Transcript by Callie Sullivan
ATLANTIS. In the Gateroom, the Stargate is active. A M.A.L.P. is waiting in front of the Gate. Up in the Control Room, Doctor Rodney McKay reports.
McKAY: Wormhole's established. M.A.L.P. is on the way.
(The M.A.L.P. heads toward the event horizon. Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard turns from the Control Room balcony where he was watching the Gate and walks over to Rodney's console. Doctor Elizabeth Weir is standing nearby.)
SHEPPARD: What kind of facility is this?
McKAY: Some sort of research outpost. The database has very little information about it, other than whatever work was being done there was completed, and the place was apparently abandoned.
WEIR: Well, sounds promising.
(The Canadian technician turns from his console.)
TECHNICIAN: We have M.A.L.P. telemetry. Environmental sensors indicate viable life support. Visuals coming in now.
WEIR: Put it on screen.
(She, Rodney and John turn to look at a screen. Initially, the screen shows static but a couple of seconds later the image changes to show a man peering into the camera as he investigates the M.A.L.P. Several other people are standing nearby staring at the M.A.L.P. They are dressed in uniforms which look similar to the ones worn by some of the Ancients in "Before I Sleep.")
SHEPPARD (walking closer to the screen): Or maybe it never was abandoned.
(The man in the centre of the picture holds up a scanning device that looks very familiar.)
SHEPPARD: He's got one of their scanners.
McKAY: So do we. Just because they know how to use Ancient technology doesn't mean that they're ...
(The man, Niam [pronounced Nee-um], speaks into the camera.)
NIAM: I am speaking to whoever sent this machine to our home. If you intend us harm, proceed no further, but if you come in friendship, please know you are most welcome here.
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. GATEROOM. Teyla Emmagan, geared up and holding a P90, is waiting in front of the open Gate. Ronon Dex comes over and joins her and they wait for the rest of the team. Ronon kills time by taking out his blaster and spinning it in various fancy ways. Teyla smiles at him indulgently.
SHEPPARD (coming into the Gateroom with Rodney): Put that thing away. We told ‘em we were friendly.
(Ronon holsters his blaster and holds his hands out innocently.)
DEX: I'm friendly.
SHEPPARD: Is that thing set to stun?
(Ronon takes the blaster out again, tosses it into the air dramatically, catches it and adjusts the setting before lowering it to his side. John smiles sarcastically.)
(Ronon spins the blaster again before re-holstering it. Rodney looks round as Elizabeth walks in, wearing offworld gear.)
McKAY: You coming too?
WEIR: Well, Ancients or not, they're obviously an advanced society, and I would like to establish diplomatic relations with them immediately.
SHEPPARD: Well, you're the boss. Let's go.
(The team heads into the wormhole.)
ASURAS. The team exits the wormhole. They stare around in disbelief as they realise that they've walked back into the Gateroom.
WEIR: What happened?
(They look around the room.)
SHEPPARD: Did we make a U-turn?
McKAY: No. This is the place. We're here.
(Behind them, the Gate shuts down. Elizabeth turns and looks through the ring. On the other side, instead of a window overlooking the ocean, there's a long wide corridor leading off into the distance. A few people who were walking past stop and stare at her. Elizabeth calls her colleagues' attention to what she's seeing.)
(The others turn and look. John's eyes widen.)
SHEPPARD: So ... not exactly like our Gateroom.
(The people walk closer. One of them is Niam.)
WEIR: Hello. We're the people who sent the machine to you earlier. We come in friendship.
NIAM: I am Niam. Welcome to Asuras.
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. Niam is leading the team along the corridor. It is lined with opaque windows. John speaks quietly and a bit grumpily to Rodney.
SHEPPARD: I'm still waiting to meet an Ancient race that's invented the car.
NIAM (looking over his shoulder): Our destination is not much further. (He looks forward again.) The High Council is eager to meet you.
WEIR: How long have your people lived here?
NIAM: We built this city, thousands of years ago.
McKAY: What, you actually built it? You didn't just find it this way?
TEYLA: And you've had no trouble with the Wraith?
McKAY: Any particular reason?
NIAM: The Wraith do not concern us.
McKAY (to John): Ah, see? He didn't answer my question. (To Niam) I'm sorry. You didn't actually answer my question.
(The team reaches a window which is clear. Elizabeth gasps and turns to look out of it. The others join her.)
WEIR: Oh ... my.
SHEPPARD: No kidding.
(The camera pans round to show what they're seeing. The centre of the city is identical to Atlantis and is similarly surrounded by water, but walkways spread out from it in all directions, leading to a vast extension of towers of all shapes and sizes all around the central core. Many of them are much, much higher than the central tower. There are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of these towers, and the central core is tiny in comparison. The team stares in awe. Finally Ronon turns to Niam.)
DEX: How many people live here?
McKAY (backing away from the window but barely able to look away from the view): Well, the ... the power requirements for a city this size must be enormous. Well, plus shielding from the Wraith -- we're talking, what, three Zero Point Modules, maybe four?
(Niam looks at him, not understanding what he's saying.)
McKAY: Uh, sorry. ZedP.Ms ... a device that taps vast amounts of power from vacuum energy.
NIAM: Oh, yes. We have many of those.
SHEPPARD: Exactly how many is many?
McKAY: "Exactly" doesn't matter. "Many" is plenty.
NIAM: Truthfully, I do not know the exact number. More than enough to suit our needs.
McKAY (hopefully): I assume that you, um, built them yourselves?
McKAY (delighted): Yes.
SHEPPARD: Easy, Rodney, you're slobbering.
NIAM: Please. The Council is waiting.
(He turns and walks away. Rodney runs after him eagerly. The others pause for a moment.)
TEYLA: Well, we have our answer.
DEX: To what question?
WEIR: Whether or not they're Ancients.
SHEPPARD: In which case, I've got a bone to pick with them.
(He heads off after Niam and Rodney. The others follow him.)
COUNCIL CHAMBER. The team has been brought to a small room which has three tables in it. One of them is quite small and an older man sits behind it. On each side of it is a longer table with four people sitting behind each of them. The team is standing in the middle of the room facing the man who is obviously the leader of the High Council. His name is Oberoth.
OBEROTH: Where did you come from?
WEIR: We are explorers. We come from a world very far from here.
SHEPPARD: Really far. In fact, you can't get there from here.
OBEROTH: How did you happen to discover us?
WEIR: We came across an Ancient outpost that listed this Gate address in its database.
McKAY: But no other information, I might add. Oddly, the database neglected to include any information on a society of millions of Ancients, such as yourselves.
SHEPPARD (to Oberoth): Why's that?
OBEROTH: We are the last of those you refer to as "Ancients." We were once a race united in our pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment. But our paths diverged after a disagreement tore the fabric of that unity.
SHEPPARD: What kind of a disagreement?
