Pairing(s Character(s): Ancient!John/Rodney, Elizabeth Weir, Niam
Spoiler Warnings: #22 in th Ancient!John 'Verse; "Progeny"
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I don't even own the humorous (and legally useless) disclaimer you're reading now.
Summary: Asuras still stands
Notes This one was honestly going to be a one-parter, but then I wrote and rewrote it so many times that I have to post what I have or I'll never finish. Various things that might help with understanding/enjoying this fic are the new and improved timeline, the shiny new mixes, and the (rather old) family tree. So if any of you reading the "appendices" picked up on this before now, go you.
Also, "Daemones" is "Demons."
An ncient!John Story
"Just the people I needed to see," Rodney announces, trying to contain the spring in his step as he enters Elizabeth's office. "You'll never guess what I-" He looks from Elizabeth, who's sitting behind her desk with a half-bemused, half-beleaguered expression, to John, who's flopped across one of her armchairs like some kind of boneless fish with an open book in his lap, and back to Elizabeth. "Am I interrupting something?"
Elizabeth gives him one of her most charming smiles. "No, not at all."
"Elizabeta's teaching me about Roman Catholicism," John tells him, lifting his head off one of the armrests and twisting around to better face him.
He raises an eyebrow at Elizabeth, who's smile remains unabashed. "Is she now?"
"She thought it might be a good idea for me to learn about various Descendant religious movements, y'know, considering I am one now. Plus," he adds, pushing himself fully upright - head against the back of the chair, feet on the floor, - "I was bored."
"Bored? How?" He's fairly certain that John and Carson have been devoting several hours a week to what the former has taken to calling 'Introduction to Alteran Anatomy 101' on the theory that knowing about how a humanoid body is supposed to work will allow him to overcome his Tactile Dysfunction. Between that, the nine or so hours he spends in daily meditation towards this end, and his normal workload, Rodney's not certain it's physically possible for the Colonel to be bored. Even without a physical body.
John just shrugs. "You'd be amazed the kind of free time you have when you don't need to sleep. Or eat. And there's only so much time you can devote to contemplating your hypothalamus before the urge to inflict bodily harm on something becomes overwhelming." He snaps his book shut. Now that Rodney can see the cover, he see's it's a copy of the Biblia Vulgata. He has absolutely no idea where John might have gotten ahold of it and, strangely, that's the most bizarre part of the whole thing.. "If you're curious, it's eighty-six hours and twelve minutes."
"And, before you say it, no, I can't just move on to something else. The brain is all I have left and it's just-"
Rodney raises the hand not holding the tablet. "I wasn't going to say anything," he tells him honestly.
Running a hand through his hair, "Yeah," John sighs. "Yeah, sorry. I'm not really cut out for this whole Ascended shtick, y'know."
"It's alright." They'll work through it. Somehow.
"What'd you want to show us anyway?"
"What? Oh, yes. I found something in Janus' notes about a research base he once worked on. He wasn't very clear on what research was being done and neither was the Ancient Database, but the entry did say that whatever they were working on was completed before they abandoned the outpost, probably because of the war. And," Rodney grins as he turns the tablet around to face them both, "it included a Gate address."
The smile Elizabeth gives him this time is smaller, but truer and, somehow, brighter. Clapping her hands together, "That's great Rodney. It's sounds promising.
We can probably rearrange the team schedule for to check it out-"
"That address is for Asuras."
This, quite naturally, means nothing to him. He looks to Elizabeth on the off chance John's told her something about his people's past that he doesn't know, but it's no dice there either.
John shakes his head, his eyes glowing with a bright white light that casts no shadows. "Remember what I was saying about how my people gave a new meaning to nuclear holocaust when we destroyed the planet we built our Replicators on?"
Rodney nods. John had only ever mentioned the Pegasus version of Replicators once, when they were on their way to bring Aurora back home, but that kind of thing tends to stick with a person.
"Well that," he points at the tablet, "is the address. We called it Asuras."
"I'm sorry, but did you just say 'Replicators'?" Elizabeth asks, slightly shrill.
"I- We tried a lot of things to stop the Wraith. The Asurans - that's what we called them - were the end result of a micro-weapon that Father worked on when he was only a discipulus. They're more like the human-form Replicators SG-1 encountered on Hala than the originals. But, look, like I told Rodney, we decimated their planet. Nothing could have survived the damage we inflicted upon it. Not even a nanite."
Elizabeth's lips purse. "Are you absolutely certain?"
He bites his lower lip. "If any had survived... They weren't the mindless replicating servola Avalon's Replicators were. The Asurans, the aggression we created in them terrified even Father. He'd have nightmares sometimes - and this a man who built doomsday machines on a fairly regular basis." John shudders.
"Needless say, if they'd survived, there'd not be much left alive in Pegasus today. Especially not the Wraith."
"Well, that's terrifying," Rodney says, sinking onto the arm of John's chair.
His amator wraps an arm around his waist, more tightly than is strictly necessary for added stability. "My people took care of them long ago."
"Be that as it may," Elizabeth says, thin-lipped and fiery-eyed, "we should still try dialling the address, just to see for ourselves."
"Go right ahead. I'll be surprised if we can even get a lock."
They get a lock.
They pick up a radio signal less than two minutes later, while the techs are still preparing the MALP.
"I am speaking to whoever seeks to contact this world," says the voice that plays from the speakers. It's silted and somewhat formal - not in the way that speaks of machine-aided translation on both sides, which is to say, artificially so, - but in a way that suggests a truly straight-laced character is on the opposite end of the transmission. "If you can understand this message and come in friendship, please speak. If not, or if you mean us harm, proceed no further. This is the only warning you will receive."
Rodney snorts. "Friendly bunch, aren't they?"
