Heliopolis was the name given to the planet designated PB2-908, though originally designated P3X-972, by the Tau'ri which resides in the Milky Way galaxy and held a Stargate. It once served as a meeting place for the Alliance of Four Great Races before coming into the control of the Goa'uld. After Ra abandoned the planet, it remained largely forgotten before its rediscovery by the Tau'ri.
Alliance meeting place
During the time of the Alliance of Four Great Races, Heliopolis was the chosen meeting place between the Ancients, Furlings, Nox, and Asgard. It was on this planet that they gathered to share their experiences, debate matters of mutual interest, and resolve any disputes that arose. This alliance stood for millennia, prospering partly through meetings of the minds on Heliopolis, until one day the Ancients suddenly departed, which symbolized the fragmentation of the union. While the other species remained friendly toward each other, they no longer met on Heliopolis. (RPG: "Fantastic Frontiers: Stargate Season One") (SG1: "The Torment of Tantalus")
Thousands of years after this, the Goa'uld rose to prominence in the Milky Way galaxy, claiming many worlds as their own and often making extensive use of any Ancient technology—including the Stargate network itself—they came across. One such planet was Heliopolis itself, which the System Lord Ra took to rule over. Despite the fact that he could not entirely decipher all of the information that he found there, and indeed he did not wish to learn the lofty ideals they represented, he refused to give the planet up to another Goa'uld, as he was convinced that the secrets were better left in his hands than those of his enemies.
Expanding through the stars, the Goa'uld eventually encountered one of the races who used Heliopolis before them; the Asgard. Quickly recognizing the Goa'uld for what they were, the Asgard got in contact with their former allies and suggested that they renew their alliance to combat the Goa'uld. The Nox—being a pacifist species—wanted nothing to do with the alliance, but the Furlings agreed on one condition. They demanded that the alliance strike a single decisive blow against the Goa'uld, as they themselves could not survive a protracted war of attrition. While the two species tried to decide the planet to be chosen for this attack (it had to fit several criteria, including that the attack had to demonstrate the alliance's great strength but could not wipe out an entire species), the Goa'uld continued their expansion and claimed several planets held by the allies, as well as some owned by the Nox.
It was because of these attacks that the Nox chose to join their former allies, adding the condition that the planet chosen could not be completely destroyed. During all this time, Ra had transformed Heliopolis into a production and training planet, building weapons and vessels as well as training the elite Jaffa for his armies. Deciding that the planet met all of their criteria, and that its loss would be a devastating blow to the Goa'uld, the allies chose Heliopolis as their target. In addition to the fact that Ra would be deprived of a primary planet in his empire, the planet also held a symbolic significance to the allies as they would be reclaiming a planet which had once been their own.
Dispatching an immense fleet to the planet, the Goa'uld had no chance of stopping the attack. The joint forces of the allies wiped the Goa'uld forces out to the last man without suffering any casualties of their own. Once they got to Heliopolis, they unleashed a weapon which had been specially developed just for this very attack. The weapon wiped out all life on the planet, and destroyed all artificial structures save one; the fortress which had once been a meeting place for the Alliance. They preserved this fortress both out of respect for their early unity as well as to demonstrate their level of control to the Goa'uld.
This attack had the desired effect, and Ra fled for his very life—eventually coming to the homeworld of the Tau'ri—and the remaining System Lords sued the allies for peace. Their victory was short-lived, however, as the Nox, inspecting the planet to ensure that it would survive their attack for the foreseeable future, discovered that their attack had in fact altered the planet's orbit sufficiently that life could never again prosper in great abundance. The orbit of the planet was slowly decaying so that one day Heliopolis would be devoured by its own sun. Unfortunately for the allies, none of them had the technology at that time to rectify their problem and the only race they knew who did were the Ancients, long since ascended. As such, Heliopolis was largely forgotten and the crumbling fortress was the only remnant that any life had ever been to the planet. (RPG: "Fantastic Frontiers: Stargate Season One") (SG1: "The Torment of Tantalus")
It was only in 1945 that life would once again lay foot on Heliopolis as Professor Paul Langford's team of scientists managed to stumble upon the gate address for the planet, designating it P3X-972. During World War II, the Army was hoping that the Stargate was some sort of weapon. Not sure what was on the other side of the wormhole, the Tau'ri sent Ernest Littlefield through in a full underwater diving suit with an oxygen hose which linked him to Earth. Immediately after Ernest stepped through, however, the Stargate shut off which severed the only link between the two planets, as well the oxygen hose connecting him. As Ernest did not return, Professor Langford feared the worst and told his daughter Catherine he was dead, not knowing that Ernest was in fact very much alive on Heliopolis. The Army shut down the project, not to reactivate research until well after Professor Langford died.