OBEROTH: Suffice it to say they chose to disregard our counsel during a time of great conflict, and they suffered the consequences at the hands of a relentless enemy.
TEYLA: The Wraith.
OBEROTH: We parted ways with our brothers and sisters and came here, where we have thrived for many thousands of years.
SHEPPARD: Yeah, you've been doin' a lot of thriving.
WEIR: May I ask, what counsel did you offer that the others chose to disregard?
OBEROTH: Our Ancient brothers were arrogant, which led them to greatly underestimate the Wraith -- an enemy inferior in intelligence, yes, but vastly superior in numbers and ruthlessness.
DEX: They wouldn't have been so outnumbered if you had helped.
SHEPPARD (quietly to Elizabeth): There's that bone I wanted to pick at.
DEX (to Oberoth): You said they were your brothers. Where we come from, we take care of our family.
(Rodney looks round at Ronon as if to say, "Shut up!" Oberoth glares at Ronon angrily. John tries to defuse the situation.)
SHEPPARD: Um, what my friend is trying to say is there's still a lot of Wraith out there, and we could sure use your help fighting them.
OBEROTH: Eradication of them is among our goals.
WEIR: You mean you have a plan?
OBEROTH: We do.
McKAY: Great! (He claps his hands together, grinning.) Let's hear it.
(Oberoth looks at him. Rodney's smile falters.)
McKAY (nervously): Your plan, I mean.
OBEROTH: I doubt that you would be able to grasp its complexity and scope.
McKAY: Fortunately, I'm very good with complexity.
SHEPPARD: And scope.
OBEROTH: All you need to know is that one day soon the Wraith will exist no more.
SHEPPARD: "All" we need know?
OBEROTH: There are matters of importance for me to attend to. (He nods at Niam, who is sitting at one of the long tables and now stands.) In the meantime, you are explorers, and presumably in need of rest and sustenance. We have made arrangements for you to spend a short time among us. (He emphasises the word "short.")
(A couple of men, presumably security guards, walk up behind the team and usher them out of the Council Chamber as Niam leads them away. Rodney catches up to him as they walk along.)
McKAY: He says the other Ancients are arrogant?!
NIAM: I apologize if you felt Oberoth was condescending in any way.
SHEPPARD: How ‘bout in every way?
NIAM: It is difficult for him to see you as capable of understanding.
McKAY: Yeah, well, how many Ph.Ds does he have?
WEIR: Niam, I was wondering: your people have been here for thousands of years?
WEIR: Well, in that time, most Ancients we know have ascended.
(Niam stops and stares at her.)
NIAM: You know of ascension?
WEIR: Well, yes. In fact, we always thought that Ancients were no longer around -- that most of them evolved to the point of transforming into beings of pure energy.
NIAM (excitedly): This is true.
WEIR: But I take it your people aren't interested?
NIAM: Oh, ascension is the goal of many of us ... but Oberoth feels there is still much to do. We must become all that we can.
(Elizabeth looks at him closely.)
WEIR: You don't agree with him, do you?
(Niam looks at her and the rest of the team for several seconds, then turns and starts to walk away.)
NIAM: Your guest quarters are this way.
(The team look at each other for a moment, then follow him.)
GUEST QUARTERS. NIGHT TIME. The team is alone in a room which has been allocated to them. John is standing at the window gazing out over the city. Rodney and Ronon are sitting on a sofa facing Elizabeth and Teyla who are standing.
WEIR: It must have been quite a serious falling-out for the Ancients to eliminate any reference to them in the entire database.
TEYLA: Unless they're lying.
(John turns from the window and walks over to join the others.)
TEYLA: Might it not be possible that these people merely discovered this city, as you discovered Atlantis?
SHEPPARD: Wouldn't be surprised. They don't seem very ... Ancienty to me.
SHEPPARD: Yes. That's the word I was looking for.
WEIR (to Teyla): You think they could be deceiving us?
SHEPPARD: Teyla's right. They could've found the city the way it was and moved in years ago.
TEYLA: I feel they are hiding something.
WEIR: Other than their plan to defeat the Wraith, you mean?
DEX: There's no plan.
WEIR: No ... I don't think so either.
McKAY: Why would they say they had a plan if they don't have a plan?
SHEPPARD: They figured out a way to hide from the rest of the galaxy -- including the Wraith -- and they're happy to go on with their lives, just minding their own business.
DEX: Then, whoever they are ...
WEIR: I think that is what we need to find out.
COUNCIL CHAMBER. Elizabeth, escorted by a guard, walks in to join Oberoth who is standing in front of his table.
WEIR: Thank you for taking the time to see me. I felt we might achieve more in a one on one meeting, leader to leader.
(Oberoth glances at the guard, who takes his cue and leaves the room.)
OBEROTH: What is it you wish to achieve?
WEIR: The establishment of diplomatic and trade relations between our people.
OBEROTH: Trade? Do you really believe that you have anything of value to offer us?
(Elizabeth smiles at him.)
WEIR: It's possible, Oberoth. And there is only one way to find that out. But I do know that there is something you could offer us: that is assistance with our fight against the Wraith.
OBEROTH: As I said before, we will commence our plan at a time of our choosing.
WEIR: Would you at least consider sharing with us the tools so we could better protect ourselves until that time comes?
OBEROTH: Tools, such as ...?
WEIR: What we call Zero Point Modules. They're our power source. We are in urgent need of as many as you could spare.
(Oberoth's eyes narrow.)
OBEROTH: Then am I to assume that this settlement of yours is of Lantean design?
(He walks around behind her and faces away from her. Elizabeth pauses for a moment, then decides to be honest with him.)
WEIR: Yes. (She turns to face his back, and walks around to face him again.) We discovered it on our travels. It was uninhabited, so we decided to establish a base there. But as I'm sure you know, sufficient shield generation requires tremendous amounts of power.
OBEROTH: Where is this settlement of yours located?
WEIR: It's on the outer edges of this galaxy, in an area teeming with Wraith hive ships, which is why we need the power modules ...
OBEROTH (interrupting): We are unable to part with any of our power modules. Our energy needs require the use of all of them.
WEIR: Well, would you consider offering your city as a place of refuge to my people ...?
OBEROTH (interrupting): Many of our citizens are amused by the occasional visitor, such as yourselves, for a short time.
WEIR: But not you.
OBEROTH: No. And the very idea of greater numbers over a protracted period of time is entirely out of the question.
WEIR: Now, we have had some success fighting off the Wraith, and that has been with limited supplies and personnel. I truly believe that with your assistance, we might be able to ...
OBEROTH (interrupting): I am unaccustomed to repeating myself. However, leader to leader, I will say this once again. We will eliminate the Wraith at a time of our choosing.
WEIR: And you don't care how many of my people, or anyone else, dies while you make up your mind to act? You said earlier that your brothers' greatest weakness was their arrogance. May I suggest it runs in the family?
