The light is cold here. On the outer edges, where undertide and current flow, the walls are being eaten by the ocean salt. They have, perhaps, a thousand years left; more, if the shields were expanded. They're at minimal levels for now, edges sacrificed to save the center, the critical areas only: gate-room, power-station, stasis room and the man it holds. Between life support, shields, and the AI, the ZPM has, perhaps, ten thousand years left. Less, if the shields are expanded. Something must - 0000011101. Something must go. It's Atlantis or her prodigal son; Isaac and Abraham, struggling to tie each other to the altar. Each vying for more time, more time. A year more of survival. Two. Trapping each other in mazes and looping codes, in echoes of echoes. One disintegrates while the other survives, and Rodney and his city battle it out in silence. He's winning, so far. And that's important, because every minute is a chance someone will rediscover the city, time for a cure to be found. Because the thing is - the thing is -
The thing is, he's pretty sure he existed, once. Pretty sure he loved, and occasionally hated, and was more than this eternal game of cat-and-mouse, this cruel either/or, architecture or anatomy. He's as much a machine as the city. He can feel what he's doing to her. She's been quiet for a while, though - hiding somewhere in the control room. The bulk of her processing is in essential sections, or he would have - 010. He would have cut her shields and left her to the sea. Should probably check server AR-940, just in case. Must remember that; very important thing. Because the thing is - one slip and he's - one slip and -
He does remember. Must remember; very important. A comfort he could still - 10110011110. Still give. "I remember," his subroutines would say. If he were anything more than a whisper of light and code, he would reach past the glass - mouth to mouth, breathing out, thumb sweeping over the angry lines of infection running under the skin. He gave up ascension for this: to protect the last known carrier of the Wraith's virus, their final revenge, their time bomb sunken under the sea.
It seemed a fair trade. Food and sleep and sex, to be able to remember - to remember John, when no one else would. To hold that knowledge, share it, read himself out like a book to whomever could help. He carries instructions for - 001011. For the stasis chamber, John's medical records, all the research they'd had on the Wraith virus, anything that could help, and underneath, in hidden files and encrypted video: more whispers, of video golf and rings. A moment of joy, high in the atmosphere. Strong hands. A machine's memory of hot sheets and skin on skin. (And the thing - the thing he has to remember is - )
He's the bible of John; genesis and revelations both.