Characters: Ancient!John/Rodney McKay, Kavanaugh, Allina
Warnings: #32 in the Ancient!John 'Verse; "The Tao of Rodney," thru SG1 s10e14 "The Shroud," SGU s1e01 "Air"; mentions of genocide, Star Wars, hard core science.
Summary: Things Fall Apart
Notes: Well. Where do I begin here?
1) The science behind Kavanagh's tokamak is as sound as I can make it, largely borrowed from what Wikipedia and Michio Kaku have to say on the topic. Basically, if successful, think of a modern energy revolution on par with the discovery of Steam Power or Electricity. 2) Yes, Allina is from "The Brotherhood", and the last name I've given her is in tribute of the first person to be killed by a train, who held her position in the British government at the time. 3) The third of this was written largely listening to "Safe and Sound", off the S3 revised soundtrack, over and over again. 4) Cogniatus means Devices in Latin. 5) If any one's really interested in the politics starting here, I'll write up some notes on the various parties if you'd like. 6) And, yes, Ascensiones means Ascended Ones.
An Ancient!John Story
22 February, 2007 / XXXVI Apr. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
"Dipoles, Kavanagh! Dipoles!"
"I am more than aware of the problems generated by magnetic confinement upon hydrogen gas, generating evenly compressed plasma amongst them," the so-called Head of Research and Development says acerbically. His bitterness over having to still report to Rodney, despite his absurd new position, has only grown in the seven weeks since the Second Expedition Gated to the city. While there are several familiar faces among them, many of them friendly, there are those Rodney would much rather have done without. Like Kavanagh. And Telford. And any number of others whose names he can't honestly be bothered to recall. "I happen to have a Ph.D. in the field from MIT and another from Texas A&M in Nuclear Engineering. And if you take a look at my simulation, you'd see-"
Rodney is looking at the simulation - far closer than Kavanagh actually has, by the sound of things. Choosing to act like he hasn't been interrupted, he continues, "They complicate matters severely. Magnetohydrodynamics is exceedingly difficulty to project accurately."
"Yes," the other man bites out, his rat-like eyes narrowing in a way that suggests he wants to make an issue of things but is forcing himself to stay – just barely – within the bounds of propriety for appearance's sake. For the moment, "but I have been studying those effects for well over a decade. You might even say I'm an expert in the field. Which is why you should just take a look at-"
"Yes, yes, I've looked at your damned simulation. You've only programed it out to fifteen significant figures."
"Which are five more than are really needed. And, if you notice, it also happens to work."
"On computer, in a simulation," Rodney snorts, tapping the screen of the laptop that's currently running the algorithms for Kavanagh's long-running pet project: a tokamak capable of producing commercially viable magnetic confinement fusion.
If successful, it could be revolutionary back on Earth – Terra. As global oil reserves are depleted, a new source of substantial amounts of energy is desperately needed. Zero point energy remains unviable for a multitude of reasons, ranging from the fact that the Stargate Program remains classified on Earth – Terra – to rather more stymying one that, after nearly thee years, they still don't know what the Zero Point Modules are actually made of, let alone how to manufacture one of their own. Atlantis now has the capability to recharge dead ZedPMs, but even Rodney's ATLAS Device is dependent upon having at least one charged ZedPM available to recharge a dead one. If something were ever to happen to drain all their ZedPMS at once, they're back to square one.
Not that Naquadah generators are exactly square one for energy production, but they are still fission devices. They still generate radioactive waste, albeit on a far smaller scale than the average nuclear power plant. They are still capable of causing widespread destruction if one were ever to seriously malfunction.
A fusion device could potentially solve the world's energy problems, granting the country that controlled it the power of a sun.
It could also potentially turn into a hydrogen bomb if improperly designed.
(Well, no, that's probably over selling things a little. But this is Kavanagh he's talking about, and Rodney doesn't trust his equations any farther than he can throw them. Any disaster is possible if Kavanagh's at the helm.)
"But," Rodney continues, "you try building this thing in real life and you'll blow the city apart."
