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The Asurans are a fictional race in the science
fiction series Stargate Atlantis that bear many similarities to the
Replicators of Stargate SG-1. These
similarities have led the Asurans to most often be called simply "Replicators"
by other characters on the show even though the two life forms are
Desperate for more effective means of
Ancients created the predecessors to
the Asurans as part of an experiment to create an artificial
bioweapon in the form of nanites that would infiltrate and
destroy the Wraith from within. To that end, these
self-replicating nanites were programmed with an aggression
surpassing that of the Wraith. As they grew in numbers, the
nanites began to assume the form of their creators. Unable to
remove the aggression that had been programmed into them, giving
them a rage they could not contain or understand, the Asurans,
as they came to call themselves, requested the Ancients remove
their innately aggressive behavior; a request which was denied
since their creators sought to use them as weapons and since the
Asurans' programming prevented them from doing harm to their
Upon concluding their
research into the feasibility of nanites as weapons, the
Ancients destroyed their creations and deleted all traces of
them from their database, except for the planet's gate address.
A few Asurans, however, survived. Through their replicative
abilities, they brought about a "second birth" - this time, not
only taking the form of their creators, but also recreating
their city on a far grander scale.
Its been recently revealed by the
Wraith that sometime after
their defeat of the Ancients, the Asurans began attacking the
Wraith. The Wraith found this foe to be unnatural and
distasteful due to their robotic origins. After quickly learning
what their enemy was, the Wraith used a computer virus to
deactivate a protocol within the Asurans that forced them to
attack the Wraith. They, however, did not press their attack
against the Asurans and left the machine race to live in their
territory where they were completely isolated from the rest of
CONTACT FROM ATLANTIS
The first hints of the Asurans were seen in a lab on
Atlantis where the Atlantis Expedition encountered a sinister nanite weapon
that infected the humans in the lab's vicinity. The nanites would kill those
infected by them, who would begin to see terrifying images of a death-like
figure approaching them before they died. The nanites were vulnerable to an
EM pulse. They did not affect those with the Ancient gene (see Hot Zone).
Two years later, they were discovered by the Atlantis
expedition. Their population had grown to number in the millions and some,
such as Niam, had even began to contemplate ascension. Already they have a
plan to destroy the Wraith, though it is a slow, long term plan that does
not have the humans' best interests in mind. Believing that the aggressive
tendencies the Ancients had programmed into them was what was preventing
them from ascending, Niam enlisted McKay's help to remove these tendencies.
Although McKay's attempts were successful, they were discovered before the
rewritten command codes could be distributed to the others.
Concurrently, at the direction of Oberoth - their leader - the Asuran city
ship jumped into hyperspace in an attempt to destroy
Atlantis. This attempt was thwarted by McKay, with the assistance of
Niam, who used the city-ship's ZPMs to destroy it. Niam's betrayal resulted
in him along with the other Asurans that sought Ascension being reset or
purged from the Replicator Collective though some managed to remain.
Later, it was revealed that the Asurans had, perhaps due to McKay's early
efforts, managed to rewrite the part of their initial programming that
prevented them from attacking the Ancients. This allowed the Asurans to
capture Atlantis, by surprise, and kill the Ancients who defended it. The
Asurans secured the city but faced a delay when a
puddle jumper that carried a strike force
from the Atlantis expedition who, after defying their leaders' orders, left
a bomb in the control tower before leaving. The control room faced heavy
damage, however, the Asurans began immediate repairing procedures which took
up to several hours. They were also probing the minds of General Jack
O'Neill and Richard Woolsey for vital information. The damage dealt to them
required the Asuran strike team to dismantle their own warship and use it to
repair the damaged parts of the city. Using their own ZPM power modules, the
Asurans planned to leave the Lantean system and destroy the
Daedalus, which was
attempting to destroy the city in order to prevent it from falling into
Asuran hands. This Asuran strike force was destroyed when replicator
disruptor technology was tied into the shield emitters and thus destroyed
all of the Asurans in the city before they had a chance to adapt.
CONFLCT WITH THE NEW ATLANTEANS
The Asurans decided upon a different way of defeating the
threat the humans posed to them. They began constructing warships on their
homeworld believed to have the express purpose of fighting the humans in
their home galaxy where Earth is located. This preparation was destroyed
when the Apollo launched a surprise nuclear strike against the Asuran
homeworld. With the devastation they faced, the Asurans began a new strike
against Atlantis itself using a powerful energy weapon directed from an
orbital satellite Stargate with the sole aim of destroying Atlantis.
