and catalyzes a scientific discovery so momentous
it pushes the U.S. government – and the world - to the brink of catastrophe.
Cut to view inside Extra-Vehicular Activity Monitoring Module (EVAMM) area. DUBROW, holding microphone headset in her hand, is leaning/floating above the EVAMM control console while looking outside through port window at KELLY. Below and to her right, strapped into a seat and wearing another microphone headset, is KOGASHI. He is watching Kelly on the console monitor while working with the robotic arm control device. Below and to Dubrow's left floats HOLTZEN who is typing on a portable computer velcroed to the left side of the EVAMM console.
KELLY (EVAMM intercom speaker)
DUBROW releases intercom button then floats to a window on the other side of the EVAMM and peers outside.
HOLTZEN (still typing on computer)
KOGASHI (in background)
KELLY (through intercom, in background with static)
Camera view subtly adjusts to show part of HOLTZEN'S computer screen and Dubrow floating towards window. Holtzen double clicks the track mouse on the portable computer to open a message with attachment, begins reading it. Meanwhile, KOGASHI attempts to clean static from Kelly's channel.
DUBROW (looking out port window)
KELLY (in background, through intercom, more static)
Holtzen watches a movie of an animated color 3D model (resembling a fractal turning itself inside out) playing on his computer screen. Holtzen lets out a quiet whistle.
KOGASHI (in background, still working on comm channel)
DUBROW (Rolling her eyes, approaching to look at computer screen)
KELLY (still in background through intercom, with more static)
KOGASHI (louder but still in background)
VOICE FROM STATION INTERCOM (with some static)
KOGASHI taps two switches on EVAMM console. DUBROW grabs mic/headset.
KOGASHI (pushing mic/headset closer to ear)
Commander, we're got phase distortion on all frequencies.....uhh, trying to get a fix. How's your reception up there?
HOLTZEN (touching Dubrow's arm)
KOGASHI taps a switch on console. Static fills room from EVAMM comm speaker.
Ground control communication can almost be made out through din of static. Camera rapid zoom to console monitor, show KELLY tapping his helmet with his finger, next to ear, suggesting he cannot hear KOGASHI'S transmission. Static suddenly decreases then stops, KELLY'S voice and ground control pop through crystal clear.
HOLTZEN (eyes widen slightly, speaking under his breath)
Holtzen smiles slightly, looks at Dubrow.
DUBROW (smiling, shaking her head)
DUBROW (pulls off her microphone/headset then peers out porthole)
Cut to exterior of prefabricated house, lower-middle class family dwelling.
Screen Text: Hopi Reservation. Tuba City, New Mexico.
ELIZABETH PAWEKI: 40 years old, widowed, Hopi nurse, works
at hospital in Tuba City. Her husband (Earl) died five years ago
from thyroid cancer (she suspects induced by uranium exposure while working
for a local water utility). Their three children still live
with her in Tuba City. Elizabeth struggles to instill traditional
(Hopi) values and traditions in her children, both as a hedge against the
effects on youth of living off-reservation, and as a way of maintaining
her own strength after her husband's death. She struggles not just
with maintaining attendance at Hopi ceremonies but with her own feelings
of alienation towards her family. Elizabeth is the middle child of
three; she has a younger brother, Charlie, (reservation police officer,
living and working near New Oraibi) and an older brother Andrew, who is
deceased. She is estranged from her sole surviving parent, her father
(Joseph Kootsongie), who lives alone in the desert near Hotevilla.
Elizabeth's mother died from cancer when Elizabeth was eight years old.
When she was 16 her older brother, Andrew, fell in love with a young Navajo
woman (Caroline Nakai) and left home to live with her in Flagstaff.
Their father disapproved, widening a deep rift that had developed over
the years between him and Andrew. Elizabeth only saw Andrew once
more, when he came back for a day to try to mend the relationship with
their father - it failed.
