Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney, Evan Lorne, Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, Cam Mitchell, Jinto
Warnings: part five of #28 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 3, 4); "The Return, Parts 1 & 2," thru SG1 s10e9 "Company of Thieves" for safety); minor character death.
Summary: Rodney and Lorne are on Earth. So are a whole lot of other people who'd rather be on Atlantis.
Notes: The first part of this FLOWED in a way that is hard to describe. The middle parts were HELL. The last part, when I finally settled on a POV, happened in like 3 hours today.
1) This takes place AFTER parts 1-4 (some more directly than others). 2) Forgive my SQL, it's been a while. 3) All the 0's and 1's are ASCII for "pure code". 4) Chronodisticha are chronograms in couplet form. 5) I probably should put something here, but.... IDK what. Feel free to ask me questions if any of this seems funky.
An Ancient!John Story
9 December, 2006 / 36 Days After The Second Exodus - Area 51, Terra, Avalon
"Rory wishes you wouldn't wear that thing."
/Is she still calling me her evil stepfather?/
"Well, yes," the Major admits reluctantly over the comm, "but-"
Rodney snorts, /Ah, then no,/ his fingers rising to rub against the device sill in place behind his right ear. It had taken some fine tuning, but he's got it doing what it's supposed to - even if it is a bit of a moot point now that Lorne's arrived with both 'Aurora' and 'Tria', months or even years ahead of schedule. /Besides, it's letting us talk on a channel so secure the SGC will never even notice it exists, let alone that we're carrying out treason right under their noses./
"I'm fairly certain it's not treason if we've already defected."
/Fine. Espionage then, if we insist on labelling things,/ he huffs, yanking the adapter out of the next-to-last slot on the memory core Lorne's brought him from the 'Tria'. /They'll never notice the 'espionage' we're carrying out right under their noses 'cause of this nifty little device I created so I wouldn't 'lose my mind' while I waited for you guys to show up. I know the little wife of yours might not like me very much, but even she has to see that having me here, on Earth, alive and in full control of my mental faculties does her 'Pater's' plans a lot more good than having me here, on Earth, locked away in some sort of psychiatric facility because I went crazy from no longer being able to hear her or her 'Mater's' songs./
There's hardly a pause before Lorne says, "She likes you just fine."
Another snort. /And you don't have to humour me either, Major. John's the one that adopted you, not me, and if you so much as start calling me 'your' evil stepfather, I will destroy you in ways that you, frankly, just don't have the imagination to understand./
Lorne continues as if he's not spoken - a clear sign that he's been spending entirely too much time with John if there ever was one. He tries not to be jealous of that fact. "She's just worried about you."
/There's nothing to worry about. I fixed the whole sensory overload problem. I was desperate, not stupid. Plus, how was I to know you guys would be showing up eighteen hours later, making the whole problem moot? Thanks for that, by the way. Remind me to have a nice, long talk with your father when we get back to Atlantis about his being an overprotective son of a bitch. Again. We would never have had this problem in the first place if he'd just let me 'stay on Atlantis'./
"Yeah, not stepping into the middle of that one."
"And proud of it," the Major says in a tone that suggests he just might actually be. Bastard. Trust John to adopt someone almost as contrary as himself. "Find anything yet?"
He slides the adapter into the last data port. /Nothing useful. Unless you count five hundred odd years of fight plans and.../ Rodney's voice trails off as he sinks deeper into the data, the device he's not yet named providing a direct neural uplink between his laptop and, by extension, the Ancient memory core it's plugged into.
It's not quite like the neural network that they'd found 'Aurora's' original crew hooked up too - there's (IF i = NULL THEN SELECT 'default') no virtual reality for him to inhabit, no real interface (ELSEIF NOT (i = NULL) THEN SELECT 'audio/visual') at all. It's the same kind of connection, the same sort of idea, but the output is lines and lines of 01110000011101010111001001100101 01100011011011110110010001100101 dumping itself into Rodney's mind, without any attempt to make itself better understood. It has all the user-friendliness of an Apple Genius Bar, but luckily he's not the average user.
/Jackpot,/ he says an indeterminable time later, eyes as heavy as if he'd been staring at an actual computer screen for the last however many hours.
"You found something?"
