Transcript by Callie Sullivan
PUDDLE JUMPER. The Jumper comes through a space Stargate and flies towards a planet. Team Sheppard -- Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, Doctor Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex -- is on board. Rodney is talking to Ronon.
McKAY: I'm just saying as a team veteran to the new guy: heavy lunch before mission departure -- bad idea. I mean, even with the inertial dampeners, this whole flying thing's best done on an empty stomach.
DEX: Yeah, well, I've got a pretty strong stomach.
McKAY: Hey, I can eat frozen dinners without thawing them. It's not as if it even affects me.
SHEPPARD: McKay. Are you reading anything?
(Rodney turns around to a console behind his seat.)
McKAY: Nothing. Life signs from the planet are negative.
TEYLA: Then it is a shame. From what we read in the Atlantis database, the Dorandans were a wonderful race of people.
McKAY: Well, the database is over ten thousand years old. You can bet things have changed around here.
(Ronon stands as he sees something ahead of the Jumper.)
(John looks, and sees that they are flying towards a debris field above the planet. The debris is made up of broken parts of ships.)
SHEPPARD: OK. That's not something you see every day.
TEYLA: There was a great battle here.
(The Jumper flies closer and Teyla recognises one of the pieces of debris.)
TEYLA: That is a hive ship.
DEX: That was a hive ship.
SHEPPARD: Something put a lot of holes in it alright. We should check it out.
McKAY: Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa. What if whatever put the holes in it wants to put holes in us?
SHEPPARD: Well, you just said, a lot's changed in ten thousand years.
(He sends the Jumper down towards the planet. As it breaks through the clouds, we see a ruined city.)
McKAY: That would explain the lack of life signs. (He turns back to his console.)
DEX: This is what usually happens when you fight back.
SHEPPARD: These folks took out a fleet of Wraith ships. I'd say they did a pretty good job of fighting back.
McKAY: Hold on. I'm picking up faint energy readings coming from ... (he turns back round, looks out of the windscreen and points) ... there. (He looks at the building.) That would explain how they were able to put up such a good fight.
McKAY: Because ... they were Ancients.
(The Jumper flies towards the one undamaged building in the city. A large weapon of some sort is on the roof.)
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. The Jumper has landed on top of the building. The team has climbed down a metal ladder into what looks like a laboratory. They are looking around with torches. Rodney walks over to a console.
McKAY: Definitely Ancient design. Their latest stuff, too. (He blows onto the console and a lot of dust flies off.) Their latest being ten thousand years old.
SHEPPARD: Looks a lot like the labs we found on Atlantis.
DEX: So this is one of their outposts.
TEYLA: Yet the Ancestors made no mention of their presence here in the database. Why?
SHEPPARD: Well, let's find out. (To Rodney) Can you power it up?
McKAY: Working on it.
(He wipes more dust off the console. The others continue to explore the lab. John finds two skeletal human-looking bodies nearby.)
SHEPPARD: I got two bodies here.
(Ronon has moved into a short corridor nearby.)
DEX: I got three more over here. Whatever happened here, no-one came back to claim the dead.
(Rodney looks around nervously, then continues dusting off the console. John squats down by the bodies he found.)
SHEPPARD: Can't tell if they were fed on by the Wraith.
DEX: Yeah, well something killed them.
TEYLA: Something killed everyone on this world.
SHEPPARD: Now why is this outpost -- if that's what it is -- still intact? Doesn't make sense. What do you think, Rodney?
(At that moment, the lights come on.)
McKAY: Ha! (He looks up from the console.) Sorry, I wasn't listening, but it just struck me that, if this is an Ancient outpost, why would the Wraith leave it intact?
(Teyla and Ronon look at John.)
SHEPPARD: ... It's a good question.
McKAY: Huh. (He gets back to investigating the console.) Alright, so ...
ATLANTIS. CONTROL ROOM. The team has returned and is reporting to Doctor Elizabeth Weir.
WEIR: So it's a military research facility.
SHEPPARD: From what we can tell, it's a ground-based version of the satellite weapon we used to destroy that hive ship.
McKAY: With one major exception. Firepower. I mean, if that single outpost was responsible for destroying an entire Wraith fleet ...
WEIR: And you're sure it was this weapon that destroyed all those Wraith ships?
SHEPPARD: It had to be. There's nothing on the planet that suggests the Dorandans had anything capable of inflicting anywhere near that much damage.
TEYLA: If we could learn of such technology, we could defend other worlds from being culled.
DEX: It didn't save the Dorandans.
McKAY: Yeah, but at the end of the day the outpost was still standing and that means, uh ... well, I'm not sure what that means, but it means something definitely worth finding out.
SHEPPARD: He's right. It's definitely worth sending a research team back.
McKAY: Good! Well, give me Optican, Collins, and Zelenka if he's over the stomach flu. We'll try to access the computer's log books -- see if we can decipher them. Once that ...
WEIR: OK! OK! Easy sell. Go.
McKAY: Oh, good! (He hurries off.)
CORRIDOR. Dex is waiting for Teyla and intercepts her as she comes out of a transporter room.
DEX: Teyla. Um, I heard you were heading offworld on a personal mission.
TEYLA: To Belkan, yes.
DEX: Sounds interesting.