"Whatever you do, don't let them know you're not Alteran. I really don't want to know what they'll do if they find out." John pushes away from the console he's been leaning against with a great sigh. Then he closes his eyes and, when he opens them again, everything about him has changed - nothing physically. He's still outfitted in the same crazy mix of Ancient and Expedition uniform. He still seems to bend all the light towards him but remain in shadows. And yet-
-and yet his whole bearing has changed. Everything about him is straighter. Harder. Colder. More like the Ancients Rodney had seen hooked into Aurora's neural network and less like the man who'd tumbled out of bed with him this morning.
This John raises a hand stiffly to his radio and taps it once. "This is Iohannes Ianideus Licinus Pastor, Praetor of Atlantis. I demand dialogue with the one that speaks for your kind."
There is a startled silence on both ends of the wormhole.
"Colonel," Elizabeth hisses on theirs, "you could at least try for a little diplomacy."
The look John gives her is almost the same one he gets when she talks about trying to negotiate with the Wraith or maybe reduce the amount of C4 they use on missions. Almost. Nevertheless, he relents, though his put upon look is a little too disgusted to be the their John. "Look, I don't mean you guys any harm," he says, nearly sounding like himself. "All I want to do right now is talk to you."
"Atlantis Fell," the voice on the other side of the wormhole says brusquely. "She was lost to the sea ten thousand years ago, struck down by the Wraith."
"Atlantis still stands."
"And what of Elorus and Tiranus? Do they still stand as well?"
"No," John admits, real sadness creeping into his voice, though his tone remains somewhat distant and formal - and wrong.
"Then Atlantis and Asuras are all that remain."
Something twitches in John's jaw. "You could say that."
There's another pause. When the voice returns, Rodney would almost call it plaintive. "Why have you not tried to contact us before now, Pastor?"
"I didn't know Asuras still stood."
"Yes." There's definitely something sorrowful in the man's voice now. "The others held us responsible for the deaths of Elernus Ival Asuras Rector and Ishachus Ival Magister, amongst many others. They sought to destroy our world in retribution."
The muscle in John's jaw twitches again. "But you did not?"
"Of course not. We cannot harm our creators. Their deaths were an unfortunate accident." A pause. "Our Rector, Oberoth, would like to speak with you. Would thirty standard hours from now be enough time for you to make the appropriate preparations?"
John glances at Elizabeth. Apart from the stiffness to his back and the tightness in his jaw, he looks almost normal again.
"That works for us-" he hesitates. "What's your name, anyway?"
"I am called Niam," the voice tells them, clearly surprised. Then, hesitantly, "If I might ask, your gens, it is Nebrian, is it not?"
-and whatever is left of the mask he he'd been wearing just crumbles away, and he is John again. Their John. His John.
"Yes," John admits, for whatever it's worth.
"Then you are the son of Ianus Ishachidus Ianitos Ingeniarius."
"He was Rector at his death."
"I see," Niam says delicately, remorsefully. "I know we cannot hope to redress the injuries my kind have caused you, but know that the deaths of Elernus and Ishachus Ival were truly accidents. All of us mourned their deaths."
"I- Thanks, Niam."
Then the wormhole disconnects, seemingly of its own accord, and chaos ensues.
They wind up back in Elizabeth's office.
"Why do I get the feeling that there's something you're not telling us, Colonel?" she fumes, practically throwing herself into her chair.
Rodney, to his surprise, just finds himself rollings eyes as he moves the bible out of the seat John had vacated earlier. "This is John we're talking about," he reminds her, slumping into his own chair. "He never tells us everything. I don't know why you still bother to get mad about it."
John gives him a hurt look from the - closed - doorway he's leaning against. "I tell you the important stuff."
"Yes, well your definition of important and ours tend to differ somewhat."
"Yes," Elizabeth agrees. "For starters, how did Niam know who you are, or, at least, who your father was?"
"My paternal grandmother was a Nebrian refugee," John says like it explains everything. Which, to him, it probably does.
"I'm going to need a little bit more than that, Colonel."
It's John's turn to roll his eyes. "My gens is Ianideus - literally, 'the son Ianus.' Not a lot of folks outside Nebrius named their children that way. Not a lot of folks called 'Ianus' either."
Elizabeth pinches the bridge of her nose. "And these people they supposedly killed?"
"The main researchers on the project: brothers, Elernus Ival Asuras Rector and Ishachus Ival Magister. They, along with twenty-six others, died during a massive explosion in 80 AL. It was believed that the Asurans were behind it."
Rodney frowns. "I thought you said the Asurans were programmed not to harm you guys. Asimov's Three Laws, or something."
"Not directly, no."
"But indirectly's just fine?"
"Apparently," John shrugs. "Also, in the interest of full disclosure, now might be a good time to mention Ishachus Ival was my paternal grandfather."
"And you didn't think it was relevant to mention this before?" Elizabeth asks, just this side of snapping.
"Look, by the time my people reached Pegasus, there were barely ten thousand of us left. By the Exodus, that number was barely a hundred, and I'm related to each and every one of them in dozens of ways: So, yes, my grandfather and his brother created the Asurans. I'm also third cousins with Ganos and Moros Lal. And I'm sure if we ever stumble across anything else in this galaxy my people built, I'll be related to whoever's involved there too.
"But it doesn't mean anything. My grandfather died twenty-five years before I was born. Ganos barely spoke to me, and I'm fairly certain Moros never acknowledged my existence at all until my first court marshal.
"So can you just accept this so we can all move on? 'Cause we've got less than thirty hours until we're due on Asuras, and I'm going to need that time to train whoever we decide to send with me to act Alteran, or this whole thing is going to go in a puff of smoke faster than you can say 'genocide'."
Onto Pars Dua