320 FIRST STRIKE
Transcript by Callie Sullivan.
ATLANTIS. Doctor Elizabeth Weir is walking through the Infirmary when a young woman runs to join her.
KELLER: Doctor Weir.
WEIR: Doctor Keller. How is my Head of Medicine?
KELLER: Uh, Acting Head of Medicine, actually, and that’s kinda what I wanted to talk to you about.
WEIR: What’s up?
(She leads Keller into a transporter. The doors close and Elizabeth pushes the back panel. The transporter begins to move, so they’re obviously not going far and the transporter is acting as an elevator.)
KELLER: Uh, I need to be replaced.
WEIR: Excuse me?
KELLER: Look, after Carson ...
(She trails off, unable to say the words. Elizabeth nods understandingly as the transporter/elevator arrives at its destination and the doors open. The women walk out.)
KELLER: ... someone had to step up and take over, and I’m glad to help out, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not qualified to run a department of this size. You – you need someone ... better.
WEIR: Everyone down there says you’re doing great.
KELLER: Well, (a) I’m not sure that’s true, and (b) it’s been pretty smooth sailing over the last few weeks. I think I’ve been lucky.
WEIR: Well, the IOA are reviewing candidates but, to be honest, they’re not that great at making quick decisions.
KELLER: Yeah. So, a week? Two weeks?
KELLER: I just haven’t been sleeping very well. This whole being in control thing kind of makes me anxious.
WEIR: Carson felt the same way his first few months.
KELLER: I appreciate you trying to lie to me.
(Elizabeth, who had been heading up the stairs to the Control Room, turns back to face Keller, looks at her and comes back down.)
WEIR: Look, I feel very comfortable with my life in your hands; and at the end of the day, that means you’re doin’ a pretty good job. Dealing with the pressure – it does get easier with time.
(She nods to her, then turns and starts to run up the stairs again.)
KELLER: Right. Uh, how much time, exactly?
(Elizabeth stops and turns around again.)
KELLER: Like, it’ll get easier over the next two weeks and then you’ll replace me, so I can go back to being a regular doctor?
(Elizabeth smiles, turns and heads up the stairs again, calling over her shoulder.)
WEIR: I’ll keep you posted!
KELLER (unhappily): Thanks(!)
CONTROL ROOM. Doctor Rodney McKay has been waiting for Elizabeth in her office but hurries out as she comes up the stairs, gesturing to the computer tablet he is holding.
McKAY: Can I please have someone else do these?
WEIR: Performance evaluations?
(She leads him back into her office.)
WEIR: No. Year-end employee reviews are important. They’re how people get promotions, and raises.
McKAY: OK, look. Asking me to do performance evaluations is ridiculous. I am the first person to admit ... (he gestures out to the rest of the city) ...I don’t know who these people are, nor do I care to. Look, if you’d like, I could take you down the hall to the labs and just point at the people who annoy me more than the rest, but that’s about as useful as I get.
(The doors to the hallway open and Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard walks in. He walks over to Elizabeth’s desk and drops a computer tablet onto it.)
SHEPPARD: All done.
McKAY: Oh, of course(!)
WEIR (picking up John’s tablet while looking pointedly at Rodney): That was quick!
(John smiles at Rodney smugly. Elizabeth frowns down at the tablet.)
WEIR: Hey, John, wait a minute. You’ve just given everyone excellent and above averages.
McKAY: Ooh! Can I do that?
(He reaches down to type on his tablet.)
WEIR: No! I know this is not the most glamorous part of your job, but you are in leadership positions and, unfortunately, that comes with administrative responsibilities.
SHEPPARD: Well, everybody who works for me is excellent and above average. You want me to lie? ‘Cause I don’t think leaders should lie, Elizabeth.
(Elizabeth looks at him, exasperated. The Canadian technician comes to the door.)
TECHNICIAN: Doctor Weir?
WEIR: Yes, Chuck?
[WE HAVE A NAME AT LAST!!!]
TECHNICIAN/CHUCK: The Apollo just came out of hyperspace.
WEIR (surprised): They’re ahead of schedule.
(They all walk out into the Control Room.)
SHEPPARD (nonchalantly): Probably just tryin’ to show off – you know, bein’ a new ship an’ all.
(Smiling, Elizabeth activates her headset radio.)
WEIR: Colonel Ellis, you’ve made excellent time on your first voyage here.
ELLIS (over radio): Thank you. I’m beaming down now.
WEIR: Very well. We’ll meet ...
(Before she can finish her sentence, an Asgard transporter beam transports Colonel Abraham (Abe) Ellis and four of his crewmen down in front of them. Ellis looks around briefly, then gestures to his colleagues.)
ELLIS: Set up in the Conference Room.
(The crewmen head off towards the Conference Room as Ellis turns to Elizabeth and the others.)
WEIR: Colonel. (They shake hands.) Welcome.
ELLIS: Thank you. (He looks at the other two.) Colonel Sheppard, Doctor McKay. This is gonna make things easier. I’ll need to brief you all immediately.
WEIR: What’s going on?
ELLIS: Well, I’d prefer to talk in private.
(He steps aside and gestures towards the Conference Room. As the two of them head off, John and Rodney exchange a suspicious glance, then follow.)
CONFERENCE ROOM. One of the crewmen is giving folders to the three Atlantis crewmembers, who are sitting at the tables. Ellis walks around the room as he speaks, activating a remote control to close the doors of the room.
ELLIS: Ever since the human-form Replicators made a play for the city, we’ve had the Daedalus make regular reconnaissance fly-bys of their home planet.
WEIR: Yes, we know.
ELLIS: Two months ago, it took these pictures.
(He activates the remote control to pull up a photograph onto the wall screen. The Atlantis crew have printouts of the same photo. Elizabeth looks at hers. It shows a view of an area of the Asuran planet’s surface taken from space. In the middle of the picture are large flat areas, though it’s hard to tell precisely what they are, nor how large they are.)
WEIR: I’m sorry, what am I supposed to be looking at here?
WEIR: Excuse me?
(Ellis uses his remote to close in on certain areas of the photograph on the wall screen. Red arrows point to the areas of particular note. The flat images are much smaller.)
