Paradigm Shift

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Chapter 25

Danielle locked eyes with him.

“The piece he didn’t tell you was that when we place the mating mark, we have canines that drop that punctures the skin of our mate. That is what makes the marks. The puncture causes a small amount of blood to collect in the male’s mouth. A small gland secretes a hormone that mixes with the female’s blood, which the male swallows. The combination causes the male to bond with the female. He will find no one else acceptable. They can renew this bond every time they are intimate if they choose,” he finished.

“I get how the male is bonded but how is the female?” she asked.

“The canines puncture the female’s vein with the bite, and we release the same hormone into her bloodstream. It bonds the female to the male,” he explained.

“You said renew the bond. Does that mean it fades?” she asked.

“I do not know. The gland only activates when there are already powerful feelings for one another. Potent feelings beget more feelings,” Spartak said. “It’s more of a reinforcing process. I suppose if a mated pair really began to hate one another, the reinforcement would stop.”

“But isn’t that what the Kleponians say theirs does?” asked Danielle.

“They say the female will give control up and follow their mate’s bidding all from a kiss,” said Spartak. “The mating dot is a tattoo. The Kleponians don’t actually mark their mates like the Glieseans or the Nandoorians.”

“Oh,” said Danielle.

“Which reminds me. How did you get all those Kleponian females to leave their ship?”

“I just asked if their mates had told them not to leave their ship and hide in another,” said Danielle.

Spartak just looked at her with a shocked expression. Then he broke out in a deep laugh.

“You really should do that more often. You have a great laugh,” she said, smiling. “The women were really are tired of how they are treated. They just didn’t think they could do anything about it.”

“Until you gave them an option,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Huh,” he said.

“Okay, what is the second reason?” he asked a few minutes later.

“Same as I told you. It looks like favoritism. It will make my job harder,” she said.

“It hasn’t looked too hard over the last few days. You seamlessly took over the whole Fleet,” he said.

“It wasn’t just me. I had help,” she said.

“Exactly,” he said. “You asked for it and got it. Did they know about us?”

“Yes. I took a good deal of ribbing that it might be easier to seduce you into make changes,” she said, chuckling.

“Is that still an option?” he grinned.

She lightly smacked his chest. “Just stop. I am serious,” she said.

“I actually researched Earth couples who led together before we lost access to the archives,” he said and started tickling them off on his fingers. “Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, Mary I of England and Phillip II of Spain, Catherine Medici and the Duke of Orleans, Catherine the Great and Grand Duke Peter, the Obamas, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, the Reagans, the Gates, the Clooneys, and Prince and Princess of Wales. There were a bunch more, but it should give you the idea that many couples rule together. They each worked to their strengths.”

“So you are saying we can do this together,” she said.

“Yes. And if you get unhappy, you can just take over again,” he said, grinning. “Then we can work things out using that seduction plan.”

Danielle chuckled.

His face became serious. “Be my mate,” he asked softly. He watched her face show a stream of different emotions as she thought about it.

“I really do care about you,” she said, then sighed.

“I hope so, since I love you,” he said, locking eyes with her.

“You do?” she asked.

“Since the moment you refused to back down from me when I assigned you the Strategic Director. I want, no, I need a strong woman. I need you,” said Spartak, wrapping his large hand along her jaw and caressing her cheek with his thumb.

She searched his eyes and realized she saw the truth in them. “Yes,” she said, leaning towards him to kiss him. He met her halfway. He then stood up as he scooped her up in his arms. He stalked straight towards her bedroom. She waved her arm at the door before they got there, allowing him to keep walking. It closed behind him, giving them a small slice of heaven that was just theirs.

* * *

Danielle woke to the feel of a warm, hard body behind her. A large body with his arm wrapped around her middle and his hand curled against her chest. His masculine scent of pine and sea breezes wrapped around her as she remembered what had happened between them. She reached up and touched the bite marks on her neck, just above her clavicle. They didn’t hurt, but they filled her with a sense of peace she hadn’t felt in a long time.

He stretched and pulled her tighter to him as he nuzzled her neck. “Good evening, my love. You okay?” he asked.

“Of course. Why?” she asked, confused.

“Well, I was afraid I might have been a bit rough. It’s been a while,” he said sheepishly.

She spun in his arms to face him. “You were not any rougher than I wanted you to be.” She rubbed his neck where she had left a small hickey. “It seems I may have marked you too.” she giggled

“Only mine will not fade,” he said possessively, pulling her closer.