THOMAS PAWEKI: 16 years old, somewhat a loner, has been quietly rebelling against his mother Elizabeth's efforts to instill traditional (Hopi) values, and against society in general. He is not cut out for the regimen of school, but also has a hard time fitting in with a school population largely comprised of Navajo and tiny handful of non-traditional Hopi. Thomas envies his younger brother, Albert, who is quite accomplished in school. He resents the responsibility that has fallen on his shoulders since his father's death but he doesn't shirk it. He finds it difficult to accept affection from his mother or either of his two siblings. Thomas still has a good relationship with his uncle Charlie who takes him out hunting and tracking from time to time, one of the few traditional joys he still embraces.
CAROLINE PAWEKI: 15 years old, is the more gregarious of her siblings. An above average student, well liked by her peers, she maintains a strong bond to her family. She sometimes struggles with learning Hopi traditions that she mistakenly sees as ‘sexist’ on the surface, but she simultaneously recognizes how much it cheers up her mother and serves as a good example to her younger brother, Albert. She recognizes a lot of her father in her eldest brother Thomas and understands some of his rebelling tendencies. She worries about Thomas but, unable to show her affection, she ends up sniping at him instead, pushing him away. She vents her own personal and family frustrations by horseback riding for hours in the desert.
ANDREW PAWEKI: 13 years old, is somewhat introverted and quiet in appearance but this can be deceiving. He's already showing a gift for computers and computer science. He's quite successful in school and enjoys a little more of his mother's attention because of this. Unbeknownst to his siblings as well as his mother is his gift for the Hopi language - learned from surfing a Hopi language Website he's discovered while surfing the Web.
Cut to interior of house. A radio, sitting on a small table in the living room, playing country music. Elizabeth is washing dishes, Andrew is in the bedroom he shares with Thomas. He's on the Net on a computer on the desk. Thomas lays on his bed (lower bunk of a bunk bed) reading a book. Caroline is sitting on the couch in living room next to the radio, she's beading a headband for her cowboy hat while her mother, Elizabeth, washes dishes in kitchen.
CAROLINE (without looking up)
Cut briefly to boys bedroom.
Cut back to living room.
Static begins to interfere with the radio reception slightly.
ANDREW (from other room)
THOMAS (from other room)
ANDREW (from next room)
CAROLINE (angry and yelling)
ELIZABETH walks into living room drying hands on a towel.
ANDREW storms into the room and begins looking for the telephone. Static suddenly increases on radio.
ANDREW finds the telephone, lifts the receiver and puts it to his head.
THOMAS walks into the room glaring at CAROLINE. Nothing but static is coming from the radio now.
ELIZABETH (stern voice)
Static clears from radio, station is back clearly. ANDREW obviously hears a dial tone return to the phone.
THOMAS (looking sheepish, mutters)
THOMAS stalks back to the bedroom. Elizabeth sighs and shakes her head as she returns to the kitchen.
ANDREW (puzzled look on face)
CAROLINE (mutters, smiling as she reaches for the phone)
ELIZABETH (from kitchen)
CAROLINE looks up at ANDREW as she dials, cradles phone to her ear.
CAROLINE looks away, unimpressed. ANDREW walks back to the bedroom with puzzled look on face.
Cut to interior of NORAD headquarters, situation monitor room.
Screen text: Cheyenne Mountain, NORAD Headquarters.
Pan room to show control officers seated at their stations.
Zoom to single control officer (FRANK) at monitor station. FRANK
is sipping coffee, leaning back in his chair. He wears reading glasses.
His attention is split between reading a policy manual and glancing at
his monitor. FRANK'S monitor covers the southwestern U.S. He
thumbs a few pages of his manual, scanning text with his finger.
Camera view of monitor is briefly obscured as he reads.
Jump cut to show rapidly growing white-out of Northeast quadrant on monitor. Cut back to camera view of FRANK pulling his headset microphone up from his chin.
Voice in headphone answers. Camera view adjusts to focus on the face of an African-American officer (KITTER) on the other side of the room.
