Culture Clash
by Chessman

A Danubian story…based on the society created in the novel 'Maragana Girl' by EC.

For those new to the Danubia series, a brief explanation of the culture may be needed before we begin our story. Danubia, formally The Republic of Danubia, and formerly the Duchy of Danubia, is a small nation state in the Eastern European area.

The nation has no prisons and criminals are never held more than twenty-four hours between the time of the commission, or discovery, of the crime and the trial for the offense.

Two forms of punishment, usually melded together, are used. Collaring is done with an electronic monitoring type neck collar, which is locked into place for the duration of the criminal sentence.

The second aspect of criminal punishment is corporal in nature, switching, or beating with a whip like device, is done in conjunction with the collaring. When a criminal is collared he or she is also deprived of clothing for a period of the sentence or its entirety. Switching, with a leather device much like a long riding crop, is done upon the bare buttocks and thighs of the criminal. The usual adult sentence consists of fifty lashes upon sentencing and then at regular intervals in the sentence fifty more are applied as per the judgment of the court.

The officer administering the blows must take care to raise welts visible to the witnessing judge, but to never, ever, break skin and draw blood. To do so would cause the officer to lose his or her job. Lesser switching punishments are administered for children and for certain infractions within schools and institutions not of a criminal nature. To see a naked criminal, collared and going about his or her life within Danubian society is not a rarity. Criminals must have work that keeps them in public view, so delivery men, wait staff, store clerks and the like are often jobs that go to criminals. As there are no prisons, criminals usually live with their families and are under the supervision of a Spokesperson who acts as defense counsel and parole officer for the criminal.

Nudity practiced by the average citizen is also not uncommon in Danubian society. All physical education and health club activity is done nude by all citizens. Swimsuits are forbidden by law in Danubia, so all pools and lakes and river front beaches are occupied by nude Danubians.

Lastly, in the Danubian religion, there is provision for a rite called Public Penance. A penitent goes before his or her priest confesses a sin in life that needs correction and then voluntarily surrenders the right to wear clothing for a period of time until the priest and penitent agree the penitent has atoned for the sin. If family honor is involved often an entire family will agree to serve penance with the family member bearing the guilt burden.

For more details see The History and Culture of Danubia


Marcia Shevat was fourteen years old when the event that would shake her life occurred. Born and raised on Army posts, she had lived in and moved to more military towns by age twelve than most civilians move in a lifetime. It was at Fort Riley, Kansas that events would determine the course of the rest of her life.

Before she was old enough to raise a pistol, get a sight picture and fire a round at a target, Marcia, along with her two younger brothers, had been taught by their father how to strip, clean, reassemble and care for a weapon. At the age of twelve, Marcia had been taken to the range and put through the same qualifications course a soldier would have to pass before being issued a pistol as a side arm. Her father, the lead firearms instructor for his battalion, realized the girl was a natural-born shooter. He slightly corrected her grip and her stance, but beyond that was all he needed to do. He had no reservation as to issuing her a range card so she could go and shoot targets whenever she desired.

Marcia had learned to swim the summer before she started Kindergarten and had continued to take swim classes through fourth grade. Then, at age ten, Marcia had been taught to swim competitively at Fort Leonard Wood, when her father was stationed there. She first was a YMCA team swimmer in the under twelve division, and then developed into a strong junior nationals swimmer.

From age twelve to age fourteen Marcia swam in every event she could. It looked as if she would compete in the Pan Am Games, then the Junior Worlds, and be ready for the Olympics during her college years.

She had so progressed as a swimmer that her parents spent the money to have laser hair removal done on her as a fourteenth birthday present. It lowered her times by almost two seconds in her next competition and was considered money well spent. She continued to enjoy the eye hand coordination of target shooting over those years as well.

One day she returned home after a high school swim meet to find a chaplain, a Major from her father’s unit, and a Senior Master Sergeant sitting in the living room of the base house the family had been assigned. Her mother was weeping, her brothers were stone silent and Marcia knew this was very bad. She dropped her swim duffle and with hair wet from her after meet shower, ran in to ask her mother what had happened.

“Your father,” her mother sobbed, “He’s…” and could go no further.

The Chaplain then said, “Marcia, your father was killed in a field training exercise. Two inexperienced drivers tried to take their Hummer up a muddy grade. It rolled over, trapping them inside. Your dad went to secure the towropes onto the vehicle to right it. Before he could stand clear, the Hummer slipped again trapping him between a boulder and the vehicle. He died of crushing chest injuries, there was nothing anyone could do.”

Life was a blur after that, and although the Army was very sorry for their loss, the Shevat family still had to vacate the post housing within six months of the death of the soldier. They settled into a smaller modular home in Lawrence, Kansas and tried to get on with their lives as normally as possible.

Marcia lost a year of eligibility on the high school swim team in the transfer from the post high school to a civilian one; however, her club swimming was not affected and she continued to garner national junior ranking. Her friends, mostly swimmers and divers from the teams, were always welcomed in the Shevat home, and she was also welcomed in theirs. As her brothers developed into the late 'tween, early teen-age boys they were becoming, it was obvious that they enjoyed the presence of many nubile young women parading about in swim wear or less in the Shevat home.

Modesty was not something swimmers and divers were known for, as ill-fitting team suits were notorious for dropping off of a diver in entry or a swimmer hoisting her body up a ladder from the pool. Indeed, Marcia herself had been a victim of such a “water stripping.” When she had first transferred to the civilian high school and tried out for the swim team, she had been issued a team swim suit marked in her size but which felt loose even while still dry. Marcia had gone off of the starting blocks for a one hundred meter free style event, had lost the straps on the top of the suit entering the water, and lost the rest of the suit mid pool on the return.

A newspaper photo of Marcia, with one hand raised in victory while the other clutched a hastily grabbed towel barely covering her front, was clipped and pasted in many of the school’s lockers, both male and female.

A fifth place in the Olympic trials, while not good enough to secure a place on the team higher than second alternate, got the attention of several good Midwestern Universities. After long discussions with her mother as to what they could afford on a military pension, Marcia decided on the all expenses scholarship to the University just outside Chicago. In exchange for her athletics, Marcia would receive room, board, books, fees, travel expenses and a team uniform allowance. A mandatory grade point average of 3.0 was an expectation of the school. Her mother expected a 3.5.

Practice, meets, classes and start over again became Marcia’s campus routine. Once again, most of her friends were teammates. Hanging out in the steam room, sauna or hot tub provided in the athlete’s dorm became Marcia’s relaxation. Again, like-minded young women, and some of the guys from the other floors in the co-ed athlete’s dorm, would pad around the halls nude or nearly so. So familiar with each other’s bodies had they all become by the end of the first semester that no one seemed to date or hook up with each other. They were buds, pals, BFF’s and almost brother and sister in relating to each other; however, sexual tensions were minimal.

Then came the day, Sophomore year, late in first semester, when in the mandatory class named Inter Cultural Sociological Studies, taught by Professor Sarah Bushnell, Marcia asked a question. It was one little question that was to have a profound impact upon her life. Doctor Bushnell had been a part of an exchange program, about the third year the program had been in existence. She was explaining how the program of exchanging students the National University of Danubia had started.

When the mention of the lack of competitive sports programs within the academic tier from grade school through University was mentioned, Marcia shot up her hand and asked the question.

“Young lady,” her professor announced to the class, “you are the very first to ask that question. I believe it needs proper research. Please see me after class.” Marcia’s heart sank. Proper research usually meant a fifty-page paper on the topic, with bibliography not drawn from wikipedia.

Sarah Bushnell, B.A., M.S., PHD, had recently risen from Adjunct Professor to a full professorship at the University. She, as an alumna of the Danubian/University exchange program had been chosen as a junior member of the University selection team for prospective students requesting participation in the ‘year abroad’ program. The usual grouping of Social Sciences majors, with a smattering of Language, Earth Sciences, and Engineering students had filed applications earlier following the previous academic year and those early selectees were already in classes named Danubian Society and Culture and Danubian Language One. Sarah Bushnell saw in her non-major student a potential to add something to the exchange mix.

