“What do you mean, No?” Danielle demanded as she glared at the large, dark-haired man sitting behind the large antique desk. She leaned forward in the guest chair and slammed her hands on her hips. She was so angry, his handsomeness instantly faded away.
“Just that. No. It’s not complicated. We are not negotiating,” his tone clearly brokering no argument.
“Spartak, you do not get to decide that for me or for my daughter. You dragged us into your stupid war. What the hell is wrong with you?” snarled Danielle. “Enough of this nonsense. You will return us to Earth immediately.”
“You see these?” he asked, his green eyes snapping fire as he glared at her and pointed to the small overlapping gold squares on his collar.
“Yes,” she said, rolling her eyes. They were hard to miss when he was wearing head to toe black.
“These four squares say I decide what we will do,” he said firmly and then sat back in his chair as if that settled everything.
“That metal jewelry means nothing to me,” she snarled.
“Gold insignia,” Spartak snarled right back.
“Gold, metal, what difference does it make?” Danielle said.
“For you? Everything. It means that I command and you follow those commands,” he said firmly.
“Like hell I do!” she shouted, standing up and slamming her hands down on his desk.
He looked at her angry face and had to squash the smile that wanted to sneak out. He thought her breathtaking as she got more and more riled up. Keeping his head in the game, Spartak turned his head towards Bethany, Danielle’s 17-year-old daughter who sat next to her mother watching them go back and forth like a tennis match. “Is she always like this?” he asked, nudging his head at her mother.
“Well, when she has her mind set about something, I would say yes. I rarely mess with her when she pulls out the mom voice like she is right now,” said Bethany, looking directly at Spartak. “It never goes well.”
Spartak just grunted in response.
“Over here, bucko,” Danielle said, slapping the desk again.
He turned back to the breathtaking creature fuming in front of him. Realizing he was letting himself get distracted, he focused on her words.
“We are not staying. Beam us, materialize us, do whatever voodoo that you do and return us back to Earth.”
He looked briefly towards the ceiling as if asking for divine support before lowering his gaze to spear her with his green eyes. “I am losing my patience with your pointless stubbornness. You are staying. I will return no one to a planet where it will be a death sentence. End of discussion,” said Spartak with a definite finality in his voice. He opened up his desk drawer on the left side and pulled out two bands before closing it again.
“You are an unbelievable,” Danielle started.
“Shush,” he said, and he typed something into the iPad-like device on his desk.
“Oh, you did not just shush me,” she glowered.
Bethany just snorted, leaving no doubt how well the conversation was going.
“Yes, I did. Not that it worked,” he groused. “Here,” he said as he tossed Bethany a band and slammed the other on the desk between the two hands that Danielle was leaning on.
“What the hell is this?” she demanded, glaring at the band.
“This acts as a communicator, security badge, locator, watch, and health monitor. Everyone is to wear this at all times, even in the shower. Just need to tell the band what you ned. When you need directions, tell it where you want it to go and it will lead you there. We have assigned each person a specific suite as theirs. Command it to open the door or lock the door and it will. It also runs the suite’s dispenser and acts as an alarm clock. I will not tolerate tardiness. If you need to find someone, tell the band and it will direct you. Tell the band who you need to talk to and it will connect you. Tap it to awaken it and speak,” he said.
“I don’t want it,” Danielle snarled as she tossed it back at him. It bounced back on the desk after pinging off of his expansive chest. She chastised herself for looking at his chest a fraction of a second longer than she should have.
He picked up and set it down in front of her again without missing a beat. It took a fair amount of his infamous control not to bark at her like he would with his troops. “Enough of this. It does not matter what you want,” he gritted out. “As the Strategic Manager for the Americans and the Strategic Director for all Earthlings in the Fleet, this will let you do your job,” said Spartak as he stood up and pressed his hands on the desk opposite of her. He leaned over enough to make them nose to nose. Almost. He looked down as she looked up, given the height difference, but the intent was obvious. He was not backing down.
“What the hell is all of that, and why me?” Danielle demanded.
“We have rescued 1664 females from Earth and 118 males. They need a leader who understands them. That is you. As the Strategic Director, you will be in charge of the Strategic Managers for the United Kingdom, Russia, Europe, Asia, Meso-American, India, and Scandinavia. You will interface directly with me,” said Spartak. “You will also interact with the Fleet Medical Director, the Commanders of each of the fleet’s vessels, the Squad Commanders with Earthlings on their teams, our Security Director, and the Strategic Directors from the other planets as Earth’s representative on the Survivor’s Council.”
Danielle’s eyes bugged out. “Why me?” she asked. “I am just a nurse, not a politician.”