TEYLA: The Belkans possess a particular disease-resistant strain of flax seed which would double the yield of our crops on the mainland. In exchange, I intend to offer Athosian manpower to aid in their harvest. Still interested?
DEX: Uh, this place has everything I want, don't get me wrong, but, uh ...
TEYLA: Sometimes you feel the need to go somewhere else.
DEX: Anywhere else.
TEYLA: I know the feeling.
TEYLA: Bring only weapons you can conceal.
DEX: I'll keep it to a bare minimum.
ANCIENT OUTPOST. John, Rodney and at least half a dozen scientists are in the lab. John looks through a window into a chamber which has a slender device inside it. Behind him, Rodney is arguing with Doctor Radek Zelenka. John walks over to them.
ZELENKA: I'm telling you, at least point zero nine percent.
McKAY: Oh please, please, move the decimal place. I mean, it's-it's-it's impossible, for God's sake.
SHEPPARD: Have we figured out what this is?
ZELENKA: No, I wouldn't say no, no we have a theory.
McKAY: But we don't know yet.
ZELENKA: No, but based on the shielding around the chamber, what else could it be?
SHEPPARD: Have you tried turning it on?
McKAY: That's what we're working on. The problem is that there's no direct link between it and the main power control systems, which -- among other things -- has led us to theorise that it's an ancillary power supply for the weapons systems.
(Rodney points to John's face while looking at Radek.)
McKAY: See that? See? See the way he lights up at the mention of that? It's like Doctor Vogel at the mention of pastries.
SHEPPARD: They found out a way to soup up their space guns.
ZELENKA: Yes, but it's-it's much more than that.
McKAY: Well, the sticking point is that there's no tie between the power generator and the primary capacitor.
ZELENKA: Meaning they would have to channel the power directly into the weapon.
McKAY (smiling smugly at John): Which I'm sure means nothing to you.
SHEPPARD: It means they can fire multiple bursts without having to store up more power for the next firing sequence.
(Rodney's face falls.)
McKAY: Yes. Very good.
SHEPPARD: Which leads me back to ‘cool'.
ZELENKA: Yes, but it only makes sense if we're right.
SHEPPARD: About what?
ZELENKA (to Rodney): Tell him.
McKAY: Not yet.
ZELENKA: Come on, McKay, you read the equations. What else could it be? An Ancient typo?
McKAY: Well, we know they're not perfect, because they're all dead. (To John) Look, I just, I just don't want you to get all excited over nothing.
SHEPPARD: Well, maybe you're right.
McKAY: Alright, I'll give you a hint. (John laughs.) It seems that the Ancients were experimenting with high-energy physics on a level that we've never seen before.
(He and Radek grin excitedly at John, who gazes blankly back at them.)
McKAY: Yes, wow. I just -- I wanna be sure.
(Radek smiles enthusiastically at John, who obviously doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.)
SHEPPARD: I'll do my best to wait.
(He walks away and Rodney and Radek get back to work.)
BELKAN. Teyla and Ronon are sitting at a table opposite a man with whom Teyla is negotiating.
TEYLA: The manpower that you are demanding is outrageous. You would turn my people into nothing more than indentured slaves to serve your farms.
HENDON: It would seem that you have nothing else of value to trade but your people.
(Teyla looks at another man who is bringing a tray of drinks to the table.)
TEYLA: Mattas -- you know full well my offer is fair.
MATTAS: I'm sorry, Teyla. If you had something of more value to offer -- technology, weapons.
TEYLA: You've heard my terms.
HENDON: Mmm. Then our business is done here.
(He starts to rise but Ronon pulls out a knife from his sleeve and slams it point down into the table and leans forward to stare into Hendon‘s face.)
DEX: She said her offer is fair.
(Hendon stands to his full height and looks down at Ronon.)
HENDON: I say it isn't.
(Ronon stands to his full height, much taller than Hendon. He stares down at him.)
DEX: Well, I say it is.
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. Teyla and Ronon leave the house. Teyla is carrying a small sack of grain, while Ronon is carrying two large sacks. As the door slams behind them, Teyla drops her sack and turns on Ronon.
TEYLA: I had the situation under control.
DEX: It didn't look like it.
TEYLA: So you came to my ‘rescue'? You have no idea what is at stake during these negotiations. My people depend on me.
DEX: They were taking advantage of you.
TEYLA: No, they were not. That is what I wanted them to think. A negotiation is a delicate process -- the words spoken are often meaningless.
(A short distance away, Mattas calls out to her.)
MATTAS: Teyla! (He runs towards her and Ronon.)
DEX (to Teyla): Do you want me to ...?
TEYLA: No. Go -- gather our things. I will meet you at the Gate.
(Mattas joins Teyla as Ronon heads away.)
MATTAS: It was a mistake to force Hendon's hand. You will only pay for it next time.
TEYLA: I know.
MATTAS: Your friend is not Athosian?
TEYLA: No. Ronon is the only survivor of a world known as Sateda. He saved the life of a friend of mine. In return, we offered him sanctuary.
MATTAS: If Sateda is his homeworld, then he is not the only survivor. There is a man in this village who also claims to be from there.
ATLANTIS. Elizabeth comes into the Control Room to speak to the Canadian technician (who really deserves a name by now).
WEIR: What have we got, Sergeant?
TECHNICIAN: It's Colonel Sheppard, ma'am.
