Rating: Adults Only For Graphic Sex, Adult Situations and Violent Imagery
Category: POV Vignettes; Angst; Non Con (see warnings)
Pairings: Caldwell/Sheppard (AU); Dex/Sheppard/McKay; Lorne/Sheppard; Sumner/Sheppard/McKay (Mensa Universe AU); Mitchell/Sheppard
Warnings: Dubious Consent (#1 & #2) and Non Con (#4)
Notes: I spent days brainstorming possible scenarios for Kimberlite's Secret Santa request -- and concerned that I wouldn't finish the story I started on in time, I've pinch-hit myself. The first is the background from the section I wrote in the real fic and then cut. If/when it gets done, it'll still be inspired by Kimberlite's request.
For the 2007 SGA Secret Santa Fic Exchange
4. The Devil Went Down To Georgia (Mensa Universe AU) Picking up things a few scenes before the end of McKay and Mrs. Miller, including canon dialogue.
(I told you once you son of a bitch, I'm the best that's ever been.)
"Look, the Daedalus is still in orbit," Rod said with a look toward Jeanie and Zelenka performing the final checks. "I thought..." Rod trailed off with a shrug.
John frowned when Rodney nodded knowingly in response. Once more the two of them are five steps ahead of John in whatever they're thinking. Unfortunately this time it's making John feel uneasy instead of dumb, especially when the one side of Rodney's mouth slanted down into a deep frown.
"I know what you’re going to say."
Maybe Rodney does, but John does not.
Rod shrugged again and offered a smile that's not exactly false, but wasn't full of cheer either. "If I can beam into the energy stream while protected by my personal forcefield--"
"-- you’d be transported back to your universe, yes I know," Rodney finished Rod's statement. "I didn’t bring it up before because if it doesn’t work --"
"I’m willing to take that risk."
What risk? "What risk?" John repeated out loud this time and scowled at them both. He still took care to keep his voice down as low as they had, so as not to draw Zelenka or Jeanie's attention.
Rod tried his charming smile on John, who was even more creeped out by it now than he was the first time he'd been on its receiving end. Rodney didn't charm. If he couldn't bludgeon to get his way, then he sulked, or sometimes offered a shy smile that was all too easy to fall for because it was so damn sweet and honest, and now was really not the time to be thinking about --
"I’ve already requested the Daedalus to execute the transport to the coordinates inside the chamber on Rodney's mark," Rod sent a glance John's way. "That is, if you’re willing to do this for what it's going to do to your ZedPM."
The sudden doubt and real fear on Rod's face when he lifted his chin was almost welcome, because it's a familiar look and, John feels, maybe the first honest expression he was able to read off of Rod. Rod was also fiddling with the personal shield like it was a worry stone, or like Captain Queeg rolling his marbles over the incident with the strawberries. John had this horrible urge to cover Rod's hand with his own to still it. But Rod wasn't Rodney, and --.
"We've already said we're doing this," Rodney looked a bit fearful himself.
John supposed this wasn't going to be easy -- or safe -- otherwise they wouldn't have worked so hard to keep Jeanie out of the conversation. The two male McKays might not have liked each other all that much, but it was obvious that they both adored Jeanie.
"Okay, well I’ve made a few more calculations." Rod put down the personal shield on the cart that still held Rodney's laptop and offered his PDA to Rodney. "When the readings reach the levels I’ve indicated here, you’ll know whether or not I made it home."
Rodney glanced at the PDA, smiled a little and then turned his gaze back toward Jeanie. "So, I guess you just need to click your heels together, huh?
With a last glance of his own toward Jeanie, Rod shook Rodney's hand, and then turned to John with a shrug and a flutter of hands in a vague Rodney way that said everything too hard to put into words. "Good luck you two."
"Ditto," Rodney offered before starting toward Zelenka and Jeanie's console.
"You've said all your goodbyes?" John asked Rod in response to the stricken look on Jeanie's face.
He nodded. "Goodbyes for me need to be like bandages that are pulled up in one quick go. She… likes to drag it out." Rod bobbed his head Zelenka's way and received a nod in return. "I guess there’s nothing left to say but, 'There’s no place like home.'”
"Alright then, all is in the green," Zelenka returned to the task at hand. "We are ready for forced power output."
"Right," Rodney clapped his hands. "And," as he sidled up to Jeanie. "Uh ... you want to press the button?"
Jeanie looked surprised and pleased. "Yeah, yeah." She laughed and raised her hand. "Sure."
John took a step away from Rod when Jeanie pushed and the generator began to cycle up, a yellow light glowing in its centre. She and Rodney then separated to two different consoles.
"Power is at full," Zelenka reported from his own.
"It's working!" Jeanie offered and John could feel the energy begin to build up.
Rodney activated his headset radio. "Hermiod, this is McKay. Commence transport in twelve seconds counting down; twelve --"
"Shit, Major, the shield!" Rod turned all wide-eyed in John's direction. The personal shield was still sitting on the top of the cart John stood next to.
