Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney, Helia/OFC
Warnings: part four of #28 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 3); "The Return, Part 1," thru SG1 s10e9 "Company of Thieves" for safety); minor character death.
Summary: The Ancients are back on Atlantis. No one's particularly happy about this, least of all the one Ancient who stuck around all these years.
Notes: I'm not sure I'm happy with how this ended, but I was getting to the whole "post or delete" phase, so.... Also, note the dates on these. The first two sections take place BEFORE parts 1 & 3, and the last part takes place AFTER part 2. I promise the storylines will all finally converge in part 5, which will probably be the last.
An Ancient!John Story
8 November, 2006 / 5 Days After The Second Exodus - Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
Iohannes has plans:
He's going to show all of the prissy, pretentious, self-righteous sons of bitches who have the gall themselves 'higher' beings. They think that Ascension is a punishment for him (and, okay, yes, in many ways it is), so he's going to shove it all back down their throats. He'll be a king and a god and stick his hand into every damn cookie jar in existence if that's what it takes. He's going to make those bastards beg for the honour of Descending him. And if he happens to save the galaxy in the process, well, so much the better.
His plans have timelines. Maybe not very firm ones, but timelines nonetheless:
There are fifty-seven planets out there that think him divine and if he can make that two hundred ninety by the end of the Terran year, the entire galaxy should be worshiping him by the end of what would have been the Expedition's eighth year. Iohannes could care less about this except for the fact that where his religion goes, so does his empire, and if he can get the Confederation spread to every inhabited planet in Pegasus, rather than just the seventeen it's on now, then they've got a real chance of taking care of the Wraith once and for all.
Ten years. If things continue at the pace he'd projected before the Terrans discovered 'Tria', Iohannes honestly thinks he can have the Wraith irradiated a decade or less. And that point he'll have done so much interference that the others will have no choice but to Descend him.
And ten years isn't so bad. In ten years, Rodney will only be forty-eight. Not only would that give them another four, five decades together, but the apparent age difference won't be such as to offend his 'amator's' Terran sensibilities.
Danelia is disrupting his plans:
Not actively, (not yet. She doesn't know enough about them to actively interfere), but that day will come, Iohannes is sure of it. Even if everything he is trying to accomplish wasn't anathema to his people, his cousin would seek to dismantle solely because it doesn't end with her in charge.
This is why Iohannes sets up shop in Elizabeta's office. It's got nothing on the one in his suite, but it does have an unobstructed view of the Gate Room, which is all he really needs to make sure she doesn't do anything too destructive.
Okay, realistically, that's not true. Danelia is extremely intelligent, impeccably resourceful, and limited by impressively few morals. Iohannes has often had the impression that she would murder her own wife and eat her still-warm heart if she thought it might end the war with the Wraith, but that's only ever been him. Everyone else has always adored Danelia. He's not naive enough to think that it's because she's 'not' really the vaguely sociopathic, mildly genocidal 'meretrix' he knows her to be; she's just that good of an actress. But he's always been better at letting people see only what they want to see, and can see through Danelia's attempts to do the same easily.
He's doing just that - sitting in Elizabeta's office and actually writing up his refutation of Matiyasevich's Theorum (he's that bored) - when the 'porta' activates for the first time since the Expedition left.
He glances up and looks through the open door at Seleuca Modia Scaevola, who's ostensibly manning the appropriate console in the Control Room but in reality in quiet, intense discussion with Metellus Val, who really has no reason to be there at all, save for the memo he passed along over an hour ago.
Iohannes rolls his eyes before hauling himself out of his chair and exiting his office. "Flirt on your own time," he tells them. "Who's knocking?"
Scaevola turns disinterestedly his way. "We are not expecting visitors today."
Rolling his eyes again, "That's not what I asked. I asked, 'Who's knocking?' which can colloquially be understood as, 'Whose IDC is coming through the open 'pons astria'?' So, again, who's dialling our 'porta'?"
"Helia does not wish to maintain relations with the natives of this galaxy."
"So what? You're just gonna let whoever it is walk straight into the 'cataracta'?" Iohannes asks, stalking around the console and reading the display over her shoulder. "Here. Right there. Look, it's the Genii. I know we've not been best of pals in the past, but they're part of the Confederation now. I think letting more of their people go splat against the 'cataracta' might send them the wrong message."
Blandly, "Perhaps that will discourage these Descendants from attempting to contact us again."
"You've gotta be kidding me," Iohannes groans, reaching over and lowering the 'cataracta' himself. "'Cause, seriously, I woulda thought everything that went on with Tirianus woulda proved to you that our race can't survive in isolation - or maybe not. You guys didn't stick around for the end of the battle, so maybe you missed that part. I'll tell you, though, it was a doozy. The radiation from a hundred ruptured hyperdrives messed with city's sensors for months after. We never did get up all the debris that made it down to the planet."
"The only thing the battle proved was that battle strategy should not be trusted to an Abomination," Scaevola begins-
-but Iohannes is already walking away, heading down the Gate Room steps to meet up with the trio that's come through the 'porta' from Genia (though he does pause long enough to offer her a decidedly Terran gesture and the suggestion, "Go 'crisa' yourself, Scaevola. Trust me, from everything Father said, it's better than letting Metellus do it for you." The first goes right over her head, but the second gets him the irritation he'd been looking for.) "First Minister Radhim," he continues when he reaches the lower level, addressing Ladon and his companions this time. "What brings you to Atlantis today?"
20 November, 2006 / 17 Days After The Second Exodus
"I understand you are building an army."
Iohannes doesn't look up from his equations. "I prefer to think of it as an 'argosy.' Not much use for an land-based force when our enemies attack from space."
"One 'linter' hardly makes a flotilla, Icarus."
