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FADE IN:

INT. ARROWAY HOUSE - EVENING

We open on the upstairs of a two-story house, where we see a young girl talking into a radio transmitter.

YOUNG ELLIE

CQ, this is W9GFO. CQ, this is W9GFO here, come back. CQ, this is W9GFO here, come back. CQ, CQ, this is W9GFO, is anybody out there? (looks to her father) Itís not getting anything.

TED ARROWAY

Small moves Ellie, small moves.

YOUNG ELLIE

CQ, this is W9GFO here, come back.

RADIO OPEARATOR

Copy W9GFO. K4WLD here.

YOUNG ELLIE

What do I say?

TED ARROWAY

Just be yourself.

YOUNG ELLIE

Where are you K4WLD? Come back.

RADIO OPEARATOR

Pensacola, over.

YOUNG ELLIE

Pensacola? Whereís Pensacola?

TED ARROWAY

Iíll give you a hint... orange juice.

YOUNG ELLIE

Copy that K4WLD, howís the weather down there in Florida?

TED ARROWAY

Pensacola, Florida. I have to tell you sparks, 1116 miles. Thatís the farthest yet.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad, can we hear all the way to New York?

TED ARROWAY

Sure.

YOUNG ELLIE

Can we hear all the way to California?

TED ARROWAY

Absolutely.

YOUNG ELLIE

Can we hear all the way to Alaska?

TED ARROWAY

Yea, on a really clear day.

YOUNG ELLIE

Can we hear all the way to China?

TED ARROWAY

On a really, really clear day.

YOUNG ELLIE

Could we talk to the moon?

TED ARROWAY

Well, if it was a big enough radio, I donít see why not.

YOUNG ELLIE

Could you talk to Jupiter? Or whatís the one after that? Umm, donít tell me..

TED ARROWAY

Iíll give you hint... hoolahoops.

YOUNG ELLIE

Saturn! Can we talk to Saturn?

TED ARROWAY

Uh huh.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad, could we talk to Mom?

TED ARROWAY

I donít think even the biggest radio can reach that far.

TED ARROWAY

Alright, no more stalling.

YOUNG ELLIE

K. (holds up a picture she drew of a beach in Florida). Pensacola!

TED ARROWAY

Oh Ellie, thatís a beauty. Better get some sleep.

YOUNG ELLIE

Hey dad.

TED ARROWAY

Yea?

YOUNG ELLIE

Do you think thereís people on other planets?

TED ARROWAY

I donít know sparks, but I guess Iíd say, if it is just us, itís seems like an awful waste of space.

INT. ARROWAY HOUSE - NIGHT

That night, Ellie sneaks back into the room with the radio transmitter...

YOUNG ELLIE

CQ, CQ, CQ, this is W9GFO. Repeat, this is W9GFO, come back. CQ, this is W9GFO, come back. Iím gonna need a bigger antenna.

CUT TO:

EXT. ARECIBO TELESCOPE - DAY

FISHER

What do you think Doctor Arroway? Ainít she a beauty?

ELLIE

Itíll do.

FISHER

The village is five miles away. Thereís a general store in the cantina. They can pretty much order anything you need from San Wan.

ELLIE

When can I get some dish time?

FISHER

(laughs) Dr. Clark said you wouldnít be able to wait. Youíre first shift is up tonight.

ELLIE

Alright!

INT. ARECIBO CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT

Ellie is sitting in the dark, with a headset on. She removes the headset, and we can hear the static sheís listening to.

KENT CLARK

Go back.

ELLIE

What?

KENT CLARK

Try back a little, you had something there.

KENT CLARK

(Ellie moves the dial) There.

ELLIE

Right there?

KENT CLARK

Yea. Do you hear? Right there, yea, thatís it.

ELLIE

Yup. Itís by 1221.46. Thatís well in the L-band.

KENT CLARK

Check off axis.

ELLIE

Uh huh, on it. Umm, itís not in the neighbourhood. Ah, there it is. J1741 plus 2748. Cataloged November 4, 1982. Pulsar. (Sigh) Well, I donít know, it must have been a glitch in the timing that threw me.

KENT CLARK

I think itís great that you listen. Most people donít do that anymore.

ELLIE

Ah, itís just an old habit. You know, it makes it feel more real. (Putting out her hand) Ellie.

KENT CLARK

Kent, Kent Clark (puts his hand out, but misses Ellieís, we realize that heís blind)

ELLIE

Hi.

KENT CLARK

They said youíd been up at Owenís valley working under Drumlin. Howíd you like him? (after Ellie doesnít answer) That much? And about what Iíd expect after what he had to say about you.

ELLIE

What was that?

KENT CLARK

He said you were brilliant, driven, a major pain in the ass, and obsessed with a field of study that he considers tantamount to professional suicide.

Other scientistís enter the room, turn on the lights.

DR. THADIA

Yo, whatís up?

KENT CLARK

Umm, those were the highlights.

KENT CLARK

Dr. Thadia, Dr. Burman... Dr. Arroway (greetings all around) and I believe youíve already met our tireless research assistant, Mr. Fisher (who happens to be wearing a Cornell University Shirt).

ELLIE

Yup.

KENT CLARK

You canít miss his cologne.

FISHER

(laughs) hey!

KENT CLARK

Chris is looking at the Black hole at the center of M87. Eli is studying Marcarian 541, a major Gama-ray source, and Dr. Arroway here will be spending here precious telescope time listening for uh, listening for uh...

ELLIE

Little green men.

INT. ELLIEíS CABIN - NIGHT

ELLIE

(Sticking a thumbtack into a start chart) One down, couple of billion to go.

INT. CATINA - DAY

Ellie buys two packs of thumbtacks from the general store merchant. Then sits at a table and nurses a beer, when PALMER JOSS approaches.

PALMER

Arecibo, right?

ELLIE

Does it show?

PALMER

Yea. (opens up a box of crackerjacks, and offers some) Crackerjack?

ELLIE

No. Thanks.

PALMER

Mind if I sit down.

ELLIE

Sure.

PALMER

I hear the locals; they call it El-Radar. They think is has some dark military purpose.

ELLIE

I think weíre pretty harmless.

PALMER

(holds out his hand) Palmer Joss.

ELLIE

(shakes his hand) Ellie Arroway.

PALMER

Nice to meet you, Ellie. What are you studying up there?

ELLIE

Oh, the usual. Nebulae, quasars, pulsars, stuff like that. What are you writing?

PALMER

The usual. Nouns, adverbs, adjective here and there.

ELLIE

Iím working on a project called SETI.

PALMER

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence? Well, now that is out there.

ELLIE

Wait, are you a student or something?

PALMER

Iím a writer, Iím writing a book. Doing some research. Itís how technology affects third-world cultures. Iím also looking for this guy David Drumlin, heís the new head-honcho of the national science foundation; Iím trying to get an interview with him. I take it you know him?

ELLIE

Uh huh. You can say that.

PALMER

ííSETI, man. Thats fringe. Ive crossed paths with this guy before. I mean something like that must really chap his ass, huh? <fringe.mp3>

PALMER

(pulls the toy out of the crackerjacks box) Compass. For you El.

ELLIE

You better keep this. Might save your life some day.

PALMER

Will you go out with me tonight?

ELLIE

I donít make a very good research subject. Iím just not very quotable.

PALMER

No quotes, no quotes, scoutís honor. Just good meal, good company.

ELLIE

I gotta go. (gets up to leave), but Drumlinís coming in this Tuesday.

EXT. ARECIBO - DAY

A jeep pulls up with Drumlin in it. David gets out and is greeted by the team of scientists, except Ellie.

DAVID DRUMLIN

(getting up and stretching) Now I remember why I took that desk job. (greetings all around) How are you?

KENT CLARK

Glad you could make it David.

DAVID DRUMLIN

If I knew I was gonna take three planes, I might have reconsidered.

KENT CLARK

How is that new office?

Ellie comes running up the hill towards them.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Well, Iím still settling in. Of course there are... (Ellie arrives, out of breath) Ellie. Still waiting for ET to Call?

DAVID DRUMLIN

(turning to Kent, and walking away) Well, I understand weíre having a little reception tonight...

ELLIE

(calling after him) Good to see you too. (and under her breath) Asshole.

EXT. RECEPTION - NIGHT

ELLIE

Uh Oh. Look like itís gonna be a long night.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Science must first and foremost be accountable to the people who are paying for it, the tax payers. We need to stop wasting money on pie in the sky abstractions, and start spending it on practical, measurable ways to improve the lives of the people who are after all, footing the bill.

DR. Burman

Not unlike my L-band globular cluster experiment.

ELLIE

Wait. Youíre saying you want to do away with all pure research now?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Whatís wrong with science being practical? Even profitable?

PALMER

(emerging from the crowd) Nothing, as long as your motive is the search for truth. Which is exactly what the pursuit of science is.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Well thatís a rather interesting position coming from a man on a crusade against technology, Father Joss.

PALMER

Iím not against technology, doctor. Iím against the men who deify it at the expense of human truth.

DAVID DRUMLIN

(deciding not to further the conversation) Kent. Iíve been meaning to have a word with you. Over here please. (Mr. Fisher leads Kent off in another direction)

PALMER

(walking over to Ellie) I think that hurt my chances of that interview, what do you think?

ELLIE

Youíre a priest?

PALMER

No, not really. I got my masters in divinity, then I dropped out of seminary and went off to do some humanitarian work. Coordinating the efforts of the third world churches. Couldnít live with the whole celibacy thing. You can call me a man of the cloth... without the cloth.

ELLIE

Wanna get out of here?

EXT. ARECIBO TELESCOPE - HILLSIDE - TWILIGHT

ELLIE and JOSS sit under a tree on the hillside, looking out over the dish; the long hanging bridge to the aiming array dwindles into twilight. They lie back, looking up at the stars.

ELLIE

Alright, you see that large W-shaped constellation right there, thatís Cassiopeia. And Cassiopeia has itself a whole lot of radio signals; I actually listen to that one a lot. Itís a remnant of a supernova.

PALMER

When did you know you wanted to be an astronomer?

ELLIE

ííííWell, when I was about eight years old, I was watching the sunset, and I asked my dad, "whats that bright star over there", and he said that it wasnt really a start at all, but it was actually a whole planet called Venus. (pointing to the sky) Which should be over there soon. He said, "you know why they called it Venus? because they thought it was so beautiful and glowing. And what they didnt know is that it was filled with deadly gases and sulfuric acid rain", and I thought, "this is it, Im hooked". <venus.mp3>

íí

You know, there are four hundred billion stars out there, just in our galaxy alone. If only one out of a million of those had planets, and just of out of a million of those had life, and just one out of a million of those had intelligent life; there would be literally millions of civilizations out there.PALMERWell, if there wasnt, itd be an awful waste of space.ELLIEAmen. <billions.mp3>

INT. ELLIEíS CABIN - NIGHT

ELLIE and JOSS have spent the night together.

