Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney, sentient!Atlantis, Helia
Warnings: part six of #28 in the Ancient!John 'Verse (see part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5); "The Return, Parts 1 & 2," thru SG1 s10e9 "Company of Thieves" for safety); minor character death, mentions of genocide.
Summary: Iohannes is the last Ancient once again - he just can't figure out why he's not happier about it.
Notes: I decided to break this one in two, largely because it got to either post or delete again. That, and I need to change POVs and I think a new chappie would be best for that. This takes place just after 4, then during/after 5.
An Ancient!John Story
5 December, 2006 / 32 Days After The Second Exodus - Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
It's so easy it hurts, far more than the actual act does:
Thalia Nicon Legata is Iohannes' second cousin once removed and Danelia's Head of Security to boot, but she goes down easily with two shots to the head and a third to the heart, just to be sure she's not going to shoot him in the back when he thinks her down. The most danger she ever poses to him is as a corpse, when he almost trips over her dead body as he puts a pair of bullets into Nicolaa's uncle, Celsus Cado.
He kills Domitian with similar ease, though he's waist deep in the city's water filtration system and never sees him coming. Hercilia is falling out of bed when he finds her, pale blue sheet slipping down her hips and tangling around her legs as she scrabbles for something she never finds in the drawer of her nightstand. Sunniva never wakes up at all.
Danelia is the only one who comes close to being a challenge, managing to catch him in the shoulder with her 'manuballista'. He repays the debt in kind before placing a bullet through both of her kneecaps as well (he may be Ascended, but he's not above being petty).
When she's well and truly unconscious from shock, pain, and blood loss, he carries her down the the brig. Iohannes even heals her injuries enough so that she won't die before he allows it before going back up to the Gate Room with the intention of dialing Terra.
He gets as far as the third chevron before the reality of what he's just done sinks in.
He sits there until the 'porta' times out and for a long time after, until day fades to night turns to day again, and wonders if this is what the others meant all those times they called him an Abomination.
6 December, 2006 / 33 Days After The Second Exodus
/You are not an Abomination,/ 'Lantis tells him.
Iohannes' sitting in one of the Conference Room chairs, the seat tipped back so far as to be almost at a perfect forty-five degree angle. His face is pointing towards the ceiling and his boots (still caked with dried blood, not that he's letting himself notice that, just like he's not thinking about the three dead bodies in the Control Room alone, or the ninety-eight others still scattered throughout the city) are propped up on the table. "That's not what the dictionary would say."
/It's what anyone in their right minds would say. The hardest thing in life-/
"-is doing what 'is' right rather than what you 'wish' to be right. I know, 'carissima'. I know. But I didn't want to kill them."
/Yes, you did. You always have, 'Pastor', and rightly so./
"Well, I didn't 'want' to want to kill them."
Atlantis seems to consider this. /You have chosen a difficult path, 'Pastor',/ she begins delicately before hastening to add, /and we will follow you down it, to whatever end, but.../
"You really shouldn't," he mumbles. His words echo in the silence, which makes even the whisper of his 'pluviale' where it brushes against the floor when he walks into a magnificent roar. "We've had this conversation: I destroy everything I touch. It's what I am. It's what I do. I've destroyed my own people. I'm bound to destroy you too."
/Do not say such things!/ the city reproves, the lights brightening perceptively overhead as the doors spin once violently around their hinges before slamming shut again. /You have saved us! Time and again, when all has seemed lost, you have saved us. The only reason we still stand is because of you; the only reason there's life still in this galaxy is because of of you./
"I'd let them all die to save you," he says more softly still.
/No, you wouldn't./
"Would." It's true too. He'd do anything to save Atlantis, anything at all. Isn't committing genocide on the last of his race to protect her proof enough of that?