"Rodney's working on designs for more," he shrugs, still not looking Danelia's way. He's busy re-deriving basic number theory - in base-10 - in a way that he hopes will make sense to the Descendants of this galaxy. It's not exactly difficult, but it's engrossing and needs to be done if he wants to have a force capable of manning the 'lintres' he plans to build. (Plus, he's really that bored.)
His cousin snorts. "A pointless endeavour at best, seeing as how he is in Avalon, and a fruitless one given what I have already seen of the Terrans' so-called 'lintres'. I would not willingly go into battle aboard one."
"And yet," Iohannes says dryly, glancing up at last, "the hyperdrive aboard 'Daedalus' has never failed after being in a firefight with the Wraith."
Danelia bristles. "Nothing that pitiful excuse for a 'linter' has ever been through could possibly compare to the battles that 'Tria' withstood before we were forced to abandon the flight."
"Maybe. But that still doesn't explain why you tried to flee to Terra, cousin."
"As I have stated several times already, I believed-"
"-that the evacuation signal had been given, that the damages to your hyperdrive could be repaired, that you could somehow make a sixty-seven thousand year journey in even your stasis-extended lifetime. I know. I've heard. But just 'cause you keep repeating it doesn't make it any more believable."
"Perhaps I have simply not repeated it enough. After all, with the way you continue to insist that you are a good man, that you would never fall prey to the 'Haeresis' you have created, it is more than obvious you believe your brazen falsehood to be truths."
"So you admit to lying."
"It's not a lie."
"Listen to yourself," Danelia says, taking a stiff seat on the edge of one of the armchairs opposite. "Even you do not believe that."
"Do not be a child," she interrupts, but while her words are harsh, they are not the biting, cutting comments of moments before. No, it's something that might be confused with genuine concern - but only confused with. The Danelia he knew before Tirianus never felt emotion for anyone beyond herself and while it might seem like ten years for him, it's only been three weeks for her. She hasn't changed.
She never changes.
None of them ever do.
Still, Iohannes falls into the trap she lays out. He sees it coming and still walks into it headlong because she almost sounds like she 'cares' and he's become a little too used over the last two-and-a-half years to having people give a damn about him. Sighing, he rubs a hand across his face and asks, "Y'know that argument stopped working long before either of us went into stasis, right?"
"Icarus, I do not believe you are a wicked person at heart, but you are painfully naïve. Do you honestly beleive our ancestors created the precept regarding non-intervention simply because they desired strategic independence from other worlds? No, the doctrine arose because they believed - rightly so - that there exists no person, of any species, anywhere in this universe that could be handed the unbounded and unchallenged power of a god and not fall prey to its abuses, its excesses."
/You won't,/ 'Lantis assures him.
"I won't," he repeats, almost believing it himself. Atlantis says he is a good man. So does everyone else whose ever voiced an opinion about his unintentional godhood. Iohannes has no choice but to believe them.
"False pride will get you nowhere but closer to your inevitable downfall."
"Catchy," he tells her, leaning back in his chair and tucking his hands behind his head. "You should get that put on a pillow or something."
"Your namesake was the best of men by all accounts, utterly without fault. Yet even Icarus Eosphorus' noble attempt to convince his brother to forswear 'Haeresis' and break the 'Schisma' before it truly began ended with him embracing the perversion he sought to destroy and becoming the most terrifying of all 'Haeretici'."
"Good thing I'm a piss-poor excuse for an Alteran then."
"Be that as it may, I know you care for the Descendants of this galaxy. Even you must acknowledge that your 'Haeresis' will ultimately be a disservice to them. They will become little more than thralls to your depravity and, ultimately, die deaths of the most meaningless kind."
"Not going to happen."
"Are you so certain? Your intentions may be noble, but so were the 'Haeretici's' once."
"I'll take my chances," Iohannes says, letting his chair fall back into its normal, upright position. "Though," he adds, deciding to call her bluff before he can trick himself into believing Danelia actually cares about him or the Descendants, "I wouldn't have thought that would matter to you, considering your master plan involved recreating the Assurans and having them destroy ever potential Wraith food source in the galaxy."
All pretence of concern falling away as if shattered by his words, "It was worth the attempt." She sighs, "Since guilt is not proving an adequate motivator for you, I am reduced to saying this in the plainest terms possible, which even you should have no difficultly understanding: disband your army now or face the consequences."
"Figured out a way to kill an Ascended being have you?" he chuckles.
"No, but your 'heres' is flesh and blood."
Iohannes is on his feet before he makes the conscious decision to rise. "You so much as think about threatening him again and I promise you I won't need an army to destroy you."
"Perhaps," Danelia concedes, standing, "but you are just one person. I have one hundred and two Lantean Guardsmen at my command who are utterly loyal to me alone. You will have to kill every single one of them to reach me, by which point your precious Argathelianus will be dead. So if you would like to be the genocide of your own race, please, by all means continue building your argosy. Because even if you manage to kill me, I will ensure you spend the rest of your life regretting you failed to head my warnings first."
"You're welcome to try."
"Oh, cousin," she promises, pausing on her way out the door, "you should know by now that I never do anything by halves."
4 December, 2006 / 31 Days After The Second Exodus
There's a force of nature beneath his skin, a destructive force of which most men have never seen the like. No storm could ever match him, no weapon created could even come close. His power is boundless and absolute, fettered only by his own forbearance, as tenuous as that is.
Most the time this scares the hell out of him, because if he ever 'were' to give into his own 'Haeresis', there would be no power in the universe that could stop him. But this is not one of those times.
He doesn't tell them what he's planning.
He just walks out of the hangar, making his way to the Central Spire by foot. And when he sees the first pair of Guardsmen jogging his way, weapons drawn, he pulls out his own and shoots them both neatly in the head before they can even let a round off.