PALMER

... there I was just looking at the sky, then I felt something. I donít know. All I know is that I wasnít alone, and for the first time in my life I wasnít scared of nothing, not even dying. It was god.

ELLIE

And thereís no chance that you had this experience because some part of you needed to have it?

PALMER

Well, Iím a reasonable intelligent guy, but this... no not this. Not intellect; it couldnít even touch this, no.

ELLIE

I went to Sunday school a few times.

PALMER

(laughs) uh huh, and?

ELLIE

Well, I just kept asking all these really annoying questions like, where did Mrs. Cain come from? Pretty soon, they called my Dad, and asked him if he wouldnít mind just keeping me home form now on.

PALMER

Your Dad? Is that this guy? (pointing to a picture of Ellie and her father)

ELLIE

Yea.

PALMER

Youíre close to him, arenít you?

ELLIE

Yea, I was. He died when I was nine years old. I never got to know my mother.

PALMER

Iím sorry, thatís gotta be tough.

ELLIE

Yea.

PALMER

Being alone.

PALMER

What do you say we pack a picnic tomorrow and hike up to Mount Aricebo?

ELLIE

(getting up) I donít think I can, I gotta work.

PALMER

Alright, how Ďbout dinner then? Tomorrow night, I know a great place.

ELLIE

(laughs) No, I donít think so.

PALMER

Ellie, did I miss something?

ELLIE

Huh? No. Shit, Iím late. I told Kent that Iíd meet him at 10:30.

PALMER

You know, Iím not trying to push you.

ELLIE

No, no. Donít be silly. Iíve been wanting to look at this sector for weeks. Look, just hang around, sleep in, and thereís a bunch of food in the fridge, k?

PALMER

How can I reach you?

ELLIE

Oh, just leave your number, Iíll call you.

Ellie steps outside and looks up at the sky to see a shooting start. We FLASHBACK to the past, where a young Ellie is on an exterior balcony with two telescopes set up in front of her.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad. Itís starting, youíre gonna miss it.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad. Thereís another one, hurry up.

TED ARROWAY

In a minute Sparks, almost done.

YOUNG ELLIE

Oh thereís another one! Common, hurry up, Dad.

We hear a dish fall to the ground.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad?

She goes back inside

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad?

YOUNG ELLIE

Daddy?

Goes down a flight of stairs, and sees her father lying on the ground.

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad. (starts to cry, but gets a hold of herself). Dad? Dad! Iíll get the medicine.

Runs up the stairs to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and grabs his medication.

CUT TO:

EXT. FUNERAL - DAY

PRIEST

Ellie. I know its hard to understand this now, but we arenít always meant to know the reasons why things happen the way they do. Sometimes we just have to accept it as godís will.

YOUNG ELLIE

Should have kept some medicine in the downstairs bathroom, then I couldíve gotten to it sooner.

She goes into the house, and up to the radio transmitter.

YOUNG ELLIE

CQ. This is W9GFO, do you copy?

YOUNG ELLIE

Dad, itís Ellie, come back.

YOUNG ELLIE

This is Eleanor Arroway, transmitting on 14.2 Mhz. Dad, are you there? Come back. Dad, are you there? Dad, itís Ellie.

INT. ARECIBO OBSERVTORY - CONTROL ROOM - MORNING

Ellie is working, sees Kent outside, and goes to join him.

EXT. ARECIBO OBSERVATORY - DAY

KENT CLARK

Ellie.

ELLIE

Hey Kent, what are you doing up so early?

KENT CLARK

I was thinking, weíd make a pretty good team.

ELLIE

What?

KENT CLARK

We could put together a kick ass ad hoc SETI program.

ELLIE

What are you talking about?

KENT CLARK

You know the very large array in New Mexico? It would be a dynamite place to do some serious SETI work.

ELLIE

What are you talking about, Kent?

KENT CLARK

Drumlin pulled the plug. Weíre homeless.

Ellie speeds down a dirt road in her jeep towards where Drumlin is working.

ELLIE

Is it true? Huh, did you pull the plug?

DAVID DRUMLIN

I know you canít see it now, but Iím doing you a favour. Youíre far too promising a scientist to be wasting your gifts on this nonsense.

ELLIE

Look, I donít consider what could potentially be the most important discovery of the human race nonsense, ok? Thereís four hundred billion stars, and we have not even started!

DAVID DRUMLIN

There are only two possibilities. íííííííOne, there is intelligent life out there, but its so far away youll never contact it in your lifetime. And two, (she tries to cut him off, but he raises his voice), theres nothing out there but noble gases and carbon compounds, and youre wasting your time. In the meantime, you wont be published, you wont be taken seriously, and your career will be over before its begun. <drumlin.mp3>

ELLIE

So what?! Itís my life!

INT. CABIN - DAY

Ellie sees Jossís phone number and compass thumbtacked to a chart on her wall. She takes them down and places them on her night table. Ellie picks up the phone and makes a call.

ELLIE

Hey, Kent. You were right, screw Drumlin. Weíre gonna raise the money ourselves. Weíre going to New Mexico.

EXT. CABIN - RAINING - DAY

Ellie, Kent, and Fisher are all packing their things into a car.

KENT CLARK

...Chicagoís all set up, youíll call me and let me know how it goes. Oh, and Iíve got some more corporate stops set up on the East Coast for you. Hey, Fish. Did that private investor from Houston ever get back to us?

FISHER

Uh, Iím gonna hit him up a little later, in LA.

ELLIE

Try begging for some of that Hollywood money. Why not, theyíve been making money off aliens for years.

KENT CLARK

They say that begging is good for the soul.

ELLIE

Weíll see about that.

KENT CLARK

Just do me a favour. Try not to be too confrontational.

ELLIE

Huh, confrontational, me?! What are you mean? (laughs) Let me just see if I left anything.

Ellie looks at the paper with Jossí phone number that she left on her night table, and decides not to take it. The compass is nowhere to be seen, so apparently she took that.

INT. HADDEN INDUTRIES - CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

ELLIE

This is a unique time in our history, in the history of any civilization. Itís the moment of the acquisition of technology. Thatís the moment when contact becomes possible. The very large array in New Mexico is the key to our chances for success. With its 27 linked radio telescopes, we can search more accurately than any earth conventional facility. Now, weíve already gotten the preliminary approval to buy ourselves some time from the government. Now, all we need is the money.

EXECUTIVE

Nice Presentation, doctor. But while our foundation arm doesnít mandate to support experimental programs. We must confess that your proposal seems less like science and more like science fiction.

ELLIE

Science Fiction. ííííYou're right, its crazy. In fact, its even worse than that, its nuts. (slams her presentation books closed) You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an airplane, you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, its rediculous, right?! And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon? Atomic energy, or a mission to Mars? Science fiction, right? Look, all Im asking is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, <nutty.mp3>

ELLIE

Iím sorry. I just spent the last 13 months coming to places like this and talking to people like you, and the truth is, youíre my last chance, so Iím sorry I wasted your time.

EXECUTIVE

(Picks up the phone. Ellie makes to collect her things, but he calls after her.) Doctor.

EXECUTIVE

(Talks into the phone.) Yes sir. Yes sir. Yes sir.

EXECUTIVE

(Back to Ellie) You have your money.

ELLIE

(To executive) Thank you.

ELLIE

(To camera in corner of room) Thank you.

FOUR YEARS LATER

EXT. VLA - DAY

A childrenís size wading pool is set up and Willie is fishing in it.

WILLIE

Oh, perfect catch. common fishy. Oh Frank, look at the size of that son of a bitch.

Van pulls up. KENT gets out.

WILLIE

Welcome back Dr. C. Howíd it go? How was the trip?

KENT CLARK

Iíve had better.

INT. VLA - CONTROL ROOM

ELLIE

What is this, a personal vendetta?

KENT CLARK

Itís not just Drumlin, thereís been enormous pressure from other scientists as well.

ELLIE

It doesnít matter anyway, cause Hadden is funding us for another two years.

KENT CLARK

í

 

 

í

 

 

ííUmm, these are government owned telescopes, they can lease them to whomever they want, and they dont want the high priestess of the desert using them anymore.ELLIEWhat?KENT CLARKStaring at static on TV for hours at a time. Listening to washing machines. Did you really think these stories wouldnt get out?ELLIEI was looking for patterns in the chaos, common!KENT CLARKIt doesnt matter anymore. Were a joke to them. They want us out. <priestess.mp3> Weíve got three months until the paperwork goes through.

ELLIE

(Sigh) Fine, weíre still looking for other funding, Iíll just start writing...

KENT CLARK

Could you face reality please. Just this once, Ellie. We lost, itís over.

Ellie is standing in front of a sign that reads "Astronomy is looking up".

ELLIE

(Sigh) Alright. Iím not stopping. If I have to go it alone, Iíll go it alone, Iíve done it before.

Ellie leaves the room and slams the door behind her, and drives up to a canyon not too far from the array, to think.

INT. VLA - CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT

Fisher and Willie are on duty, they are watching Larry King on Television.

LARRY KING

My guest tonight is author and theologian Palmer Joss. Heís become a spiritual councilor of sorts and a recent fixture at the White House. Godís diplomat, according to the New York Times. His latest book, Loosing Faith is currently number on that publicationís best-seller list. Thanks for being with us Palmer. You have had quite a ride these last couple of years.

PALMER

I sure have Larry...

WILLIE

Yo, fish. I was thinking. Who would make the best astronomers? Think about it. Who has the perfect symmetry of career and lifestyle?

FISHER

I give.

WILLIE

Vampires! (turns around with fake vampire teeth and laughs)

LARRY KING

... are you anti-technology? Are you anti-science?

PALMER

No, not at all. The question Iím asking is, are we happier? As a human race, is the world fundamentally a better place because of science and technology? We shop at home, we surf the web, but at the same time, we feel emptier, lonelier, and more cut off from each other than at any other time in history... (gets drowned out by Pulses from outer space).

PALMER

... maybe itís because weíre looking for the meaning, well what is the meaning? We have mindless jobs, we take frantic vacations. Deficit finance trips to the mall to buy more things that we feel are gonna fill these holes in our lives. Is it any wonder that weíve lost our sense of direction?