ELLIS: This image was taken about three weeks ago in the very same location. They’re building ships – a lot of them.
SHEPPARD: Why weren’t we made aware of this?
ELLIS: I’m making you aware of it now.
McKAY: Well, if they’re coming for us, we should start making preparations to bolster the shield. I mean, we should ...
ELLIS: They’re not gonna get here. I’m here to inform you that in precisely twelve hours, the Apollo – in consort with your team – will launch a surgical strike on the Replicator planet.
OPENING CREDITS. RESUME.
SHEPPARD: So, uh, you’re gonna blow up their ships.
ELLIS: That’s right.
WEIR: Just like that?
ELLIS: Just like that.
McKAY: How the hell do you plan on doing that?
ELLIS: A set of Mark Nine tactical nukes housed in a custom-made weapons platform codenamed Horizon.
SHEPPARD: How many nukes do you have?
ELLIS: The Horizon carries six warheads and four decoys. (To Rodney) I’m gonna need you to do a final inspection before we head out.
McKAY: Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa, wait. Six?
ELLIS: That’s right.
SHEPPARD: That’s not enough.
McKAY: The Replicators are self-replicating robots, which means that they can ... (He circles his index fingers around each other to signify the Replicators self-replicating.)
ELLIS: I’m aware of that, thank you, Doctor, but they’re not like the Milky Way Replicators. Their ships aren’t built from nano-cells. They’re constructed of real material that can be destroyed. Six will be more than enough for now.
McKAY: “For now”? Look, isn’t this a bit like poking a sleeping dragon? Why don’t we just wait ‘til Area 51 finishes the PWARWs?
WEIR (looking like she’s getting a headache): Which one’s that, again?
SHEPPARD: Planetary-Wide Anti-Replicator Weapons.
McKAY: Look, the Asgard were capable of creating a satellite that could wipe out an entire Replicator planet. I mean, we’ve had some trouble making one of our own but ...
ELLIS: Look, would I prefer taking out an entire planet at once? Absolutely. But this image is giving the IOA a lot of sleepless nights. The Replicators know the location of Earth and, with these new ships, have the means to get there. We can’t just sit on our hands while the guys at Area 51 try to come up with a solution. This mission’s primary objective is to eliminate key military targets. We’ll come back and finish once the new weapon is up and running. (To Rodney) Doctor, I’m gonna need you to start your inspections as soon as possible.
McKAY: Well, yes, sure. I just ...
(Without waiting for him to finish, Ellis activates his headset radio.)
ELLIS: Doctor McKay is ready to beam.
McKAY: Well, he’s not, actually ...
(A transporter beam sweeps him away. Ellis walks over to the tables and picks up the photographs.)
ELLIS: OK. We’re finished here. Thank you.
(He nods to Elizabeth and John and leaves the room. A little surprised by his abruptness and still trying to take in everything she’s been told, Elizabeth stands up and walks over to look more closely at the photograph on the wall screen.)
WEIR: Can you believe this?
SHEPPARD: No. It all seems too good to be true.
(Elizabeth turns around to him, startled.)
SHEPPARD: Well, if those nukes do what Ellis says they do ...
WEIR: Since we won back the city, we haven’t heard so much as a peep from the Replicators.
SHEPPARD: Well, obviously they haven’t gone away.
WEIR: No, but maybe they’ve decided that we are more trouble than we’re worth; that the threat of our AR weapons is enough to keep them at bay.
(John stands up and walks over to her.)
SHEPPARD: You don’t build that many ships to make a run at Atlantis. They’re headed for Earth.
CONTROL ROOM. Ellis is talking with his crewmembers. Elizabeth walks over to him.
WEIR: Colonel. May I have a word?
(He follows her into her office.)
WEIR: This mission is a mistake.
ELLIS: It most certainly is not.
WEIR (sitting on the edge of her desk): It is an ineffectual first strike. You’ve gotta know how dangerous that could be for us.
ELLIS: All due respect, Doctor, it won’t be ineffectual. Besides, the IOA doesn’t think we can wait.
WEIR: I think we should stall them; try to open a round of negotiations.
ELLIS: They’re not a race of people. They’re a weapon. Try to keep that in mind.
WEIR: Weapon or not, they’re sentient. Negotiating with them could buy us enough time to get the PWARW up and running.
ELLIS: Usually I’d be more than happy to go twelve rounds here about who’s right and who’s wrong, but it wouldn’t matter. I have my orders, and you don’t have the authority to tell me to stand down, so, again, with all due respect, ma’am, I have a mission to execute.
(He turns and leaves the room.)
APOLLO. Apollo is a Daedalus-class ship, i.e. it looks exactly like Daedalus [which must save a bit on the special-effects budget ...]. On board, Rodney and Doctor Radek Zelenka are standing gazing up at Horizon, the weapons platform, suspended way above their heads. It looks like a large rocket with a pointed nose and fins at the rear.
ZELENKA: Well, the specs check out. We’ve loaded the target information. They’re ready.
McKAY: Yeah. It’s good to go. (He sighs.) This is a bad idea, isn’t it?
ZELENKA: We could tell them they’re not ready – you know, there’s a fault with the guidance system or something.
McKAY: I thought about that. They’re gonna have guys here to contradict us pretty quickly.
ZELENKA: Yep. (He looks around to make sure that nobody else is in the room, then speaks quietly.) But we’re here alone. We could make them not ready.
(Rodney sighs unhappily again.)
McKAY: They’re building an armada, Radek. I saw them. They showed me the pictures. I’d feel pretty stupid if we break this thing, only to have the Replicators show up and destroy the city.
ZELENKA: Yeah. Yeah, that would be bad.
(They both look up at Horizon again, then Rodney sighs a third time.)
McKAY: Tell the Colonel we’re good to go.
ATLANTIS. John runs over to meet with Elizabeth at the foot of the Gateroom stairs.
(John waits until an expedition member has walked down the stairs and there’s nobody nearby.)
SHEPPARD: Colonel Ellis has asked me to join the mission.
WEIR: I know.
(They start to walk up the stairs.)
SHEPPARD: I was gonna stay behind in a cloaked Jumper after they launch the warheads; do some battle damage assessment.
WEIR: I know that too.