John grabbed it and thought first to toss it, but there was a good chance Rod would drop it or miss altogether. He stepped forward instead to hand it over; there was still seven seconds on the countdown to allow him to retreat. Maybe more as Rodney and Jeanie were trying to abort the sequence.
John made the hand off and took a step back --
"Sorry," Rod choked out as he grabbed for John's wrist.
It was in that instant that John realized that Rod had yelled, "Major" instead of Colonel. He had a brief moment to think: Fuck, I should have known, before the Daedalus' transport beam and something else fairly ripped him apart.
"Zkurvysyne! It worked!" was the first thing John heard over the wild thumping of his heart. The words don't make sense until he decided one of them was Czech, and while John might not know the literal translation, he's pretty sure of the sentiment, as it was one he agreed with. Though he would have said 'fuck me' if he could have gathered enough breath to speak.
For a moment he wondered how he'd managed to wrench himself away from Rod, but there were other voices, some familiar but a couple that were not and even if he had lost consciousness long enough for Carson to have gotten down here, John knew all of Carson's nurses and the corpsmen. So, not in Kansas anymore.
Traveling between dimensions via an Asgard transporter and a power generator with only a personal shield as protection from breaking the laws of physics sucked. It wasn't nearly as painless as traveling through a stargate between planets or even galaxies -- like by a hundred fold. The sense of betrayal John felt as he tried to straighten from the curl and desperately tried not to throw up at the same time, however? Yeah, that was exactly the same. At least so was the sense of Atlantis flooding into the back of John's mind, even if the city did feel a little more eager and anxious than normal. Her presence gave him a small sense of relief that things weren't so different even if it appeared as if most everything Rod had said about his universe had been a lie.
"Check him for weapons."
The order triggered a vague sense of alarm, but mostly John was focused on Rod's whimpers next to him and a small sense of payback in that Rod sounded like he felt just about as bad as John did. As far as John was aware, the Ancient's personal shield devices were not meant to extend around two people.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so fucking sorry, John. But I had to." Not just whimpering and shaking now, Rod had pulled himself into a crouch, with a hand resting on John's shoulder as if to offer comfort. Yet when John managed to crack an eye open, Rod was also cowering and looked as if he expected John to shove him away or hit him. Or maybe it was the armed presence in the lab that had Rod scared. As John dragged himself to his hands and knees, he counted eight different guns being pointed their direction. A little overkill, but still a standard enough precaution John was thinking, until he lifted his head enough to squint and see that the guns were in the hands of five dour-faced Marines and three…Jesus, Genii?
What the fuck?
Definitely Genii, because that was Sora who enthusiastically began patting him down before she and her partner -- a Marine John didn't recognize -- pulled him to his feet, ready or not. While he sagged between them and made little attempt to even show he was capable of standing, John stopped himself just short of throwing up on Sora, although he reserved the right to reconsider.
Clawing to his own feet by way of one of the Ancient consoles that did not look like it was at full operation unlike home, Rod's face was sweaty but pale and it looked like he'd bitten through his lip. John figured he didn't look any better even if there wasn't blood. What concerned him more was that they, at least, had an excuse to be so pale. But Zelenka wasn't looking much better, nor did this version of Miko Kusanagi.
John had just decided that the Genii must have been successful in taking over Atlantis in some kind of similar raid as the ones back home tried during John's first year, except then he caught sight of Ladon Radim, another Genii. Who was wearing the science blue Atlantean uniform and looking just as uneasy as the other scientists, with an expression of relief and fear mirrored on his face too.
John was beginning to worry that the Great Wizard in this Oz was going to be wearing a goatee.
"Congratulations, Rod. Hand the shield device over to Miko for deinitialization."
"I…I don't think it will work anymore." Rod was definitely cringing, and any of the ease and confidence he'd exhibited back in John's universe was now completely gone. He didn't conjure up the arrogance Rodney used to cover his insecurities, just lowered his eyes and spoke softly, like a dog that had been hit one too many times. "It wasn't mean to cover two people -- or handle the type of energy we needed to generate to get us back--"
"Excuses, Rod?" the Marine in charge challenged quietly, and all the more dangerously than if he had shouted. "You know the drill then. If you've broken something, you're going to have to come up with some equivalent tech to replace it. Or offer up something else of even greater value."
It wasn't just the lack of using Rod's title or the veiled threat, but the familiarity and contempt in the Marine's snarl that John recognized before he did the scarred face. Sergeant Eugene Bates, someone who'd been sent back to Earth in John's own universe after he'd been severely injured in the days leading up the Wraith Siege.
