Carter came flying through the stargate head first into the SGC, tumbled over once in mid air, then fell hard to the ground at the foot of the ramp where there was an audible 'pop' that even Landry could hear as he came through the gateroom doors.

"What the hell?" he demanded at the up close sight of Woolsey's dead body, with the sentiment echoing in his mind a second time when he saw Carter's unconscious form balled up on the floor.

A Corporal knelt down next to Carter, pressed two fingers against her throat, then gave Landry a thumbs up.

"Where's that medic?" Landry yelled as Caldwell and Ellis stepped through the gate just before it shut down. "Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Which part?" Caldwell asked half sarcastically.

"The part where Woolsey is dead," Landry said evenly, letting the Colonel know he wasn't in a mood for games.

"Stevenson killed Woolsey," Caldwell said. "We don't know why."

"That's not entirely true," Ellis interrupted. "It appeared that Woolsey had information that the rest of us didn't, and whatever that information was it was serious enough to get him killed. Stevenson asked General Carter if she knew before he sent her back."

"You mean threw her back," Caldwell objected. "If Stevenson is as advanced as it appears, then he probably has telepathic abilities, which it looked like he was using on Woolsey and Carter. We have no way of knowing what was going on between them."

"Stop right there," Landry demanded. "We'll sort this mess out later. Are all your personnel accounted for?"

"All that chose to come back," Caldwell said stiffly.

Landry frowned. "You mean more of our people defected to Atlantis?"

"Yes, sir," Ellis answered.

"For the love of God," Landry said under his breath. "We'll debrief in one hour. In the mean time try and come up with a short synopsis. I highly doubt I'll have the patience to sit through every mission detail. The I.O.A. can do that on their own time, but I for one want to hear why our taskforce returned to Earth without their ships," he said, eyeing the two Colonels as he walked over to Carter as the newly arrived medics were hauling her up onto a gurney.

"Sergeant Siler!" Landry half yelled over the din.

"Yes, sir."

"I want that new iris installed ASAP."

"As soon as it arrives, sir."

"Colonel Davenwood," Landry said, looking at the man on his left. "I want a permanent security guard in the gateroom around the clock until the iris is fixed. That bastard just left Earth open to attack, and if anything unwelcome comes through that gate it's your responsibility to make sure it doesn't get off this ramp."

Davenwood nodded. "Will do, General."

Landry looked up at the gate with its worthless iris halo ringing the inside of the device and shook his head in disgust.

"Dr. McKay…wait," Dr. Lam said, putting her arm in front of him as he tried to enter the infirmary.

"I'm here to see Colonel Carter," he explained innocently.

"I know," Lam said. "But before I let you, you need to understand a few things."

"Understand what?"

"She's not alright, despite appearances to the contrary," Lam said in a whisper.

Rodney frowned. "What do you mean?"

"She has a broken wrist, that much is easy to diagnose…but she hasn't said a single word since she woke up. I tried to talk to her, but the most I got was two seconds of eye contact. She's been crying most of the time, or trying to. She's probably out of tears by now."

"What are you saying?"

"I think there's something psychologically wrong with her," Lam said gingerly. "Something I can't diagnose…not for sure anyway. But at the very least I'd say she suffered some kind of emotional trauma. Her lack of responsiveness is probably due to a self-defense mechanism, dulling her senses to the outside world in an attempt to lock down the internal pain."

"What are you saying…she's broken?"

"I don't know. I suggest you handle her with kid gloves, but if you can get through to her, even a little, it would better help me diagnose her condition."

"Of course," Rodney said as Lam let her arm down. He walked over to Carter's bed and sat down in an adjacent chair. He reached out gently and touched her shoulder.

"Sam? It's me, Rodney. Can you hear me?"

Carter's eyes remained where they were…staring through him towards the wall, half swollen from endless crying.

"What the hell happened to you?" McKay asked in a whisper. "Last I saw you, you were fine."

Very slowly Carter's eyes focused and lifted toward Rodney with fresh tears seeping out. "You were right," she said, barely loud enough for him to hear. "I'm sorry."

"About what? The mission?" McKay said, glad to just have her look at him. "Forget about all that right now…" he said to her, but she'd already drifted off again.

Dr. Lam walked up behind him, concerned. "Did she say something?"

"A few words, then she was gone again."

"That's something at least," Lam said, jotting something down on her clipboard. "Good work."

Rodney shrugged his shoulders. "I didn't do anything."

"Sometimes the presence of a certain person elicits a response that others can't. Either way, it's a good sign."

"Do you have any idea how this could have happened?"

"You don't know?"

"No," McKay said, eyes widening. "What happened?"

"I was told it had to do with Stevenson, and the possibility of a telepathic mind link."

"That doesn't make any sense," McKay said, confused. "Why would he do something like this to her?"

The moment the words were out of his mouth he knew the answer. Sam's few words were all the proof he needed. Dr. Lam must have seen the reaction in his eyes.

"What?" she asked curiously.

"Nothing," McKay said, getting up. "Let me know if anything changes?" he asked.

"Sure," Lam said, unconvinced, but she let it go.

Rodney nodded his thanks then hurriedly walked off.

Stevenson stood at the control board of the Asgard core onboard the Odyssey as a sudden revelation hit him. The wording the Asgard had chosen in several historical records had seemed odd, and he'd just done a search along those 'odd' parameters. The correlated events on the patchwork timeline that the computer core had just compiled for him gave a coded sequence of future events…if one knew how to read them.

It wasn't something the humans could have noticed. The Asgard language was subtle, and without a full understanding of the nuances of the language the 'oddities' wouldn't stand out. That had given him the first glimmer of hope in the three days he'd spent going through the massive amount of data stored within the core, but what he'd just found floored him.

It was a detailed, yet vague, step by step process through which the Asgard race would be reborn.

He'd suspected something like this would be here. The Asgard were too advanced for mass suicide…the Alterra had taught them better than that. However, if they were going to keep their technology out of the wrong hands then they needed everyone to believe they were dead so no one would come looking for them…except someone sufficiently advanced to help them.

Stevenson didn't know if they'd expected him to be the one to come to their aid, but the clues they'd left behind seemed as if they were tailor made for him. Regardless, he did have the power to help them…he'd solved the problem of their continual genetic degeneration within two hours of gaining access to their medical records within the data core. The Asgard had already done all the ground work for him, they had just lacked a single piece of information…one that Stevenson had, thanks to Lyran.

That was, however, merely the tip of the iceberg. With this new revelation a multitude of interlocking events needed to be set in motion, and done so quickly. Time was on his side, so long as he didn't delay. With the initial confrontation with Avalon now in the history books, he could move on to other projects that would require longer periods of time away from Pegasus…projects that, up until now, he hadn't felt comfortable risking.

To that end, he ringed back into the central column of Atlantis from the pier where the Odyssey was undergoing a much needed refit and tracked down Drs Jackson and Weir. They were the first two pieces in the very large puzzle that he was about to start putting together.