Through gritted teeth now, "Every simulation has shown-"
"Your simulation's fallacious. And, even if it weren't, if you honestly thought that I'd give you the okay to go ahead and build it without John or myself running the numbers first, you're a bigger idiot than I thought. I don't have time to look over it now, but if you want to go ahead and forward me the data, I can take a look at it tonight-
"What? So that you can use it to make your own design? I think not."
"Please. The moment this program is declassified, I'll have a shelf full of Nobels. The only question is what discovery they'll award it for first."
"I highly doubt the Royal Science Academy would consider your gleaning of Ancient technology to be true discoveries, even if they were inclined to award a prize to someone who betrayed his whole planet just to get laid."
Rodney can't help it: a startled burst of laughter escapes him that has several heads in the Second Expedition's main physics lab turning their heads towards Kavanagh's little glass-walled office. "Honestly, if that's what you think, I should just let you build your tokamak so I can watch as you blow yourself to smithereens, but since I've no desire to see you take half my city with you, the answer's still: not until I see the math."
When there's no immediate response, Rodney thinks he's won this round and straightens up to go. It's true that he doesn't have time to be doing this right now – he's supposed to be in John's office in ten minutes, for a meeting with the folks in charge of planning their wedding about when they can actually have the wedding without interfering with any of the Confederation's primary signatories' harvest seasons, or some ridiculousness like that. Because apparently it wasn't fitting for the Emperor of Pegasus to get married in the traditional Ancient way, which, like most Ancient ceremonies, involved little more than some paperwork and meditation. It's a load of pomp and circumstance both of them would rather do without, but they'd both known from the moment John had accepted the job their lives would no longer quite be their own.
Still annoying, though.
He's halfway out the door when he hears Kavanagh say, "It's not your city."
He pauses and turns. "It's definitely not yours."
"You don't like me. Fine. I don't particularly like you either. But don't pretend abandoning Earth makes you better than the rest of us. So you have the Ancient gene. So the city supposedly blasts music into your head. That doesn't make Atlantis yours. There are other people who are doing good work here, work that will benefit billions of people. Just because they're people you've turned your back on doesn't make it any less worthy."
"This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that you're a second-rate scientist who's greased enough palms to get a position you are in no way worthy of or prepared for," he snaps, spiteful enough that he makes sure to speak loud enough for all the eagerly awaiting ears in the main lab to hear.
"Better than being shipped off to the edge of the known universe because nobody wanted you anywhere on Earth."
Rodney knows it's not true. Elizabeth fought to have him on the First Expedition. He'd not been a popular choice. If it had been up to the IOA selection committee, he'd have stayed in Siberia for the rest of his life, in part to smooth over ruffled Russian feathers, always on edge about being the red-headed stepchildren of the Stargate Program, in part to keep the Americans happy, most of whom were still rather upset over that incident with Teal'c a few years back. For them, it has never mattered that he's the smartest person in who galaxies, only that he's not the political choice.
All this is ancient history – lower case "A" – but it still stings.
Unable to think of any response to this that won't generate an intergalactic war, Rodney turns and leaves.
It is with a creeping sense of dread that Iohannes realizes his Confederation has spawned its first political party.
He doesn't think Allina Huskis, who has managed to become the Daganian Minster for Enterprise and Innovation since he saw her last, fully realizes this yet, but it's true all the same. There are a plethora of people in this galaxy who feel just as she does, all of whom will flock to her banner because that is the kind of person that she is - which is to say, charismatic and fatally self-assured, which seem to be the two primary requirements for a successful politician of any species.
Iohannes can already see her spiritually-flavored version of corporatism gaining footholds throughout in galaxy, particularly on pious planets like Pryderi and Berwyn, where the Ancestral religion as gotten a little too close to the local forms of government. Just as clearly, he can see the countermovement that will undoubtedly soon form on planets like Kenosha and New Athos, where more leftist forms of the ideology have always flourished. And even with the near-unlimited power at his disposal as an Ascended being, the best he can do now is monitor the situation and attempt to moderate the influences of both before they run the chance of tearing his hard-earned Confederation apart.