WEIR (into comms): This is Weir -- go ahead, Colonel.
(John, Rodney and the scientific team are in the Puddle Jumper, flying from the Ancient outpost towards the Gate.)
SHEPPARD: We're on our way back. Rodney wants to fill you in.
WEIR: I take it you found something interesting.
McKAY: Interesting? How about the greatest discovery of all time?!
SHEPPARD: He's pretty excited.
WEIR: So I hear. You couldn't even wait ‘til you got back.
McKAY: I wanted to send an encoded data burst directly from the outpost to the secure network in my lab while the Gate was active. (He looks at his laptop.) Now.
(Elizabeth looks round to the technician.)
TECHNICIAN: Receiving transmission. Transferring data.
(He looks round at the screen behind him. Data scrolls across it.)
WEIR: Care to fill me in so I can be excited too?
SHEPPARD: It's a weapon.
McKAY: It is much, much more than a weapon. We think we've stumbled across the Ancients' last great discovery. It was too late to win the war for them but I think if I can finish the work they started, then ...
WEIR: What is it?
McKAY: It is the ultimate power source -- something that would make Zero Point Modules seem like alkaline batteries in comparison.
(He and Radek grin at each other.)
ATLANTIS. ELIZABETH'S OFFICE. Rodney, John and Radek are reporting to Elizabeth and Colonel Steven Caldwell.
McKAY: It was called Project Arcturus and, from what we can tell, its ultimate goal was to render ZedP.Ms obsolete.
McKAY: A Zero Point Module is an artificially created region of subspace time. It's kind of like a miniature universe in a bottle.
ZELENKA: It extracts vacuum energy from this artificial region of subspace time until it reaches maximum entropy.
CALDWELL: So what's different about this thing?
ZELENKA: Project Arcturus was attempting to extract vacuum energy from our own space-time, making it potentially as powerful as the scope of the universe itself.
CALDWELL: It strikes me as something the Ancients would have tried first, even before ZeeP.Ms.
McKAY: And they may have, but extracting zero point energy from our own universe is ... well, it's, uh, definitely trickier.
WEIR: Explain ‘trickier'.
ZELENKA: Well, because we actually have to live in our own universe, it presents a whole range of problems.
CALDWELL: Well, obviously it's not that easy or Atlantis wouldn't still rely on ZeeP.Ms.
SHEPPARD: Well, you're right. The Ancients couldn't make it work.
McKAY: I said I wanted to do all the talking.
SHEPPARD: Come on, Rodney, Arcturus was a total failure.
McKAY: It was a failure, yes. Total, no. Look, the Ancients were losing the war against the Wraith when work on Arcturus began. If they could have made it work, it could have turned the tide of war. I mean, we're talking about their own Manhattan Project here.
SHEPPARD: The outpost was ordered by the Ancients in Atlantis to defend the Dorandan people using their weapons powered by this new power source.
ZELENKA: Yes, but despite their strong reservations that it was not ready to be tested under battle conditions.
SHEPPARD: The point is, the Wraith won.
McKAY: Yeah, but the Dorandans still inflicted massive damage on the attacking Wraith fleet.
SHEPPARD: I'm not saying they didn't put up a hell of a fight.
ZELENKA: The logs indicate there was a major malfunction.
McKAY: Well, yes, the Ancients in the bunker were forced to shut everything down, including the weapon.
SHEPPARD: The Wraith sent more ships, the Dorandans got wiped out.
CALDWELL: So if the malfunction hadn't occurred, the Ancients would have saved the planet?
SHEPPARD: Possibly. Don't sugar-coat this, Rodney.
McKAY: The Ancient scientists running Arcturus were rushed into testing before they had perfected a means of effectively controlling the power output. I believe if they'd had more time, history would have played out differently on that planet -- possibly in this galaxy.
CALDWELL: I won't deny that this is something that we'd dearly love to get our hands on, but the Ancients were a pretty bright bunch.
McKAY: And desperate, and losing a war they'd already been fighting for a hundred years. More importantly, they were, they were like ... (he holds his finger and thumb a few millimetres apart) ... this close.
WEIR: And you believe you can finish their work?
McKAY: I do.
ZELENKA: We do.
SHEPPARD (nodding towards the two scientists): They do.
LAB. A group of scientists gather to listen to Rodney and Radek.
McKAY: Alright, I need everyone's attention, please. What we've got here is ...
(A montage of clips follows as the scientists work on the project.)
McKAY: ... I need this code divided up into sections and each one double-checked ...
McKAY: No! You're not listening to me!
ZELENKA: It's not going to ...
McKAY: I'm telling you this one right here is wrong! ...
McKAY: Look, the whole point here is that these numbers here need to be corrected. Unless you ... (On a computer screen, the message "Simulation failed" flashes up.) There you go -- simulation failed. (He shoves a sandwich into his mouth, sits down at the screen and starts to type.)
(Rodney continues to work at the screen as Radek puts his hand to his face in disappointment.)
(New clip. The team is back at the Ancient outpost, and John is taking a large case from someone on the metal ladder.)
McKAY: That's heavy. (John drops the case to the floor with a loud thump.) So, I'm gonna need that over there. Thank you.
(New clip. One of the scientists is working in the Command Access Tube, the narrow corridor where Ronon found some bodies when they first arrived. Radek is at the other end of the Tube and goes to an open panel. Rodney talks to him from the Control Room.)
