Rating: R (overall)
Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney, Evan Lorne/Radek Zelenka, Helia/OFC, implied Teyla/Kanaan
Warnings: part one of #27 in the Ancient!John 'Verse; "The Return, Part 1"
Summary: Happiness is a fickle thing, especially in the Pegasus Galaxy
Notes: This is where I had intended to reach before shipping off; obviously, that didn't happen.
Also, this is the last completed story I wrote while in SEPS; it is three parts, the other two of which are longer than this installment. I'm not sure if it works - transcribing it I was a little unhappy with how it turned out - but I'll let you be the judge of that.
"Iudex" means "Judge" in Latin. "Diabali" are "Devils" or "Slanderers". You might also find the family tree helpful for this story; it even has pictures.
An Ancient!John Story
Iohannes is happy.
Yes, he's still Ascended and likely to be for the next thirty thousand years, without hope of appeal. Yes, he's still acting Head of the Expedition while the IOA searches for someone fill the void Elizabeta's death has left. Yes, he is a god to the people of no less than fifty-seven planets and king to seventeen, but Iohannes is happy. Beyond happy even, and possibly crossing over the line into actual glee. Because the thing is, he and Rodney have been living together for eight weeks now without major incident, which is about seven weeks longer than he had ever dared hope. They are happy together, the sex is beyond amazing, and Rodney was right, a bigger bed 'does' make all the difference.
It's more than that, though (though that is a large part of it). Because, while he 'is' still doing Elizabeta's job, he's finally settled into it. He'd still rather someone else be doing it (that someone preferably being Elizabeta), but he knows the ins and outs of the position now and, with the help of the executive assistants 'Daedalus' dropped off two weeks ago, it's become easier still. And while the god-thing still troubles him, Iohannes has got to admit that it - and the kingship - have made things a lot easier for the Expedition. Trade negotiations and first contacts have gone a lot smoother since the Confederation was founded. And if it usually means that the high holy of each new planet they come across wants to rub elbows with him at some point in the process, well, he's the only one made uncomfortable by it. (Well, not exactly uncomfortable. It's just hard to ignore all the faith coming his way, especially when the faithful are right in front of him, but even though he's not using any of it, the flood of it makes him headier than a magnum of wine.)
So he's good. He's happy. He's easily the best he's ever been. The only thing that would make Iohannes better is if Rodney were here instead of on 'Daedalus,' getting into place for the first trial of his Intergalactic Gate Bridge, which even he has to admit is kind of important. Besides, it's only three weeks out of their lives and today is the day of the actual test, so they'll at least be able to check in.
"Are you humming, sir?"
Iohannes looks up, surprised, from the last of the requisition orders he's trying to finish up before the test actually starts, so he can send them with everything else to the SGC. It's going to take them a while to put gather all the materials they'll need to build a new 'linter' and he'd like to get that ball rolling as soon as possible. "No?"
Lorne smiles disbelievingly at him and crosses the threshold into his (Elizabeta's) office. "You can't lie to me, Sir. 'Lantis has done almost nothing lately but talk about how glad she is to see you happy."
"'Lantis is a liar and a degenerate gossip. You shouldn't believe a word she says."
"Funny enough, she says the same thing about you, Sir."
"Now 'that' is an outright lie. I have 'never' once gossiped in my life." Or hummed. Iohannes had learned long ago it was best to leave the music in Atlantis' far more capable hands.
"You were telling me about Miss Emmagen and her gentleman friend just the other day," the Major says dryly.
He jabs a finger at his fellow 'pastor'. "First off, that wasn't gossip. It was a simple sharing of information you might find useful as part of your debriefing after Rory's shakedown cruise."
"Sounds like gossip to me, Sir," Lorne chuckles, perching on the edge of one of the closer armchairs.
"And secondly," he says loudly, ignoring this comment, "what kind of person uses the phrase 'gentleman friend'? I'm ten thousand years old and even 'I' think that's hopelessly outdated."
Lorne snorts. "Sir, you're barely older than I am when you take your time in stasis out of the equation."
"And yet my father is your five hundred thirty-first great-grandfather, so..."
"Five hundred thirty-first, huh? How do you know that - for sure, I mean?"
"I just do," Iohannes shrugs. He 'just knows' a lot of things. Like the fact that Father had a half-Terran son called Davidus Constantín four years after the Exodus with a Pictish woman named Màel Muire, and that this son had had four children of his own. It's long enough ago that all Terrans contain some of Father's bloodline, some more so than others. He 'remembers' other things too: when and how Father died and the names of the others who became Abominations like Ganos and Moros, amongst other things. It scares Iohannes to 'remember' so much that he has no rightful way of ever learning and he tries to forget it all as much as possible. Such knowledge is beyond the realm of mortals and he will have no part in it if he can help it.
