Pairing( Character(s): Ancient!John/Rodney, Elizabeth Weir, Ronon, Teyla, various Asurans
Spoile Warnings: #22 in th Ancient!John 'Verse see part 1); "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: had the opposite problem with this one - it got too long before I reached where I wanted to stop. But here is as good a place as any. Also, I realize some of you found the family tree I have posted kinda confusing, so I'm working to make a new user friendly one before I ship. Recent events have severely limited my free time as of late (I'll be lucky to finish "McKay and Mrs. Miller" before I leave on 12 Feb), but I'll do my utmost best. I also encourage you to visit the timeline and the mixes, as I do feel they add something to the story.
Any other questions, comments, suggestions, and etc to make this series the best that it can be are always welcome.
An Ancient!John Story
He steps out of the bedroom muttering, "God, I look like an idiot."
John pushes himself up onto his elbows, smile splitting his face as he looks Rodney over from head to toe and back again. "Yeah," he admits, "you kinda do."
"Says the man lying on the floor," Rodney snorts. "Why are you on the floor anyway?"
"Floors are as much a part of Atlantis as ceilings."
"Okay," he says at length, for lack of any better response. "But are the dead peoples' clothes really necessary?"
John rolls his eyes before pillowing his head in his arms again, nose inches from the hideous as hell (but surprisingly soft) rug the folks on Saritos gave them a few months back. "It's not like there's any place to get new Alteran clothing these days. We're lucky that Father's stuff fits you."
"You know that's not what I mean."
"I know," he says quietly.
Rodney crosses the room and, after a moment, sits cross-legged on the rug in front of him. It's a little uncomfortable, as Ancient clothes turn out to be more closely tailored than the stuff one gets off the rack on Earth, but there's not much he can do about that now. "You're really worried about this, aren't you?"
"What d'you think? The last thing we need right now is more bad guys, but here they are, popping out of the woodwork like mice in a barn fire."
"You never know. That Niam guy seemed genuinely worked up about what happened to your grandfather. And is has been ten thousand years since anyone's heard a peep out of them. Maybe they really have changed."
"You don't really believe that."
"I don't know what I believe - I've not met them yet.
"So, yeah, maybe we're making a huge mistake by going to Asuras. Maybe they'll try to kill us or torture us for information the moment we get there. But maybe they really didn't kill all those people, and maybe they're not the evil creatures you were told stories about anymore, if they ever were. The one thing I do know, though, is that you'll hate yourself forever if we attack now and find out later that they weren't bad guys. So what do you say we do this, try to stay alive, and deal with the fall out later?"
John raises himself up on a single elbow and gives him a warm smile. "When did you get so smart?"
He huffs. "I've always been this smart. You just weren't paying close enough attention. The question you should be asking is: when did our roles get reversed?"
"It used to be you reassuring me about the 'this is probably a bad idea' missions we went go on," Rodney points out, "and now it's the other way around."
John's mouth quirks upward on one side. "C'mere," he mutters, tugging on the front of Rodney's jacket when he's close enough and pulling him down further. He kisses him once, just a soft brush of lips, before pulling back slightly and bringing his hand up to cup Rodney's face. "I can't die," John whispers, and Rodney can feel the breath on his cheek, the brush of a nose against his. "No matter what happens, I'm going to continue to exist until the others release me from this punishment. Before I Ascended, I knew that, if something happened to me, you'd either manage to survive or be not that far behind. But now," he breathes, voice wavering, "no matter what I do, I'm going to lose you someday. So forgive me if I want to make sure that day is as far off as possible."
"You have no idea how terrifying it is to want to do anything for someone and actually be able to do it."
Rodney's breath hitches, the tip of his nose brushing against John's cheek - and, God, he feels real. He doesn't feel like a lightning storm - an atomic bomb, an earthquake - wrapped up in one human-shaped package. He doesn't feel like a being people could rightfully call a god. He just feels like John, his (more or less) live-in boyfriend, right down to the stubble on his cheek.