Show KITTER swing at his station to punch up FRANK'S monitor display. It appears normal. FRANK looks again at his monitor, it too has returned to normal.
KITTER punches in a command at his keyboard and returns to watching his monitor. He sees the same rapidly growing white-out in the northeast quadrant of his monitor followed by its equally rapid disappearance. KITTER turns to look at FRANK.
KITTER (looks up from logbook at FRANK)
FRANK looks up from monitor to Defense Condition display on wall of control room. It reads '3', instead of the usual '1'.
Segue to view of approaching Chevy 1972 station wagon driving on bumpy and twisting dirt road at night, Hopi-Navajo land in New Mexico.
Screen text: New Oraibi, Arizona.
Station wagon creakily drives 100 yards past cheap prefabricated houses and trailers before pulling up to a dimly lit trailer with a leaning tin-roofed porch. The occupant gets out of the car and tiredly walks up porch, opens trailer door and enters.
CHARLIE KOOTSONGIE: 38 years old. Elizabeth Paweki's older sister. Hopi law enforcement officer (dual access area of Navaho/Hopi land). Graham Greene character type.
Cut to view inside trailer. KOOTSONGIE in dusty uniform sits down on threadworn couch, turns on T.V., begins taking his boots off. Old serial comedy show fades in. One boot removed, he begins on the second when the telephone rings sitting on coffee table. He picks it up, begins speaking in broken Hopi/English (subtitles).
Hello, Dad, how're you doing?
Slow down, Dad, you're not making sense.
T.V. picture begins distorting, then picking up static. Picture fades behind 'snow', static fills sound from T.V. KOOTSONGIE begins to get frustrated with his inability to understand his father.
Uh huh. Uh huh.
Static clears on television. KOOTSONGIE slowly begins smiling, returns to taking off his second boot
....That's why the telephone was acting up?
KOOTSONGIE (to himself in English)
KOOTSONGIE, shaking his head tiredly, rubs his eyes, then animatedly assumes serious face
KOOTSONGIE falls back against back of couch, smiles, begins laughing tiredly, rubs beginning of tear from his eye as he laughs.
isn’t merely a young Native American physicist, but a prodigy, one of the
most gifted in human history. Orphaned as an infant, her white adoptive
parents discovered she had a voracious appetite for learning – particularly
deciphering mathematic puzzles. Nurtured in her gifts, she completed
high school when she was 13, Bachelors of Science in both Mathematics and
Physics by 17, and her Masters and PhD by 20. Now, a 21 year old
post-doc in theoretical physics, Elena is returning from her adoptive father’s
funeral in Boston. As her plane descends into Philadelphia’s airport,
she wakes from an unusual dream and remembers the letter revealing her
Hopi/Navajo ancestry left for her in her adoptive father’s will.
Meanwhile, the International Space Station (ISS) and NORAD (Cheyenne Mountain, CO) have detected an unusual phenomenon: ISS communications are briefly interrupted and military satellites briefly shut down during an unusual energy spike coming from what appears to be huge swaths of outer space. In two Hopi households in rural Arizona, family members notice that telephone signals, radio and television reception is briefly lost. However, after it returns they discount the event.
Hours later at the White House the NSA Director (DNSA) reassures the President the event doesn’t merit his concern. However the President learns the energy spike did briefly shut down a vital defense satellite. Satisfied, the President, VP, Chief of Staff, Directors of the NSA (DNS) and CIA (DCI) continue focusing on a rapidly growing conflict between Pakistan, India and the Koreas that’s dragging the U.S. and China (PRC) into opposition. After the meeting the President notes the latest crisis is only one of a string to plague his administration. The domestic economy is being swamped by a flood of refugees from Mexico, Cuba and Haiti. They’re fleeing an eastbound radiation plume from the meltdown of Mexico’s Veracruz reactor after its core was fractured by the long-expected 9.1 Richter San Andreas earthquake - which also devastated Silicon Valley and 700,000 homes. If satellites in space are having problems they can “take a ticket and get in line”.