“True. I guess I will have to renew mine frequently,” Danielle said as she smile.

“I forgot to talk to you about the vote,” he said.

“You read the results to everyone. I think your plan to dump all the narrow-minded males onto one ship is a good one. They get lonely enough, they will change their behavior,” said Danielle. “Are you still going to prevent them from teleporting at will?”

“Yes. There will be no kidnappings,” he said.

““We will hand control back at the tenth hour. I just need to pull everyone together,” said Danielle.

“Can you release the dispensers before then? I really hate fish and red lentils,” said Spartak.

Danielle chuckled. “How about I make you something?”

“A cheesesteak?” he said hopefully.

“Sure,” she said as she tried to sit up.

“In a minute. I am not ready to let go of you yet,” he growled, sending a shiver up her spine.

* * *

Danielle woke to the feel of a warm, hard body behind her. A large body with his arm wrapped around her middle and his hand curled against her chest. His masculine scent of pine and sea breezes wrapped around her as she remembered what had happened between them. She reached up and touched the bite marks on her neck, just above her clavicle. They didn’t hurt, but they filled her with a sense of peace she hadn’t felt in a long time.

He stretched and pulled her tighter to him as he nuzzled her neck. “Good evening, my love. You okay?” he asked.

“Of course. Why?” she asked, confused.

“Well, I was afraid I might have been a bit rough. It’s been a while,” he said sheepishly.

She spun in his arms to face him. “You were not any rougher than I wanted you to be.” She rubbed his neck where she had left a small hickey. “It seems I may have marked you too.” she giggled

“Only mine will not fade,” he said possessively, pulling her closer.

“True. I guess I will have to renew mine frequently,” Danielle said as she smile.

“I forgot to talk to you about the vote,” he said.

“You read the results to everyone. I think your plan to dump all the narrow-minded males onto one ship is a good one. They get lonely enough, they will change their behavior,” said Danielle. “Are you still going to prevent them from teleporting at will?”

“Yes. There will be no kidnappings,” he said.

““We will hand control back at the tenth hour. I just need to pull everyone together,” said Danielle.

“Can you release the dispensers before then? I really hate fish and red lentils,” said Spartak.

Danielle chuckled. “How about I make you something?”

“A cheesesteak?” he said hopefully.

“Sure,” she said as she tried to sit up.

“In a minute. I am not ready to let go of you yet,” he growled, sending a shiver up her spine.

* * *

After Spartak had headed back to his office to get the crews prepped to take back controls with a full belly and a smile n his face, Danielle called the women together. Bethany was first to arrive, with Erica right on her heels.

Erica took one look at her and squealed, “You did, didn’t you?”

“How did you know?” asked Danielle, horrified.

“You have that well-loved, bed-head look. I’d say you slut, but mating is like getting married, so I can’t. So, did he get his fill of, uh, cheesecake?” Erica laughed.

Danielle smoothed her hair and looked at Bethany, ignoring Erica’s jibs. She had brushed her hair, damn it. “You okay with this, sweetheart?”

“Of course, Mom. You know that,” Bethany answered. “I guess I have to quit calling him His Grumpiness now, don’t I?” she asked.

“Well, maybe he won’t be anymore now that he is getting cheesecake,” laughed Erica as she wagged her eyebrows.

“Oh, you,” chided Danielle as she blushed.

It didn’t take long for the rest of them to show up. Congratulations were shared around by everyone. Everyone of course had to see the mating mark. Danielle told them the details that Wallen had left out.

“Did it hurt?” asked Lada.

“No. I was a bit distracted,” said Danielle.

Everyone laughed.

Danielle looked at Bimala. “Spartak told me the mating dot was a tattoo and not really a mark. Is that true?” she asked.

“Yes. It surprised me. My mate said the kiss was enough, but the dot was a warning to others,” said Bimala.

“That makes sense,” said Lada.

“Okay, lets get the planning going here. I told Spartak we would give control back at the tenth hour when the night shift starts. Can we release the dispensers now?” asked Danielle.

Jada typed a few things and said, “Done.”

“How about we lock fish and red lentils out for a few days,” said Danielle. “That should show them we are acting in good faith.”

The women chuckled.

They spent the next two hours planning through all the steps necessary for the transition, including opening the flight decks and transport tubes first. Followed by the work floors and suite doors. They powered up the old servers and ran them through diagnostics.