But that stubble never grows and, if John wanted to, he could could wipe an area the size of Maine off the map just by thinking about it. And Rodney is slowly coming to the realisation that John would do just that if he ever felt it necessary, regardless of the consequences.
"Hey, I save you, you save me, remember?" he tells him. "You didn't need your Ascended powers to do that before, and you certainly don't need them now."
John chuckles. "I make no guarantees."
"Well you should," tells him, pulling back. "You told me what the others threatened to do if you went Dark Side. Don't put all those deaths on my hands."
John kisses him, hard, and repeats, "I make no guarantees," before pulling away. In seconds, he's on his feet and shaking out the wrinkles in his clothing. "We should see how Elizabeta is getting on."
"Fine. I promise to kill the Asurans the old-fashioned way if it comes down to it."
Rodney grins as he climbs to his own feet. "That's all I ask. God," he groans, fixing his own clothes. There are no less than three layers of cream-coloured clothing involved in the costume, the last of which inclues a jacket with a collar so high the back brushes his hairline. "I can't believe you used to dress like this all the time."
The Ancient snorts and takes over, smoothing out the shoulders of the jacket and checking the laces of the leather sewn into the cuffs. "These are civilian clothes."
"There are lifts in these boots John."
He 'hmmms'. "Father may have been a bit chichi."
"'A bit?'" Rodney snorts. "You know, the more I learn about your dad, the happier I get that I never have to worry about meeting him."
John's bark of laughter seems to surprise even himself. "I think," he says with false solemnity, "the entire universe is grateful for that."
Elizabeth meets them in the Gate Room, wearing what probably passes for the Ancient equivalent of a business suit - that is to say, something highly-tailored and blindingly white, with an odd square collar and lacings down the front, like some sort of Bavarian bodice or something. Unlike Rodney, who feels nothing but incredibly awkward in this Ancient getup, she looks every ounce of the accomplished and acclaimed diplomat her portfolio boasts. It's sometimes hard to remember, but she'd been negotiating treaties with warlords and dictators on Earth long before she'd been questioning on their every action from her glass office on high.
Okay, maybe that's a little harsh, but this mission will only be the second trip she's made off-world since they arrived on Lantea - third, if one included the one back to Earth they'd made at the end of the first year. And while she sits in her ivory tower, passing judgement on them for their choices after the fact, she doesn't get that, sometimes, they have to act on what information they have at the moment - that they don't have time when they're being shot at to sit down and discuss every option to death's doorstep and beyond.
Hell, Rodney knows it's hypocritical - he's not gotten it either until he'd started going off-world on a regular basis, - but he can't help but think it. Despite her faults, few as they are, Elizabeth an excellent head of this Expedition. There may be others who could do the job better, but Rodney wouldn't have any of them. None of them have earned his respect, let alone his friendship.
He still wishes she'd learn already.
She smiles at him. "Why Rodney, don't you look nice."
"I look like an idiot."
"Actually," John interrupts, "he kinda does. But then again rectores are kinda supposed to look like pompous, pretentious asses. No offense, buddy."
Rodney snorts. He feels like a pompous, pretentious ass.
"Do you think these clothes will actually fool the Asurans?" Elizabeth asks.
"Not on their own. Just remember what I told you both last night and let me do most the talking. Hopefully, that will be enough."
"You don't sound very sure."
"Like I said," he shrugs, "we thought we'd taken care of them long before I was ever born. The only reason I know anything about them at all is because Father worked on the project, but he was only a discipulus then and it's not like I ever paid much attention to any of the science stuff he went on about."
Elizabeth looks at him for translation. Because, yes, after all these years, he's still the only one who knows what John's saying some of the time. Sometimes, he thinks John even does it intentionally, just so he doesn't feel left out or something absurd like that. "He means his dad was only an undergrad. Maybe a young grad student. It's not exactly a one-to-one ratio, but basically Janus was still at the short end of the academic hierarchy at the time." Which, oddly enough reminds Rodney of something. Turning back to John, he asks, "Wasn't your great-uncle's nickname 'Asuras'?"
