Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter, Evan Lorne, Laura Cadman, Carson Becket, OCs; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: #11 in the Ancient!John 'verse; takes place shortly before/after "The Intruder," and contains spoliers for all SG1 episodes through "Mobius."
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights.
Summary: Evan Lorne would have never joined the Stargate program if his girlfriend hadn't cheated on him.
Notes: Well, this got long. It was just supposed to be a quick reponse to nuetronorange's request for Iohannes being protective of Rodney while on Earth. I don't think this was quite what she intended, but... it's long. That's got to count for something. (In case you don't realize it by the end of this installment, I've a bit of a thing for Lorne.) Oh. And heres is Latin for heir. In this case, heir meaning second-in-command. Oh, and as always, the glossary is here.
An Ancient!John Story
This is how Evan gets into the Stargate Program:
He's in Afghanistan on the twelfth month of a tour that was supposed to last only eight when he gets a letter from Rebecca, his girlfriend of the last five years, telling him she's pregnant. Three months pregnant to be exact, which is rather hard to reconcile when he's not seen her since the leave he was able to take in Dubai, four-and-a-half months ago. Perhaps he should have tried to be more understanding, considering he's been more or less gone the past year, but that's rather hard to do with the knowledge that she's been cheating on him fresh in his mind and he summarily trades phone privileges with one of the lieutenants in his squadron and ends things then and there with a message on her answering machine.
The thing is, though, Becca's father holds a rather important, if seemingly minor, position in the Air Force and believes his daughter when she says that she's carrying Evan's child. He kicks up a storm when he finds out Evan has no intention of marrying her – or, at the very least, continuing to support her. What follows is a very swift paternity suit that's over before the kid's even born, the end result of which is a DNA test that proves his ex-best friend is the father and a carefully worded commendation in Evan's jacket thanking him for his cooperation with the investigation.
Evan's still not sure how the blood sample from the paternity test wound up in Doctor Beckett's hands, only that two weeks after the suit has been quietly closed and his life has gone back to as normal as it gets in a war-zone, he gets orders to report to Peterson AFB as soon as the transport planes can get him there. His final plane is met at the exit ramp by a woman in Air Force uniform and Scottish man in plaid he'll later learn is Doctor Beckett. They take him to an empty hanger near the edge of the airfield and hand him a strange, pyramidal device.
"Think on, Major Lorne" says the woman – Major Samantha Carter of SG-1 he'll later learn.
What the hell, Evan thinks and does as she asks, nearly dropping the device when it begins to glow faintly as it fills the room with a strange, ethereal music.
Doctor Beckett and Major Carter cannot contain their smiles.
(Later, he'll learn that he's the first success they've had in identifying someone with the gene needed to activate Ancient technology. But right then he's more concerned about what they're telling him about travel to other planets to pay attention to the genetics portion of their offer.)
Evan's on M2X-785 when the Atlantis Expedition makes contact with Earth. By the time his gate team arrives back at the SGC, the senior staff who'd gated back have already been sent on their leaves. In fact, he doesn't even realize they're back in contact with Atlantis until he's talking to Captain Farrell about his own mission (which was supposed to be a three-week humanitarian effort to vaccinate the local population for a mysterious plague and had ended up with him having to do everything short of shooting the local chieftain to convince him that, no, he did not want to marry his fourteen-year-old daughter, thank you very much) in the mess.
"Sounds like something Jackson might appreciate."
"Yeah," Evan says as he looks about. He doesn't see the archaeologist anywhere, which is odd because normally Jackson would be all over something like this like white on rice. "Is he sick or something?"
"Nah. He's eyeball-deep in the Atlantis stuff. From what I hear, Lam had to threaten him with sedatives to get him out of his lab the other day."
Frowning, "What Atlantis stuff?"
"You didn't hear? We made contact with Atlantis while you were gone. Or they with us. Turns out they didn't have the power to get back. Anyway, they managed to send a transmission back and the brass used the ZPM they found in Egypt to send them reinforcements and stuff. Weir and couple others came back for debriefing. Brought an Ancient with them. Last in the whole universe, apparently. Jackson's over the moon."