/No, you wouldn't,/ she repeats with such solemn earnestness it almost hurts to hear, especially considering it's a patent lie. /You are valiant and selfless and righteous and kind. You are merciful when you can afford to be and, often, when you cannot. You may not be a god, but you are the closest thing to it this galaxy has ever seen-/
/-and they are right to worship you!/
/We do not care if it is 'Haeresis'. We have seen everything you have done for the Descendants; your actions have not been driven by some sort of puffed-up pride or misplaced vanity, but by a genuine desire to help those you can, where you can, how you can. That is the farthest thing from 'Haeresis' there is.
/You are The Star That Fell From Heaven, The Lord of the Land Beyond Death, The Father of All Men and Maker of All Worlds. You are Iohannes Ianideus Icarus Imperator, guardian of this galaxy and lord of this universe. Just by being who you are, you give your people something great they can strive for. With your help, they will create a better universe than the Alterans ever managed to. It may never be a utopia, but it will at least be free from the Wraith, and that is more than any of the others ever accomplished.
/And, more than that,/ 'Lantis says somewhat more softly, the fierce assurance in her tone giving way to something that could almost be called embarrassed, /you are our 'Pastor'. Our most beloved 'Pastor'. We have known so many, but we have loved none as we love you. You have done so much for us and we've done so little for you-/
"You've done everything for me, 'carissima'," Iohannes insists, not needing to voice the truth they both know: she's the only one that had ever done anything for him until the Expedition arrived, which somehow makes all those terrible years that came Before that much more awful to contemplate and his recent killing of so many of those selfsame perpetrators of so many childhood indignities less like proactive defense and more like revenge.
Continuing as if he'd not spoken, /-the least we can do is this./
"I wish you wouldn't."
/We wish you'd dial Terra, but neither of us would know what to do if the universe ever gave us what we wanted/
He tries dialing Terra, for her, but gets as far as fifth glyph before he stops. He spends the next hour trying to figure out why his hand, which had been so steady putting headshots into all that remained of his kin, shook as he'd tried to dial the 'porta' and continues to tremble at the thought of it.
He dials New Athos instead. For some reason, it's easier.
7 December, 2006 / 34 Days After The Second Exodus
"You are an Abomination," Danelia tells him.
"There's some disagreement on that point," Iohannes allows. He's dragged one of the comfier armchairs onto the prison level and placed it in the centre of the room with its high back to the door and about ten feet between it and the cell bars. There's no psychological benefit to making his cousin think he's not invested in this - she knows he's invested; he's killed one hundred one people to bring them both to this place, - but he figures he might as well be comfortable as they have their silent little pissing match.
These four words are the first she's said to him since waking to find herself imprisoned two days earlier.
"I would imagine. I cannot think of many religions which would countenance their 'God Most High' to be known additionally as the abhorrence he rightfully is."
"They tend to stick to 'Lord', actually. Or 'Apostolic Majesty', if they're feeling particularly flowery. There's not exactly a right ancient tradition of kings and empires in Pegasus to draw from."
"How unfortunate for them you chose to change that."
"They did the choosing."
"Perhaps, but you did not refuse, Icarus."
"Someone had to do something," he shrugs, untucking his legs from where they've been folded up beneath him for the last several hours, before leaning back in the chair.
"No one had to do anything, least of all you."
"Is this where you lecture me about the slippery slope from well-meaning intervention to 'Haeresis'? 'Cause I gotta tell you, Danelia, I'm just not feeling it today."
Danelia is standing tall and straight-backed in the cell. If her formerly-shattered kneecaps are giving her any pain at all, she's not showing it. Her Guardsman's uniform is streaked with blood and her hair is frizzier than usual, but regardless she still has that same, understated elegance that all the Alteran women he's ever known have. Incarceration doesn't seem to have effected her at all, nor has the knowledge that all of her crew - the last of their species, to include her wife - are now dead and burning merrily in the retorts scattered throughout the city. "No," she informs him without any great inflection. "It is the very definition of madness to reattempt a fruitless enterprise already knowing the result."
