Transcript by Callie Sullivan.
ATLANTIS. COMMISSARY. Open on a table at which sit two men facing each other. On the table between them is a chess board with a game in progress. The two men are sitting silently: one is staring intently at the other, while the second man is gazing at the board, equally lost in concentration. Ronon sits at a table nearby with a tray of food in front of him but for once, he is not stuffing his face. He is eating, but mostly he’s watching the two chess players. Elizabeth comes in with a tray of food and walks over to Ronon’s table.
WEIR: May I join you?
(He nods. She sits down next to him and sees what he’s looking at.)
WEIR: It’s called chess. It’s a game.
DEX: They’ve been sitting there like that since I sat down.
WEIR: Those two, they play every single day.
DEX: Neither one of them’s even blinked yet.
WEIR: Well, it’s not really a game action.
DEX: I can see that.
WEIR: It’s all about strategy. (She indicates the man looking at the board.) He’s planning his next move, and the move after that, and the move after that.
DEX: I guess you do a lot of that around here.
WEIR: Yes, we do. I take it that’s not how you prefer to do things.
DEX: No. (He stands up and picks up his tray.) I’m leaving.
WEIR: Hey, Ronon, wait. Just because we do things differently, doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other; and Colonel Sheppard has already invested an incredible amount of time and energy trying to make you an integral part of his team.
(Ronon looks down at her.)
DEX: I meant I’m leaving the table.
WEIR (looking embarrassed): Oh.
DEX: Is that OK?
WEIR: Yes, of course. I’m sorry – I, I thought ...
(She is interrupted by Rodney’s voice coming over the radio.)
McKAY (over radio): Doctor Weir?
(Elizabeth activates her radio.)
WEIR: Rodney, what is it?
McKAY: Something you should see here.
WEIR: I’m on my way. (She stands and turns to Ronon.) I’m leaving too!
WEIR: What is it?
McKAY (indicating a point on a scanner screen): That is the signature of an Ancient ship called the Aurora. With the ZedPM now powering the city, we’ve been reactivating dormant systems. That one tracked the location of Ancient ships during the war.
SHEPPARD: A warship?
McKAY: See, look at his eyes all lighting up again. It’s Pavlovian. I cross-checked the logs. They were on a reconnaissance mission. When we activated the ZedPM, the city must have sent out some kind of an automated subspace beacon recalling ships back to Atlantis.
WEIR: How long before it gets here?
(Rodney turns and starts typing.)
McKAY: Well, given that it’s at the edge of the Pegasus galaxy, let me see ... carry the four ... Forty-two million years. Should we go wait on the porch?
SHEPPARD: So we take a Jumper through the nearest Stargate, check it out.
McKAY: Clever, but wrong.
SHEPPARD: There are no nearby Stargates.
McKAY: Not within Jumper distance, no.
WEIR: Which leaves us only one way to get there.
DAEDALUS. Elizabeth and Caldwell are walking along on their way to the Bridge.
WEIR: Please don’t force me to remind you that I do have discretionary power to utilize the Daedalus ...
CALDWELL (interrupting): I’m well aware of the extent of your powers, Doctor Weir.
WEIR: Colonel, do we have to ...
CALDWELL (interrupting again): Relax, Doctor, I happen to agree. The value of an Ancient warship in our hands instead of the Wraiths’ is more than enough incentive for me.
WEIR: Good! Colonel Sheppard’s team is ready to go.
CALDWELL: My crew can handle this.
WEIR: My team has far more experience with Ancient technology.
CALDWELL: My people will only get that kind of experience by going on this kind of a mission.
WEIR: Not this mission. We discovered it: we check it out. Your crew can cut their teeth on somethin’ else.
CALDWELL (irritably): Fine. Have Colonel Sheppard’s team ready to go in an hour.
WEIR (smugly): They’re ready now.
(She and Caldwell enter the Bridge to find John, Rodney, Teyla and Ronon waiting for them. Elizabeth smiles proudly at them. Caldwell just looks peeved.)
LATER. Daedalus comes out of hyperspace. Rodney checks a screen showing the location of the Aurora.
McKAY: We should have visual soon.
(He turns to walk to the front windscreen where the other members of his team are already standing.)
WEAPONS OFFICER: Sir. Detecting a second ship.
(Rodney walks back to the screens. A member of the Daedalus crew is in his way.)
McKAY: Move. (He checks the screen.) Huh – looks like a small Wraith vessel.
McKAY: No, bigger. Some sort of a scout ship? Probably after the same thing we are.
PILOT: It’s altering course – coming straight at us.
SHEPPARD: Must have seen us drop out of hyperspace.
CALDWELL: Weapons range?
WEAPONS OFFICER: Five seconds. (Five seconds later) Target is locked.
(Two missiles head away from Daedalus. Everyone waits anxiously while the Weapons Officer watches his screen. Finally it confirms the kill.)
WEAPONS OFFICER: Target is destroyed.
CALDWELL: All these years and just now the Wraith find this ship?
McKAY: Well, all these years the Aurora lay dormant. The signal from Atlantis woke it up, making it visible to the Wraith as well as us.
(Teyla turns to look out of the window and sees something.)
TEYLA: Is that it?
(Everyone looks. The Aurora is a huge ship but is very beaten up.)
SHEPPARD: Looks like it was in a helluva fight.
DEX: And lost.
CALDWELL: Life support?
WEAPONS OFFICER: Negative, sir.
CALDWELL: Looks like you’re gonna have to suit up, Colonel.
SHEPPARD: On our way. (He and his team head out.)
AURORA. The team, wearing spacesuits, is beamed onto the ship. It’s very dark and they shine their torches around.
SHEPPARD: Should be just outside the Bridge.
(They walk to a closed door. Dex prises it open and they walk inside. The opposite wall, which was presumably the front of the ship, has gone and the Bridge is exposed to vacuum.)
DEX: You mean what used to be the Bridge.
(They look around.)
TEYLA: Colonel Sheppard?
(The team goes over to join her. Just off the Bridge she has found what look very like a large number of stasis pods, each with someone inside.)
