A large man, who reminded Danielle of a linebacker, had been watching her from across the room. She had caught him looking at her several times. He finally sauntered his way over to her. He was easily six feet four inches and carried two-hundred-thirty pounds of muscle. His brunette hair was curly and cut short like US military men wore their hair. He was dressed all in black, like many of the men here. His smile was shy, but his gaze that wandered all over her was not.
He stood casually in front of her, his arms at his sides. “Hi, I am Major John Marat, US Navy. I understand that you are Danielle, the Strategic Director for Earthlings,” he said, smiling as he reached his hand out to shake hers.
“Yes, I am,” she said, nodding. He was an Earthling. There was no risk shaking his hand.
“I am on Alpha Squad,” he said. “I see from all your insignias that your are more than that.”
“What you see is that I have a big mouth,” she said, grinning.
“I guess you never heard of the NAVY Principle,” he chuckled.
She looked at him, confused.
“Never. Again. Volunteer. Yourself,” he said and laughed.
Danielle joined in. “Sad part was, I didn’t volunteer. I asked too many questions,” she said.
“Ah, Volun-told,” he said, chuckling. “I know that one.”
She smiled at him.
“Okay, I know the double square is Captain in the military. What are the three circles?” he asked.
“Senior Medical Officer,” she said.
“So the triangles are for the administrative. Got it,” he said. “You a doctor?”
“No. I have just been an ER and Trauma nurse for a very long time,” she said.
“Ah. I bet you have some awesome stories. My sister is a Med-Surg nurse, and she had doozies,” John said, smiling. “Where do you hail from?”
“Philadelphia by way of the San Francisco Bay Area. And you?” she asked.
“Oregon. Coos Bay, to be precise. It is on the coast. I have been stationed at Fallon Air Station in Nevada until all of this. I was home on leave and got grabbed while I was sleeping,” he explained.
“You got lucky. We were awake. Freaked me out having guys in hazmat suits in my living room,” she chuckled.
“I bet,” John agreed.
There was an awkward silence between them.
“Well, it was nice meeting you. My understanding is if you need stuff, you a go through your squad leader. I need to get my daughter back to our suite and then work on a plan for the medical corps,” she said as she turned to go.
John lightly touched her arm as he said her name to get her to stop. “Can you stay and chat?”
“No, she cannot,” growled a deep voice.
Both John and Danielle turned to the speaker, but for very different reasons.
“High Commander!” he said stiffly, as he sprung to attention, saluting by placing his fist over his heart.
Danielle turned to Spartak and raised an eyebrow as if asking him what his game was.
“At ease,” Spartak said to John.
“Will you have the plan draft for discussion tomorrow?” he asked, his eyes glued to hers.
“I am trying to,” she answered. “Your orders said all Earthlings were to appear at this social mixer, so I am here as ordered.” She saluted him smartly as she added, “Sir.”
Spartak glared at her salute. He saw it for what it was. Nothing but sarcasm.
John watched the conversation like a tennis match.
“Get to it,” ordered Spartak.
“Yes, sir,” she said. She then turned to John and said, “It was lovely meeting you. Goodnight.”
Both men watched her collect her daughter and leave the Dining Hall, Aengus following.
“Don’t even think about it,” growled Spartak, not looking away from Danielle.
“Is that an order, sir?” asked John, not taking his eyes off Danielle’s retreating form either.
“Do I need to make it one?” Spartak asked.
“You making a claim?” asked John, turning to look at the High Commander.
Spartak ignored his question. “She is off limits, Mr. Marat.”
“Uh-huh,” John answered and then turned around and walked out of the Dining Hall.
* * *
Evgen walked into the gym and found Spartak pounding hard on an hanging bag with his gloved hands. His shirt was soaked completely through and his hair was so drenched that sweat dripped into his eyes. A second bag was torn and had sand piled beneath it.
“Who are you pounding on?” asked Evgen, raising an eyebrow.
“Stupid fucking pilot who,” Spartak started and caught himself.
Evgen just laughed.
“Do I need to switch to you?” Spartak growled.
“It would be more fair. I hit back,” chuckled Evgen.
Spartak stopped hitting the bag and glared at his friend. After a couple of minutes, he said, “Gear up.” He hit the bag a couple of times before calling after Evgen, “Grab a head protector and mouth guard for me.” He needed more than what the bag was doing for him.
Evgen came out a few minutes later and tossed him the mouth guard as he walked towards him. He popped the head protector on Spartak’s head with his free hand and then finished putting on his other glove. Evgen warmed up his arms and legs and started shuffling his feet as he danced around Spartak. They had sparred several times after they had viewed the televised image of a boxing match they had caught as they were heading towards Earth. It appealed to the alpha male in them to pound on something for a while when aggravated. They punched and spun around each other, looking for the best advantage, each giving as good as they got.
“So, does this have anything to do with a certain Senior Medical Officer?” said Evgen with his mouthpiece in, making it sound like a garbled variation of it.