Lorne shakes his head. "You know all that, but you didn't notice you were humming?"
"Was there something you wanted, Major? he asks baldly, leaning back in his chair and tucking his arms behind his head.
"Just to see if I was clear to start the preflight for the Gate Bridge trial."
"Yeah, you're good. I just wish I was going in your place."
"If you want, there's still time..."
"No," he sighs. "The IOA would eat me alive if I tried. You go. Enjoy your time on Terra. Take some time off. See your family. Have some fun, if they'll let you. Just be ready to take Rory out on another cruise when you get back - 'Daedalus' wasn't able to swing by Asuras on her way in because of the test's timetable and I'm not too comfortable not knowing what those 'diaboli' are getting up to at all times.
"You're not the only one who feels that way." Lorne pauses as he turns to go. "It 'is' good to see you so happy, Sir."
"I'm always happy, Major."
"Of course, Sir. Whatever you say."
He's waiting in the jumper bay when Lorne gets back, eager to hear how the Gate Bridge test went. It's obvious it worked - the Major would have been back long before if that was the case - but Iohannes wants to know the details. Terra means nothing to him, but the Gate Bridge is a source of equipment, personnel, and goods he can use to build his Confederation.
Lorne's beaming at him when the hatch opens, a bag slung over one shoulder. "Colonel."
"Major," he responds, raising an eyebrow at the other man's enthusiasm. Yes, Lorne's been gone nearly a day, but even 'he' doesn't get homesick that fast. Unless his own unusual level of happiness is rubbing off on Atlantis and, thus, Lorne, in which case he really, really needs to do something about that before it becomes something awkward for them to worry about.
"Great news, Sir."
"The Bridge works? I'm afraid it's kinda obvious, Major."
"No, more than that." He steps - skips - out of the jumper. Yes, he's definitely going to need to talk to 'Lantis about the possibilities of emotional transference between 'pastores'. It had never been a problem with him and Nicolaa, but, then again, they'd usually been on the same level, not to mention she hadn't had the same upgraded nanoids Father had given Iohannes - and had been implanted in Lorne. "Doctor McKay found something."
"In the middle of the void?" Now that 'is' something to get excited about. They call it a void for a reason. Finding anything at all in it is rather like, well, finding him alive and unaged after so many millennia in stasis: not impossible, but close enough to it that it might as well be.
Nodding, "A ship, going at point nine nine nine percent the speed of light." Lorne clearly expects this to mean something to him.
"Wraith?" Iohannes asks, though he's fairly certain the other 'pastor' wouldn't be so happy about a hive ship hurtling towards Avalon. He can't think of anyone else in Pegasus capable of spaceflight that it could possibly be - unless the 'linter' wasn't coming from Pegasus.
Either way, as impressive as that kind of speed is, it's not very useful. The three million lightyear trip between galaxies would still take three million years and change of real time. Even taking relativity into account that would still be a hundred thirty-four thousand years or so ship time, which is well beyond any species' lifetime - except for maybe the Wraith, who have the ability to hibernate for centuries at a time, or the Asgard, who could always transfer their consciousness to new clone bodies.
Again, possible, but not very useful. Even he knows that.
Lorne shakes his head, his smile, if possible, growing wider. (It's starting to become disconcerting. Perhaps he needs to radio Carson in case whatever's causing this odd behaviour is contagious.) "Ancient."
Iohannes' heart stutters to a stop. Surely he's misunderstood, or his translation matrix is faulty, or something. The 'are' no more 'Alteran' lintres. If there were, he'd know about it, the same way he knows about Lorne's relation to himself. He is Ascended. He would know, even if knowing was the last thing he wanted. "You mean 'ancient' as in 'old', right?"
"I mean 'Ancient' as in: we found the warship 'Tria' out in dark space and Colonel Caldwell is working to bring the surviving crew back to Atlantis as we speak." The Major looks impossibly pleased with himself, as if the news he brings is something to be celebrated.
/Breathe, 'pastor',/ 'Lantis reminds him, which is the only thing that what finally reminds him that he's lost control of his cardiopulmonary system.
He closes his eyes and 'concentrates' for a long moment, trying to remember everything Carson ever told him about his heart, his lungs. It's hard to focus on something so trivial, especially when the universe is falling down around him, but Iohannes forces himself to regain control.
