Spartak stood just inside the door with his hands on his hips, glaring.
Danielle peeked around Aengus and asked, “What?”
“Let me see the tablet, Danielle,” he demanded, holding his hand out for it.
She moved around Aengus and pulled the tablet off of the desk and handed it to Spartak.
He pressed different parts of the screen, reviewing information, his face becoming more and more thunderous as he went. “Where did this information come from?” he demanded, looking up and glaring.
She straightened and narrowed her eyes at him. “Most of it came from the Fleet rolls that Evgen gave me. I pulled some of it from the death records and I got the benchmarks from the archives,” she said.
“So, this information was easily available,” he said as a statement rather than as a question.
“Yes. It took me a couple of hours to find everything and format the graphs,” she said.
Spartak looked over at Grennady. “Did you know all of this?” he demanded.
Danielle grimaced. The Medical Director was screwed. If he answered yes, he was guilty of treason, and if he answered no, then he was incompetent. She looked at Grennady’s face and saw that he had come to the same conclusion. He remained silent.
His silence seemed to infuriate Spartak even more.
“I asked you a question!” Spartak boomed.
Grennady finally found his voice. “I am one person,” he said, meeting Spartak’s glare with one of his own.
“Danielle, how many in the fleet have medical experience?” he asked, not taking his eyes off Grennady.
“Counting field medics, emergency medical staff, and nursing assistants, I would say 218 of various skills levels. I found six more nurses on the Earth rolls, but they did not have the same education or certifications that Maria and I have. We have 36 EMTs just from the US and UK and a Physician’s assistant from France. I would have to interview the midwives and cunny women throughout the fleet to determine what skill level they have. But on the surface, it looks like there is another 52 of those,” she said.
“So 270,” Spartak said, not relenting on his glaring at Grennady.
“Yes. It could be more. We need to reassess every female’s skill set. I found those 52 from the death records, not the rolls. They were not classified as health workers. Hell, one of the midwives is the Lead Chef aboard this ship,” said Danielle.
Spartak grunted in response as he flipped screens on the iPad, confirming the chef was indeed a woman.
He swung his head towards Grennady. “You had one job. You assured me that it was done. Now I find out we have 269 children instead of ten-thousand!” he bellowed. “I may kill you with my bare hands,” growled Spartak.
“Ah, before you kill him, can I ask a few questions?” she asked Spartak.
He nodded as he ground his teeth. His fists were clutched at his side as he tried to reign in his anger.
“Are you the only surgeon?” she asked Grennady.
“I am the only everything,” he snarled back at her.
“Are you the only surgeon?” she asked again., putting her hands on her hips.
“I am the only one who runs surgeries,” he growled.
“Run? Explain,” she demanded.
“If surgery is required, I activate and monitor the software that does the actual surgery,” he said. “The computer hardware does the actual surgery.”
“Okay. How many of these surgeries have you done?” she asked him.
“Two shoulder repairs, one amputation, and an appendectomy,” he said.
“Four,” she breathed. She closed her eyes to the horror that she was hearing. “How many did you do before you were rescued?” she added, fearing the answer.
“None. I had just finished my medical training before I was rescued,” he said so quietly that she almost didn’t hear him.
“Repeat that. I am not sure I heard you right,” she demanded.
Using every ounce of self-control she possessed, she asked, “How long was your medical training?”
“Six years,” he said.
“Just your residency or including medical school?” she demanded.
“All of it. I am a physician. You are merely a nurse,” he said snidely, glaring at her.
Before any of them knew what was going on, Danielle flew over the desk and throat punched the asshole as she screamed, “People died because of you, you son of a bitch!”
Spartak lifted her up by placing a meaty arm around her middle as she struggled to go at her target again as she screamed, “Six years? Nurses are in school longer than that, you incompetent asshole!” He set her on the floor. When she started for Grennady again, he had Aengus hold her in place by saying, “Hold her but do not hurt her.”
He looked at Grennady who was bent over, clutching his throat as he rasped in gulps of air. “I ought to let her have you,” he growled. “Saves me having to kill you.”
“I fine,” Danielle growled as she shook off Aengus’ hands. “I apologize for losing my temper.” She blew out a big breath. “You can’t kill him.”
“Why the hell not?” Spartak demanded, turning his head to glare at her.
“He needs to teach us how to use the surgery machine, and I need to wring out every bit of knowledge from his head that he thinks he knows. I have done a lot as a nurse, but complex surgeries are beyond my skill. He needs to teach me how to use the computer so I can do them,” she said. “Fortunately, it shouldn’t be too hard since the machine actually does the work. If this moron can handle it, I certainly can.”
“What about Maria?” asked Spartak.
“She has been mostly family practice and public health. Don’t get me wrong, those are going to be critical from now on. My background is Intensive Care, Trauma, and Emergency Medicine,” said Danielle. “I have reset bones, done sutures, removed foreign bodies, managed degloving injuries and gunshot wounds, treated partial amputations and such. Between the two of us, I am pretty sure we have more skills than he does, but I want to be sure. We certainly have more experience.”
“What’s your plan?” he asked.
Danielle blew out a big breath. “I want to form a Medical Council. We will create medical written protocols for preventative health care, emergency care, and comfort care. We need protocols for maternal care and end-of-life care. We will draft job roles, training requirements, and competency evaluations. We will also create an application process and a training process. 270 practitioners to cover nearly fourteen-thousand are not enough. We even add one more planet, it will screw us. Add in higher birth rates, our population could easily double in a year or two, putting us in the same bind.”
“Was what you said about the birth and survival rates true?” he asked, totally ignoring Grennady.