McKAY: Stasis pods. [Told you.] They’re still powered up.
TEYLA: We found a similar pod in Atlantis. It keeps a person alive for many years in a type of frozen hibernation.
DEX: If you call that living.
McKAY (looking into one of the pods): This one’s uniform is different from the others. Maybe the Captain?
SHEPPARD: Or his maitre d’.
McKAY: Life sign indicators are active. These capsules must have some kind of a shielding – that’s why the Daedalus’ sensors were unable to pick them up.
(Teyla looks upwards.)
TEYLA: Look at all of them!
(The others look up. The ranks of pods stretch up the wall as far as they can see from the light of their torches.)
SHEPPARD: That’s just on this deck. Who knows how many more there are on the rest of the ship? (He turns to Rodney.) Look, our time in these suits is limited. Can you get life support up and running?
McKAY: I’m on it.
(As Rodney heads off, John turns to the nearest pod, the one of the man they’ve designated the Captain, and wipes the frost off it. The man inside looks very old indeed.)
LATER. Life support has been restored and the team is out of their spacesuits. However, only minimal power has been restored and the ship is still very dark. John is reporting back to Colonel Caldwell over the radio.
CALDWELL: They’re all alive? The entire crew?
SHEPPARD: Well, they’re in a kind of suspended animation.
McKAY (who has hooked up some equipment to a stasis pod): Not entirely suspended, however. The pod has slowed their aging considerably but the bodies are virtually moribund.
SHEPPARD: Teyla and Ronon are searching the rest of the ship. My guess is there’s hundreds.
CALDWELL: Is there anything we can do for them?
McKAY: Well, reviving them’s out of the question. Look, the pods are the only thing keeping them alive.
SHEPPARD: What are we gonna do with them, then?
(Rodney hooks up another doohickey to the pod and looks at his screen.)
McKAY: There’s something going on. This pod is magnetically shielded! I’m reading cortical signals!
SHEPPARD: Which means ...?
McKAY: The pod’s equipped with a neural interface. It’s indicating definite brain activity, as though they were perfectly conscious. If all of these pods are interconnected, it’s highly possible these people are, in fact, communicating with each other.
CALDWELL: This has been going on for ten thousand years?
McKAY: Possibly. It was a way of keeping their minds occupied until they were rescued.
SHEPPARD: That is one long conversation.
McKAY: Yeah, well, more likely the interface was reactivated when the recall beacon from Atlantis was received. Either way, the neural feedback loop is incredibly active.
SHEPPARD: Any way to figure out what they’re saying?
McKAY: Yes, of course – it says right here: “Why is the smart one having to stop and answer so many questions?”!
CALDWELL: It’s a fair question, Doctor.
McKAY (irritably): Of course it is! Being able to communicate with a living Ancient is the opportunity of a lifetime, but this system is a highly complex system which I will have ... (He trails off.) Wait a minute.
McKAY: Answering your question. (He activates his radio.) Teyla. Found any more of the pods?
TEYLA (over radio): Yes, many, and there are many more decks we have yet to search.
McKAY: Are any of the pods empty?
TEYLA: A few.
LATER. John and Rodney have joined Teyla and Ronon in another large dark room where a couple of the pods are empty. Rodney has hooked up his magic laptop to one of the pods.
SHEPPARD: You sure this is such a good idea?
McKAY: What’s the matter, Colonel? Don’t trust me?
CALDWELL (over radio): You’re proposing actually freezing yourself in one of those things?
McKAY: I should be able to tap into the neural network without actually initializing stasis. Look, it won’t take long. I’ll be in and out. (Caldwell looks doubtful. On the Aurora, John looks equally doubtful. Rodney tries to explain it to him.) Look, the quickest way to figure out what is going on in there is to tap into the system and communicate directly with the Captain. Need I remind you of the obvious value in this?
TEYLA: But is it safe?
McKAY: Would I be volunteering to go if it wasn’t?
SHEPPARD: Which is exactly what makes it safe enough for me to go.
SHEPPARD: Better to have you on the outside in case something goes wrong.
McKAY: It won’t!
SHEPPARD: But if it does ...
McKAY: It won’t! How many times do I have to say this?!
TEYLA: Rodney. Between the two of you, if something were to go wrong, which would be the greater loss?
McKAY: Well, I’ve never thought of it that way but ... (he looks at John) she’s right. You should go.
(John looks at Teyla, who looks back at him, keeping her face completely straight. Ronon turns away, possibly to hide a smile.)
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. John is now lying in an open and empty pod.
McKAY: Now remember, the system creates a direct feedback loop between the processor and your brainwaves, so when you wanna disconnect, you’ll need to, um, well, really concentrate.
SHEPPARD: You mean think it.
McKAY: I think it’ll probably take a little more than that, otherwise you’d be popping in and out of the thing every time it crossed your mind.
SHEPPARD: So ... there’s no place like home?
McKAY (in a weary voice): If that works for you. Now, I should be able to monitor your EEG patterns, so in the highly unlikely event that something anomalous should present itself, I should be able to, uh, disconnect you manually.
McKAY: ... without permanent brain damage.
(John looks at him suspiciously.)
McKAY: Well, the opportunity to speak to a living Ancient is worth the risk, hmm? Now, when I close the lid, the pod system should activate. Ready?
SHEPPARD: I was!
(He types on his laptop and the pod retracts into the wall and the lid closes over John. John opens his eyes and finds himself standing in a brightly lit room. It’s the same room he was in before but it looks very different filled with light. He is wearing an off-white jacket and trousers.)
SHEPPARD: This is weird! (He looks down at himself, then walks around the room. There are what look like computer panels around the wall, and a ladder is set into one wall to enable people to climb from one deck to another. Still looking around, he pats his uniform to see if there’s anything in the pockets. Just then the doors slide open and a crewman walks in.)
CREWMAN: Who are you?
SHEPPARD: Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. I’m part of an expedition ...
(The crewman raises a small device, presumably a weapon.)
CREWMAN: This deck is restricted. How did you get in here?
SHEPPARD: My team discovered your ship. Your crew was in a stasis pod. We decided to tap in ...