/In, one two three. Out, one two three,/ the city whispers in his mind. /Forget everything else. Just stay with us and breathe: In, one two three. Out, one two three./
In, one two three.
Out, one two three.
When Iohannes opens his eyes at last, he finds Lorne regarding him worriedly (although his concern doesn't seem to have had any effect on the grin he's still sporting. Maybe he 'should' still call Carson, though for which one of them he's no longer sure.) It's obvious the Major still thinks this is a good thing. It's obvious he thinks this is the best news Iohannes could ever hope to hear - that any of them could ever hope to hear.
He swallows, concentrating on the movement to make sure he does it right. "I'm sorry," he says a long last, "but did you say 'Tria'?"
Two days. Iohannes has had two days to prepare for the end of the universe as he knows it. He's spent most that time ordering anybody with jobs not vital to the safety and security of the Expedition to paint, clean, and 'beautify' as many of the inhabitable parts of Atlantis as possible, to 'Lantis' never-ending joy and the Marines' everlasting irritation. It's the only thing he can think to do to prepare for what's coming short of placing some M2 Brownings and a couple dozen mortars in the Gate Room, which he rather thinks wouldn't have gone over any better.
A fight is coming for control of the city, he knew that the moment he read the survivor list 'Daedalus' transmitted ahead over subspace, and he will not go down easily. Atlantis is 'his' and no other's. He has been her friend, her confidante, her 'pastor' since he was five years old. She has been his entire life. No one, least of all Danelia Ival Helia Navarcha, will take her from him.
'Tria'! Of all the ships to encounter travelling through the void between galaxies, 'Tria'! He'd thought she'd been destroyed during the Battle of Tirianus - Iohannes had 'seen' her fly apart as she tried to open a hyperspace window-
-or, at least, he'd thought he had. He'd been injured and suffering the beginnings of G-LOC at the time, trying to slow Tirianus' fall into the Lantean Ocean. He could have been mistaken. Drowning probably hadn't helped his memory too much either.
But that had been seven years before the Exodus and the others had thought 'Tria' to be lost as well. Meaning that either, one, 'Tria' was so damaged she couldn't let Atlantis know she hadn't been destroyed or, two, 'Tria' hadn't wanted anyone to know she'd survived.
With any other battleship, with any other 'navarchus', Iohannes wouldn't think twice about it. But Father's first cousin, Danelia Ival Helia Navarcha, had captained that 'linter'. Danelia, like her Father, Elernus Ival Asuras Rector, had always thought that the ends justified the means, especially when it came to war. She had taught him how to pilot a jumper when he was seven, not because she knew that Iohannes had always wanted to fly and had wanted to do something nice for him but because she wanted to use him to get closer to Father-
-Father, who was 'Rector' and thus the only one who could recreate the Asurans, which had always been her self-proclaimed goal. Luckily, hers were the only whiles Father had never fallen for, and she'd never succeeded in convincing him to revisit their fathers' project, however much she thought it might have ended the Wraith War once and for al.
But 'Tria', of all 'lintres'! 'Tria'! If had been 'Fessona' or 'Pellona', Iohannes could have understood - they, at least, had been around during the Exodus. It would have made some sense for one of them to have tried to cross the void between Pegasus and Avalon. But 'Tria' had no reason to go to Terra. They'd no reason to even 'think' about that place, whose use as a sanctuary they didn't start giving serious thought to until the final year of the war.
Iohannes has a bad, bad feeling about all of this.
They should be here any minute.
He leaves Elizabeta's office - his office - and heads down the Gate Room stairs. The whole Expedition seems to be crowded excitedly on the balconies and around the edges of the lower level, thinking like the naive little children they are that this can end well.
"So, got any family on this boat, Sheppard?" Ronon asks when he reaches the bottom of the steps, spinning his 'Hamaxobii' gun around his finger.
"A first cousin once removed. Her wife. The rest are a little more distant than that."
"You gonna be upset if I shoot any of them?"
Iohannes raises an eyebrow. "You think this is going to turn into a shooting match?"
"They abandoned their brothers to the Wraith," Ronon says pointedly.
"Yeah. I don't trust them either," he admits. He's said as much a thousand times, but it's never meant this much before. He's never thought there were any left not to trust before now.
Iohannes' radio crackles to life.
"Atlantis, this is Daedalus. We're ready to transport the Ancient delegation."
He lets out a long breath he does not need and which helps steady him even less. "Go ahead, Daedalus. Let's get this over with."
And then they're here.
Continue to Pars Dua