Thar be spoilers belong, obviously.
We begin with… actually, we begin with a map that looks like it was drawn in Microsoft Paint, ostensibly showing a citadel, some foothills, channels, oodles of bridges, and weird little arrows labeled with stuff like “prevailing wind”, “initial attack”, “diverted attack”, “ambush”, and “smoke outfall” that apparently refer to actions later in the book. Foreshading, I guess you could say.
In the actual prologue, John Sheppard is admiring the weather and thinking about Robert Frost, and whether or not he (Sheppard, not Robert Frost) should go to another galaxy. Yes, this is that three-second shot from “Rising, Part 1”. As expected, Sheppard flips a coin…
Which segues into Ford flipping a coin in the Atlantis mess and winning a brownie from Stackhouse. Teyla, following in the honored tradition of People from Other Planets Having No Common Sense, wants to know what coin flipping means, and then everybody talks about coins and flipping for a couple of pages, except for Teyla, who has vanished into the wallpaper now that she’s asked her pertinent question. Some scientists show up and tell McKay that since the storm – ah, so that places us on the Atlantis timeline – the toilets haven’t been working. McKay eats Ford’s brownie and leaves.
Elizabeth’s office. She feels icky. Maybe that explains why, when Sheppard comes in, she actually says this:
“Actually, you’re just who I wanted to see. It occurred to me that I never thanked you for taking down Kolya. I’ve never had my life saved quite so… directly before.”
Now I’m pretty sure it’s not just my anti-Shweir tendencies that make me want to vomit at that a little. Who talks like that? Nobody. Characters don’t even talk like that. For the love of God, people, we’d already established that this takes place mid-first season. Just, just stop the pain, okay?
Unfortunately, Sheppard isn’t in the mood for squishy’s compliments. Elizabeth wonders if he’s grumpy cause he had to kill folks lately. There’s some yammering about the Genii invasion and possible ZPMs, and then some more yammering about why some Gates are in space and some aren’t, and then McKay barges in smelling like, um, crap. Sheppard makes fun of him. Squishy tells him not to.
Infirmary. Beckett is doctoring and McKay is bitching about getting his freshly Genii-sliced arm infected with sewage. He thinks that more people should be given the gene therapy so they can have toilets explode all over them more often. Elizabeth tells McKay that he’s going to go ZPM-hunting, which makes him happy. Elizabeth, on the other hand, still feels icky. I guess that means we can expect more stellar dialogue.
Ford is in the Jumper, looking at a planet.
“Almost three quarters of the blue green world was in daylight, while the rest was blanketed in a nighttime shadow.”
What the hell? Let me read that again.
Nope. Still doesn’t make any sense. Unless that the Pegasus Galaxy has special suns that cast special angled rays that can illuminate more than half of a sphere at one time. Good Lord.
This Gate is in space, meaning that the MALP they sent before the Jumper is just floating around. Sheppard bumps it back.
They scan for the ZPM, and Sheppard and McKay banter about how flying in space is different than flying in an atmosphere, and how Sheppard is a control Nazi who never lets McKay have any fun. Eventually they come across a native population mainly living inside and around a big, big structure Ford describes as a cross between a monastery and a castle surrounded by the Great Wall of China. I assume this is the citadel earlier foreshadowed. They wonder who it’s meant to defend against, since the Wraith seem to come by air more often than either land or sea. Then they realize that there’s a patchwork quilt of a EM field shield over the area, which McKay distains.
I should mention that when I say “they”, I’m mostly referring to the boys. So far, Teyla’s gotten a line per page, if she’s lucky.
Oh wait, I spoke too soon: Teyla notices a crashed Wraith dart on the ground, and is sad because she one day hopes to find a planet where the Wraith have never been. Actually, she puts it this way:
“Each time I travel through the Stargate to a place that I have not yet visited, I hold within me a seed of hope that we will find a world, just one, which the Wraith have not touched.”
Ugh. Well, I hold within me a seed of hope that I’m not going to puke all over my laptop.
It turns out that there are actually a bunch of Darts all over the place, all dead, so maybe their wall and their EM fields work after all. McKay wants to investigate. Teyla thinks that they should come through the front door and introduce themselves first, maybe arrange some trade for food, which oddly enough appears to be a novel concept to Rodney.
Sheppard wants to take a look around the planet before they land in a non-EM zone. Ford reflects that at the beginning he thought Sheppard was just a flyboy, but since the Genii thing all the Marines think he’s pretty hot stuff. Or an “experienced tactician”. No, I like “hot stuff” better.
They land and set out, noting that the people out and about seem to be hurrying for the walled city. Then the hurrying turns to running, and shouts about attacking, but the resident Wraith-detector doesn’t sense anything out of the ordinary.
They find a girl who’s broken a leg in the rush to safety, and stop to help. Deciding that perhaps this planet has a more sensitive early warning system, they acquiesce to the girl when she asks to be taken to the inn. The inn, she says, is where the Chosen will lead them to the safety of the citadel. Excuse me… Citadel.
But naturally it’s not that easy. People are milling around, screeching that the Chosen have forsaken us, and the Wraith are coming, and we’re all gonna die. And there’s a shadow passing across the sun, and it’s probably not Superman.
The End... for now