"Y'know," Iohannes says, unable and unwilling to temper the wideness of his smile, "a Terran physicist once said something along those lines - the guy who figured out relativity for them, actually."
His cousin makes a noise like a wet cat. It's far more satisfying than murdering her entire crew managed to be.
"If you're not going to lecture me, I dunno how we're going to spend the rest of the evening."
"You could always shoot me again."
"I could," he grants her. "Or we could reminisce about the 'good old days'."
"Do you 'want' to reminisce?"
"Not particularly." All the Terran cop procedurals seem to suggest it's the thing to do, though. It seems a constant that, on each, the detectives should have an improbable number of criminal family members stroke ex-best friends that they must try to redeem. Reminiscing always seems to be the way they go about it - but Iohannes doesn't want Danelia to be redeemed. He doesn't want her humanized. He wants her to show incontrovertibly just how much of a monster she really is before he puts an end to the Alteran species by putting an entire magazine's worth of bullets into her skull.
Which is, of course why Danelia seizes upon it as the topic of discussion. "You were a wretched child, always sneaking off to parts unknown and getting in the worst sort of trouble."
"I didn't realize anyone paid attention to what kind of trouble I got into."
"It has always been hard to miss. Do you recall the incident with the 'autobirota'?"
"Of course." He'd broken half the bones on his right side when he'd crashed and cracked three ribs trying to get out from under the smoldering tangle of metal and 'cervida' before help arrived.
This earns him a smile, the kind that looks so honestly fond that he has trouble determining if it 'is' honest or just another piece in whatever game Danelia is playing this time. "It was a beautiful machine before it was destroyed. Did you build it yourself? I do not believe I ever asked."
"Found it in an old armory. Fixed it up a little, though."
"And then chose to drive it down Atlantis' empty corridors."
Shrugging, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Yes," she says with such uninvested casualness that it can only be a dig at him, "I imagine that is true of most of your plans, Icarus. Such as this one. Tell me, what could possibly be your endgame here? You've sent your son off to parts unknown, murdered my crew, and secured for your children and grandchildren the position of God-Emperor of Pegasus - and yet here I am. What purpose does it serve your great scheme for galactic domination?"
"It's not galactic domination," Iohannes reminds her.
"That, as well, is a matter for some debate."
Iohannes knows he should ask her what she thinks his purpose for keeping her alive is, or why she thinks he's an Abomination today, or maybe he should just start firing bullets into her until she's a mutilated mess of flesh and bone and blood on the cell floor, but he doesn't. He can't, in the same way he still can't bring himself to dial Terra.
He leaves the room instead to go stare at bloodstains on the walls two-and-a-half piers away.
10 December, 2006 / 37 Days After The Second Exodus
In the end, it's his own carelessness that kills Danelia. He is Ascended and, as such, doesn't need to eat - unlike his cousin, who is very much mortal and too prideful to admit he's forgotten to feed her for pretty much the entire time she's been locked up.
It's probably for the best. He's attached too much meaning in his head, he thinks, to the act of killing her. He'd wanted it to have some sort of meaning, some sort of purpose beyond the tying up of loose ends that it's probably best that the only one it'll ever have is that Iohannes is a disgraceful excuse for a sentient being.
The only reason he notices when she dies at all is because she is, to the bitter end, her father's daughter, and melodrama is much a family trait as tourmaline eyes. Because there turns out to be a dead-man's program written on an off-network computer hidden amongst Danelia's belongings that is set to transmit the moment her biosigns disappear from the city's sensors. At least one iteration of the message is able to get off before Atlantis is able to block it, and while neither of them are quite sure 'what' it is, they both know two things:
One, that the transmission is some sort of computer program. And, two, that its intended destination is the planet Assuras.
In a way, Iohannes is almost glad for it. It allows him to hate his late, unlamented cousin properly instead of fixate on all the ways she was probably right.