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Leap of Faith
Rai led the two visitors to a room in the same building they had entered. There was one large bed, a cream colored loveseat and dark blue chair facing a small fireplace, a small round table with two chairs, and a low credenza, on which a lamp burned brightly. Investigation of the double door on the wall opposite of the bed revealed a large, well appointed bathroom. Rai had returned after about thirty minutes, carrying what looked like two shopping bags. She told them that they would be having dinner with The Lady and the Prefect, and needed to be properly attired. After handing the bags to Casey, the translator left again. Inside the bags were clothes for them. Both women were surprised at how well the skirts and sweaters fit.
"One bed," Sam mused.
"I noticed. I guess in a world without men, that um…relationships would form, huh?" Casey said.
The tall blonde smiled. "I'm thinking that it might not be a bad thing to let them think that we're a couple. Might keep us from being hit on."
"Good plan," Casey agreed. "Think I should talk to Daniel, let him know what's going on?"
Sam nodded. "I want to know they're okay, too."
The slender blonde smiled. She had been worried as well. "Daniel?"
'I'm right here, Angel. Are you okay?'
She smiled. "We're fine, for now. Seems we're having dinner with The Lady, who seems to be in charge of everything around here, and the Prefect. It's weird, Daniel. No men anywhere. They uh…seem to think that…uh…Sam and I are a couple. We're going to let them keep thinking that...hopefully it will keep us from having too much trouble. Are you guys okay?"
'We're fine, Angel. We're with the men. No women around here, and apparently none of the men alive down here has ever seen a woman. They've discovered what looks like an old library; we're in it now. Jack thinks there was a war of some sort, and the city you're in was built on top of one that was buried for some reason, and that's where we're at.'
She couldn't help but grin. If Daniel had found a library of any kind, he was in his element, no matter the circumstances. "Let us know what you find out."
'I will. Jack says to keep trying to get to the 'gate and get home. Love you, Angel.'
"Okay, we will. Love you." Casey closed her eyes and hugged herself as Daniel's love wrapped around her. Sent her love to him, felt him hold her for just a few seconds longer before he finally moved away. She turned to Sam. "They're okay. Evidently they're with the men. And none of them have ever seen a woman before. Anyway, the men discovered some kind of library, Daniel's there now. He's going to see if he can find out what happened."
Sam nodded. "This is just too bizarre."
"Daniel said that Jack thinks there was a war of some sort, and this city was built on top of the one they're in, I guess it's a city that was buried."
There was a knock on the door. "We don't say one word about this. If these women don't know about it, we could cause trouble for the men," Sam said.
Casey nodded. "I agree. Let's see what we can find out." She opened the door.
Rai looked at the young woman approvingly. She was indeed a beautiful woman. Rai might be young, but she could recognize that the two blonde women were a couple. She only hoped that The Lady wouldn't decide to seduce this woman…Casey. It had never bothered The Lady to pursue a woman already in a relationship, and several bondings had suffered from her attention to one of the individuals. She smiled. "You look lovely, both of you," she said, smiling at Sam as well.
Casey looked down at the skirt and sweater. The deep green skirt was full, and hit her mid-calf. It was soft, as was the fluffy, light yellow sweater. "Thank you."
Sam was wearing a blue skirt that was straight, and stopped just above her knees. Her sweater was a darker blue, and followed her curves closely. She grinned. "Yeah, you do look nice, Case."
Casey's grin matched her best friend's. "You look hot, if you want my opinion. Bet Jack would like that outfit!"
Sam giggled. "I'll bet Daniel wouldn't like yours," she replied. Casey had told her and Tessa how much Daniel loved her green dress.
"Sure he would, as long as I was wearing something really sexy under it," Casey giggled.
Rai had no idea what the women were saying. She discreetly cleared her throat. "We should go, we don't want to be late."
"Of course," Casey replied. She turned to her friend. "Shall we, sugarpie?"
The two women giggled again, and followed their somewhat confused interpreter into the hallway. Rai led them to the elevator, and they went down three floors. The doors opened on what appeared to be a sizable restaurant. Several conversations stopped when the strangers were quickly led back to the private dining room of The Lady.