"I can imagine." It makes Evan feel sorry for the poor guy. No one, not even an alien, deserved to be on the receiving end of one of Doctor Jackson's obsessive streaks. Particularly not if he's the last of his kind in the universe.
"Yeah. The Ancient wasn't happy with his constant questions. Rumour has it he's a bit of a hard-ass – you remember Colonel Sumner and his second, that young kid, Ford?" At his nod, Farrell continues, "The Ancient killed both of them. And no, that's not a rumour. Doctor Weir confirmed it herself."
"Why'd he do that?"
"Dunno. Didn't catch that bit."
Evan shakes his head. He likes Grant Farrell, he really does, but he spends a bit too much time talking and not quite enough listening to anything. As it is, the only reason his career hasn't stalled further is because he, like Evan, has the Ancient gene. He's not sure of the details but General O'Neill worked out some sort of deal that means Farrell gets to play light-switch for the scientists rather than go off-world. It's a good plan – Farrell's old team has gotten into a lot less trouble since he was pulled – but it means that Grant's chances of promotion are nil. He's probably looking at early retirement too, but again, Evan doesn't know all the details.
It's rather a shame, actually, as Farrell's a much better pilot than he is an officer but at least light-switch duty keeps him at home with his kids. That's got to be something at least, when those of their colleagues who aren't being shot at off-world are being shot at in the Middle East.
"Next thing I know, you'll be telling me that he tried to kill Jackson in the middle of the Gate Room when he asked one too many questions about his mother."
It's Farrell's turn to shake his head, laughing a little as he does. "There's still time for that; the Daedalus isn't expected back for another ten days."
The process by which he becomes the XO of the military forces on Atlantis goes something like this:
Evan's called into General O'Neill's office the evening he gets back from 785. Nearly all of the man's personal effects are in boxes and, according to Farrell and several more reputable sources, he was supposed to have left for Washington three days ago. By the stack of files still on his desk, Evan figures O'Neill will still be here at Christmas.
"How do you feel about paperwork, Major Lorne?" the General asks as he walks into the room.
"Been doing some research. Seems you're one of the few people here who ever gets all this mess," he gestures at the stack of folders, "done on time."
"You asking me to do your paperwork, Sir?" It's not that strange of a request. Not considering that rumour has it O'Neill hadn't even known he'd had an office before, when he was just the colonel in charge of SG-1.
"Hmm? No. Tempting, but apparently these are all my eyes only. Or so Walter tells me. No, I've discovered that having a good second is half of what it takes to be a good CO and the Atlantis Expedition is in desperate need of good officers at the moment."
Evan's rapidly approaching understanding but he's still not there yet, so he just nods like he knows what his superior is going on about and waits for the explanation that will hopefully come. It's sort of the best way to deal with a commanding officer like O'Neill.
"I'm sending you to Area 51 to help Colonel Sheppard pick out the officers he wants to take with him back to Atlantis. You're to be his new XO."
Majors generally don't become seconds-in-command of military garrisons and he tells O'Neill this.
"John's only a lieutenant colonel and even then just barely. But he's the only man for the job, so..." He shrugs and Evan rather gets the impression that, if the General let himself slip into clichés, he'd say something like needs must. "Your flight leaves in," he glances at his watch, "five hours. Walter has the files you'll be needing. Oh, and Lorne?"
"Yessir?" he asks, stepping halfway back into the office.
"Good job on 785."
Evan grins and goes off to find Chief Harriman.
After Evan lands at Area 51 the next morning, it takes him an hour to track down Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. Not so much because no one seems to know where he is – the young airman who'd met him at the exit ramp had told him he'd be in Doctor McKay's labs – but more because no one seems to know where Doctor McKay's labs are. He eventually finds them several floors underground, down a corridor that can only be accessed by taking a moving sidewalk that someone's installed alongside a supercollider Evan's fairly certain doesn't legally exist.