“You can do the math yourself. If over 6,300 couples are having regular sex and each female has 3-5 fertile days a month, there should be a hell of a lot more babies,” she said. “I want to find out why.”
“No, I got your point. Including the child survival rate,” he said, turning to glare at Grennady again. He then looked at Danielle and said, “Draft me a charter for the Council, including a timeline.”
“Yes, Sir,” she said.
“Take her back to the Gliesea,” Spartak ordered Aengus, who nodded. “I need to have a chat with Grennady.”
He waited until Aengus and Danielle left before he turned back to the Medical Director. “Have a seat,” he said, his voice deceptively calm.
Greannady visible swallowed and had a seat behind his desk. His eyes never left Spartak, who stood hands on hips, staring at him.
“You are alive right now, only through her good graces. I suggest you bend over backwards to help her in every way you can or that will change, am I clear?” Spartak asked in the same calm voice.
“Yes, Sir,” he answered, swallowing hard again.
Spartak turned and head towards the door when he heard Grennady mutter the equivalent of a stupid bitch under his breath. Spartak had him pinned to the wall with his large hand wrapped around his neck before Grennady could even blink.
“If you threaten her or even go near her for any purpose other than what I have told you to do, I will kill you as painfully as I can. Nod if you understand,” Spartak growled.
Grennady nodded. He coughed several times after Spartak released him. “You act like she is your mate.”
Spartak spun on his heel and glared at the man. “That is irrelevant. She is the best hope this fleet has for survival. If you don’t see that, then you are too stupid to live,” Spartak growled. He then stalked out of the office.
* * *
“Thank you, Aengus,” Danielle said as she arrived at her door.
“No problem. Do not be too surprised if you see me in the morning,” he said.
“I do seem to be stacking up enemies, don’t I?” she said as she grimaced.
“You are disrupting the status quo. It makes people uncomfortable. I do not think it is necessarily wrong,” he said.
“Can I ask you something,” he started.
“Sure,” she shrugged.
“My mate and I have been together almost a year and we have not conceived. Do you know why?” he asked. “I heard what you said about the numbers.”
“I don’t yet, but I will. Would you mind if I talk to her? It might help me figure out some of the issues,” said Danielle.
“Sure, I will bring her in the morning. Is that okay?” he asked.
“Yes. My first meeting isn’t until the third hour,” she said. “Good night.”
He wished her well as he headed to the transport tube.
She blew out a big breath. It could be so many things. Diet, positions, timing, clothing, temperature, or a hundred other things. Her sister had gone through IVF three times. She knew more than most nurses about it because she held her hand through all of it. At least Marie had two children now, so it had been worth it.
She walked into her suite and found a bottle of an amber liquid, a note, and two new gold insignias. One had three gold circles, and the other had two gold squares. She had passed some kind of test she did not even know she was having. She picked up the note and read it.
I am impressed after seeing you in action today and I do not impress easily. I am sure by now you suspect that I watched the meeting remotely given my timing. You may have single-handedly saved us all, and I will not forget it. Please find your new rank. You are the Senior Medical Officer. Grennady has been ordered to do everything he can to help you. I have also given you a military rank of Captain in the Fleet to reduce further battles as we make these needed changes. This gives you rank at the level of Evgen, Iosif, and Rickar who you haven’t met yet. You are now in the inner circle. I do not want what Evgen tells me you understand as ‘Yes Men’. I expect you to challenge me when I get it wrong, which I am sure you will have no trouble with. Jareth will add the meetings to your calendar if he hasn’t already.
I have also left a bottle of Gliesean liquor in appreciation. It is the equivalent to your whiskey. This is from my personal stock and was made on my home world thirty years ago. It is quite good. Enjoy.
Danielle stood there staring at the note for several minutes. Her mind pinged everywhere at once.
“Mom?” said Bethany as she came in. “You okay?” she asked.
“Uh, yeah. Sorry. How are you?” she asked.
“Well, better now. I called you three times. You look like you had a rough day,” she said, plopping down on the couch. “What is this?” she asked, pointing at the table.
Danielle handed her the note. She then walked over to the cabinet and grabbed a glass. She dropped a single ice cube into and walked back to the table. She plopped on the other couch, kicked off her shoes, and poured herself a stiff drink. She was just about to take a sip when her band chirped.
“Hey, kiddo. It’s me,” said Erica.
“Come on in,” said Danielle. “Open door,” she said to the band.
Erica walked in when Danielle said, “Grab a glass and ice, if you want. I am drinking dinner, but I will be happy to share.” Danielle took a sip and groaned. It was so good.
Erica grabbed a glass and came and sat down. She held out the glass and let Danielle pour some liquor into it. She smelled the bouquet and her eyes widened. “Okay, very impressed. That rough of a day?” she asked.
“You have no idea,” Danielle groused. “Love the light blue uniform.”
“It’s okay. I like the royal blue better,” she said, and took a sip and hummed in pleasure.
Bethany stood up and handed Erica the letter.
Erica choked on the whiskey as she read the letter. “Holy, crap!” she said.
“Let’s use that. The words I would pick right now are words I would ground my kids for saying,” she groused. “Spartak had to pull me off Grennady after I throat punched him,” she explained.
“That’s the stupid medical guy, right?” asked Bethany.
Danielle just nodded.
“He was the one you were telling me about, isn’t he?” Erica asked Bethany.
“Yep. Pay up, bitch,” laughed Bethany.
“Bethany!” Danielle chastised.
“Well, she owes me,” grumped Bethany.
“She bet me you would end up throat punching the guy. I thought you had better control than that,” said Erica, sighing.
“Sorry,” said Danielle, taking another sip of whiskey.
Erica laughed. “It’s okay, you shared your booze.”