A A A A A A
Daniel looked around the dusty room. One wall was completely gone, it opened to the street a few feet below them. Oskron explained that they had busted through the wall, intending to 'reclaim' the building for shelters for the men to live in. When the shelves of books were discovered, the room had been carefully cordoned off, and guards from among the men he trusted had been posted to keep others away.
Very few of the men seemed to understand the significance of their find. Only Oskron, Halle, and a few others who had been brave enough to actually enter the room and look at the books that were strewn around were aware that life as they knew it was not the way it had always been. They had carefully gone through the books, their entire world rocked to its very foundation with each discovery they had made. Many of the books had pictures in them. There were several dozen piled neatly together. It was to this group of books that Daniel was led.
"Can you read them?" Hallet asked, almost breathlessly.
The young archaeologist picked up one of the worn books, and carefully opened it. He almost laughed out loud as he flipped through the pages. Hustler would have been proud of some of the photographs that were in the book. They showed men and women in every position of lovemaking imaginable. A few he recognized. Tried that one. Too much work on that one. Case laughed at this one. And a couple he'd never thought of. One looked kind of interesting. He'd have to remember it. There were very few words.
He reached for the next book. This one seemed to be a medical journal of some sort. And it had explanations on birth, from fertilization to delivery, accompanied by diagrams and pictures. The next book was more of the same. Like the spoken language, this seemed to be an ancient version of Arabic, using written cuneiform rather than hieroglyphs. He recognized most of them. It was similar to Sumerian. He glanced at the group of men who watched him, almost holding their breath. "I recognize some of these words," he admitted.
"You can tell us what these mean?" Oskron asked, pointing at the pictures.
Jack and Teal'c had been looking over Daniel's shoulder. Daniel translated the request. "Okay, professor, you're on. Time to teach the boys the facts of life," Jack grinned.
Daniel looked at the older man. "I guess somebody needs to, huh?"
"Yep." Jack found a table to perch on, made himself comfortable.
"Yes, I can tell you what these pictures mean," Daniel said.
Her soft voice echoed in his head. It brought an instant smile to his lips. He closed his eyes, seeing her sweet face in his mind as she gently caressed him. "I'm right here, Angel. Are you okay?"
'We're fine, for now. Seems we're having dinner with The Lady, who seems to be in charge of everything around here, and the Prefect. It's weird, Daniel. No men anywhere. They uh… seem to think that…uh…Sam and I are a couple. We're going to let them keep thinking that...hopefully it will keep us from having too much trouble. Are you guys okay?'
"We're fine, Angel. We're with the men. No women around here, and apparently none of the men alive down here has ever seen a woman. They've discovered what looks like an old library, we're in it now. Jack thinks there was a war of some sort, and the city you're in was built on top of one that was buried for some reason." That discussion had occurred as they made their way through the first dark alley.
'Let us know what you find out.'
"Tell them to keep trying to get to that 'gate," Jack said from where he sat.
"I will. Jack says to keep trying to get to the 'gate and get home." He sent his love to her, reached for her and held her tightly. "Love you, Angel."
'Okay, we will. Love you.'
Her love wrapped around him, soothed the worry from his heart. He held her for a few seconds longer, then reluctantly moved away, and returned his attention to the men who were watching him. He grinned. He didn't think these men would understand his ability to communicate telepathically with his wife. "Okay, sit down. I'll teach you basic biology, then I'm going to look around and see if I can't find the history of your world, and figure out what happened."
The men grinned at one another, and made themselves comfortable on the floor among the piles of dusty books. When there was no room on the floor they stood against the shelves, a few even standing on the street, straining to hear all that was being said.
Three hours later, he was still answering questions. The men seemed more open to these 'new' ideas than he had thought they would be, considering the way their society was set up, and what they were asking told him that they had been wondering, some of them all of their lives, about the imposed separation of the sexes. Luckily, Oskron and Hallet were answering his questions as well.
