((45 second recap of "Rising," "Spoils of War," and "Vegas"))
It's a peaceful day on Atlantis, with clear skies and bright sunshine, and in the control room, the stargate has just connected to Earth. Woolsey has gathered his primary offworld team--Col. John Sheppard, Dr. Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagan, and Ronon Dex--as well as a few other notable personnel, to receive an important communique from home, but they are all a bit confused when an unfamiliar woman appears on the viewscreen instead of General Landry. This is civilian Dr. Danielle Talbot
, a diplomat on the payroll of the United Nations, and in light of last year's revelation of the Stargate Program (SG-1
: "Coming Clean"), she has been placed in charge of the the International Stargate Command to foster more global cooperation.
Smiling, Teyla mentions that it's nice to see someone in the mold of their lost friend Elizabeth Weir
being put in a position of authority, but Sheppard isn't sure that such an important post should just be taken away from the military. Nonetheless, this isn't the purpose of Talbot's call, and she gets straight down to business, new as she is at this job; as they may or may not be aware, Earth and the new Alliance of Great Races
have spent the better part of the past twelve months fighting off a resurgent Lucian Alliance
, an organization of surprisingly-organized pirates and smugglers, under the command of a cunning leader known only as Garrin
. But their offworld allies believe they've finally located his base of operations just beyond the edge of the Milky Way, and they're mobilizing just about everything they have available to strike at the heart of his operation and cripple him once and for all. In light of this, Atlantis will be on its own temporarily, and she wanted them to be aware of the situation.
Woolsey affirms that he understands how important this is, and promises to do his best to hold the fort while Earth handles its own problems. Talbot thanks him for understanding, and wishes the team the best of luck until they can speak again. With that, she cuts the connection, and the stargate deactivates... but apparently, people are still wondering what this means. McKay immediately voices his concerns over their own vulnerabilities, given that the Apollo
is still in the intergalactic void and the Daedalus
is undergoing emergency repairs after returning from a particularly-nasty confrontation with a Wraith culling fleet. Ronon thinks he's just exaggerating their problems, but everyone in the room grows quiet when the gate suddenly begins dialing again. At a loss, Chuck checks the logs for any scheduled arrivals, but finds none for at least another three hours. Mystified as to who could be paying them a visit, Woolsey orders the shield raised and has the defense team put on stand-by just in case they're needed.
Simultaneously, on some distant planet in Pegasus, a Wraith dart is streaking through the atmosphere, gunning its engines as it dives toward the active stargate below. In the cockpit, Todd
punches in the frequency for human radios and shouts who he is, begging the Atlanteans to let him in now, or else he won't have much longer to live. And sure enough, over three dozen darts come blasting through the cloud layer after him, peppering his fighter with plasma and threatening to blow him to pieces before he has a chance to explain further. Desperate, the ever-conniving alien insists that both his fate and that of humanity is at stake, and asks for sanctuary one last time before recklessly diving for the gate, assured of safety or not.
Back on Atlantis, Sheppard coolly suggests they just leave the shield up and listen to the nice sound of a bug hitting the windshield, so-to-speak, a sentiment Ronon gleefully echoes, but Teyla points out that there is real fear in Todd's voice, and that perhaps it would be in their best interests to hear him out. At once, John starts to say that this is a bad idea, but Woolsey has already taken the diplomatic approach, telling Chuck to lower their energy barrier but for the defense team to shoot on sight if there's any hint of aggression from their guest. Tapping his radio, he tells Todd to come on through.
There's a long pause while they wait to see what happens next, and then a dart comes crashing through the puddle, its front half completely blasted off as it skids across the floor, stopping just before the stairs. The cockpit bubble retracts, and a battered Todd practically screams for them to raise their shield at once. Woolsey confirms the order, and they get it up just in time to save themselves, as a few dozen thuds
quickly back up their newly arrived friend's claim that his life depended on them letting him in. Just as quickly, though, the defense team surrounds the crashed dart, keeping their guns trained on the Wraith inside as he slowly pulls himself out and is led down the stairs for transit to a cell. Just before disappearing down a hallway, though, he cranes his neck back to stare up at Sheppard and shouts that time is of the essence if he wants his people to survive the next few days, lending a final ominous tone to this seemingly-perfect day.