As a Physical Education major, who hoped to become a Physical Education teacher and coach at the high school level, Marcia Shevat was not within the traditional disciplines for exchange. Perhaps she would be a small pebble to ripple the pond of sameness achieved in the nine years the program had been in effect. The idea in Dr. Bushnell’s mind was to create a start in widening the exchange and giving other majors a chance to be exposed to the Duchy and its culture. She had needed a curious minded individual not afraid to ask questions that challenged traditional thought. Marcia had asked the question, and a light had appeared in her professors’ mind. Dr. Bushnell appeared to have her candidate, if the rest of the University committee and the representatives of the Danubian government, education department and clergy agreed.

Chapter 1. Arrival

A year in Europe as an exchange student, Marcia Shevat wondered, who would not jump at that? All expenses paid by the college to include books, room, board, tuition, transportation and pocket money, from June first of one year to August thirty-first of the next.

Sure, the offer was to go to the National University of Danubia, in Danubia City, in the Danubian Duchy; Marcia thought could these people say Danubia in one form or another any more when it came to the naming of the place, but, the upside was she could still train for her varsity swimming letter and keep her scholarship in the University’s athletic department if she agreed to help train students at one of the Danubian national academies.

Marcia had been the only athlete scholar admitted to the Danubian exchange program. Most of the other young men and women leaving for Germany with her were engineering, political science majors or economics majors. One girl was pre-med and another pre-law going to Danubia to do masters level work in comparative studies of judiciaries.

The ratio in this group of exchange students was about three to one male to female.

Marcia had been through the orientation program, taken the required two semester language classes [one in the intensive winter intersession to be ready for June] and now felt ready to step off the airplane in Frankfurt, get on the Griffin Airlines flight to Danubia and step into her life as a college junior training to be a Physical Education Teacher.

Her path to Danubia was a strange one; Danubia had no formal team sports in competition with other nations or at the university level with other schools. Marcia had asked one of her instructors, a Sarah Bushnell, during a non-major required Sociology course, how not having organized sports as part of the University of Danubia’s fund raising affected the school and its relationships with its alumni.

Stating that this was an excellent question and worthy of a student’s exploration, Doctor Bushnell had invited Marcia to participate in an informal student and faculty round table where the exchange program of interested people from both schools would be discussed. Marcia was told by Dr. Bushnell to bring her question to the table at that time.

Three representatives from Danubia were present at this round table, which had surprised Marcia. A priestess, representing the Orthodox Church of Danubia, a department chairperson from the University of Danubia and a consul general from the consular offices of the Danubian government in Chicago, nearby to the campus where Marcia was enrolled.

The exchange program, now in its ninth year, had drawn from a narrow pool of students until this year when word had gone out to the University departments that students with interests in subjects other than engineering, forestry, political sciences and economics should be encouraged to apply for the year long cultural and education exchange program. Marcia had no idea that she was there to be interviewed as a potential exchange candidate. Marcia had asked her question, received smiles and nods in response to it, and was told by the Danubian representatives and the University faculty that she would be notified.

Notified, she had asked herself, notified about what?

When the official letterhead from the University came to her room in the athletes’ dormitory, Marcia opened it fearfully. Usually letters such as these tell a student the scholarship on which they are attending school is ending, or the grades from the last semester make the athlete ineligible for competition, or some other negative connotation.

Her letter read, in part, “ Congratulations, Marcia Shevat, you have been selected by the faculty and administration of this University as an exchange representative to the University of Danubia…” Marcia pulled out her cell phone and immediately called her mother. The Shevat family now lived in a development of modular homes in a quiet lower middle class community three states distant from Marcia’s college campus.

Marcia was the first in her family to attend college, and had only been able to afford her schooling by maintaining her athletic scholarship. Marcia had been born to swim competitively. From her first doggie paddle in the post pool at age three through grade school competitions at the local community pool in the summer and the YMCA in the winter and through her four years of high school, Marcia had set one local record after another usually by breaking one of her own in relay, freestyle and backstroke. Now, as she discussed the possible exchange program with her mother, the family’s concerns for her future spilled out. What if she couldn’t make the team again when she returned in a year? How could she afford her senior year and graduate school if her scholarship was gone? What about her brothers?

Mom,” Marcia pled,” I have been assured that my scholarship will be there for senior year. I have been promised a fellowship for graduate school if my paper on Physical Culture in Danubian Society meets University standards. Doctor Bushnell has already agreed to mentor me through the independent study so that this thesis will indeed meet the academic standard. Also, if the boys and you wish to visit me in Danubia at Christmas time or whenever, the Duchy government has offered you round trip tickets.”

In the end her mother had been satisfied that this would not just be some extended spring break adventure but a real educational opportunity for Marcia and had agreed to allow her daughter to participate. Twenty men and seven women all in their late teens to early twenties stepped off of the Griffin Airlines turbo prop aircraft onto the tarmac of the National Airport, after a non-eventful transatlantic flight and the short hop from Germany to Danubia.

Several host families were at the gate, just past the customs officials, waiting for their exchange students. Marcia looked at the hand printed signs being held up by the Danubian hosts and saw none for her. One by one the other students were met, greeted and taken away by their host families. Marcia waited for several hours, sitting outside customs clearance, without a sign of her host family.

Finally, three people approached her. They were not the ones she had hoped to meet, as two a male and female were uniformed police officers and the third was a Spokeswoman for the Criminal.

It was the Spokeswoman who in halting yet accent less American English addressed Marcia, “There is a problem with your student visa Marcia Shevat, and we would like you to accompany us to the central courts building to straighten the matter out.” “A problem? The Danubian Consulate approved my visa, last week, in Chicago. I don’t understand, what problem could there be?” Marcia was worried, as she had been taught in the classes dealing with customs and traditions for exchange students that criminal suspects were usually stripped and possibly switched. She had no real desire to have her clothing taken from her less than a day following her arrival in the country.

“Yes, a problem, the Spokeswoman repeated, “perhaps a minor inconvenience to you, and perhaps more serious. These officers have a van outside and will drive us to the central judiciary so that we might resolve the issue quickly.”

It was then that Marcia remembered that private automobiles, even taxicabs, weren’t permitted in Danubia. Only official vehicles existed, and this Spokeswoman had probably called in a favor with the police to arrange a ride. Okay, let’s go down town and see if this problem could be resolved. A short while later Marcia found herself in the Spokeswoman’s office. By observation she learned that the Spokespersons for the Criminal were multi faceted acting as defense counsel, parole officer and job counselor for their criminal clientele.

She also learned that Beth-Anne Takinva was a former U.S. citizen who had married a Danubian man while studying in Danubia and had stayed on to work in the judicial branch foreign criminal supervision section of the Spokesperson’s office. Prior to her marriage her name had been Beth-Anne Hawkins.

Beth-Anne had not been home to the United States in six years. An only child of only children, her roots to the United States were severed when in her exchange year in Danubia her parents had died in a crash of the Piper Cub, in which her mother was flying her father home after a Rotary Club convention in St. Louis.

Her Danubian boy friend Denka Takin, and his family, had brought her into their home following her return to Danubia from the funerals of her parents and had nurtured her back to emotional stability. Following the traditional two years, one of dating then one engaged, the couple had stood before a priestess of the Danubian Church and was married. Then had come two years of Danubian legal training, a short course at the national police academy, and a two-year spokesperson apprenticeship. For the last four years she had worked in the Spokesperson’s office, now as a fully vetted Spokeswoman, dealing with long and short-term criminals coming from outside the Danubian populace.

She had spent those years thinking, and speaking, as a Danubian and now found it difficult to revert back to English when necessary.

Now, she had the difficult task to inform Ms Marcia Shevat that her year in Danubia would not be the pleasantly uneventful stay she may have hoped for.

“Marcia, there is no easy way for me to tell you this, therefore, I shall relate the story and then allow you to ask questions after I am finished. I am going to ask you to not interrupt and listen closely to what I say.” Marcia nodded and waited for the older woman to begin.

“Your host family cannot abide by its agreement to house, feed and maintain you for your school year. A criminal event arose, the young woman with whom you were to exchange, was found to be cheating on her schoolwork and then lied about it to her professor. In this country that is insurrection, disrespect of a public official in the performance of official duties. Her parents were so distraught, that following her first switching the afternoon of her trial and her being led off to the recovery room here in the Spokespersons offices, her parents went before the priests at the Temple and began a year of public penance.

“Here is the problem, the penance extends to the entire family, her younger brother and two sisters are also included in the family penance and the girl is still at home as well, as her passport was taken upon her conviction.