"One was named after the other," he says distractedly, waving Ronon and Teyla over.
Both are dressed normally, the unspoken agreement being that there is no way either could hope to pass for an Ancient. Part of it is the simple fact that, while human life the universe over had apparently evolved from the same Petri dish of genetic material that the Ancients had seeded wherever they went, the people of Athos and Sateda hadn't gotten the same boost of fresh DNA John's father had given ancient Earth. They're too many generations removed from the source to really pass for a pair of their Ancestors. The other part - the greater one - is that neither of them have it in them to be the self-important, pretentious sons of bitches John makes his people out to be, not by a long shot. Whereas Rodney - and maybe Elizabeth, if she tries - does.
Rodney can't help but be unbearably annoyed. But, before he can complain about the outfit again, it's zero hour, and Chuck's dialling the Gate.
Three Asurans - a blonde man and two dark-haired women dressed as pretentiously as Rodney feels - are waiting for them when they step out of the Gate.
The man steps forward and bows slightly. "I am Niam," he says, features schooled but voice just this side of giddy. "These are Quirin and Rhoda. We most graciously welcome you to Asuras."
"Nice to meet you guys," he says in a genuinely friendly voice, and either he's genuinely decided to reserve judgement until he gets to know them better or John's a much better actor than they give him credit for. "I'm Iohannes Ianideus Licinus Pastor, the guy you were talking to the other day."
The younger of the two women smiles at this. "Yes. We recognised your voice, Pastor." Her own is oddly low-pitched for a woman's, but not unpleasantly so - more like a dramatic contralto in an opera house than his chain-smoking grand-mère, who had a tendency to sound like she gargled sandpaper in the years before her death.
"You bear remarkable resemblance to your grandfather, Ishachus Magister, as well," says the older. If the first was a dramatic contralto, she is a lyric soprano, with a youthful sweetness to her voice not usually found in a woman of her presumable age.
Rodney wonders if the Asurans sing as Atlantis does and, if so, that might change anything in John's mind.
Judging by the tightness in John's jaw, he rather doubts it - at least, for as long as they keep bringing up the relatives they're believed to have murdered. "So I've been told."
"Forgive Quirin," Niam says, taking another step further. "We hold our creators in such esteem that we have given little thought to the... less practical side-effects of their deaths."
"Yeah. Well, maybe you should've. My father and his cousin weren't the only ones you orphaned that day."
Elizabeth makes a less than discrete cough.
"Oh, yeah. Introductions. This is Elizabeta Molia Praefecta."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Praefecta," Niam tells her, inclining his head respectfully.
"And I you."
"And this," John continues quickly before she can say more. "is Moreducus Ignius Custodia, our rector."
Niam and the others bow, even more deeply than he had for John. "Rector, it is truly an honour."
"Yes, it probably is," Rodney tells them, channelling his inner snark - though even he admits he doesn't have to dig that deep looking for the proper, Ancient-y response.
John grins at him. "And Teyla Emmagen and Ronon Dex."
The muscle in John's jaw twitches. Twice. "Friends."
The Asurans' eyes widen, Niam's almost comically so. "Much must have changed for Lanteans to speak of Descendants with friendship."
"You could say that."
"Oberoth will not like that."
"Why not?" Elizabeth asks, first ignoring and then brushing aside the elbow Rodney had dug into her side at the first sign she was going to speak. He'll be the first to admit that he's done and said some not-so-smart things off-world before, but when John wants them to shut the hell up to avoid getting killed by extraordinarily violent machines, well, Rodney's inclined to do as the Ancient asks;
Replicators freak him out on a level he's not even prepared to think about. They're little better than viruses, mindlessly eating their way across the universe with no other thought than continued replication through whatever means necessary. And while yes, the Asurans seem to be of a decidedly different flavour - they've obviously a high level of intelligence, if the way their city mimics Atlantis is anything to go by, - on some level, Rodney knows they're the same mindless machines the Milky Way Replicators were. They cannot alter their code. They cannot change. They were programmed to be ruthless weapons in the war against the Wraith, and weapons they remain.