However, the Tau'ri were able to fly the city several light years away but
were trapped due to lack of power. Using the reactivated nanites within
Elizabeth Weir to access the Asuran datanet, a strike team was able to
infiltrate Asuras and steal a ZPM. However, the Asurans eventually detected
the team's presence, and managed to override the Anti-Replicator field that
repelled them. Although Weir was able to fool the Asurans into thinking that
they had captured the Atlantis team by planting a false scenario in their
minds, thus giving the team an opportunity escape, she herself was captured.
Meanwhile, Rodney McKay managed to isolate and reactivate the attack command
embedded in the Asuran central core, thus compelling the Asurans to launch
an attack against the Wraith. It is later revealed in the next episode
that the Wraith were the ones who turned the "attack-Wraith" subroutine
Initially, the war against the Asurans goes badly for the Wraith, who are
taken by surprise. Later in the conflict, however, they manage to destroy
two Asuran warships as they begin to regroup to fight this new threat.
However, the war has now spread to the humans of the
Pegasus Galaxy. The Asurans, knowing that
the Wraith depend on humans as a food source for survival, have adopted the
tactic of exterminating all human life in the Pegasus Galaxy. The Atlantis
team realizes that their plan to reactivate the Asuran attack code has
backfired, and are now working to create a new virus to shut down the Asuran
As the war continued between the Asurans and the Wraith, the faction of
Asurans that sought Ascension recreated Atlantis along with John Sheppard,
Teyla, Ronon Dex, Rodney McKay and Elizabeth Weir in order to learn what
Human qualities allow for Ascension. This 'experiment' was done so secretly
by this group but the dominant Asurans along with Oberoth discovered this
and terminated the experiment along with the rogue Replicators.
The Asurans possess much of the knowledge of the
Ancients, as evidenced by their manufacturing of ZPMs and by their creation
of a near identical city-ship to Atlantis. They also possess the ability to
directly interface with the human subconscious - just as human-form
Replicators do - and the ability to
walk through walls. It is also known that their strength is far superior to
that of a normal human, as Oberoth was shown to lift Mckay with one arm and
swat Ronon aside with little effort, again just like the human-form
Their interdependent organic constituents consist of over three billion
chemical base sequences. EMP weapons are a threat to the nanites' base
forms. However, they are somehow able to integrate organic technology into
themselves to make them somewhat immune to this vector of attack.
The Asurans are actually made entirely of nanites that
were created with the express purpose of fighting the Wraith. Eventually, it
evolved into their current human-shaped form and their appearance is only a
mask which hides the true nature, as well as abilities, of the Asurans. The
nanites themselves are self-replicating machines that can survive as long as
a minuscule amount functions. This makes them very resilient as a small
number of nanites managed to survive orbital strikes from Lantean warships
and were enough to continue their species. The nanites are capable of using
any material for this task, be it mechanical or biological in origin.
The nanites provide them with several advantages, the first of which is that
they can penetrate solid objects. This allows them to pass through doors via
the smallest openings. Another ability is one they share with the Human Form
Replicators which is moving their hands within the skull of humans. The
nanites allows the Asurans to experience the memories and knowledge of the
person they are subjecting the 'interrogation' to though the pain suffered
varies on whether the Asuran does the task in a brutal or kinder fashion.
They are able to gain intimate details through this process and are quite
capable of fashioning personalities based on the people they have mentally
probed. Whether they share the Human Form Replicators ability (or more
likely affinity) to fashion bladed weapons from their body parts is unknown
A more sinister nature of the nanites is that, once in contact with a human
body, they can be left in trace amounts which can be directed by the Asuran
mind. The presence of such nanites within a human body can leave the human
in a coma-like state while the Asurans mask themselves as being part of the
immune system. The nanites work to circumvent the human mind while they use
the human biology to incorporate organic components into their selves. This
can potentially result in the birth of a new Asuran in quite a brutal
fashion for those infected by the host. The infected body remains in a
coma-like state, however, their minds are active and put through an
imaginary world in order to lull the body into a compliant state in order to
allow the nanites to continue their work. Somehow when Dr. Weir managed to
overcome this by walking through an image of Niam in her mind and then
Gating back to Atlantis the nanites in her system shut down. In "Lifeline"
McKay said Weir exhibited some amount of control over them so its possible
that this was a battle of wills and when Weir won she had at least some
control over them and shut them off herself.
An interesting observation is that the nanites themselves in their smaller
state are vulnerable to EM pulses however once they incorporate organic
components within the system this weakness is quickly erased. In addition to
this, the presence of Wraith tissue can result in the nanites to go
immediately to the 'infected' part and exterminate the Wraith DNA. Though
they appear to be intelligent enough to leave parts of themselves in certain
locations in order to ensure that they survive.