Spartak heard him just fine and slammed his right fist in a vicious uppercut that made Evgen’s teeth rattle and knocked him back a few feet. He raised his eyebrow at his friend. That was uncharacteristically brutal for their normal bouts.
Spartak glared at him unapologetically.
“Oh, so that is how this is going to be,” growled Evgen through his mouth guard. He came closer to Spartak, wailing punch after punch, giving him no mercy. Evgen finally landed a right cross to Spartak’s jaw that knocked him off of his feet. Spartak just laid on the mat, breathing hard. Evgen spit his mouth guard into his glove and snarled, “So, you going to quit being an ass and talk about it?” as he plopped down on the mat next to his friend.
Spartak sighed as he sat up. He spit out his mouth guard before saying, “The fleet needs her. It’s going to look like favoritism if I mate her.”
“Who cares?” asked Evgen.
“You know that is not how I operate,” growled Spartak.
“Exactly. You are just as entitled to a mate as everyone else,” said Evgen. “I get the attraction. She is spectacular to watch.”
“You should have seen her fly over Grennady’s desk and throat punch him. Neither Aengus, Grennady, nor I saw her move until he was already wheezing,” Spartak told him, chuckling.
“What did the idiot do?” asked Evgen, shaking his head. He had wanted to do that more than once.
“She was pissed about all the mothers and children he let die because their care was beneath him,” said Spartak. “It took everything I had not to kill him myself.”
“Why didn’t you?” Evgen asked.
Spartak looked at him, debating if he should tell him. He finally gave in. “She asked me not to. She wants him to teach her how to use the surgery machine first.”
“Smart,” said Evgen, nodding.
“Yes, she is. She will save us all. She is already investigating why there have been so few births while she is trying to improve the survival of the mothers and babies. I can’t take her away from that to be a mother,” said Spartak. “It’s too critical to our survival.”
“You do know that you can always have a working mate? They do that all the time on Earth. Danielle worked the entire time she was raising Bethany and Kyle, you know,” said Evgen.
“I don’t know if I could allow that,” groused Spartak.
“Well, you better figure it out quickly before some other slob who will let her work grabs her. You know you will hate yourself,” said Evgen.
“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I almost kissed her.”
“When?” asked Evgen, surprised.
“She was showing me some Krav Maga and tossed me on my ass. I finally figured out she was fighting dirty and used my weight to overpower her when she got all worried she had hurt me,” Spartak admitted.
“Did she know that was what you were going to do?” Evgen questioned.
“She had a pretty good idea with my laying on her that my mind was on things other than fighting,” groused Spartak.
“Ah,” nodded Evgen. “Well, she didn’t throat punch you. That has to be a good sign, right?”
Spartak just blew out a big breath.
Evgen just looked at him silently for several minutes. “So, let me ask you something.”
“Okay,” said Spartak.
“If it was me who wanted her, and just so you know if I didn’t see how you are when you look at her, I would, what would you tell me?” asked Evgen.
Spartak thought about it for several long minutes. “I would tell you to grab her, never let go, and let her do her job,” said Spartak.
“Exactly,” Evgen said with a smile.
* * *
“Yes?” Danielle said with a groggy voice as she answered her band.
“You are needed in the medical unit on 7b immediately,” said a male voice. The name on her band said Joshi and listed him as security. “I already notified Ramos to escort you,” he added. “He will be there in a moment.”
“Okay. I will be right there,” she said as she got up. She tapped her band and asked for Bethany.
“Yes?” she said in a groggy voice.
“I have an emergency call. Please stay in the suite. I will lock the door when I leave,” she told her daughter.
“Okay. Be safe,” she said.
“Security is coming to escort me,” Danielle said.
“Uh-huh,” Bethany mumbled as she fell back to sleep.
Danielle threw on her uniform and pulled her hair into a messy bun. She was waiting by the door when her band buzzed. She walked through the door, ordered it locked, and smiled at Ramos before sprinting down the hall to the transport tube. He caught up easily.
Once on 7b, she jogged to the Medical Unit. Inside, she found two men in black waiting for her. They looked angry and on edge.
“What happened?” she asked, looking at both men. Neither one would look her in the eye. “What happened?” she asked louder as she gave them a gimlet stare all nurses had perfected.
“The female was, uh, was assaulted, ma’am, She needs help. She is hurt really bad,” said the first man. He then explained how they found her. Ramos took up position just outside the door of the exam room they had motioned towards.
Danielle nodded and walked into the exam room, closing the door behind her. She squirted on the liquid that acted like a barrier glove and rubbed her hands together as she walked towards the bed, “Hi, I am Danielle. I am the nurse. I need to see what we can do to help you,” she said gently. She noticed the woman’s torn clothing, cuts, bruising, and blood. Lots and lots of blood. The woman only moaned when Danielle touched her arm, which was not a good sign. Danielle flew into action and got her on the monitor, oxygen, vitals, and then got fluids started with virtually no reaction from the patient. Then she started her trauma assessment. She commanded the computer to take notes and evaluate her neck for injuries as she peeled back the bloody clothing. What she saw angered her to the point where she vowed that she would kill whoever did this.