SHEPPARD: He told me that you called Woolsey and General O’Neill and tried to get the whole thing called off.
WEIR: Yes, I did.
SHEPPARD: They didn’t bite.
WEIR: They did not.
SHEPPARD: Look, I know you think we’re doing the wrong thing here, but, uh ...
WEIR: John ... (She stops and turns to face him. They look at each other for a long moment.) Good luck.
(She turns and walks into her office. John turns away, uncomfortable at going ahead with a mission which his expedition leader and friend does not approve of.)
HYPERSPACE. APOLLO. In a Control Room, Rodney is making last-minute checks.
McKAY: Alright. Horizon is online. The warheads are armed and we are ready for final sequencing as soon as we drop out of hyperspace.
ELLIS (on the Bridge): Start now. Open the bomb bay doors.
(He walks across to the command chair and sits down.)
McKAY: We’re still in hyperspace.
ELLIS: We’re coming out of our jump uncomfortably close to the planet. I don’t wanna waste any time. Just get it done.
McKAY (sighing irritably): Well, you’re the boss.
(He and Radek go over to a control panel and press various buttons. On the other side of a window at the front of the room, the bomb bay doors open and Horizon is lowered down into position.)
McKAY: Ready to launch on your command. You’re sure about this, right? I mean, like, this is the right thing to do?
ELLIS: Not the best time for that kind of talk, Doctor.
McKAY (tetchily): Right. Sorry.
(A female technician sitting at the Weapons position beside Ellis on the Bridge reports.)
TECHNICIAN: Coming out of hyperspace in five, four, three, two, one.
(Apollo exits into normal space. Ellis stands up.)
ELLIS: Launch the Horizon.
(Horizon drops out of the bomb bay and we see that Apollo is very indeed close to Asuras and facing the planet’s surface. Once clear of the ship, Horizon’s rockets fire and it heads downwards. As it reaches the upper atmosphere, its nosecone begins to glow red. It powers onwards, reaches the lower atmosphere and the nosecone blows off, revealing the ten weapons (six nukes and four decoys) inside. Horizon’s rockets burn out and the ten weapons deploy, spreading out in all directions as they head for their targets. As they clear the clouds, we watch a single nuke continue downwards until it reaches its target and explodes. We switch to a higher viewpoint and see several massive explosions. Mushroom clouds begin to rise from the planet’s surface.)
(On Apollo, Radek nods to Rodney.)
McKAY: We have detonation confirmation on all six warheads.
ELLIS: Sheppard, you have a go for launch.
SHEPPARD: Copy that.
(He flies a Puddle Jumper out of the fighter bay, cloaking as he goes.)
SHEPPARD: Clear. Jump away.
ELLIS: Very well. We’ll pick you up in an hour. (He turns to his pilot.) Pull us out of here.
(Apollo swoops away from the devastation on the planet’s surface below and heads into hyperspace.)
ATLANTIS. NIGHT TIME. In the Conference Room, Radek and Rodney are looking at a screen which shows the data that John recorded from the Puddle Jumper. Ellis and John are nearby as the two scientists argue with each other.
ZELENKA: There is so much radiation interference, it’s hard to get an accurate yield calculation from the scan telemetry.
McKAY: Please, there is more than enough data. It’s not like we’re trying to take out a person here. We’re taking out massive chunks of a city.
ELLIS: Someone just please tell me if we hit our targets or not.
McKAY: If this data is right, then all of your primaries and most of your secondaries have been incinerated.
(John walks out of the room and heads across to the Control Room, meeting Elizabeth on the way.)
WEIR: Welcome back.
WEIR: I hear congratulations are in order.
SHEPPARD: Yeah, you heard right.
(Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex come up the stairs.)
TEYLA: How was the mission? Was it a success?
SHEPPARD: We did get all the ships.
DEX: I wish I could’ve been there to see it.
SHEPPARD: Well, space battles are always a lot more exciting on TV than they are in real life.
CHUCK: Doctor Weir? You’re gonna wanna see this. We’ve got a contact. Just came out of hyperspace.
(The others go over to look at his screen.)
WEIR: Is it broadcasting IFF?
CHUCK: No, ma’am.
CHUCK: Naah. It’s very small. I doubt it.
WEIR (to another technician): Raise the shield.
(The sound of the shield deploying can be heard.)
CHUCK: It’s taking up a geosynchronous orbit above the city.
TEYLA: What is it?
SHEPPARD: Maybe we should have the Apollo check it out.
WEIR (nodding in agreement): Tell the Colonel he needs to get back to his ship.
APOLLO. The ship heads towards the small object in space above the planet. Ellis, having just beamed up, walks onto the Bridge. His female technician reports.
TECHNICIAN: Right ahead of us, sir.
TECHNICIAN: Affirmative. Shields are up.
(Ellis walks to the front of the Bridge to look out of the windshield. He reports over radio to the crew on Atlantis.)
ELLIS: OK, I’ve got a visual. Looks like a satellite of some sort.
(We see the object. It is basically circular in shape and, as it rotates around, we see that it is hollow. At one end of the hollow interior is a round object with eight glowing points equally spaced around it. It looks eerily familiar. Ellis stares in surprise.)
ELLIS: It’s a Stargate!
SHEPPARD: A Stargate?
ELLIS: That’s right.
SHEPPARD: I thought you said it was a satellite.
ELLIS: It’s both. It’s a satellite, but in the middle there’s a ... Stargate.
WEIR (to Rodney): What could be the purpose of that?
McKAY: I’ve no idea.
(Out in space, the Stargate kawhooshes.)
ELLIS: It just activated.
SHEPPARD: The Gate?!
(A red beam lances out of the Gate and heads for the planet’s surface, hitting the upper atmosphere at an oblique angle. On Apollo’s Bridge, panels start to explode.)
ELLIS: Get us away from it!
(He runs back to his seat and sits down as his technician reports.)
TECHNICIAN: Sir, the satellite is turning again.
(The satellite turns in space, its beam cutting through the ocean on the planet below. In Atlantis’ Control Room, the crew stare nervously.)
CHUCK: It’s hitting the planet.
(The beam lances through the ocean, heading towards the shielded city. The city shakes violently as the beam reaches it. Everyone stares upwards in alarm.)