“I’m sure you can see why we wished to avoid you an unpleasant stay in our country, and are offering you a return, first class to the United States.” Beth-Anne finished and waited for Marcia’s questions yet to come.

“Uh, okay,” I know you don’t have prisons and that your criminals,” Marcia looked up to see an attractive red headed woman, nude save for a metal collar, being led to another office by two police officers, “well, they are nude for the period of their sentence and can be switched with a riding crop type thing as part of their sentence. But, if I understand you, they live at home?” Beth-Anne responded, “Yes, they must have suitable housing, and if the family, though disgraced by their behavior will have them, then that is where they go to live. Additionally they must have adequate employment within two days of their sentencing. As this crime involved the university, this criminal has lost the right to study there for a period of one full year, though on the first and last day of each term she must appear before the offended professor and publicly apologize to her for the duration of her sentence.”

“So, the room I would have occupied is still being slept in by the girl criminal?”

“Yes, Marcia, and as I said, the entire family is doing public penance in the shame to the honor of the family name which the student brought down upon it by her actions.” Beth-Anne paused, smiled, and continued, “The host family, does have room for you, Marcia, yet you may not like the conditions by which you would have to live if you took that offer.”

“Oh, what might I ask would those conditions be,” Marcia was thinking of someway to salvage her year abroad.

Beth-Anne took a deep breath and continued to smile as she began, “Since exchange students are considered family members and are required to live by the same restrictions and rules natural children do while within the home, you would be doing public penance also. This would require for you to leave your suitcases, with your clothing, here with me. You would dress in an outfit modest but not your favorite, which would be cut off of you and burned on the temple grounds and the priests would collar you as a penitent. Beyond that no other changes would occur in your social, academic or legal standing in Danubia. If you do not accept this as your option, then a return flight will be booked for you and you may return to the United States without prejudice.”

Marcia thought for more than a moment about this situation. She already knew that all of her physical education course work, her swimming both practice and competitive and any team sport she participated in while a student in Danubia would be done in the nude. She also knew that honor was very high on the Danubian culture level, and she shared both the dishonor and the honor redemption of her host family whatever choice she made. If she were to fly home, the family would face the dishonor of her leaving due to their daughter’s lack of good judgment. If she stayed and agreed to the penance collar, she would be nude twenty-four and seven for a year, but, as most of her waking hours in school and practice would be spent that way what more harm could it do to remain so at home with her hosts or elsewhere on the streets. If the Danubians did not care, neither did she. “Beth-Anne, could you help me find something suitable to wear to the temple? I’ll slip that on and we can get this process started. I’d love to meet the girl who is the cause for my surrendering my clothing for a year, as soon as possible.”

“I’m sorry, Marcia,” Beth-Anne replied, “ The American culture lacks to formality of ours in Danubia. Here a public official is always referred to by the title or rank they hold and their last name. From now on, I would expect you to refer to me as Spokeswoman Takinva whenever we speak.”

Opening the college student’s cases, the two women rummaged through separating out what a Danubian could use with what was no appropriate on Danubian soil. Marcia’s personal hygiene products received a good going over. Danubian women do not shave, unless they are to be switched for an offense, therefore two bottles of depilatory creams went in the ‘hold until I go home’ suitcase, along with deodorant, and perfume.

Beth-Anne also told Marcia that Danubian culture viewed piercing as a moral affront to Danubian theology. Therefore, her earrings and belly ring were removed and placed into storage. Her university class ring, her gold Chi necklace and a belly chain were deemed not to meet standard by Beth-Anne as well.

“The university ring implies haughtiness regarding status, an attitude unacceptable to Danubians,” Beth-Anne explained, “The Chi is a symbolic representation of an outside faith system and could risk your being held as a foreign missionary, as evangelical outreach is illegal in Danubia. The belly chain is merely a vanity item, and Danubian women tend to down play vanity. It takes a while to understand that nudity does not negate modesty in Danubian culture. One may be nude and go unnoticed, but, have one piece of jewelry to draw the eye toward you and you are then a vain woman, or man, as the case may be.”

Beth-Anne kept to herself the matter that Marcia already had sufficient deviations upon her nude body to draw unwanted Danubian attention. Swim suit tan lines, lack of body hair, plucked eye brows and hair cut too short to be braided on her head would cause murmuring among the Danubians she would meet over the next several weeks. Best not to stress the girl out about that at this time, was Beth-Anne’s thought.

A simple oversized T-shirt was found to be both long enough for temple modesty and easily enough material wise to be clipped off and burned following Marcia’s acceptance as a penitent.

Beth-Anne spent the next forty-five minutes with her charge getting her to understand the questions that would be asked by the priestess and priest who would meet them at the temple. For most of the questions a simple yes yes was the answer, for the balance of them the response would be for my honor and the honor of my host family.

The priest and priestess who met Marcia on the steps of the temple looked at her attire approvingly. It seemed to them that Beth-Anne had coached her charge well. Marcia prostrated herself at the appropriate point in the temple and ceremonially was asked, “Are you the American, Marcia Shevat?” She promptly replied ‘yes yes’ in Danubian. “Have you come here today freely and willingly, seeking the release of public penance?” Again, ‘yes yes’. What is the reason for your seeking penance?” Marcia responded, “for my honor and for the honor of my host family.”

A few questions later, a pair of very sharp scissors appeared from beneath one of the religious robes and Marcia’s T-shirt dress was in two pieces in her arms.

She was led to the fire pit, and balled the fabric up then tossed it underhand into the coals where it was consumed.

She was then led back into the temple where a collar with what looked to be basket weave etching on its surface was placed around her neck and locked in place.

Nude, collared and quite bewildered at the events of the passed several hours, Marcia knelt for the final benediction over her. Marcia rose still facing the priest and priestess and backed out of the temple sanctuary, bowed low at the waist.

Once in the public area of the temple grounds, Marcia finally met her host family. The adults were collared and nude as well, yet greeted and treated her like seeing her nude was the most natural thing in life for them. Both parents and the college age girl against whom criminal charges had only recently been filed were there. The younger children had been told to enjoy a snack and the sunshine and play in the family’s back yard until the adults returned home.

What Marcia had been allowed to keep, books, school supplies, hair brushes, and so on fit into a back pack which Beth-Anne now handed her. Her two suitcases would remain in Beth-Anne’s locked closet at Spokesperson central until Marcia was ready to leave the country.

The four had many questions to share among themselves, but the two girls particularly, were busy checking each other out.

Marcia noticed that indeed Ivanka’s pubic region had been shaved and also that the fifty welts on her thighs and derriere had not yet lost their color or their inflammation.

Ivanka, on the other hand was totally shocked that Marcia’s hair on her head was shorter than most boys kept their hair in Danubia. She also was staring at Marcia’s legs, arms and pubis, as there was not one hair anywhere on Marcia’s body. The white triangles of pale flesh on Marcia’s breasts, pelvis and derriere also grabbed Ivanka’s attention.

Oh, yes, there were to be long hours of seemingly endless discussion about the cultural differences between the United States and the Danubian however, those would wait until the family was home and inside its own walls.

Chapter 2. The Siminovs

Marcia Shevat entered the host family home in the detached town house located in northwestern section of Danubia City, following a trolley ride and two block walk from the trolley stop.

She learned that the public penance she had joined into with her host family included standing while on all public transportation. The stares she received, from those riding the transportation, were many more than even Ivanka, with her bruised bottom, had gotten.

The three other Siminov children were waiting at home for Ivanka and her parents to return, with or without the exchange student. Marcia was not sure which of the three, the twin girls or the fourteen-year-old boy, were more excited to meet the now nude American student.

The girls, age twelve only two weeks before, began barraging Marcia with questions before she had a moment to cross the threshold into the Siminov home. With typical '''''tween curiosity the questions ranged from, did you have a good trip, was Danubia a surprise to you, what do you like to eat, do you listen to Socrates Mistresses, what is a varsity swimmer, and over and over again what happened to your hair.

Marcia was trying to answer each question before the next was fired at her when the fourteen year old boy, Kivar, looked at them and reprimanded with, “Martina, Kaleen, go set the table as Mamma asked you before she left. We shall have plenty of time to ask questions of this girl as the day goes on.”