“I want to keep these servers after we power them down,” said Danielle. “Can we remove the last two rooms on this floor from the record and then put them in there?”

“Back up in case they go back on their word?” asked Circe.

“Well, Spartak won’t, but what if he got overthrown?” Danielle asked. “It took us a lot of effort to get these built.”

“Sure. I think I will alter the numbering so that the floor still ends in suite 100. They will never see it unless they do a suite-by-suite check.,” said Jada. “I am also leaving a hidden back door in a place he would never think to look for it. I am sure once Silas gets his system back he is going to tear it apart trying to figure out how I did it.”

“How did you manage in the first place?” asked Sinni.

“He used a password based on his favorite video game character, which he told me about. Once I had his password, it was a piece of cake. But don’t anyone tell him that was how I did it. His poor ego would never recover,” said Jada, smirking.

All the women chuckled.

“Okay. Everyone has their assignments then,” said Danielle. “Bimala, will all your women be okay where they are until Evgen can talk to them?”

“Yes. Several have voiced the desire to not have to go back. They would rather be alone and celibate,” she said.

“Wow,” said Erica.

“That is pretty bad,” said Talia.

“That was why we did this,” said Danielle. “Okay then. Jada, send an alert out to all females to make sure they lock suite doors for safety since we will be loosening the transport tube lock down before we unblock the males. Tell them we will officially start releasing everything at the top of the tenth hour.”

“You got it,” said Jada.

“Be safe, everyone, and thank you,” said Danielle as she escorted everyone out to begin transferring control.

“Danielle?” asked Sinni.

“Yes?” she responded.

“You got a few minutes? I wanted to show you the test results we got on the saliva,” said Sinni.

“Sure,” said Danielle, surprised. “I am surprised you have answers already.”

“We had nothing but time to analyze the samples once we went into lockdown,” said Sinni.

* * *

The next morning, Danielle woke up to a large warm body wrapped around her and soft lips kissing her neck. She looked at her band and realized she hadn’t been called at all last night, so the transition must have gone well. “I could get used to waking up like this,” she said, stretching.

“Good. You are not getting rid of me now,” he purred as he started exploring with his hands.

“You keep doing that and we will never get to work,” Danielle laughed.

“Uh, huh,” he purred as his hand slipped under her cami top, caressing warm skin.

A couple of hours later, showered and caffeinated, Danielle stepped out of her suite. Aengus stood there glowering. He set his hands on his hips and continued to glare when she said nothing.

“What?” she said.

“You know what,” he said.

“Are you upset about the lockout?” she asked, surprised.

“Not that,” Aengus said. “They totally deserved that.”

“Okay. I’ll bite. What are you upset about?” Danielle asked as she swerved around him, heading towards the transport tubes.

“Seriously?” he asked to her retreating form before he followed her. He caught up to her as she waited. He turned up his glare.

Danielle looked at him and sighed. “Okay,” she started. “Why are you upset?”

“You. Ditched. Me,” he said slowly, grinding out each word.

“Oh,” she said, finally understanding.

“Oh?” he nearly shouted. “You ditched your security detail and all I get is oh?”

“I am sorry, Aengus. I was teleported directly to my suite. It was our finally test to make sure we had control before we shut everything else down,” she said.

“I am going to say this once. Are you listening?” he asked. She nodded. “Do not do it again. Spartak could have taken my head off.”

“I understand. I won’t do it again,” she promised.

“One other thing,” he added.

“Yes?” Danielle asked.

“Don’t lock out my dispenser. I am on your side,” he chuckled.

Danielle just laughed.

Danielle’s band buzzed as soon as she sat down at her desk. “Yes?” she answered.

“I need your help.” said Grennady. “I have a woman in extreme abdominal pain and I have little obstetric experience. Maria was tied up.”

“Sure. Where?” she asked.

Regestria. Deck 5a Medical,” he said.

“Okay. Be right there,” she said as she stood, signaling Aengus. He followed her to the transport tube.

A few minutes later, they stepped on to the teleporter grid. “Regestria, please.”

The tech nodded and entered the sequence necessary. They dissolved from sight.

They reappeared on the Regestria’s teleporter grid. After getting a nod from the ship’s tech, they stepped off and head to the transport tube.

“I guess Spartak knocked some sense in to him,” groused Aengus.

“It is odd. Maybe he is trying not to be an ass,” she said.

“Maybe,” he conceded.

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