Chapter 22: And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
"That is, assuming that the Nox are willing to help," Jack points out, not sounding particularly convinced... not that I blame him. I like the Nox but I do sometimes find them a little too reluctant to get involved. Of course, maybe the fact that this isn't a battle will make all the difference.
"Help?" asks Lya.
"Yes, you see, we kind of met these people while looking for a way to help the Asgard solve their cloning problems. They have the DNA the Asgard need but are worried that if the clones have souls the Asgard would essentially be turning into something similar to the Goa'uld," explains Jack, shaking his head. "Anyway, they are not exactly on board with the whole helping the Asgard keep cloning themselves thing but they have suggested that maybe they should try for ascension instead, just like the Ancients did. The problem is that they don't really know how to help them reach that goal in the first place so we are kind of stuck."
"We would be honored to help," she says, slowly nodding her head and looking oddly pleased, though she still seems to be almost unable to take her eyes off our guests, and for some reason she seems to be particularly taken with Tara.
"So you think it can be done?" insists Jack.
"Yes. It will not be easy and we may need your help but it is possible."
"Our help?" he asks.
"Not yours, theirs," she says pointing at our guests.
"Okay, how come they can help you and we can't?"
"Because they understand... not everything but perhaps enough to bridge the gap."
"What gap?" asks Jack, though I have to admit I'm more than a little curious about that one myself.
"The one between the Nox and the Asgard."
"And that explains it exactly how?" he asks. Jack has never been the most patient man in the world and it is apparent that he is getting more than a little frustrated with Lya's half answers.
"While the Nox and the Asgard have been friends and allies for many millennia there are great differences between us and we cannot always understand each other," she explains. "In the past the Ancients and the Furlings used to mediate the gap, this time your friends may be the ones best suited to do that. They are still young but they are beginning to understand the ways of the Nox, just like they are beginning to understand the ways of the Asgard."
"And again with the whole 'young' thing," grumbles Jack.
"It is not a bad thing," says Lya before going on. "The fact that you are yet to choose a path of your own has already enabled you to do something we've been trying to do for over a thousand of your years."
"And what's that?"
"Explain to the Asgard the fact that the time has come from them to abandon their current path in terms they can understand. We attempted to do that when they first came to us, looking for a solution to their problems but we were unable to communicate our concerns," she explains.
"So even though the molecular structure of atoms can be used as the basis for a universal language, there remain certain differences that cannot be overcome, not even by relying on such a basic common ground?" I ask, feeling more than a little surprised by that particular revelation.
"Yes," says Lya, almost beaming at me.
"Atoms?" asks Willow.
"Yes, on a world we visited almost six years ago --where we first encountered a reference to the four races-- there was a sort of library with four kinds of writing in it... and a universal language based on the periodic table."
"That is fascinating!" exclaims Giles.
"Unfortunately that world was lost," I say, unable to keep the regret out of my voice. Yes, I'm grateful for the fact that I was dragged out of there literally in the nick of time but I've never been able to forget. Even after all these years I've never really stopped wondering what secrets we could possibly have uncovered if only we had found the footage that led us to Ernest and Heliopolis a couple of weeks earlier.
"The world may have been lost, but not the knowledge," says Lya and I turn to her. For years I have been mourning that lost opportunity only now she seems to be suggesting that maybe that opportunity was not lost at all!
"You have the knowledge?"
"Of course we do."
"And you'd be willing to share it?" I ask with some suspicion.
"When the time comes," she says.
"When the time comes?" I repeat, though I'm pretty sure I already know what she means.
"There are certain things you are still not ready to understand and others that could even become a threat to your very survival," she explains. "I am sure your friends understand what I mean."
I shake my head at that, still not entirely convinced even though I know she's not going to change her mind about that. I guess this whole encounter has been too much for me to assimilate in a matter of hours and --to make matters worse-- it is becoming increasingly apparent that we are going to have to establish some sort of permanent collaboration with our unexpected guests here. That can turn out to be more than a little tricky.
For starters there is the fact that I'm not sure how receptive they are going to be to that idea. They are obviously wary of the military --and I'm not sure how comfortable we are going to be working with them either-- but apparently neither one of us is going to have much of a choice in the matter. Lya seems to be convinced that their help is necessary to help the Asgard, not to mention that they seemed to have obtained in a matter of minutes something we've been looking for for years: an opportunity to establish something closer to permanent ties with the Nox. In fact, if we are lucky, this may even turn out to be another small step toward mankind becoming the fifth race.
I'm not deluding myself, of course. I know that even if this is indeed a small step in that direction, we are still a very long way from that goal. To the Nox and the Asgard we are nothing but children and that is unlikely to change any time soon... besides --as much as I hate having to admit it-- they are probably right when they say that there is some knowledge that could easily turn out to be a danger to our survival. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we managed to bring ourselves to the brink of extinction even before alien tech became an issue and that means that, even if we truly are on our way toward becoming the fifth race --and that is still far from certain-- there's no way that's going to happen in our lifetime.
I shake my head at that. As I told Jack, there will be time for us to worry about that later. Right now our top priority has to be to do whatever we can to help the Asgard. This is not about us and that may be the most important lesson that we take away from this whole experience... that and a group of powerful human allies.
Of course, the fact that there are bound to be some positive things coming out of this encounter doesn't make this experience any less confusing. Our certainties have been turned upside down, our relationship with some of our allies seems to have been permanently transformed in a matter of hours and I have a ton of things I'm going to have to try to sort out on my own but I can do that in my own time and that means that in a way I'm one of the lucky ones. Yes, this whole thing hasn't been easy for me but it could have been much worse... at least I'm not the one who is going to have to come up with a way to explain what's happened here to the president.