Bates had always been a kind of asshole in John's experience. John knew a part of that impression was unfairly made at their first meeting, with Bates just reflecting the same disapproval the expedition's original Military Commander, Marine Colonel Marshall Sumner, had given John. Sumner had had his Marines utmost respect and loyalty, and no one had been more dogged about that than Bates. So when Sumner had died in the first day of their arrival on Atlantis, of course Bates had been put off-balance. As was everyone else, John included. Yet none of the other men had even hinted they were unprepared to follow an Air Force Major (even if that hadn't been true), whereas Bates had chosen to challenge John over every decision for most of their first year. By the time of Bates' return to Earth, John liked to think they had reached a sort of detente and respect between one another, their disagreement over Teyla's trustworthiness aside, but he was also probably kidding himself.
This Bates, John had a feeling, could probably teach university level classes in not just being an asshole, but in how to revel in his rediscovered love of fascism.
If Rod had to work and live under this Bates' watch, John could almost feel sorry for him. If Rod hadn't, of course, kidnapped John and spirited him across a parallel dimension that, from all indications already given, John wasn't going to be able to find a way home from.
Rod had said his universe's John was on Atlantis, was in fact, a prominent member of their version of Mensa, except he was having a hard time picturing any sort of social gatherings being tolerated for the scientists since it would be all too easy to foment thoughts of rebellion against the obvious military rule. John also couldn't imagine any sort of social situation where military and civilians interacted as anything other than antagonists.
Was he science instead of military here? Was there actually any sort of version of him here? Even if he was military, John didn't see himself …thriving under such strict rule -- unless he was the one with the goatee. Yet Rod had called him Major when he'd panicked, and that implied that John's doppelganger in this universe was military. That he had at least been involved in the SGC for Rod to have met and remembered him, because even if Rod had falsified some of this universe's biographies, it had been obvious that Rod knew a John Sheppard -- and fairly well.
Maybe they'd met under the Mountain or in Antarctica, but this universe's John didn't come to Atlantis.
God, did that mean he would need to worry about dying from entropic cascade failure? When the other him was in the same universe, but wasn't in the same galaxy?
Well, not like there was anything he could do about dying a horrible duplicate's death other than leave, and if that was really an option, he'd be taking it regardless of whether there was another him here or not. He should probably be more worried about whether or not he was going to die a different horrible death in being here. Maybe find out why he'd been brought here in the first place, because Rod had definitely set him up on purpose, and he could really only think of one reason why he might be more valuable here than, say, Rodney, if this Atlantis was having some sort of crisis. He'd just have to remember to ask Rod later about the dangers of there being two hims in one universe.
"Sora, Gavin, bring the … Lieutenant Colonel? Wow, didn't see that happening." Bates' laugh was low and dirty, as are the responses from the other guards. "I'd ask who'd you blow, but we all know the answer to that," brought even more laughter and a catcall from Sora.
John couldn't pretend that he isn't disturbed that Bates said 'blow' and not fuck. He'd heard the remarks from some of Everett's Marines when they'd first arrived during the Siege, and from some of the Marines and Air Force SFs back at the SGC after Elizabeth had fought with every weapon in her arsenal to get him appointed as the permanent military commander when he'd only been picked to fill the regrettable vacancy because there had been no one else of rank or experience. Being accused of being Elizabeth's boytoy, however, was a lot different than being accused of going down on his military COs to stay in the service. John figured he'd be desperate to fly in any universe, but there were other ways to keep his wings. He wished he could chalk the crude humor up to 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' being the regulation in this universe too, and this being just the typical smack talk, but considering the contempt on Bates' face as he came over to draw John's head up from where he had let it rest on his chest, John's concerned the military's policy on gay servicemen here is something else entirely
Although, being outed here, shouldn't affect anything back home--
"McAllister, you're on our six," Bates continued to order. "Brinks, Evans, make sure everything gets put back together and powered down here," Bates then directed the other two soldiers before turning a narrowed eye on the definitely uncomfortable scientists. "Once The Triumvirate --"
John could just hear the capitol letters there.
"-- has finished explaining the way things are to our new guest, I'll be back down here to secure the lab. Have what you need collected ready for inspection." Bates shot his eyes John and Rod's way again and John definitely did not like the look he saw there, although he wasn't sure which of them was supposed to be the more intimidated. "One of you had better pack for good old Rod, here, as I don't think he's going to have time to come back before lockdown."
So, Rod, then. Who appeared to be part of John's escort, and he supposed that it made sense that whoever was in charge would want a full debriefing on what Rod had learned. Of course, Rod looked more like he was walking to his execution than heading to let Elizabeth (and -- or maybe not Elizabeth at all?) know how successful he'd been. John was definitely getting the Mirror Mirror, Star Trek vibe here as he was dragged along.
He could have managed his own feet by this point, but feigning that he was still disoriented might not be a bad idea. He let Sora and …Gavin do most of the work. Although, even if he did find a point where he had a chance to break away from them, were in the hell was he going to go? This Atlantis had supposedly lost their own ZPM during the experiment that had brought Rod to John's Atlantis, and the ZPM in John's dimension would have been seriously depleted creating the bridge to return Rod home.