Apparently at least some of those nanites survived deactivation as McKay
reactivates them to save Dr. Weir's life. This has the side-effect of giving
her access to the Asurans' subspace network (similar to how Teyla can tap
into the Wraith's) and even allow her to use the mind-probe as she uses this
on Oberoth in Lifeline to freeze him and the other Asurans to buy Sheppard
and Ronon more time. Once activated Weir showed great control over them even
managing to somehow override the kill switch and using them to act using the
Asurans own abilities against them.
Mention is made when the Asurans manage to gain a foothold on Atlantis of
disassembling their ship for additional parts to repair the city-ship.
Whether this was done through their nanite means or other is unknown.
However, it was done in a short span of time which suggests that they
accomplish this feat at an extremely fast and efficient rate.
The Asurans are equally capable of using the nanites and programming them
for other tasks. This can be seen in the recreation of Atlantis along with
its flagship team and Elizabeth Weir who were created through the use of
nanites but were flesh and blood organisms with the memories of the
originals. This task, however, requires a great deal of power to accomplish.
SUBSPACE LINK AND THE COLLECTIVE
Like their Replicator cousins, the Asurans are all tied
to one another through a sophisticated subspace network that connects each
and every member of the race. Despite this though, they seem to be somewhat
more individualistic compared to the swarm mentality of the Replicators with
each Asuran being an entirely independent entity. This is, ironically, very
similar to the Wraith, the race the Lanteans created the Asurans to combat.
The benefits of the subspace link allows the Asurans to keep up to date with
anything another Asuran experiences. This allowed the race to realize the
betrayal by Niam against their kind and allowed them to 'reset' him to his
original state. As such, the link serves as a form of control mechanism for
their kind and he was subsequently 'reset' which suggests that his more
peaceful attitude was not always there but something learned during his
existence and he was thus returned to his more aggressive root behavior.
Furthermore, the collective mind of the Asurans is capable of storing the
essence of the different kinds of Asurans. This essentially allows a
deceased Asuran to be replicated again, as was the case with Oberoth.
This collective will is also subject to periodic updates known as Merges
where all Asurans are updated with new information that is disseminated
among the various Replicators. Though this is the primary method of data
being shared among the race, there exists a hard drive copy that exists
outside in a physical form. This is seen in the presence of Central Data
Core on their homeworld of Asuras.
In Lifeline, Elizabeth Weir gains access to this network after the nanites
in her blood are reactivated to save her life. She uses the information she
gathers from it to lead Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard and Ronon Dex on their
The Asuran base code is the underlying program that
governs the race and was created by the Ancient species when they first made
the original nanite virus. In "Lifeline" its revealed that there are
thousands of command directives present within the Asuran Base Code.
One of the important aspects of the base code prevents the Asurans from
striking against their creators. They were also prevented from altering
their own base code which severely limited their behaviour in regards to
changing as a species. Another aspect of the base code prevented the Asurans
from altering their appearance and taking the shape of other beings;
essentially, upon creation, the Asurans had to remain in the form they were
created in. However, the changes made by Rodney McKay allowed the Asurans a
new ability to mimic the appearance of others.
The programming, however, could be altered by other species as members of
the Atlantis Expedition demonstrated. Unfortunately, this had the effect of
allowing the Asurans access to their own base code and allowing them to
alter it to suit their needs, such as altering the programming that
prevented them from attacking their creators.
In Reunion, it's revealed that the Wraith have encountered and fought the
Asurans in the past (how long ago isn't stated) and that the Wraith managed
to shutdown the attack directive within the Replicator base code (which
would normally force the Asurans to attack the Wraith). The Wraith attempt
to shutdown the directive once again with a virus but weren't able to,
possibly due to safeguards the Asurans put in place or Rodney's tampering.
TERMINATING AN ASURAN
The Asurans' nature of being a cloud of nanites makes them very resilient to
physical harm, and even weapons, whether they are projectile or energy, seem
to have no way of harming them. Conventional guns appear to have minimal
effect on them. Ronon's Gun, however, can temporarily stun them (as opposed
to the original Replicators and Human Form Replicators, which were immune to
any energy weapon used against them). Human-built 'knockoffs' of the
Replicator disruptor weapon have been designed to destroy them. As of the
episode "Lifeline" the Asurans have built up an immunity to the human Anti
Replicator Weapons. This was through sacrificing their numbers into an
Anti-Replicator Field until the point they could overcome the weapon.