He should probably also name them before someone else does, if only so they wind up with something he can stand hearing for the next thirty thousand odd years.
Iohannes amuses himself with this for a while, if only because he's supposed to be non-political, or some other bullshit he'd agreed to when it had appeared his position as Emperor would never be more than ceremonial and that Elizabeta would always be around to do the heavy lifting, before Terra had sidestepped into the realm of nearly-enemies and the Lantean race had been reborn in a handful of Descendant exiles with less than a thimble of Alteran blood between them. He has political duties now and people to think about, and he misses having someone above him to tell him when he's wrong and stop him from making mistakes.
Emperors don't make mistakes.
Gods don't make mistakes.
He is Invictus. Unconquered. Invincible.
Maybe he should change his cognomen to that once the Wraith are finally defeated. Iohannes Ianideus Invictus Imperator has a nice ring to it. And if he wants to shout loud enough for the higher planes to hear that he, Iohannes, who broke all their rules and threw them back in their incorporeal faces, had succeeded where they had not? Well, it's his prerogative. Hell, it's his right after all the hell they've put him through.
Maybe he should call her party Moralists. She's certainly used the words duty and moral obligation often enough, which is sort of funny because he'd thought she'd come to the city to complain about the Genii getting more slots in the first class of the University that was set to open come local winter. It's only on the sixteenth iteration of the phrase set a proper example, though, that Iohannes gets what it's really about:
"Y'know," he says, throwing an arm over the back of his chair, "this may be an awkward time to mention it, but when you joined this Confederation, you happened to sign a document that makes homosexual marriage legal."
Allina makes an aggrieved sound, though not for the reasons Iohannes immediately assumes. "I do know, and while that's perfectly fine in principle, you have to think of the example you're setting."
"Not a fan of marriage, Minister Huskis?"
"Of course I support the institution of marriage," she informs him, momentarily thrown off balance - but only for a moment, and she regathers steam quickly. "But the very survival of our civilization depends upon ensuring that we maintains populations too large for the Wraith to cull in their entirety and that any survivors are genetically diverse enough to repopulate their worlds successfully. For that to be possible, every person capable of producing children ought to have at least one, regardless of their proclivities. On Dagan, our Minister for Education shares your preferences, my Lord, but even so he had two children with a similarly disposed woman before engaging in them. As Emperor, it is your duty and moral obligation to set a similar example for the peoples of this galaxy."
Flustered again, "That's all you have to say? I see? 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 its moral centre. If you do not act in the right, who will?"
It's only because Iohannes is trying very hard to be the kind of emperor Pegasus deserves, the kind of god Elizabeta always wanted his people to be, that Iohannes doesn't roll his eyes at the Daganian Minister.
Instead, he lowers his arm from the back of his chair. He's straight-backed in his seat, in a office designed to impose and intimidate in the Central Spire, far from his private office and his hard-won trappings of mortality. He knows from practice that the weight of his gaze will force her to lower her eyes, maybe even take a step or two backwards in attempt to place some distance between them. And if he stares at her long enough, she will break the silence with words of her own, as Allina does now, almost tripping over herself to say:
"Not that I would ever presume to tell you what to do, Your Apostolic Majesty. I only speak of what I would do, were I in your place."
"Uh-huh. And how many children do you have, Minister?"
Allina ducks her head like an admonished child. "None, my Lord."
"So don't you think it's a little hypocritical to be telling me I ought to have some?"
"Perhaps," she admits, raising her eyes again. They don't quite meet his, but they come a lot closer than anyone else has managed in this office. "But I would rather speak the truth and found lacking then hold my tongue and watch everything we've worked so hard to accomplish crumble."
"I hardly think the Confederation will fall if I fail to have children, Minister. But," he adds, raising a finger before she can renew her protests, "I will mention your concerns to Doctor McKay and we will both abide by his decision, whatever it may be."
"That is all I ask, my Lord," she says and, with slight bob, leaves just as quickly as she came.