John might be able to get away from Skippy here and all the other evil twins, but the only other planet that could possibly have the power to spare, would have been the Asurian Replicator's Atlantis, and even if the ones here in this universe were friendly, the transfer seemed to work point to counterpoint. Escaping from here just to end up back in the hands of his own universe's Replicators was definitely a frying pan to raging bonfire kind of thing.
Escaping these guys wasn't going to be enough anyway, John noted as they took the long way to the control room, never once going near the transporters. Teams of Marines and Genii soldiers patrolled the darkened halls in a much tighter configuration than John and Major Evan Lorne had developed back home -- more than he could imagine they'd ever need, even if they did have the manpower it seemed this expedition did. Certainly not unless the city was locked down under marshal law and some kind of invasion was imminent. He'd be caught again long before he could reach the jumper bay. And it wasn't like Bates wasn't having him taken toward the bay (probably the control room) anyway.
"You okay there, Rod?" John found himself asking when Rodney's counterpart stumbled after they'd taken their third set of steps. The way John's own head was pounding and ringing, he could almost be glad for his escorts' assistance, even if they weren't being particularly gentle. Rod was likely feeling as bad; John suspected Rod's hypoglycemia was also kicking in from the energy that seemed to have been depleted from them in the transfer.
"No talking," Sora snapped, then gave John a clout on the side of his head with the hand she wasn't using to support his weight. The hand with the gun still in it, and if John's head hadn't been spinning before --
"Sora!" Bates growled without even looking back, though the sound of metal on bone was unmistakable. "Wait with that type of shit for after The Colonel turns him over to our unit for softening up. He's going to want his new prize conscious for the initial interrogation."
Rod made a muffled sound from behind John, the one that was a combination of remembered pain and too much knowledge underlying sheer panic. The type of sound Rodney always made when Kolya's name came up, even before that mess from a month ago.
Christ. With the Genii obviously working hand in hand with the military here in this Atlantis, it was more than possible that Kolya was here if Sora and Ladon were. John could even see him taking the title of Colonel, since it denoted high rank, and there still seemed to be more Marines than Genii soldiers. He wasn't sure that even an evil Bates would have subordinated himself like this had Kolya led the Genii in an invasion like they'd tried back home, but if Atlantis and Cowen (or whoever) here had formed a real alliance and mingled their forces…
No, not Kolya, John saw as they finally reached the control. Although Kolya was present, standing behind and to the right of the man who dominated the lookout point overseeing the stargate, like Kolya was an honor guard or his 2IC. Not Kolya. Not even Everett (who was standing in the same spot but to the left). Fuck. It was Marshall Sumner, and John was reasonably sure he was looking at Bates' Triumvirate, with no Elizabeth Weir in sight.
Of course Marshall Sumner was in charge. If he had to guess, John couldn't have called it between Sumner and Kolya as to who hated him more back home (not that Everett had been fond of him either). Kolya had at least had a reason, especially after John had killed sixty of Kolya's men during the invasion by just putting up the gate shield. Sumner would have an even better reason, if he found out that John had killed his counterpart -- to keep Earth's location out of the hands (and minds) of the Wraith. His own Sumner, however, had made no bones about having no use for John from the very beginning, when it was only John's black mark between them. Had Sumner survived, to be truthful, John wasn't too sure how long he would have lasted as Sumner's second. And if John couldn't imagine working voluntarily under that Sumner, the thought of any him surviving under such an obvious draconic structure and someone who was likely an unstable -- if not just outright whacked -- Colonel Sumner just didn't track.
Hell, even if John was/had been evil in this universe, he would have undoubtedly also killed this Sumner, and taken over by choice not just circumstance.
Was that what had happened, only this John failed?
"Special Projects detail reporting a successful mission," Bates barked out abruptly. "McAllister!
Suddenly John's head was yanked back from where he'd needed to rest it again by the soldier behind him. As Everett and Sumner walked in locked step down the great stairs toward him, John unconsciously tried to straighten upright into something like military posture under the intense scrutiny from the three men looking down on him in obvious judgment. Everett's eyes held scorn along with a modicum of mild interest, like John was simply a specimen or a tool to be inspected and then used. The other two held their disdain in fuller measure, but John also caught a gleam of satisfaction and something else in Sumner's gaze that made John's lizard brain shiver. He really, really hoped he was managing to keep his fear from showing.
"You did check to see that this one has the Ancient genetics, McKay?" Kolya sounded bored and unaffected, but his expression was one of anticipation when he turned it on Rod, then an affected disappointment when Rod stuttered:
There was a disquieting history spoken in that exchange that had John bristling on Rod's behalf before he could check himself -- or remember that he wasn't going to feel sorry for this Rod especially as Kolya had just implied that he might not even be the first other John Sheppard Rod had brought back. When the rest of Kolya's implication penetrated John's fuzzy brain, he felt another frission of fear as his initial suspicion seemed confirmed and several earlier things took on a different context: Rod's eagerness to spend time with him instead of with his counterpart or Jeanie's doppelganger; this Atlantis' uncharacteristic enthusiasm in which she'd greeted his arrival; the dim lighting not just in the corridors, but here in the gate room, along with not using the transporters to get around or fully utilizing the Ancient consoles and how quickly they powered everything down; and now Kolya's categorization about his genetics.
