Okay, I wrote the short opening scene to set the premise of a new show, using mostly regulars (early tie in) and suggestions from Locutus, stj, and others, to return to the earlier format of an Earth based show, and toss some comedy back in. I think this would be versatile enough to accomodate most all of the suggestions, including revealing the stargates to the public pretty quickly (an early mission could invite an alien attack that can't be explained away), along with a way to have a widely differing look and feel for episodes (fighter planes, space ships, magic powers, or any other revamps of the basics), and keeping any of the earlier SG-1 elements, even the Goa'uld and other enemies we thought were defeated.
I haven't written dialog in a while, but here's the shortest path to set it up.
****** Stargate Ecosystems - opening scene *****
General Samantha Carter entered the briefing room and walked into an ongoing argument between the assembled scientists. Rodney McKay was berating Zelenka, who sat across from him.
Carter rolled her eyes and asked “So what’s up, guys?”
The room quieted, but Rodney’s gaze followed her as she walked to the head of the table, he emphatically said, “I was just explaining to Dr. Zelenka that what he’s proposing is preposterous, just an artifact of the data due to sampling errors and the sparse number of points.”
Zelenka protested. “No, no, no. I’m telling you this has to be real. Whole regions of the Milky Way are not showing up on our trace maps of old ship locations for Goa’uld, Asgard, Replicators, or any other species,” He glanced at Carter and continued, “These same vast regions also don’t have active gate addresses in our database.”
General Carter sat down and asked for more background. Rodney flicked his pencil in the air, sighed, and sat back, while Zelenka turned to face her. “Daniel Jackson and I were looking over the trace maps of Goa’uld ship activity that the Tok’ra tracking devices provide, to see if we could get a better idea of Lucian Alliance shipping patterns, and perhaps bases. Then we were comparing that to our records for old Goa’uld activity, especially from when they fought the Replicators.”
“It’s what we were overlooking that was interesting. Viewing our galaxy from above, like we always do, shows an almost even spread of locations and routes, which is what we’d expected. But in 3-D, whole galactic arms and sections of arms are never entered. Not once. We wondered if those areas had ever had Goa’uld bases, and so we cross checked our database of gate addresses. There aren’t even any gates in those areas, amounting to over three-fourths of the contiguous stars in the galaxy!”
Rodney cut in. “Which isn’t that surprising! The galaxy is a huge place and most stars don’t have habitable planets, much less planets with stargates. And Ancients tended to put the gates along discrete paths, as we see with the Destiny, so of course most gateable planets will be clumped together, which is what we see. Of course there’ll be vast stretches of unused territory.”
“But the Goa’uld don’t need gates, and their ships would’ve eventually moved into those areas. But we don’t see that, either.”
“The Goa’uld don’t like getting caught on planets without an escape route when a rival system lord attacks!” Rodney shot back.
Carter listened carefully and replied “I don’t think Daniel would’ve told me to be here if there wasn’t anything to this. Has he arrived, by the way?”
“Just arriving!” he said as he came through the door.
Carter beamed him a warm smile, and he smiled back. As he took an open seat she said, “Dr. Zalenka was just filling me in on the unoccupied territory problem.”
Daniel nodded. “Yes. I’ve got some things you’re definitely going to want a look at.”
“More non-data?” Rodney quipped.
“No, Asgard data, and more. My first check was with the Asgard core, now that we’ve got it powered up, and they never explored those regions either, because there’s no way to enter them.”
“What?!” Rodney exclaimed.
Daniel continued, “The Asgard couldn’t figure out how to get a ship to travel through those areas, and the Go’uld couldn’t either, which is why all our traces show Go’uld ships flying above and below the galactic plane when crossing those arms, to get past what they called ‘the zones of death.’”
“Well that sounds ominous.” Carter chirped.
“Well, the Goa’uld were a fear based society, and our friends the Tok’ra forgot to mention that any ship trying to enter those regions loses its drive and power systems."
Samantha asked “You’ve talked to the Tok’ra about this?"
Daniel replied, “Indeed. Malek says ‘Hi’ by the way. As they explained it, Ha’tak motherships that crossed into these regions would just shut down, and even their Alkesh and gliders couldn’t make it back. The Goa’uld realized the death zones corresponded to the vast areas without active gates, so they became reluctant to go anywhere near regions those regions, like sailors avoiding submerged reefs.. There are gates on scattered planets far above and below the zones, so those marked the routes the Goa’uld ships always followed.”