McKAY: What I want you to do is pull the crystals. Pull them when I say go, alright?
(Radek pulls the crystals out immediately. The base powers down. Rodney's head drops, then he turns and storms off.)
(New clip. Radek is now working in the Control Room.)
ZELENKA: I think we have it.
(In the Command Access Tube, Rodney inserts a crystal and all the lights come on.)
ZELENKA: That's it!
BELKAN. Teyla and Ronon walk into a tavern and go across to the bartender.
TEYLA: We are looking for a man named Solen. Do you know him?
TEYLA: Thank you.
(She follows Ronon up the stairs. Solen is sitting at a table talking to some locals. He doesn't see Ronon yet.)
SOLEN: Was I afraid? Course I was! But my people were counting on me. Now, I was alone, and I was low on ammo, but I managed to take out the three Wraith guards and gain access to their ship.
(Solen jumps to his feet and turns to face his accuser.)
SOLEN: What did you say?
(Ronon comes up the stairs into full view. Solen grins.)
DEX: There were two Wraith guarding that cruiser and he wasn't alone.
(He grins at Solen, who laughs delightedly and the two of them hug. When they break the hug, Ronon introduces Teyla.)
DEX: Uh, Teyla Emmagan, Solen Sincha. We served in the same regiment in Sateda.
TEYLA: I am honoured.
SOLEN: You two make a nice match. Congratulations.
TEYLA: We are friends -- nothing more.
DEX (to Solen): For years I believed I was the only survivor.
SOLEN: So you don't know about the others?
DEX: What others?
SOLEN: Before the city fell, a few of us managed to make it to the shelters west of the capital. Over three hundred civilians found their way there too. When we emerged, we realised there was nothing to salvage, so we left -- all of us.
TEYLA: To where?
SOLEN: Some came here, some went to Manaria ...
DEX: Three hundred. (He smiles.)
SOLEN: Drink, Ronon, and rejoice -- you're not alone!
(They laugh and hug again.)
McKAY: Everything's been triple-checked. Power levels are holding steady in all computer simulations.
(Radek nods confirmation.)
SHEPPARD (putting on a pair of safety glasses): Fire it up.
McKAY: Alright. Attention all personnel: stand by for power-up on my mark. Three, two, one, mark.
(Radek activates the controls. An energy field forms around the device in the chamber.)
BELKAN TAVERN. Teyla sits on a balcony watching as Ronon and Solen sit at a table drinking and giggling. She goes over to join them.
SOLEN (to Ronon): Oh, man -- to see Kell's face when he sees you. (Ronon's face becomes serious. Solen laughs.) Yeah, it's true.
DEX: Kell's alive?
SOLEN: Yeah, and his family. They're settled on Belsa -- run this big trading operation over there.
DEX (smiling): When were you gonna tell me this?
SOLEN: Honestly? I was gonna wait until you drank a little more! (He giggles.)
DEX: Then you've seen him?
SOLEN: Yeah, he comes around now and then to trade weapons with the Belkans. He's got his own private army now.
TEYLA: Is this Kell a friend?
SOLEN: Oh, he's more like kin. He was Ronon's Task Master during his military training. There is no closer bond.
(Solen raises his tankard.)
SOLEN: To reunions.
(Ronon grins and clashes his tankard with Solen's.)
DEX: To reunions.
(As Solen laughs, Ronon clinks his tankard against Teyla's, then drinks.)
McKAY: Radek, talk to me.
ZELENKA: I'm picking up some minor power fluctuations. Chamber temperature's holding steady. (The readout on his computer changes.) There it goes again.
(John is gazing through the window into the chamber. He turns.)
SHEPPARD: Everything OK? (He walks over to join Rodney.)
McKAY: Everything's fine. The containment bubble was designed to automatically compensate for any sudden changes in energy output.
ZELENKA: This never happened in the simulations.
SHEPPARD: Maybe we should abort.
McKAY: I said it's fine. Collins, see if you can boost more power to the field manually.
COLLINS: You got it.
(He heads for the Command Access Tube. Putting on a pair of safety specs, he takes a laptop, goes into the Access Tube and closes the door behind him. He goes over to a panel at the far end and opens it.)
McKAY (smiling triumphantly at John): Prepare for test firing on my mark.
(In the Access Tube, energy is glowing at the end of the corridor. As Collins touches a crystal inside the panel, the energy suddenly spikes and surges out into the room, engulfing him. He screams and falls to the floor. In the Control Room, alarms sound.)
ZELENKA: Levels just spiked into the red.
(On his screen, the word "Overload" flashes.)
SHEPPARD: Shut it down. Shut it all down.
McKAY: I'm trying.
ZELENKA: The interface is not responding.
McKAY: Alright, I'm gonna switch to back-ups.
ZELENKA: Levels are going off the scale!
McKAY: I have given the command to shut down. Something's creating an overload.
SHEPPARD: We should evacuate.
McKAY: Just give me a few seconds.
SHEPPARD: We may not have that time.
(The energy begins to drop.)
ZELENKA: Wait, wait, wait. It's stabilising. (His screen loses its "Overload" message and the energy indicator levels out.) Generator is offline.
SHEPPARD: What the hell just happened?
McKAY: Obviously there was a surge of some kind. Look, Colli ... Collins!