CHUCK: It’s a sustained beam.
McKAY: That is bad for a dozen different reasons.
(In space, Apollo sends out three missiles towards the satellite. They impact harmlessly against a shield surrounding it.)
ELLIS: It’s protected by a shield. Give me some options, McKay.
McKAY: The shield’s taking its power from the beam. Look, I registered a slight drop in output when you fired on it.
ELLIS: Could I get a nuke past its shield?
McKAY: No, probably not.
SHEPPARD: I’ll get in the Chair and give it everything we’ve got. Maybe that’ll collapse the shield.
(He turns to run for the Chair Room but stops as Rodney speaks.)
McKAY: I said “slight” – as in point zero zero two. Look, I doubt any amount of firepower is gonna collapse it while that beam is active.
ELLIS: Then what do we do?
McKAY: We stand down and let me think, is what we do. Just give me five minutes to get my bearings. I’ll brief you.
(He stands up to go to another console.)
DEX: McKay, it’s shooting at us.
(Rodney turns back to him, a little wide-eyed. He clearly has no idea what to suggest yet.)
McKAY: Yes, and the shields are holding. Look, we’ve got plenty of time – just give me five minutes.
FIVE MINUTES (OR SO) LATER. The beam is impacting the top of the shield over the city. Rodney leads Ellis into Elizabeth’s office where she and John are waiting.
ELLIS (to Rodney): What’ve you got?
McKAY: We’re in trouble.
SHEPPARD: It took you five minutes to figure that out? You’re slippin’, buddy.
McKAY: Look, the satellite is basically just a stripped-down ship. There’s a hyperdrive engine, a shield, and navigational systems. There’s a small power source that was designed to take it to its intended target and power the shield until the Gate can be dialled. But once a wormhole has been established to whoever’s on the dialling side, it fires a beam into their Stargate and it comes out on our side, allowing them to fire on us and to power the satellite.
SHEPPARD: That’s very clever.
McKAY: Yes. As long as they can keep the beam powered from home, the weapon remains operational. Oh, and one fun added side bonus is that because their Stargate is in such close proximity to our planet, we can’t dial our Stargate. We’re stuck.
SHEPPARD: Maybe that’s a good thing. The beam’ll turn off at the end of the Gate’s thirty-eight minute cycle. If we dial our Gate at that precise moment, we can neutralise theirs.
ELLIS: What, and if it’s not pulling power from the beam any more, then we can collapse its shield and destroy it.
McKAY: Sure. The problem is, I don’t think it’s gonna shut down in thirty-eight minutes.
ELLIS: But I thought it was physically impossible for an artificial wormhole to stay open any longer.
McKAY: There is one exception to that rule. The SGC has encountered attacks of this kind on their own Stargate and sadly we’ve discovered that if you pump enough energy into it, a Stargate can remain active indefinitely.
ELLIS: That would require an insane amount of power, wouldn’t it?
McKAY: Like a black hole – or an unlimited number of ZedPMs.
WEIR: So we can assume the Replicators are behind this.
McKAY: Well, I hope so.
WEIR: You hope so?
McKAY: Well, otherwise, we’ve discovered yet another super-powerful enemy.
WEIR: If it is a normal Stargate, can we still contact the dialling planet?
McKAY: Huh, well, I’ll need to boost the signal considerably to get through the interference, but, uh, yes.
WEIR: See what you can do, please.
(He leaves the room. Ellis turns to Elizabeth.)
ELLIS: Why would you wanna contact them?
WEIR: To negotiate.
ELLIS: It’s a waste of energy. We need to figure out how to destroy it.
(Elizabeth steps towards him.)
WEIR: I’d love to go twelve rounds here about who’s right and who’s wrong, but at the end of the day I’m responsible for the well-being of this city, and you don’t have the authority to tell me to stand down.
(Ellis looks at her darkly, realising that his own words have come back to bite him.)
WEIR: So with all due respect, I think I’ll place my call.
(She heads out to the Control Room. Ellis looks at John, who shrugs at him.)
CONTROL ROOM. Rodney is working near a wall screen which is fizzing with static.
McKAY: Alright. I think I’ve got it. They’re responding to the transmission.
(The screen clears and a man can be seen. It’s Oberoth, the leader of the Asuran High Council who had been on board the flying city destroyed at the end of “Progeny.”)
OBEROTH: Doctor Weir.
WEIR: I must say I’m surprised to see you.
OBEROTH: Each of us exists within the collective and can be replicated many times.
WEIR: You need to disable your weapon immediately.
OBEROTH: That is not possible.
WEIR: We had no choice but to attack you. You’re building warships. They need to be neutralised.
OBEROTH: And now, so do you.
WEIR: That assault was just the tip of the spear. We were hoping it would bring you to your senses. If you don’t stop this aggression, we will be forced to launch an all-out attack.
OBEROTH: Really? Why have you waited?
WEIR: The annihilation of your people is not our goal. Ideally, we would like a peace to exist between us, but we will not stand idly by while you build ships and weapons that can be used to destroy us.
(Rodney, who was watching the conversation, now turns to his console as it beeps at him warningly. An oscillating wave running across the screen changes in frequency.)
OBEROTH: Interesting. We feel the same way about you.
WEIR: Perhaps I should remind you every time we’ve met in battle, our side has been clearly victorious.
McKAY: Elizabeth. They’re attempting to upload a virus on the comm bandwidth. I’ve been able to stop it for now but I’m not ...
WEIR: Shut it down.
(Rodney pushes a button and the wall screen fades to static.)
WEIR: Well, that went well!
McKAY: Yeah. Always been one of my favourites.
WEIR: What if the Gate doesn’t shut down at the end of its thirty-eight minute cycle?
McKAY: Look, if they’re able to maintain the energy beam’s intensity – which I’m sure they will ...
WEIR: And how long ‘til our shield fails?
(Rodney sighs again.)
McKAY: It’s twenty-nine hours.
LATER. As the beam continues to fire down onto the city’s shield, a computer in the Control Room shows the message “GATE CYCLE ELAPSED TIME: 37:57” As the counter reaches 38:00 minutes, an automatic programme set up by Rodney starts to dial the Atlantis Gate. Rodney and Elizabeth look hopefully at the Gate as the lights run around the symbols on the Gate, then they both sigh as nothing happens. The programme instantly starts again, and continues running over and over again but each time the Gate doesn’t activate.