CREWMAN: Stay where you are. (He activates a communications device on his collar.) Security to Engineering deck.
SHEPPARD: You don’t need to call security. (He starts to walk toward the crewman but stops when the man raises his weapon again.)
CREWMAN: Stay where you are.
(John sighs and keeps his hands in plain sight.)
(Shortly afterwards, two members of security have arrived and they and the crewman are escorting John to the Bridge. The doors open and they walk onto the Bridge. Undamaged, it is full of people, all wearing similar off-white suits to John. A woman, Trebal, is reporting to the Captain. Trebal is in her early thirties, has long blonde curly hair and is very attractive. The Captain is male, perhaps mid-fifties [I’m useless at guessing ages] and does indeed have a slightly different uniform to the others.)
TREBAL: The hyperdrive construct modifications are commencing, sir.
CAPTAIN: Make certain the equations are entered in the correct sequence. We don’t want to overload the control conduit.
TREBAL: Yes, sir.
(The Captain turns around in his chair and sees John standing behind him, smiling at him.)
CAPTAIN (to the crewman): Is this him?
CREWMAN: Yes, sir.
CAPTAIN (to John): You wear the uniform of my crew but I don’t know you.
SHEPPARD: My name’s Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. We discovered your ship. We found you and your crew in the stasis pods; we decided to tap into the system in order to communicate with you.
(He smiles as if confident that this will explain everything. The Captain and Trebal, however, look at each other, bewildered.)
CAPTAIN (to John): “The system”?
SHEPPARD: This – this, uh, virtual reality. (The Captain still looks confused.) You do know this is kind of simulated? (The Captain and Trebal again exchange glances. John looks round at the guards behind him. They too clearly aren’t buying it. He turns back to the Captain.) Is there some place more private we can talk?
(Shortly afterwards, John watches as a barred door lowers over the cell that he has just been placed in.)
SHEPPARD: It’s not exactly what I meant by private.
(The Captain and Trebal are on the other side of the bars.)
CAPTAIN: I wanna know who you are and how you got aboard this ship.
SHEPPARD: I told you: my name’s Colonel John Sheppard – part of an expedition ...
CAPTAIN: What expedition?
SHEPPARD: Let me bottom line this for you. We came from Atlantis – except it’s not quite the Atlantis you remember. Ten thousand years have gone by since you left. Look, I know all this sounds strange, but I’m telling you the truth. Right now you’re all in your stasis pods aboard Aurora. The ship’s been derelict for centuries. None of this is real. I expected you to know that.
TREBAL (to the Captain): You don’t have time to bother with this nonsense. The hyperdrive modifications are much more pressing, sir.
SHEPPARD: What kind of hyperdrive modifications?
CAPTAIN: We’re attempting to modify our propulsion in order to return to Atlantis as quickly as possible. Then we’ll see if you’re speaking the truth.
SHEPPARD: Look, the Atlantis you know doesn’t exist any more. During the war with the Wraith, the city was evacuated back to Earth.
CAPTAIN: Evacuated? Why would we do that?
SHEPPARD: Sir, the war was lost.
CAPTAIN: Nothing is lost. Not yet. I have vital information concerning a weakness in Wraith technology and when I deliver the communiqué in my possession, the tide will most certainly turn in our favour.
SHEPPARD: That’s right! The Atlantis mission log said you were on a recon mission. What-what-what kind of weakness are we talking about?
CAPTAIN: That information is reserved for the Council.
SHEPPARD: There is no Council any more!
TREBAL: Sir, we must return to the Bridge. (She and the Captain turn to leave.)
SHEPPARD: Wait! According to the logs, the Aurora left Lantian space during the siege. That means the city had already been sunk to the bottom of the ocean. (The Captain and Trebal turn to look at him.) You’re wondering how could I know that!
SHEPPARD: Because that’s where it was when we found it!
TREBAL: We’re wasting time, sir. You need to attend to the hyperdrive. (She and the Captain turn to leave.)
SHEPPARD: Wait! The information in that communiqué could still be incredibly valuable to us!
(Trebal and the Captain keep going, and the door to the Brig closes, leaving John alone. He makes an exasperated sound, then looks around to make sure that there are no cameras in the room. He braces himself, then closes his eyes and concentrates. After a couple of seconds, he cracks one eye open and peers around but he’s still in the cell. He opens his eyes, looks around in an annoyed way, then closes his eyes again.)
DERELICT AURORA. The lid to the stasis pod opens and the pod slides out of the wall. Rodney, who was sitting nearby, stands up and walks over to John as he opens his eyes.
SHEPPARD (looking around): It worked!
McKAY: Well, of course it worked!
(John sits up and swings his legs over the side of the pod.)
SHEPPARD: For a minute I thought I was gonna get stuck there. (He looks around.) Where’s Teyla and Ronon?
McKAY: Well, Caldwell sent them to search the ship’s armoury.
SHEPPARD (his eyes lighting up): Yeah?!
McKAY: No. Unfortunately it was depleted of drones. So, what happened? Were you able to communicate with the Captain?
SHEPPARD: Face to face – pretty impressive in there, and they have the whole virtual reality thing going on.
McKAY: Actually, the correct term is “virtual environment”.
SHEPPARD: Yeah, whatever.
McKAY: So what did you find out?
(John picks up his radio headset and loops it around his ear.)
SHEPPARD: For starters, I have to go back.
CALDWELL: What do you mean you have to go back?
SHEPPARD (over radio): The Aurora was on a recon mission. The Captain was carrying a communiqué back to Atlantis. In it is vital information about a weakness in Wraith technology.
CALDWELL: What kind of weakness?
SHEPPARD: Well, that’s why I have to go back – he didn’t tell me. He’s trying to modify the hyperdrives in order to get back to Atlantis faster to deliver it.
McKAY: Well, did you mention that that’s impossible given that they’re living in a virtual environment?
SHEPPARD (straight faced): No, Rodney, that slipped my mind.
McKAY: Well, I would have thought that would have been the first thing ...