EXT. VLA - BASE OF TELESCOPE - PRE-DAWN

Ellie wears a pair of headsets. We hear the SOUND of the COSMOS, the background wash of empty STATIC and a faint BEEPING, FADING IN and OUT of reception. Ellie slowly swims up to consciousness. After a moment her eyes open. She sits up...

ELLIE

Holy Shit!

She jumps back in her car and drives back to base.

ELLIE

(Yelling into a walky-talky) Right ascension, 18 hours 36 Minutes, 56.2 Seconds. Declination, left. 36 degrees 46 Minutes 56.2 Seconds.

INT. VLA - CONTROL ROOM - PRE-DAWN

ELLIE

(Over the radio) Confirm. Right ascension, 18 hours 36 Minutes, 56.2 Seconds. Hey, Is anyone awake in there? Iím moving the array. Confirm!

FISHER

Processing bogey.

ELLIE

Right ascension, 18 hours 36 Minutes, 56.2 Seconds. Declination, left. 36 hours 47 Minutes and 1 Second.

FISHER

Weíre on it.

ELLIE

Donít touch the dishes. Iím moving the rest of them now, and need you to confirm the coordinates

FISHER

Check the status of the array; Sheís doing all the dishes.

WILLIE

All systems nominal. (sees the pulses on screen) Hello.

FISHER

I need a full systems check!; coordinates confirmed, Willieís checking the system now.

ELLIE

Stay on top of the systems diagnostic. Check the record point offsets. I want you off axis on 27 the second we get there; and tell Willie to break out the Big Boy!

FISHER

Copy that. Willie is... what? Go, go Ellie.

ELLIE

I can here it on the headphones, so we gotta be sure about this.

FISHER

Give me another array status.

WILLIE

Her four are online, the rest are tracking in.

FISHER

(to Ellie) Your four are online, the rest are tracking in.

WILLIE

But thereís a bad drive on 16.

FISHER

(to Ellie) Your four are online, the rest are tracking in, but thereís a bad drive on 16, copy that? What do you want me to do about the source point?

ELLIE

Forget about it and hold the queue. Go get ready to set the target frequency to manual, the second weíre live, do you copy? I want you to go off axis on 27 the second weíre there, and leave the L-band frequency where it is. Stay on it, just donít let it get away. If you lose it, just scan the band, run every frequency you can think of.

ELLIE

(Running into to the Control Room) How you doing?

The array falls into place at the same time.

ELLIE

Talk to me guys.

FISHER

Linearly polarized, set of moving pulses, Amplitude Modulated.

WILLIE

Weíre locked. Systems check out. Signal across the board, whatís the frequency?

ELLIE

4.4623 GHz. Hydrogen times Pi. Told ya.

FISHER

Strong sucker too.

WILLIE

I got it, I got it, I got it, Iím patched in!

ELLIE

Alright, let me hear it.

Pulses are played through the stereo (Big Boy) <message.mp3>

ELLIE

Listen to that. Make me a liar, Fish.

FISHER

Uh, could be AWACS out of Kirtland jamming us, but Iím stumped.

ELLIE

Alright, letís see if FUDDís reading it too.

ELLIE

Willie, patch it back and give me the off-axis. Are we recording?

FISHER

Never stopped.

ELLIE

(Kissing computer monitor) Thank you Elmer.

FISHER

AWACS status is negative.

ELLIE

How about White Sands?

FISHER

On this frequency? No.

ELLIE

Iím gonna punch up the charts. Howís the sky guys? Common. Alright.

FISHER

Floridaís not tracking any spoofs on this vector. Shuttle Endeavorís in sleep mode.

WILLIE

Ok. Point source confirmed. Whatever it is, it ainít local.

ELLIE

Position?

WILLIE

I checked the interferometry. Somewhere in Lyra I think.

ELLIE

Um, Vega?

FISHER

Canít be, itís only 26 Light-years away.

ELLIE

Adjust the peak intensity.

FISHER

On it.

ELLIE

Vega? Vega. Canít be, Iíve watched it many times at Aricebo. It was negative results, always.

FISHER

Guys. Iím reading over a hundred janskys.

WILLIE

Jesus. I can pick that up on my...

The pulses stop and we hear background static.

ELLIE

No.

Two pulses.

ELLIE

Come on.

Three pulses.

ELLIE

Alright. Itís restarting. Wait a minute, these are numbers. That was three, the one before it was two. Um, base 10 numbers, just start counting now and see what you can get.

Five Pulses.

WILLIE

Five.

Seven Pulses.

ELLIE

Those are primes 2, 3, 5, 7. Those are all prime numbers, there is no way itís a natural phenomenon.

WILLIE

Holy shit.

ELLIE

I know, I know, just calm down, and focus the stockpile on Vega.

FISHER

It doesnít make any sense, the system is too new. So it canít have a planetary system, let alone life.

ELLIE

Well, maybe they didnít grow up there, maybe theyíre just visiting, I donít know.

FISHER

Ok, so a spacecraft? No, this system is full of debris, it would get clobbered.

WILLIE

Well, not if they used their laser blasters and photon torpedoes (laughs).

FISHER

Thatís not funny, Willie.

WILLIE

Well, how else would you explain it?

ELLIE

Willieís right. If we go public with this, and weíre wrong, thatís it; itís over, weíre cooked. God, I wish Kent was here.

WILLIE

Whatever the signal is, we better do something soon, Vegaís gonna set.

Ellie goes on a conference call with IAN BRODERICK in Australia.

IAN BRODERICK

Deposition is confirmed. Weíve got 4.4623 Ghz. Confirmed, weíve got 112 janskys.

ELLIE

Alright, do you have a source location yet?

IAN BRODERICK

We put it right smack in the middle, Vega.

ELLIE

Ok, thanks Ian. Just keep tracking and weíll get back to you.

IAN BRODERICK

Yea, right-O.

FISHER

Ok, 101. The pulse sequenced through every prime number between 2 and 101.

WILLIE

Who we gonna call now?

ELLIE

Everybody.

EXT. VLA - DAY

The next day, the VLA is swamped with news people.

NEWS REPORT 1

Rumours are a fly, the implications extraordinary. This morning, detection of an unidentified radio source from deep space can neither be confirmed, nor denied...

NEWS REPORT 2

... living outside of our solar system. Again, there is no confirmation that an official...

MICHAEL KITZ steps off a helicopter.

KITZ

I want all these people out of here.

INT. VLA CONTROL CENTER - DAY

FISHER

...twice the stations worldwide now confirming the signal. Vega is currently below our horizon, so what youíre hearing is the signal from the original recording.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Letís get the decryption people in here. Lunacharskyís visiting at Cal-Tech.

KITZ

Explain this to me. If the source of the signal is so sophisticated, why the remedial math?

SENATOR

Exactly, why donít they just speak English?

ELLIE

Well, maybe because 70% of the planet speaks other languages. Mathematics is the only truly universal language, Senator. Itís no coincidence that theyíre using primes.

KITZ

I donít get it.

ELLIE

Prime number. That would be integers that are only divisible by themselves and 1. Well, we think that this may be a beacon. Some kind of announcement to get our attention.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Well, if its attention you want, I think you got that. One thing, Vega. People have been looking at Vega for years, no results, and now yesterday they start broadcasting primes, why?

ELLIE

Well, itís hardly yesterday, because the signal has been transmitting for 26 years.

KITZ

Doctor Arroway?

ELLIE

Excuse me, who are you?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ellie, this is Michael Kitz, national security advisor.

KITZ

Doctor, let me first say that your reputation...

ELLIE

Actually, first could you ask the gentlemen with the firearms to wait outside? This is supposed to be a civilian facility.

The soldiers leave the room.

KITZ

Doctor, with all due respect, your scientific knowledge...

ELLIE

(Kent walks in) Excuse me. (she goes over to him) Hey, hey. Hi. Iím so glad youíre back. Come on, I have something for you to hear.

KENT CLARK

Who are all these people?

ELLIE

I have no idea. Sit down, and we could use some help with the spectrum analysis, ok?

KENT CLARK

Oh god, listen to that. Iíll get right on it.

ELLIE

Iíll get you a headset.

KITZ

So Iíll get right to the point, shall I? Your having sent this announcement all over the world may well constitute a breach of national security.

ELLIE

This isn't a person-to-person call. You canít possibly think that a civilization sending this kind of message would intend it just for Americans.

KITZ

I'm saying you might have consulted us; obviously, the contents of this message could be extremely sensitive.

ELLIE

You want to classify prime numbers?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Um, Mike, please. Because of the Earthís rotation, weíre only in line with Vega so many hours a day. And the only way to completely monitor the signal is to get the cooperation of other nations. If doctor Arroway hadnít acted quickly, we could have lost key elements.

Kent is turning up the volume on the stereo.

KITZ

Ok, so they got the primes; but if youíre right about there being a more significant transmission still...

ELLIE

Weíve asked everyone whoís helping to receive it, to decode it

KITZ

Doctor, do you understand my job?

KENT CLARK

Shhh. You hear that?

ELLIE

I hear it.

KITZ

Hear what?

ELLIE

Harmonics?

KENT CLARK

Bingo. Retune to 8.9247 Ghz. Thereís a lot more here folks.

ELLIE

Alright Fish, letís get on the negative side band.

FISHER

On it.

KITZ

What is going on?

ELLIE

Weíre tracking the signal at double the frequency, it looks like... somebody get a TV monitor.

ELLIE

Alright, patch the recording into this processor.

FISHER

You want the new data?

ELLIE

Yea, the new frequency, the one we just recorded.

FISHER

Alright.

KITZ

David, would you explain this to me please.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Along with the primes thereís another signal, looks like a TV transmission.

WILLIE

Weíre on.

ELLIE

Alright, do me a favour, go get the blinds. It has a lot of glare.

FISHER

Youíre patched in.

ELLIE

Itís definitely an image. Try to stabilize it. What do you make if this, Fish?

FISHER

Itís almost like thereís two different interlaced frames. Frame one.

ELLIE

Nah, itís just noise.

FISHER

Trying frame two.

WILLIE

Uh, Iíve got an offset carrier here, I think itís audio.

ELLIE

Plug it in, plug it in.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Center that segment.

FISHER

Centering.

ELLIE

Can you clear it up anymore Fish?

FISHER

Iím working on it.

KITZ

What the hell?

ELLIE

Try zooming out.

FISHER

What is that?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Reverse values.

ELLIE

Try zooming out again.

ELLIE

Rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Oh my god.

Video of Hitler.

KITZ

O-Kay.

KENT CLARK

Uh, Whatís going on?

WILLIE

Youíre not gonna believe this.

ELLIE

Does Anybody speak German?