Despite all the smoke and mirrors to get there, the door's open when he arrives and brightly lit enough that he almost forgets how far they are underground. There's a flock of whiteboards in the far corner of the room, all filled with maths and diagrams he doesn't even claim to begin to understand. Standing in front of the nearest one is Colonel Carter, who looks like she's two-minutes away from screaming, and a man he doesn't recognize but who is wielding a black marker and eraser with frightening determination.
"Colonel Sheppard?" he asks, standing in the doorway.
Without looking away from the whiteboard, both of them point towards the nearest corner and continue with their unintelligible argument. There are a couple of worktops pushed into the corner (the sort of plywood-and-black-plastic numbers that wouldn't have looked out of place in his high school chem lab, right down to the silver knobs for the Bunsen burners) and, now that he's in the room proper, Evan can see a dark-haired man in uniform sitting at one of them. He's not sure what to think, considering that nothing about the man, from his not-regulation haircut to his unlaced boots propped up on the worktop amid half-a-dozen reference books, makes him look like either a lieutenant colonel or a science nerd.
"Colonel Sheppard?" he repeats when he close enough to be heard over the bickering.
The man looks him up and down, and asks, "You're not an anthropologist, are you?"
"Then that's me." He flips a page of his book. Or rather, Evan can tell upon closer examination, he flips a page of the golf magazine tucked inside his book.
"I'm Major Lorne. I'm to be your new executive officer."
Something flickers in Sheppard's eyes at that but it's brief and dark and a moment's reflection makes him think better of asking about it, if he hadn't imagined it entirely. Then he calls across the room, "Hear that, Rodney? They're giving me staff now. I guess I must be doing something right."
Rodney shoots a glare at Sheppard that makes Evan feel singed by association. "Yes, yes. You're brilliant. Women want you, men want to be you. Now get over here and do something useful for a change."
Sheppard pouts (genuinely pouts, in a way he'd previously thought had been surgically removed from his superior officers) but stands up anyway; closing the tome he was pretending to read and slipping the golf magazine into a half-open drawer beneath. "I've told you, the portae never interested me so I never paid any particular attention to them."
Shaking her head, "Be that as it may," Colonel Carter says, "there has to be something you remember, something you may think of as common knowledge that might save us a couple of weeks work."
He watches as Sheppard examines one or two of the closer whiteboards without much enthusiasm. "Well, the only thing I can think of is you're going to have problems building this navale of yours. Pegasus portae have priority over all other portae in the system – newer technology. I dunno if it's possible to work around that. Might be. Probably is, since you managed to find a way to dial without a permutatum. Other than that..."
The others nod as if this is somehow straightforward English, though Rodney's already scowling at one of the whiteboards, preparing to erase large swaths of it, as if to say you couldn't have told us this earlier? For a moment it looks like a genuine row might ensue but then Sheppard suggests they see if they can't track down lunch before starting on whatever paperwork Evan's certainly brought with him.
"God, Coffee," Rodney says longingly, and apparently, that's all the agreement that's needed, as he's back on the moving sidewalk, heading for the elevators, within moments.
Evan finds out his new commanding officer is an alien in this manner:
They're sitting on a couple of torn, vinyl bench seats from an old transport van by the main runway, watching a couple of F-302s take off and going over the personnel files Evan's brought with him. They're in the shade of one of the nearby hangers but it's approaching hot enough that they're going to have to go inside before too long or risk heat stroke because, while it's barely ten in the morning, it's still August in Nevada. Nevada desert at that.
Sheppard's showing no indication of wanting to go inside however, and continues to flip through files, looking up at the sky every time he hears a jet engine. It occurs to Evan that they might be waiting on something, or someone, but they've not made any final staffing decisions and no one's mentioned anything, so he can only assume Sheppard just likes watching the planes. Evan can't blame him – the F-302s are officially the coolest things ever – but he's beginning to rue the heat exhaustion.
"I like this one," the lieutenant colonel says, passing over a file. "Explosive expert."