Marcia was unsure as to the cultural differences between Danubian and American siblings and the way they interacted; however, the tone Kivar took sounded very condescending and somewhat demeaning toward the twins and toward her as well.

“Thank you, Kivar, I needed a moment to get my thoughts together as to the events of the day so far, I am Marcia Shevat, and I guess you will be my foster brother for the next year,” Marcia offered her hand.

“Men and women do not have public physical contact unless married or engaged,” Kivar noted looking at her extended hand, and trying to look nowhere else. He did not add that rule did not apply to criminals. Surely, with her butchered head of hair and lack of body hair Marcia must be a very wicked criminal in America. Oddly, he found Marcia’s tan lines strangely erotic and found himself responding physically in a rather uncomfortable and unexpected way.

“Oh,” Marcia responded chuckling to herself inside and thinking what her own brother’s reaction would be to her next comment, ”then I guess a hug and a kiss are out of the question?”

Kivar turned beet red from embarrassment, muttered something in Danubian slang under his breath, and backed out of the living room leaving Marcia standing there alone and listening to the clatter of the table being set in the dining room. Ivanka came to her rescue and offered to show her the house and yard, an offer Marcia quickly accepted.

“As the sitting room, you have already seen,” Ivanka smiled, “let us step out the doors into the rear yard.”

Once outside Marcia viewed a well-kept and gardened area about eighteen by ten meters. It almost looked like a suburban yard in America except there was a four-meter fence around its three sides. Marcia was used to being able to see her neighbors over her fences at home.

Ivanka explained that although everyone sunned and swam in the nude in Danubia, family privacy was the norm. To intrude upon that privacy was a breach of Danubian protocols.

Ivanka showed Marcia the swimming pool shared by the four units in the quadrangle. Also within walls, it was adequate for social swimming and aquatic exercise, but Marcia would have to find a fifty-meter pool for her lap training and speed training. Ivanka explained that during the week, when school and work kept the pool empty, there was no schedule of use. On the weekend each family had a three-hour block of time to use the pool privately and could bolt the doors to the others access gates during their time period. Forgetting to reopen the gate for the next family was a regular habit of the twins, who both had been spanked only last Saturday, for failing to so do. On a weekday if anyone who was using the pool heard a knock, they just opened the gate and allowed another person entry. Ivanka winked and said, “I usually skip the bother and just leave all four gates unlocked.”

Ivanka showed Marcia the raised “air bath” platform where the family sunbathed in the good weather, nude and as a family, of course.

Marcia thought for a moment and then realized her own body showed evidence of sunbathing but in the form of tan lines where her swimsuit had covered her. Her swimsuit, the bikini, was one of the items Beth-Anne had kept in the suitcase as the Spokespersons' offices. It had been explained that swimwear was illegal under Danubian law. An “oh, my,” moment came to Marcia when she realized that these marks on her body made her all the more different from her Danubian family. and losing them would make her blend in better. No pun intended Marcia added silently.

Back into the house through the kitchen door, Marcia and her host passed through with a quick hug from Ivanka for her mother, who was busy stirring a noodle dish on the stove. The twins had finished setting the large family table in the dining room and had retreated to their room just down the hall. Ivanka did not knock; minor children have no expectation of privacy from family members, and found the two younger girls quietly squabbling with each other over who would get to read a book first.

Popular culture magazines and books were not allowed in Danubia, and the type of book a young girl or boy might desire was the latest in a series of novels for young adults dealing with Danubian history and relationships in a way that interested the tween reader. Swashbuckling historical fiction seemed to appeal to the imagination of boy and girl alike. Thus, 'The Silver Duke Of Danubia' over which the girls were battling was a prize worth winning in their eyes. Ivanka walked up to the pair, took the book, and shook her head hard enough to loosen a braid. As the pouted looks on the younger girls faces made it clear they were happy it was Ivanka and not Mamma or Poppa who had witnessed the display.

Ivanka would simply keep the book and not return it until she elicited a promise from both of the girls to share it. She had the heart of a grade school teacher when it came to disciplining her siblings, all lessons learned were multi layered, and she got a better response from the girls than her parents did with an over the knee paddling. Thus, before the book came back into their hands, each would explain to the other and to Ivanka what she had done to provoke the squabble, why it was wrong behavior and a promise that it would never happen again would be made.

Marcia was beginning to wonder how this young woman could have become a criminal, when the purity of her heart and spirit seemed to shine in everything she did. Carrying the offending book in her hands, Ivanka next opened the door to Kivar’s room. Kivar sat, cross-legged, in the middle of his bed with a bewildered look on his face.

“What seems to be the trouble, little brother,” Ivanka asked the fourteen year old, when he looked up at her.

“Her,” was his one word response while pointing a finger in Marcia’s direction.

“Oh, precisely what did Marcia do to make you so upset,” the older sister inquired.

“She threatened to hug and kiss me,” Kivar used a tone suggesting this would have proved the worst form of punishment short of a pillory.

Hiding the giggle that was forming under her breath, Ivanka very authoritatively suggested to her brother, “Well, I will strongly suggest to you that you not repeat the behavior that provoked such a threat.”

The two young women backed out of Kivar’s room and closed his door just before the giggles got hold and doubled them both over. “He likes you, he probably had one of the physical responses young teenage boys get when they like a girl and was so embarrassed he had to retreat to his room. Oh my, I’d hate to see the reaction he’ll have if you actually do hug and kiss him.” Ivanka was still laughing when she showed Marcia the bathroom. Here a sunken tub, more like a hot tub than a typical American bathtub, took center stage. It was communal and for soaking, resting, and relaxing, but not for washing one's body.

That was done in the shower, separated from the tub by a meter and a half tiled wall. It had wall mounted and hand held shower heads, and provided for total cleansing before one stepped into the tub. Often, after a long soak, a person would shower again using an exfoliate scrub.

Marcia soon found out that each bedroom had a “water closet” integrated into it with a commode and sink and mirror, but bathing was done communally.

Ivanka pointed to the door of her parent’s bedroom, but did not go into it. She explained to Marcia that as the parents their right to privacy was absolute, whereas minor children had no such expectation. She, as oldest sibling, had rights of privacy from her brother and sisters invasion of her personal space, but not from her parents. Ivanka explained that Marcia would be treated at the same level as Ivanka in the household. This meant either parent could enter the room at any time without knocking but the younger children were forbidden from disturbing Marcia’s privacy.

With that Ivanka opened the door to the room the two young women would be sharing for the next twelve months. A large French door with curtains flung to the sides showed a view of the air bath platform and a rose bush beside it on the fence line. The room itself was a thing of female beauty. Done in lavenders and pinks, from carpet to walls to ceiling and dominated by two full size beds, one with a pink spread and the other with a pink and purple striped spread, each having a students desk at the foot and a small dresser against the wall. There was a door to the water closet and open on one wall was an empty closet. Not a dress, skirt, blouses, sweater or undergarment remained in Ivanka’s room, nor would there be any until the term of her sentence was completed.

Marcia, having agreed to accept participation in the family’s public penance, had no problem with this, as she also had nothing to be hung up or folded in drawers. The few soaps and lotions she had been allowed to keep as well as her school supplies were in the one backpack she had transferred them into. That, for now, she simply sat in the corner by the French doors to the yard.

“Which one will be mine?” Marcia asked Ivanka. Ivanka pointed to the one on the inside of the room nearest the water closet. “I thought it would be less of a navigation problem for you in the night if you found yourself needing to use the facilities,” was Ivanka’s explanation.

The discussion ended for the moment as Momma called the family to table for dinner.

Chapter 3. At The Dinner Table And Afterward

Entering the dining room, Marcia immediately noticed that each chair had a small folded towel placed upon it. “To sit on,” whispered Ivanka. The family placed themselves about the table in their normal seating arrangement, thus showing Marcia where her place at the table would be for the next year. She was to be to Poppa’s left as he sat at the head of the table. Momma sat at the foot, with one of the twins on either side of her. To Poppa’s right sat Ivanka and next to her sat Kivar. There was an empty chair between Marcia and the twin; Marcia supposed this was to keep the symmetry of the table.

The twin on Marcia’s side of the table, Kaleen, began her questioning of the American guest as soon as the family finished the traditional prayer of thanks for the food on the table.

“You said, Amen, when we prayed, what does that mean, we do not say that,” the twelve year old rattled off.

