Title: Socii (1/6)
Words: 2,715 (of 16,253)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, Sentient!Atlantis, Elizabeth Weir, Carson Beckett, Hermiod; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: part 1 of #13 in the Ancient!John 'verse; takes place immediately following "Trinity"
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: In which John does a lot of sleeping, much to everyone's dismay.
Notes: According to my timeline, this story takes place about a week before Christmas 2005. Because Ford died at the end of S1 in this 'verse, there can obviously be no "The Lost Boys"/"The Hive" in this 'verse, and so this installment is going to kinda take the place of the midseason 2parter... That being said, this will probably be another 3parter, an will have almost nothing to do with the content of those 2 episodes, and more to do with "Instinct," "Conversion," "First Contact," and "The Lost Tribe," as well as, of course, "Trinity." That being said, Socii means Allies in Latin.
An Ancient!John Story
"...putting your life and other people's lives at risk. You destroyed three quarters of a solar system!"
Rodney's barely paying attention to Elizabeth, despite the fact she's shouting, angrier than he's ever seen her. He should be, he knows. She'll be angrier still when she realizes he's ignoring her, but, God, how can she expect him to listen to anything she says when John's in the infirmary and has been for over an hour without Carson being able to find a sign that anything wrong with him other than the fact that he can't – or won't – wake up.
"Five sixths," he mutters. The Daedalus had arrived a Doranda to check up on them about fifteen minutes after the weapons system had finished overloading. They'd surveyed what little remained, which is mostly particle-sized debris and a Jovian planet at the edge of the system. Given enough time, it could be an interesting case study to see if the debris helped turn the gas giant into a proper star. Rodney thinks he'd be more excited about the prospect, if only they could get John to wake up. "It's not an exact science."
"Rodney," she snaps, her voice almost as cutting as her words, "can you give your ego a rest for one second?"
He snaps at this. "You honestly think if I had any idea something like this could happen, I would've asked John to uplink to the outpost? Hell, if I ever thought such an extreme overload like this was even a possibility, I'd never have asked him to go through with it. I want to get rid of the Wraith as much as the next person, but I'm not stupid, particularly when it comes to..."
Rodney literally feels himself deflate as he comes to the end of his rant, and collapses into the nearest chair before he can finish, feeling tired and more than a little broken. He looks at the floor for a moment, trying to find the words that usually come so readily to his lips, before giving up altogether, ready for whatever further condemnations she might have. The sooner she gets through them all, at least, the sooner he can get back to the infirmary. Hopefully Carson will have figured out what's wrong with John by then.
Elizabeth must see this, though, because when he looks up, her expression has somehow transformed from sit down, shut up, and listen to I'm so sorry in the space of those few seconds. "I know you didn't mean for this to happen," she says, sinking down into her own seat, "but you've got to be more careful. It's one thing to take risks when we're already in a life-or-death situation, but it's another entirely when Atlantis isn't in immediate danger."
"I know. But I truly thought I'd solved the problem, and John was so certain he'd be able to manage the containment field..."
"John puts a lot of pressure on himself, especially when it comes to getting rid of the Wraith."
"That's just it," Rodney says frustratedly. "I don't think this is about the Wraith. I mean, don't get me wrong, if given half the chance, I'd think he'd have no qualms about wiping them off the face of the galaxy in the most spectacularly self-destructive way possible, but ever since the Daedalus came back with news of SG-1 encountering the Ori... I think the Ori terrify him in a way the Wraith never have. Not that that's ever stopped him from taking stupid risks before, but..."
"But he still should've known better," Elizabeth finishes.
His response is a half-sighed, "Yeah."
"And so should you," she adds pointedly before sighing herself and saying, "I know you want to get back up to the infirmary, so I'll not keep you any longer, just... think about what I said, alright?"
Carson's made no progress by the time Rodney gets back to the infirmary, that much is obvious by the way John's still out cold. He's got his medical staff minions running the Ancient version of an MRI over him, and is frowning at the screen showing him the results – that much is clear before Rodney even makes it three steps into the room.
"This cannae be possible," the good doctor tells one of his nurses, clearly too absorbed in his work to have noticed his entrance. Well, that and the fact that all the lights in the infirmary are dimmed, save for the ones directly above John. He figures that is Atlantis' doing, not Carson's, and wishes for a moment he could talk to the city like John can, to tell her that her favoured son would be alright. Hopefully. He settles for patting the door frame sympathetically before making his way further in. "Are you sure the scanner's properly calibrated?"