Iohannes presses the heels of his hands to his forehead for one long moment. He counts to ten and takes a long, slow breath that serves no biological purpose whatsoever but seems to help all the same before bringing his hand to his earwig and telling Jinto to send the next one in.
23 February, 2007 / XXXVII Apr. a.f.c. I – Atlantis, Lantea, Pegasus
It's late when Rodney gets back to the suite – or really early, depending upon the perspective. He'd not honestly planned to stay in his lab until the small hours of the Lantean morning, but he'd had a thought about a way of improving his Cogitatus (as John had so originally named his modified goa'uld memory recall device) after the meeting with the wedding planner, which had led to three hours of coding he'd honestly not factored into his schedule this morning.
(The three hours he'd spent complaining to Radek about how monumentality unfair it is that Kavanagh would undoubtedly earn a Nobel for his work in magnetic confinement fusion before Rodney earned any of his for the simple fact that Kavanagh's tokamak could be built using declassified technology and his couldn't probably hadn't helped matters either. But it is momentously unfair, especially as all Kavanagh is doing modifying existing Terran technology with a little Ancient know-how, while Rodney's basically working to recreate Ancient science from the top down.)
Either way, he'd stayed in his lab far longer than he'd intended. He'd been surprised when he'd looked at the clock, not just to see how the hours had flown, but because John usually came to drag him off to bed long before then if whatever he was working on wasn't urgent. These late-night hours are all they reliably get to see each other anymore, what with all their responsibilities as Imperator and Rector, and they guard them jealously.
The fact that John had not tried to pull him away from his work tonight probably means there's some minor crisis going on that requires his attention, so Rodney's expecting the suite to be empty when he enters. At first, it even appears to be – but that's before he hears the slight whisper of noise coming from the suite's little-used kitchen.
"John?" he calls out because, well, John has less reason than anyone to use the kitchen. It contains a coffee pot and a couple cans of Molson's and that's about it as far as anything edible goes – neither of which John particularly cared for before his Ascension. Of the rest, he thinks some of the drawers have been given over to random bits of broken technology, and that the racks designed for pots and pans have been repurposed for weapons that, again, John has little use for now, but largely it remains unused.
"Is everything alright?" he asks, passing through the kitchen doorway-
-to find John sitting on the long, cushioned bench that runs along the far wall, just under the windows that would give a magnificent view of the ocean if it weren't nearly 0300. Of course, sitting might be pushing it a little. What he's doing is more akin to perching on the edge of one of the cushions and leaning forward until his head just about brushes the table in front of him. With his arms wrapped tightly around his middle and his usual layers abandoned for a simple tunic and pants, he looks like a lost and lonely child, more Fallen then The Star That Fall From Heaven.
"Everything's fine." His voice is a little too loud, a little too brittle to be normal, though. If Rodney didn't know any better, he'd say John's been crying, but in the nearly three years they've known each other – in the nearly two-and-a-half years they've been together – he's never once known John to cry.
"Doesn't look that way from here."
John lifts his head just enough to offer him a tight, splintery smile. "They did it." There's a touch of red about his eyes, a touch of pallor to his skin, but other than that there is nothing to suggest tears that, in all probability, never occurred.
"Who did what?"
"SG-1. They found Jackson and activated the Sangraal."
Rodney frowns as he pulls out one of the chairs opposite. "That's a good thing, right? No more Ori – or didn't it work?"
"Oh, no. It worked. The Haeretici are gone, all of them but for the Abomination, Adria, who remains on this plane of existence. The greatest enemy the Alteran people ever faced, wiped out in less time than it takes to breathe…"
"And again, that's a good thing, right?"
"It's a good thing," John agrees, decidedly watery. "But they turned it on too soon. They didn't just get the Haeretici in the home galaxy, they got everyone who ever Ascended in Avalon too. It's what I wanted, but... Star Wars had it wrong."
Rodney blinks at the sudden change of direction. "What's Star Wars got to do with anything?"
"If Obi-Wan really had heard a great disturbance […], as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, he'd not be standing around quietly afterwards. He'd be a gibbering mess too."