Her father, Ivan, corrected the child with, “Our guest is hungry, let her eat in peace,” and gave the girl a significant look.

“With your permission, Poppa Siminov, I feel I can both eat this delicious meal and answer questions. I know what it like to have curious younger siblings and I would like all of you to know I wish to have no secrets between us as to myself.” Marcia finished with a twirl of her noodles on a fork and popped the mouthful in to chew. Done, she looked at her hostess and said, “Momma I trust you will give me this recipe to take home with me and I would like to spend time at your side learning to prepare it while I am here.”

Ursula Siminova beamed at that. It was the type of response a girl would give to a boyfriend’s parents when the relationship was becoming serious enough to consider engagement, but was also a sign the American truly wished to become a family member. Marcia had chosen her words well. “Now, Kaleen,” Marcia began, after polishing off another mouthful of food from her plate, “I am not of your faith, and if I offended anyone with my word I ask forgiveness. 'Amen' is a very old Hebrew word meaning, 'so let it be'. It is what my people say when they agree with a person who is leading a prayer.”

“Oh.” Kaleen accepted the answer and with it realized she would be treated as an equal by this new entry into the family circle.

From across the table, Martina shot, “Are those white patches on your skin also a religious thing?”

Momma looked at the girl with the look only a mother can give an errant child, but, Marcia responded, “In my country we lack the comfort of the Danubian way; and not all of the people are as happy with the way their bodies were created. So we are forced to hide that which the Creator provided as the earthly home of our eternal spirits behind patches of cloth, not for protection from the weather, as is the case of Danubians, but for protection from the reactions of others.

“So, Martina, when I went to enjoy the sun and the lake side with my friends I was not as fortunate as you, and had to cover those areas up. The sun could not get though the cloth and I was left with these lines on my skin. I was hoping that you and Kaleen would help me get rid of them, by showing me your favorite sun bath place and time and letting me join with you.”

The twelve year old suddenly smiled and thought to herself, Momma and Poppa would have to give Kaleen and me time to lie about in the sun, if it was to benefit our guest. Maybe having this American stranger in our house could work out after all.

Kivar whispered something in his sister’s ear, as Marcia took a piece of the dense black bread from a plate in the middle of the table to sop up the vegetable juices left on her plate.

His mother was about to cite him for rudeness, but Ivanka wagged a finger indicating she had the one under control. “Kivar is also curious about things, but, being a boy, he is afraid to ask you directly,” Ivanka offered, “this is the reason for his whispering in my ear.”

Marcia smiled, “If the question needs to be asked, Kivar, ask it. I have nothing to hide from you or any of your family, so ask away. Nothing you could say or do would embarrass me. I have brothers, and am well over being embarrassed by them.”

Kivar looked at his mother for permission, (Marcia took note of that), then he began, ”You have no hair.” With that he faltered, and turned bright red.

“So, it is not I who is embarrassed by your question, if that is what that was, is it?” Marcia laughed lightly. “No, I do not have hair on my body. In my country, as in many others, those who compete in sport shave off or have removed all body hair, since injuries and wounds are easier to treat without it. Also, in my case, the drag of the water on the body is lessened when swimming. When I was about your age, and I realized I was good enough to compete on the national and international level in my sport, my parents took me to a doctor who used a special laser to remove all of my body hair except in my pubic area. On that I used a special wax that removed the hair, about once a month. I was told, by the woman who met me at the airport, Beth-Anne Takinva, the spokeswoman, that this was considered vanity in Danubia, so at some point in a week or two my skin below my navel should begin to look natural to you.

“Oh, Kivar, I was also told that in Danubian culture women keep their hair as you see your sisters and mother keeping theirs. In my culture women use various haircuts and styles, they even change the color of their hair, but here women do not. So again, with your sisters and mother helping me, in this next year I shall be letting my hair grow out, and I hope to have really nice braids before I go back home.”

Seeing Ivanka rolling her eyes toward Kivar, and then looking back to Marcia, Marcia got the hint and offered softly, “Kivar, sometimes, when I brought home girlfriends who would spend the night or the weekend, my brothers would get a little excited and embarrassed at seeing a new girl in the house. They would run and hide until the excitement of the moment passed. If for some reason that happens to you, while I’m here, I understand. It is a normal thing for a boy and, “ she looked really closely into the eyes of both Martina and Kaleen, “if no one else smirks and giggles, I promise not to either. Is that alright with you?”

Kivar now looked to his father, who nodded, having seen his son shifting uncomfortably in his seat. The boy spoke, “I have done you dishonor twice today, Marcia Shevat, on both occasions I had such a reaction when looking at you. I did not treat it as a natural occurrence, my sisters have seen such and ignored it, but felt excited in a way that shamed you with my thoughts. For I thought of you as, uh, well…”

“Well, I do not think anyone will expect you to be punished or disciplined for that, Kivar, as I said I have brothers and it does not bother me that you are a normal, healthy, teen age boy.” Marcia smiled, “But, no hugs or kisses, right?”

Kivar turned another shade of red and his sisters, all three of them, laughed hard enough to disrupt the meal.

The balance of the mealtime passed uneventfully for Marcia, plates were cleared, and dessert served in the form a fruit salad and berry juice drink and then the table emptied.

An hour of conversation while the younger Siminovs played a card game into which they tried to drag Marcia, unsuccessfully, allowed Marcia to learn the crime Ivanka had committed was considered an offense which in the states may have only resulted in a university fine or a suspended grade of incomplete.

Ivanka had turned in a theme paper, to a professor who was known as a strict interpreter of Danubian plagiarism rules, and had been asked, “Ivanka Siminov do you attest that all the work herein is your work unless proper attribution has been given?”

She had answered yes and left the classroom. Upon opening the main compartment of her backpack, she realized what she had turned in was a draft, without her annotated footnotes and bibliography of citations. Rushing back to the professor to give her the correct theme paper, she was told it was too late, she had attested to the paper in the professor’s hands and that was what she would be judged upon.

Without the footnotes and bibliography the paper left Ivanka open to the criminal level charges of lying to a public official, or insurrection as the Danubians called it, and plagiarism. Her Spokesman, during her trial, argued that the matter was a simple mistake, exhibited the correct paper, and expressed that when Ivanka swore the work was her own, she believed the content of the package was the final theme and not the draft.

The judge could have sentenced Ivanka to 10 years in the collar on the charges, but allowed for the mitigation of an error on Ivanka’s part. In so doing he disallowed the charge of plagiarism, but allowed the false swearing to stand. The sentence imposed was one-year suspension of university attendance, loss of her exchange student status to the university in Chicago, and corporal punishment equivalent to that within the university rules.

A total of one hundred twenty-five lashes with the switch, twenty-five to be administered at the end of this court session. Thereafter, for the next year, Ivanka would be switched on the first and last day of each semester, twenty-five times. She could then return to school on the first day of the following semester. The year she would have spent overseas in America would be spent instead working as a waitress in an outdoor coffee shop in the center of Danubia City.

Marcia could not comprehend the punishment fitting the crime, but, yet, the Siminov family had not only accepted it but was using it as a teaching tool for the younger children. Every action within Danubian society carried with it consequences farther reaching than just the individual.

In this case, the family taking on public penance showed that the entire family accepted responsibility for Ivanka’s act of carelessness. Kivar, Kaleen and Martina were expected to learn to take greater care in their work and to assure what they attested to was indeed the truth. Ivanka’s parents drew the knowledge that one can presume ones child an adult and ready to take on those responsibilities, yet, that child will still need the attention of a parent to a child when it came to fundamental aspects of living.

Although Marcia’s lesson was still to be learned, both Ivan and Ursula talking quietly in their room later that night were very impressed by the fact the American girl had come to the country of Danubia with the Danubian sense of honor and honesty already in place. Every answer to every question and every action from her arrival in the home had been more Danubian than their own children seemed to often be. To have this girl in their home could only add honor to the Siminov family name.

In the room Marcia was sharing with Ivanka a quiet gabfest was on going as well. “It is obvious the twins will be your shadows for at least the rest of the summer and until their school reopens,” Ivanka whispered, “they are in awe of you. You are what they would like to be as women, strong, intelligent, athletic and independent, yet, respectful of tradition.”