Or maybe they can. These three at least seem peaceable enough. No one's tried to kill them yet, which is always a plus in Rodney's book, especially considering their reputation.
But the point he's trying to make is they don't know yet. And Elizabeth is going to get herself and all the rest of them killed if she keeps this up. Or, even worse, she'll do something that causes John to use his Ascended powers, and then a whole bunch of other people will die. Either way, people die if they screw this up.
Which is a good incentive for not screwing things up.
"He still blames you for the near-destruction of our race. Rightly so, perhaps, but he does not allow himself to see the whole picture. Mistakes were made on both sides. We cannot hope to grow as a race if we continue to cling to the past, particularly one so distorted as to make us appear blameless in all things."
Niam cocks his head to one side. "We should go now. It is a long walk to the Council Chambers and it will be held against all of us if we are not punctual."
"You hold no animosity towards the Ancestors for what they did to you," Teyla observes as Niam leads them through the eerily familiar halls of Asuras.
Rodney briefly considers elbowing her as well, but knows he'd probably not survive it.
"Oh no," Niam tells her. "They most certainly perceived the death of their researchers as the first act of a war they had no desire to fight. We ourselves were created as but sophisticated weapons in the war they were already losing against the Wraith. Between the losses they had already suffered and the aggression they imbued in us, they had no hope of winning a protracted war against us. I am sure they saw a swift, uncompromising attack ending in what appeared to be our utter destruction to be their only hope for survival. I am sure we would have done the same, had our situations been reversed. After all, we were created in their image, just as you were."
"But not everyone agrees with you," Elizabeth says.
"Forgiveness is not a part of our programming. Revenge is."
"And yet we have yours."
Niam cocks his head to the side again. "Yes," he muses, sounding rather surprised. "I suppose that is true."
John, notably, says nothing. He just walks alongside him, silent and brooding, and with that same faraway look he gets in his eyes when he's talking silently to 'Lantis.
Oberoth is a greying, heavy-set man who immediately takes offence to all of them.
"So," he says, eying John critically from his seat at the head of the Council Table. "You are the Ival heir."
"Well," John drawls, "I usually go by 'Iohannes,' but if that's what floats your boat, I'll answer to it."
"I must say it came as a surprise to hear that the grandson of one of our creators was, of all things, a solider. How disappointed your father must have been with you. After all, how many generations of Ivals have been rectores? Twenty-five? Thirty?"
"Does it matter?"
"That the Ival heir chose not to shoulder the great legacy his ancestors laid out for him? I'd say it matters very much, Iohannes Pastor. It tells me that you are weak, lazy, cowardly - an unworthy ally for the Asuran people."
To Rodney's everlasting surprise, John laughs. "What makes you think we'd want to ally with you? You're just malfunctioning weapons. We only came here today to see just how far the reservation you've gone before deciding what action to take."
Elizabeth steps forward. "What the Praetor means to say is, the Wraith have recently reawakened from their hibernation and are posing a greater threat to this galaxy than they have for many millennia. And while we are strong, the fight ahead of us will be easier with your assistance."
Oberoth turns his haughty gaze on her. "Eradication of the Wraith is among our goals."
"Nice job you've done with that so far," John snorts.
"No better than you."
John's hands curl into fists at his sides, but he voices no reply. But neither does he lash out with any of his Ascended powers, which could so easily level this city and everything within it, so Rodney counts it as a win.
Elizabeth continues with her line of questioning. "But you have a plan?"
Rodney can't help himself. Clapping his hands together, "Great. Let's hear it," he half asks, half demands.
The glower Oberoth sends his way is absolutely withering. Rodney can feel himself shrinking back despite himself. "I doubt that you would be able to grasp it's complexity and scope."
He musters up the most contemptuous glare he has at his disposal, honed first by years in academia and later by decades of research for the United States Air Force. "Lucky for you, I'm very good with complexity."
"All you need to know is that one day soon the Wraith will exist no more."