“There are no politicians. I have chosen you because you were the only one asking reasonable questions on why you are here in the conference room. I do not expect that you will suddenly change that behavior. Since you are going to ask anyway, it makes it easier if you are the one to share the answers with your fellow Earthlings,” said Spartak.
“Surely someone else is more qualified. I just take care of sick or injured people,” said Danielle, taken aback by the responsibility he was thrusting upon her. “I only speak English and medical Spanish.”
“You must think we didn’t research what a nurse does in your world. You are more than capable, so you will do this,” he said, eyeing her angrily. “The fundamental difference I see between you and your fellow Earthlings is that Americans don’t just accept what they are being told. You even less than the average American. If you know, then you can tell them so I do not have to repeat myself a dozen times,” he said, sitting back down. “As for the language issue, the cochlear translator will fix that.”
“I don’t want it,” Danielle said, putting her hands on her hips as she stood up fully.
“Let me put this so you can understand. This is not a democracy. This is a military hierarchy. As I said before, I command, you do,” he said flatly. “These mean High Commander,” he said, pointing to the insignia near his collar. “I am the absolute last word in this fleet,” he said flatly.
She glared at him, contemplating her next move. “I don’t agree to this,” she said boldly as she pulled her shoulders back, ready to go to battle over this.
“Perhaps,” he conceded. “But it changes nothing. You are here, will stay here, as will every other female chosen. Each of you meets the criteria necessary to ensure the survival of the humanoid species. There is a bigger picture at stake and you will follow the chain of command.”
“I don’t like you,” Danielle said flatly. She glared at him like she wanted to punch him.
“Doesn’t matter. We selected every female brought here because they are what our species needs to survive. You may not like that, but it is irrelevant. No one made this choice. The Grays forced it on all of us. You will not be going back. Accept it.”
Bethany snorted because she knew how well her mother would take that.
Danielle’s head swung around as she glared at her daughter.
Bethany suddenly got busy trying to put her band on her wrist.
“Now that is settled,” started Spartak.
“It is hardly settled,” snarled Danielle.
“Yes it is,” Spartak interrupted before she got her ranting started again. “When you return to the conference room, introduce yourself and lay the specifics out the rest of the American females. You will command all of them to get a meal in the dining hall on Deck 7a. We restricted all males from that deck while you are there. After the females eat, all are to retire to their suites until class tomorrow, where they will learn all the customs of the different races in this fleet. It will begin in the Conference Center they are in now promptly at hour two. They will have had these passed out to them by the time you return,” Spartak said. “The males are being handled by the Squad Commanders, so you need not worry about them.”
She stared at him again for several long seconds, realizing that he would not budge. He did not look like a man who would bend if she tried tears, not that she was a crier. It grated on every nerve that she had that she would even consider it as an option. She assessed what other options she had. He outweighed her by at least a hundred-fifty pounds and had a good ten inch reach on her. She was in good shape, but she knew being military, he would have special combat training which would keep her from coming out on top of a physical battle with him. No, this was a no-nonsense kind of man. It wouldn’t surprise her if he threw her out into space if she became too difficult. Who would protect Bethany then?
“Allright,” she said finally, not giving up her glare.
He held on to his grimace through pure force of will. This was progress. Smiling now would just spin her up again. “Make sure that everyone wears it and understands it is essential that it be on at all times,” said Spartak.
“You said that already,” Danielle said, impatiently.
“Just making sure that you internalized the message. Also, make sure they understand that they are not to be out and about tonight. Any males they come across on this ship will have expectations they are not prepared to handle. Just to make that point more apparent, there are over seven thousand unmated males in this fleet, and only a little more than twenty-three-hundred unmated females, including the Earthlings. We do not have pleasure girls here. Even the most innocent of women can do the math and understand the desperation. Behaviors innocuous on Earth means an acceptance of a mating by several races here. That is what you will learn about tomorrow,” said Spartak.
“I assume mating means what I think it does,” said Danielle, the irritation in her voice obvious.
“Mating as in marriage?” squeaked Bethany.
“Yes,” both her mother and Spartak said in unison.
“I am serious about them staying in their suites. If they find themselves mated due to ignorance of existing customs, it cannot be undone,” said Spartak, interrupting Bethany’s panic.
Danielle nodded at him. She put on her wrist band and made sure Bethany had hers on. She gave Bethany a meaningful look, conveying this was far from over. She turned without a word and left with Bethany trailing behind her.
He smiled after she left. He liked her spunk. She would need it. The Americans were unlike any other group that they had run across yet. They had researched the Earthlings thoroughly before they saved them by monitoring their communications and searching their cultural specifics on their internet. Rugged Individualism was used to describe the Americans. He snorted. It basically meant that they did not give a flying fuck what anyone else wanted. Well, that would not be acceptable in his fleet. They would adapt. They had no other choice.