(She turns and walks away. Oberoth watches her go, his face unreadable.)
CORRIDOR. Elizabeth and the rest of the team, fully geared up again, are walking along with Niam.
NIAM: I'm sorry you feel you must leave.
WEIR: Yes. So am I.
NIAM: Oberoth can be ... intractable.
SHEPPARD: Not exactly the word I was looking for.
SHEPPARD: Not that word either.
(Niam and the team enter the Gateroom.)
WEIR: We will send you a message through the Stargate soon. Hopefully this is just a stumbled beginning ...
(She pauses as Asuran guards run towards them, their weapons raised. Instantly, John, Teyla and Ronon raise their own weapons. Rodney, on the other hand, instantly raises his hands in surrender. Niam stops and stares at the guards in confusion. Oberoth walks in. He and Elizabeth stare at each other for a moment, then he addresses the entire team.)
OBEROTH: Lower your weapons.
SHEPPARD (sarcastically): How much lower would you like ‘em?
OBEROTH: Do you really wish to challenge us?
(Behind John, a guard pokes his weapon into his back. John realises that they are surrounded and outgunned. He grimaces and smiles painfully at Oberoth.)
SHEPPARD: Huh. Maybe the floor.
(Reluctantly and slowly he bends down to put his P90 on the floor. Ronon and Teyla follow suit.)
WEIR: Now, I thought you didn't want us here, Oberoth.
OBEROTH: I don't ... but you possess information that I simply must have.
BRIG. The team is in the cell, and a humming sound indicates that the forcefield is on. Rodney is sitting in a corner of the cell with his arms folded and his eyes closed, while the rest of the team are on their feet. John turns from gazing through the bars to face the others.
SHEPPARD: These trade negotiations can be real murder.
(Ronon tries to put his hand through the gap in a corner of the cell, only to snatch it back again as he is electrocuted. He shakes his hand angrily and turns to the others.)
DEX: We need to find a way out of here.
(Elizabeth looks down at Rodney.)
McKAY (disinterestedly): Hmm?
WEIR: Well, this cell is similar to ours. Is there something in the design that could offer a possible escape?
McKAY: Are you serious? It's a jail cell.
WEIR: Yes, I know.
McKAY: Well, the only way out of here would be to first disable the forcefield around the bars, which is only accessible from the ...
(He pauses as the forcefield shuts down. He looks up in surprise.)
McKAY: ... outside.
(The door to the Brig slides open, and moments later the door to the cell does likewise. Niam, accompanied by two guards, wheels in a trolley on which are several plates of different kinds of food.)
NIAM: I brought you food.
McKAY (getting to his feet): Oh, thank God. I'm starving.
(He walks towards the trolley but Ronon claps a hand on his shoulder and holds him back. Rodney looks up at him.)
McKAY: No-no-no. I can't think on an empty stomach.
(Ronon jerks his thumb over his shoulder to indicate that he should walk away. Rodney rolls his eyes and does so.)
WEIR (to Niam): Why are we being held here?
(Ronon starts to taste some of the food, presumably checking it for drugs or poisons.)
NIAM: Oberoth wishes to speak with you further, and he feels he can no longer trust that you will remain in your quarters.
SHEPPARD: Well, he's right.
DEX: Yeah, if he wants to talk to us, why doesn't he? (He tries another piece of food.)
NIAM: He will. Very soon.
SHEPPARD: That's nice. (He turns to the others.) Isn't that nice?
(Elizabeth nods. John turns back to Niam.)
SHEPPARD: Here's a question: who the hell are you people?
WEIR: And don't tell us you're Ancients. We know enough about them to know they would never treat people this way.
(While she's talking, Ronon bends down to the trolley and picks up another piece of food, sniffing at it. He glances up at John and gives him a significant look. John nods at him slowly.)
NIAM: I am sorry about this, but I am certain once Oberoth has finished his discussions with you, you'll all be released unharmed.
(Ronon straightens up again and puts some more food into his mouth.)
McKAY: I'm sorry, but all your credibility was removed when you locked us up.
NIAM: You left us no choice.
(Ronon spits his mouthful of food into Niam's face. As he recoils, Ronon punches the nearest guard in the stomach, then picks him up and hurls him down onto the floor. John grabs the other one and does the same, while Teyla kicks Niam's feet from under him. Ronon and John grabs the guards' weapons and point them down at the Asurans. Niam looks up at John.)
SHEPPARD: Neither did you.
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. The team, together with Niam, makes its way up some stairs and along a corridor, Teyla holding an Asuran weapon on Niam. John reaches a closed door and waves his hand over the door-opener. The door opens and reveals the Jumper Bay on the other side. John turns to face Niam.
SHEPPARD: You're the one we liked, so don't take this personally.
(Niam looks bewildered and turns around to the others, just as Ronon walks up and punches him hard in the face, knocking him out. John catches him and drags him inside the Bay, leaving him lying on the floor. The team runs inside a Jumper -- John runs to the cockpit and the others follow, but Rodney stops in the rear compartment, opens a panel in the ceiling and starts to tinker with it. Elizabeth turns to look at him.)
WEIR: What are you doing?
McKAY: Preventing the Jumper from communicating with the Control Room. Element of surprise.
SHEPPARD (firing up the controls from the pilot's seat): Nice.
McKAY (still working on the panel): Go ahead. Dial the Gate.
(John starts to punch buttons on the D.H.D. Down in the Gateroom, the Stargate kawhooshes. Above it, the ceiling irises open and the Jumper starts to lower down into the Gateroom. As it descends, Asuran guards run into the Control Room, firing their weapons at the Jumper. More guards run into the Gateroom and do likewise. The Jumper reaches floor level and flies quickly into the Gate.)
ATLANTIS. NIGHT TIME. John comes into the Control Room and walks over to Doctor Radek Zelenka who is sitting at a console. Elizabeth is standing behind him.
SHEPPARD: Any sign of our new friends?
ZELENKA: Still nothing. No unscheduled Gate activity, nothing on the long-range sensors.
WEIR: I think it's safe to say we made a clean getaway.
SHEPPARD: Either that, or they're biding their time, waiting for the right moment to attack.
WEIR: Well, we'll keep the security teams on alert, just in case, but if they were able to come after us, I think they would have done so already. (John shrugs.) How is Rodney coming along with the database?
SHEPPARD: I'll go check up on him.
WEIR: I wonder how many other rogue Ancients are still out there.
SHEPPARD: If they're anything like the Asurans, we're better off leaving them well enough alone.
LAB. John walks in to find Rodney working on a computer.
SHEPPARD: How's it going?
McKAY: I've searched a good portion of the database for any indication of the Asurans, but, uh ...
SHEPPARD: Still nothing?
McKAY: Still nothing.
