Title: Deus Ex Machina
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Spoilers: The first couple of seasons of Atlantis, Season 9 of SG-1, and basic Star Trek knowledge, particularly TNG.
Summary: The Furlings may possess greater power over the universe than even the Ascendants, but that does not give you the right to meddle in the affairs of mortals, or to pose as gods.
“F-358, do you understand the sentence as it has been read to you?”
“You know, we really don’t enjoy being assigned designations. We have names.”
“Do you understand your sentence?” came the question again with mounting irritation from the councilwoman, her legendary patience having been worn thin by this case, and its defendant.
The defendant in question sighed theatrically, “You people have no sense of humor. You know you used to be so much more fun. If Lizzy was still here –”
“F-358, if you do not answer, you will be held in contempt and your sentence will be lengthened.”
The defendant’s flippant demeanor turned steely for a moment as he chided the council the way one would a child, “I was choreographing the expansion of the universe when the progenitors of your species were still enzymes floating in muck. This trial is an affront to my species.”
“Be that as it may,” the chief councilwoman said, “as your crimes were against the humans in this galaxy, your people have relegated your punishment to us in accordance with–”
“They weren’t crimes,” scoffed the defendant.
“The Furlings may possess greater power over the universe than even the Ascendants, but that does not give you the right to meddle in the affairs of mortals, or to pose as gods!” The councilwoman’s anger showing for a moment before being slipped back beneath her mask of contorl.
The defendant hurredly held up a hand with an expression of protest, “Now I never said I was a god.”
The councilwoman looked at the pad in front of her, “There were no less than twenty-three temples built on the planet, fourteen cities named after you, a seventeen story palace carved out of a mountain for your residence, where a harem of over seven hundred young women resided for your… use,” she said looking up at the defendant with disdain that was mirrored on the other four members of the panel.
“Well I can’t really help it if I’m popular, now can I? They wanted to do something nice for me, and really, how could I tell them they couldn’t build those temples. You should have seen their faces, so pathetic and needy, I had to let–”
“And the harem?” asked the councilwoman, just waiting to see what sort of excuse the most infamously known Furling among the Lantians could come up with.
The defendant gave her a rather cocky look as he seemed to examine what he could of her behind the judge’s bench, “As I said. Popular. If you’d like to see for yourself, I’m sure you could arrange a private –”
“Don’t finish that sentence.”
But the defendant noticed the second councilman on the right, hiding a twitch on the edge of his lips by clenching his jaw and staring resolutely at the data scrolling along the glassy desk in front of him. Perhaps humor hadn’t been completely bred out of the Atlantians after all.
“F-358, you will report to Midway as ordered by 0800 hours to begin your work in the Milky Way galaxy. Failure to do so will result in an annulment of your parole sentence, and you will be immediately imprisoned on the planet Mustafar in solitary isolation for a very long time, even for one such as yourself. Now do you understand your sentence as it has been read?”
“Ah, Mustafar. Lovely little hotspot. You know I was there when they named it. Funny story; did you know that –”
“Yes or No,” said the councilwoman testily, “If you respond with anything more or less, you will be immediately transferred to Mustafar, Milky Way Project be damned.”
The defendant heaved a great sigh, “Yes, I understand. You need a rewriting of reality that can’t be detected by Ascendants, and I just happen to be conveniently –”
A musical trill interrupted him, and the councilwoman said, “Then this tribunal is adjourned,” as she and the rest of the council arose.
The defendant sighed as his guards approached, holding the controls to the dampeners he wore that limited his powers, and kept him from turning everyone into purple and yellow polka-dotted duck-billed platypuses, “Really. You people used to be much more fun.”
“Enter,” came the command after the door trilled, announcing the arrival of his guest.
The doors hissed open and the Furling defendant was brought into the room, accompanied by his two guards.
“Thank you, that will be all,” said the councilman, dismissing the guards. They nodded respectfully before leaving to stand outside in the hallway. The door closed behind them.
“Drink?” he asked the Furling, holding up a decanter that twinkled in the soft sunlight streaming through the clear and stained glass floor-to-ceiling windows that went three-quarters of the way around his office.
“Why thank you. I thought that the Atlantians had lost all sense of politeness along with their humor,” the defendant replied walking up to accept a glass with his bound hands. He looked out the panoramic windows to the view of the city floating in the water, and the sun nearing its descent to the horizon. “Nice view.”
The councilman grinned, “It’s why I took the job. Being the capitol means not much in the way of jobs unrelated to politics. The price to pay for living here.”
“It used to be different you know,” the Furling said conversationally as he walked up to the window, “much more exciting. Fun.”