"We've checked it twice, but I can call one of the engineers up here if you'd like them to check it out."
"Do that, would you?"
"Don't bother," Rodney tells them, making his presence known as he steps up to John's bedside. It looks so wrong to see him lying there, so pale and still. In the white scrubs they've changed him into, he looks all too like the corpses they recovered from the outpost and the auxiliary control centre. He has to clench his hands to keep from reaching out taking John's, afraid to feel how cold it might be. "I might as well take a look at it since I'm here. I take it you've not made any progress then?"
"As far as I can tell, there's absolutely no reason for him to be unconscious. I've put him under the scanner, and he only thing that's telling me is that his brain's working at levels far beyond human normal, but..."
"...but," Rodney finishes for him, tearing his eyes away from John long enough to glance at the results of the latest brain scan, "human above-normal could be below-normal for an Ancient."
Carson's still frowning as he nods in agreement, "Especially one that was Ascended."
"Hasn't he been letting you run tests on him, though?" Rodney seems to remember tests, ones that rather annoyed John and had led to more than a few original Star Trek marathons. So many, in fact, that they were almost done with the first series, even considering how often they had to go back and re-watch episodes because they'd gotten... distracted... midway through.
"Nae for a while, actually. I've been focusing on getting the Wraith antivirus working... Are you sure you told me everything that happened at the outpost?"
"Yes!" Rodney huffs, "We injected the nanoids into the outpost's central computing core, then went back to the jumper to wait for them to spread throughout the system. Once they came online, we started the test. It overloaded, and John flew us out of there before the weapon went critical."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure!"
Carson holds up his hands placatingly. "What I mean is, our computers have programs to keep intruders out, mightnae the Ancients have done the same thing with the computers on their secret research base?"
"But John's not an intruder. He's one of their pastores. The computers shouldhave recognized that."
"But what if it didnae? Or couldnae?"
Anything was possible, Rodney supposes. The Dorandan computers could have been damaged during one of the earlier tests of the weapon, in a way that only knocked out higher logic functions, or that they couldn't discover unless they went specifically looking for it. Or, having never been designed to be pastor-compatible, it might not have recognized John as friendly and launched its version of antispyware on him. Or it might've been infected with some sort of malware that it passed on to John's nanoids through their connection – and, if that was the case, then his connection to the city would probably pass along the virus to Atlantis too.
Snapping his fingers, Rodney darts for the nearest computer and demands more than asks, "You've been emailing the city, haven't you." He's still a little peeved about that – Atlantis doesn't email him, and he's her custodia – but figures it works to their advantage right now. Or, at least, isn't a disadvantage. He can ask John about the whys and wherefores later, after he's awake.
"What's the address?"
"You're going to ask Atlantis what's wrong with the Colonel?"
"You got any better ideas?"
"I didn't think so. Address?"
Carson tells him and, within seconds, the screen upon which John's scans had been displayed goes blank, being replaced by a few lines of Alteran that, with all the work he's done on Ancient tech by this point, Rodney's able to translate reasonably quickly. "She's saying that we activated an emergency data transfer protocol when the weapon started to overload. That it... No, that can't be right."
Rodney doesn't know whether to laugh or not after he makes sure he's translated the last half correctly. "Basically, she's saying the computers at the outpost used the nanoids in his head like a black box, and that, as soon as she's finished downloading all the data, John'll be back to his old self."
"Really?" Carson looks a touch amused himself, if still concerned. "Any idea how long that might take?"
He sends off another email, and, in seconds, a second message appears on the display. "About thirty-five hours, give or take. It's about as fast as the process can go, with the limitations of the technology involved."
"Well," the doctor says after a moment, "I guess we'll just have to wait and see."
Half the city, or so it seems, stops by to see how John's doing over the next twenty-eight hours. Rodney knows because he refuses to leave the infirmary, even after Carson reminds him that he'll be the first one he radios if there are any changes.
And then Hermiod shows up.
This is pretty strange to begin with, as the Asgard rarely left the Daedalus on its previous layovers here, but not entirely out of character, as he and John had struck up something of a rapport during their long journey back from Earth. No one knows quite what they talked about – John's translation matrix apparently does Asgard just as well, if not better, than English – but they seemed to have gotten along well enough. Maybe not well enough for Hermiod to show up at his sick bed, but, as it turns out, Hermiod's not there for John.
