The door on the side opened drawing her attention, and Evgen walked in with a tall, muscular man dressed in the military’s black and had a single gold square insignia meaning he was high ranked at the Fleet level. He had a square jaw, strong nose, and a wide forehead. He sported the typical dark military haircut. He screamed experience in his bearing. “Good morning, Danielle. This is Aengus. He will accompany you anytime you leave the ship.”
“Hello,” said Danielle, reaching out to shake his hand.
“Good morning. Oh, this is the handshake I have heard about,” he chuckled, shaking her hand.
Danielle smiled and nodded. “Must be an Earth thing.” She then turned slightly towards Evgen. “Wait, you said that like this is more than just today.”
“It is,” said Evgen.
“May I ask why? I can beat the crap out of most of the men in this fleet,” she groused. Aengus showed no change in his expression, so she figured it meant that Evgen had told him about the Krav Maga.
“You are too critical to the survival of this Fleet with both with your medical and leadership skills for us to allow anything to happen to you. After Chatura attempted to make a claim on you yesterday, you will have protection anytime you leave this vessel,” explained Evgen. “We monitor all traffic into the vessel at all times, so if it is breached unexpectedly or Chatura comes aboard, Aengus will be with you.”
“Beside him being disgusting, if Chatura tries anything I will simply kick his ass,” she said.
“We do not want him or any of his men to even get that close to you. The class gave you an overview of their culture, not the details. Every part of it is about as opposite of what an American would expect as possible. Women have no voice at all,” explained Evgen.
“I am seeing why there are so many of them are unmated,” Danielle said with a snarky tone.
“Exactly. At some point they must change to survive, but now is not that time. If Chatura kisses you, you will be his and there will nothing any of us can do about it. He will control you, sequester you on his ship, and probably tie you to his bed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made ownership claim on your daughter as well and did the same thing,” said Evgen.
“What?” she nearly screeched. “That is insane,” she huffed.
“Yes, but it is a genuine concern. We cannot afford to lose you. Therefore, you need to cooperate. This Fleet is our last ditch effort to save our race. We need the DNA pool from every humanoid, even if their learned customs are offensive. We could only eliminate multiple marriages by instituted a one woman policy since so many males are unmated. So, you will take the security,” he said firmly.
“All right,” she agreed. She then looked at Aengus. “Perhaps you can keep me from killing the Medical Director, too,” she said.
“Yes,” he said, his expression passive.
She wasn’t sure that this was going to work. Her bodyguard’s sense of humor seemed to be missing. She sighed internally. At least it was still better than having to deal with Chatura.
* * *
The Gliesea fell away as they transported, and a few seconds later, they arrived on the Nandoria. It disappointed Danielle that it looked the same. She had hoped for some insight into the culture of the Nandorians. Apparently Wallen was not as detailed as he needed to be. She would add that to her fix list.
A tall, thin man of obvious Hispanic descent waited for them at the edge of the transport deck. Dressed in blue, he had a single gold circle at his collar. He nodded at her and Aengus. “Welcome Strategic Director Danielle. I am Errigal, assistant to Medical Director Grennady,” he said formally as he bowed slightly to her.
“Thank you. This is Aengus,” Danielle said, pointing to the suddenly glowering man standing next to her. She did a double-take at the change of his demeanor.
Errigal just nodded at him. Danielle looked between the two men. There was an undercurrent there that she did not understand. The three of them stood in an awkward silence for several minutes.
“Please follow me,” said Errigal. He spun on his heel and headed towards the door. Danielle headed after him. It surprised her when she felt Aengus’ hand on the small of her back, guiding her along. That certainly sent a message. What she wasn’t sure about was to whom he directed the message.
Danielle’s band told her she was on the Executive deck when the transport tube stopped. It also told her that her band worked no matter where she went, making it a lifeline. She actually felt comforted by that. She would never admit that she was nervous about changing ships. She and Aengus followed their guide into a large outer office. He stopped in front of a doorway and said, “Medical Director Grennady is expecting you.”
The door opened as soon as Danielle stepped in front of the door. She stepped through, finding Grennady sitting behind his desk with his hands folded in front of him. His cool gaze looked her up and down before he nodded at her. He said nothing and did not offer her a chair. Aengus took up position against the wall behind the guest chair. Danielle waited politely to be invited to sit. It was his office.
“Oh, yes. Earth manners. I was told about this. Please have a seat,” he said, the condensation in his voice almost dripping.
She sat in the chair closet to her and said, “Thank you,” as she set her tablet in front of her.
“I understand you wish to review the medical protocols,” he said, looking at her with a blank expression.
“Yes, please,” she said.
“Do you wish to record them or do you have an eidetic memory?” he asked.
“Excuse me?” she asked, dumbfounded.
“An eidetic memory is,” he started.
“I know what it is,” she interrupted. “What I am not understanding is why the protocols are verbal.”