Evan's says something – he doesn't remember what exactly, just something about how he feels Lieutenant Cadman's a good choice and maybe they should see if there are any O-3s they like because, out of the six officer positions they have to fill, they've given four now over to lieutenants and if, God forbid, something were to happen to both him and Sheppard, they should probably have someone with a bit more experience than that on hand. Because, like it or not, that kind of thing sometimes happens where the SGC is involved.
Sheppard shudders in agreement, saying, "Yeah. I kinda hate to think what would have happened if Elizabeta had let Ford take over things."
He's not read all the reports yet. Evan's only been assigned to Atlantis for thirty-six hours now and most of that's been spent with his new CO, trying to figure out what type of staff they'll need, not reading up on his new posting. It's terrible, it's reprehensible and the perfectionist in Evan hates it, but it's just not been feasible. He's settled for reading the dossier he has on the Wraith instead and figures he'll be able to catch up on the rest during the eighteen days it will take the Daedalus to get them across the void between galaxies. Still he feels it's safe to assume Elizabeta is Doctor Weir, and asks, "Why would she have done that?" wondering what could have possibly been going on in Pegasus that its Expedition commander would think of bypassing the natural chain-of-command after Colonel Sumner's death (or, as Farrell might put it, murder).
That earns him a sharp look. After a moment, during which Evan feels he's being scrutinized like not even Becca's father had done before their first date, this turns into a deep, braying laugh. "You really don't know, do you?"
Evan shakes his head bewilderedly. He's beginning to think everyone who went to Pegasus is mad, which isn't to say that anyone who works for any length of time for the SGC isn't mad, but this is a different sort of madness. The kind brought about by close quarters and extreme circumstances, to which no outsider can ever be a part, or ever truly understand. Particularly when he hasn't been able to read the mission reports yet.
Perhaps sensing this, Sheppard holds out a hand as if introducing himself for the first time. "Iohannes Ianidedus Licinus Pastor, tribunus in the Lantean Guard, lieutenant colonel in the American Air Force and John Sheppard to most folks."
"You're Doctor Jackson's Ancient."
The Ancient who, according to Farrell, had killed both Colonel Sumner and young Lieutenant Ford.
Now, normally, Evan has nothing against aliens as long as they're not trying to take over and/or destroy Earth. It's horrible, he knows, but for him the SGC was always more about strange new worlds than new life and new civilizations.
Still, nothing about Colonel Sheppard fits with what he's heard the Ancients – or the Ancient who was supposed to have murdered (fragged, the unhelpful part of his mind suggests) two Air Force officers for reasons no one's clear on but most doubt were for the greater good – are supposed to be like. Well, Evan's not sure just what that is, but he'd rather thought they'd be a bit like the Tok'ra, who are, with the exception of Colonel Carter's late father, too wrapped up in their self-righteousness and technological superiority to care about less advanced cultures, much less join their militaries, as this one seems to have.
Besides, Sheppard's too normal, too human, to be one of them. Sure, he seems to have some technical knowledge of the Stargates but Evan had just put that down to an advanced degree the other man mightn't have liked to own up to, given the way big military looked on scientists.
But an alien? An alien who'd killed two humans without (or so the story goes) any remorse? Not something he'd have guessed in a million years.
Wrinkling his nose, Sheppard – Iohannes – tells him, "I prefer Alteran."
And that is that.
In the end, they decide upon four lieutenants and two captains. The lieutenants are all Marines and one of the captains is a Navy military engineer, which should make the JCS happy. The last is Captain Antonio Rodriguez, who's been with the SGC since almost its inception and has a service record that makes Evan feel under-qualified for his job.
He and Sheppard are on their way to speak with the officers they've chosen after a particularly unpleasant teleconference with some of the IOA representatives. They walk in silence, mostly because the IOA had flat-out rejected most of the security plans Sheppard had recommended to them and Evan doesn't want to say anything for fear of facing the brunt of his anger. Normally Evan wouldn't have the slightest problem with this – he's the XO, he's supposed to do these things so the men under their command don't have to – but he's still not entirely sure what to make of the Ancient that is his new CO. The rumours all seem contradictory and, while Sheppard doesn't seem to be the hard-ass Farrell had thought, the fact remains he'd still shot the last two officers to set foot in his city.
