Chapter 21: How Soon Is Soon Enough?
I have to say that I'm still somewhat worried about this whole mess, especially now that I know what kind of punch these kids really pack. I mean, what the heck are we supposed to do with a girl who could literally take out the world? That is what we have here, but at the same time there's a part of me that can't help but to understand. I mean, destroying the world could be seen as taking things to the extreme but grief is something I can definitely relate to.
The problem is that our 'guests' seem to have more tricks up their sleeves than the average magician and that bothers me. Still, something deep down tells me that the one I should really watch out for is Giles. Sure, the man looks even geekier than Daniel did when I first met him and so far the power seems to be centered around the girls but I'm a military man and one thing I know is that the one you don't turn your back on is the opposing general... and that's exactly what he is, there's no denying that.
His girls will listen to him, of that I have no doubt, and that makes him the most dangerous one.
I guess that's one of the main reasons why I felt so relieved when I saw the change that came over his features as he kept an eye on my argument with Daniel. I don't know what he was thinking but if it got him to move us out of the 'potential enemy' column I'm all for it... now if only we could get a coherent, full story out of these people I would be a happy colonel... or at least a less unhappy one. The knowledge that there are kids out there who are capable of destroying the world is definitely not something that will help me sleep better at night, especially because I am all too aware of what kind of mistakes children can make.
Sure, Willow, Buffy and company are not exactly children but they are still way too young to have that kind of power... either that or I'm getting old. Of course, on top of that there is also the fact that I am painfully aware that there's a whole other story we are not being told here. That is something that is still bothering me but there is nothing I can do about it. In that regard I'm at their mercy and --come to think of it-- that's not doing much for my mood either.
Well, I guess that is something I'm going to have to deal with later because, as Daniel just pointed out, we have other things to worry about right now and the sooner we take care of those things, the sooner we'll be able to focus on the day's revelations. Besides, considering what we are dealing with --and considering the fact that these people are human and therefore they are not going anywhere-- I really can't afford to get distracted here... especially because Giles is saying something.
"Getting back to the current situation regarding the Asgard, is it fair to say that at least part of your concern has to do with the fate of what you call 'the protected planets'?" he asks, not taking his eyes off of me.
"Well, yes," I admit, rather reluctantly. The truth is that I would have preferred it if he hadn't mentioned that in front of Thor but now that the cat is out of the bag there's no point in trying to deny it.
"So the way you see it an integral part of finding a solution to the Asgard's problem would have to be for us to find a way to maintain that protection?" he asks.
"Yes, " I say. "I mean, I admit that earth is my primary concern but I do realize that we wouldn't be the only ones affected. Either way, it's not going to be easy."
"That is true, however, before we go any further, I think there are a couple of questions that must be answered."
"Questions?" I ask.
"Yes. I am aware that you have been dealing with this situation for a while and that means some of our questions are likely to seem redundant to you but we just got here and as a result there are certain details we are unfamiliar with. For instance, I think the first thing we have to establish is how long do the Asgard have if they can't get access to fresh DNA," he explains, turning his attention to Thor.
"I don't know," I admit, realizing that he is not the only one who is a few answers short here.
"Not long, a few centuries... a thousand years at most but that is not certain," says Thor.
"A thousand years!?" I all but yell, feeling like a fool.
"Yes," he confirms and I turn toward Giles who isn't looking anywhere near as surprised as he should.
"You knew, didn't you? Somehow you knew," I accuse him.
"I didn't know, not exactly. I did, however, suspect that the way in which the Asgard perceive time was likely to be very different from our own perception and that meant that it was possible for your sense of urgency to be somewhat unwarranted."
"But how did you know?" I insist.
"Well, Thor basically revealed that himself when he mentioned why it would be impossible for them to go back to sexual reproduction," he explains. "He made it clear that they are used to measuring their life spans in millennia so it wasn't too farfetched for me to assume that what they perceive to be an immediate threat could actually seem anything but from our perspective. The thing is that with this timeframe it should be possible for us to start working toward a solution that would hopefully make it possible for those protected planets to protect themselves long before this situation can actually become a crisis. That should take care of that problem. On the other hand that doesn't mean that there is no urgency when it comes to the need to take some steps that would ideally help the Asgard ascend. "
"Because from what we've seen here today, and based on what you've told us so far, it would seem that the Asgard are a race that is almost entirely focused on technology. That effectively puts them at a serious disadvantage in this particular instance because ascension is essentially a spiritual journey and that means that the leap forward that is going to be necessary for them to pull this one off is likely to be almost inconceivable. That is the real problem."
"But they have time!" I exclaim.
"I'm not sure," says Giles, shaking his head. "A thousand years may sound like a very long time from our perspective but I'm still not convinced it's going to be enough, especially because the gap the Asgard are going to have to bridge is so enormous and because their perception of time is so different from our own. Even if they do have a thousand years, what they have to do is still essentially the equivalent to a civilization going from the stone age to the space age in a single life span."
"So what are we supposed to do?"
"Unfortunately I'm not sure there's anything we can do, that is one of the main reasons why I suspect that in this instance the Nox's input will be invaluable."