A short time later, Woolsey is leading Sheppard and Teyla down a hall to the cell where Todd is being held. He reminds John that they don't have the resources to help him with any big projects, and further reminds him that the last few times they've helped this particular Wraith, it's ended very badly for them ("First Contact"/"The Lost Tribe" and "Infection"). Sheppard counters by saying he brought Teyla for just this reason; she can use her latent abilities to connect with their old vampiric friend and ensure he's telling the truth, and if absolutely necessary, they can call in Ronon for pure intimidation factor. Richard assures him that won't be needed, but Teyla does admit it would certainly be fun to watch, if nothing else.
The trio turn a corner into the appropriate detention center, and find Todd pacing angrily in his cell, slamming his fists into the walls of energy around him and shouting at the nearby SFs to call down someone of importance. Grinning, Sheppard says that his wish is their command, and nods to the guards that they can take a break. Seemingly angry, Todd shouts that this is no time for joking and messing around, not when all of their lives are in jeopardy. Sighing, Woolsey asks what it is that was so urgent it couldn't have been communicated from a safe planet, and the annoyed Wraith replies that he had to come in person because he no longer has
any safe worlds to speak from. As the humans look on in surprise, he explains that his alliance of Queens has been co-opted out from under him, and even now, they're preparing their forces for something big.
Allowing himself a small laugh, Sheppard asks how he managed to screw this up so bad, especially after they practically secured his leadership for him ("The Queen"). Todd starts to claim that a rival faction discovered him and attacked, but Teyla holds up a hand, closing her eyes and saying that he's lying about something. The Wraith yells that he is being honest, but one agitated look from Woolsey has him backpedaling to what really happened; during their joint attack on Asuras a year ago ("Be All My Sins Remember'd"), he stole several zero-point modules from the Replicators, as he confessed to them shortly after. However, he lied about the exact number, and truthfully, he made off with over a dozen, six of which were lost in two separate attempts to restart the cloning of warriors for wars against his rivals. The remaining ones were put to work on a project of his own design, using Lantean technology to perfect that of the Wraith. And the single-greatest product of this was the reintroduction of a tactic his people used in their war against the Ancients ten-thousand years ago, when they tied captured ZPMs into the power grids of their hiveships to grow them into flying, impenetrable fortresses.
Stunned, Woolsey asks how many of these ships they were able to roll out in that war, and Todd nonchalantly explains that it was relatively easy once they figured out how to properly ambush Lantean fleets, but towards the end of the conflict, the Ancients employed a number of incredibly-destructive holding actions, wiping out their "superhives" and the ZPMs that powered them, leaving the Wraith with only their ordinary craft to engage in the final push to Lantea. That was largely what turned the war in their favor, as even the most-powerful weaponry was next to useless against the defenses of a hive ship with limitless energy at its disposal. Those vast fleets of indestructible death have been sorely missed since those days, but Todd's plan was to reintroduce them for his own purposes, allowing him to crush his enemies and any who challenged him without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, though, one of his more-brilliant scientists betrayed him, possessing a charisma that was able to sway many of his trusted underlings against him. When he took a dart out from the prototype superhive to pay a visit to one of his alliance's Queens, said underling made his move, and so he ended up in his current position as warlord-in-exile.
After Teyla confirms that everything he said is true, John says he's sorry that all this happened, but asks what, exactly, this has to do with them. After all, Wraith power squabbles aren't really a concern to the Expedition or its leaders back in the Milky Way. But then Todd drops the bombshell; this traitorous subordinate of his is rallying his alliance in Todd's name, with the superhive at its head, for a concerted assault on Earth
. In a fit of laughter, Sheppard just brushes it off, pointing out that the Wraith have no idea where their home galaxy is, let alone where in it the Atlanteans make their living. But the continued silence from within the cell slowly kills his merriment, and, pausing, he asks for verification that that's true. And now comes the second bombshell, and the reason this could truly be catastrophic; Todd hacked the Daedalus
's databank when he had it under his control ("The Lost Tribe"), and, among other things, downloaded the hyperspace coordinates of Earth
. The alliance has all the information they need to find and devastate the planet, and unless they move quickly, it'll be far too late to stop them.