The councilman nodded, “Yeah, I know. But if boredom’s the price of peace, I’ll gladly take it.”
The defendant glanced at him, “You’re a Sheppard, aren’t you?”
The councilman nodded, “A McKay too, on my mother’s side,” he glanced at the Furling, “But you already knew that.”
The other one smiled, “I know everything.”
“Then you know why you’re here.”
“Yes. The Milky Way Project. And really, who came up with that name,” he added suddenly, “It’s so… bland. No pizzazz. Couldn’t you have called it something a little more interesting?”
“If I’d been in charge of naming it, probably, but that’s not my job,” the councilman said taking a sip and sitting down on a soft couch and motioning the Furling to take the seat.
He sat. “Then why are you talking to me about it?”
“I thought you knew everything?” the councilman said with a quirk of his lips.
“Humor me,” replied the Furling.
“Ah,” said the Furling after a moment, “I noticed no one brought them up when detailing their planned reconstruction of your former galaxy.”
The councilman took another sip of the brandy, “They’re small, technologically retarded, and not capable of FTL flight yet, but you and I both know that will change long before Earth emerges back into normal space-time, even with you accelerating the process. And knowing where they come from, I think it’s a safe bet to say just how much trouble they’ll be.”
“You want me to eliminate them.”
“No. Well yes, but you know our laws prohibit interference, and since they’re semi-biological and mortal, we can’t touch them.” The councilman’s face shifted for a moment into a weary look before he said, “But, I thought with your history of… shall we say bending the rules that if, in the course of sewing Earth’s history back into the new Milky Way timeline, you happened to ‘accidentally’ impede their growth and expansion, no one would particularly notice.”
The Furling laughed, “Oh yes, you do have quite a bit of Johnny in you. And Lizzy, too. That woman could be amazingly deceitful when she needed to be. Made me quite proud.”
The councilman glanced at him sideways, “You miss them.”
The Furling drained his glass, then tapped it and watched it fill back up. They couldn’t damp all of his abilities with their machines. “Of course I do. It was the best fun I’ve had in eons. But then you people had to defeat all your enemies and decide to get all majestic and ‘enlightened’. Now you’re just another boring race building its boring empire. You’re deliberately going down the same path as your predecessors, and before you know it, you’ll be wiped out and ascended, just like them.” He rolled his eyes theatrically, “You know I hate repeats.”
The councilman shrugged and looked out over the ocean, “I meant you miss them. The people. The Sheppard’s, McKay’s, O’Neill’s ...” The councilman shook his head in amazement. “Our forefathers and legends. You knew them personally.”
“Well yes. We were great friends. The closest of pals, best buddies. Me and Sheppard were as tight as you could imagine.”
The councilman laughed, “No you weren’t. They hated you. My family still has a handwritten letter by General Sheppard with a list of the most untrustworthy people in the Pegasus. You’re fourth.”
“Really? Now that’s just insulting. Who were the first three?”
Whatever the councilman would have said was cut off as the door chimed again. He looked up, “That means our time is up. I’m afraid I have to send you back to your cell.”
The Furling gave him a look, “You know that if I really wanted to –”
“I know,” the councilman said appeasingly as they got up, “but you still like us too much to not go along with it.”
“Well,” he said conceding the point, “So long as someone knows the truth I suppose I can go along with pretending you people can hold me. After all, it is the most interesting thing to happen in quite some while. Who knows,” he added with a knowing grin as they walked to the door, “Maybe your Earth cousins will be more… fun.”
The councilman stopped short, and looked at him with growing apprehension. “Furling…” he said warningly.
“I keep telling you people, call me Q.”
“There both just little-used letters of alphabets which were probably picked at random, and you’re not messing with the Earth humans, Furling,” the councilman said as the door was opened, refusing to be distracted by his guest’s side-tracking.”
“Yes, but one’s from your alphabet, and the other’s from the Nox’s,” he continued as the guards approached to lead him away. “Now there’s a boring species...”
“Furling.” The councilman warned as the guards began to lead him away. He ignored him and turned his attention to the guards, “You think you guys spend a lot of time in meditation…”
“Furling! Q!” the councilman called after him. Q turned around a waved his bound hands with a smile, “Don’t be such a worrywart. I’ll be nice. Promise.” He disappeared around the bend, the sound of his descriptions of the Nox to the guards drifting back toward the councilman.
Who closed his eyes and sighed, “He wouldn’t,” and turned back to his room.
Which had been turned upside down, literally, with all the furniture laid out on the ceiling the way it had on the floor, gravity somehow having been selectively reversed.
He stared up at the open upside down decanter of brandy, the liquid staying at the bottom (or was it top now?) of the glass.