"What are you waiting on, an engraved invitation? Every single Wraith in the galaxy is awake. If you don't step up and do something, pretty soon there's not going to be anybody left to save, and what good will all your plans be then? So stand up and take some initiative. You're weapons," Rodney rages, fairly certain he's lost his mind talking to a Replicator like this. "Act like it."
Oberoth arches an eyebrow. "We shall commence our plan at a time of our choosing, not before."
Every eye in the room, human and Asuran, turns to look at John with varying degrees of scepticism and frustration.
"You're lying," John says more clearly as he takes a few steps forward to stand in the middle of the Council Chambers. But his voice, for all it's sharpness, is hardly raised at all. "There is no plan to defeat the Wraith. Why would you want to do that when they're merrily causing so much misery to the Descendants of this galaxy? After all, they're the ones we showered with love and attention. They're the ones we guided down the right paths towards becoming like ourselves while we abandoned you at the first sign of trouble. You thought we were dead, and so you watched the Wraith set about destroying our favourite creations and called it revenge."
A few of the Council members, including Niam, appear as confused by this information. The rest appear furious beyond words. "How do you know this?" one of them - a grey-haired woman - demands.
Oberoth waves the question aside. "He is pastor. He must be stronger than we had anticipated to be able to slip through the city's defences. But no matter. A door once opened works both ways and his knowledge of the truth changes nothing."
"You killed thirty-eight innocent people, Oberoth. That changes everything."
"They would have killed us," the grey-haired woman insists. "They were going to destroy us. We had to destroy them first."
"Self-defence doesn't justify cold-blooded murder."
"You would condemn an entire planet for a handful of deaths?"
John doesn't say anything, but it's obvious what his answer would be.
"And what then of yourself? How many deaths can be held to your name? How many did you leave behind at the Palamede? How many did you lead to their deaths at Tirianus? Hundreds? Thousands? What punishment does a murderer of your caliber deserve?"
The scent of ozone fills the room as John's fists clench at his sides, so tightly that Rodney can make out his white knuckles from across the room. "That was battle."
"So was this," Oberoth roars, rising to his feet almost faster than the human eye can follow. "But wait," he adds more evenly, "there are far more interesting things inside your mind. Like the fact that your so called rector and praefecta aren't Alteran at all." He turns towards the guards that line the room. "Take them away."
The guards start towards them. Ronon and Teyla go for their guns, but there are no less than twenty Asurans in the Council Chambers alone. If they're anything like the Milky Way Replicators, it will take a lot more ammunition than they have to make it out of this room, let alone back to the Gate.
"You touch them," John growls, "and it won't just be your planet I destroy."
"Do you really think you can challenge us?" Oberoth scoffs. "One lone Alteran against the entire might of Asuras?"
"I think I'm the only one who can challenge you. Now tell your men to fall back or deactivate and disassemble immediately."
"Make sure to lock the Pastor up separately until we can take care of him."
One of the guards places a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder.
"I said," John's voice thunders, his fingers unfurling to reveal glowing white palms. "Deactivate." He flings his hands in opposite directions, sending two separate beams of light at the Asurans sitting at each end off the curved Council table. "And." The light envelops its targets whole once it hits them. And, when it dissipates, "Disassemble," all that is left of victims is a pile of nanites on the floor.
"Get them out of here!"
And then there is a flurry of movement.
Rodney tries to get his gun, but it's knocked out of his hand before he can get off a shot. Teyla does a little better, but even her P90 is next to useless against the onslaught of hands seeking to drag them away and she's taken as soon as she has to reload. Ronon manages to bring down three before two more manage to get the drop on him, grabbing his arms from behind before a third knocks him unconscious withe butt of his gun. Elizabeth he loses sight of entirely in mêlée, and John...
The last he sees of John is him firing more beams of light at the Asurans. But whatever compunction they have against harming their creators doesn't appear to extend to non-fatal injuries, for soon he is lost beneath a swarm of attackers, and the rest of their team is being dragged away.
Onto Pars Tria