KENT CLARK

Umm, I declare the games in Berlin, at the celebration of the first Olympics of the new era, as open.

INT. WHITE HOUSE - DAY

CONSTANTINE

Twenty million people died defeating that son of a bitch and heís our first ambassador to outer space?

ELLIE

Actually...

DAVID DRUMLIN

(Cutting Ellie off) The broadcast of the Ď36 Olympics was the first television transmission of any power that went into space. The fact that they recorded it, and sent it back, is simply their way of saying hello, we heard you.

KITZ

Or saying, "Hi, youíre our kind of people."

ELLIE

Wait a minute. Hitler and his politics have nothing to do with this. Itís highly unlikely that they would understand what they were looking at. People have to understand...

CONSTANTINE

The people are in very good hands, doctor Arroway. Weíll take it from here.

NEWS REPORT

The White House has just released a statement confirming that a message of unknown origin emanating from deep space has been received by American scientists. Clair Shipman is at the White House.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN

...Weíve just been told that the president will have only a few brief remarks about todayís extraordinary announcement, and that he wonít be taking any questions from the press.

BILL CLINTON

Good Afternoon. Iím glad to be joined by my science and technology advisor. This is the product of years of exploration, by some of the worldís most distinguished scientists. Like all discoveries, this one will and should continue to be reviewed, examined, and scrutinized. It must be confirmed by other scientists. But clearly, the fact that something of this magnitude is being explored, is another...

INT. VLA CONTRON ROOM - DAY

Everyone is watching the presidentís speech.

WILLIE

What is this story? I thought Ellie was supposed to be on.

KENT CLARK

Uh, Uh guys. You know those interlaced frames we thought were noise? Iím getting structure.

BILL CLINTON

...If this discovery is confirmed. It would surely be one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered. Itís implications are as far reaching and awe inspiring as can be imagined. Even as it promises answers to some of our oldest questions, it poses still others even more fundamental. We will continue to listen closely to what is has to say. As we continue the search for the answers, and for knowledge that is as old as humanity itself, but essential to our peopleís future. Thank you.

The president is bombarded by reporterís questions as he leaves the room.

CONSTANTINE

(On camera) ... the message was received Friday morning at 6:31 am mountain standard time. It was largely mathematical, and despite the reports that you may have seen to the contrary, appears to be completely benign in nature. Let me say that again; the message is completely benign. The president has been in touch with heads of state from around the world, and every possible security measure is being taken. To better explain to you the events of the last 48 hours, Iím turning you over to the leader of the scientific team that made this remarkable discovery (Ellie begins to walk toward the podium), Doctor David Drumlin, special science advisor to the president.

DAVID DRUMLIN

(On camera) Thank you Rachel. Hello. In 1936 a very faint television signal transmitted the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games as a show of German superior technology. That signal left Earth at the speed of light and 26 years later arrived in the vicinity of the star we call Vega. That signal has been sent back to us hugely amplified. An unmistakable sign of intelligence. Now...

Ellie gets a page. She leaves the room, sets up her laptop, and calls Kent.

ELLIE

Youíre on line Kent, go ahead.

KENT CLARK

The Adolf transmission used 25 frames per seconds, but weíre receiving 50 frames per second...

ELLIE

Uh huh.

KENT CLARK

...So we put the other 25 through a series of search algorithms, to see if there was anything else. We found a series of markers on the top of each frame, are you ready?

ELLIE

Uh, yea, go ahead.

KENT CLARK

Ok, send it Willie. Ok, here it comes.

Ellie receives the picture.

KENT CLARK

Itís digital, massive amounts of data, which extend right to the higher harmonics.

ELLIE

Jackpot!

INT. WHITE HOUSE - CABINET ROOM - DAY

ELLIE

Alright, as youíll see, interlaced with the frames of the original Hitler image, we found these sections. Now we thought they were just noise, but theyíre actually data, huge amounts of it. And when we combine this, with the data from the amplification of the original signal, we get these encrypted pages of text. Now, no two are alike, and weíve uncovered over 10 000 already.

CONSTANTINE

What does it mean, doctor?

ELLIE

Well, we have no idea. It could be anything. It could be the first volume of an encyclopedia Galactica...

KITZ

...Instructions to acquaint us with their colonization procedures.

DAVID DRUMLIN

...Maybe a few billion new commandments.

CONSTANTINE

How long will it take to decode it?

ELLIE

It could take forever, we really need a primer, uh...

DAVID DRUMLIN

(Cutting off Ellie) We need to get the best decryption people we have. I intend to use the VLA as my command post, in the meantime, my office has made up a preliminary budget.

ELLIE

Wait a minute. This is a privately funded operation. Weíre only leasing this time from the government.

KITZ

Doctor, if thereís a precedent case in this domain, Iíve never seen it. Iím going to recommend to the president that we militarize this project immediately.

ELLIE

What?! This is my project! I mean nobody knows more about these scenarios than I do, David, tell them how many years...

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ellie, Iím sorry.

CONSTANTINE

Can we calm down here? Now, Iím going to recommend that Dr. Drumlin administer and coordinate the decryption effort. However, in light of Dr. Arrowayís long experience in these matters, for the time being, she will continue to direct operations at the VLA. With the express understanding that any future discoveries will be kept in the strictest of confidence, until such time as the president can decide the most suitable course of action. Understood?

Every television station is talking about the message...

JAY LENO

So it turns out thereís life on other planets, boy this is really gonna change the Miss Universe contest, donít you think...

NEWS REPORT

Health officials from around the world are concerned that the message from Vega might trigger a rash of mass suicides not unlike the recent cult deaths near San Diego.

NEWS REPORT 2

...even a scientist has to admit that there are some pretty serious religious overtones to all this.

NEWS REPORT 3

...letís hear from someone whoís organization has been accused of conducting itís own inquisitions in recent days. Richard Rank, head of the conservative coalition.

RICHARD RANK

Thank you. This is yet another example of science intruding into matters of faith. Now...

JAY LENO

... a TV signal that was sent off in the 1930s, theyíre just getting it. Imagine how disappointed theyíre gonna turn out to be if theyíre Cubs fans.

NEWS REPORT 4

... we now go to the very large array in New Mexico.

REPORTER

Like a bolt from the blue it came. What is being called the message from Vega has caused thousands of believers and non-believers to descend upon the VLA facility here in the remote desert of New Mexico. Many have come to protest, many to pray, but most to come to participate in what has become the best show in town.

EXT. VLA - AERIAL SHOT - DAY

Campfires, BBQs, tents of all shapes and sizes litter the plains surrounding the telescope array in all directions. A huge banner in the distance reads "There are Aliens Among us." Lines for the porta-potties a quarter mile long. Woodstock, 2001. Songs such as "Flying Purple People Eater" can be heard. Elvis impersonators with signs reading "Viva Las Vega" can be seen. Hot Air Balloons that say "Vega or Bust".

People dressed in green with tin foil antennae on their heads, people trying to hear the message themselves through their RCA digital TV dishes. Neo-Nazies with signs saying, "Hitler Lives!". even a choir singing "Hail to Vega".

EXT. VLA ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS ACTION

As the convoy is slowed by the crush of people we become aware of a crowd concentrated around a young man speaking on a small jerrybuilt platform; JOSEPH. As he speaks he doesn't come off at all like a fanatic -- in fact he seems quite rational, persuasive in his passion. His amplified voice rings out:

JOSEPH

...but they have failed. Itís the same people who have again and again brought us to the brink of destruction. Who polluted our air, poisoned our waters. Now these scientists have had their chance. Are these the kind of people you want talking to your God for you?

CROWD

No!

NEWS REPORT

Efforts continue around the clock, but for now, almost two full weeks after the messageís arrival, scientists here at the VLA still have no answers. Only more questions. Jeremy Ross, CNN, Socorro, New Mexico.

NEWS ANCHOR PERSON

More on the quest for the messageís meaning after this...

ELLIE

Weíve gotta align them somehow.

DECRYPTION EXPERT

But this one doesnít fit either. Weíve tried over a billion permutations.

LUNACHARSKY

Curious, I could only get 3 quarters to fit. I donít understand the significance.

Ellie gets home. Her computer is flashing that she has E-mail. She sees that it's in Real time. She starts the Chat and sees the message, "Take me to your leader."

ELLIE

(Typing) Who are you?

The response is "Iíve got a secret", and then a picture of one of the pages.

ELLIE

Huh, what? Somebody broke in.

ELLIE

(Typing) WHO ARE YOU?

The phone rings. She picks up.

ELLIE

Hello. Listen, I donít know who you are, but you broke into the database, and Iím... what? Now? Where?

A fax comes in... showing her a location and an arrow saying, "meet me here".

ELLIE

Iíll be there.

EXT. HADDENíS AIR CRAFT - NIGHT.

GUARD

You should feel fortunate, he rarely lands for anyone.

Ellie goes inside. Walks through the halls to...

INT. HADDENíS OFFICE - NIGHT

HADDEN

Dr. Arroway, I presume.

ELLIE

Mr. Hadden.

HADDEN

Iíve had my eye on you a long time. I consider you one of my most valuable long term investments, and when it comes to my investments, I always do my homework.

He starts up a video sequence on a wall monitor.

HADDEN

Eleanor Ann Arroway, born 25th August 1964 in DePere, Wisconsin. Mother, Joanna, died from complications during child birth. Early testing indicated high pre-disposition towards science and mathematics. Father, Theodore, advised to provide enrichment activities along these lines, did so conscientiously until his death by myocardial infarction November 10, 1974.

You graduated from high school in 1979, almost two full years early. Rewarded full scholarship, MIT, graduated magna cum lauda. Doctoral work, Cal-Tech, where you did breakthrough work on the lansamine built ruby maser, dramatically increasing the sensitivity of radio telescopes.

Subsequently, offered a teaching position at Harvard University, which you turned down, to pursue SETI work at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico. Changes in NSF policy gave rise to certain funding problems, at which point you came to my attention.

ELLIE

You compromised our security codes.

HADDEN

Once upon a time, I was a hell of an engineer, please sit Doctor. I have visitors so rarely, itís important to me that they feel welcome in my home.

ELLIE

You live here?

HADDEN

I find it convenient to keep my interests mobile. Anyway, Iíve had my fill of life on the ground.

ELLIE

Well, I guess I should thank you for bailing me out all that time.

HADDEN

I know a good bet when I see one. (hands her a tea) Earl Grey, no sugar, no milk, I believe.

ELLIE

What am I doing here?

HADDEN

(laughs) The powers that be have been very busy lately, clawing over each other to position themselves for the game of the millenium. Maybe I can help deal you back in.