(He runs for the Command Access Tube. Radek and John follow. They open the door to the Tube and see Collins lying on the floor. Smoke is rising from his body. We can't see his face, but his hands are badly burned and the index and middle fingers of his right hand are fused together.)
ATLANTIS. CONFERENCE ROOM. Doctor Carson Beckett is reporting to Elizabeth, Caldwell, John, Rodney and Radek.
BECKETT: Officially my report will indicate Doctor Collins died due to radiation exposure, causing severe burns to well over ninety percent of his body.
WEIR: But it was more than that?
BECKETT: Aye. Much more. To be honest, I have no idea what sort of radiation it was. I've never seen or heard of cellular decay this massive, not when exposure only lasted mere seconds.
SHEPPARD: Collins' next of kin have been notified.
WEIR: Good. (To Rodney and Radek) What went wrong?
ZELENKA: We're still analysing data from the test. All we know for certain was there was a massive power surge which, in turn, caused the containment field to expand asymmetrically in the direction of the Command Access Tube. As to why ...
CALDWELL: How about human error?
(Rodney, lost in grief and thought until now, reacts to this.)
McKAY: Excuse me?
CALDWELL: Well, according to your reports, during the test, Doctor Collins made an adjustment to the containment field. Isn't it possible that he triggered the surge himself?
WEIR: Are you looking for a scapegoat, Colonel?
CALDWELL: Not at all, Doctor. I'm admittedly looking for a rationale that would allow Doctor McKay to continue his very important work. Is there something wrong with that?
McKAY: No -- Collins knew the system just as well as any of us. He wouldn't have made that kind of mistake. Everything was going well; everyone did their job.
WEIR: Then what?
McKAY: I don't know. In terms of physics, it shouldn't have happened.
ZELENKA: We're still analysing the data from the accident -- it's going to take time.
McKAY: What I do know is the device did what it was supposed to do.
SHEPPARD: No, Rodney, it didn't.
McKAY: Well, apart from the obvious containment issues.
SHEPPARD: It overloaded and you couldn't stop it.
McKAY: Well, we won't know for sure until we go back down there and try again.
SHEPPARD: Try again? Are you serious?
SHEPPARD: A member of your team is in the morgue.
McKAY: And I am responsible for his death, yes. I am painfully aware of that. I sent him in there and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. (His voice breaks briefly.) But we have a responsibility to understand what happened and learn from it.
ZELENKA: Rodney, we don't even know what went wrong.
McKAY: Which is why we have to go back there.
WEIR: I know how important this is to you, Rodney, but we knew when we came to Atlantis that we might encounter certain technologies which, for the moment, are out of our reach.
McKAY: It's not in this case.
WEIR: You have the data from your first attempt. You can run all the simulations you want.
McKAY: C'mon, Elizabeth -- you really think the military's gonna let this go, huh? I mean, at the very least we should be the first ones in there to spearhead the research.
WEIR: That's what this is about?! You wanna beat them to it? I'm sorry. The answer's no.
BELKAN. Teyla opens the door to a room, supporting a very drunk Ronon.
DEX: I'm not tired. Why did we leave?
(Teyla dumps him onto the bed inside the room.)
TEYLA: I believe you've had enough.
DEX: I don't believe I have.
TEYLA: Goodnight. (She heads for the door.)
DEX: Teyla. (She turns to face him.) There are three hundred of my people.
(He covers his face with his hand, almost weeping. Teyla looks at him sympathetically for a moment, then leaves the room, closing the door behind her.)
ATLANTIS. NIGHT TIME. John comes to the door of his quarters to find Rodney standing outside.
McKAY: Harry K Daghlian.
McKAY: He was a scientist -- worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. He was only twenty-six years old. Accidentally irradiated himself while performing a critical mass experiment on two half-spheres of plutonium. Took him a month to die. While his body was slowly shutting down from radiation poisoning, you know what he did with his last thirty days, hmm? He worked. He tried until his last breath to understand what had happened to him so that others could learn from the tragedy, so that his work, his death, wouldn't be rendered meaningless. Now, have you considered what would have happened if they'd just shut the Project down after that?
SHEPPARD: This is different.
McKAY: Is it? Collins' death is a pointless waste of life unless something comes of this, and I am not sure that I can ... (He trails off, on the verge of tears.) I think I know what happened.
SHEPPARD: Let's hear it.
McKAY: Can I come in?
McKAY: The Ancients had it wrong. Our mistake was using their equations. Look, I just did the calculations again myself. I did them three times just to be sure and I am positive the problem is in the automatic containment protocols.
SHEPPARD: OK, what's your fix?
McKAY: I am proposing that we adjust the field strength manually.
SHEPPARD: You saw how fast it spiked on you.
McKAY: So we don't operate the generator at anywhere near its potential. Look, there's no need to be greedy. Even operating at fifty percent, it'll still generate the power of a dozen ZedP.Ms.
SHEPPARD: How come the Ancients didn't figure this out?
McKAY: Maybe they were caught up in the heat of battle. Maybe they thought they needed as much power as they could get. Maybe they weren't smart enough.
SHEPPARD: And you are?
McKAY: No, I didn't say that, but I have the benefit of hindsight. They didn't. Look, this is big. This is the wheel, the light bulb, the hot dog big.