SHEPPARD: Of course I mentioned it! They don’t remember putting themselves in stasis. Consequently they had no idea who I was or how I got there.
McKAY: Well, why would the pods do that?
SHEPPARD: It’s a good question, and another reason I should go back. What do you think, Colonel?
(Caldwell thinks about it for a moment, then reaches a decision.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. John opens his eyes and is back in the Brig. He walks nearer to the door and calls out.
SHEPPARD: Hullo! Anybody there? (The main door opens and a guard walks in.) Hi. I really need to talk to the Captain.
SHEPPARD: Tell him I’m ready to make a full confession.
(The guard leaves the room and the door closes behind him.)
DAEDALUS. Caldwell looks at a screen on the wall of the Bridge.
CALDWELL: Doctor McKay?
McKAY (over radio): Go ahead.
CALDWELL: Long range sensors have just detected two Wraith cruisers heading this way, no doubt coming to investigate why their scout ship was destroyed earlier.
McKAY: What’s their ETA?
CALDWELL: Little over an hour, and I plan on being long gone by then. What’s the status there?
(Rodney is engrossed in a screen that he is sitting and reading.)
McKAY: I’ve been able to decipher some more of the programme. I’m actually reading neural tracking signatures of the entire crew as they make their way through the ...
CALDWELL: I meant Colonel Sheppard’s status?
(Rodney looks startled, having clearly forgotten all about John while he was playing with other things. He checks his laptop.)
McKAY: Oh, him. Yeah, well, he’s, uh, he’s still in the pod.
CALDWELL: Understood. Just be aware of the time constraints with the Wraith ships approaching. We can’t risk being discovered.
McKAY: Yes-yes-yes-yes-yes, ticking clock. Anything else?
CALDWELL: If he’s not out of there in thirty minutes, disconnect him manually.
VIRTUAL AURORA. The door to the Brig opens and Trebal comes in. The guard stands in the doorway behind her.
SHEPPARD: Where’s the Captain?
TREBAL: He has more pressing concerns at the moment. He sent me in his stead. I was told you were ready to make a full confession?
SHEPPARD: Yeah, well, no. Actually, um, I just wanted to talk to him to try to convince him that, uh, we’re on the same side.
TREBAL: Perhaps you would have more success if your story were not so preposterous.
SHEPPARD: It’s not preposterous.
TREBAL: You say you’re from Atlantis.
TREBAL: And yet you also say that Atlantis has been evacuated.
SHEPPARD: Yes. Well, it was – ten thousand years ago. Look, we just discovered it last year.
TREBAL: You “discovered” it.
SHEPPARD: We came from Earth. We found the city deserted, we set up base, we’ve been living there ever since. That’s how we found you. We saw the Aurora on one of the city’s long range sensors. Even after all these years, the Wraith are still causing a lot of problems. We’ve managed to hold them off for now, but we could sure use that information about the weakness in their technology.
TREBAL: Only the Captain has access to the communiqué.
SHEPPARD: Then let me talk to him. I can deliver the message myself. The quicker it gets back to Atlantis, the better for all of us.
TREBAL: You seem sincere.
SHEPPARD: Yes, I am. Uh, very sincere. (He smiles at her, turning on the full force of the Sheppard charm.) I would be very, very grateful. (He puts his hands onto the bars, and jolts back as the electrified bars zap him.) Ow! (He shakes one of his hands.)
TREBAL: I’ll speak to him for you.
(She leaves the room and the door closes behind her. John shakes his other hand.)
DERELICT AURORA. A door opens to reveal Teyla and Ronon on the other side. The room they are in has many stasis pods in it. Dex, aiming his blaster cautiously, looks through the door into the next room and lowers his blaster.
DEX: More of the same.
(Teyla is still looking at the pods in the first room as she walks forward.)
TEYLA: Shh. I am counting. I do not want to lose my place.
DEX: I counted three hundred and seventy-six. No, wait, three hundred and ninety-eight – forgot about the Infirmary. There’s twenty-two in there – or is it twenty-three? (Teyla throws him a black look.) Sorry.
(Teyla makes her way into the next room and walks towards the stasis pods in there. She and Ronon stop at the sight of a body, wearing an Aurora uniform, lying face down on the floor. The body is female and has long white curly hair. We recognise it as Trebal.)
TEYLA: Where did she come from?
(Checking the area first, Ronon walks to the body and turns it over. The body has been harvested by a Wraith. Teyla looks at the stasis pods nearby.)
TEYLA: Oh no.
(In the room where Rodney is keeping watch over John)
TEYLA (over radio): Doctor McKay?
McKAY: Still here.
TEYLA: Something you need to see. We are two decks directly below you.
McKAY: Can’t it wait?
(Rodney heads off.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. In the Brig, John is sitting on the metal seat in the middle of his cell. He calls out.
(The door to the Brig opens and the guard walks in.)
SHEPPARD: I need to talk to the First Officer.
GUARD: She gave orders not to be disturbed.
SHEPPARD: It’s OK. She said she was gonna talk to the Captain for me. It’s been a while.
GUARD: She also gave orders to ignore everything you say.
(John stands up and walks closer to the bars.)
SHEPPARD: Then why are you talking to me right now?
(He smiles sarcastically at the guard, who smiles equally sarcastically back and turns to walk away.)
SHEPPARD: I need to see the Captain!
(The guard turns back towards him. John closes his eyes and concentrates, then disappears. The guard looks understandably startled.)
(On the derelict Aurora, the lid of the capsule opens. John opens his eyes and looks around the room for a couple of seconds.)
SHEPPARD: Alright – that should be enough time.
(The lid of the capsule closes again.)
(On the virtual Aurora, the guard has activated his hand-held device which apparently doubles as both weapon and door-opener. The bars to the cell open and he walks inside. As he walks into the cell, John reappears and, before the guard can react, snatches his weapon out of his hand, aiming it at him.)
SHEPPARD: Gimme this thing. (He takes the communication device off the guard’s collar, then backs out of the cell. The cell door closes.) I really don’t like being ignored. (He heads off.)
DERELICT AURORA. Ronon has picked up the body of Trebal and is carrying it out of the way as Rodney climbs down a ladder to join him and Teyla.