ELLIE

I didnít realize that was out.

HADDEN

Well, maybe not out, but certainly being handed your hat. Iíve had a long time to make enemies, doctor. So many governments, business interests, even religious leaders that would like to see me depart this Earth. Iíll grant them their wish soon enough, but before I do, I wish to make a small contribution, a final gesture of good will to the people of this little planet who have given me... from whom I have taken so much.

ELLIE

You found the primer.

HADDEN

Clever girl. Lights.

Another video appears on the wall monitor.

HADDEN

Pages and pages of data. Over 63 thousand in all, and on the parameter of each...

ELLIE

...alignment symbols, a registration marks, but they donít line up.

HADDEN

Ahh, but they do. If you think like a Vegan. An alien intelligence is going to be more advanced. That means efficiency functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions.

The video reflects this by combining three pages in 3 dimensions... they match up.

ELLIE

Yes! Of course. Whereís the primer?

HADDEN

Youíll see. Every three dimensional page contains a piece of the primer, there it was all the time, staring you in the face. Buried within the message itself, is the key...

INT. WHITE HOUSE - CABINET ROOM - DAY

ELLIE

...to decoding it. Within the layering of the matrix, we have these basic equations. So with this very elementary foundation, they have given us a kind of general scientific vocabulary. We now have the symbols for true and false...

DAVID DRUMLIN

(Cutting Ellie off) ...This was the key, to put it simply, that allowed us to decipher their language for physics, geometry, chemistry, next frame Ellie.

ELLIE

Yes, and when we apply this to the rest of the message, we find this...

KITZ

Those look like engineering schematics, almost like blueprints.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Yea

ELLIE

Yes, It is our belief that the message contains instructions for building something. Some kind of machine.

CONSTANTINE

A machine? That does what, doctor?

ELLIE

Well, we donít know. It might be some type of advanced communication device, or it could be a teaching machine of some kind, or it might... turn out to be some kind of a transport.

KITZ

Transport?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Thereís no proof of that.

KITZ

The fact is, you donít know what it does. It could be anything. It could be a Trojan horse. We build it and out pours the entire Vegan army.

MILITARY GENERAL

Why bother even risking the personnel. It could be a weapon

MILITARY GENERAL 2

Right, some kind of doomsday machine.

KITZ

Exactly, every time they detect a new civilization, they fax down these construction documents from outer space. We poor saps build... whatever this thing is, and blow ourselves to kingdom come.

ELLIE

Thereís no reason to believe that their intentions are hostile.

KITZ

Why is it always the default position of the eggheads that aliens would always be benign, why is that?

ELLIE

We pose no threat to them. It would like us going out of our way to destroy a few microbes on some ant hill in Africa.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Interesting analogy. And how guilty would we feel if we went and destroyed a few microbes on an ant hill in Africa?

KITZ

I hope youíre right, doctor. I really do. But right now, my job is to protect American lives from any plausible threat, and in that regard I am obligated to assume the worst.

RICHARD RANK

Well, yes, and Iím forced to agree with you. My problem is this; The content of that message is morally ambiguous at best. Now our internal numbers show that support for this is incredibly soft, so if the president wishes to stay this course, I guarantee youíre gonna find his numbers going south like a duck in winter.

ELLIE

This is nuts.

RICHARD RANK

Excuse me miss, we know nothing of these creatures' values. The fact of the matter is we donít even know whether they believe in god.

ELLIE

Now this doesnít make any sense, I mean if you were to ask...

CONSTANTINE

Excuse me Dr, Arroway, we wonít be suppressing any opinions here today.

ELLIE

No, of course not, itís just that the message was written in the language of science. Now, if it had been religious in nature, it should have taken on the form of burning bush, or a big booming voice from the sky...

Joss walk in.

PALMER

But a voice from the sky is exactly what you found, Dr. Arroway. Iím sorry Iím late, maíam. Now, I agree with Mr. Rank that there are unavoidable religious implications at stake here, but that doesnít justify taking an alarmistís position. My hope here is that we can find a common ground, break through any obstacles that may have kept us apart.

KITZ

Right well perhaps we can just...

ELLIE

Yea, and I need to make a point...

RICHARD RANK

...our organization will not be qualified to bang heads with flowery, new age rhetoric from...

CONSTANTINE

Mr. President.

The president walks in, everyone stands up...

NEWS REPORT

The president met with his top advisors today regarding the latest efforts to decode the message. While there has been reports of some progress, the official line remains a cautious one.

DAVID DRUMLIN

If youíre asking me when weíll find out what the purpose of that machine is, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe never.

ELLIE

Here he is, the man with his finger on the spiritual pulse of a nation, huh?

PALMER

Itís so good to see you Ellie.

ELLIE

You too.

PALMER

Your discovering all of this, it must be a real vindication. Iím really happy for you.

ELLIE

Are you ?

CONSTANTINE

Mr. Joss, the presidentís waiting.

ELLIE

(laughs) The presidentís waiting.

PALMER

Ellie, see you at the reception tonight?

ELLIE

Uh, yea, I wouldnít miss it.

PALMER

Alright, good.

ELLIE

Excuse me, Miss Constantine, may I speak to you.

CONSTANTINE

Certainly.

ELLIE

I have a big problem.

CONSTANTINE

Yes?

ELLIE

Do you know where I can find, like a really great dress.

Ellie arrives at the reception, where there is a crowd of protestors. People are chanting, praise God. She sees Joseph again.

INT. RECEPTION - NIGHT

PALMER

Wow. You look beautiful Ellie.

ELLIE

So do you.

PALMER

Wow, you really do.

ELLIE

I read your book.

PALMER

Here we go.

ELLIE

Would you like me to quote you? Ironically, the thing people are most hungry for, meaning, is the one thing that science hasnít been able to give them.

PALMER

Yea, yea.

ELLIE

Come on. Itís like youíre saying that science killed God. What if science simply revealed that he never existed in the first place.

PALMER

I think weíre gonna need to get some air.

ELLIE

What?

PALMER

And a few more of these (taking two glasses of champagne)

EXT. RECEPTION - NIGHT

ELLIE

Whew, itís a little chilly out here.

PALMER

Yea, this is nice.

ELLIE

Hey, Iíve got one for you.

PALMER

What have you got?

ELLIE

Occam's Razor, you ever heard of it?

PALMER

Hackemís Razor, sounds like some slasher movie.

ELLIE

No, Occam's Razor, itís a basic scientific principle. And it says, all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

PALMER

Make sense to me.

ELLIE

Alright. So whatís more likely (Joss puts his jacket around Ellie), thank you...

PALMER

Youíre welcome.

ELLIE

...An all powerful and mysterious God created the Universe, and then decided not to give any proof of his existence, or that he simply doesnít exist at all, and that we created him so that we didnít have to feel so small and alone?

PALMER

I donít know. I couldnít imagine living in a world where God didnít exist. I wouldnít want to.

ELLIE

How do you know your not deluding yourself? As for me, Iíd need proof.

PALMER

Proof. Did you love your father?

ELLIE

Huh?

PALMER

Your Dad, did you love him?

ELLIE

Yes, very much.

PALMER

Prove it.

Just then they both get a page.

ELLIE

Kent.

PALMER

The White House.

They go back inside, and someone calls Joss away.

DAVID DRUMLIN

... I donít want excuses, whoeverís responsible, I want their head on a platter, ok?

ELLIE

What happened?

DAVID DRUMLIN

You were right all along.

NEWS REPORT

The decryption team here at the VLA has been working around the clock, and all the hard work has finally paid off. This key section uncovered tonight, and obtained exclusively by CNN, shows an illustration of what is unmistakenly a human figure inside a geometric structure of some kind. This and other contextual clues, now lead scientists to believe that the message is in fact...

PALMER

The presidentís just called a meeting.

NEWS REPORT

... device designed to take a single human occupant into space. Presumably to the star named Vega.

Ellie is waiting for the meeting to finish. When the door opens, everyone floods out. Ellie walks towards Joss.

KITZ

Damn, I missed my mother's birthday party, could you get her on the phone for me?

ELLIE

(To Joss) Tell me.

PALMER

Theyíre gonna build it.

ELLIE

Who gets to go?

PALMER

The presidentís just called it international to spread the risk and construction cost.

ELLIE

Who gets to go?

PALMER

Well, itís complicated Ellie.

ELLIE

What?

PALMER

Theyíve formed a group of international candidates. Now, it was your discovery, and they understand that. Youíre at the top of a very short list. But theyíre also putting together a formal selection committee, itís made of scholars, theologians, scientists, philosophers...

ELLIE

Youíre on it?

PALMER

Iíve been asked, yes.

ELLIE

I guess that means that youíre a selector and Iím a selectee, and we canít...

PALMER

Yea, but what you donít understand Ellie is...

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ellie, I want you to know that whatever happens as far as Iím concerned... well, good luck.

ELLIE

Well, whatever you do, just make sure he doesnít monopolize the committee.

PALMER

Heís not on the committee Ellie.

ELLIE

What?

PALMER

He just resigned as science advisor, he wants to be the one to go.

And the media goes crazy again...

NEWS REPORT

The president is already beginning to feel the financial pitch. Consortium sources say the cost of the project is spiraling to more a third of a trillion dollars. Making this, what may be the most expensive single project in all of human history.

NEWS REPORT 2

Meanwhile, months of debate finally reached a conclusion of sorts last week as ten international candidates were selected by the IMC, representing a cross section of political, philosophical and religious figures. Many of these scientists are the same experts who have been consulting on the machineís design and function. As such, they will be actively participating on site during the construction process. The choice of these ten candidates has not been without controversy. Nearly one third the candidates are American. Many international observers are asking why?

CONSTANTINE

(Being interview) The US is shouldering an enormous percentage of the financial burden.

REPORTER

But Isnít it true though a lot of the large contractors, like Hadden Industries are actually making those contributions in exchange for technology rights.

CONSTANTINE

Different nations are being compensated in different ways. For example...

NEWS REPORT

Japan made headlines last month when it announced it would forego candidate representation in exchange for the lucrative systems integration sub contract.

LARRY KING

On what basis do you choose a human being to represent humanity?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Good question Larry...

ELLIE

Yes, well, if nothing else, they should be someone whoís fluent in the language that the message was given in, science in this case.

REPORTER

Dr. Arroway, despite your obvious enthusiasm, thereís been a lot of criticism of late that this whole endeavour is simply too dangerous. Some of that criticism from scientists. One noble prize winner recently noted his words, "There is every indication that this is simply beyond our capabilities. That this endeavour will fail, and that the machines occupant will pay for that failure with their life." How do you respond to something like that?