* * *
“C-spine clear,” said the computer.
Danielle moved on to the next assessments that she needed to do. “Computer, evaluate her for internal injuries,” she ordered as she placed the blood samples into the computer analysis chamber.
The computer listed several internal injuries that would require surgery.
She rechecked her woman’s vitals and her blood pressure was still horrible. “Computer, check for head abnormalities.”
“Head has a mild concussive injury in right temporal lobe from a coup and contracoup injury. There has been no breach of the bone.” The woman’s blood pressure was dangerously low, so she decided getting it up was more important than brain swelling and dropped the head of the bed lower than the feet.
“Damn. That man hasn’t shown me how to use the surgical device yet,” she growled. She increased the fluid rate as the analyzer beeped. She read the results and her alarm increased. “Computer, type and cross two units of whole blood.”
She tapped her band and called Grennady.
“What?” he growled with a sleep roughened voice as he answered his band.
“You are needed on the Gliesea 7b Medical Unit, STAT. With that medical emergency we had yesterday, you haven’t shown me how to use the surgery device yet,” Danielle said.
“I will evaluate the surgical need in the morning,” he growled.
“I just sent the computer evaluation of the multiple organ injuries and her lab values. The patient is in hypovolemic shock. Her systolic blood pressure is barely over 70 and her heart rate is 175. I have her on fluids and I am starting whole blood. She needs surgery, now,” snarled Danielle. “I have her in Trendelenburg position to even get the 70.”
“I said that I,” he started.
“And I said, Captain, you will report to the 7b Medical Unit STAT,” shouted Danielle. “If you are not here in the next five minutes, I will send warriors over to get you. Am I clear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he snarled and then disconnected.
Danielle tapped her band and said, “Contact Spartak.”
He answered in a sleep-roughened voice. Danielle ran through the specifics, including having to order Grennady to do his job.
“I will be right there,” he said, and disconnected.
Danielle was squeezing blood into the woman’s veins as quickly as she could with each hand since she didn’t have a rapid infuser. IV fluids ran into the third. Blood-soaked towels covered the floor to keep her from slipping. Danielle had suspected a vaginal tear that the computer confirmed when she could not find an external source for all the blood. It was leaving the poor woman as fast as she could get it in. She put Spartak to work as soon as he waked in.
“Can you replace the IV fluid bag with the one I have on the counter?” she asked. “Just pull the stopper and spear the new bag after pulling the old bag off.” She grabbed both bags with one hand while she cycled a blood pressure. She then took the second bag back and kept squeezing.
Spartak did as she asked and then said, “I will go grab some more from the other room.”
Eleven minutes after being called, Grennady stomped in as the door slid open and immediately started shouting, “If I find out you are overreacting like the typical woman, Spartak will hear about this.”
“He already has,” growled Spartak as he walked in behind the angry physician.
Grennady looked up from the shocking scene on the floor and found his High Commander glaring at him. “Uh, Sir,” he stammered.
“The bleeding looks like it slowed down,” said Grennady. “That is good.”
Danielle just looked at him like he was the complete tool that he was. She tried cycling the blood pressure again and got nothing. She shut off the clamps on the blood so she could set them down, and then she grabbed their version of a stethoscope. She looked up at the monitor and listened intently. She tried feeling for a carotid pulse and found none as expected. She asked the computer to check the woman’s organ functioning. It answered her, making her close her eyes and say a prayer for the injured woman’s soul. She tapped her band for the time. “Time of death, hour sixteen and twenty-six minutes,” she said.
Spartak looked up at her questioningly after seeing a heartbeat on the monitor.
“She is in PEA, or pulseless electrical activity, which is common is young people in massive trauma. Her heart isn’t beating. It is just sending electrical signals. The computer said that she had a ventricular contusion earlier. The ventricle eventually tore so her heart can’t work.”
“If he had gotten here sooner, would it have made a difference?” asked Spartak, glaring at the physician.
“No. She was barely alive by the time I got here. On Earth, we call it the Golden Hour to get help to those who need it. Security didn’t find her until the blood had seeped under the door and out into the hallway. We lost our window to save her,” said Danielle sadly. “I want whoever did this found and punished harshly. Her final few minutes of consciousness were horrible and something that should never happen to anyone.”
“I need a report of her death with all her injuries to use as evidence,” Spartak told her.
“I will have it to you later this morning,” Danielle said.
“The crematorium is on 11a,” he said softly, stepping around the exam table. “The security team can take her when you are ready.” Spartak stood in front of the shell-shocked doctor. “You will help her finish the report.”
Danielle started removing the monitoring equipment.
Grennady just stood there staring.