Paradigm Shift

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Chapter 3

“I said you need to leave,” said Danielle, glaring her monster glare as Bethany called it. Her body language, with arms crossed, screamed do not mess with me.

“I just want to meet the ladies,” he said, smiling a bad boy smile that she was sure he used to charm women all the time.

“No. They haven’t taken the classes yet. You are not supposed to be here,” Danielle said flatly.

“Look, female,” he snarled, stepping into her space to intimidate her.

“Uh-oh,” said Bethany, grinning. “You stepped in it now.”

“You can step back or I will make you step back,” warned Danielle, glaring at him.

He stepped closer.

Instead of stepping backwards like he expected her to do, she stepped forward. She hit him with three quick jabs to the solar plexus and then once in the balls with blinding speed, dropping him to his knees. She then pivoted on her foot so she was behind him, facing his back. She then grabbed him in a headlock as she pulled him backwards. She pressed her knee into his back and rode him to the floor.

Several women in the room groaned as they heard his forehead hit the floor, knocking him out. Applause and whistles rang out across the room.

“Erica, could you please call Security?” asked Danielle. The male roused, so she picked his head up and slammed it against the floor again, knocking him unconscious again.

“Already did,” smiled Erica. “What was that thing you just did?”

“Krav Maga,” said Danielle, shrugging.

“That was impressive,” said Erica.

“Mom is a Blue Belt,” said Bethany proudly.

“Like in karate?” Erica asked.

“Close. It means I teach,” said Danielle.

“You win any competitions?” asked the same brunette who had asked one of the question earlier in the Conference Room. “I am Janice, by the way.”

“Hi, Janice. There are not competitions in Krav Maga,” answered Danielle.

“Why not?” Janice asked.

Danielle got an evil smile on her face. “To have a competition, there must be rules. Krav Maga has no rules. You do whatever you must protect yourself or your family,” she explained. “Ideally, I would have liked to de-escalate this, but as soon as he tried to intimidate me with his body, he left me no other option.”

“When this gets out, they will think twice about messing with you,” chuckled Erica.

“Kind of like going to prison. Kill the biggest asshole the first day or become someone’s bitch. Mom is no one’s bitch,” laughed Bethany. Her mother just frowned at her. “I know, I know. Language,” said Bethany, shaking her head.

* * *

“What the hell happened?” roared Spartak as he walked into the scene in the dining room with a tall older man with dark mocha skin and gray at his temples. They both were glaring at anyone they laid eyes upon.

“Which one is the High Commander?” Erica whispered to Bethany.

“The one on the right with his hands on his hips is His Grumpiness. I do not know who the guy on the left is,” Bethany whispered back.

“His Grumpiness has very good hearing,” he snarled at Bethany as he glared at her.

She blushed instantly and slapped her hand over her mouth.

Erika had to swallow the giggle that wanted to erupt once she saw the scowl on the man.

Spartak motioned to the man with him, who came over and placed some kind of binding on the downed man’s wrists after Danielle got off of his back.

The man lifted his head by the hair, assessing him quickly. “Lev is unconscious,” he confirmed.

“You do this?” Spartak demanded, glaring at Danielle.

“Yes,” she said, not shrinking from his rage in the least.

“Why?” he demanded, his eyes never leaving hers.

“He refused to leave until the women were done eating and then tried to intimidate me with his body, assuming I was smaller and weaker than his was,” she said, totally unapologetic.

“Intimidate you?” he parroted. “How?”

She walked over and picked up a stool under a nearby shelf and carried over, dropping it in front of him. She stepped up and leaned over him, glaring. Spartak stepped back a foot. “And he easily has two hundred pounds of muscles more than I do. He left me no other choice.”

“How?” he said again, this time with less anger and more curiosity. The rest of the room watched in silent curiosity.

So she told them, privately enjoying the wince they each made when she made the point about punching him in the balls.

The tall dark-skinned man reached his hand out to shake and said, “I am Evgen, Head of Security.” He grinned at her.

“Danielle McQuarrie. Nice to meet you,” she said, smiling at him. Her eyes returned to Spartak, and her smile disappeared. “This might be the shortest command stint in history,” she thought to herself.

Spartak looked at Evgen and asked, “Did you know she could do this?”

“Yes, and no. I knew she was a Blue Belt in Krav Maga, but I honestly saw self-defense in the description and didn’t look any farther. Obviously I should have,” he said, looking contrite.

“She the only one?” Spartak asked.

Evgen thought about it for a few seconds. “There was one woman from Tel Aviv who was an analyst and another from Moscow who was a software consultant.”

Danielle laughed, making both men glare at her. “Sorry. Analyst and software consultant are cover roles they give in spycraft. They are likely Mossad and FSB.”

“I didn’t find anything about covert operations in their background,” growled Evgen.

“No, you wouldn’t. They are super-secretive,” she said.

“How do you know how to do that?” Spartak asked, raising his eyebrow as he waved his hand at the unconscious man.

She sighed. Men always freaked out whenever they found out she wasn’t a pushover. “I got tired of getting my ass handed to me by drunks in the ER. Once I learned the basics, I found I liked it and it was a good workout,” she said, shrugging.

“We are going to have a long talk about these hidden skills of yours, Danielle,” said Spartak. He then paused. “This was our failure, not yours. You protected the females from an unknown threat. I think this is a skill all females in the fleet should know. Evgen, put the other two women in touch with Danielle to organize training.”