In fact, that's the one thing the rumours all agree on – that Atlantis is John Sheppard's – and the powers-that-be are hesitant to upset him over-much for fear of losing access to the city, at least until they can figure out just how much control over it Sheppard really has. This, the rumours claim, is why they'd made him an O-5 just weeks after commissioning him as a major, though others claim that there was some political pressure involved from Canada and the EU as well.
Still, there's a black cloud about Sheppard as they make their way through the warren of tunnels to the conference room they're supposed to be meeting their new support staff in. Even if the lieutenant colonel appears outwardly undisturbed by the IOA's decision, people are scuttling out of the way to avoid him as they pass. Evan can't really blame him, considering the work that must have gone into those plans – Sheppard had offered four or five contingencies – but he also understands the IOA's position.
The most extreme plan calls for the relocation of Atlantis to a different planet in the Pegasus galaxy, the building of around seventy defence satellites to picket that system and a fleet of at least half-a-dozen 304s dedicated to eradicating the Wraith. The IOA had claimed, rightly, that this was infeasible for the sheer reason that the cost of such an endeavour would be almost twice the GDP of the entire planet for a decade.
The least involves the transfer of almost the entirety of the material and personnel at the SGC's disposal to Atlantis which, while doable, is far too much American military presence for an international contingency to countenance. Besides, there are the justifiable fears that the Replicators aren't as defeated as they hope and that the Goa'uld might use this opportunity as a chance to rally their forces against Earth. The SGC and its forces must stay where they are and there's no backing to recreate its forces in a different galaxy.
Whatever other evils might exist in the universe, the IOA's not likely to change their stance until the Wraith become a direct problem for Earth, so Atlantis' increased military presence is barely going to be enough men to constitute a full company. Which means they're going to have two-hundred soldiers, airmen and Marines to defend a city the size of Manhattan, a civilian population twice that (after the increase) to protect in the most hostile environment known to mankind and not even a single 304 in the galaxy full-time.
Evan would be in a bad mood too, if it would do anyone any good.
Still, he lets Sheppard sulk as they walk. Not that sulking is the proper word for it. It's more a tangible feeling of disappointment, as if humanity has failed to meet the lieutenant colonel's expectations once again.
The silence continues until they're almost at the conference room and, just when Sheppard looks like he's about to say something, they hear a voice echoing up the hall.
It's loud, with a slight Texan lilt despite having spent the better part of the last ten years in Colorado, and saying, "...to the SGC? He very nearly got Teal'c killed because he thought he knew better than Colonel Carter... Bastard too. I'm surprised no one's tried to feed him to the Wraith yet."
"Have you read the dossier on the Wraith?" asks a second, scandalized voice that could only be Cadman's. "I wouldn't feed my drill instructor to them and that man was the devil incarnate."
"So's McKay." Captain Rodriguez – there's no mistaking that voice – insists.
"He can't be that bad," says a third. "'Sides, the brass wouldn't have sent him if they thought he was a killer."
There's a snort and then, "You know what I really want to know? If this Ancient they found decided it was okay to off Sumner and Ford, why he didn't decide to do the same with McKay. He, at least, would've deserved it-"
And that appears to be all that Sheppard is willing to take because the lieutenant colonel appears to steel himself before carefully, casually, coolly walking into the room a second later and, if the looks on the faces of the officers in question are anything to go by, this is more frightening than if he'd burst into the room shouting.
"Hi," Sheppard says as they stand and salute, his returning one sloppy enough that it has to be intentional. After a moment, he frowns and tells them to stand at ease, that he doesn't stand on ceremony, and kicks out a chair from a nearby table. Twisting it around, he sits in it backwards and folds his arms over the edge, the fingers of one hand drumming slightly against the thick black bracer that's sticking out from beneath his opposite sleeve. It strikes Evan as he follows suit, taking a seat at a nearby table, that almost everything his new CO does, from unlaced shoes on up, has to be intentional, though towards what end he hasn't the slightest idea.