None of the men remembered anything other than living 'below', and doing maintenance work on the huge buildings that rose above ground. Work orders were sent to the computer at the main hub, an area just south of them, they were told. Every day the Supervisors of each section went to the hub, received the day's work orders, and then took his crew, the men of the section, to do the repairs. The women did any repair work that needed to be done 'topside'. Anything that needed attention in areas where it was possible that men might inadvertently see a woman was done by 'in-betweens', neither male nor female. These 'creatures' were allowed to move freely between the two separate worlds. Further questioning indicated that the 'in-betweens' were possibly robotic, although Jack wasn't sure that it was possible, considering the level of technology that would be needed. Daniel wasn't sure he wanted to know what they were.
A A A A A A
Casey and Sam followed Rai into a private dining room. Four women were already seated on low couches that surrounded an equally low table. The Lady they had already met.
"Please allow me to introduce our visitors from Gamma," Rai said speaking Dovinian, and bowing slightly to the older woman with silver hair and light green eyes, and the two redheaded women who looked like twins. "I present Casey Jackson and Samantha Carter."
The women looked the blondes over carefully. The Lady watched the eyes of her friends. Blondes were rare on Dovinia. Never had they seen any as blonde as Casey, nor with eyes that particular deep green. Both of these women were beautiful. No doubt both would find themselves the center of attention, and tempted to stray from one another while they remained in the city. And if she had her way, they would be staying for a very long time.
"Casey, Samantha, I am honored to introduce you to Madame Dedi, Prefect of Dovinia Minor, and Idhu and Ihat, two of our Lawgivers," Rai said in Goa'uld.
The two Tau'ri nodded politely. Casey took note that the names were Egyptian. There had to be ties to ancient Egypt and this place. She wondered if they would allow her access to their library. Then laughed at herself silently. She was getting to be as bad as Daniel! "It's nice to meet you," Casey said.
The women waited for the translation, then smiled and nodded. The Lady rang a tiny bell that sat beside her plate, and the meal was served. Casey and Sam watched the others, and tried to mimic their movements, aware that even the slightest breach of protocol could lead to trouble. There was absolutely no conversation during the meal, although the women eating in the main dining room had been engaged in discussions, some of them had seemed rather…lively. Whether it was custom, or had to do with the fact that Rai would never get a bite because of translating, Casey wasn't sure.
The meal consisted of pieces of what looked and tasted like fruit and vegetables. No meat, no bread of any sort. Two waitresses slipped in and took the nearly empty plates and disappeared again.
"Rai, is it permissible to ask questions?" Casey asked softly.
The young woman glanced at The Lady, and translated. That woman smiled benevolently, and nodded. "Yes, Casey, you may ask questions."
"Okay," Casey took a deep breath. "You have a large city. Do you have farms to provide food, or do you trade with other civilizations through the Chappa'ai?"
"We raise some of our own food. We do some trading with other people, although their ways are not our ways, and we do not wish contamination among the sisters by outsiders and their perverted ways of thinking, so we deal with others as little as possible," The Lady told them through the interpreter.
"Perverted…such as men and women working together, living together, loving one another?" Casey asked.
When Rai, who was blushing furiously, had finished the interpretation, The Lady, Dedi and Idhu looked positively scandalized. Ihat just looked at the strangers.
"Yes, this is exactly the type of perversion we speak of! It is not the natural way of things!" The Lady declared.
"If it's not the natural way of things, how in the world do you reproduce?" Casey asked, as soon as Rai had finished interpreting.
"The way the gods intended for it to be done! In a sterile laboratory. Where donated cells are brought together. Where the unborn child can be monitored in the special wombs designed for such a purpose! How do you populate your world?" The Prefect asked, her voice cool. Rai continued to interpret, although she seemed to have decided that staring at the table was preferable to looking at anyone in the room.
Casey glanced at Sam, who shrugged and grinned. "When I had my babies, it was because Daniel and I made love and I got pregnant."
"You…you carried a baby inside your body? Are you saying that you allowed a…man…to touch you? Disgusting!" the Prefect exclaimed, shuddering visibly.
"Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, sister," Casey mumbled.
The silver-haired Prefect turned to The Lady. "This is exactly why we must not allow these two…women…access to any of the sisters! There is already a dangerous and growing faction of unbelievers and heretics who spread lies!"