They were after an ATA gene holder.
When he tried to remember, John wasn't sure he'd seen Rod use any of the Atlantean technology back home, other than the consoles that were already initialized for general use, ATA gene or not. So maybe Carson's gene therapy hadn't worked here -- or maybe Carson wasn't here to even try to make it work. That could mean not only no extra people able to use the Ancient devices, but as Carson had had the second strongest manifestation of the gene of all the initial folks who'd come to John's Atlantis, if he was missing here -- along with their John -- then quite possibly these folks were really on the edge of being forced to abandon Atlantis for not being able to make her work. And with a depleted ZPM, that meant no evacuation back to Earth.
The gene therapy in John's universe had worked for seventeen members of the expedition, giving them a grand total of twenty three, which was still barely enough to handle the basics, and most of his pilot candidates for the puddle jumpers were civilians with no previous flight experience. If this parallel SGC had only been able to find four or five natural carriers to send too, but none of them were Carson Beckett, Jack O'Neill or John Sheppard, then they couldn’t activate probably a good two thirds of Atlantis in general.
Including their own defense control chair.
"I apologize for the abruptness in which you were brought here, Sheppard," Sumner began once he reached the second to the last step and in a much more professional (sane) tone than John had been expected.
Maybe he was more muzzy-headed than he'd thought and had gotten it all wrong. That there wouldn't be agonizers and pain sticks, and whoever was running Carson's infirmary wouldn't be dissecting local indigenous populations. That Bates really was just an asshole in any universe, and Sora a fanatic young girl looking for kicks.
"Being a military man, I'm sure you will understand the need for making unpleasant decisions and necessary sacrifices."
Or maybe not so wrong. Fuck.
Sumner reached out a hand to take John's chin. John managed to suppress most of his flinch, but Sumner merely tilted John's head to examine the mark Sora's gun smack must have left , before Sumner shook his own head and let him sag back into the arms holding him upright. "I apologize for that. Our allies are not yet completely in line with the way I expect soldiers to comport themselves." He shot a significant glance toward Bates that had to mean someone was in trouble here, but John wasn't sure whether Sora herself would be punished, or if it would be Bates for allowing it to happen under his lead.
"When your universe made contact with ours we had an armada of hive ships in route, no more than three weeks out," Sumner continued his reasonable, simple recitation of facts. "This is still the case. And, unfortunately, Doctor McKay took longer than was prudent to figure out steps to deal with what was happening, and entirely too long to return to us, and so now we have thirteen days left before their arrival and are out of options."
It sounded like Sora or Bates weren't the only ones who were going to end up being punished, and Rod's cringe reflected that he'd picked up on that too.
John absolutely fucking hated seeing any version of Rodney McKay so beaten down.
"Unfortunate too, that the strain your activities put on our ZPM has insured that our shield will not hold under the onslaught," Sumner went on. "Surely you agree that it is only fair that we ask for a solution from the very people who endangered us so severely in the first place?"
John found himself licking his lips and hesitating to answer. In that they owed his Atlantis something for draining their ZPM, Sumner had a point. Not mention almost blowing up Sumner's entire universe had been bad karma. But if Rod had bothered to tell the truth they could have offered his people the right way to get the Dagan ZPM or the formula for the gene therapy; maybe even both. But Rod had lied, probably on Sumner's orders, and so they both deserved some of the blame here. Then there was the kidnapping and what was looking an awful lot like some sort of slavery. Surely that was a little over the top to expect for reparations?
"I can appreciate your dilemma, Colonel. But --"
Sumner casually backhanded him hard enough to loosen a few teeth.
Yep, totally fucked, John.
Not just not in Kansas or maybe a television version of red kryptonite Oz, but the alt-Atlantean version of Viet Nam with Marshall Sumner playing their own version of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz.
"I don't want your appreciation or your understanding or your apologies," Sumner maintained the same calm tone even as the tension -- and anticipation -- rocketed up in the room and Everett began putting on gloves while he moved up to Sumner's side. The soldiers holding John tightened their grips, as did McAlister who curled his fingers tighter in John's hair and pulled back so that John was really feeling the strain although he wasn't needed to rise to his toes yet.
"What I will have is your cooperation. Atlantis must not fall," Sumner spit out, and his eyes and tone took on the glaze and cadence of a fanatic. "We are the only line of defense between two galaxies, both of which have been overrun by our enemies. From here we will mount an offensive to eliminate both the Wraith and the Ori, but only if we are still alive to do so!"
"I can get you another ZPM." John half expected to get hit again just for opening his mouth, but both of the Marine Colonels in front of him seemed to lower their intensity just a notch and looked at him now with interest instead of anger.