SHEPPARD: Maybe the Ancients didn't wanna be reminded of ‘em.
McKAY: Yeah, but even if they deleted every reference to Asura, you'd think there'd be some hint of ...
(Elizabeth's voice comes over their headset radios.)
SHEPPARD: Go ahead.
WEIR: I need you and Rodney in the Control Room immediately.
CONTROL ROOM. John and Rodney are looking at the scanner screen. It shows the planet, with two ships approaching from one side and five from the other.
McKAY: Hive ships!
SHEPPARD: How'd they get so close?
(He and Rodney turn and walk over to Radek.)
McKAY: More importantly, why are we just picking them up now?
ZELENKA: I don't know. Everything seems to be working.
WEIR: Engage the cloak.
McKAY (working on a console): I'm already on it. Cloak engaged ... now.
ZELENKA (looking at his screen): They're right over the city.
SHEPPARD: How far away is the Daedalus?
WEIR: It's not due for weeks.
McKAY: It doesn't matter. I'm counting seven ships. There's nothing they could do about it.
ZELENKA: They're scanning for us.
(Everyone looks up to the ceiling nervously.)
WEIR: Hopefully the cloak is ...
ZELENKA: They're firing!
(There's an explosion outside, and the tower rocks. Everyone who is standing struggles to stay on his or her feet.)
WEIR (to Rodney): Switch to shield!
(The tower jolts again as another blast hits the city.)
McKAY: I can't. The shield generators were hit in the initial blast.
SHEPPARD: They knew right where to hit us.
ZELENKA: The cloak has failed!
(John hurries out onto the balcony outside the Control Room and looks out over the city. Blasts are raining down from the sky and impacting various areas. John ducks as a fireball rises up from a nearby impact site. He turns and runs back inside, stumbling as the tower rocks again.)
SHEPPARD: We need more firepower. I'm headed to the Chair Room.
(He starts to walk away but stops as Radek reports.)
ZELENKA: There are more ships arriving in the system.
SHEPPARD: How many more?
(Radek looks at his screen in horror.)
SHEPPARD: We can't fight off that many, not without shields.
(Elizabeth activates her headset radio.)
WEIR: Attention. This is Weir. All personnel to the Gateroom for immediate evacuation. (To Radek) Dial Earth.
(Radek scrambles from his seat to go to the DH.D. Elizabeth turns to John.)
WEIR: John, we need to set the self-destruct.
(Another explosion goes off. Rodney looks at his screens, then jumps up and turns to the pair of them.)
McKAY: We just lost automated systems. We'll lose the Gate any second now.
SHEPPARD: Go. I'll detonate it manually.
(More explosions go off.)
WEIR: Maybe the Wraith will take care of destroying the city for us.
McKAY: If they wanted to vaporise the city, they would have done it already. Look, if there's any part of this city left intact ...
WEIR: ... they'll know how to find Earth. I know.
(John goes over to Radek, who has been setting the self-destruct system up to enable just one person to activate it.)
ZELENKA: OK, enter your number. When you are ready, hit this button. At that point, you'll only have a few seconds left.
McKAY: No, no, no, no! (He runs over to John.) I can't let you do this -- not without tossing a coin or something! It doesn't seem right!
SHEPPARD: I appreciate the offer, Rodney. Now, get out of here.
(More explosions go off.)
SHEPPARD: Go, all of you!
(In the Gateroom, personnel are running for the open Gate. Elizabeth and the others in the Control Room run for the stairs. Another explosion throws a couple of technicians to the floor, but they scramble up and run on. As Elizabeth, Rodney and Radek reach the Gateroom, Ronon comes in carrying an injured young woman in his arms. Teyla follows, supporting an injured man.)
DEX: The way up is blocked.
WEIR: How many are trapped?
TEYLA: We can't tell.
(They all head for the Gate. Elizabeth pauses as the others run into the event horizon, looking around the Gateroom as a marine ushers the last of the evacuees into the Gate. Up in the Control Room, John runs over to the balcony and looks down at her.)
SHEPPARD: We're losing power! Get through the Gate!
(Elizabeth backs towards the Gate, reluctant to leave, but then turns and runs towards it, glancing back one last time just as she enters the event horizon. John hurries back to the self-destruct controls as more explosions go off around him. He types in his code and the message "DESTRUCT ARMED" comes up. John straightens up, hesitating for a moment, then hits the ENTER key. A countdown starts from five seconds. John closes his eyes. Five seconds later, he is enveloped in white light as the city explodes.)
END OF EPISODE. END OF SERIES.
Just kidding. To continue ...
ASURAN BRIG. Sitting on the floor of the cell with his eyes closed, John screams in agony. Someone is standing above him, his hand extended and his fingers sticking deep into John's forehead. The man slowly pulls his hand out, leaving no wound in John's head. John groans and collapses sideways. After a few moments, he pulls himself together a little, opens his eyes and looks around. Oberoth is standing over him.
SHEPPARD: What the hell just happened?
(Without answering, Oberoth turns and walks away, picking his way through the rest of the team who are all lying on the floor and apparently recovering from a similar experience. Four other Asurans in the room join Oberoth as he leaves. John props himself up on one elbow.)
SHEPPARD (to Oberoth's departing back): Who the hell are you people?
McKAY: They're not people. They're machines.
(The door to the cell closes.)
McKAY: They're Replicators.
ASURAN CONTROL ROOM. Oberoth walks up the stairs from the Gateroom and nods to the technicians. One of them activates some controls on a panel. A rumbling sound can be heard and the city starts to shake.
(In the cell, the team struggle to their feet as they too hear the rumbling. Elizabeth walks over to the cell bars and looks at them as they begin to shake.)
WEIR: What's happening?
(Outside the central core of the city, the walkways begin to retract as smoke or steam rises all around the base of the core and it begins to rise slowly up off the surface of the ocean. Clearing the rest of the city, a shield appears around the core and it heads up into the sky.)
LATER. Niam and Oberoth are walking through the city, followed by two women.
NIAM: What's to become of them?
OBEROTH: We have mined everything we need from their consciousness. They are no longer of any use to us. Ending their lives seems to be the most prudent course.
NIAM: I disagree. I believe we still have a lot to learn from them.
OBEROTH: Learn from them?!
OBEROTH (stopping and turning to face him): Or is it that you fear that ending their lives would end your hope of ascension?
NIAM: I do object to killing them, but it is more than that. I don't believe we've fully uncovered just how much they've learned about Lantean society, nor how much of this knowledge they've passed on to others.
ASURAN FEMALE 1: They're of no threat to us, Oberoth.
ASURAN FEMALE 2: We see no reason not to continue our study of them.
OBEROTH: Very well. Keep them alive if you wish ... (he steps closer to Niam and looks at him sternly) ... but I shall hold you accountable.
(He walks away. Niam smiles slightly and looks round at his colleagues.)