Rai blushed again, but did not interpret the outburst.
"Must not have liked what I said," Casey said softly.
"So it would seem. Is it just me, or has Ihat been trying to catch your eye ever since you started asking questions?" Sam asked.
"I guess I didn't notice," Casey admitted.
"Well, I noticed she wasn’t as outraged by your comment as the others were. Maybe you should flirt a little bit. She might be able, and willing, to help us."
Casey rolled her eyes. "Why me?"
"'Cause you're beautiful, honeybunch!" Sam grinned.
"Yeah, so are you sweetie pie. You're prettier than I am. You flirt!"
"She's not interested in me!" Sam giggled.
The clearing of a throat made the two women look around them. All eyes were on them.
Rai was smiling. "The Lady says you must be newly bonded to one another, you behave as young lovers do."
The two blondes blushed. "Guess she's just going to ignore what I said, huh?" Casey whispered. "We meant no offense," she said out loud.
The women around them smiled when Rai translated. "None is taken," the two visitors were told.
"Now, we would like to know why you have come to Dovinia," The Lady said.
"We are explorers, and we seek to learn about others. We seek to trade knowledge," Casey replied, using the same phrases she had heard Daniel use time and again.
As soon as her words had been translated, Dedi and Idhu shook their heads, and made noises of disagreement. Casey watched Ihat from the corner of her eye. Sam was right, she wasn't acting like the others. Until they looked at her, and then she arranged her face in a look of disgust, nodding her agreement with them. She gave a shy smile to the woman, was rewarded with a swift wink. Casey reached out, felt no danger from her.
Sam watched The Lady. That woman was studiously ignoring Ihat all together. Either she was aware of what was going on, or she was upset with the woman for something else. Ihat seemed to ignore The Lady as well. They would have to be very careful; it was possible that they were being set up.
Dessert was served, small crystal dishes of fruit sherbet. When this course was finished, The Lady and the Prefect excused themselves, thanked Casey and Sam for joining them, and left the room. Idhu glanced at her sister, then shaking her head, a tense smile on her lips, left as well.
"You may leave us Rai," Ihat said in Goa'uld. "And you will speak of this to no one, do you understand? Your position in this tower is precarious at best at this moment. One word from me will destroy you, or set you safely on your path of promotion."
The young interpreter paled, then nodded. "I will say only that which you wish me to say."
"Good. You will leave this room. You will tell the waitress that we are…involved…and do not wish to be disturbed. In one half hour you will return. Do you understand?"
Again the young woman nodded. "Yes."
"Good. Go, then."
When the door had closed, Ihat moved to sit on the couch between Sam and Casey. "I will apologize in advance for anything I might have to do. From here I can see if anyone tries to peek inside. It might be better if we…disrobed…just a bit. Just to create the illusion." She unbuttoned her blouse, pulled her skirt up to her thighs. She stretched out next to Casey.
Sam and Casey shared a look, and both hiked up their sweaters and skirts and laid down near the woman.
Ihat smiled. "Good. Thank you for trusting me. I shall try to help you find your men. It will not be easy to take you from the tower, so it might take me a day or two to arrange your…escape."
"I don't understand," Casey said, frowning slightly.
"There is a faction, a quickly growing faction, of sisters who understand that our way of life is not what the gods intended, no matter how much the Prefect may insist that it is. She has been Prefect for nearly fifty years, and she rules with an iron fist, as did the Prefect before her. The Lady is just as blind to reality," Ihat said.
"The Lady may be on to you," Sam said quietly.
The redhead smiled. "She suspects, but she cannot-" she broke off and grabbed Casey, pressed her lips against the soft mouth of the visitor, let her hand move up the young blonde's side. Casey didn’t struggle, although she was clearly uncomfortable. Ihat opened her eyes and glanced at the door, then released the woman from her hold. "As I was saying, she suspects, but she cannot prove anything. She might be The Lady, but as a Lawgiver, I hold power of my own. And I control the Guard. She won't move against me unless she has absolute proof. And since my own spy is her personal secretary, she will never have that proof; at least, not when it will do her any good. We believe we have found an ancient library in the men's part of the city, and with it, we can prove that we have been lied to for one hundred and thirty years."