McKAY: Well, it was worth a shot.
WEIR: Alright, we’re gonna need another plan.
McKAY (unhappily): Yeah, OK.
(He walks away as the Gate continues dialling repeatedly.)
McKAY (offscreen): Look, stop dialling. It’s not working.
CONFERENCE ROOM. Ellis and two of his men are sitting and working on laptops. John comes to the doorway.
ELLIS (to his colleagues): You two give us a minute.
(The two crewmen leave the room as John walks in.)
ELLIS: What can I do for you, John?
SHEPPARD: We need to head back to the Replicator planet.
ELLIS: We do, do we?
SHEPPARD: Yeah. If this satellite weapon is powered by its homeworld, maybe we can neutralise it at the source.
ELLIS: Well, the Apollo is in no condition to get in a battle right now. That beam took a lot out of our shield.
SHEPPARD: No, we’ve gotta do something.
ELLIS: We did do something.
SHEPPARD: I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t help but think that we’re somehow responsible for this.
ELLIS: Why, because Weir said so?
SHEPPARD: No, sir.
ELLIS: John, listen to me. (He stands up.) I, uh, I’ve been over your record. I know you have your detractors but personally I think you’ve done a hell of a job here.
SHEPPARD: Thank you, sir.
ELLIS: You should be running Atlantis, not Doctor Weir.
SHEPPARD: Well, then I’d be The Man, and who would I have to rage against?
ELLIS: Listen. Because of us, Earth won’t have to deal with an armada of Replicator ships, so whatever happens here, we did the right thing today.
ELIZABETH’S OFFICE. Teyla is sitting at the desk as Elizabeth paces angrily around the room.
WEIR: I’m sorry. It’s just ... they didn’t even consult me.
TEYLA: I imagine they felt the need for secrecy was great.
WEIR (angrily): I have the highest level of clearance humanly possible, Teyla. No – they’re trying to undermine me. Some of the military doesn’t like that a civilian – let alone a woman – is in charge of this city.
TEYLA: Surely General O’Neill doesn’t feel that way. And the IOA – they’ve backed you several times. They believe in you.
WEIR: Yes, when things are going well, but as soon as we run into a major problem, the military steps in and assumes absolute control.
TEYLA: Certainly you don’t wish to coordinate military attacks.
WEIR: No, and that’s not what I’m saying. Look, our current situation could have easily been avoided. I told them as much, but they put next to no weight behind my opinions regarding the safety and protection of this city. Yes, the IOA is happy to have me as lead administrator, but when it comes to the big decisions ... (She trails off, frustrated.) If we get out of this, I think I may have to step down.
TEYLA: Give it some time. You need to step back and ...
McKAY (over radio): We’ve got something.
(The women head out to the Control Room. John and Ellis come out of the Conference Room, Ronon wanders in from somewhere, and all of them go over to Rodney and Radek.)
McKAY: We were throwing some ideas back and forth – well, he was throwing them forth and I was throwing them back – and while he was droning on about some idea that might have worked, it suddenly occurred to me: this city has encountered problems like this before, so I ...
ELLIS: We don’t need the history of your idea, Doctor. I’ll let that be a surprise when I read your autobiography. Just tell me the plan.
(Rodney looks annoyed, then puts his hands in his pockets.)
McKAY: We submerge it.
ELLIS: I’m sorry?
McKAY: We submerge the city.
WEIR: I thought you said we couldn’t submerge the city.
ZELENKA: That was two years ago before the Ancients came and activated a number of new systems. See ...
(He stands up to explain further but Rodney promptly talks over him.)
McKAY: The “how” is complicated, but I think it’s possible. Look, it’s not a permanent solution ...
SHEPPARD: ... but it’ll buy us enough time ‘til we come up with one.
(Rodney points at him triumphantly and smiles.)
DEX: How much time?
McKAY: Some. As much as a week.
ELLIS: I don’t understand. Why?
McKAY: Ah, you see, the history part would have made that a lot clearer. Had you been a little more patient, I would have painted you a picture of ...
McKAY: Ten thousand years ago when the Ancients were under siege from the Wraith, they sank the city in order to dissipate the Wraiths’ energy blasts in the water. This way, the shield was able to hold far longer than it ever could on the surface. So, now, we submerge the city. The water attenuates the satellite’s beam intensity – buys us some more shield time.
ZELENKA: We cannot predict how much the Replicators’ beam will be attenuated. It might not buy us any time at all.
McKAY: There’s no way to know for sure, yes, but it’s not a reason not to try.
ELLIS: Alright, get it done.
McKAY (laughing): Yeah, I don’t think that’s your call.
(He looks at Elizabeth as John and Ellis exchange a glance.)
WEIR: Worst case scenario? We lose some power from the ZeePM?
McKAY: Oh, no – worst case scenario is that we’ve both read the numbers wrong, we use up a ton of power and the city doesn’t submerge at all. Look, as much as I hate to say it, Zelenka’s not infallible.
(Radek blinks indignantly.)
WEIR: Still, I agree. It’s worth the risk.
McKAY (as he and Radek sit down at their consoles): Alright. The city has an automatic submersion subroutine already in the system. I’ll need it to tweak it a bit to work with one ZedPM and disable some safety protocols. Give me an hour.
(He and Radek get to work as the others walk away.)
AN HOUR LATER. The beam continues to strike the city’s shield as the sun rises over the horizon. Elizabeth comes into the Control Room.
WEIR: It’s been an hour.
McKAY: We’re ready.
ZELENKA: No – you’ve got to do the, um ...
(He points to another console.)
McKAY: Oh, just, um ...
(He goes over to the console and types on it.)
McKAY: We are ready.
WEIR: Good. (She turns to Chuck.) Give me city-wide.
(Chuck pushes a button and nods to her.)
WEIR (over comms): Attention all personnel. We are about to attempt to submerge the city. From what I understand, it could get a little bumpy, so this is your last chance to secure equipment and get to the designated safe areas.