When John licked his lips this time, he convinced himself it was to soothe the ache and remove some of the blood instead of a tell for how nervous he was. He could get them two ZPMs maybe, but he wasn't sure he wanted to involve Keras' people, even if they were still ritually committing suicide on their twenty-fourth birthdays here in this universe and Keras was already dead. That seemed preferable to either being abandoned or subjugated by Sumner's Atlantis. Keras' successor, Ares, would no doubt jump at the chance to live and play soldier for real but really he would be sacrificing his people's even comparatively short-lived freedom to fight in someone else's war.
"There is a sect of monks on the planet known as Dagan in our universe." Sumner didn't look like he'd heard of it, so John had guessed correctly that they hadn't undergone that scavenger hunt here. A quick glance up toward Kolya showed this version had heard of the people, but he didn't have that crafty, I've-got-one-up-on-you look John was so used to from his counterpoint, and so maybe these Genii hadn't known about the ZPM either.
"There were charged by the Ancients to watch over a ZPM until such time as they would return for it."
God, did this mean there hadn't been a first expedition here were everyone but Elizabeth had died and she'd gone back through time to make sure that didn't happen? Or was there still an old Elizabeth frozen in her suspension capsule, awaiting discovery and freedom? Had there even been an Elizabeth Weir for this version of the mission? The office that was hers back home was obviously Sumner's, and just because Rod had mentioned one, didn't mean she'd come. Or survived.
"And you know the address of this Dagan?" Everett asked.
John nodded. "But there is a catch --"
He really should have been expecting Everett's fist. "Not mine, dammit," John couldn't help but snarl back as he spit out a mouthful of blood. Spit very carefully not on Everett or Sumner's feet. "It's theirs catch. They worship the Ancients, and so only the true sons of Atlantis are deemed worthy to possess it," he rushed out when Everett raised his hand again. "You're going to need someone gene capable and you're going to have to imply you've lived in Atlantis all along instead of you having come in recently and taken over. Otherwise they're just going to take it right back and hide it all over again."
Sumner turned his head over his shoulder to look back up toward Kolya.
"They are a passive, agrarian society. Their libraries may be of some interest to your scholars, but the people will never join and fight with us. Their elimination will not aid or hinder the war other than by taking away another population for the Wraith to cull first."
"Hey, whoa, you can't just kill them!" John protested without thinking. He certainly hadn't meant to condemn the Dagans to Sumner's war machine. "Let them grow crops for you or something. If you're really cut off from Earth again, you're going to need client states to maintain your supplies if nothing else."
Sumner stayed looking Kolya's direction for a long beat and the two of them exchanged nods that John feared boded not at all well for the Dagans -- or for him. Everett didn't hit him again, however, nor did Sumner after the Colonel finally turned his attention back to John. From the look on Sumner's face, John thought he probably rather be hit than deal with what was coming.
"I know you, Sheppard. I know how you think and who you are."
So that answered that. He definitely did -- or had -- existed in this universe, at least long enough to have joined the SGC.
"I also had two years to learn how to keep you in line. And while I would love to take the months to start your training all over again I, frankly, don't have the time."
That implication earned a soft gasp from Rod, who was still standing somewhere near Bates, and brought another measure of dread to clutch at John's spine.
"Atlantis doesn't have the time," Sumner clarified. "So I am going to make it very easy for you. And for Rod, who knows the price for failure."
Anguish tore from Rod's throat this time, and a sound like Jeanie's name over the noises increasing from where Kolya stood. While John didn't want to take his eyes from Sumner's, there was enough movement on the edge of his peripheral vision and the sudden, obvious sounds of a woman starting to quietly cry, that John got the picture. Jeanie was on Atlantis in this universe, and no doubt was a hostage to Rod's behavior. That John could maybe forgive, and it also explained why Rod had actually brought them back when Rod could have just escaped this hellhole by staying in John's Atlantis or trying for another universe if the entropic cascade failure was going to be a problem.
"Colonel Sumner," John started. "Sir --"
Sumner snapped his fingers and John was suddenly being forced to his knees by Sora, Gavin and McAllister, who was still bowing John's neck back. John struggled, mainly to see if he could, but it was obviously he wasn't going to be able to get loose unless something drastically changed with one of the sets of hands that held him.
"You are here to activate the Ancient technology, at my sole discretion and in the defense of this base, Sheppard. You will be imprisoned in a cell when you are not working and will be restrained to the chair whenever you are." Sumner took one more step down. "If you are needed off-world, you will perform only the tasks that you are ordered to, and do nothing more. You are not to talk, to say anything to absolutely anyone, unless Dillon, Acasta or myself allow it. If you disobey any of these orders, you will be punished commiserate to the infraction."
Sumner moved down that last step, until he was towering over John, and when he gripped John's jaw this time, John heard something crack under the pressure. He was pretty sure it was one of Sumner's knuckles and not something of his. The strain was pretty intense on his jaw and neck regardless.
