus galaxy is John, and the beginnings of fear start to claw at him.