ELLIE

Well, this message is from a civilization that may be anywhere from hundreds to millions and millions of years ahead of us. I have to believe that an intelligence that advanced knows what theyíre doing. All it requires on our part is...

REPORTER

Faith?

ELLIE

I was going to say a sense of adventure.

NEWS REPORT

And in other news, Major John Rusell, a former astronaut considered to be the leading American candidate for the machine seat, has unexpectedly dropped out of the running. Rusell met with reporters this afternoon as his Houston home.

JOHNíS SON (Robert Zemekisí son in real life)

(On camera) I told my dad that I didnít want him to go.

JOHNíS DAUGHTER

Daddy, donít go.

JOHN RUSELL

Nothing would give me more pride than to represent my country, but what can I say to this?

NEWS REPORT

Consortium officials have no comment, but sources within the American delegation have disclosed that Dr. Arroway appears to be the front runner for the machine seat.

EXT. WASHINGTON PARK - DAY

ELLIE

"Meet me at noon, must talk". I wasnít expecting any messages from you.

PALMER

Thanks for coming.

ELLIE

So is this kosher? Fraternizing with the enemy? Selectors and selectees mingling around (laughs).

PALMER

Can we talk about Einstein?

ELLIE

Yea, sure, ok.

PALMER

Special relativity. This machine, now if it works and you travel to Vega at even close to the speed of light when you come back...

ELLIE

...if you come back.

PALMER

If you come back, you will only be 4 years older, but over 50 years will have passed here on Earth, and everybody that you care about will be gone, dead and buried.

ELLIE

If you came back, if you survived it all, which is... look Palmer, no oneís saying that this isnít dangerous, alright. I - The rest of the candidates and myself we fully understand the implications, the risks that weíre taking.

PALMER

Why?

ELLIE

Because itís a historic opportunity, because the world needs...

PALMER

You, Ellie, you. You personally. I mean by doing this youíre willing to give your life to it, youíre willing to die for it... why?

ELLIE

For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for something, some reason why we're here -- what are we doing here, who are we? If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer, I donít know, I think it's worth a human life, don't you?

PALMER

Youíre an incredibly brave Woman, Ellie.

ELLIE

Incredibly Nuts.

They kiss, and then just hold each other.

ELLIE

Palmer, Iím confused.

PALMER

So am I.

INT. IMC BUILDING -DAY

FRENCH REPRESENTATIVE

I think I speak for us all when I thank you for your patience. Myself, I have one final question Dr. Arroway. If you should meet these Vegans and were permitted only one question to ask of them. What would it be?

ELLIE

Well I suppose it would be, umm, how did you do it, how did you evolve, how did you survive this technological adolescence without destroying yourself. That more than any other question is the one that I would personally like to have answered.

And in an office somewhere watching whatís happening.

CONSTANTINE

Not too bad, Mike.

KITZ

Eh.

Back at IMC.

CHAIRWOMAN

I join Dr. Bergeron in expressing thanks for your patience Dr. Arroway. Weíve all been more than impressed with your candor and your stamina. I believe we are ready to move on to your final statement.

PALMER

Madame Chairman, I have one more question.

CHAIRWOMAN

Yes Mr. Joss.

PALMER

Dr. Arroway. Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

ELLIE

I donít really understand the point of the question. I consider myself a moral person.

CHAIRWOMAN

Iím sure we all agree that is the case, but I think what Mr. Joss is in fact asking is...

PALMER

Do you believe in God, Dr. Arroway?

ELLIE

As a scientist I rely on imperical evidence, and in this matter, I donít believe that there is data either way.

CHAIRWOMAN

So your answer would in fact be that you donít believe in God?

ELLIE

I - I just donít understand the relevance of the question.

ENGLISH REPRESENTATIVE

Dr. Arroway, 95% of the worldís population believes in a supreme being in one form or another. I believe that makes the question more than relevant.

CHAIRWOMAN

Dr. Arroway?

ELLIE

I believe um, I believe Iíve already answered that question.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Iím proud of what weíve achieved as a species, and as a civilization. I would hate to see all we stand for, all that we have fought for, for a thousand generations, all that God has blessed us with, betrayed in the final hour because we chose to send a representative who did not put our most cherished beliefs first. Thank you.

INT. ELLIEíS ROOM - NIGHT

Ellie is packing her bags. Thereís a knock on the door. Ellie opens it. She sees its Joss and goes back to her packing.

ELLIE

Why did you do it?

PALMER

Our job was to select someone to speak for everybody. I just couldnít in good conscience vote for a person who doesnít believe in God. Someone who honestly thinks the other 95% of us suffer from some form of mass delusion.

ELLIE

I told the truth up there and Drumlin told you exactly what you wanted to hear.

She retrieves the crackerjack compass from her bags. She gives it back to Joss.

EXT. CAPE CANAVERAL - DAY

DAVID DRUMLIN

With full humility and utmost gratitude I accept this great honor, and I promise I will do my best to represent my nation, my planet, and my God on this historic journey. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

NEWS REPORT

Thereís a carnival atmosphere here at Cape Canaveral. As the International Machine Consortium holds as much a media event as a systems test. David Drumlin is supervising the on-site portion of the test. We spoke to him earlier today.

DAVID DRUMLIN

(on camera) Weíll be able to monitor the stresses and effects using the robot passenger who we loving call Elmer.

Ellie pulls up in a car.

REPORTER

Dr. Arroway, we would like to ask you a few questions as soon as youíre done with Dr. Drumlin.

DAVID DRUMLIN

...there will be a substantial amount of energy generated at the core. Weíll be able to monitor the stresses and effects using the robot passenger who we loving call Elmer.

ON SITE WORKER

Sir, theyíre ready for you at the site.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Uh, ya. Just a minute.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ellie.

ELLIE

Congratulations David.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Glad you could come. I didnít expect to see you here.

ELLIE

Well, Iím still crew ops at the control center, and I suppose the fact that I discovered the message means that I have PR value.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Of course. Ellie, I know you must think this is all really unfair. Maybe thatís an understatement. What you donít know is that I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the final line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we donít live in that world.

ELLIE

Funny; Iíve always believe that the world is what we make of it.

ON SITE WORKER

Excuse me, Dr. Drumlin, sir.

ELLIE

Good luck on the tests.

INT. CAPE CANAVERAL - CONTROL ROOM - DAY - MAIN MONITOR

The alien, spherical pod rests on a complex drop mechanism that in turn hangs from an overhead track. The track extends out along the long gantry arm that hangs over the top of the machine's three immense concentric rings.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Test director, everything looks good up here, weíre ready to go.

DIRECTOR

Alright people, I want things double and triple checked here. We only get one shot at this, letís get it right.

DIRECTOR

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are ready to start up. For all controllers, I need a go/no go for test initiation. Mechanical?

MECHANICAL

Go.

DIRECTOR

Electrical?

ELECTRICAL

Go.

DIRECTOR

Dynamics?

DYNAMICS

Go.

DIRECTOR

Communications?

COMMUNICATIONS

Go.

DIRECTOR

Life Support Systems?

LIFE SUPPORT

Go.

DIRECTOR

Safety?

SAFETY

Go.

DIRECTOR

Crew Ops? Verify all pretest procedures are complete.

ELLIE

Yes, verified, am go.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ground leader, weíre looking good here, everything ok with you?

GROUND LEADER

Roger, the pad is a go.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Test initiation on my mark. 5...4...3...2...1...mark. System?

SYSTEM

Rings are unlocked. Power levels indicate a good start.

Rings start spinning. <ring.mp3>

NEWS REPORT

... and we have begun the full scale test of Earthís first system built by the sharing of knowledge with a neighbour in our Universe.

SYSTEM 1

Power sources are going up to bust.

SYSTEM 2

IPV Power transfer complete.

SYSTEM 3

Ring motion detected on Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

DIRECTOR

Jerry. How we looking?

JERRY (Ground Director)

Looks good. Weíre underway.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Looks like we have a normal start up.

DIRECTOR

Roger. David, Itís looking good here.

DIRECTOR

Mechanical, we still happy?

MECHANICAL

Roger that.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Iíll tell you, this is very exiting from up here.

SYSTEM

Weíve got 4%.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Weíre confirming, 4%

SYSTEM

Frequency, niner point eight five. Dynamics in the green. Queue level one point one. 5%

DIRECTOR

Confirm, we are at 5%. David howís it looking to you?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Ok, Iím gonna take a look and show you what weíve got.

SYSTEM

All test subject instrumentation looks good.

SYSTEM 2

Confirmed. We have a good picture from Dr. Drumlinís PRD.

DAVID DRUMLIN

I hope you guys can see what Iím seeing.

SYSTEM

All systems are go.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Now this is really something.

NEWS REPORT

For the purpose of this test, Dr. Drumlin will on top of the gantry frame thatís over the machine. Weíve got some video animation to show you just this machine, it is thought, will work. The passenger pod will be released, itíll come down to the center of the rings, and into the machineís core.

The big question everyone here is asking is of course, what happens then? Some believe that the ringsí function as some sort of an accelerator or something, sending its energy into this passenger pod making it rocket away at near the speed of light. Other people believe it might open up doorway to some other dimension. Whoís right? Thatís what todayís test is all about.

SYSTEM

35%... 40%

SYSTEM 2

Weíre ready

SYSTEM 3

Confirm, 40%

DIRECTOR

All controllers stand by to initiate drop sequence, on my mark.

SYSTEM

All systems ready for drop sequence.

SYSTEM 2

45%

SYSTEM 3

Weíre ready at 45%

DAVID DRUMLIN

Can Verify closure.

SYSTEM

46%

DIRECTOR

All controllers stand ready to initiate IPV drop sequence, on my mark.

SYSTEM

49%

DAVID DRUMLIN

System Director, Iím feeling a very strange vibration, are you reading it down there?

DIRECTOR

Jerry, can you confirm any vibration out of place?

JERRY

Negative, everything looks good here.

DIRECTOR

Crew Ops?

ELLIE

Nothing wrong with Elmer.

DIRECTOR

David, weíre not seeing anything abnormal here.

DAVID DRUMLIN

No good, hold the sequence, Iím gonna take a direct reading.

DIRECTOR

What the hellís he talking about?

SYSTEM

Can anyone say Grand standing?

SYSTEM 2

He sure knows heís on TV.

SYSTEM 3

Back home, thatís what we call an overcooked ham.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Whatís your reading on the G levels?

SYSTEM

G levels are right on.

DYNAMICS

Director, we just reconfirmed all readings. Weíre go.

DIRECTOR

Copy that dynamics. I think weíre ok, but weíll let him finish. Mechanical you still ok?