Marcia quietly laughed and noted, “Yeah, they both seemed to light up when I mentioned needing their help and wanting to even out my tan. I guess Momma keeps them busy most days.”

“She feels perfectly happy keeping them occupied about the house and indoors. I suppose she feels they will become too happy and comfortable in their nudity and do something stupid before school starts so as to remain that way.” Ivanka answered.

“And your brother?”

“ We shall have to see about him, although I feel he will become to you as he is to me, a pain in the rear end when you're around him, yet, a fiercely loyal protector when non-family is concerned. You have not seen his altogether moody brat attitude yet. It will show up at some point. That will be the test of your family acceptance.” Ivanka whispered.

“Then I guess I’ll have to really hug and kiss him at that point.” Marcia smiled in the darkness, the poor boy would be suffering at the swings of his own hormones until he just get used to her being in the home.

She never realized she had fallen asleep; she was so exhausted from the long events of the day.

Chapter 4. Getting Into The Swim Of Things

Marcia was up early, for her, the next morning, only to find that the rest of the house was already up and about. She splashed some water on her face, used the facilities, washed her hands and went into the kitchen where a buffet of sorts was on the counter tops with the five Siminov family members picking and choosing from fruits, fresh breads and a couple of jam spreads that looked home made.

“Well, sleepy head,” Poppa smiled broadly at the American girl, “not quite ready to keep Danubian farmer hours yet?”

“Sorry, Poppa,” Marcia used the familiar with Ivan knowing that as a guest under his roof she was considered one of his children, “I must still be shaking off jet lag. Usually by this time I’ve been in the pool for two hours, stretching and doing laps.”

Kaleen offered, “Well, the pool is just out back…”

Martina countered with, “She needs a real pool, silly, the kind that the military and the National Police have at their academies, not a tiny family backyard affair.”

“Oh,” the enthusiasm and happiness drained from her voice, Kaleen, almost whispered, “I forgot.”

“About that, Marcia,” Ursula offered, “we had made arrangements for Ivanka to take you on your first day and introduce you to the academy instructors at the Military Academy of Danubia. Unfortunately the academy is just outside the yellow line, beyond which Ivanka now may not travel. Both Poppa and I have other commitments and cannot go, but we have written directions for you with the trolleys to take and the stops at which to transfer, if you do not mind going by yourself. Poppa has also written a letter of introduction for you to show the guards at the gate. The look she gave was one of sorrow that her daughter’s actions had again impacted upon the life of her American guest.

Marcia looked at Kivar and the twins, then at Ursula Siminov, and offered, ”Momma, is there any reason why Kivar and the girls cannot escort me today? I would be glad for the company, they would keep me from getting lost and perhaps they know of a pastry shop where I could buy a nice desert for tonight’s dinner.”

Ivanka looked at Marcia and explained that the twins were too young to venture into the outer reaches of the city in their period of public penance. “For them, it is home, school, temple activities, and play within the neighborhood unless a parent is escorting them.” Ivanka concluded.

She then continued, ”Kivar, on the other hand, has passed his fourteenth birthday and is considered a pre-adult under Danubian law. He has slightly more freedom of movement than do the twins. If you desire an escort, I’m sure Kivar would be most willing.” The tone Ivanka used suggested that Kivar had no wiggle room in the matter; he would smile, volunteer his services, and make no fuss. Marcia wondered what the older sister held over her brother’s head to make compliance assured.

“So, what do you say, Kivar,” Marcia asked cheerfully, “would you do that for me, at least for today until I get to know the routes to take?”

Giving a look that suggested he’d rather have root canal done without anesthesia, Kivar muttered, “Sure, fine, whatever.”

“Yep,” Marcia thought, ”this one is definitely a moody teen age brother, seen this before, this passive aggressive attitude.”

Out loud she offered, “Do you have a friend you would like to come along, Kivar?”

“None whom I wish to see me dressed the way I am,” Kivar admitted ruefully, “Particularly not Lydia.”

Kaleen risked her life to mutter, “Kivar likes Lydia, and she is in his class at school and is quite the curviest girl in his grade level. I bet she would love to go with you Kivar, why don’t I call her for you?”

She did not see the sweet roll Kivar launched at her. Martina yelled ‘Duck,’ and she did so instinctively.

Momma decided to let the punishment fit the crime, “Kaleen, please do call over to Lydia’s and see if she is free to help our guest find her way in the city.”

Kivar was stuck, two females to escort, both of whom stirred teen-age yearnings in his loins and nothing to hide his reactions behind.

“Ah, too bad, well maybe another time,” Kaleen spoke into the phone, and hung up.

“She cannot go with you Kivar. Her family is doing an outing at the lake north of the city today. She was going to invite you to go, but I told her you were busy with family duties yourself.” If Kivar did not retaliate against Kaleen at some point in the future it would only be because she never left herself alone long enough for him to get his hands on her.

It took almost ninety minutes to get from the Siminov home to the National Military Academy of the Danubian Republic. Kivar handed the letter of introduction to the guard at the gate. A call was placed and an officer came to the gate. He asked, “You are the American swimming athlete, Marcia Shevat?”

“Yes, sir, I am.” Marcia replied, and then went on, ”The son of my host family, Kivar Siminov, was kind enough to escort me on the unfamiliar public transportation system. May he be allowed to wait for me while I train?”

“Of course, though I’m afraid our pool is not set up for athletic spectators as are those in your homeland.” The young lieutenant, Drakov if Marcia read the name badge correctly, escorted them about seventy-five meters inside the perimeter fence to a building that looked, from its exterior, like a former palace. A marble entryway with names and dates etched into the floor clearly showed that 'Fallen Defenders of Danubia Memorial Hall' had a reason for its existence.

“Come,” Lt. Drakov directed, “the natatorium is one level down.”

They arrived at the pool level in time to witness the final moments of a defensive combat training exercise. Male and female cadets struggled in shallow water to apply and break various hand-to-hand combat holds on one another. Lt. Drakov remarked that as the cadets became more proficient the class would move into deeper water until finally none would be able to touch bottom as they fought.

The justification for this pool in the Danubian budget was for combat simulation training. Not normally used for recreation or athletics, the pool saw aircrew in helicopter training practicing water ditching and survival, and small boat handlers practicing rescue extractions for boating accident victims, as well as the combat drills. For that reason, the cadets were in the water in their battle dress uniforms. This was combat training and the mandatory nudity for swimmers was waived for them.

Only Marcia Shevat would swim laps, as an athlete swimmer would do so in the nude. Two lanes of the pool had been roped off for Marcia. The one closest to the wall, where the most turbulence existed, would be empty. Marcia would swim one lane in what would be the five spot in most Olympic-size pools. Kivar found a corner, out of the draft and relatively dry, to sit in.

He watched as Marcia stretched. A starter block had been provided, and Marcia stood upon it and crouched into her starting position. When she launched herself torpedo-like from it, dolphin kicking beneath the surface to rise in a steady free style stroke a third of the distance down the pool, she did not realize that all activity in the cadet class had ceased. All eyes in the natatorium were on Marcia as she cut through the water, perfectly timing herself at the end of each length of the pool to flip turn her way back the way she had just come, her breathing coming rhythmically with every third stroke.

She repeated the process lap after lap after lap until by her count she had done her requisite three kilometers. She then pulled herself out of the water at the deep end of the pool, shook off the excess water from her body rather as a wet dog might, and walked from the deep end to the shallow, barely breathing hard. She neither expected nor knew what to do with the applause that broke out from the instructors and cadets; nor why the chant, “Doc-Doc Marcia,” echoed loudly from the pool.

While she was swimming her laps, the Lieutenant had spoken to the training officer and his class as to who Marcia was and her reason for using the pool. Later, Lt. Drakov explained to Marcia that while all Danubians were expected to swim, there were no competitive sports venues in Danubia where one could train to be a swimmer such as Marcia. He was sure that many cadets and instructors would be asking questions in the coming months, looking to improve individual performance and perhaps even challenging Marcia to informal competition.

Marcia’s response was that it was always better for a swimmer to have others against whom to pace and she would be happy to spend time in the water with those who wished to learn how to breath, turn and time themselves as repayment for the favor of the use of Danubia’s fine aquatic center.

“We will see you, tomorrow at about this time, then, Marcia Shevat?” Lt. Drakov asked.