/Was there ever any doubt? I mean, seriously, I built ATLAS out of three equations scribbled in an Ancient schoolchild's notebook - one of which was barely useful at all - and ten-thousand-year-old waterlogged scraps. Finding files in Helia's own ship's databanks that implicate her in galactic genocide was only ever a matter of time./
The sound of eyes rolling is audible over the comm line. "What'd you find?"
/What part of 'galactic genocide' is unclear? No, wait,/ Rodney says quickly, /I don't want to know. I really, really don't. I've spent the last month surrounded by idiots who couldn't tell the difference between hydrogen hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide./ He changes direction when it sounds like Lorne's going to ask him what, exactly, the difference is over the comm.. /You know what? That doesn't doesn't matter. You're a humanities major. You'd be even more useless than they manage to be - which is an accomplishment in and of itself; you should be proud of yourself, Major. Not many people could manage that. But for the sake of my sanity and yours, pretend for five minutes that you've got more than two braincells to rub together and act like you understand the perfectly sensible words coming out of my mouth./
Lorne laughs at him, the bastard. "How about I just beam down there and let you show me what you're talking about?"
/Or you could do that,/ he concedes, irritated at the delay. /Will Rory and 'Tria' be okay without you?/
"Yeah. Rory's still trying to get 'Tria' to talk to her. That should occupy her for another three or four days, until it sinks in that 'Tria' doesn't have the capacity to talk back. Then the shit's going to hit the fan. But we're good until then."
It's a testament to how odd Rodney's life has become that he no longer thinks such things 'are' odd anymore. /Come on down then. Give me fine minutes to put up a sign on the door saying I'm taking an idiot-free day so we won't be interrupted and then the coast should be clear./
9 December, 2006 / 36 Days After The Second Exodus - Stargate Command, Terra, Avalon
"There it is again."
"There 'what' is again?" Daniel yawns. He's made his way up to her lab so she can crunch some numbers for him regarding possible locations of the Sangraal he's gotten from his latest reading of the book Merlin left for them beneath Glastonbury Tor. Something to do with chronodisticha in the text that she would, frankly, find a lot more interesting if she'd managed to get more sleep last night. It's her own fault, but there it is.
"The sensor ghost. I wouldn't worry so much about it - Oracle still needs a lot of work - except for the fact that it appears in the exact same spot every time."
"In the shadow of the moon. At the L2 Lagrange point, to be exact."
"Just where you would put something if you were trying to hide it from someone on Earth?" Sam finishes for him. Then, with a sigh, she rubs a hand across her face. As much as she hates to admit it, she must. "I'm going to need to bring McKay in on this."
Daniel breathes in sharply. "Are you sure that's really such a good idea?"
"He knows Oracle better than anyone. If we're ever going to figure out what's up there short of poking it with a stick, we're going to need his help."
"Care to tag along?"
"Sure. Someone's going to have to keep an eye on Vala while you and Rodney are doing science."
9 December, 2006 / 36 Days After The Second Exodus - Area 51, Terra, Avalon
"You look like shit, Sir."
"Excuse me?" McKay asks archly, bloodshot eyes barely glancing up from the laptop he's half hunched, half collapsed over.
"You look like shit, Pops?"
"You're a troll, aren't you?" he continues, sounding more tired than he did over the comm and rather more out of it. It's kind of disconcerting actually. Evan's seen the doctor tired, exhausted to the point of collapse even, but shadows that deep bode only ill, especially beneath someone's eyes. "Underneath your all-American, corn-fed, do-gooder candy coating, you're really nothing more than an troll looking for a keyboard and an innocent and unsuspecting online forum to molest."
"Uh-huh," Evan says, undeterred by the sleep-deprived rambling. "When was the last time you slept, Doc?"
McKay, of course, waves the question off. "Irrelevant. What 'is' relevant is the galactic genocide, which is what Helia's apparently been planning this from the get go. And since none of those words appear small enough for you, let me rephrase by saying: I've found a recording of Helia basically admitting she was going to try to reactivate the Replicators and get them to kill all the non-Ancients in Pegasus, hoping to starvation would kill the Wraith."
The Colonel had said his cousin was sociopathic, but he'd just sort of thought that was exaggeration. After all, Sheppard didn't seem to like 'any' member of his own race and even the Ancients wouldn't give a madwoman command of a spaceship. "Are you sure?"