SHEPPARD: Best case scenario?
McKAY: I win a Nobel Prize.
SHEPPARD (smiling briefly): Worst case scenario?
McKAY: We tear a hole in the fabric of the universe ... (John's face falls) ... which is much less likely to happen than the Nobel Prize. I mean, look, the risks are nothing compared to the potential benefits. Elizabeth will listen to you. I have never asked this of you before, but I think I've earned it. Trust me.
ELIZABETH'S OFFICE. John is talking with Elizabeth and Caldwell.
WEIR: I've already made this decision, John.
CALDWELL: If Doctor McKay says he's solved the problem, I don't see why we don't give him another shot.
WEIR: Isn't the Daedalus about ready to head back to Earth?
CALDWELL: Yes, we are. But I think you should know the Pentagon has taken a very keen interest in this vacuum energy.
WEIR: I'm sure they have, but the Pentagon doesn't make the decisions here.
CALDWELL: Yeah, I may not have the power to overrule you on this, but when I get back to Earth I'm going to be making the recommendation that Doctor McKay be allowed to continue his work to the highest authorities. Ultimately, Doctor Weir, this won't be up to you.
(Elizabeth locks gazes with him for a while, then turns to John.)
WEIR: Can Rodney guarantee that the same thing won't happen?
SHEPPARD: Nobody can do that.
WEIR: Then what's changed?
SHEPPARD: According to him, it's the Ancients' calculations that were wrong, not his.
CALDWELL: If McKay is that confident, I don't see why we don't ...
WEIR (interrupting): Confidence is not something Doctor McKay is in any short supply of.
CALDWELL: With good reason! If anyone can do this ...
WEIR: The Ancients could not do this. And that's what it keeps coming back to for me.
CALDWELL: Isn't it possible that you have placed the Ancients on such a high pedestal that you can't even consider the possibility that they may be wrong?
WEIR: Why are we mincing words, Colonel? You want the weapon.
CALDWELL: Yes! I do! A weapon that could effectively eliminate the Wraith threat is very attractive to me, and to the people that I work for. I'm not hiding that fact. But there's more to it, isn't there? No more hunting for ZeeP.Ms; the shield at full strength; faster, more powerful ships. How ‘bout a power source that could provide the energy needs for an entire planet? No more fossil fuels.
WEIR: I get it! And if it worked as advertised, it would be wonderful. I'm trying to tell you I know Rodney McKay and there are times when I have to protect him from himself.
SHEPPARD: I can do that. Let me go back with him -- just him and me. You can activate the Stargate any time you want to contact us by radio.
WEIR: He really sold you.
SHEPPARD: He asked me to trust him.
ANCIENT OUTPOST. John and Rodney are in the Control Centre. Rodney is bouncing about the place as he works, looking very pleased with himself.
McKAY: I appreciate your support, Colonel, but, uh, don't worry -- I try and make it a habit not to make the same mistake twice.
SHEPPARD: That was a joke, right?
McKAY: No. I offer you my personal assurance that a surge like the one that happened before is inconceivable.
SHEPPARD: Do you wanna run some power-up simulations first?
McKAY: How about I carry out my plan and you keep the hot coffee coming? (John stares at him.) I was joking, again, right? (John nods and turns away.) Well, where were we? (He turns back to his work.)
ATLANTIS. Radek hurries up to Elizabeth.
ZELENKA: Doctor Weir, I need to speak to you right away.
WEIR: What is it?
ZELENKA: I finished going over the accident data. I think I know why the Ancients abandoned this technology.
CONTROL ROOM. The Gate is open. Elizabeth speaks into comms as Radek stands nearby.
WEIR: Colonel Sheppard, this is Atlantis.
SHEPPARD: Go ahead.
WEIR: Is Doctor McKay with you?
McKAY: Of course I am, but we're a little busy getting ready to run a test here.
WEIR: Actually, I would like you to delay the test firing.
WEIR: We have reason to believe that the weapon's power source, it may not be controllable at any power level.
(Rodney rolls his eyes and raises his arms in a frustrated gesture, realising who has made her think this.)
McKAY: OK, we have been over this. I am doing this manually, at half power. It's a cakewalk.
ZELENKA: I don't think it matters how much cake you walk on. I've been doing calculations of my own and I believe that the very act of trying to contain vacuum energy from our own space-time creates an environment where the laws of physics cease to apply.
McKAY: What are you on about?!
ZELENKA: As power output increases, new and exotic particles are continuously created and destroyed inside the containment chamber, interacting with each other and with the field itself. Eventually particles are created that cannot be prevented in this space-time, and they breach the containment field as hard radiation.
McKAY: As long as I'm monitoring the energy output manually, I can stop that before it happens.
ZELENKA: You cannot predict something that is inherently unpredictable.
McKAY: I know what I'm doing.
ZELENKA: Rodney, I am trying to tell you as a friend, I have serious doubts.
McKAY: Well, you're wrong. I'm sorry, but there it is. And to bring this up now when I am just about to do this smacks of nothing but professional jealousy.
ZELENKA (angrily): Fine! Kill yourself, just like the Ancients did!
SHEPPARD: Whoa, whoa, whoa, what do you mean by that?
ZELENKA: I believe if the overload is allowed to continue, the weapon acts as a sort of release valve to prevent catastrophic containment failure. The Ancients barely managed to shut it down, and they lost their lives in the process.