McKAY: What is it?
TEYLA: Have a look.
(Glancing at Ronon as he lays Trebal’s body down, Rodney follows Teyla as she leads him toward the stasis pods. On the wall near the pods, he finds some devices attached to the Aurora equipment.)
McKAY: This is Wraith gear. And it’s recently installed.
DEX: There’s a reason for that.
(Rodney turns and looks at the nearest stasis pod. A male Wraith is inside.)
DAEDALUS. Caldwell comes out of an elevator, followed by Rodney, Teyla and Ronon.
CALDWELL: Are there any more?
McKAY: Well it’s hard to say since you plucked us out of there the second you heard.
TEYLA: Ronon and I have searched the ship. I am certain there is only one.
(They enter the Bridge.)
McKAY: The Wraith’s tied into the same neural feedback loop as the crew and Colonel Sheppard. By the looks of it, they must have found Aurora a long time ago, certainly long enough to figure out how to access and reconfigure the system.
CALDWELL: Given their apparent psychic abilities, is it possible the Wraith ships on the way are in communication with the Wraith aboard the Aurora?
TEYLA: No. They need to be closer.
McKAY: She’s right. We’ve already determined that the range of the Wraith psychic ability is limited.
CALDWELL: So we can’t risk those ships getting within that range.
DEX: I say we go back and kill it right now.
CALDWELL: I agree.
McKAY: Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa. Stop! Let’s not get all trigger happy. We have no idea how much of the system this Wraith has manipulated. We need to figure out what is going on before we start shooting things. For all we know, that could kill Sheppard.
CALDWELL: What’s he still doing in there?
McKAY: He can come out any time he wants. There must be a good reason.
DEX: Knowing Sheppard, he wouldn’t leave without getting the information from the communiqué.
CALDWELL: I still don’t like it.
TEYLA (to Rodney): The Wraith cannot physically harm him in there, can it?
McKAY: No. ... I don’t think so. ... I don’t know, but what I do know is I should get back in there and learn what this Wraith is doing.
CALDWELL: You’ve got fifteen minutes to figure it out, Doctor.
McKAY: Fifteen? Where do you people come up with these arbitrary numbers?!
CALDWELL: That’s the time you’ve got to learn what you need to, Doctor.
CALDWELL: Because I intend to destroy the Aurora before those Wraith ships get here. (He walks away.)
McKAY (meekly): OK!
VIRTUAL AURORA. CAPTAIN’S OFFICE. The Captain walks in holding a small flat box and puts it on the table. He turns and sees John standing in the doorway.
SHEPPARD: Hi. Me again. (The Captain raises his hand towards the communication device on his collar.) Wait, wait, please. Just listen. (He realises that he’s pointing his weapon at the Captain and lowers it.) I’m not here to hurt anyone. I wanna help you. Help all of us. I know all this sounds strange but just give me a chance to prove that what I’m saying ...
(There’s a zapping sound and John convulses and falls to the floor. Behind him, Trebal lowers her weapon and walks into the room, followed by a couple of guards.)
TREBAL: Are you alright, sir?
CAPTAIN: Yes, I’m fine.
TREBAL (to the guards): Take him back to the Brig.
(The guards pick John up and drag him out.)
TREBAL: He escaped only moments ago. I’ll see to it he doesn’t disturb you again. (She turns to leave.)
CAPTAIN: What if he is telling the truth? (Trebal turns to face him.) Do you not sense it too? That something is wrong?
TREBAL: You’re exhausted, sir.
CAPTAIN: True. I am in need of rest. Even more so than my crew.
TREBAL: Rest is a luxury we cannot afford, sir. The Aurora is a fine ship, but she was never built for speed. Without the drive modifications, it’ll take months to return to Atlantis. If we are to use this new intelligence to our advantage, we need to reach the city within days.
(The Captain nods in agreement.)
CAPTAIN: Then there’ll be time for rest.
TREBAL: Yes, sir.
(The Captain leaves the room. Trebal smiles to herself, then turns and follows him.)
DERELICT AURORA. Rodney, Teyla and Ronon have returned. Rodney is staring in concern at the laptop monitoring John’s condition inside the stasis pod.
TEYLA: What is wrong?
McKAY: Delta waves?
DEX: What are they?
CALDWELL (over radio): Doctor McKay? Are you ready to be beamed aboard?
McKAY: It hasn’t even been five minutes!
TEYLA: Doctor McKay has discovered a problem.
CALDWELL: What kind of a problem?
McKAY: Colonel Sheppard’s EEG frequencies are decreasing. I’m reading delta waves which indicate that he’s unconscious within the virtual environment. I’m not sure how it happened but something’s definitely wrong in there.
CALDWELL: Even more reason to pull him out.
McKAY: That would be a mistake. Look, additional data I’ve been able to decipher from the Wraith’s biometrics receiver shows significant manipulation of the feedback loop – something we were clearly not aware of when Sheppard went in.
CALDWELL: We were also clearly not aware of the two Wraith cruisers approaching.
McKAY: Colonel, this Wraith is controlling the programme, which means it might have booby-trapped it as well. We’re talking about Sheppard’s life here.
CALDWELL: And I’m talking about the lives of not only every person aboard this ship but every person in Atlantis when the Wraith find out it wasn’t destroyed. I’m well aware of what’s at stake here, Doctor. Get him out of that pod, or my men will. Caldwell out. (He cuts comms.)
(Rodney looks around for a moment, then looks at Teyla and Ronon.)
McKAY: I’m goin’ in. (He heads for the nearest empty stasis pod.) Look, stall Caldwell, buy me some time, just a few minutes at the most.
TEYLA: What if you are unable to disconnect?
DEX: Caldwell’s gonna blow that ship whether you’re in there or not.
McKAY: You see, the thing is, Colonel Sheppard and I have sort of gotten into this habit of saving each other’s lives, and it’s my turn. (He pushes a button and the lid of the pod opens. He turns and looks at Teyla and Ronon.) It could be your turn next. (He shows a small device to Teyla, pointing to a button on it.) Look, hit this to manually disconnect me. (She nods her understanding.) If I do not regain consciousness, go ahead and open Colonel Sheppard’s pod. Have us beamed directly to Daedalus, and make sure they have a medical team waiting. (He hands the device to Teyla and starts to get into the pod.)
