Episode-related: The Nox
The skin was smooth, unmarked and unbroken. Her eyes told her that, and her fingertips confirmed it. And yet she could still feel the tearing jolt of a staff weapon’s blast. It had caught her right here, at the base of the sternum. Had ripped right into her, shredding skin and flesh and bone. Her fingers moved again, probing gently, but there was no pain now.
“Oops. Sorry, Sam....”
It was Daniel, backing out past the exam curtain in a hurry. Sam snatched a black T-shirt from the table beside her and tugged it over her head. “It’s okay, Daniel, come on in. I thought the Colonel was next.”
“Uh, he is. Janet said I should go ahead and wait in here.” The archaeologist hung back near the curtain, careful not to look at her.
“Daniel. I’m decent.” Sam slid her right foot into a regulation boot and bent to tighten the laces. “And you’re not the first guy here to walk in on me. Or vice versa.”
Daniel flashed her a grateful smile. His face was a bit pink. Sam concentrated on her other boot, as a substitute for wondering why Daniel couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting. When she straightened, he had unfolded the bundle he’d brought in--a jacket and vest, each with a hole charred through the front. “I told Janet the Nox didn’t use technology–at least, anything we would understand by the term–to revive us, but she said she still wants our clothes.”
“Can’t stop a scientist from looking for answers,” Sam said lightly. She shrugged into a clean, undamaged jacket and fastened it neatly. “I mean, that residue is the only physical evidence that we...died.”
Daniel refolded his bundle roughly and side-stepped to let her pass.
Now or never, Sam thought. Instead of getting up and walking out, she said, “You’ve died before, right, Daniel? On the first Abydos mission?” The archaeologist nodded warily. “What was it like, being brought back by a sarcophagus?”
Daniel tucked his bundle under one arm, then took off his glasses and meticulously wiped them on the hem of his shirt. “It was...powerful. A very disorienting rush.” He looked up at Sam, glasses still loosely in one hand. “Resurrection by brute force.”
Aha. “So whatever the Nox did, it was different–in quality, not just in style.”
The glasses went back on, and Daniel blinked a few thoughtful times before answering. “Yes. I’d say so. How–what did it feel like to you?”
That took Sam a minute to process. “Well, it.... I’d have to say it was disorienting, but only because I expected to be dead and wasn’t. Other than that....” She closed her eyes for a second, and was back in warm darkness, in a sense of wholeness, of safety. “It felt like waking up. On the first day of leave.”
“Heaven on earth, huh?” At Sam’s look, Daniel cracked a wry grin. “No, I understand. They treated it like a ritual, but it felt...natural. As natural as being brought back from the dead can be, anyway.”
“And their whole society is the same way. At least, what we saw of it.” Sam leaned forward, excited. Finally something about this was starting to make sense. “They do the impossible, and for them, it is natural.”
Daniel frowned at her. “That doesn’t mean they’re super-natural,” he pointed out. “Just that they know more about nature than we do and can harness it better.”
“Sure, sure.” Sam nodded, placating. “If all we’re talking about is their technology, I agree completely. But that’s not quite what I meant. Daniel, they don’t take sides. Not just in action, but in considering, in learning, in judging. I’ve never thought an entire, complex society could afford to offer unconditional free will to anyone it came into contact with.”
“That offer could have destroyed them.” Daniel’s voice was almost a whisper.
“I don’t think it would have. I think they exist in some way that would enable them to find a path to peace regardless of the actions of others.” Sam stopped, unsure where she was going with this. “It’s– I don’t know, it’s beautiful. Impossible, and beautiful.”
“Definitely much further advanced than we are,” Daniel muttered.
“That doesn’t explain how they manage. I can see how a highly advanced race might be able to naturally do things we find incredible, but why did it feel natural to us, Daniel?”
“They’re psychic,” Daniel said.
Sam crossed her arms and stared at him. “Ah. So they read our minds and made something as unnatural as a sarcophagus feel right to us? Does that sound like something Lya would do? Because I’m having trouble believing that everything they told us was part of some grand illusion.”
Daniel pulled off his glasses again, massaging tired eyes. “I didn’t say I thought the Nox were lying. I don’t think they were. I just think we aren’t capable of completely understanding them.”
“Agreed.” Sam stretched, and stood to leave. At the curtain she turned back. “Do you remember what Anteaus said, right after he showed us their city?”
Daniel put his glasses back on and pushed them up. “Uh... ‘fear not,’ I think.”
“What do you think he meant?”
“Well,” Daniel shifted his stance, arms crossed in introspection. “He showed us their city, showed us the kind of power and technology they have, so we wouldn’t worry about them. So we wouldn’t be afraid for them. So we would go away and leave them in peace.”
“Are you sure that’s what he meant by ‘fear not’?”
Daniel focused on her abruptly, lips thinning as he pressed them together. “The Goa’uld are not gods, the Asgard are not gods, and the Nox are not angels.”
Holy Hannah. Sam hadn’t expected to get such a rise out of him. “Daniel! I didn’t say they were. The wording just sounded familiar.”
“They’re psychic, remember.” Daniel stopped, then sighed gustily and rushed on, “They wouldn’t be ‘angels’ as we define them, anyway. Angels were messengers and warriors for God or the gods. The Nox won’t fight, and they didn’t seem too anxious to pass on a message from God to us humans.”
Sam stared at him. “I’m not so sure they weren’t.”
“What, ‘The young do not always do what they are told’?” Daniel shrugged. “That’s nothing we couldn’t have heard here at home, is it?”
“How about, ‘There will be no more death’?”
Daniel shifted the bundle in his hands, then dumped the shredded clothes on one end of the exam table. “I don’t understand why you’re so obsessed with this.”
Sam opened her mouth to snap back, then closed it again. In memory, fingertips brushed new skin. “Haven’t you ever had a feeling that made no logical sense...but it turned out to be right?”
Daniel glared at her.
“Haven’t you two had enough adrenaline rushes for one day? What is this, Philosopher’s Monthly Live?” Neither of them had seen the dark-haired, petite doctor appear at the curtain. Janet Frasier glanced from one to the other, then waved a hand at Sam. “Go on, it’s Daniel’s turn.”
Sam nodded to Janet, but Daniel’s voice stopped her before she could leave. “Sure, I’ve felt like that before. But in this case, we’ll never know, will we?”
“Maybe not.” Sam glanced back at him, one hand holding the curtain open. “Or maybe all they wanted was for us to start asking impossible questions.”
ETA: I forgot to thank JD, who brought up the Nox in that spirituality post I did; and kerravonsen, who gave me The Entirety of Daniel's Rebuttal Argument (ie, "they're psychic"). :-)