“I am the only medical professional in the Fleet of any knowledge, so only I needed to know the protocols. Errigal follows orders only,” he said flatly.
“That is no longer the case. They need to be written so we all follow the same process. Verbal protocols are too open to individual interpretations,” she said.
“I am sure that the two of you can follow orders just as easily as Errigal does,” he answered.
Danielle just stared at him. She wasn’t sure if she should laugh at his stupidity or throat punch him. She blew out a big breath. She opted to work with him first. She could always beat the crap out of him later.
She moved forward in her chair a bit and clasped her hands in front of her. “Let me try this a different way. There are almost seventeen-thousand people in this Fleet, all requiring medical care. There are not enough hours in a day for you to see everyone so you can issue orders. Protocols will allow us to manage the bulk of the medical needs without requiring your intervention.”
“You or Maria can still do the assessment when there is a need. Then call me for instructions,” Grennady said calmly.
“That is ridiculously inefficient. The bulk of the care is routine preventative care or prenatal care, none of which has been done,” she said, her voice showing her irritation even though she was trying to reign in her temper.
“We chose health individuals, preventative care is unnecessary,” said Grennady.
“That is ridiculous. Children need immunizations and growth checks. Women need prenatal checks. Men need to have readiness checks to ensure they are fit for their jobs. Humans age and the body changes. They may have been healthy when they were chosen, but that doesn’t stand to reason that they remain healthy,” she said.
“We have been fine so far,” he said.
Danielle glared at him and turned on her tablet. “I wanted it noted that I tried to do this the easy way.” She noticed that he just looked at her like he would at a bug. He was about to find out why Mothra destroyed Tokyo.
* * *
“Let’s start with maternal care,” said Danielle. “Since our goal, our only goal in the Fleet, is the survival of our species, maternal care is the most critical mandate we have. Even more so than military fitness,” she said, bringing up the first chart. She continued, “There have been 486 live births out of 1104 pregnancies over the last ten years. The expected miscarriage rate is about 20%, but here the miscarriage rate is three times what it should be for those who even get pregnant. There are 6,390 women that should be able to conceive every other year. In ten years, there have only been 486 births. Even factoring in the high miscarriage rate, there should have been over ten-thousand babies born during the same time period,” she said as she showed him the chart she had made.
He glanced at it silently.
She continued, “The survival rate is horrible for those that even survive birth. Out of 486 births, only 269 children survived. That means 45% died. That is horrifying. Further out of the 486 births, 187 mothers died. That is 39% or two out of every five women to give birth,” she said, pointing to another graph. “To show just how absurd this number is, competitively, less than 33 out of six-thousand warriors has died during the same time period, which is only half of one-tenth of a percent. Being a mother is the most dangerous role in this Fleet,” she said, pointing to the numbers on the chart.
He glanced at it and back at her. “I do not understand how this is my issue.”
She was shocked speechless. She sat there just blinking at him.
Sensing her shock, he added blandly, “The women take care of themselves.”
She opened her mouth to say something and closed it again when her brain could not engage. She took a deep breath and tried again. Only one thing came to mind and it spilled out. “What the ever loving fuck is wrong with you? You are supposed to be Medical Director!” she shouted at him as she stood up and slapped her hands on his desk on either side of her iPad.
“Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?” he snarled.
“Well, somebody sure the hell needs to! What the hell do you do all day, sit behind that desk and stare at the wall! I cannot believe this,” she growled. “Do you even have a clue why those mothers died?”
“Complications,” he snarled.
“Complications,” she repeated, like it was a foreign word. “Out of the 187 women, 160 died from bleeding. The remaining 20 died from infections and 7 from high blood pressure. All of which were completely treatable. Why didn’t you fix it before they died?” She didn’t even bother showing him the graph. It would be a waste of time.
“I didn’t find out about the death until after they entered it into the system,” he said.
“You never even saw them,” she said quietly as a statement, beyond shocked.
He didn’t answer.
“I thought physicians always took an oath to care for patients. Dear God. Those women died because of your incompetence,” she said, still shocked that such a thing had happened. Then her anger kicked in. “Jesus Christ! Humanity is fucking doomed. I cannot believe this. They pulled away me from my son for a doomed mission,” said Danielle loudly. Her emotions were running wild at his admission.
“How dare you!” Grennady fumed as he stood up and slammed his hands on his desk. he glared directly at her. Aengus moved closer to Danielle.
“You are beyond incompetent. You are insane,” she said, still not believing that this man was in charge of the Fleet health.
“You are a woman and you are only an assistant. You will do as I order,” Grennady yelled as he pointed at her.
Aengus pushed Danielle behind him before she could shout back at him. “You will stop,” he ordered.
“You do not order me around. I outrank you!” Grennady shouted.
“But I can,” said a deep voice as the door opened.