A religious fanatic with a bomb strapped to his body breaches security and destroys the transport machine. Dr. David Drumlin, who was chosen over Ellie to make the trip, is killed. Unknown to Ellie, the U.S. government secretly built a second transport machine on Hokkaido Island in Japan. She is chosen to go and travels through a wormhole to Vega. There she meets an alien who appears to her in the guise of her dead father. He tells her that his species did not build the machine, but it was already there when they arrived. Many other species have made contact. Ellie wants to stay and learn more but the alien sends her back, telling her that in time humans will take another step in communicating with them. Ellie returns to Earth. From her perspective the trip lasted about 18 hours, but from the point-of-view of those on Earth, she never left and was only out of contact a few seconds earth time. Not a trace of data was videotaped to prove her trip was real, and many consider her story a hallucination and the machine a total flop. Even Ellie concedes it may not have happened--except the video recording doesn't show seconds of static, but about 18 hours of it. Where was she during that time?
Ellie Arroway: I work for a project called seti.
Palmer Joss: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence? Wow, that's out there.
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