Spartak looked around the room at the staring women. “Ladies, please finish your meal and go directly to your suites to rest for tomorrow. I am sorry this happened.” he turned to Danielle. “Good night,” he said, bowing his head before turning to leave. Evgen grabbed the ankle of the unconscious man and dragged him behind him. Danielle took a smug sense of satisfaction that Evgen didn’t bother to turn him over on his back. The rug burn on his face was going to be a bitch when he woke up.

Danielle waited until he left the Dining Hall before she relaxed her stance and blew out a deep breath. She grimaced at Erica, who just laughed.

“Well, seems you survived your first trial by fire,” she chuckled.

“I doubt it will be the last,” groused Danielle.

* * *

“There was some seriously foul looking stuff in the dining hall. I couldn’t identify half of what went into some dishes that the card said were from Keplonia, wherever the heck that is,” groused Bethany. “It smelled horrible.”

“At least they marked it,” said Danielle. “I smelled cardamon, anise, and cumin, so I think it might be an Indian dish or maybe some kind of Asian variant.”

“None for me, thanks,” said Bethany firmly.

“Once we get settled, I will cook,” said Danielle as the transport tube opened. She and Bethany got off and Erica followed.

“I guess we are on the same floor,” said Erica.

“Great. We seem to be going this way,” said Danielle, looking at the arrow on her band. She stopped at the fourth door from the transport tube when her wrist band beeped. She waved her hand in front of the door and it opened.

“Hey, look! I am across the hall. Perfect,” said Erica. “Night, ladies. See you in the morning.”

“Night, Erica,” said Danielle.

“Uh, Mom, my band is still pointing that way,” said Bethany, pointing down the hall. “I don’t want to be by myself,” she said, looking worried.

“Let’s see where it leads,” said Danielle, taking her hand. As soon as she stepped away, the door automatically closed. They walked the way the arrow was pointing. The band beeped at the next door. “Well, at least it’s next door. Let’s see how big it is.”

Bethany waved her hand, and the door opened. They stepped into a small foyer. A small kitchen was on the right. It had a few cabinets, a counter, a small sink, and what looked like some kind of dispenser. It had a pass through bar with three stools for quick meals. A small dining set sat between the kitchen and the small living room area, which sported a couple of over-stuffed couches and a coffee table. The room was very sedate. Nothing on the light gray walls except one large monitor, plain dark gray carpet, and black furnishings. The light gray crown molding hid the only light source. To the right and the left of the living room were two doors. Bethany waved her hand in front of the one on the right and found it led to a large bedroom with a king-sized bed, a wall unit with drawers and shelves, and a door that led to an ensuite bathroom which was plain and functional with a large shower, twin pedestal sinks, and a small toilet room.

“They sure like gray,” groused Bethany, looking around.

“Yep,” observed Danielle.

They walked across the living room and through the other door which opened in front of them into a short hallway. There were two small bedrooms with a small shared bathroom in between, all in the same boring grays.

“This is a lot of space for one person,” said Bethany.

“Honey, I don’t think they mean this for one person,” said Danielle, looking around.

“No,” said Bethany, aghast. “You don’t think they expect me to, to,” she stammered.

“Yes, I think they do,” she said, looking at her daughter who was already panicking. “Well, we will just see about that,” she huffed. “Come stay with me and we will talk to his Grumpiness about this tomorrow.”

Bethany followed her out of the suite and into her mother’s which was exactly like hers. Danielle went straight to the kitchen and started opening cupboards to figure out what everything was. She found a small refrigerator, the dishwasher, and something that closely resembled a microwave. “Well, this may be harder than I thought,” she groused. She walked over to the dispenser device. “I don’t see any buttons.”

Bethany moved beside her. “Maybe the band makes a difference.”

“Good idea,” she said. She tapped the band and said, “Chamomile tea with sugar.”

A tea cup appeared with brown liquid in it. She pulled it out and took a sip. “Huh,” she said. “Shortbread cookie,” she said next. A cookie appeared on a small plate.

Bethany tapped her band and said, “Monster.” Her band just beeped at her. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Ask for orange juice,” suggested Danielle.

Bethany tapped her band and asked. It beeped again.

“Monster,” said Danielle. Her band beeped. She tried again, “Orange juice.” A glass of juice appeared on the dispenser ledge. “Huh. I guess it is keyed to the band. The band doesn’t recognize this as your room. We will get it fixed tomorrow,” she said as she handed Bethany the juice.

“Does that mean they don’t have Monster?” asked Bethany, horrified.

“I am thinking that must be the case,” smirked Danielle. She had been trying to get Bethany to cut back on it for months.

“This sucks donkey balls,” groused Bethany.

“At least you don’t have to deal with His Grumpiness,” said Danielle. “I like the nickname. It fits.”

“True. I am going to take a shower and go to bed,” said Bethany. “Do you want to do breakfast here or the Dining Hall?”

“Here. We should probably leave fifteen minutes before the meeting. That would be at,” she started. “Uh, one hour and 85 minutes? I think?” she said, looking at Bethany, her eyes wide. They both broke into giggles.

Bethany stood in front of the door on the left, and it opened in front of her. “I guess it isn’t keyed to the band.”

“Night, honey,” said Danielle.

“Night,” her daughter answered as she walked into the bedroom on the right.

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