WEIR: What we're suggesting is that the Wraith didn't kill everyone on that planet -- it was the weapon itself.
SHEPPARD: That would explain why this place is the only thing left standing.
McKAY: Yes, congratulations -- you've solved the mystery of how the Ancients screwed up ten thousand years ago. It doesn't mean that I will do the same. Look, I don't know how else to say this, but none of you are capable of understanding this on the same level that I do. And Zelenka, that includes you.
(Radek throws his arms up in frustration.)
WEIR: Rodney, I cannot afford to lose either one of you. Now tell me: can you do this?
McKAY (firmly): Yes.
SHEPPARD: Are you sure?
SHEPPARD: Are you sure you're sure?
McKAY: I said yes!
SHEPPARD: Because if you're wrong ...
McKAY: I'm not!
(They stare at each other for a moment, then John turns away to think about it. A few seconds later he speaks into his radio.)
SHEPPARD: I'll call you back after the test -- how does that sound?
WEIR: You'd better.
McKAY (to John): I won't let you down.
(John turns and looks at him for a moment, then turns away. Rodney gets back to work.)
BELKAN. Teyla and Ronon are walking through the village.
TEYLA: How are you feeling?
TEYLA: We should really be getting back. Doctor Weir will be expecting us.
DEX: Kell's here.
DEX: He's meeting with Hendon right now. Solen just told me. I have to see him.
TEYLA: And you would like me to arrange a meeting.
DEX: After yesterday, I don't think I'd get very far if I asked myself.
ANCIENT OUTPOST. Rodney checks his laptop. John is working on another computer and has his back to Rodney's station.
McKAY: OK, this is good. My equations are working like a charm. Power level's at forty percent, just to be on the safe side. I think we're ready for our test.
SHEPPARD: Where do you want the weapon targeted?
McKAY: The debris orbiting the planet.
SHEPPARD: Sounds good.
McKAY: Bringing the weapon online ... now.
(There's a whooshing sound as the energy comes online. An energy field forms around the device in the chamber. After a few seconds, there's another whoosh.)
SHEPPARD: What's that?
McKAY: Energy surge -- it's fine. I can regulate it.
(On his screen, the energy levels rise.)
SHEPPARD: You said you could contain it.
McKAY: The temperature inside the containment field is well within acceptable parameters. Staying ahead of it. (The levels continue to rise.) Levels are rising in the chamber. Reroute power from the secondary systems to the containment field.
SHEPPARD (as he works): I'm thinking we need to abort.
McKAY: I can compensate. Just give me a minute.
(The "Overload" message starts to flash on the computer screen.)
SHEPPARD: It's overloading, just like last time.
McKAY: There is no logical reason this shouldn't be working.
McKAY (starting to sound panic-stricken): None of this should be happening! Look, the energy levels are spiking at a rate far greater than anything I predicted.
SHEPPARD: Shut it down!
(Rodney turns and glares at him for a moment, then turns back to his computer.)
McKAY: Fine. (He presses a key, which beeps at him. The energy levels continue to rise. He presses the key again and gets another beep.) That doesn't make any sense.
SHEPPARD: What's wrong?
(Rodney turns and stares at him.)
McKAY: I can't shut it down.
BELKAN. Teyla and Ronon are waiting in the tavern. Ronon sits at the window with his back to the door. Teyla waits near the door. Eventually two men come in, wearing military uniform. Another couple of men in the same uniform are already inside the tavern. Teyla goes over to greet the new arrivals.
KELL: I am Kell, from Sateda.
TEYLA: Teyla Emmagan of Athos. Thank you for granting us your time.
(Ronon, hidden from their view until now, starts to walk towards them, his face still obscured by a wooden beam.)
KELL (to Teyla): If we are to trade, I would know all the members of your party.
TEYLA: Of course. In fact, that is why we are here.
(She smiles and turns towards Ronon, who walks into full view.)
DEX: Hello, Kell.
(He pulls out his hand, which was tucked inside his coat. It is holding his blaster. He shoots Kell in the chest, killing him instantly. The other soldiers surround Ronon, aiming their weapons. Teyla puts her back to Ronon, holding up a knife in a vain attempt to protect herself from the soldiers.)
TEYLA: Ronon, what have you done?
(Ronon lowers his blaster and holds out his hands to show the soldiers that he's not going to attempt to shoot them as he speaks to them.)
DEX: We all know who this man was, what he was. If anyone here believes he should be avenged, here I am.
(The soldiers look at each other for a moment, then lower their guns. Ronon leaves the tavern. Teyla looks down at Kell's body for a moment, then hurries off after Ronon. After a while she catches him up, slams him against a wall and holds her knife against his throat.)
TEYLA: You just used me to murder an innocent man!
(Ronon grabs her hand and pushes her knife away.)
DEX: He deserved worse.
TEYLA: You said he was like a father to you.
DEX: Kell commanded several infantry divisions on Sateda, and when the Wraith came, he ordered thousands to their death just to save himself. He was ... he was a traitor and a coward. My only regret is that his death was quick.
(Teyla thinks about it for a moment.)
TEYLA: I understand. In your place I might have done the same. But believe me when I tell you that the others would not. We must not speak of this when we return to Atlantis. (She steps closer to him, glaring up into his face.) And if you ever use my friendship in such a way again, I will not be so understanding.