McKAY: We’ve come full circle, eh?
(Elizabeth smiles at him.)
WEIR: Yeah. Feels that way.
(She looks at Radek, then at Rodney.)
WEIR: OK. Take us down.
McKAY (smiling): Aye, aye, Captain. (He looks at Radek.) Shall we?
(Both of them type on their consoles. The Control Room rocks briefly, then begins to vibrate. Elizabeth walks out onto the exterior balcony as the city slowly begins to sink into the ocean. The water rises up in a solid wall around the shield. Elizabeth shakes her head in amazement as the city drops lower into the sea. From a viewpoint above the water, the city disappears and steam begins to boil up from the Replicator beam as it hits the ocean. The city sinks down through the water, the beam still impacting the top of the shield. In the Control Room, everyone standing struggles to stay on their feet as the city jolts violently as it reaches the ocean floor. Radek and Rodney check their consoles.)
ZELENKA: That’s it. We’re down.
(Elizabeth comes back indoors.)
WEIR: The beam still looks pretty serious, Rodney.
McKAY: Yeah, I know. (He looks at his console.) Just give me a second to ... Crap!
ZELENKA: I told you.
McKAY (sighing in irritation): Thank you, Radek. Very helpful.
WEIR: What is it?
ZELENKA: The beam is breaking through the water much more efficiently than we thought.
WEIR: The water has no effect?
McKAY: It’s having an effect but just nowhere near what we wanted to. Look, that plan took us three hours to execute and bought us an additional ... (he looks at his watch) ... ten hours.
McKAY (throwing him a black look): Nine.
WEIR: OK. What’s the plan?
(Rodney looks at Radek blankly. Radek shrugs. Rodney looks back at Elizabeth.)
McKAY: That was the plan.
LATER. As the beam continues to strike the shield, John, Ronon and Teyla are standing on an outside balcony staring upwards.
DEX: I need to learn some science.
SHEPPARD: What for?
DEX: I’m not all that useful in situations like these. If we get into a fight, or we need to break out of somewhere, you know, kill someone, I’m your man; but a laser attacking the city’s shield – I don’t know where to chip in.
SHEPPARD: Well, that’s why we’re a team, like the Fantastic Four.
(Teyla and Ronon frown at him, not understanding.)
SHEPPARD: It’s a comic book where superheroes fight crime and stuff. See, I’d be Mr Fantastic; Ronon would be The Thing; McKay would be the Human Torch ... (he looks at Teyla) ... you’d be the Invisible Woman.
TEYLA: I am not invisible.
SHEPPARD: No. No, and McKay’s not a human torch.
TEYLA: Well, how come you get to be Mr Fantastic?
SHEPPARD: Because he was the leader and I’m the ...
(He looks as them as Teyla looks back at him impassively. Ronon is smirking slightly.)
SHEPPARD: I’m just saying that they were a cool team and we’re a cool team and they use their strengths to, you know ...
(He trails off as the other two look at him pointedly.)
SHEPPARD: I’m gonna go check on McKay.
(He walks away. Teyla looks at Ronon as he continues to smirk.)
LAB. Radek and Rodney are gazing silently at laptops as John trots down the stairs and comes in.
SHEPPARD: Shouldn’t you guys be bickering or something?
McKAY: Ah, we’ve got nothing to bicker about. He’s run out of bad ideas ... finally.
ZELENKA (sulkily): If we survive this, I’m putting in for a transfer.
McKAY: Oh, please. We both know that you’ve done your best work under me.
ZELENKA (raising his head out of his hand indignantly): Under you?! I’m my own department head, you know.
McKAY: Please! We both know that department is a joke.
SHEPPARD: Why don’t you two guys just make out and get it over with, huh?
(The other two stare at him.)
SHEPPARD: I mean, we have, what? Under one day to figure out how not to get destroyed by this satellite thing, and you guys are arguing about who works for who.
(Radek sinks his face back into his hand and looks defeated.)
ZELENKA: Every possible scenario ends in failure. There is nowhere on the face of this planet that that thing cannot kill us.
(John and Rodney stare at each other as they both get the same idea at the same time.)
SHEPPARD: You don’t think ...?
SHEPPARD: Old girl too banged up?
McKAY: No, the Replicators fixed all the damage we did with the drones. We just don’t have the power.
SHEPPARD: Yeah, but ideally ...
McKAY: ... it may be the only way.
ZELENKA (with no idea what they’re talking about): What?
(John looks at Rodney again.)
SHEPPARD: The drilling platform. You guys have it operational down there, right?
McKAY: Close enough, but we couldn’t bring it with us.
ZELENKA: Bring it where?
SHEPPARD (to Rodney): We don’t need to. We just need a boost.
McKAY: You might be onto something here.
(They both turn and hurry out of the lab. Radek jumps up and hurries after them.)
ZELENKA: Hey! What’s your idea?! Hey!
DRILLING PLATFORM. Doctor Coleman talks with Rodney over the radio.
COLEMAN: Well, luckily the umbilical’s already in place.
McKAY: Yes, I know. Look, are you capable of outputting the power we need or not?
COLEMAN: We just started drilling into the crust. I can get you nine percent of the way there.
(In the Atlantis Control Room, Rodney sinks back in his chair and looks up at John in despair.)
McKAY: There goes that plan.
SHEPPARD: Can’t the ZeePM make up the difference?
McKAY: Ah, no. The ZedPM’s a little busy powering the shield at max.
(John grimaces, then gets another idea.)
SHEPPARD: What if it didn’t have to?
SHEPPARD: What if we could take the strain off the shield momentarily?
McKAY: Well, we’d need about a minute. Why? What do you have in mind?
CONFERENCE ROOM. John and Rodney are talking with Ellis.
SHEPPARD: Lantea’s moon has some sizeable satellites itself.
McKAY: Asteroid-like chunks we think are left over from a second moon that no longer exists.
SHEPPARD: I’d like you to beam up Lorne and get a flight of F-302s close enough to nudge one our way.
ELLIS: You wanna bring an asteroid towards us? Is that wise?
McKAY: Well, today it is.
SPACE. Half a dozen F-302s soar towards a large asteroid. Major Lorne is flying one of them.