TEYLA: Are you sure you wanna do this?
McKAY (plaintively): I’m sure I don’t! (He lies down and breathes deeply several times.) OK. Alright. (He raises his head and looks at the lid of the pod.) There’s more than enough air in there. (He puts his head down again, breathing heavily.) Right. Course there is. Crew’s been sealed inside these things for thousands of years.
TEYLA: Are you alright?
McKAY: Yeah, it’s just my claustrophobia. I’ll be fine – I hope. Now – the system should engage once you send me in.
McKAY: Right. (He closes his eyes. Teyla looks at him. He opens his eyes again.) So, send me in?
TEYLA: Oh! Yes! Good luck.
McKAY: Right. (With his hands lying on his chest, he gives a double thumbs up as Teyla activates the pod and it slides into the wall, the lid lowering over the pod at the same time.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. BRIG. John, lying on the metal bench in his cell, wakes up as the door to the Brig opens and a familiar voice can be heard.
McKAY: Where are you taking me? I told you – I am with Colonel Sheppard. I’m a member of his team. Colonel John Sheppard?
(John, frowning in confusion, sits up on the bench as Rodney, wearing an off-white Aurora uniform, backs into the Brig, talking to two security guards.)
McKAY: He’s about, he’s about, he’s about so high, uh, uh, uh, brown hair, a bit mussed, the term is rakish ... oh, for ... (He turns and sees John in the cell.)
McKAY: What are you doing in there?!
(The guards deactivate and raise the door to the cell and push Rodney inside.)
SHEPPARD: I was about to ask you the same thing.
McKAY: I came to help you.
(The cell door closes.)
SHEPPARD: I feel better already!
DERELICT AURORA. Teyla is pacing around the room nervously as Ronon leans over one of the pods.
DEX: Ten thousand years in one of these things, kept alive only by life support. I couldn’t live that way.
TEYLA: Neither could I.
CALDWELL (over radio): Doctor McKay, what’s your status?
(Teyla stares in panic for a second, then rallies.)
TEYLA: Doctor McKay is not here. (She looks down at Rodney’s pod.)
TEYLA: He had to ...
DEX (activating his radio): He had to ... check something on the Wraith pod.
(Teyla looks at him, impressed by his ad libbing.)
TEYLA: Yes, the Wraith pod. He had to check the ... biometrics receiver. He needed to reconfirm the frequencies of the neural feedback loop.
(Ronon nods approvingly at her.)
CALDWELL: Why isn’t he on his radio?
TEYLA: Well, actually, we have been having trouble reaching him ourselves. I think it might have something to do with interference from the, um, (she looks down at Rodney’s pod for inspiration, then comes up with something) ... magnetic shielding of the pods.
DEX: Yeah, shielding.
TEYLA: Ronon was just about to go and check on him – see what is taking him so long.
CALDWELL: Alright, go get him, light a fire under him.
TEYLA: Right away.
CALDWELL: I want a status report as soon as his radio’s working. Caldwell out. (He cuts comms.)
DEX: Nice stalling!
(Teyla smiles at him.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. BRIG.
McKAY: Have you been unable to disconnect yourself from the system?
SHEPPARD: No! I’m still trying to get the information on that communiqué.
McKAY: Oh, good! We thought maybe it was preventing you from exiting the programme.
McKAY: We found a Wraith in one of the stasis pods. It’s manipulating the neural feedback programme. Your EEG patterns were irregular ...
SHEPPARD: No kidding. I got stunned!
McKAY: I didn’t wanna risk pulling you out ‘til I knew more.
SHEPPARD: First Officer.
McKAY: What about him?
SHEPPARD: Her. She’s a Wraith – she has to be. There’s something very odd about her, and she keeps preventing me from talking to the Captain.
McKAY: Well, the Wraith we found was male. The First Officer must have been female; it took her place.
SHEPPARD: She knows I want that information and the Captain’s the only one with access to it.
McKAY: Well, we don’t need the Captain. I’ve been able to decipher enough of the programme to overwrite the protocols. All I have to do is get to a terminal within the virtual environment and I should be able to access any files stored within the database.
SHEPPARD: So we just need to break out of here.
McKAY: Hold that thought. (He folds his arms, closes his eyes, concentrates and disappears.)
DERELICT AURORA. Rodney’s stasis pod opens.
DEX: What’s happenin’?
McKAY (to Teyla): Give me the tablet. (To Ronon) The data device, right there, (pointing) right there. (Dex fetches it and hands it to him.) Thank you! (He takes something out of it, then takes the computer tablet that Teyla has brought over.) That’s it. Alright. Just keep stalling, keep stalling. (He inputs onto the tablet.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. John looks up in surprise as the forcefield around the cell door disappears and the door opens. He stands up and walks toward the open door, but the door to the Brig opens and two guards come in. They raise their weapons and walk toward him. He stops and raises his hands, but the two men then crumple to the floor, unconscious. Rodney then appears beside him.
SHEPPARD: Hi! Nice!
(He and Rodney bend down to the guards and take their weapons before heading off. They make their way along the corridors.)
McKAY: Should be the next hallway.
(They walk into the next hallway, then duck for cover as they see Trebal and a man walking along.)
SHEPPARD (whispering): That’s her!
(Trebal and her colleague meet with another man and stop to talk. Rodney peers around the corner at her, then turns to John.)
McKAY (whispering): That’s the Wraith?!
SHEPPARD (whispering): Yeah.
McKAY (whispering): Wow! (He looks at her again.) She’s hot! I mean, seriously hot!
SHEPPARD (whispering): Rodney, you’re drooling over a Wraith!
(Rodney watches as Trebal and her colleagues walk away, then turns back to John.)
McKAY: I know – I disgust myself sometimes.
(Seeing that the coast is now clear, they head off again. They reach where they need to be. John checks out the area as Rodney starts working on a console.)