BRIG. Elizabeth, sitting on the floor of the cell and leaning back against the bars, takes her head out of her hands and sighs in pain.
WEIR: My head is killing me.
(Ronon is sitting on the floor near her. John is sitting on the other side of the cell while Teyla is standing and leaning against the bars, holding her head, while Rodney paces slowly in the middle of the cell.)
SHEPPARD: How'd we get back here?
TEYLA: What do you mean, "back here"?
SHEPPARD: Well, we broke out and got to the Jumper, gated back to Atlantis.
(Teyla looks round at the others, who look equally puzzled.)
SHEPPARD: ... At least I thought we did.
(Teyla shakes her head carefully.)
TEYLA: That is not what I remember.
DEX: The only thing I remember was being in a dark room, fighting hand to hand for hours.
McKAY: Well, they obviously created different scenarios for each of us during the mind probe -- no doubt looking to gather information from our responses.
SHEPPARD: I thought our escape seemed too easy.
McKAY: At least you escaped.
(John looks up at him.)
SHEPPARD: What'd they do to you?
(Rodney looks uncomfortable.)
McKAY: Uh, torture -- in ways too hideous and, um ... intimate to recount.
DEX: Like what?
McKAY: I said, "too hideous to recount."
WEIR: I just had a horrible thought.
TEYLA: What if it is still happening?
McKAY: There's gotta be a way to know for sure.
(He walks over to where John is sitting. Hesitating for a moment, he reaches out a finger and pokes John hard in the side of the head. John frowns, then slaps Rodney's leg.)
McKAY: Doesn't really prove anything.
NIAM (offscreen): It's real, Doctor McKay.
(Everyone turns and looks as Niam walks into the Brig, accompanied by three guards. Those who were sitting down stand up.)
NIAM: Your minds are no longer being probed.
SHEPPARD: It's good to know it was just our minds.
McKAY (grimacing): Oh, please don't make me sick.
NIAM: Please, come with me.
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. Niam leads the team across a room. As he reaches the other side, the doors automatically pivot open, revealing an exterior balcony. The sky is dark. The team walk out onto the balcony and look out.
WEIR: We're in space.
McKAY: The stardrive!
(He and John walk to the edge of the balcony and see that the city is passing a planet.)
McKAY: Of course. The rumbling sound we heard. With all the ZedP.Ms, you're able to actually fly the city.
NIAM: Yes, Doctor McKay. Watch now. We're about to open a hyperspace window.
(Ahead of the city, a hyperspace window opens and the city shoots into it.)
TEYLA: Where are we going?
NIAM: Atlantis. (Everyone turns to look at him.) The probes of your minds uncovered the truth -- that Atlantis had not been destroyed by the Wraith ten thousand years ago as we had believed. You only came to live there from your original home -- a planet called Earth.
SHEPPARD: Why didn't you just dial the Gate and send us through?
NIAM: We're not taking you to Atlantis. Our intention is to destroy it.
WEIR: For what? The disagreement you once had? The Ancients no longer live there. We are the only inhabitants of that city.
NIAM: There was no disagreement, Doctor Weir. Only betrayal. If you wish to know the truth of who we are, I will show you.
(He holds out his hand to her, offering for her to take it. Rodney steps forward, holding out his hand warningly.)
McKAY: Elizabeth ...
(Ignoring him, Elizabeth stares into Niam's eyes, trying to judge whether she can trust him or not. After a few moments, she sighs.)
WEIR: It's OK, Rodney.
(As Rodney and John exchange a nervous glance, she reaches out and take Niam's hand. Instantly, it's as if the two of them appear in a Power Room in the city. Scientists are working but take no notice of them. Obviously this is not real, but a mental projection that Niam is showing her. He releases her hand and leads her deeper into the room.)
NIAM: The Ancients, as you call them, were desperate in their search for a better way to fight the Wraith. Though greatly outnumbered, they relied on their technological superiority to give them a needed advantage. Soon, they succeeded in creating one.
(He has led her over to the Z.P.M. slots in the middle of the room. An Ancient scientist is working at a console on top of the slots. Elizabeth looks at the screen of the console, then notices that the scientist keeps looking up at a screen on the wall. She looks across to it, recognises what's on it and walks across for a closer look. Bug-like but metallic-looking devices are on the screen. We last saw something similar in "Hot Zone.")
NIAM: Instead of building bigger, more powerful weapons, they chose to build smaller ones -- microscopic machines designed to infiltrate and destroy from within.
(The Power Room dissolves around her and Niam and they're now in a totally dark room, lit only by a broad spotlight from above.)
NIAM: In these tiny killing machines, the Ancients imbued an aggression that surpassed even that of their enemy. The technology allowed for organic assimilation and self-replication to increase their effectiveness ... and replicate they did.
(The dark room dissolves and Niam and Elizabeth appear in the Asuran Conference Room. For a moment they are alone, then human-form Replicators/Asurans appear as if from nowhere.)
NIAM: They grew in numbers, evolving at a rate that took the Ancients by surprise. The molecular machines began interlocking, assembling themselves to form even more complex organisms, eventually evolving into the most effective and efficient form they knew of.
(As some of the Asurans leave the room, Niam and Elizabeth walk across to the room to where Oberoth is standing. Niam walks across to stand next to him and turns to face Elizabeth.)
NIAM: This is how we were born. We took the image of our creators, yet we were far different from them.
(He looks at Oberoth, who appears to be glaring in Elizabeth's direction.)
NIAM: The aggression programmed into our core remained, fuelling a rage we could not contain. We implored them to have this violent nature removed from our programming, but the Ancients wanted a weapon, and since their scientists included a directive prohibiting us from ever harming them, they continued the experiment. When the Ancients concluded that the experiment had gone too far -- that we would never become the weapon they desired to create -- they decided to end it.
(He walks away from Oberoth as the older man continues to glare in Elizabeth's direction. A loud rumbling sound begins. Elizabeth looks up in the direction of the sound, and instantly she is somewhere outside. The sky is red and filled with smoke. An Aurora-class warship, the source of the sound, flies slowly overhead. Elizabeth and Niam, standing on a rocky landscape, turn to watch the ship. Not far away is the Asuran city, parts of it burning as several warships hover over the city, bombarding it.)
NIAM: And so they chose to destroy us, to leave no trace of us behind.
(Elizabeth gazes at the devastation in front of her for several seconds, then looks down to find that she and Niam are holding hands. She looks up into his eyes for a moment, then turns to look at the destruction of the city again. Niam opens his hand and slowly Elizabeth pulls her hand away. The city vanishes and everything turns grey.)
GUEST QUARTERS. The team has been left alone in the room. Elizabeth is sitting down with her fingers to her forehead, obviously in pain. Teyla, sitting beside her, puts a comforting hand on her arm and hands her a wet cloth.