LORNE: Alright, guys. We need to get close enough to clamp on to it. Get enough of us drilled in, we can fly it like a ship ... a really slow ship. It’s probably gonna be a real pain in the ass to steer, but a ship nonetheless.
(The F-302s hover into position above the asteroid and fire grapples into its surface, then reel in the cables so that the ships land on the rock’s surface. In comparison to the size of the asteroid, they look like moths on its surface.)
LORNE: OK – let’s take this big gal for a stroll. Flights Three and Four, begin your burn. Full thrust.
(The two ships begin to fire their engines. The asteroid’s rotation slows slightly.)
LORNE (pleasantly surprised): Son of a bitch! We might be able to pull this off after all! Flights One and Two, begin your burn.
ATLANTIS CONTROL ROOM.
WEIR: It’s working?
McKAY: It’s slow going, but, uh, yes, they’re bringing it towards the planet.
SHEPPARD: They should be able to get here before our cut-off time.
WEIR: So we can actually do this?
McKAY: I think so, yes.
WEIR: OK, time to tell people. (To Chuck) Patch me into the PA, please.
(Chuck activates the comms, then nods to her.)
WEIR (over comms): May I have your attention? As you all know, we have found ourselves in a spot of trouble. The reality is that no matter where we try to hide on this planet, the Replicator satellite will be able to track us. Therefore, Doctor McKay and Colonel Sheppard have come up with a rather ingenious way for us to escape the satellite’s range altogether. In the next few hours, we will fire the city’s stardrive and head into space. Atlantis is leaving this planet.
LATER. Ellis comes to the door of Elizabeth’s office and knocks. She looks up.
ELLIS: May I come in?
WEIR: Of course.
ELLIS: All non-essential personnel have been beamed to the Apollo.
WEIR: Good. Good.
ELLIS: Has Doctor McKay located your new home yet?
WEIR: Yes. M12-578. It’s the closest non-populated habitable planet with a large ocean. He’s a bit nervous about trying to land on solid ground.
ELLIS: I can understand that. (He pauses, then sighs.) Listen, I know you don’t like me very much ...
WEIR: Colonel, that’s nei ...
ELLIS: That’s OK. To be honest, I’m not that crazy about you either.
ELLIS: But if I’ve crossed the line here or there in regards to your command, I apologise. I’m used to making the calls. But I don’t want you to think I don’t respect you. I do, Doctor.
WEIR: Thank you. I appreciate that. I wish the rest of the military felt the same way.
ELLIS: Well, I can’t speak to that. I do know General O’Neill is awfully fond of you.
(Elizabeth smiles and nods in acknowledgement.)
ELLIS: I’d better be heading out. Good luck.
WEIR: Thanks. We’re gonna need it.
CORRIDORS. John and Rodney are walking along.
McKAY: Alright. Zelenka is doing a final pass over all the coding we’ve done, but so far it’s looking good. The underwater drilling platform’s power output has been dialled up as high as it’ll go, and the crew down there have been beamed up to the Apollo.
SHEPPARD: We’re gonna wreck that thing, aren’t we?
McKAY: What, the drilling platform? Oh, hell, yes! But thirty percent of our total power requirements are gonna be consumed in the first ten seconds of flight. The station will provide us with that power right up until we snap the umbilical, at which point we switch over to the ZedPM. Now, if we can interrupt the satellite’s beam – which is greatly taxing our power levels – we should be able to squeeze out just enough power to actually do this thing.
(They go into the Chair Room.)
SHEPPARD: How’s Lorne doin’?
McKAY: He’s making good time. He should be here in the next twenty minutes.
(He takes a computer tablet off a scientist and looks at it. John looks at the Chair nervously.)
SHEPPARD: Well, I guess it’s showtime.
McKAY: You sure you can do this?
SHEPPARD: Fly the city?
McKAY: What else could I possibly be talking about?
SHEPPARD: I flew a V22 Osprey once.
McKAY (sarcastically): Was it as big as a city?
SHEPPARD: Well, you had to use your hands and feet with that one. This one, you just have to sit down and think ... “Fly.”
McKAY: OK, why don’t you just get in the Chair and start your pre-flight?
(He starts to leave the room. John sits down in the Chair, which lights up. Rodney turns back towards him.)
McKAY: Oh, I’m gonna head up to the Control Room, and Zelenka will monitor output from the ZedPM Room. (He turns away, then turns back, looking a little awkward.) And, uh, good luck.
SHEPPARD: You too.
(Looking nervous, he sits back in the Chair, which reclines.)
LORNE: Doctor McKay, can you read me?
McKAY (from the Control Room): Five by five. Lorne, you in position?
LORNE: We’re getting close. You about ready?
McKAY: Zelenka, I need a Go or No Go.
ZELENKA (over radio): We’re Go. All non-essential systems have been shut down. We’re in the green.
McKAY: Are you ready, Sheppard?
SHEPPARD (from the Chair Room): Ready as I’ll ever be.
McKAY (to Lorne): OK, Major, make sure she’s moving as slow as possible.
LORNE: Are you sure we shouldn’t just lob this thing at the satellite?
McKAY: No, they’d easily be able to navigate back into position. This is still our best bet.
LORNE: Copy that.
(The asteroid moves slowly towards the beam emanating from the satellite. All the F-302s release their grapples and lift off the surface.)
LORNE: Package is away and on course. We’re heading back to the Apollo. Good luck.
(In the Control Room, Rodney glances at Elizabeth, who nods to him encouragingly. He checks his console.)
McKAY: OK, calculating travel time based on current speed. That’s it. We’re good. (He looks at Elizabeth again.) Here goes nothing.
(He activates some controls. Underneath the city, the failsafe mechanism fires up. The city begins to shake. Teyla holds onto a console nervously as the city begins to rise, heading towards the surface and the satellite’s beam. In the Chair Room, the Chair rotates slowly as John lies in it, his eyes closed in concentration.)
McKAY: Asteroid is entering the beam.
(Above the planet, the asteroid intersects the beam, breaking its contact with the city below. The beam starts to carve into the rock, breaking large chunks off it. In the ocean below, the surface of the water becomes agitated as the city continues to rise. The top of the shield breaks the surface and the central tower rises into the daylight. A tidal wave travels away in all direction as the city lifts to the surface of the ocean.)