A single pulse from the weapon will reduce an Asuran into its component
blocks by severing the connection that holds each block together. However,
there is worry that the Asurans can adapt to the frequency of the weapon and
thus develop an immunity to its effects. In the concluding part of "The
Return", it is also shown that the Asurans require some input of energy,
which, after being denied a power source for long periods, makes them
vulnerable and incapacitated. However, it only takes them a short amount of
time to adjust and become a deadly threat once again.
As seen in the case of Oberoth, the Asurans are capable of replicating a
destroyed member of their kind, thanks in part to their subspace link. This
can effectively make members of this race immortal for as long as part of
their race survives.
Little is known of Asuran society and culture except that they have emulated
the Ancients in appearance and technology. Most of them seem to bear a cold
hatred towards their creators due to the attempted extermination of their
race. They appear centered around their homeworld of Asuras, which is dotted
by vast cities. They appear to be isolationistic and regard humans as lesser
beings. They have shown no fear of the Wraith and even claim to possess a
plan that could nullify the Wraith threat, though the details of this plan
have not been revealed.
Despite this, there does appear to be a small enclave among their kind that
still admires and respects the Ancients. This group would go as far as
imitate their makers to the fullest extent by Ascending. However, this group
has met with little success in their endeavors, perhaps due to their
programmed aggressive nature, which may be the only thing preventing them
from achieving their goal. This does not appear to be a natural state as
when Niam was reset by the Asurans, he reverted to a far more aggressive
behavior than what he had previously displayed when Sheppard's team first
encountered him. A majority of this group were reset but some survived
within the Replicator collective and continue their attempts at finding the
key to ascension.
The vast majority, however, wish to continue in isolation until they
encounter the Atlantis Expedition. After this encounter, the Asurans are
determined to destroy the 'favored' children of the Ancients as a last act
of revenge against their makers.
Asurans view humans as an inferior form of life and are willing to kill
thousands as seen in The Seer. They view the Tau'ri especially with envy and
hatred due to the fact that they are from Earth, the homeworld of the
Ancients, as well as the fact that many are direct descendents of the
Ancients and now inhabit Atlantis.
Little is known of Asuran tactics but they seem to favor
conventional manner of defeating opponents through the use of force and
their advanced technology. It is known that when this is not available, the
Asurans resort to other means of achieving their goals such as the
deployment of a satellite weapon to destroy Atlantis.
When facing a threat that could destroy them, the Asurans have shown, as of
Lifeline, to willingly sacrifice their number til they are capable of
overcoming the problem. In the face of an Anti-Replicator Field, the Asurans
sent forth pairs of their numbers into the field which killed the units
until finally they were able to overcome the effects of the field.
Another demonstration of their Strategic thinking can be seen in the episode
The Seer during the Asuran-Wraith War. The Asurans analyzed their enemy and
have identified a crucial weakness among their Wraith foes: their dependence
on the humans of the Pegasus galaxy as a food source. Seeing this, the
Asurans' military might adapt to exploit this weakness by wiping out the
human population of the galaxy in order to starve the Wraith, an efficient
and much less costly approach then a direct confrontation with the Wraith
themselves. It is possible that such tactics could have also been used
during the Wraith/Ancient war 10,000 years prior, and would have been a
strong contributing factor in the Ancients' decision to exterminate them.
The Asurans are perhaps one of the most advanced races
within the Stargate universe and have owed much of this to their replication
and imitation of the technology of their creators, the Ancients. While the
Asurans are quite capable of building advanced Warships, quite probably
duplicates of Lantean warships, they are vulnerable insomuch as the Warships
are purely conventional technology. Unlike Replicator ships which are often
partially or wholly made up of Replicator cells making them all but immune
to energy weapons, Asuran ships are just as vulnerable to conventional anti
ship weapons as Ancient ships...which given their sophistication, is not
that much comfort given their Replicator-like industrial capabilities.
Presumably, they are named for the Asuras of Hindu (or simply Indo-European)
mythology, who were the arrogant and violent adversaries of the rulers of
Heaven, the Devas, much as the Asurans are with regards their creators, the
Ancients. However, in Vedic Hindu mythology the Asuras are simply the
guardians of the law, whereas the Devas are the guardians of life, although
this definition doesn't seem to apply.
However, unlike the impersonation of Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, and various
other cultural deities by the Goa'uld, the Asurans do not appear to be based
on or the basis for any race in Human or Lantean mythology, so their naming
is quite likely an arbitrary one by the show producers.