WEIR: Thank you.
(She takes the cloth and puts it to her forehead.)
SHEPPARD (sitting on a bed nearby): Obviously the Ancients didn't do a thorough enough job wiping them out.
WEIR: No. A few of the nanites managed to survive.
McKAY: Which is all they needed to begin replicating again.
McKAY: This is bad. They're very similar to an artificial intelligence that SG-1 encountered several years ago that evolved from a tiny block-Replicator into human form. They may even be related somehow.
SHEPPARD: I read those reports. Stargate Command could barely defeat the human-form Replicators.
McKAY: Oh -- which is why I said, "This is bad."
WEIR: The difference here is they're emulating the Ancients. They've even built themselves a version of Atlantis.
DEX: And then some.
TEYLA: Why would they do this?
WEIR: I think they look at the Ancients like parents who betrayed them, and now they see humans as the favoured siblings who receive all the parents' love. They've been seeking revenge ever since.
SHEPPARD: Just what we need -- more bad guys.
McKAY: Which means we've probably just identified the race that created the nanovirus that nearly killed me a couple of years ago.
(John looks up at him.)
SHEPPARD: It almost killed a lot of people.
McKAY (nodding): Yeah.
TEYLA: Were you not able to defeat that nanovirus with an electromagnetic pulse?
McKAY: That was different. Those were individual nanites, easy to disrupt with a simple EM pulse. These ... these things have evolved way beyond that, with interdependent organic constituents of a far greater complexity.
(One of Niam's female companions walks into the room. She walks over to Elizabeth and looks down at her.)
ASURAN FEMALE 1: Are you feeling better?
(The woman looks around at the team.)
ASURAN FEMALE 1: Follow me.
(She turns and walks from the room. The team gets up and follows her.)
CONFERENCE ROOM. The door to one of the smaller conference rooms -- one with a singular triangular table in the middle -- opens and the woman leads the team in. Niam and his other female colleague are waiting for them on the other side of the table. Niam stands with his hands on the table, his head bowed as if in thought. As his colleague walks across to join him and the other woman, he raises his head and looks at the team.
NIAM: I have an offer to make you -- something that could greatly benefit us both.
WEIR: Well, if the offer involves saving Atlantis, we're willing to listen.
NIAM: It does. (He straightens up.) We have achieved much since our second birth. We have evolved to take the form of our creators, built a city far grander than they ever achieved ... yet for all this, we are still restricted from reaching a pivotal point in our evolution.
WEIR: You want to ascend.
NIAM: Yes. Many among us, like Oberoth, have no desire to experience this. They are content with our present state. (He looks round at his colleagues.) But there are a few of us who recognise that as a civilisation, we are stagnant.
ASURAN FEMALE 1: We seek to continue our own evolution.
ASURAN FEMALE 2: To truly emulate the Ancients and their ultimate achievement.
TEYLA: Even though they betrayed you.
NIAM: They are our creators, and ascension is the final step to equalling them, to becoming one with them.
SHEPPARD: No offence, but ... how are a bunch of machines gonna do that?
ASURAN FEMALE 1: Are you so different?
SHEPPARD: Well, we're living, breathing people.
ASURAN FEMALE 2: Constructed from cells, consuming and burning energy, governed by electrical impulses ...
SHEPPARD: Hey, I didn't say I could ascend.
McKAY: Metaphysical debates aside, what do you want from us? We're not exactly ascension experts.
SHEPPARD: Although we do know killing people isn't the best way to get there.
NIAM: We realise this, and we have done much to repress our violent nature, but yet it still remains within us. We believe this, above all, is what has prevented us from ascending.
SHEPPARD: What are you looking for, therapy?
NIAM: We want to rewrite our base code to remove the directives for aggression.
McKAY (sceptically): Hmm.
DEX: What's stopping you?
NIAM: The Ancients put in place measures to prevent us from altering the code ourselves ... (he looks directly at Rodney) ... but you can do it.
NIAM: During our probe of your mind, we learned that you are capable of doing this.
McKAY: Oh, that's funny. All I remember is the torture.
DEX: And what's in it for us?
ASURAN FEMALE 2: We will stop the others from attacking Atlantis.
NIAM: And we will help you in your fight against the Wraith.
WEIR: And Oberoth will agree to this?
NIAM: I believe Oberoth is attacking Atlantis as a result of that programming. If we can prove to him it can be altered ...
SHEPPARD (cynically): ... you think he'll see the light.
McKAY (equally cynically): Hallelujah.
NIAM: I will do everything in my power to persuade him.
TEYLA: Why should we trust you?
NIAM: Because we are willing to trust you. By extending this offer, we are jeopardising our very existence. (He turns to face Elizabeth.) I saw in you compassion, Doctor Weir -- someone who could come to understand our plight. Help us, and we will help you.
SHEPPARD: When it comes right down to it, we don't have much of a choice.
LATER. CONTROL ROOM. Elizabeth, John, Ronon and Teyla are with the first Asuran woman. She looks at a wall screen, then turns to the team.
ASURAN FEMALE 1: We're drawing closer to Atlantis. Soon we will drop out of hyperspace.
(John walks a little distance away from the consoles and covertly activates his headset radio, not wanting to attract attention to himself from other Asurans in the Control Room.)
SHEPPARD (quietly): How's it coming, Rodney?
McKAY (over radio): Slowly.
SHEPPARD (quietly): What's the hold-up?
(Rodney and Niam are in a lab somewhere else in the city. Rodney indignantly straightens up from the console he was working on.)
McKAY: "What's the hold-up?"! Do you have any idea what I'm trying to do here?
SHEPPARD (quietly): Niam gave you access to the programme code, and you're screwing around with it.
McKAY (indignantly): Oh, that is so ... (he glances round at Niam, then admits the truth) ... it's relatively accurate.
SHEPPARD: Thank you.
McKAY: Still, we're not dealing with rock-‘em sock-‘em robots here. We are dealing with a complex code of over three billion chemical base sequences. It's like trying to reconfigure the D.N.A. double helix.
SHEPPARD (shrugging): OK, so, what -- five minutes?
McKAY (annoyed): It will be done when it is done ... (he looks back down to the console as he continues speaking) ... and you applying pressure is not gonna ... ooh!
(He has spotted something interesting on the screen.)
McKAY: Gotta go. McKay out.
SHEPPARD: Rodney, what's going on? (There's a click in his earpiece as Rodney deactivates his radio.) Rodney?
(There's no reply. John looks annoyed.)
LATER. GUEST QUARTERS. The others are waiting as the door opens and Rodney comes in.
SHEPPARD: Did you do it?
McKAY: Yes, yes, yes. I have removed the aggression directive from the base code. It is uploading to Niam as we speak -- but I discovered something else, nothing short of brilliant, I might add.