MECHANICAL

Roger that...

ELLIE

(whoís been moving one of the cameras and sees Joseph on the gantry) Weíve got a security problem here.

DIRECTOR

Ellie, are you sure?

ELLIE

Yea, this guy, he shouldnít be there, I know him.

DIRECTOR

Jerry, execute the rapid shut down sequence...

ELLIE

Get me Drumlin on a secure loop please.

SYSTEM

You got it.

ELLIE

David, can you hear me?

DAVID DRUMLIN

Yes, I hear you.

ELLIE

Weíve got a security breach here. Right behind you, the tall guy, the technician, see him? Heís not supposed to be there. David, heís got something in his hand.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Him. Stop him, security breach.

ON SITE WORKER

A bomb, heís got a bomb.

DAVID DRUMLIN

Heís on the gantry now

ON SITE WORKER 2

Security. Stage one alert.

ON SITE WORKER 3

Oh my god!

Joseph sets off the bomb, the monitors go blank one at a time. And the machine gets destroyed in a spectacular explosion. Pieces of it go flying in all directions.

DIRECTOR

Alright, alright, back to your stations. I need you to be professional people, settle down.

NEWS REPORT

...today, which David Drumlin, advisor to two presidents and winner of the national academy of scienceís lifetime award of excellence, was laid to rest at Arlington national cemetery. And in the latest story, last night...

VLA CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT

Ellie has returned to the VLA. She is watching the news report on a TV in the control room. There is someone on duty there.

PERSON ON DUTY

Can I help you? Oh, youíre... Iíve got some mail for you.

NEWS REPORT

... a video. The apparent suicide note of the leader of the terrorist group, now believed responsible for the explosion in Florida this week.

JOSEPH

(on video) What we do, we do for the goodness of all mankind. This wonít be understood, not now, but the apocalypse to come will vindicate our faith.

Ellie walks over to the stereo system and listens to the message at the original frequency.

KENT CLARK

Welcome home. She goes to Kent and hugs him.

INT. ELLIEíS ROOM - NIGHT

Her room has a bunch of strange equipment scattered around. Thereís a note that says, "hit any key". She does, and everything comes to life, specifically a screen where she sees a cosmonaut floating around. The Cosmonaut talks to someone in Russian and then...

COSMONAUT

Oh, Comrad Arroway, we have been expecting your call. Um, one moment please.

Ellie sees S. R. Hadden peeling a banana in zero G.

ELLIE

Mr. Hadden?

HADDEN

Doctor. How kind of you to call.

ELLIE

Mr. Hadden, where are you?

HADDEN

The Russian government was kind enough to give me accommodations on Mir.

ELLIE

Youíre living on a space station?

HADDEN

Its quite simple really; the low oxygen, zero gravity environment is the only thing keeping the cancer from eating me alive. Actually, I quite like it up here. My little room has one hell of a view. I wanna show you something (hits some buttons on a keypad, we see a satellite image of an island). Hokkaido Island.

ELLIE

The systems integration site.

HADDEN

Look closer (hits more buttons, image zooms further in on the island).

 

 

First rule in government spending, why build one when you can have two at twice the price. Only, this one can be kept secret. Controlled by Americans, built by the Japanese sub contractors, who also happen to be recently acquired, wholly owned subsidiaries of...ELLIE AND HADDEN...Hadden Industries.HADDENThey still want an American to go, doctor. Wanna take a ride? <wanna.mp3>

INT. HOKKAIDO STATION - DAY

EQUIPMENT PERSON

... and augmenting our restraint in communications consort sub systems, we have your personal recording unit. Normal, infrared and Ultraviolet lenses. Digital microchip, good for thousands of hours of recording.

ELLIE

Ok, I understand the reason for recording and documenting the mission, I just want to go on record one more time; the transmitted specs never said anything about a chair or a restraining harness or survival gear. Why canít we just trust the original...

SUPERVISOR

Because the IMC board and the SI team carefully reviewed the matter and concluded that design impact is negligible. Bottom line is we are not putting anyone aboard this machine unless there is some sort of minimal protection. Minimal protection, end of story.

ELLIE

Ok.

SUPERVISOR

(Handing her a tablet of cyanide) Ellie, weíve been giving these to the astronauts since the beginning of the space program, itís never been made public, of course. Itís fast and its painless.

ELLIE

Iím gonna travel 26 light years to commit suicide?

SUPERVISOR

Something may go wrong, there might be an unforeseen mechanical failure, you could be marooned, unable to return. There are a thousand reasons we can think of for you to have this with you, but mostly its for the reasons we canít think of.

INT. ELLIEíS ROOM ON HOKKAIDO - NIGHT

Thereís a knock at the door.

ELLIE

Come in.

GUARD

Dr. Arroway, time to get ready.

ELLIE

Thank you.

Joss appears at the door.

PALMER

I know you donít have much time, as soon as I found out about the machine I called the President. I came with Kitz. I had to see you one more time. Oh God, Iím sorry.

ELLIE

Itís ok. Iím glad you came.

PALMER

Listen, thereís something I gotta say to you. The reason I didnít want you to go, was a good reason, but it wasnít the real one. I didnít want you to go, because I donít want to lose you. (handing her back the compass) You find your way home, alright?

NEWS REPORT

...23 hours ago, the world was stunned by announcement of the existence of a second machine, and its passenger, Eleanor Ann Arroway. Now, the question thatís on everyoneís mind, will history repeat itself? With a piece of engineering this complex, with so many unknowns, could the unthinkable occur? The security in Hokkaido has been incredibly tight. No reporters whatsoever have been allowed near the site.

INT. MACHINE GANTRY - NIGHT

Ellie is escorted across the gantry by two Japanese guards. We hear the rings spinning, and are aware of Ellieís breathing. She is magnetically attached to the chair in the IPV.

SYSTEM

Magnetic restraints secure, all life support functions are normal.

DIRECTOR

Roger that. Ellie this is control, do you copy?

ELLIE

Ellie to control. Reading you five by five.

DIRECTOR

Comm one, get me on the PRD.

ELLIE

Video unit recording, transmitting. Are you reading me?

DIRECTOR

Thatís affirmative. Video looks good.

ELLIE

Copy that, control.

DIRECTOR

Ok, Ellie, weíre going to proceed to button you up.

ELLIE

Roger control, ready.

The walkway begins to retract, and the door begins to slide into place.

ELLIE

I can confirm the walkway retraction.

DIRECTOR

Communications?

COMMUNICATIONS

Go.

DIRECTOR

Life Support?

LIFE SUPPORT

Go.

DIRECTOR

Ellie, we are go for closure.

ELLIE

Iím go here.

DIRECTOR

Mechanical, initiate IPV closure sequence.

Joss and Kent come into the room.

KENT CLARK

Nice to smell you again, Mr. Kitz.

KITZ

You too.

KENT CLARK

(To Joss) I wouldnít peg him as a polo man.

ELLIE

Got a visual on the door.

DIRECTOR

Door is looking good.

ELLIE

Door alignment looks good.

The door closes, the seams around it disappear.

DIRECTOR

Ellie, we are showing green across the board.

ELLIE

Roger that control. IPV is secure.

SYSTEM

We are at 30%

ELLIE

Copy that, 30%

KENT CLARK

How you doing in there, El?

ELLIE

Kent? Is that you?

KENT CLARK

Thatís a big affirmative.

ELLIE

Well, who let you in there, huh?

KENT CLARK

A higher power intervened. (Joss and Kent exchange glances)

ELLIE

Well, Iím glad you came.

SYSTEM

35%

ELLIE

Copy that, 35%

SYSTEM

40%

ELLIE

Iím picking up a moderate vibration here.

DIRECTOR

Dynamics, can you confirm vibration?

DYNAMICS

Everything looks good here. Sheís feeling the same thing they felt at the Cape at this point.

DIRECTOR

Ellie, the vibration is normal.

SYSTEM

Weíre at 50%, all systems go.

ELLIE

Copy that, 50%.

ELLIE

Vibrations getting a little stronger now.

SYSTEM

Weíre picking up some low frequency noise.

DIRECTOR

Mechanical, can you confirm?

MECHANICAL

Looks fine to me.

DIRECTOR

Roger. Jerry what do you think?

JERRY

I say go.

DIRECTOR

People, we are still go.

ELLIE

Somethingís happening... Thereís a light, do you see that? Iím seeing something, I canít tell whether its daylight or not, its... there it is again, its coming from the bottom... Here, let me show it to you, do you see that?

DIRECTOR

Negative. Ellie, youíre breaking up. Comm one, can we boost her signal?

COMM ONE

Already at maximum.

ELLIE

The material is changing. Its bordering on translucent. But the systemís intact. Its gotta be some kind of electro-magnetic field. Are you reading this?

DIRECTOR

Negative, weíre seeing only interference.

ELLIE

Itís becoming completely translucent, I canít describe it, I canít even explain it.

SYSTEM

70%

DIRECTOR

People, weíve got intermittent comm, but we are still go. Initiate secondary drive systems.

SYSTEM

Initiating auxiliary booster sequence... Weíre go for ignition... We have auxiliary booster ignition.

Two rockets fire off one of the rings.

DIRECTOR

Life support, howís she doing?

LIFE SUPPORT

Heart and respiration within limits, sheís ok.

DIRECTOR

Ellie, do you copy?

ELLIE

If you can hear me, Iím ok to go.

SYSTEM

80%. All vibrations and T-levels are in the green.

ELLIE

Control, are you reading me? I am ok to go... ok to go.

SYSTEM

85%

SYSTEM

90%. Weíre detecting some structural instability.

DIRECTOR

Confirm, howís she holding?

LIFE SUPPORT

Weíre within limits, barely.

ELLIE

Iím ok to go. Iím ok to go.

A huge ball of energy erupts in the center of the machine.

DIRECTOR

My God!

ELLIE

Ok to go, Iím ok.

SYSTEM

100%; target velocity.

JERRY

Steve, weíre picking up tremendously high levels around the machine, all field measurements are pegged off scale high... Steve, weíre approaching our abort limits.

The Director is about to push the abort button...

ELLIE

Ok to go.

KENT CLARK

I hear her, I hear her! Barely, but sheís there.

ELLIE

Ok to go.

KENT CLARK

She says sheís ok to go.

JERRY

Steve, weíre real close.

DIRECTOR

Electrical, whatís your reading in the core?

ELECTRICAL

The internal environment looks normal. Inside the core, the weather is beautiful.

ELLIE

Ok to go, ok to go, ok to go.

DIRECTOR

Initiate drop sequence... on my mark. 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...

ELLIE

Ok to go...

