Firstly, I'd like to point that yes - I am aware of the intermitent outages on the NCQ server. It's probably maintance, and as such there isn't much I can do about it.
In other news, if it weren't obvious by now (it's been mentioned several times), Episode VI of Atlantis DSV is being written. Work isn't as fast as I've been used to because of the nature of the story and the problems that have to be worked out after the events of Episode V. I am therefore not prepared to divluge many details on what the story is going to contain, and until recently I wasn't entirely sure myself.
I had a lengthy conversation with DG Williams from NCQ the other day (he's frequently been a 'sounding board' for Atlantis-related work) on the intended direction of Episode VI.
jjward: "Hey, DG. I'd like to present you with a question..."
So I gave him the abridged summary of Episode VI's plot...
Charlie Brown: "Ok, that's just a bad idea..."
Oh yes, it was a long conversation, but one that did end constructively, and eliminated much doubt over how the next episode will play out. I'm going to assume that anyone reading this has finished Episode V, so to put it bluntly - if you have not, then stop reading now.
Atlantis's apparent destruction in Shattered Sword might have been a shock to those who read it, but the problems it presents for the writer(s) are understandably greater still. It isn't like the ship was captured or just severely damaged, or "misplaced", as the original seaQuest season 2 might have shown... No, it was completely blown out of the water, with very few chances of recovery.
One doesn't just "build a new one" either, further compounding the problem.
Indeed, we've started asking ourselves if we should bring the Atlantis herself back from the grave. It might be that the ship should simply never be seen again given the circumstances.
Whatever we decide, Episode VI is going ahead just as soon as we've finished the plot draft. The story will pick up a full two years after the events of Shattered Sword, and the war, which has dragged on under the new (and ineffective) leadership of Secretary General James Cathgate has driven the UEO military to a point of complete disarray.
With this said, it should be pretty clear that the mood and tone of Atlantis is about to change drastically. It's my goal with Episode VI to bring the series in to a darker, more desperate arc, exploring primarily the changed (and changing) attitudes of the characters themselves, rather than the nature of the war, per se.
Much of this was hinted at or suggested within Episode V; especially within the last few chapters. The theme of the last two chapters in particular - "The End of Innocence" and "Shattered Sword" - looked at the simple concept that a major change was happening for the characters. The loss of Atlantis herself was nothing but a catalyst to that realization, and something that needed to happen in order for that point to be made.
By extension, the foremost question for Episode VI will be "How will these people have changed in two years time?" It's virtually assured that while they will be the same characters, they won't have the same attitudes. This is a basic idea done a million times before, but the scale of it in this case is going to be significant, and many of the characters might be barely recognisable from where they left off in Episode V.
Because of this, the presence of the Atlantis herself is clearly entirely secondary: it's not needed, and if Episode VI can be done without the titular submarine, then I'm of the belief that it should be.
(The above is the official "DSX Development Team" badge for the Atlantis class DSVs. inspired by Star Trek's USS Defiant "Assimilate THIS!" badge...)