"My husband, one of the men with us, is in a library now," Casey said.
Ihat's eyes went wide. "How do you know this?"
Casey glanced at Sam. "My husband and I share a special gift. We're able to speak to one another telepathically…uh…mind to mind."
The woman nodded. "This may indeed help us. You say he is in the library?"
"That's what he said," Casey replied.
Ihat nodded again. "Here is what I will ask of you. You will be taken back to your room. Do not be afraid to sleep tonight. One of my own personal guards is on duty. I will see to it that you are undisturbed. Tomorrow you will be taken to the medical facility. There they will ask to run tests on you. Do not allow it. The easiest way to prevent it is to claim that your gods do not allow the unclean to touch you, or some such thing. The doctors will respect this. They won't like it, but according to our laws, your belief's must be respected."
Casey and Sam nodded their understanding.
"I doubt that you will be allowed out of your room. Tomorrow night, if I cannot come for you, one of you must remain awake at all times. They will monitor the room, and they will not try to take you if one of you is awake to witness their attempt. If I do not come for you tomorrow, then most certainly I will be there the next day." Ihat said, looking from green eyes to blue eyes and back again.
"What do we do in the meantime?" Sam asked.
Ihat smiled. "I do not know. If you were truly a couple, I would tell you to enjoy yourselves. Since you are not…" she shrugged.
Casey grinned. "Lots of gin and poker, my friend!"
Ihat adjusted her clothes, Sam and Casey followed suit. She stood and hugged each of the women. "Again, thank you for trusting me. Your appearance here may be just the catalyst we need to bring the revolution to the streets. If the men have found the library, we are just around the corner from a new day for Dovinia!"
Casey looked at the woman for a moment. "Is there one among the men that you…care for?"
The redhead stopped, then laughed. "No. I have never met a man. I only send messages to them."
"How?" Sam asked, curious.
Ihat smiled. "I have my ways. Goodnight Casey, Samantha." She opened the door and left quietly.
"Gee, who would believe that we'd show up somewhere, right about the time they're heading for a major revolution?" Casey asked, shaking her head.
"I don't care what Ihat says, we're going to take turns sleeping tonight," Sam said, watching the door.
"I agree. You don't suppose this is all an elaborate set up, do you?" Casey was watching the door as well.
"I don't think so. I could be wrong, but The Lady does not trust Ihat," Sam replied.
"I touched Ihat, I felt no deceit at all," Casey admitted. She shivered. "Can you imagine a world without men? I mean, there are days I'd like to try it, for a few hours at least…but I don't think I could handle it on a permanent basis!"
Sam giggled. "I know I couldn't. I'm too fond of Big John!"
Casey burst into giggles. "Yeah, well Daniel's anaconda and I are really close, don't think I could live without the big guy!"
They were still giggling when Rai came for them.
Sam took first watch, and Casey stretched out on the bed. She reached out just to make sure Daniel was there. He was, but he felt…busy. She smiled, and drifted to sleep.
A A A A A A
After the men all left them for the night, drifting back to their humble, meager quarters, Daniel spent the next several hours going through the books in the library, sorting them according to content. When he finally found the history books, the men of the Red Section had already been asleep for at least two hours.
"I found it!" he said softly. "According to these books, Dovinia, which is where we are, was a heavily populated planet. They were also highly industrialized. Their government was run like a board of directors. Men and women worked side by side, equally. Some sort of illness, a plague I guess, infected the women, and they started dying by the millions. When it was discovered that several scientists, all men, had been experimenting with a virus, which somehow managed to get into the water supply, all hell broke loose. These same scientists had been griping that there were too many women, and that because of their larger numbers were taking over. That started an all out war."
"Talk about your battle of the sexes," Jack said, looking at the illustrations of the results of the battle. Nothing had survived the war.