"So," Sheppard says, "I was going to begin by talking about the Wraith and what I'm going to want you to do when we get back to Atlantis..." He waves a hand dismissively, in a way that sincerely comes across as and all that other official shit, and continues, "But it's been pointed out to me that some of you may have a problem with the current leadership structure so let's get some things out of the way:
"First things first, yes, I am what you call an Ancient. You can call me John Sheppard. And yes, I did kill the original legatus of the Expedition, Colonel Sumner, to keep him from being fed upon by a Wraith queen. I also shot Lieutenant Ford to keep him from gating off world when doing so would have given away our position. If you have a problem with either of those facts, fine. You'll probably change your mind after your first encounter with the Wraith. If you don't, well, you probably won't last long in the Pegasus galaxy.
"More importantly, though," Sheppard continues, his voice barely changing even as everything about him grows harder, more determined, "I'd like to remind you that Doctor McKay's one of the only reasons the Expedition has lasted as long as it has. If it wasn't for him, Atlantis would have been destroyed so many times over that it doesn't bear thinking about.
"So you see, Doctor McKay is rather vital to the continued success of this Expedition. You lot, however, are not. I can get anyone to shoot down Wraith; it doesn't actually take a lot of skill. I chose you because you were the best in your individual fields but I can make-do with second-best if necessary. Goodness knows we worked with less during the War. So if any of you still feel like, oh, feeding him to the Wraith, you're free to leave right now."
There's a pause. No one moves or says anything. If Evan knew what to say or do right now he would, but he doesn't, so he continues to watch.
Three of the lieutenants – Miles, Sheffield, and Anderson – are in various stages of guilt, with heads down and eyes averted. The Navy engineer, Lieutenant Pritchard, is stony-faced, while Rodriguez is slowly turning a shade of pink not often seen in Marine captains. (It's Cadman's reaction that's the most interesting though, her chin jutting forward and her lips narrowing to a hard line in a way that suggests she wants the chance to tell Rodriguez off as well. Evan doesn't know Laura well but he's seen her around the SGC. If he didn't outrank her so, he'd rather like the chance to know her better.)
Sheppard narrows his eyes at Captain Rodriguez, whom he seems to know was responsible for the earlier comments though, again, no one's said anything since they entered. "That means you."
"Sir?" the captain asks, taken aback – also something not usually seen in long-serving Marines.
"You heard me. You can't honestly tell me you've changed how you feel in the last five minutes, so you're free to leave. More than free, actually. I don't work with soldiers I can't trust."
"But sir-" Rodriguez gives Evan the closest thing to a help me look he's ever seen from a Marine.
"It's the Colonel's decision, Captain."
"With all due respect, sir, this is bull. You can't get rid of officers just because you don't like how they think."
Sheppard shrugs, as if to say try me.
"I've worked," the captain continues, "for the SGC for the last eight years. I was Major Henley's second on SG-6 for three years before accepting this post. You can't just boot me from the Atlantis mission because I happen to not like one of the civilian scientists."
"Take it up with Elizabeta if you want but she doesn't like it when her people are threatened either. Particularly when Wraith are involved."
"You can't be serious."
Sheppard is. Very much so.
No one tells him that the head of Atlantis' military contingent and the head of its science and research department are involved.
No one has to.
Evan never sees anything incriminating, nothing he'd be forced to report, but it's obvious. It's not just the Rodriguez incident; it's a dozen little things, things only he's close enough to notice on the long flight to Pegasus. Things he chooses not to notice, for their sakes.
(It might've been a long, strange road getting here but, the more he learns of the Expedition, the prouder he is to get the chance to serve with men such as these. So what if it's against the Uniform Code? They deserve their happiness. They all do.)
Continue on to the next installment.