"You are not to even open your mouth, unless it is to cry out when you are being punished, when you are given food once a day and water twice daily," Sumner's hand tightened until John was afraid his jaw was going to be dislocated. "Or when I order you to suck my cock. Now would be good."
John couldn't help but to try and rear back though he was held immobile. Fine, Sumner would have to dislocate his jaw to get any cooperation, and he let that knowledge burn in his eyes --
From up above at Elizabeth's widow's-walk point, the sound of a gunshot and a woman's scream was nearly drowned out by Rod's own broken cry off to John's right.
"I said I know you, Sheppard," Sumner leaned over and whispered into John's ear. "Jeanie McKay will lay there in agony and bleeding out for as long as you kneel here and try to challenge me. Suck me off, and I'll see that she's restored in one of our Goa'uld sarcophagi. It's your choice."
Rod was pleading and trying to pull himself free from the hold a laughing Bates had on him. Kolya was laughing too and while Sumner looked grimly satisfied, Everett looked bored or unconcerned, but not surprised or disgusted either, so obviously he wasn't bothered by Sumner's actions any more than the rest of the soldiers present were. The few techs on hand had been cowering at their stations since this whole thing had begun, doing their best to ignore and be ignored, and John certainly couldn't blame them if this was Sumner's normal management style and solution to disciplinary problems.
While blaming himself for Jeanie and Rod's pain, John knew he was a victim here too, and that he had an obligation to rail against his captor, not just from his training, but from who he was deep inside. But his defiance didn't have to be right now. Not for something like this which, in truth, was demoralizing only because he was being forced, and because it was with someone like Sumner.
John had the skill and the experience to bring Sumner off quickly, but hesitated about doing so because of what that might imply -- and what other abuses Sumner might then be eager to explore. It wasn't that he wanted Jeanie or Rod to suffer any longer than they had to, but from what he understood about Goa'uld Sarcophagi, her injuries -- even her death -- could be completely healed. There were side affects, sure, like becoming addicted to the process and growing crazy from what John had read in the SGC reports, but Jeanie was already slated for some time there no matter how long John took, and that was all assuming Sumner was going to keep his word.
John still let his eyes promise payback when he tried to nod and free his jaw from Sumner's grasp so he could get started. Sumner ignored his acquiescence and held on until Rod was crying and begging and John was getting a little desperate and a lot sore himself. Just another way of reinforcing his control, John supposed, because Sumner did finally let John go and signaled for McAlister to do so also. John twisted his neck to try and force the blood back where it belonged and waited, but Sumner made no move to undo belt or zipper. Ah, going for maximum humiliation here then; forcing John to work only with his lips, teeth and tongue as Sora and Gavin simply twisted his arms tightly up behind his back to hold him upright once Sumner began brutally fucking his throat.
Thus passed John's introduction to this new Atlantis, and his place therein.
The next ten days were more and less than Sumner had promised. John was fed each midmorning, generally given whatever was leftover or not going to be used, but a couple of those times had included some fruit and once meat instead of just a mash, so they were keeping track of his nutrition he supposed. It was enough to keep John going, but he was perpetually hungry except not really, not after the fifth day. He'd done this shit before, in a dirt hole on a couple of Pegasus planets and once on Earth for almost two weeks. He'd lose some weight, mainly muscle mass, and that plus the overall weakness of not having enough fuel to run his body optimally would keep him from making too much of a fuss. The technique and motivation was all the same; not just to weaken him but also to make him grateful and beholden when he was fed.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been, because several of the scientists would slip him additional food when their own watchdogs were either being less vigilant, or more compassionate. Zelenka had been the first, and surprisingly Ladon Radim had soon followed. So had Jeanie, which had freaked John out when she'd slipped him a few apple slices, although he probably shouldn't have been surprised at this Jeanie's ability to forgive. The Jeanie back home had forgiven Rodney after four years of estrangement after all, and without really ever receiving an apology from Rodney.
Of Rod himself, though, he saw very little, and that had John wondering about his counterpart and Rod's earlier relationship again. Mostly though, he assumed that Rod wasn't ready to forgive him for almost getting Jeanie killed, or that he feared John wouldn't forgive him for dragging John into this mess. There was also the possibility that Sumner's Triumvirate was merely being cautious, either of Rod's behavior or John's, or of the possibility of what they could maybe accomplish if they had a chance to work together.
John spent most of his days in the chair room, while Zelenka ran diagnostics and a not-so-surprisingly meek and subdued Kavanaugh worked on cataloging their weapons capabilities and trying to integrate the stuff that was being brought in from off-world to supplement what had already been depleted in the past. Other scientists would occasionally bring by objects for John to initialize, some stuff John's people had already found around their Atlantis as well as an assortment of things both from here and from other off-world caches. Or John would be taken down endless corridors and into countless similar rooms to see if he could activate full systems. If he wasn't always in chains and being bodily restrained while in the chair by a link soldered every time at the small of his back to the belly chain, it might have been at least interesting, if only as a purely intellectual exercise.
