She continued to read down the list. “Help me understand the role assignments,” she asked.
“What do you mean?” asked Spartak.
“I do not see a single woman assigned to a military job assignment, and I know for a fact that there are three female pilots in the American group. There are also a half dozen engineers, three computer specialists, and cartographer. Where did you assign the two women-intelligence officers that you told me about last night?” she asked.
Spartak looked at Evgen who answered, “One is a chef, and the other is a teacher.”
“Have any females been assigned to military jobs?” she asked.
“No. I deemed it too risky. They are to be mates and mothers first. Their jobs come second,” said Spartak.
“I understand the pilots. What exactly is dangerous about using a computer?” she asked.
“Grennady informed me the job was too stressful,” said Spartak.
“And managing a classroom full of children isn’t?” she laughed. Danielle would have laughed at him throwing the other man under the bus, but she doubted if they would even understand why it was funny. “God save us from well-meaning men,” she grumbled.
“I also only see my name and another woman’s listed in the Medical Corps, but I know of at least five other women I heard talking about their medical training. Why weren’t they assigned?” she asked.
“May I?” Grennady asked Spartak, who nodded. “As far as medical skill goes, I deemed only you and Maria Perez trained enough to follow medical protocols.”
Danielle narrowed her eyes at the man. She knew his type. A smug second-year resident who thought he knew everything. She took a cleansing breath, so she didn’t unload on him. “And what qualification measures did you use?”
“You both have advanced education, multiple certifications from your Earth agencies showing proficiencies, and several years of clinical experience. You should be able to follow the protocols sufficient to prevent serious injury,” said Grennady. He totally missed her expression that said she was ready to wring his neck.
When he didn’t back-pedal from her glare, she asked, “You aren’t mated, are you?”
“No, not yet. Why?” he asked.
“Because any male that had spent more than five minutes either working with or in the company of a female would have said that very different,” she huffed. “How many medical practitioners are there in the Fleet?” she asked.
“Two. Myself and an assistant,” he said.
“For almost fourteen-thousand lives?” she said incredulously.
“Warriors do not get sick,” Grennady said defensively.
“What about prenatal care, childhood immunizations, or a thousand other preventative care items?” she asked.
“We haven’t worried about that,” he said. “We picked healthy individuals.”
Danielle looked at him like he was insane. She struggled not to fly across the table and beat the stupid man to a pulp.
She looked at Spartak and asked, “Have any babies been born since you started rescuing females?”
“Yes, a few dozen,” he said. “We have over four hundred pregnant right now.”
“You lose any females during pregnancy or childbirth?” she asked, again directing her comments to Spartak.
“Yes, a few. I was told it happens,” said Spartak, concerned.
She just grunted at him to let him know exactly what she thought of that. “Evgen, could I please have the list of all individuals in the Fleet, their ship and job assignments, and access to their medical records please? I am particularly looking for those who have midwife experience. That is a lot of babies.”
“Why do you need that?” demanded Grennady, glaring at her.
“I am going to wait to comment on anything until I see the medical protocols. I want to be prepared for our scheduled conversation tomorrow,” she said. She would be more than ready.
“No. I asked why you need the information,” he insisted.
“Do you really want to do this right here, right now?” she demanded, raising an eyebrow.
“Who do you think you are?” Grennady roared. “Spartak, I will not tolerate insubordination from assistants.”
Spartak just smiled while Evgen laughed out loud.
“What?” demanded Grennady, finally realizing he had missed something.
Evgen looked at the grinning Spartak, who motioned for him to continue.
“We have both seen video of what these females can do, and we have looked at their training and certifications. Both Danielle and Maria have five times the amount of hands-on experience caring for patients than you do. I did warn you we might need to tweak things once they arrived,” said Evgen, smiling ear to ear.
“We will see about that,” snarled Grennady as he sat back sullenly.
“Yes, we will,” said Danielle as she looked directly at him. He was going to find out exactly how tough she could be. She then looked at Spartak and said, “I will wait to assign the women with medical training until after the conversation tomorrow and have developed a plan for any necessary changes.”
She thought she heard Spartak mutter, “At least it isn’t just me she gives a hard time,” but she wasn’t sure enough to say something.
* * *
“Alright then. I think this meal was rather informative,” said Spartak, a wry smile on his face.
Danielle snorted in amusement.
“Let us adjourn. The ladies have a class to attend,” said Spartak.
“And tardiness is not acceptable,” said Danielle, grinning.
He gave her a stop being a smartass look. “Dismissed,” Spartak ordered.
As the different officers departed they said goodbye or outright flirted with Danielle. It pleased her that each ignored Bethany or only acknowledged her with a nod. Chatura stood before her and grabbed her hand, bringing it to his lips. The man was nearly four inches shorter than her five foot six inches. He grinned what she could only describe as a sleazy smile.