"No, I'm just making things up to get us back to Atlantis faster," he huffs. "Yes, I'm sure. And in case 'you' are going to start voicing objections to this thing too," he gestures at his right ear and the small device behind it that Lorne can barely make out, "I've found several recordings of her saying something along those lines, so it's not all in my head.
"The one I'm specifically talking about was a personal log disguised as a requisitions order. The take-away message from her 'Star Trek'-style monologuing?" he continues, gesturing to his laptop, where the log is preloaded, waiting for Evan to view. "Her plan from the beginning was to wait for the Ancients on Atlantis and Tirianus to die out - something she felt inevitable because of the course the war was taking, - until her crew would be the only ones left because of relativity and stasis and all that. As it is, her crew only aged two years and change. Anyway, at some point she'd return to Atlantis, build some Replicators, and get them to kill all the humans in Pegasus. The Ancient civilisation would be repopulated by her crew and she'd be the queen bee in their merry new empire. Cue maniacal laugher."
"Crazy? Yeah, but it could work. Siege warfare in reverse, or something. Atlantis has enough greenhouses to feed a few thousand people comfortably, but you take away the Wraiths' food supply and you've killed them without having to fire a single shot."
"I thought Helia was a pilot, not an scientist."
"Unless you know something about her that I don't, she's not."
Evan considers this. He's learned a lot about the Ancients that now inhabit Atlantis, but hardly any of it is actually useful. It's a lot to do with how they're all related (which is to say, intimately, and in ways that probably would have driven them extinct even without the Wraith's help) and how to actually wear their insane uniform (which involves rather more layers and laces than he's seen outside a period drama), and very little to do with anything related to the first Wraith War. "Then," he asks, "how'd she plan to build the Replicators?"
"It was less of a twelve-point plan and more of a general mission statement. I mean, her dad's the one that invented them. Well, her dad and John's granddad. Maybe she had copies of the blueprints that the others thought they'd gotten rid of. Or maybe she thought the plans might be in Janus' notes and that she'd be able to get at them that way." He punctuates this statement liberally with more yawns.
"So could she actually do it?"
McKay appears to consider this. "No. I mean, okay, maybe if she has a couple of decent engineers and her dad's notes to work with, but I'm betting she doesn't have either, or else she'd have tried this earlier. But, she doesn't need them now, 'cause the Ancients 'didn't' destroy all the original Replicators. Once she knows that, all she's got to do is reprogram them, and doing that, while still insanely difficult, is child's play compared to building them."
"We've got to tell the Colonel."
"Of course we've got to tell John. Idiot. That's what I wanted to do in the first place, but then you somehow managed to confuse 'galactic genocide' with-" His pique is interrupted by a yawn so wide that Evan's own jaw aches in sympathy.
Quickly, "You're right," Evan says to forestall anymore argument. "I'm an idiot. What do you need to grab so we can get out of here?"
"Oh thank God," he breathes, and starts directing Evan towards everything that needs to be packed up for the journey back to Atlantis.
10 December, 2006 / 37 Days After The Second Exodus - Stargate Command, Terra, Avalon
Sam doesn't think anything of it at first. So what if Doctor McKay hadn't been in his lab when she'd beamed over to Area 51 for the second time in as many days? She'd told him less than twenty-four hours before that he needs a life outside of his lab, so Sam shouldn't really be surprised that he's taken her advice. (Okay, maybe she should be, but he apparently had, so she wasn't questioning it.) The man had looked like death warmed over, refrozen, then left to thaw on the counter for a couple days before finally being thrown away. And that was a kind assessment. (Being unkind would have involved zombie references and, really, no one deserved zombies. No one.)
So, no, Sam's not surprised, and goes back to trying to figure out what's wrong with Oracle by herself. Only the sensor ghost seems to have disappeared just as quickly as it appeared, which is disconcerting in a way she'd long since learned to trust her guts about, so she calls the gatehouse at Area 51 and asks if Doctor McKay has checked back in yet.
Sam's mildly disconcerted to learn that Rodney never checked 'out', but figures he must have been availing himself of his quarters in the Civilian's Barracks for once.
It's only when Doctor Lam tracks her down in the commissary at lunch the next day to tell her that neither Doctor Beckett or Doctor Cole have shown up for their shifts in the infirmary that day that Sam begins to have suspicions. Suspicions that are immediately deepened when Carolyn goes on to tell her that not only are the two doctors missing, but every vial of the Ancient Gene Activation vaccine is missing from her storerooms, along with several ampules of other more common, less classified medicines.
