The Orion, originally named the Hippaforalkus by the Ancients, was an Aurora-class battleship in the Ancient fleet, constructed by the Lanteans during their time in the Pegasus galaxy. It was one of the few known Aurora-class ships to have survived the Lantean-Wraith war.
While the Orion was largely identical to the Aurora itself, it may have been a slightly modified or upgraded variant; unlike the Aurora, Orion's bridge featured several crew chairs. Furthermore, it possessed a hyperdrive capable of intergalactic travel, whereas the Aurora possessed only an interstellar hyperdrive. Whether these features were originally built-in with the ship or included later is unknown.
Discovery on Taranis
10,000 years ago, the Hippaforalkus suffered damage and was berthed in a subterranean hangar on Taranis. It was never fully repaired, however, and remained in the hangar after the Ancient's outpost on Taranis was evacuated near the conclusion of the Lantean-Wraith war. Thousands of years later, the native Taranians discovered the ship but lacked the scientific knowledge to repair it or the Ancient Technology Activation gene to operate it.
In 2006, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team visited the planet to help repair the outpost's shields generator. Seeing the knowledge of Ancient technology the Atlantis expedition possessed, the Taranian Chancellor Lycus took the team to the base's main hangar where the ship resided, hoping they could get it operational once again.
The ship quickly found itself needed as the formerly dormant supervolcano in which the Ancient outpost had been placed showed itself to be near a massive eruption, capable of destroying all life on the planet. While the Daedalus was commissioned to evacuate the Taranians to Atlantis, four trips were to be needed due to the ship's insufficient life support capacity. As the time necessary to evacuate every Taranian via the Daedalus would be too great, Sheppard evacuated the remaining Taranian refugees onto the ship, which he rechristened Orion. However, because of the damage the ship had previously sustained, the Orion's sublight engines were inoperable.
Despite Dr. Rodney McKay's best efforts to correct the problem, there was too much damage to be able to get them operational before the volcano erupted. Therefore, Mckay devised a sort of a patch that, in effect, diverted auxiliary power to the shields and the Hyperdrive, albeit only enough for approximately 4.1 seconds. With the plan that McKay devised, the Orion was be ejected, along with the magma and steam, several thousand feet into the air when the volcano erupted. With the shields and inertial dampeners at full strength, the ship was able to survive this for exactly four point one seconds. At that point, the hangar around the ship disintegrated. The moment that happened, a brief hyperspace window was opened, allowing the ship to jump to space before the explosion depleted the shields. The plan was successful as the ship was able to establish a stable orbit, resulting in the evacuation of the remaining Taranian refugees. (SGA: "Inferno")
Loan to the Atlantis Expedition
As a show of gratitude for the Atlantis expedition's help in evacuating their people, the Taranians agreed to loan the Orion to the expedition, who proceeded to effect repairs. These efforts, beginning with repairs to the ship's engines, were, however, slow going; It wasn't until several weeks later that the ship was, once again, fully capable of space flight. However, the shield and weapons systems were still in need of more attention.
Before these final repairs could be completed, the Orion found itself needed. Under the command of Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, the ship joined the Daedalus to defend Atlantis against an approaching Wraith Hive ship only three weeks after its initial acquisition. Orion was positioned beyond sensor range so as not to reveal its existence to the Wraith. Dr. Rodney McKay remained skeptical about the ship's hyperdrive capabilities and doubted the weapons would work in any case, rendering Orion of questionable usefulness. However, upon the Hive ship's arrival, the Wraith showed no ill-intentions, and thus neither the Daedalus nor the Orion were needed. (SGA: "Allies")
Battle and Destruction
- Main article: Battle of the Void
When the Atlantis expedition was soon after double crossed by the Wraith, Dr. Elizabeth Weir ordered Orion's deployment after two Hive ships discovered the location of Earth and modified their hyperdrives in order to get there. Commanded by Major Evan Lorne, the Orion, accompanied by the Daedalus, was sent to intercept the Hive ships in the massive void between the Pegasus and Milky Way galaxies.
Upon the ships' arrival to the battle, Dr. Radek Zelenka had some difficulty simultaneously transferring power from the Orion's shields to weapons. When the problem was corrected, the Orion fired a massive salvo of Drone weapons. Upon leaving the Orion, the hundreds of drones raced toward one of the Hive ships, weaving in and out of the massive wave of approaching Wraith Darts in order to reach their target. After just a few seconds, this massive salvo of drone weapons bombarded the hull of the Hive ship, blasting thousands of deadly holes as these lethal and resilient weapons propelled themselves into and out of the craft several times. This brutal attack was more than enough to completely destroy one of the Hive ships.
However, in order for that deadly salvo to be launched, the Orion's powerful shields were sacrificed. The remaining Hive ship then shifted its attack toward the Orion and the ship's hull began taking multiple hits. As the Daedalus was too far out to intercept, Orion's crew was beamed over to the Daedalus by the request of Lorne. As the force of the attack was too much for the unshielded ship to bear, the Orion finally succumbed to the intense firepower of the Hive and, moments later, its primary power core overloaded and destroyed the ship in a massive, fiery explosion. (SGA: "No Man's Land")
- Though largely identical to its sister ship, the Aurora, the Orion's bridge featured several seats of the type used on Puddle Jumpers, whereas the Aurora had only one chair for the Captain. (Peter DeLuise, who directed the episode "Inferno", explained that he wanted the characters to be sitting when the ship was thrown out of the volcano, and justified the change by dubbing Orion a "luxury edition" of the class.)
- Since it managed to keep pace with the Daedalus despite being damaged heavily in this episode, the Orion's hyperdrive system was probably also capable of intergalactic travel. Although it's unclear why the Orion would be so equipped whilst the nearly identical Aurora was not, the crew of the Aurora was at least under the impression that their own engines could be modified in this way as well. It is possible, however, that the Atlantis expedition modified the hyperdrive of the Orion themselves using the Aurora mission report (much like the Wraith did with their own hyperdrives in the episode "Allies"). It is also possible that the Orion was a newer model, and thus had increased hyperdrive capability.
- There is Ancient writing on Orion's port bow (it can be seen during her launching of drones toward the end of the episode "No Man's Land"), but it appears to be gibberish. Keeping in mind that "F" and "U" are represented with the same character, when translated it reads as either "F3X" or "U3X". It is possibly some sort of coded designation or identifying hull mark (like those used by the US Navy, for example), but its meaning is unclear.
References and notes
- Stargate Atlantis: The DVD Collection 76
Some issues of The DVD Collection magazine are known to contain errors with respect to the dimensions they provide for spaceships. Dimensions for the same class of ship may vary between issues. The dimensions given in an issue may contradict how the ship visually appears on screen. The dimensions of two ships which appear similarly sized on screen may be given different measurements in The DVD Collection magazines. However, as the DVD Collection Magazines are officially licensed by MGM (and thus considered canon) Stargate Wiki includes them, while noting the apparent discrepancies in instances where they occur. See policy and List of spaceships by size for more information.
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