“If that is convenient with you, Sir, then yes,” Marcia responded.

“You respond as one who has served in the military, Marcia Shevat,” Lt. Drakov stated, “Are you a veteran of your armed services?”

“No, Sir,” Marcia responded, “My father was career military, a Staff Sergeant in the Infantry branch of our Army. I grew up on military posts and learned military courtesy as part of my childhood education, Sir.”

“I see,” Drakov nodded, “and are you also familiar with other aspects of military training and discipline?”

“My father was fond of saying I was born with the eye and hand of a sniper,” Marcia responded, “ I believe I can still put a grouping into the Q on a Quantico qualification target that would look like a single round passed through the paper.”

Drakov smiled as he led Marcia and Kivar down a different corridor than that which they had used to enter the building. They passed through a thick door where a Sergeant handed them safety glasses and hearing protection. Drakov unholstered his sidearm in the port of the firing range and leaned over to Marcia saying, “Show me.”

The weapon was beautifully maintained for a post World War Two Walther P-38. Marcia dropped the magazine and checked to see if there were eight rounds loaded, there were. Drawing back the slide of the weapon, Marcia saw that Drakov carried no round in the chamber. Not a practice of which her father would have approved, she thought.

She checked the action one last time as Drakov added five more magazines to the tray at her shooting position. Gripping the weapon in a modified Weaver grip and waiting for the range master to turn the targets, Marcia drew in a long breath then exhaled slowly.

The target swung and it was a ‘no shoot’ a woman holding an umbrella not a weapon. Another breath and the next target presented, a hooded male with an AK-47. Marcia quickly fired four rounds into the target, two into the chest, one into the groin and one between the eyes. Almost simultaneously to the last round fired that target pivoted away and another popped up. Another bad guy, another four rounds. Marcia quickly dropped the spent magazine and reloaded.

The process continued until she had shot one hundred rounds of ammunition at targets varying in distance between seven meters and fifty meters. The range master quickly flashed results back to Drakov, ninety-nine out of one hundred perfectly on target. He also informed Drakov that the last round ‘may’ have entered through a keyhole type hole caused by a misshaped bullet entering the target and she would be given credit for a perfect scoring.

“Very nice,” Drakov said, with a straight face hiding the fact he really did not believe the girl could shoot as well as she swam. “You shall indeed be an asset to this school on many levels, Marcia Shevat. Tomorrow you will have your identity photo taken for your official duties here then.” Drakov continued,” Officially you shall be an Apprentice Aquatics Instructor.”

Marcia was stunned. Here it is her second day in the country, she has been stripped nude by her own volition and now has a job with the Danubian military. This country is indeed a strange new world, Marcia thought to herself, not a bad one by any means, but strange nonetheless.

Kivar was, for the first time in her knowing him, at a loss of words and of attitude. He had never seen anything as cleanly athletic as Marcia Shevat slicing through the waters of the military pool. Nor had he ever seen anyone, male or female, handle a handgun with the proficiency Marcia had shown at the pistol range. She had elevated herself from embarrassing lust object to warrior goddess in a single afternoon. He could not wait until he could tell his family and his friends what he had seen in that pool and on that range and he vowed to make sure Marcia needed an escort every day she went there.

Kivar burst through the front door of the Siminov home four steps ahead of Marcia when they finished the walk from the trolley stop. By the time Marcia found him, she realized he had cornered his mother and was gushing forth factoids faster than the parent could comprehend the child’s words.

Ursula asked what seemed to be the problem and Marcia responded, “I went to the academy, Kivar was a great help with directions and transfers. I met a Lt. Drakov, who escorted me to the pool, I swam my laps, I impressed some cadets and I was offered a job.”

Marcia had to repeat the story as Ivanka arrived home from her job, then as Ivan returned home from his and finally for the twins who had played soccer all afternoon, gotten tired and took a nap only awakening just before Ursula called everyone to the table for dinner.

“Well, congratulations, Officer Marcia Shevat, “ Ivan said and threw her a very sloppy salute, sitting at the head of the dinner table.

“Poppa, I do not understand,” Marcia replied.

“Marcia, even an Apprentice Instructor at the military academy carries a rank. You would be considered the lowest level officer possible, but would still outrank the cadets whom you would train. This means you will be the equivalent of a Signet, subaltern, ensign, or a rank something like that in your military system. Perhaps, not officially on the books for the Danubian military, but yes your title would carry the weight of such a rank.”

After dinner, Marcia excused herself to go to her room and study some Internet sites concerned with water safety training and swimming instruction. Then it was early to bed to be up early enough to get to the military academy and to get her photo identification processed along with a short employment form. Then to the pool, where a different class was assembled in the deep water with full packs and uniforms. They were to jump into the pool, get their boots and packs off and swim to the surface, as part of survival training.

Marcia invited Kivar to sit in the pool, shallow end, in the wall lane and to count her laps for her.

Day three passed quietly. On day four, Marcia began demonstrating water safety techniques to a class of military instructors. Those instructors would then teach the techniques to the cadets with Marcia watching to assure correct methodology. Day five through day twenty-two passed almost as day four had, except one small event toward the end of the twenty-second day changed Marcia’s direction yet again.

A female cadet had done the survival portion of her test perfectly, except she had lost her identity tags from around her neck. She had remained behind while her class went to change into dry uniforms and jumped back into the pool the search for her tags. Finding them, she put them around her neck and tried to push off toward the surface. The blousing laces for her battle dress pant legs had been sucked into the drains in the deep end and she could not surface.

Marcia was up top walking to the doors when Kivar yelled and waved, “She did not come up, Marcia, she did not come up,” and pointed to the middle of the pool, deep end.

Marcia dove back into the pool, pushed down to the bottom, and located the girl. Putting her mouth on the cadet’s Marcia blew air into the other girl to give a few more seconds to her rescue. Working the belt and buttons on the girls pants, Marcia helped her to kick free of the bottom of her uniform and pulled her to the surface.

The cadet’s classmates, noticing she was missing, had returned to the pool to witness the cross-chest carry of their classmate by the Apprentice Aquatics Instructor.

“Play along,” Marcia whispered, when the girl nodded she understood, Marcia said out loud, “Okay, cadet, that is how you extract a victim who has become entangled in an underwater obstacle, any other questions?”

“No Ma’am,” the Cadet wisely answered, followed by, ”Just one Ma’am, can you get my pants back for me before they get sucked all the way into the drain?”

Seconds later the pants were in the grateful hands of the Cadet and Marcia was on her way, still drying off, to pick up her identification. Looking like dog tags, two metal discs hung from a chain. One contained a microchip with data concerning the wearer in it and a locator that used satellite technology to pinpoint a military member's location. The other had Marcia’s image laser engraved on one side and another electronic chip embedded that allowed Marcia access to several buildings and offices on the academy grounds, including the pool, 24/7. As these were not considered jewelry and were necessary for her employment, the tags didn’t break her vow of public penance. Instead they had become her uniform. She left them with the building guard as she entered and gathered them from the guard as she left, or when she was done in the pool and going to other areas of the post.

Chapter 5. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Her twenty-third day of employment at the Military Academy of the Duchy of Danubia started and ended differently for Marcia. When the Apprentice Aquatics Instructor arrived, alone today as she finally felt confident in making all of the transfers on the trolley system, the gate guard asked her to report not to the pool, but to the Vice Commandant’s office. Lt. Drakov was sitting outside the Vice Commandant’s office when Marcia came through the outer door.

“When we go inside, be sure to maintain a position of attention and look the Vice Commandant directly in the eyes,” Drakov directed.

Entering the office when the voice from inside directed them to do so, Drakov and Shevat were met by the platoon sergeant in charge of the cadre of cadets who were training the afternoon before and by the female cadet who had been rescued from drowning by Marcia.

The Vice Commandant of Cadets was female, mid-forties, and attractive in a way not usually associated with a uniform, offered formal greetings first and then came to the point. “Shevat, we would like to reward you for saving this cadet’s life. She has explained to us what she did, and she knows it was not behavior acceptable to students at the national military academy. She is to be switched, twenty-five on her naked posterior, at the end of this class session. What we need to know from you is what did you mean by, 'play along'?”