“And that’s why we didn’t notice it on our maps.” Zalenka added, “From high above the trade routes, um, Goa’uld highway system, looks evenly traveled, but from the side huge parts of it are up on stilts to get over areas, of, um, quicksand. Swamps.if you will.”
Carter looked at the assembled faces and asked, “Why didn’t we ever run into this with Prometheus or our other ships?”
Daniel looked at her, thought a moment, and said, “We were always chasing Goa’uld, or running from them, and they stayed far away from the dead zones. We were just lucky.”
Samantha nodded, knowing how lucky they’d been on far too many occasions, and asked, “Is there more?”
Daniel replied, “A lot more. A whole lot more.”
Rodney piped up. “So there’s a bunch of natural areas in a galaxy where ships can’t go, which would explain the lack of gates. That’s interesting to know on an astrophysics level, and I’ll love digging into the answer, but it hardly affects operations.”
Daniel responded. “It might profoundly affect us. I’ve checked the Atlantis database, and the Pegasus galaxy doesn’t have these zones. The Asgard core was unaware of that.”
“What? That doesn’t make any sense.” Rodney said, becoming very curious and sensing that Daniel had once again scooped him.
“The Asgard assumed the zones were natural, but they hadn’t explored the Pegasus galaxy, only their home galaxy of Ida, which the Ancients had already scattered with gates. Ida has these same zones.”
“So some galaxies do, some don’t?” Carter asked.
Daniel perkily replied “It gets even better. The Atlantis database calls them, and this is a rough translation, “protected ecosystems.”
Rodney quietly repeated, “Ecosystems.”
Daniel continued. “Yes, it seems the Ancients were concerned with a lot of different threats, and realized that inevitably one would conquer the entire Galaxy, or even wipe it out. I mean, they fled a galaxy wide plague, and we’ve seen the replicators from the Ida galaxy, Wraith, Goa’uld, Ori. So at least some of the Ancients concluded that the best way to prevent total disaster was to divide the galaxy up into different “ecosystems” where the laws of physics were altered, so one predator wouldn’t be perfectly adapted to all the different environments.”
Carter arched an eyebrow. “Change the laws of physics?”
“Exactly.” Daniel responded.
Rodney’s eyes became very focused, “But that would require a ridiculous level of technology, like, like, “
Carter finished his sentence, “Like the Ancient superweapon on Dakara.”
Daniel nodded, “Or something very much like it.”
Dr. Zelenka finally broke back into the conversation. “So you’re saying that the Ancients changed the laws of physics in different regions, kind of like dividing a planet up into oceans, deserts, forests, and grasslands, so no particular predator can become dominant everywhere.”
Daniel replied, “Yes, and apparently they couldn’t undo it, either, because once they did it, their Dakara type superweapons couldn’t affect the altered zones.”
Zelenka appended “.. because the rules of physics there were different.”
Rodney, on more familiar territory, said, “And they didn’t do this in the Pegasus galaxy because the Wraith were already everywhere before the Ancients realized the magnitude of the threat.”
Daniel replied, “Yes, I’d assume so.”
“Fascinating.” someone breathed. (Leonard Nimoy in a lab coat?!)
There was a pause while everyone considered the implications, then Carter spoke up. “So, the Ancients created protected regions where ships can’t travel and gates can’t reach.”
Daniel’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, ships can travel there, and there is a way to gate in,” he said flatly, with a slight air of triumph in his voice.
Everyone looked at him, expectantly. Finally Carter asked, “How do you know?”
Daniel met her wide-eyed gaze. “Because the Ancients used to keep an eye on the goings on in their ecosystems. Ships can travel inside, though not with the kind of engines we’re using, and the gate systems inside still work fine. It’s just crossing the outer boundaries that’s nearly impossible.”
“Like fenced in game preserves.” Zelenka muttered.
“What’s inside?” Carter asked.
“Well, the last report dates from millenia ago, but there were some Ancients, Nox, Furlings, Humans, and hundreds of other species, at various stages of development, of course.” Daniel said in a sing-song, matter-of-fact tone.
“So how do we get in?” Carter asked.
“By using the keys to the padlocks on front gates, which they so conveniently left us.” Daniel announced.
“A special dialing protocol?” Rodney asked, his eyebrows raised.
“Exactly.” Daniel grinned.
“Washington isn’t going to like this.” Samantha sighed.
“They never do.” came a chuckled response from the side of the room.
And then you can do pretty much anything you want with it.