Atlantis was certainly beside herself to have John's full attention for hours each day and he allowed himself to be subsumed by the city more and more. Some of it was just to escape, but John was also learning things about the operation of the city that would come in damn handy if he could ever figure out a way to get home. Some of the trinkets he was brought, too, were useful, and it was nice to have the opportunity of stopping some of the mistakes they'd made in his own universe from happening here by recognizing some of the things in advance to them blowing up -- or maybe releasing a batch of nanites that would have fixed his problem with Sumner and all of his bully boys, but wouldn't have helped John get out of here.
He wasn't discounting the virus' use, however. Not completely.
Little by little, John was able to piece together the myriad of differences between the universes; which missions hadn't happened, or had a different outcome, and what had happened to not only some of the missing people, but to Sumner and the overall expedition itself since he really doubted even Sumner had been so around the bend when he'd left Earth. It was tough, when he couldn't actually ask any questions, but the scientists and even some of the marines were also interested in the differences, and an accommodation was reached that didn't always end up with John undergoing 'punishment'.
First and foremost, this Atlantis had met the Genii first, not the Athosians (they hadn't met the Athosians at all, as far as John could figure, so Rod had lied about knowing Teyla and all about her people's history). Because their own situation had been just as desperate as John's Atlantis, they had forged their first alliance based on military goals as well as survival, with the arrangement something closer to a partnership to share Atlantis than for the Genii to live separate and act as native guides.
Elizabeth had been in charge in the beginning, although hers and Sumner's more formal relationship had kept them a lot more at odds with one another than John felt he was with his own Elizabeth. Too, Cowen of the Genii had had a stake in the city's future from the very beginning, and so the first triumvirate of rulers had begun, with the three of them debating all of the decisions about Atlantis' future. Cowen had ruled from the Genii homeworld, with Sora's father, Tyrus, traveling through the stargate to be his voice in the matters dealing with other worlds. The other Genii in Atlantis were all soldiers or scientists, along with a handful of indentured servants to do the drudgery, although most of the service people were actually indigenes from other worlds met along the way and offered a chance to live in the City of the Ancestors -- still a basic servitude, just with a better roof over their heads.
When Cowen had died from a heart attack about thirteen months after the expedition's arrival, Tyrus returned to govern the Genii homeworld, and Kolya had been the one tapped to be the Genii voice in the triumvirate. Elizabeth, no doubt, had seen the writing on the wall even then, but she had managed to hold onto some power and keep Atlantis from becoming fully militarized right up until the Wraith had still gotten awoken early, not by John and from Athos, but more or less by Carson Beckett when he'd met this universe's Hoffans.
These Hoffans had been pursuing the same dream of their counterparts, and had developed the serum to make themselves unpalatable to the Wraith with Carson's aid just like home. Here, however, the meeting between the Hoffans and Atlantis had come after fifteen months in Pegasus. And because the Wraith had not yet been awakened, they didn't have a Steve on hand to test their inoculated volunteer. The Hoffans and Genii both only knew of the Wraith as little more than bogeymen in the tales they told their children. They believed, by and large, that the threat from them was real, and so both planets had pursued their advances with the defeat of the Wraith as their goal, but they didn't really believe.
No one remembered just how deadly and difficult to kill a wakened Wraith actually was; most of Pegasus had never seen a Wraith going back two generations. So when one of the Genii suggested a place where a Wraith could be captured and brought back to Hoff for the drug trials, no one even considered that they wouldn't be able to contain him. Or that after the Wraith killed his captors and escaped, that he would be able to pull thoughts from Carson about the reemergence of Atlantis before the good doctor was killed too.
Their first siege, when it came, was in month seventeen, and the Wraith came with seven ships, not three. Rod, like Rodney, had been inspired by this danger to create the algorithm that allowed the microsecond databurst to be sent back to Earth in warning, and with a full range of reports of what they'd found here. Their LaGrange point satellite had even worked long enough to kill three of the Wraith hive ships. But when it had been taken out by one of the remaining four, more people than just Peter Grodin were killed. Along with Wagner, Dumais, Simpson and Gaul, the death count had been fifteen; three more people from Atlantis John hadn't recognized, and seven of the Genii scientists. A devastating loss to both their peoples as even the Genii had sent their best and brightest to Atlantis to learn.
Earth here had also found a ZPM to get Everett, his Marines and the Daedalus to Atlantis in time to prevent the city's destruction, but neither Elizabeth or the Daedalus had survived the final battle, and the ZPM had been so depleted (along with all of their drones and most of their puddle jumpers), that Sumner and Everett determined that they couldn't afford the power to dial Earth back to tell them about their survival and their losses, figuring when the Daedalus didn't return to the Milky Way, the SGC would abandon the expedition for good.
With no one left alive or able to protest anything different, martial law simply stayed in effect and the new Triumvirate was born, comprised of three men, no doubt all suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, who only grew more paranoid and vicious as the days turned into weeks turned into months, and things continued to fall apart with no relief.