"Doctor McKay," he says without preamble, "we are going to upgrade the Daedalus' hyperdrive systems."
Rodney, who's been messing about on his tablet, trying to hack into John's email the old-fashioned way as he waits for John to wake up, doesn't look up when he asks, "You are?"
"You and I are, yes. Now," he adds when Rodney's not fast enough to meet his narrow-eyed, disapproving stare.
He really doesn't have a choice after that, and so he goes and assists with some minor technical upgrades to the Daedalus that Rodney has a feeling that Hermiod could have done in his sleep, with one hand tied behind his back. They do, however, prove enough of a distraction that he doesn't notice the hours pass until Carson radios to tell him that John's showing signs of waking up soon.
He's gathering his things and high-tailing it off of the engineering deck so quickly that he almost misses the harried and somewhat harassed, "You're welcome," that the Asgard offers as he's leaving.
It's enough to stop Rodney dead in his tracks. Sure, it had briefly crossed his mind that Hermiod had pulled him into this project to distract him from John's being in the infirmary, but he'd dismissed it just as quickly because, well, this is an Asgard he was thinking about. An alien. It was nothing short of idiocy to expect human things from them. Hell, half the time it was idiocy to expect human things from John, and they shared ninety-seven percent of a genome.
But still, whatever Hermiod's motivations, it appears that he's tried to do something nice for him. "Thanks, Hermiod," he offers sincerely, and heads for the door before things can get any stranger.
John wakes up about an hour after this. Which is to say, Rodney's succeeded in hacking into John's email account and is reading through his sister's account of the tantrum Madison had thrown when she'd realized Uncle Mer and Uncle John weren't going to be able to visit for a while when he looks up and sees John watching him tiredly, through half-open eyes.
"Hey there," he says, setting his tablet on a patch of empty infirmary bed and grabbing John's hand with both his own. "How you feeling?"
"Dizzy," John says, seemingly honestly, which has to say something about how bad John must be feeling. "How long have I been out?"
"Since yesterday," Rodney tells him. That's all he really means to tell him, at least until Carson has checked him out, to make sure his best insults don't go over John's head, but he can't help himself, not where John's concerned, and dives back in with, "You've any idea how worried I've been? I mean, 'Lantis said you'd be okay, but she's just a city, what does she know about medicine? Granted, it's probably more than Carson does, but that doesn't exactly help when I find out that the computers on the outpost decided to use you as a backup drive before trying to kill us both. Oh, and by the way, the fact that you can apparently double as a USB in emergencies? Definitely something to have mentioned before we decided to try to revolutionize energy systems engineering."
John looks equal parts amused and nauseous, and closes his eyes before he responds, somewhat sheepishly, "It's not something that comes up often," before asking if he has a pencil he can borrow.
"Of course you did," Rodney sighs, releasing John's hands so he can search through the bedside table for something John can write with, and on. It's difficult finding something, as the infirmary is almost as paperless as most of Atlantis' other departments, but he eventually succeeds, asking as he hands over his finds, "Think you can stay awake long enough for me to get Carson to check you out?"
"I'm fine, Rodney. Just tired."
Rodney looks him over dubiously. "I think we'll let the person with the medical degree decide that."
John scribbles something on the prescription pad Rodney'd found him and sighs, which quickly turns into a yawn. "Fine. But don't think I won't remember this next time you're coped up in here and wanting my help to escape. Here," he says, ripping off the pad's top sheet and handing it to Rodney.
"Christmas present," he yawns, and promptly falls back asleep.
John's scribble upon closer inspection turns out to be the call-index of a file his nanoids had saved from the Dorandan outpost. At first, the file appears to be little more than a series of equations relating to Project Arcturus – interesting, yes, but not something they hadn't already seen.
And then Rodney makes the motherlode of all finds.
"Have you dialled the SGC yet?" Rodney asks as soon as he's in Elizabeth's office, barely able to contain his grin.
"It's not scheduled for another half-hour yet," she asks, looking up from her computer, where she's presumably trying to figure out how to tell the people back on Earth about the abrupt end of the human involvement in Project Arcturus without getting anyone fire, demoted, or otherwise recalled to Earth. "Why?"
"One of the files John rescued from Doranda? It contains the formula for recharging ZedPMs."