ANCIENT OUTPOST. The weapon on the roof of the lab is spinning around and firing randomly into the sky. Inside the lab, the room shakes.
SHEPPARD: What was that?
McKAY: The weapon's discharging to prevent a catastrophic overload.
(One of the console explodes.)
SHEPPARD: Alright, that's it. We're outta here.
McKAY: What did I just say?! The weapon's firing at random targets above the planet. This is the safest place to be right now.
SHEPPARD: The place isn't gonna be safe for very much longer!
McKAY: I can bring it back under control! Just give me a second!
(John runs over and grabs his jacket to swing him around.)
SHEPPARD: No you can't!
McKAY (pulling himself free and turning back to his laptop): Just one second!
SHEPPARD: I've seen this before, Rodney: pilots who wouldn't eject when something went wrong -- trying to fix their planes (he smacks the desk to make his point) right until it hit the ground.
(Rodney stares at him.)
McKAY: OK, we need to leave. I've waited too long -- the weapon can't discharge enough power to avoid a catastrophic overload. This whole planet's gonna go up. (He shuts his laptop and hurries to the ladder, then turns to John.) Not that your speech wasn't working. (He starts to climb.)
PUDDLE JUMPER. As the weapon continues to fire wildly into the sky, John and Rodney run into the Puddle Jumper.
SHEPPARD: OK, strap in.
McKAY: You need to avoid flying in predictable trajectories to prevent the weapon from locking onto us.
SHEPPARD: I know what I'm doing.
McKAY: I'm just saying -- be sure not to fly in a straight line.
SHEPPARD: Rodney, shut up!
(The Jumper takes off and flies a swerving path up into the sky.)
McKAY: Can I just say there's no way the Jumper can take even one direct hit?
SHEPPARD: I'll keep that in mind.
(He continues to fly an erratic path as they head up into space, dodging in and out of the debris.)
McKAY (looking at the console): The weapon's locking onto us.
SHEPPARD: How ‘bout I fly us away from the planet, return after the overload?
McKAY: We can't.
SHEPPARD: Why not?
McKAY: Don't you understand? This explosion is gonna take out three quarters of the solar system. There's no way we can fly far enough or fast enough. We have to head for the Gate.
SHEPPARD: Dial the Gate.
(Rodney starts dialling.)
McKAY: How do you intend to avoid getting hit on the final approach?
SHEPPARD: I haven't figured that part out yet.
(The Jumper heads towards the Gate, but the shots from the weapon are getting closer and closer all the time. The Jumper ducks around a piece of debris, and suddenly Daedalus rises up from behind the debris and blocks the weapon fire. John stares in disbelief.)
CALDWELL (over comms): It's a good thing we stopped by to check on your progress, Colonel. Make a break for the Stargate -- we'll run interference.
SHEPPARD: Copy that, Daedalus.
CALDWELL (to his pilot): Stand by to engage sublight engines on my mark.
SHEPPARD: Recommend you go into hyperspace as soon as we go through. There's gonna be a big bang.
(The Jumper plunges into the Gate. Daedalus swoops underneath the Gate, then goes into hyperspace as, behind it, the system explodes.)
ATLANTIS. GATEROOM. Teyla and Ronon come through the Gate carrying their sacks of grain. Marines who were aiming their weapons at the Gate lower them and come forward to take the sacks off them. In the distance we can just hear Elizabeth shouting in her office.
TEYLA: Take this grain to the storage room.
(As she and Ronon walk forward, the shouting continues. They look up to Elizabeth's office and see that she's yelling at Rodney. We can hear little of it apart from a few words.)
WEIR: ... putting your life and other people's lives at risk. You destroyed three quarters of a solar system!
McKAY: Well, five sixths. It's not an exact science.
WEIR: Rodney, can you give your ego a rest for one second?!
(Teyla and Ronon walk away.)
CORRIDOR. John is walking along when he sees Rodney approaching. He turns and walks in the opposite direction but Rodney hurries after him.
McKAY: Oh, Colonel! Colonel! I've been looking all over for you.
SHEPPARD: I heard. (He turns to face Rodney and folds his arms.)
McKAY: I suppose I deserve that. Look, I just, um, I wanted to apologise about what happened. I was wrong -- I'm sorry. And I wanted to assure you that, uh, I intend not being right again -- about everything, effective immediately. (John smiles slightly but keeps his arms folded.) That was a joke.
SHEPPARD: Good one.
(He turns and walks into a transporter room. Rodney walks forward to stop him from leaving. John turns to face him again.)
McKAY: I've already apologised to Elizabeth ... and Radek ... and I thanked Colonel Caldwell for, uh, caring enough to spy on the experiment from orbit. I sent him a nice little email, actually. But I saved you ‘til last ‘cause, um, honestly, I would ... I would hate to think that recent events might have permanently dimmed your faith in my abilities, or your trust. At the very least, I hope I can earn that back.
SHEPPARD: That may take a while.
(Rodney's face falls.)
McKAY: I see.
SHEPPARD: But, I'm sure you can do it, if you really wanna try.
(He steps inside the transporter room and presses the panel on the rear wall. As the doors close, he smiles at Rodney. Rodney smiles back, then his face falls and he sighs as he realises how close he came to losing his friend's trust forever.)