McKAY: We’re on the surface. Fire the stardrive.
(In the Chair Room, John concentrates. The ocean boils and steam rises as the stardrive fires up.)
McKAY: We’re not flying high enough. It’s stalling out!
(In the Chair Room, John’s eyes snap open and he lifts his head.)
SHEPPARD: It’s not working.
McKAY: What are you doing wrong?
SHEPPARD: Sure, blame me. We don’t have enough power.
McKAY: Oh, sure, blame me!
SHEPPARD: It’s not working. What other reasons could there be?
McKAY: I have no more power to give you!
WEIR: Shut it off.
WEIR: Lower the shield.
McKAY: We’re about to go into space! If you plan on breathing, we’re gonna need the shield.
SHEPPARD: Turn it back on at eighteen thousand feet. We just need the boost to get started, no?
(Rodney’s eyes widen.)
McKAY: That might work.
(He turns to another console and starts typing frantically. Above the planet, the satellite beam continues to carve its way across the asteroid. In the Chair Room, Rodney’s voice comes over the radio.)
McKAY: OK, I did it. Give it all you’ve got.
(John closes his eyes and lays his head back. The city – now without its shield – heads up into the sky. As it leaves the ocean, the vibrations cease. Rodney and Elizabeth gaze upwards.)
McKAY: That’s it!
(Teyla lets go of the console she has been clinging to. Rodney stares upwards, his eyes wide and a smile on his face.)
McKAY: We’re flying!
(The city continues to rise. Elizabeth smiles and walks towards the rear window at the top of the stairs. Ronon walks to the edge of the Control Room, Teyla a little way behind him. Elizabeth gazes out of the window, awe-struck.)
(Suddenly alarms sound.)
McKAY: That’s it. Time’s up. Raising the shield.
(He types, and, as Atlantis continues to rise into the air, the shield begins slowly to deploy from the bottom of the city.)
(In space, the beam reaches a weak spot in the asteroid and burns straight through, heading down toward the planet again. It lances towards the central tower of the city ... and the shield has not yet risen all the way. Elizabeth winces and raises her arms to cover her face as the beam lashes through the window, smashing the glass and sending her flying backwards. Glass rains down on everyone as Elizabeth crashes to the floor down in the Gateroom. The shield finally raises all the way but the damage is already done. Rodney’s console explodes as part of the wall collapses.)
(In the Chair Room, John – unaware of the chaos in the Control Room – lies back with his eyes closed, much calmer now.)
SHEPPARD: Taking us into hyperspace.
(The city soars up into the sky and shoots into hyperspace. John deactivates the Chair and sits up.)
SHEPPARD: We did it!
(A couple of the scientists nod and smile at him.)
SHEPPARD: McKay! Elizabeth!
(Rodney voice comes over the radio, anguished and panic-stricken.)
McKAY: I need a medical team to the Control Room, stat! Multiple injuries!
(John leaps out of the Chair and races off.)
HYPERSPACE. The city flies on.
GATEROOM. Medics are treating a couple of injured people who are covered in cuts from the broken glass. John comes in and goes over to Doctor Keller. She is just lifting a stretcher containing Elizabeth’s unconscious body onto a gurney. Elizabeth’s head is bound with a large bandage, she has an oxygen mask over her face and is covered with a blanket.
SHEPPARD: Keller, what happened?
KELLER: Apparently the beam grazed the tower and blew out the ...
(She notices one of her team wrapping a bandage around a man’s arm.)
KELLER: Adams, that guy just has a cut. Tell him to put pressure on it and move on. There’s a lot of people worse off upstairs.
(John walks over to the gurney.)
SHEPPARD: Elizabeth? Is she gonna be OK?
KELLER: I don’t know yet. She took quite a fall and her pupils are sluggish. I’m gonna have to get her under a scanner. I’ll know more in a bit.
(She follows the medic as he wheels Elizabeth out of the room. John runs up the stairs. The Control Room is a mess. Consoles are sparking everywhere and the floor is covered with broken glass. Medics are helping injured people. Ronon is sitting against a console with a large piece of jagged glass embedded in his chest.)
SHEPPARD: Oh, God. (He bends down to Ronon.) Are you alright?
DEX (his voice hoarse with pain): Yeah, I’ve had worse.
SHEPPARD: How come no-one’s helping you?
DEX: I told them I didn’t need any help. Other people need more.
SHEPPARD: I doubt that. (He calls out to Adams.) Get this man to the Infirmary.
ADAMS: Yes, sir.
(John stands up and goes over to Rodney and Teyla.)
SHEPPARD: You guys alright?
McKAY: All things considered. (He goes over to a console, flinching as a panel nearby sparks out. He has several cuts on his face from flying glass.)
SHEPPARD: What happened?
McKAY: The beam grazed the side of the tower before the shield was completely closed.
McKAY: Minimal – I think. Look, I was able to get the shield up fairly quickly. It took the brunt of the blow.
(Alarms sound. Rodney looks up.)
McKAY: Oh, what now?
(The room shakes.)
TEYLA: What is happening?
(The city comes out of hyperspace and enters normal space.)
McKAY: We just dropped out of hyperspace.
TEYLA: Have we already reached M12-578?
McKAY: No. There’s no way. It should have taken at least another few hours. (He checks the console.) The hyperdrive just shut down.
McKAY: I don’t know.
SHEPPARD: Get it back up.
McKAY (angrily): I just said I don’t know what’s wrong. I can’t get it back up if I don’t know what happened.
TEYLA: Where are we?
McKAY: In the middle of nowhere. There’s no planets, no moons, no Stargates.
SHEPPARD: How much power do we have?
(Rodney checks his console again. He stares in horror.)
McKAY: This can’t be right.
SHEPPARD: How much?
McKAY: At current consumption, we’ve got twenty-four hours of power left. After that, there’s no shield. No shield, no atmosphere. No atmosphere, we’re ...
TEYLA: Can we use the Stargate?
McKAY: In order to dial a Gate, it needs to be calibrated to a specific location. We are lost. Look, we dropped out of hyperspace way too soon. I have no idea where we are.
TO BE CONTINUED.