McKAY: OK, even though these Replicators are each separate, functioning beings, their basic command code is interconnected over a powerful subspace frequency. They have these periodic collective programme updates -- or "merges," they call them -- where they exchange new information.
WEIR: That's how Niam hopes to distribute the new code to the others.
McKAY: Exactly, but while I was working on it, I figured out a way to create a glitch that, on my command, should momentarily freeze them. (He smiles smugly.)
(Rodney's smile fades.)
McKAY: OK, will. I mean, dead in their tracks, like hitting the Pause button -- temporarily -- until they figure out how to override it. (He smiles.)
DEX: How long?
(Again, Rodney's smile fades.)
McKAY: Well, I don't know. That's why I said, "momentarily."
SHEPPARD: Days? Hours? Minutes?
McKAY: Well, look, it's minutes, but I don't know. That's what I was just saying to you!
SHEPPARD: Ten? Twenty?
McKAY: OK, fine. You want a number? Fine. Seven minutes and thirty-one seconds. Are you happy?
McKAY (annoyed): No.
SHEPPARD: That's not enough time.
McKAY: Look, you wanted a number.
SHEPPARD: A bigger number.
McKAY: Yeah, well, it may very well be longer.
SHEPPARD: Or shorter!
McKAY: Look, I don't know! Look, you're missing the point ...
WEIR (interrupting sternly): Gentlemen, focus, please. (John and Rodney both look sheepish.) Will that be enough time for us to escape?
SHEPPARD: It'll have to be.
DEX: Not much point in leaving without blowing this place up first.
WEIR: How do we do that?
(Ronon turns and nods his head towards Rodney. Elizabeth and Teyla turn and look at him as well. Rodney ignores them for a moment, pretending that he hasn't noticed, then looks up as if in surprise and raises a finger.)
McKAY: Oh, that's me. Right. Surprise, surprise. Look, why don't I just go on these missions by myself, hmm?
(He smiles bitterly at John, then has a lightbulb moment and goes into a finger-clicking routine with both hands.)
McKAY: I'll rig a ZedP.M. overload.
(Instantly he turns and runs out of the room. Teyla walks towards the door, then turns back to the others.)
TEYLA: What about Niam? Are we not exploiting his trust?
SHEPPARD: Even if he's able to honour his end of the deal, there's no guarantee he can stop Oberoth from attacking Atlantis.
WEIR: We will offer him the chance to come with us, but we cannot leave this city intact.
LATER. Rodney is sitting down and working on a small Ancient hand-held device. John walks up behind him and peers over his right shoulder.
SHEPPARD: Are you sure this'll work?
McKAY: Please. Of course it will work.
SHEPPARD: Why's it taking so long?
McKAY (looking up in irritation): Why do you always have to ...? Look, I need to properly calibrate the frequencies. I wanna make sure that when I freeze them, I freeze them all, OK?
SHEPPARD: All would be good.
McKAY: OK, will you just let me finish?
(John straightens up and turns away.)
McKAY: Thank you.
(He gets back to work on his device. Unnoticed by him, John turns back to him and leans over his left shoulder to peer at the device again.)
McKAY: OK. Here ... (he turns to look over his right shoulder, then pauses in irritation to see that John's not there any more. Realising where he is, he glances at him over his left shoulder.) Here we go: in five, four, three, two ...
(Outside the room, which has two guards standing either side of the door, Asurans are going about their everyday lives. All of them suddenly stop in their tracks. A moment later, the doors open and the team looks out cautiously.)
McKAY: Hey, it worked!
(He goes over to one of the immobilised guards and takes his weapon from its holster. Ronon takes the other guard's weapon.)
SHEPPARD: OK. We should move to the ZeeP.M. Room.
(Ronon aims his weapon to his left. John looks round and sees Niam walking down some steps nearby, staring at all his immobilised colleagues.)
SHEPPARD: Why isn't he frozen?
McKAY: His code's changed. Until he's distributed it to the others in the next merge, he'll be different than the rest of them.
NIAM: What happened?
(Just then, a white light briefly sweeps across the area.)
TEYLA: What was that?
SHEPPARD: I think we just dropped out of hyperspace.
DEX: We need to move.
(As the team moves off, Elizabeth walks across to Niam.)
WEIR: Come with us. I'll explain on the way.
Z.P.M. ROOM. The doors open and Rodney walks in. An Asuran technician, frozen in place, is sitting at a console. Rodney gestures at the technician as the rest of the team walks in.
McKAY: Uh, Ronon, I could use, uh ...
(Ronon puts his hand on the technician's shoulder and pushes him sideways. The man topples to the floor.)
McKAY (rolling his eyes): Thanks.
(As Rodney starts to work on the console, Niam walks over to the Z.P.M. console in the middle of the room, looks at the three Modules sticking up out of the top, then looks across to Elizabeth.)
NIAM: You want me to go with you?
WEIR: You must understand our situation. If you can't stop Oberoth ...
NIAM: I said I would do everything in my power.
WEIR: But can you promise that you will succeed?
(Niam shakes his head reluctantly.)
WEIR: Our lives, and the lives of all of our people, are at stake here.
McKAY: Look, you merge through a subspace connection. Even if you're with us, you should be able to spread the new code amongst the others.
WEIR: Come with us, Niam. Ascension is within your grasp. You can't turn back.
(Rodney looks up from his console.)
TEYLA: What is it?
McKAY: In order to do this, I need to utilise all three ZedP.Ms. I was hoping to bring at least one of them back with us.
SHEPPARD: Do what you can. We only have three minutes.
McKAY: Look, I already told you, it ... Never mind. (He looks at Niam and clicks his fingers at him.) I need an access code to remove the failsafes.
(Niam looks at Elizabeth for a moment, then turns and walks over to the console, bends down to it and enters the code before straightening up again.)
SHEPPARD: Now, how about our weapons?
NIAM: We can recover them on the way.
(He leads the team out of the room.)
SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. The team, now carrying their weapons again, runs through corridors filled with frozen Asurans. As they run around a corner, John raises his P90 at the sight of Oberoth standing just ahead of them and facing them.
McKAY (skidding to a halt at the sight of Oberoth): Woah!
(The team hesitates for a moment, then they realise that Oberoth is not moving.)
McKAY: Ha! (He walks forward towards him and smiles into his face.) Not so arrogant now, are you, hmm?
(Without warning, Oberoth reaches out and grabs Rodney around the throat with one hand.)
DEX (running towards him): McKay!
(Oberoth throws Rodney to one side and, at the same moment, backhands Ronon across the side of the face so hard with his other hand that Ronon is thrown across the floor. John and Teyla open fire both on Oberoth and the guards standing behind him. Their bodies are punctured with many bullet holes but they still can't move much apart from recoiling from the shots. Ronon rolls over onto his back on the floor and fires his blaster into Oberoth's back as John and Teyla continue to fire at his front. Ronon flips himself to his feet.)