She had to fight not to shudder and to resist the urge to wipe her hand on her pants after he had virtually slobbered all over it before releasing her. She heard a growl from behind her. She turned right into a hard chest, bouncing off. When she looked up, it was Spartak, giving a glare that promised murder to Chatura. He looked down at her and their eyes locked, sending everything else around them into the background. Danielle would only recall later about how the tingling sensation felt where his hands touched her to keep her from falling when she ran into him. Her sole focus was on his eyes. And something clicked.
“Mom, it’s almost the eighth hour,” said Bethany, tapping her shoulder. “We have to get going or Wallen will be all over us again.”
That brought the present screaming back. “I, I have to go,” she stammered as she stepped around him and practically ran for the door, Spartak’s eyes following her.
Evgen silently regarded his Commander for a moment until Spartak noticed the man staring at him. “What?” he growled, finally looking back at his friend.
“Really?” said Evgen.
“I have no idea what your are implying,” snarled Spartak, who spun on his heels and headed to the hallway that took him to the Command Deck. He stiffened as he heard Evgen’s laughter as he walked the other way.
* * *
They made it just before Wallen was closing the door. “You two cannot seem to get to class on time,” he muttered.
“Sorry,” Danielle said quickly. She and Bethany quickly found their seats they had earlier.
“How was lunch?” whispered Erica.
“No one died,” said Danielle, shrugging.
“That good, huh?’ Erica laughed.
“Hey, I am proud of her. A couple of them seriously needed to be bitch-slapped,” chuckled Bethany.
Danielle shushed her.
“Good to know,” said Erica, suppressing a laugh.
“Let’s start with the Kleponians since they are the largest number of unmated males. They have a very ingrained culture and do not tolerate much variance. We fully expect that as Americans, you ladies will largely find their behaviors offensive. I am warning you before I begin so you understand that we have limited their access to you. You do need to know how they perceive things in case they approach you,” he said.
There were soft murmurs around the room.
“Kleponians are a patriarchal society. They believe that they hold the power and females are to be submissive to their desires. Even mothers are subservient to their sons. In their home world, the senior patriarch selects a mate for the eligible male. Once the details are arranged and the dowry paid, the pair meet. If the male accepts the female, he will lick her hand. If the female does not immediately wipe the saliva off of her hand, he will kiss her. If they kiss, she is his mate,” explained Wallen.
The blonde who had given her such a hard time the day before shot her hand up into the air.
“Yes?” asked Wallen.
“I thought you said that intercourse was required,” she huffed.
“No, what I said was that there was no male in this fleet that will take either sexual intercourse or the offer of it as anything other than acceptance of the mating. I did not say that no other conditions that a mating was accepted,” he said.
“That is hardly the same thing, now is it?” she groused.
“If it was a simple thing just to say Don’t have intercourse unless you want to be their mate, then we would not need to do these classes, now would we?” Wallen snarled at her.
Danielle shuddered. “Dear God, that horrible little man licked my hand,” whispered Danielle.
“Oh! That’s right,” said Bethany. “Ew!”
Danielle raised her hand. When Wallen called on her, she asked, “Let’s say a Kleponian licked your hand but did not kiss you, what would your status be?”
“Well, did anyone object when he did this? Particularly someone of authority such as a patriarch?” asked Wallen.
“Yes, a definite authority figure,” she answered.
“Then he would know that the match was not accepted,” said Wallen. He was silent for a few seconds and then added, “Unless he is a patriarch or authority figure himself. Then he might just ignore the disapproval.”
“Well, crap,” she muttered as she nodded to Wallen.
* * *
Danielle was not comfortable leaving Bethany with Erica, but she knew she was much safer staying on the Gliesea. She stood in the transporter bay mid-morning waiting on her security escort. She looked at the sleeves on her new shirt, enjoying the royal blue color much more than the silver. The shirt fit like a henley, only with a boat neckline instead of a button placard. It had a built-in bra, which took a couple of minutes to figure out how to get it to sit comfortably. The shirt fit close, which was not how she wore her clothes. The pants were a close fit with an elastic waistband and tapered to the ankle. It had no zipper or pockets. Both were a stretchy fabric to make movement easy. The outfit she had on yesterday had a tunic for the shirt and was in silver. The blue looked much better with her red hair and coloring. She had found the new uniform and a note explaining the insignias when she had returned to her suite the night before. The double gold circle insignia was a Captain rank in the Medical Corps, and the triple gold triangles were her rank as Fleet Strategic Director. Bethany had dark brown for a craftsman, which made sense for an artist. At least she was going to continue working at what she had been going to school for before they took them.
She looked at the tablet in her arms. She was ready for her conversation with Grennady. Evgen has sent the information she requested last night, which gave her time to compile the stats she needed for the conversation. That morning at breakfast, Evgen had insisted that she must take a security escort with her since she was unmated. Danielle secretly suspected he had insisted on it since Grennady had been less than gracious the day before.