In Socorro, NM, two American radio astronomers at the Very Large Array (VLA) radio-telescope decide to study the energy spike in space independently. Two days earlier, they recorded a faint pulse while working at an observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. They’ve now recorded two subsequent pulses in Socorro – each slightly stronger and closer together than the preceding. On a whim, the two scientists speculate the pulses could be traveling backward through time which could explain why they appear from broad swathes of space. The two astronomers decide to attempt triangulating the pulses based on their idea. If right, they’ll be able to identify the location of what will be, in twelve days, an unusual and unimaginably powerful release of energy – perhaps in the neighborhood of the Solar System.
At Princeton’s Advanced Research Center (PARC), Elena avoids mourning her father and dealing with her newly discovered native heritage by plunging into the theoretical problem that defied Albert Einstein up to his death - the ultimate challenge - the Grand Unified Field Theory. Elena’s elderly former thesis advisor, Dr. Mansley, is curious with aspects of Elena’s unorthodox approach and shares an unusual old research paper with Elena. The paper, written in an odd, even bizarre style, was never published. But it possesses many striking similarities to Elena’s ideas. Even more puzzling is that the paper was written by a forgotten Hopi physics prodigy three decades before Elena was born. Asleep in her apartment that evening, Elena has another unusual dream that feels like a premonition. The dreams continue the following night after a long day of intense theoretical experimentation.
At the VLA, the two radioastronomers continue
studying data from the first three pulses. Their preliminary analysis
increasingly suggests an explosively powerful release of energy somewhere
in the Solar neighborhood in 14 days. As they count down the hours
until the expected fourth pulse, they discover the location of the future
energy explosion has moved with each successive pulse. It appears
to be approaching earth.
In Washington, DC, the President, VP, Chief of Staff, DNS, DCI and the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) wrestle with conflicting information about China’s willingness to go to war with the U.S. Sensing North Korea’s single-minded determination to use rather than lose its nuclear deterrent to an American conventional attack, the President contemplates retaliatory options if North Korea launches. Intelligence indicates the PRC Politburo is preparing a statement indicating its willingness to retaliate against any American nuclear attack on North Korea. Satellite images and intelligence confirm a quiet mobilization of China’s armed forces and increased readiness exercises within their strategic nuclear forces. The President is finally informed by the DCI and DNS that monitoring developments in China could get “bumpy” in days to come. Not only have the telecommunications and satellite shutdowns been unresolved, they’ve occurred again and the latest energy spike was slightly stronger. The President learns that other countries are suffering similar problems - including China and Korea.
In Princeton, Elena, emotionally stressed and frightened of sleeping because of her dreams, is traumatized further the next morning when DOE and FBI agents haul her into their offices and rigorously question her about Stephen’s accident. After returning to her apartment she realizes she’s now under surveillance. Elena drifts asleep briefly but wakes after another disturbing dream. She panics when she realizes small arcs of electricity are coursing along her hand – the same hand with which she tried to reach Stephen in the accident. Overcome by anguish, emotional shock and fear, Elena screams. After collecting her composure, Elena tries to call Dr. Mansley on the telephone and hears an odd sound suggesting that her phone is probably bugged.
FBI agents, having heard Elena scream have jumped out of a car down the street from her apartment to investigate. Through her window Elena sees them running up her sidewalk, guns drawn. They knock on her door to ask if she’s alright. She opens the door a crack to reassure them she’s fine and that she’d had a bad dream. Simultaneously she hides from sight her hand and wrist still rippling with electrical arcing. The FBI agents call in the incident and are told two additional agents are being sent down to bolster the surveillance.