The mountain goes on immediate lockdown. Further investigation discovers it's not just the SGC's stores of the ATA vaccine that are missing; so are Area 51's, along with Doctors Biro and Parrish. A few vials are still safe in the vaults at Homeworld Security, but it's not much and not enough to risk trying to synthesising more from. Earth has precious few natural gene users as it is and very, very few of them have the skills or training necessary to operate the Antarctic weapons platform. They need every ounce of what they have to try to activate the gene in non-users with the skills, should Jack not be able to reach McMurdo in the event of an Ori attack.
(It's not going well. It only takes in one out of every four people, even screening for the Gaelic background it seems to favour. They need those vaccines, if only to up the chances that someone who 'could' use the Chair actually 'can'.)
She calls Masaryk University and wakes up three different grad students on a hunch before discovering that, no, no one's seen or heard from Doctor Zelenka since Friday afternoon. All his personal belongings are missing from his office too, just like with all the others. A call to Cambridge garners much the same about Doctor Heightmeyer and before the afternoon's over Sam has a list in front of her of twenty-three different members of the former Atlantis Expedition who've mysteriously disappeared from the face of the planet in the last twenty-four hours.
They're all civilians. Only eight are actually United States citizens, but those that aren't missing from the leading universities in their respective fields are missing from the most highly guarded, secretive military bases on the planet. And there's only one force in the universe that could have gotten them out from so many different noses without detection.
Which is how she finds herself in Stargate Operations with Cam, Daniel, and General Landry as they dial Atlantis for the first time in almost six weeks.
"I'm not sure what we're aiming for here," Daniel admits as Walter announces the third chevron has encoded.
"We're trying to get our people back," Cam answers quickly.
"It doesn't look like they were taken against their will. In fact, the folks that are missing are the ones that took special exception to the IOA's decision to recall the Expedition."
"Special exception or not," Landry says, "they're still citizens of Earth - and valuable assets. Their disappearances are a matter of planetary security."
Daniel crosses his arms and redoubles his stares at the monitors overhead. "I don't know if they'd agree with you, General. I've read the reports: most of them have been with the Expedition from the beginning, all of them consider Atlantis home, and none of them have been adjusting very well to being back on Earth."
"They're still our people."
"I'm sure Colonel Sheppard feels the same way."
Walter, luckily, choses to interrupt, telling them that the wormhole's established and that their IDC has been transmitted.
There's a long pause before they get a response - mainly that of a shaggy-haired teenager wearing a monoaural headset and a ridiculously wide smile. "Hello. I'm Jinto."
Daniel, always one for introductions, speaks up for them. "Hi, Jinto. My name's Daniel Jackson, and this is Colonel Carter, Colonel Mitchell, and General Landry. We're friends of his from Earth and we're trying to get in touch with Colonel Sheppard. Can you get him for us?"
Jinto smiles - if possible - even wider. "You are the Earth-folk? Lord Iohannes will be very pleased to hear from you, but," his smile wavers just a little bit, "he is very busy right now. There is much work that must be done to repair the damage the False Gods did to the City of the Ancestors and the Lord is overseeing most of it himself."
"False Gods?" Cam asks, somewhat startled. "You mean the Ori?"
"I do not know of any peoples who call themselves 'Ori' and I know very many of the worlds in Pegasus - even more than Lady Teyla, which is why Lord Iohannes has let me apprentice for the high position of 'Gate Tech'. Father says it is a great honour and Lady Teyla says I am doing very well, though it is only my third day."
"A very good job," Daniel agrees. "Can you tell us more about these 'False Gods'?"
"They were Ancestors who left on a great ship long ago, looking for a planet free from the Wraith. When they couldn't find one, they came back to Atlantis. Lord Iohannes let them stay at first, but then they tried to kill his son and steal the city. So the Lord killed all the False Gods - well, all of them but their Witch Queen. The Lord captured her and is with her now in the cells below the city, which is why he cannot speak with you now: he is trying to learn why she plotted against the Confederation and tried to bring about The End Times.
"But I can take a message if you'd like. I'm sure Lord Iohannes will want to speak with you as soon as he's free."