DAEDALUS. Teyla and Ronon walk onto the Bridge.
CALDWELL: Where are Doctor McKay and Colonel Sheppard?
DEX: Why did you beam us back?
CALDWELL: Because I was about to fire a missile into the side of that ship.
(Teyla realises she has no choice but to tell the truth.)
TEYLA: They are in the pods.
CALDWELL: They’re both in pods now?
TEYLA: Yes. Doctor McKay went in to see if the Wraith was preventing Colonel Sheppard from disengaging from the system.
CALDWELL (to his weapons officer): I want a team assembled ready to beam aboard the Aurora to disconnect Doctor McKay and Colonel Sheppard.
TEYLA: No, wait. Please – just a few more minutes.
CALDWELL (to his weapons officer): ETA on the Wraith ships?
WEAPONS OFFICER: Eleven minutes out.
TEYLA: I am certain he will be out by then – and if he is successful, he will know if it is safe to disconnect Colonel Sheppard.
CALDWELL: And if he’s not out by then?
DEX: Then we’ll disconnect them both.
TEYLA: It would be wise to have a medical team standing by for both of them.
(Caldwell looks as if he could cheerfully strangle the entire Atlantis team. With a look of resignation on his face, he turns to another member of the Bridge crew.)
CALDWELL: Alert the Infirmary – I want a medical team standing by.
VIRTUAL AURORA. Rodney is staring at the readouts on the screen in front of him. He and John talk in hushed tones through the entire following scene.
McKAY: The communiqué’s been erased.
SHEPPARD: Why would the Wraith do that?
(Rodney sighs in exasperation.)
McKAY: Well, it says right here: “I, the Wraith, delete this important information to keep you from seeing it”!
SHEPPARD: Obviously he did it to keep us from seeing it, but why didn’t it end the damned programme? What’s the point of continuing?
McKAY (realizing something): Oh no!
(Rodney turns around to face John.)
McKAY: You said they were trying to modify the hyperdrive.
SHEPPARD: So they can get back to Atlantis faster.
McKAY: Well, according to the Atlantis database, there are two different types of Ancient hyperdrive: there’s the more basic interstellar kind, like the one the Aurora has; and then there’s the more powerful intergalactic kind, similar to the one the Asgard provided us for the Daedalus.
SHEPPARD: Why would the Wraith wanna soup up the Aurora’s hyperdrive?
McKAY: Because the Wraiths’ hyperdrives are nowhere near as advanced as the Ancient hyperdrives! All this technology the Captain’s feeding her right now ...
SHEPPARD: ... she’ll learn how to modify the Wraiths’ hyperdrives from interstellar to intergalactic.
McKAY: Which means they’ll make it as far as Earth.
SHEPPARD: That’s what this whole thing is about! Their new feeding ground! And this is just step one.
McKAY: Even if she doesn’t have all the information she needs, we need to stop her from sending what she’s learned so far to the Wraith ships that are on the way.
(John narrows his eyes at him.)
SHEPPARD: There are Wraith ships on the way?!
McKAY: I’m-I’m sure I mentioned that.
SHEPPARD: No, you didn’t.
McKAY: Well, it ... it-it-it threw me when she was so hot!
SHEPPARD: How many ships?
McKAY: It’s two cruisers.
SHEPPARD: Can you disconnect her?
McKAY: Him. Not from the inside, no. I should be able to disable the pod interface from the outside.
SHEPPARD: Then why didn’t you?
McKAY: Because I didn’t know what that would do to you.
SHEPPARD: Well, that’s very thoughtful of you, but now she knows all about Atlantis.
McKAY: You told her?! (He folds his arms.) Why?
SHEPPARD: Because I was trying to convince them that ... Just go and unplug the Wraith while I talk to the Captain.
McKAY: The communiqué is blank!
SHEPPARD: Yeah, but he might still have some intel about the Wraith weakness. Now, Rodney, is there anything else you’d like to tell me?
(Rodney thinks about it.)
McKAY: Only that Caldwell was probably gonna destroy the ship at any moment.
(John stares at him for a moment.)
McKAY: Going. (He folds his arms again, closes his eyes, concentrates and disappears. John turns and runs off.)
DERELICT AURORA. Rodney’s stasis pod opens and slides out from the wall. Rodney opens his eyes and looks around.
McKAY: Teyla! Ronon? Oh, I can’t believe it! Two minutes in the pod and I’m abandoned! (To himself) Come on! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! (He hauls himself painfully to his feet.) Oh! Right. OK. (He unplugs his laptop and hobbles across the room, apparently nursing either a stiff or cramped leg.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. John climbs down a ladder outside the Bridge and hides around the corner, peering into the Bridge as their everyday activities continue.
SHEPPARD (to himself): Come on, McKay!
(On the bridge)
TREBAL: Hyperdrive modification commands have been successfully entered. Auxiliary power is now online.
CAPTAIN: Very good. Prepare to engage drive.
(Everyone turns around to see John coming into the Bridge with his weapon aimed. Trebal and other crew members draw their own weapons.)
SHEPPARD (to the Captain): Your First Officer’s a Wraith. She’s using you.
TREBAL (into her collar comms): Security to the Bridge.
SHEPPARD (to the Captain): She gained access to the virtual environment by killing your First Officer and taking her place. She’s getting you to modify your hyperdrive so she can upgrade the Wraith hyperdrive.
TREBAL: Don’t listen to him.
SHEPPARD (to the Captain): They need to modify their hyperdrives to make it to my planet, Earth, and I prefer she not do that.
TREBAL: This is nonsense.
SHEPPARD (to the Captain): I’m telling you, she’s a Wraith.
CAPTAIN: Officer Trebal has served with me for many years. I can’t possibly believe that ...
TREBAL: Sir, with your permission, I’d like to ... (She stops and convulses. Her image fritzes and she grunts. It happens again, and again.)
(On the derelict Aurora, Rodney is frantically working controls.)
McKAY: C’mon! (He looks at the pod with the Wraith in it.) Disable!