The IPV Drops into the core and Ellie starts falling though a tunnel of sorts.

ELLIE

Oh God!!! Ellie to control, do you read me? Iím gonna try to keep recording. Iím going through some kind of tunnel. Thereís a light source ahead, brilliant, blue/white...

The IPV Emerges from the tunnel.

ELLIE

Itís a star. I must have gone through a wormhole. Itís Vega.

Ellie sees the radio telescopes that were used to send the message to Earth, but then the IPV gets pulled into another wormhole.

ELLIE

Iím in another wormhole now, a series of them. Some kind of transit system...

The IPV Emerges from the wormhole.

ELLIE

Ok, Iíve gotta keep talking.

She looks out the IPV.

ELLIE

A triple, no, quadruple system. Oh, itís beautiful.

She sees a spaceport on the planet below her.

ELLIE

Theyíre alive.

The IPV gets pulled into another wormhole. Sheís experiencing massive amounts of turbulence.

ELLIE

Another wormhole. This one has more turbulence.

She lets go of the compass in her hand. She notices that itís floating in zero G, and unbuckles herself from the chair and begins floating. The chair shakes itself loose, and then all is silent until she emerges from the wormhole and the chair is pulled up to the top of the IPV. All is dark. Ellie turns on a flashlight.

ELLIE

Some celestial event. No - No words. No words to describe it. They shouldíve sent a poet. So beautiful, So beautiful... I had no idea.

Her words are echoed as she passes out. She wakes up on a celestial beach that looks a little like the picture of Pensacola she drew when she was young. She reaches out and her hands brushes against something invisible that makes a sound. She touches somewhere else, a different sound. She continues to do this, making beautiful music, until she sees something in the distance... her father.

TED ARROWAY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

íí

í

í

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ííí

 

 

 

 

 

 

ííííí

 

 

 

 

 

 

í

í

íHiya Sparks.ELLIEDad?She gives him a hug. TED ARROWAYI missed you.ELLIEI missed you (crying).TED ARROWAYOh, Im sorry I couldnt be there for you sweetheart.ELLIEYoure not real. None of this is real.TED ARROWAYThats my scientist.ELLIEWhen I was unconscious, you downloaded my thoughts, my memories, even Pensacola.TED ARROWAYWe thought this might make things easier for you.ELLIEWhy did you contact us?TED ARROWAYYou contacted us. We were just listening.ELLIEThen there are others?TED ARROWAYMany others.ELLIEThey <pensacola.mp3>

She takes one last look at the sky and the stars, and then... the IPV drops into the net at the bottom of the machine.

DIRECTOR

Sheís though!

SYSTEM

Sheís in the net!

KITZ

Sheís alive, get a medical team over there right away...

DIRECTOR

Ellie, Ellie, this control do you copy?

DIRECTOR

Ellie, just hold tight, weíre still trying to determine the nature of the malfunction, but the important thing is youíre ok.

ELLIE

What?

DIRECTOR

Itís ok Ellie, the important thing is that youíre safe.

ELLIE

What malfunction? Where am I? What day is this?

DIRECTOR

Iím sorry Ellie, did you say, "what day"?

ELLIE

How long was I gone?

DIRECTOR

Ellie, the IPV dropped straight through the machine, you didnít go anywhere.

CUT TO:

INT. MEDICAL FACILITY

ELLIE

But I did. I did go. Thatís what Iím trying to tell you. The headset didnít record a single image?

KITZ

Just this... static. Now doctor, let me show you what we saw.

We see the IPV dropping straight through from many different angles.

KITZ

43 separate remote cameras show the exact same event. The IPV dropped straight through. Everyone who watched saw the exact same thing. Nothing happened. How do you explain this, doctor?

ELLIE

I canít.

BILL CLINTON

I would encourage you not to inflame this situation beyond the facts. Let us deal with this on the facts. We are monitoring what has actually happened. We are taking what we believe is factually appropriate steps.

NEWS REPORT

In a flurry of accusations and counter accusations by the nations representing the Machine consortium. The government has ordered a special executive inquiry. However, the appointment to the committee of Michael Kitz, who has recently resigned as national security advisor, has raised a number of eyebrows on capital hill.

KITZ

(on camera) Uh, I have made no decision to run for congress. I have announced no candidacy. And the fact that I have resigned as national security advisor has nothing to do with anything other than I want to devote all of my energy to this inquiry. The people of the world have a right know what really happened.

INT. WHITE HOUSE - DAY

SENATOR

...and yet every scientific instrument confirms the IPV was out of contact for only a fraction of a second, isnít that correct, doctor?

ELLIE

A fraction of a second, Earth time, yes.

SENATOR

Earth time?

ELLIE

Senator, I believe that the machine opened up a wormhole, a tunnel through the fabric of space-time. Also known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Now because of the laws of general relativity, what I experienced as 18 hours, passed instantaneously on Earth.

KITZ

Now isnít it true that these wormholes you speak of are theoretical predictions. There is no evidence they actually exist, is there?

ELLIE

There is no direct evidence, no.

KITZ

Tell me something doctor, why do think theses aliens would go to all this trouble, bring you tens of thousands of light years, and then just send you home without a single shred of proof.

ELLIE

They said thatís how its been done for billions of years.

KITZ

Thatís very deep, doctor. You have no proof, because they didnít want you to have any. A phenomenon known in psychiatric circles I believe as a self-reinforcing delusion.

ELLIE

Is that what you think, that I was delusional?

KITZ

Oh, I do think you may have suffered some kind of episode, yea. I do. Doctor, Iíd like to propose an alternate hypothesis, if I may, and Iíd like you to bring your considerable scientific expertise to bear on it. To fake a signal from Vega, what would you need?

ELLIE

You would need a satellite to transmit the signal, but it would be impossible to simulate something...

KITZ

...you would need a satellite, and you would need launch capabilities to put the satellite into orbit. And of course the message itself. To put something like this together, so complex, drawing on so many different disciplines...

ELLIE

... would be impossible.

KITZ

Impossible? Impossible? Is there anyone who might have been up to the challenge? Someone with extraordinary technical expertise. Enormous financial resources. Someone perverse enough, eccentric enough to have come up with the idea in the first place?

ELLIE

Hadden?

KITZ

S. R. Hadden.

ELLIE

Youíre implying that this was all some kind of a hoax, that he engineered this...

KITZ

...S. R. Hadden. A legendary card broker and manipulator, in perhaps his final bid for immortality. Maybe he wanted to explore and exploit experimental technology and get the governments of the world to pick up the tab. Perhaps this was his final altruistic gesture to unite the world in some common goal. Maybe all of the above. S. R. Hadden, a brilliant and complicated man.

Meanwhile on Mir. Cosmonauts are putting Hadden in a body bag... heís dead.

KITZ

Doctor, are you familiar with the scientific precept known as Occamís Razor?

ELLIE

Yes, it means that all things being equal. The simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

KITZ

Exactly. Now, you tell me, what is more likely here? That a message from aliens results in a magical machine that wisps you away to the center of the galaxy to go windsurfing with dear old dad, and then a split second later, returns you home without a single shred of proof? Or, that your experience is the result of being the unwitting star in the farewell performance of one S. R. Hadden? <skeptic.mp3> A man with the means, the motive, and the opportunity to play you, and indeed the rest of us, as pawns in the biggest, the most elaborate, the most expensive hoax of all times.

SENATOR

Dr. Arroway. You come to us with no evidence, no record, no artifacts, only a story that, to put it mildly, strains credibility. Over half a trillion dollars was spent, dozens of lives were lost, are you really gonna sit there and tell us we should just take this all on faith?

Ellie hesitates.

KITZ

Please answer the question, doctor.

ELLIE

Is it possible that it didnít happen, yes. As a scientist I must concede that, I must volunteer that.

KITZ

Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You admit that you have absolutely no physical evidence to back up your story?

ELLIE

Yes.

KITZ

You admit that you very well may have hallucinated this whole thing.

ELLIE

Yes.

KITZ

You admit that if you were in our position, you will respond with exactly the same degree of incredulity and skepticism?

ELLIE

Yes.

KITZ

(Yelling) Then why donít you simply withdraw your testimony and concede that this journey to the center of the galaxy, in fact, never took place?!

ELLIE

Because I canít. ííI had an experience I cant prove, I cant even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real.

I was part of something wonderful, something that changed me forever; a vision of the Universe that tells us undeniable how tiny, and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not, that none of us are alone. <alone.mp3> I wish I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment, could feel that awe, and humility, and the hope, but... that continues to be my wish.

After the inquiry, Ellie goes over to Joss, and they embrace each other.

EXT. WHITE HOUSE - DAY

As they leave the White House, there is a crowd of people surrounding them dressed in blue and carrying signs that read, "Ellie has discovered the new world" and, "We believe you, Ellie", and things to that effect. Ellie gets into the car avoiding any questions.

REPORTER

Palmer Joss, what do you believe?

PALMER

As a person of faith, Iím bound by a different covenant than Dr. Arroway, but our goal is one and the same, the pursuit of truth. I for one, believe her.

Ellie holds his hand. He gets in the car and they drive away.

INT. - WHITE HOUSE - DAY

Constantine and Michael Kitz are video conferencing.

KITZ

So what now? We give here a medal?

CONSTANTINE

I say at least a healthy grant. I assume you read the confidential findings report from the investigating committee?

KITZ

I flipped through it.

CONSTANTINE

I was especially interested in the section on Arrowayís Video unit. The one that recorded the static.

KITZ

Continue.

CONSTANTINE

The fact that it recorded static isnít what interests me.

KITZ

Continue.

CONSTANTINE

What interests me, is that it recorded approximately 18 hours of it.

KITZ

That is interesting, isnít it?

18 MONTHS LATER

EXT. VLA - DAY

Ellie is giving a tour of the array to a group of children on a field trip from school.

ELLIE

You can see over there, weíre building 45 brand new dishes. And that means that when you put them together with all the different radio telescopes all over the world, then we get to hear further into space than anybodyís ever heard before.

A Kid raises his hand.

ELLIE

Yup.

KID

Are there other people out there in the Universe?

ELLIE

Thatís a good question. What do you think, huh?

KID

I donít know.

ELLIE

Thatís a good answer. A skeptic, huh? The most important thing is that you all keep searching for your own answers. Iíll tell you one thing about the Universe though. The Universe is a pretty big place, itís bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if itís just us, seems like an awful waste of space, right?

Ellie sits in front of the canyon, contemplating life, as we...

FADE TO STARS

THE WORDS "FOR CARL" APPEAR ON SCREEN AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT

FADE TO BLACK

 





THE END

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