Secondary Author (2ndary_author) wrote,
Secondary Author
2ndary_author

conjoined

Title: Signs of Rapture, called Apocalypse (part the second)
Author: 2ndary_author
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Characters: Rodney, Carson (offstage: Sheppard)
Rating: PG-13; spoilers for 'Sunday'
Summary: "the architectural equivalent of calling ollie, ollie, oxenfree"
Notes: Meant to post this awhile ago.  A continuation of my amnesty entry, this will probably make more sense if you read that first. originally posted here for the not-human challenge at sga_flashfic


Shakespeare made much of the relationship between the Renaissance prince and the state — to a man, his doomed kings are “twin born with greatness.”  It is a symbology that appeared in concepts such as the royal 'we' and served to bolster the leader's claims to property.  Territory belonged to the monarchs, was as much a part of them as their royal blood, was theirs to dispose of among their loyal followers. "What pleases the Prince," according to the maxim, "has the force of law" ; in a political theology where king and  country were physically intertwined, displeasing the monarch meant both social and actual exile.

.

Weir, E. “Symbol and Majesty in Early Modern England: Implications for Developing Nations,” in The Historical Bases of Western Statecraft, ed. Frances X. Chichele. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.


It takes less than a month for Dr. Farouqi to devise a reverse gene protocol (and that’s what they call it, RGP; Rodney suddenly misses Ford’s flair for naming things).  Apparently there had been some preliminary notes among Carson’s papers.  Maybe the doctor was just being his usual, methodical self, but Rodney can’t get over the idea that Carson knew they would need that information sooner rather than later.  The RGP is quick, brutal, and effective: intended to erase the Ancient traces from John Sheppard's genes as quickly and completely as possible.  One injection per day, initial results within a week. No one talks about what those results will look like.

Rodney asks to sit in on the meeting when Sheppard gets the ultimatum—accept the gene therapy or take reassignment outside the Pegasus Galaxy.  Elizabeth turns him down, seems to suspect he’s acting out of some prurient curiosity. 

 “Give me three good reasons for your presence, Rodney,” she says and, for some reason, he can’t think of anything to say.  He just…feels he should be there, is all.

Of course, Rodney doesn’t actually need to be in the meeting to know how the reverse therapy will work, what the outcome will be.  He doesn’t doubt for a minute that Sheppard will opt for the therapy, probably before Elizabeth even gets past the word ‘reassignment.’ Moreover, months ago, when he’d first gone to Carson with his suspicions, the medical doctor had explained exactly how the gene therapy would work, “if we were to institute something along those lines, which I’m not entirely sure is the best way of…”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ve expressed your doubts.  Now express something about the gene.” 

“Well, it’s not strictly accurate to refer to it as a gene.  The human gene sequence is very specific.  If we were to add an extra gene—”

“The Colonel becomes a porpoise or a chimp or something.  When I said explain it simply, I didn’t mean ‘explain it the way you’d tell one of your rookie voodoo technicians,’” Rodney had snorted.

Carson had ignored the scorn, blithely caught up in his genomics, “The amazing thing we’ve learned from the Ancients is that there is a…call it a genetic dimension, a quality that has nothing to do with the way we’ve defined genes so far.”  He wandered around the lab, collecting his beloved whiteboard markers, the ones that warranted their own special requisition form.  He uncapped the blue marker and started in on the whiteboard.

A-T G-C A-T G-C

“Now, the letters—”

“Nucleotides…adenosine, thyamine, guanine, cytosine,” Rodney had interrupted.  “You do know I’m not a complete moron, right?”

“And the color,” Carson had continued serenely, “the blue, that’s the Ancient interface.  Not a nucleotide, certainly not its own gene, just a…feature of the existing model, as it were.  Something that, as far as we can tell, has no meaning on Earth, but is far from vestigial. Complete blue, now, that is very rare, that’s…”

“Colonel Sheppard rare,” Rodney said, catching on slowly.

“Colonel Sheppard rare,” Carson confirmed, uncapping two other markers and drawing a new string.

A-T G-C A-T G-C

“This is my DNA,” Carson had explained.  “Some blue, but other genes that lack the Ancient feature, hence the other colors.”

“And this—”  A-T G-C A-T G-C “is your DNA.”

Rodney had seen immediately where Carson was headed, had reached for the markers and carefully retraced the letters.  Green over yellow, yellow over green: the result was muddy but undeniably blue.

“So this…?”

“Is your DNA on the gene therapy,” Carson concluded, “not pure, but certainly blue enough for our purposes.”

Rodney remembers standing in the medical lab with the Atlantean sunlight pouring through the windows and glancing off the glossy surface of the whiteboards.  He remembers the acidic smell of the markers and the shared silence amidst the multicolored letters, appreciating the subtlety of the Ancient system.  That sense of joint amazement tinged all of his favorite memories.  Remembers thinking that, if it wouldn't hasten their already highly probably demise on Atlantis, he'd suggest Carson give up this medical voodoo and go into teaching...because, really, the man's not half-bad.  He distinctly remembers his next question.

“Therapy to, uh, dampen this original Ancient gene…feature.  It would look like…?”

Carson had reached over Rodney’s shoulder, plucked another marker from the tray, and traced over the letters again, obliterating the original colors: A-T G-C A-T G-C.  No color, no extra dimension, just the nucleotides for human DNA.  And nothing more or less.

*****

On the fourth day of the second week of gene treatments, Atlantis realizes John is missing.  Remembering other times Sheppard’s been delayed offworld—captured by hostiles, party to endless negotiations, grounded by unexpected particle storms—Rodney is ready for the city’s reaction. He’s over-ridden the search program that would quarantine each life sign until it identified itself, he’s warned the Marines that they’ll be getting all kinds of unsubstantiated alerts for a few days, he’s even figured out how to disable what the database calls the “admission protocol.” 

The first time they’d tripped that—the time John had been abducted by space pirates and it took them a month to ransom him back—Atlantis had suddenly and simultaneously opened every door in the city one Wednesday morning.  Exterior doors, storage room doors, skylights: the architectural equivalent of calling ollie, ollie, oxenfree.  Of course, just happened that particular Wednesday fell during the planet’s brief rainy season.  It had been blowing a fucking gale outside, and who knew the Gateroom had the proportions of a fantastic wind-tunnel?  Fortunately, the Wraith were busy culling and plundering that day; otherwise they could have walked right, made themselves at home.  And all because Atlantis thought John might somehow have locked himself out.  Where, Rodney wanted to know, was this city when I was under 1000 meters of water?

“On Earth, when people open themselves to complete and utter destruction purely for the convenience of their one true love—we call that an abusive relationship,” he’d grumbled, contemplating the sodden wreckage of the mess hall. 

“My people say that love is painful,” Teyla offered calmly, wringing out her hair. 

“Yeah,” Rodney sighed.  “We say that, too.”

Tags: "signs 'verse" (sga), "sora" (sga), fic, sga
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