(On the virtual Aurora, Trebal’s image continues to fritz. It distorts and becomes a disturbing merger of herself and Wraith. As the Wraith snarls at John, the crew stare at the sight of Trebal with huge teeth. Then she/it disappears altogether. The Captain gets out of his chair and walks towards John, still staring at the space where Trebal had been standing.)
SHEPPARD: I hope that was proof enough.
(On the derelict Aurora, Rodney looks triumphant.)
(Next to him, the Wraith’s stasis pod opens. Rodney stares in horror.)
McKAY: Oh no!
(The Wraith just lies there, not moving, its eyes still closed. Rodney gets his pistol out and, aiming it at the Wraith, steps nervously closer to it. When he is almost close enough to touch it, the Wraith’s eyes snap open. It snarls and reaches for Rodney’s gun. Rodney jerks back, whimpering, and fires his pistol over and over again as he backs away. He keeps firing until he reaches the door, then races down the corridor to the room where John still lies inside his pod. Rodney reloads his pistol, then stares down at the pod.)
McKAY: C’mon, c’mon! (He looks nervously around to see if there’s any sign of the Wraith.)
CAPTAIN: All this time I thought we had evaded the enemy. Instead, I’ve been unwittingly assisting them.
SHEPPARD: No, sir. She didn’t succeed – and if you tell me the information in the communiqué, we may be able to defeat the Wraith once and for all.
CAPTAIN: The information is in the ship’s computer. I can give you my access codes.
SHEPPARD: We checked. It’s all been erased. Can’t you tell me yourself?
CAPTAIN: I’m afraid I was never made aware of its contents, Colonel Sheppard. The Council feared the possibility of our capture was too great. The information in that communiqué is gone. (He sighs.) Ten thousand years. Even in stasis, our physical bodies must be ...
SHEPPARD: ... very old. Too old.
(The Captain looks around the Bridge at his people working busily.)
CAPTAIN: My crew deserves to know.
SHEPPARD: Yes, they do, and I’d love to give you all the time in the world for that, but right now there are two Wraith ships on their way.
CAPTAIN (still gazing around the Bridge): We longed for nothing more than returning to Atlantis, to raise a toast to home and victory. (He looks at John.) We may not return home, but we’ll do whatever we can to ensure that victory. For that, I will need your help.
DERELICT AURORA. John’s stasis pod slides out of the wall as the lid raises.
McKAY: Well, it’s about damned time! What did you do, play a round of golf? We’ve got serious problems!
SHEPPARD: What happened? (He turns to look at Rodney.) GET DOWN!
(Rodney drops to the floor and we see the Wraith charging into the room behind him. John fires several shots at it and it falls to the floor. John jumps up out of the pod and joins Rodney as he gets up off the floor. They both point their pistols at the downed Wraith lying on the ground and groaning.)
McKAY: That happened! (He looks at the Wraith.) Not so hot now!
WRAITH: Our ships are coming. They will retrieve what I have learned. Earth will soon be ours.
SHEPPARD: Not if I can help it. (He fires three more shots into the Wraith, killing it.)
CALDWELL (over radio): Colonel Sheppard, we’re reading two life signs. I hope that means what I think it means.
SHEPPARD: Give me one more minute.
CALDWELL: We’re out of time, Sheppard. The Wraith ships are almost here.
SHEPPARD: One damned minute and I can take care of that problem.
(Just then, the Wraith cruisers appear out of hyperspace.)
WEAPONS OFFICER: Wraith cruisers just dropped out of hyperspace, sir. They’re aware of us.
CALDWELL: Battle stations! Looks like we’re gonna have to fight these guys. (He takes his seat.) Bring main rail guns online.
SHEPPARD: Daedalus, this is Sheppard. We’re ready.
CALDWELL (to his pilot): Beam them directly onto the Bridge.
(She nods, and a moment later John and Rodney appear on the Bridge.)
WEAPONS OFFICER: Targets are in range.
SHEPPARD (to Caldwell): Sir, we need to get outta here.
CALDWELL: No, we need to eliminate those cruisers. The information ...
McKAY: No-no-no, we need to get far away.
SHEPPARD: The Captain gave me the Aurora’s self destruct code. He assures me that it’ll take care of the Wraith ships too, but we need to get clear.
CALDWELL (to his pilot): Bring sublight engines to military thrust.
PILOT: Military thrust.
(The engines fire up and Daedalus moves away.)
VIRTUAL AURORA. The Captain is addressing his crew.
CAPTAIN: I’ve never been more proud than I am at this moment. It has been an honour serving with you. And although we may not return to Atlantis, rest assured that the Aurora will be remembered.
(In real space, the Aurora explodes, a huge fireball enveloping the Wraith ships. From a safe distance, those on Daedalus’ Bridge watch the explosion. Rodney and John look particularly sad and touched by the crew’s sacrifice.)
ATLANTIS. NIGHT TIME. ELIZABETH’S OFFICE. Elizabeth is sitting at her desk. John and his team are sitting on the sofas opposite her. Caldwell stands nearby.
McKAY: We monitored all transmissions from the Wraith cruisers prior to the explosion. They never got a chance to board the Aurora or upload any of the Ancient information.
CALDWELL: Both cruisers were destroyed in the explosion.
DEX: It’s too bad we weren’t able to figure out the Wraith weakness.
SHEPPARD: At least we found out they had one.
WEIR: Good work. Thank you, everyone.
SHEPPARD: Uh, before we break up the party, there’s something I’d like to do. (He reaches down and picks up a bottle of champagne from the floor beside him. Elizabeth, to whom he must have explained his plan beforehand, picks up a tray of wine glasses and brings them over to him as he stands.) Might seem a little strange, but I promised to do something when we got home.
(Everyone stands and takes a glass as John opens the bottle. Elizabeth puts the tray down and picks up the last two glasses. They hold the glasses out and John pours some champagne into each. John takes a glass from Elizabeth and raises it.)
SHEPPARD: To the crew of the Aurora.
(They clink their glasses together, then drink. Rodney drinks his down in one. Ronon takes a small taste at first, then throws the rest of the champagne down in one.)