SHEPPARD: Come on!
(The team races away, Ronon pausing to fire back at the Asurans, who still are unable to move from the spot. The team runs up some stairs.)
SHEPPARD: So much for seven and a half minutes.
McKAY: Hey, it was an arbitrary number!
(They run on and through a door. As the door closes behind them, John turns and fires a hail of bullets into the door-opening panel to stop anyone following them. The team turns to find a couple of guards -- now mobile again -- aiming their weapons at them but just then Teyla looks back at the closed door.)
TEYLA: Colonel Sheppard.
(Everyone looks back at the door. The middle of it is distorting as if it is melting. A shape starts to appear in the distorting area and as more of it pushes through, it takes on a human appearance. The shape slowly pushes itself through the door and then reforms to show that it's Oberoth. As he walks forward, Ronon uses the distraction to gun down one of the guards, then turns and fires at Oberoth. He recoils from the blast but doesn't fall.)
(The team races off.)
(In space, the city has arrived at Atlantis, and turns so that its base is aimed towards the planet, presumably in readiness to fire at the surface.)
(Inside the Asuran city, the team is running through the corridors.)
SHEPPARD: Ronon, set your gun to "kill."
(Ronon adjusts the setting on his blaster.)
DEX: It is.
(John runs to a doorway and peers around it.)
SHEPPARD (to Rodney): OK, start the overload.
McKAY: What? No-no-no-no. Not yet. We need to be in a Jumper or clear of the city, or ...
SHEPPARD: The Jumper Bay's not far. We're almost there.
McKAY: No-no, you don't understand. Look, I didn't want them to be able to stop it. Look, as soon as I trigger the overload, there'll be practically zero lag time before it blows.
McKAY: OK, fine, so like a few seconds for it to build up power, but not nearly enough ...
SHEPPARD: How many seconds?
McKAY: I don't know.
SHEPPARD: Well, five, ten?
McKAY: Again with the arbitrary numbers!
DEX (checking the corridor they've just run along): We need to move.
SHEPPARD: OK. (To Rodney) Start the overload. Now!
(He runs off. Elizabeth, Niam and Teyla follow him. Rodney takes his handheld device out of his jacket and types on it. Immediately the self-destruct alarm starts to sound all around the city.)
(The team races on.)
SHEPPARD: This way!
TEYLA (reacting to the sound of the alarm): What is that?
McKAY: The sound of the city about to blow! Move!
(They run on, John and Ronon taking it in turns to cover the team's retreat. Rodney arrives at a closed door and swipes his hand past the door-opening panel. The door opens and they run into the Jumper Bay, John and Ronon pausing in the doorway to fire back at approaching guards. They then turn and race into the nearest Jumper.)
SHEPPARD: Get the roof open, Rodney, or this is gonna be a short trip.
McKAY: Don't wait for me!
SHEPPARD: I'm just saying, if we can't get out of the Jumper Bay ...
McKAY: It doesn't matter. The overload's happening now. We're about to explode.
SHEPPARD: Is the roof open?
McKAY (typing on the co-pilot's console): Yes. Go.
(We switch to an exterior view of the city, the camera aiming down into the opening of the Jumper Bay. Below it, the city starts to explode. The camera pulls back from the city as more and more explosions go off, one of them enveloping the Bay. As the entire centre of the city disappears in a massive fireball, the Jumper races out of the flames and heads off into the sky.)
ATLANTIS. DUSK. A guard is strolling along an outside balcony. He looks up and stops, staring into the sky in puzzlement as a fireball appears in the darkness.
PUDDLE JUMPER. As John realises that they're clear of the blast, he sighs in relief. Rodney peers out of the windshield as the light from the explosion behind them fades, then turns around to look at the others. Ronon and Teyla are sitting in the seats behind him and John, while Elizabeth and Niam are standing just in front of the bulkhead doors.
WEIR: Nice work ... all of you. (She turns to Niam.) Thank you.
(Niam smiles at her, then his smile fades and he stares at the floor, tilting his head.)
WEIR: What's wrong?
(Niam tilts his head again.)
NIAM: Something is happening.
TEYLA: What is it?
(Niam tilts his head again.)
NIAM: The others on my planet. They know what I've done. (He looks at the others.) I'm being re-set.
WEIR: Rodney, do something!
(Rodney reaches into his jacket and takes out his handheld device.)
NIAM: It's too late. They're ...
(He turns and looks at Elizabeth for a moment, then reaches out and grabs her around the throat with both hands. Ronon jumps up and grabs one of his arms, trying to pull him away from her. Teyla runs round and pulls on his other arm as Elizabeth chokes. John jumps up and charges at Niam, knocking him to the floor in the rear compartment. As Ronon draws his blaster and aims it, John punches the button that closes the bulkhead doors.)
McKAY: That's not gonna hold him.
(John turns, thinking for a second, then races to the controls and slaps a button. In the rear compartment, Niam -- just getting up onto his hands and knees -- looks up in horror as the rear hatch blows out. A moment later, he is blown out into space.)
(In the front compartment, Elizabeth sits down, coughing, as Teyla tends to her. She nods reassuringly to Teyla as she continues to cough. Rodney sits down in the co-pilot's seat, his hand on her arm.)
McKAY: I'm so sorry. I had ... I didn't ...
(He trails off, lost for words. John, now back in the pilot's seat, looks round at Elizabeth.)
SHEPPARD: You OK?
(Elizabeth, still a little breathless but recovering, looks at him and nods.)
ATLANTIS. CONTROL ROOM. Rodney and Radek are both working on consoles. From the way that Radek has his chin propped on his fist with a bored expression on his face, they've been at it for some time. John comes in.
SHEPPARD: How's it going?
ZELENKA: Still nothing.
McKAY: Either the Ancients chose to purposefully conceal every record -- extremely well, I might add -- or they simply deleted them from the database. I'm leaning towards the latter.
ZELENKA: Perhaps they think they've truly destroyed them all.
SHEPPARD: Either that, or they didn't want anyone to know they had failed.
McKAY: Again. There is nothing more annoying than people that won't admit their own mistakes.
(Radek frowns, raises his head from his fist and looks round at him. Rodney doesn't notice, but John does.)
(He walks away and onto the exterior balcony, where Elizabeth is gazing up into a moonlit night sky.)
SHEPPARD: McKay and Zelenka are scouring the database for any information. So far, not much ... as in nothing.
WEIR: These Replicators ... they are probably already at work building themselves another Atlantis.
SHEPPARD: Now they know all about us.
WEIR: Well, we beat them this time. Maybe we scared them off.
SHEPPARD: Yeah ... maybe.
SPACE. Niam is floating in space, unmoving. As the camera pushes in on him, we see that he is awake and alert ... and gazing in the direction of Atlantis with hate and betrayal in his eyes.