"According to these books, and I'm thinking they were kept hidden because of this, most of the men and women of Dovinia didn't want to join the battle. But they were drafted, and the war raged. They totally destroyed their planet. The city above us, Dovinia Minor, is the first attempt at rebuilding. At first the men and women all lived 'topside'. But a group of women, bitter because they had actually lost the war, managed to gain control of the ruling body. Within sixty years of the war's end, all the men were living underground, or 'below', and the women were living above ground, or 'topside'. About three thousand men and women 'escaped', and vowed to start their own city elsewhere. We'll have to do scans to see if there's another city anywhere else on this planet. Men aren't educated beyond being able to cook and care for themselves, and how to repair and maintain the machinery that runs the city. Apparently, that's the way it's been for the past one hundred and thirty years," Daniel said. Just above the only street corner visible from the library was a sign that displayed the day, date and time, which allowed him to calculate the amount of time that had passed since the book he was holding had been published. It also flashed messages such as "The content worker is a productive worker" and "The men of Dovinia are treated well". Blatant propaganda. No doubt sent out by the much better off women 'topside'.
"And nobody questioned this?" Jack asked, raising his eyebrows in disbelief.
"Not until they stumbled onto this library. According to Oskron, there are 'rebels' among the women. He says that they have contacted him and two other supervisors. They've been looking for this library, or one like it. Apparently their knowledge of their history is better than what the men know. But only the leaders ever know the true story, and once put in office, it's for life."
"Sounds dangerous," Jack replied. "People in power for life tend to abuse it."
"I know," Daniel nodded. "Also according to Oskron, these rebels have been quietly moving up the ladder. He doesn't know how high into the government it goes, but he thinks that there are several 'chairwomen' who are part of the rebel faction."
"Okay, how have they managed to reproduce if they don't ever see one another? More artificial stuff?"
Daniel nodded. "Every six months one of the 'in-betweens' comes through and collects specimens. The men have no idea what happens after that. About once a year one or two baby boys are brought down to the nursery. There are men who work in the nursery, taking care of all the babies and little boys. He said there haven't been any baby boys brought down in nearly two years."
Jack shook his head. "They're manipulating the genes. Only allowing girls to be born. They're going to manipulate themselves right into extinction!"
"I agree, Jack. I don't think the women who are in charge have thought that far down the road. Maybe they've come up with a way to simulate genetic material."
"It's possible. But we know that cloning doesn't always work."
Jack grimaced. Wondered briefly where Johnny was. Or John, rather, according to the US Air Force. His…clone…would be in his early thirties by now. "Yeah, we know that," he said softly. "Now, here's the big question. How do we get to Sam and Casey, and through that 'gate?"
"According to Oskron, we don't. There is no way out of here that they know of, one that a man can survive anyway," Daniel replied.
"Bullshit. We came through a freakin' door! We just have to figure out how to open it from this side. Those…uh…in-betweens have to get here somehow!"
"How often do these creatures appear?" Teal'c asked.
"Every six months," Daniel replied.
"Then we must wait until they appear. Then we will follow them," the Jaffa said.
"I'm not so sure I want to stay here for six months," Jack said.
"I'm not so sure I could handle being away from Case that long," Daniel admitted quietly. "The longest I've ever been away from her was two and a half weeks."
Jack nodded. That had been the second time Framone had kidnapped Casey. He and Daniel and Duncan had discussed that time, and all three agreed that Daniel had started exhibiting signs of withdrawal from the pheromones that Casey produced, although at that moment they hadn't known that was what was happening. Jack wasn't sure he wanted to know how The Chosen would deal with a serious case of DT's.
Teal'c nodded his understanding also. "Then, counting today, we must find Samantha Carter and Casey Jackson and leave this place in no more than sixteen days."
"Yep," Jack agreed. "Okay, Danny, find out from Oskron when these in-betweens are due to come back down here, and if there's a way to get a couple of them to make an 'emergency' visit. We should also see if we can't contact these rebels. They might be able to help us. Right now, we need to get some sleep. This seems to be a fairly safe place. I'll take first watch."
The men found a comfortable corner, and unrolled their sleeping bags. Daniel stretched out, reached out to touch her. She was asleep. He caressed her gently, then slowly pulled away. At least she was all right, he thought, slipping into sleep himself.
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