At the VLA, the two radioastronomers excitedly record the expected fourth pulse on their computer monitors. With their computer model confirming the pulses are traveling backward in time they again note that point of origin is approaching earth. The researchers subsequently realize that, in fact, earth is approaching this particular point in space AND time. They refine their triangulation and discover the exact location on earth at which the explosive release of energy will occur. While one begins Emailing colleagues with their discovery the other looks at a map of the Southwest and contemplatively mutters “Arizona”.
At her apartment, Elena packs her laptop, handwrites a brief letter to Dr. Mansley, then she sneaks out her second floor back window. After a series of close calls, Elena succeeds in losing the FBI agents trying to follow her. At dawn she sneaks into the Princeton Greyhound station, makes a maximum ATM withdrawal, mails the letter to her advisor, and grabs a Boston-bound bus. In New York, she discovers local news media have begun broadcasting her picture as being wanted for questioning about possible terrorist activity. Barely escaping a loose cordon of NYPD and FBI agents, Elena changes her appearance and catches a subway out of the city.
In New Jersey Elena hitchhikes a ride west in a truck driven, hilariously, by a naturalized Iraqi. While riding west, Elena again reads the unpublished research paper and decides to find its Hopi author using a decades-old post office address label stuck to it. She wonders if the man might help her find answers to questions about her identity and the puzzle of the theory which now not only haunt her dreams but shape her waking moments in terrifying ways she can only ascribe as being supernatural. Elena recognizes her dilemma: she’s experiencing phenomena which defy rational explanation - but must be permitted by the theory she’s struggling to formulate. At a truck-stop Elena calls and leaves a cryptic message on her advisor’s office voicemail indicating her destination.
In Princeton, a schism appears to develop between DIA and CIA/FBI agents trying to locate Elena. The DIA agent, acquainted with some of Elena’s research is hostile toward FBI/CIA agents suspecting she may be aiding terrorists. The agents ask Dr. Mansley for permission to search the voicemail server files for her department. Dr. Mansley however, has learned that the FBI have twisted all of Stephen’s hospital statements in an effort to implicate Elena. Deeply distrustful of the specific DIA agent she concludes he really wants access to Elena’s research. Dr. Mansley adamantly refuses, despite the DIA agent’s stated desire to smooth over FBI/CIA suspicions of Elena. The FBI investigators secure a court order authorizing access to the servers. On a hunch, Dr. Mansley calls her own voicemail to listen to Elena’s message. Just as FBI computer specialists secure access to Dr. Mansley’s voicemail file she erases Elena’s message.
At the VLA, the two scientists discover they’ve rapidly accumulated disrespect and distrust amongst the numerous radio astronomers they’ve contacted so far about their discovery. On a whim they decide to drive to the closest town to the coordinates they’ve identified. While they begin packing for a road trip they instruct VLA’s resident technician to continue monitoring and to stay in contact with them while they take a drive up to Tuba City, AZ.
The DCI, DNS and SecDef meet briefly at the Pentagon to discuss the energy spikes. Their intelligence resources have each independently determined the spikes are growing in strength, becoming more frequent and assuming a rough but still predictable pattern. From this pattern they’ve determined that in approximately ten days a massive pan-spectrum (including gamma and X-rays) electromagnetic pulse (EMP) will cascade through earth’s atmosphere. However, an inexplicable anomaly of the phenomenon has also been identified: ground measurements of strength (amplitude) don’t correlate with those in space. Sometimes the spike is stronger in space, sometimes it’s stronger on the ground. Lastly, only two news reports of the phenomena have appeared so far – in Arizona. The DCI, DNS and SecDef decide to reroute and initiate passive shutdowns of their respective satellites where appropriate. They recognize they’ll need more information to protect U.S. Defense options through the crisis in Asia. After returning to their respective offices in the Pentagon, at Langley and Ft. Meade, the three instruct their staffs to begin aggressively scouring any public and private academic resources with any information on the phenomenon.
Elena arrives in Winslow and starts hitchhiking
north on State Route 87. She catches a ride with a young Hopi couple
returning home to Second Mesa from shopping in Winslow.