Ernest was stranded there for over fifty years, as the DHD had been long since damaged. In a deteriorated castle on the planet, Ernest found several alien writings and a projection device that displayed graphic representations of the basic elements. He soon discovered the truth about the planet, that it had in fact been the meeting place for a United Nations of the Stars. He studied the writings and ruins for over fifty years before Earth once again sent a team through to the planet, this time with full knowledge of what the Stargate was and where it would send them, to find Ernest if he was still alive.
In October 1997, SG-1 along with Catherine Langford soon met with Ernest, who was in a state of dementia from spending so long alone on the planet. At first, he refused to believe that they were real as he had long been hallucinating, but SG-1 soon managed to convince him otherwise. However, when the team introduced him to Catherine (who had at one time been his lover), he scurried from the room to put on his old clothes. Daniel Jackson attempted to engage Ernest to find out what he had learned during his time on the planet, discovering the planet's name and that it was a repository of philosophy and astronomy. Thinking that the remains were of ancient Egyptian origin, Jackson decided that educated people of all kinds must have gathered here, as well as speculating perhaps correctly that it had been a place where people worshiped Ra. Unfortunately, so many years alone had damaged Ernest's psyche to a point where he believed that he and Catherine had been living in the castle for many years; the sight of the real Catherine had proven too much for him, and so he was unable to confirm or deny any of these claims.
It was during this time that Colonel Jack O'Neill discovered the instability of the structure and, discerning that they did not have long, decided to take all those on the planet back to Earth. Daniel tried to convince the group not to leave, as there was the possibility that they might not ever be able to come back if the castle was destroyed, but was unable to convince O'Neill, who tried to dial Earth. The argument was soon proven to be a moot point, however, as the group discovered that the DHD was damaged beyond their ability to repair. Captain Samantha Carter immediately set about trying to find an alternate power source so that they could manually dial the gate, while Daniel spoke with Ernest to learn more about the castle.
Ernest took Daniel, along with Jack, to the main room of the facility where he unveiled a pedestal in the middle of the room. Unveiling this caused four sets of writing to appear on the wall, one for each of the races of the former alliance. O'Neill, investigating the pedestal, activated it accidentally and caused lights to shoot out from it, which formed hundreds of elements in the air. Daniel, having a sudden flash of insight, announced that the elements were in fact the building blocks for a universal language. Ernest then chose to touch the crystal on the pedestal himself, rearranging the lights into a new pattern which Daniel attempted to record. He was unable to do so, however, as the images did not allow for relative perspective.
Meanwhile, Samantha Carter and Teal'c of Chulak managed to jury-rig the Stargate and DHD together and attempted to dial Earth. Before the Stargate was able to dial, however, the lights dimmed and the experiment failed, causing a piece of the roof to collapse and nearly kill both Samantha and Jack. Deciding that they needed something with more "kick", Jack suggested using the Ben Franklin method to power the Stargate through lightning. Recovering Ernest's old diving helmet, Jack and Teal'c placed it on one of the turrets outside the wrecked structure and wired it into the Stargate.
Daniel was not interested in helping the group, however, as he believed that by deciphering these symbols, he might be able to discover the meaning of life itself. While he was obsessing over the pedestal, lightning struck the helmet and gave power to the Stargate. Teal'c quickly dialed Earth manually, and got a connecting wormhole. O'Neill immediately ordered his team through the Stargate to Earth while he went to get Daniel. Unwilling to listen to his friend, Daniel refused to leave the pedestal. As he was unable to get through to Daniel, Jack physically wrested his friend from the pedestal, just as a portion of the roof collapsed. The two quickly left for the Stargate, making it through just as the castle crumbled around them with both Daniel and Jack managing to return to Earth just seconds before the wormhole shut down for good. (RPG: "Fantastic Frontiers: Stargate Season One") (SG1: "The Torment of Tantalus")
Though the Tau'ri attempted to dial Heliopolis once more, the seventh chevron would not lock and so the wormhole did not form, meaning that the Stargate was either buried or destroyed. All was not lost, however, as Samantha Carter set about working on a computer model of the pedestal room and its accompanying elemental book. (RPG: "Fantastic Frontiers: Stargate Season One")
Some years later, the Atlantis expedition discovered a castle similar to that of Heliopolis on a planet in the Pegasus galaxy, which they nicknamed Heliopolis II. They discovered that this planet had also been used as a meeting place, but rather than between the Asgard, Nox, and Furlings, it had been between races of the Pegasus galaxy. (SGA: "Reliquary")
Behind the scenes
- The Stargate address for this planet is shown to be the same as that of Abydos () in "The Torment of Tantalus", as the producers of Stargate SG-1 simply reused footage from the pilot episode during the dialing sequence scene. It was stated earlier in the episode, however, that the address is similar to that of Abydos. Only the first two glyphs are actually given on screen for Heliopolis itself, when Daniel Jackson is showing Catherine Langford the case files for the 1945 test.
- The room with the Dome device in has four wall, each written in a language for the four races who used it. The wall for the Ancients as well as the other three races is untranslatable.