“Oh, oh,” Marcia thought, “no good deed.” When she spoke it was carefully phrased, “Ma’am, I saw this cadet struggling in the deep end of the pool. I dove down, provided a rescue breath, undid her trousers, freed her legs and as I broke surface I saw the rest of her cadre filing into the pool area. I thought, since this was a rescue, to use the effort as a rescue demonstration. I said ‘play along,” hoping the cadet would stay in the rescued victim position and allow me to show the swimmers cross-chest carry to the rest of her class. Admittedly, I also did hope that the cadet would face less severe consequences for her actions, poorly chosen as they were, based on the fact she had nearly drowned and needed to be rescued, Ma’am,” Marcia concluded.

“Your heroic use of your training to rescue this cadet has earned you a commendation, Instructor. Offsetting this is your compassionate attempt to avoid her being punished for the actions that recklessly endangered her own life. Instructor, this normally would carry a fifty-switch penalty. However, I am offsetting forty of those strokes due to your heroic action. Instructor Shevat, please make yourself available, at the end of the class day, for discipline. You are dismissed, all of you.”

“Well, that went better than I hoped, for you,” Lt. Drakov said softly to Marcia outside the office building.

“Why, I still get ten lashes,” Marcia replied.

“Could have been fifty and then dismissal from the academy, but, I feel the Vice Commandant saw the truth and the compassion in your story and decided to take it easy on both of you. The cadet will remain with her cadre and will graduate on time with her class and you will wear what all of will consider a badge of honor on your rump for the next few days. You tried to save the girl twice, you succeeded once and partially so the second time, you have our admiration,” Drakov concluded.

“Well, let me go get my work in before this happens,” Marcia smiled at Drakov and headed toward the pool.

When she arrived poolside, Marcia found the same class of cadets waiting there as had been at the pool when the female cadet almost drowned herself. "Please, Instructor Shevat,” said the platoon sergeant, a male in his late twenties, “demonstrate for us again how you rescued Cadet Kara.”

Marcia smiled and thought, 'Well, why not? After all, I am here to instruct and train, not just to get my own work in'. She said, “Sergeant, please point out your weakest swimmers.”

He did so and five of the twenty-five in the cadre stepped to the right side of the formation.

“Now, do the same with your strongest swimmers," Marcia ordered.

The sergeant looked confused but did as instructed sending another seven cadets to the left, leaving thirteen cadets and the sergeant standing in the center.

“Sergeant, your strongest and weakest cadets will undress to proper swimming attire,” this drew laughs from the class, “while the balance and yourself will report here in full combat gear and boots in five minutes. You are dismissed.”

Calling the twelve cadets to her side, Marcia outlined exactly how the training would proceed, then individually showed the twelve cadets how to carry out the rescue drill.

“One of you will have to go twice, and I will deal with the sergeant myself," Marcia concluded.

Cadet Kara, the girl who would be disciplined that afternoon and one of those designated a ‘weak swimmer’, immediately volunteered to do double duty.

“I know I can do this, Ma’am, at least allow me to try,” Kara declared. Marcia scanned the eyes of the other eleven rescue swimmers in training and none offered a hint that anyone else should take Kara’s place.

“Okay, I’ll be there as back up if you wind up needing me.” Marcia drew on the confidence of the class in her decision.

Five minutes later, the fourteen ‘victims’ appeared back in the pool area. “Sergeant, please climb the ladder on the one and one half meter diving board, turn and face away from the pool, and walk backward until you fall off,” Marcia instructed.

As the sergeant struggled up the ladder, too narrow for a full field pack, Marcia explained to the rest of the class that they would each be following in turn. The cadet falling off the diving board, had only one thing to do. Sink to the bottom of the pool. The rescuer was to call 'Victim in the water' to alert others to be ready to assist. He or she would then dive into the deep end and provide the victim with one rescue breath. Then using the cross-chest carry method Marcia had taught the twelve cadets, the rescuer would bring the victim to the surface and to the side of the pool. There others would help drag the victim out.

“Sergeant, at your own time, begin,” Marcia called and watched the sergeant step off the board and plunge into the deepest portion of the pool.

A deep breath, a smooth dive, a nose pinch on her victim followed by a breath of air into his mouth, cross chest carry position followed by strong scissor kicks brought Marcia and the sergeant to the surface. Using her kick and her right arm Marcia brought the sergeant to the pool’s edge where the cadets grabbed his arms and hauled him out of the water.

A male cadet was next off the board, as the exercise continued Kara was the rescuer. The procedure went smoothly, the male cadet only complained about one thing, “and Kara didn’t kiss me long enough.”

Kara, standing there nude blushed from head to foot. This provoked another laugh from the cadre, until she quipped back, “Garlic and onions for breakfast and YOU expect a long kiss? I should have left you down there.”

Realizing he had been bested, the young man quit while he was behind. The class rotated through the exercise and soon it was Kara’s second turn at a rescue, this victim being a female not much bigger than Kara herself. The female cadet went off the diving board and hit the water awkwardly. Marcia was immediately at the poolside in case there was trouble.

Kara dove in, swam to the bottom and found her victim on her side. Reviewing everything Marcia had said and shown the class, Kara shook the girl and got no response. All right, temporary loss of consciousness, breathing rate would be slower. Pinch nostrils and hold hand over mouth so the victim cannot reflexively breathe water. Get into position and push off with your legs. Now start scissor kicking and using your free arm. Surface in three seconds, two, one, broaching, then breathe, Kara, breathe.

“Loss of consciousness, possible aspiration of water, I have a neck pulse,” Kara was yelling to the class when her victim opened her eyes and whispered, “Now that is the way to do a rescue, girlfriend.”

With the cadet out of the pool, the wet uniformed half of the class retreated to the locker rooms to put on dry casual uniforms. Kara looked at Marcia and asked to be excused to shave. Marcia had nothing to shave and would simply wait the punishment time. The parade ground was full of cadets and staff in formation to witness the punishments.

Cadet Kara was brought out in the formation of her cadre, in her place, but nude in the midst of her fellow cadets. Her sergeant ordered her two steps forward from the formation, and presented her to the Academy Vice Commandant for discipline. The charges were read and Kara was strapped into a device that bent her over and at the same time spread her legs slightly apart. It held her firmly in place.

Her sergeant then applied in even strokes spaced thirty seconds apart, twenty-five slashes from a leather switch spacing them from the coccyx down her buttocks to her upper thighs and ending mid way to the knee. The strokes were hard, evenly spaced and the welts raised were sufficient to suggest that return to class tomorrow would be uncomfortable if not down right unpleasant.

Releasing Cadet Kara to her cadre, where she would remain at attention until Marcia’s punishment was administered, the Vice Commandant then called for Instructor Shevat to be brought forward for punishment. Lt. Drakov accompanied Marcia forward, and presented her to the Vice Commandant. Marcia’s single charge, attempted mitigation of a cadet’s breech of protocol, was read, and the penalty of ten strokes was announced.

Marcia was buckled into the same device used on the cadet before her and as her superior was the Vice Commandant herself, the woman took off her dress tunic to allow freedom of movement. “Instructor Shevat, never have I had so defined a target for the administration of punishment,” the Vice Commandant remarked.

Marcia thought for a moment, and then as the first stroke of the switch struck her remembered, her pure white backside from being covered by her bikini bottom was now going to be a purplish blotch of bruises. Marcia counted out loud as each bite of the leather switch took its toll upon her flesh. On reaching the tenth and she felt the device adjust to stand her up correctly, then releasing her. Marcia turned toward the Vice Commandant, knelt, kissed the toe of the commandant’s boot and said, “Thank you for correcting my misguided behavior, Ma’am.”

“Protocol did not require that, Instructor Shevat, yet, I feel you have even more so won the hearts of the men and women of this academy by your doing so.” The Vice Commandant then instructed Lt. Drakov to escort the newly punished Apprentice Aquatics Instructor to her office before being dismissed for the day.

“Where did you learn punishment behavior, Instructor Shevat,” the Vice Commandant asked, “whoever taught you, taught you well.”

“As you may know, Commandant, my university offers a two semester course preparing students for the exchange program with the National University of Danubia. The instructor of that course, a sociologist named Sarah Bushnell, believes the students should be fully aware of all aspects of Danubian life before accepting the exchange. This included exposure to public nudity, religious public penance, criminal collaring and of course corporal punishment. Each of us, in the final weeks before accepting the exchange student position, was switched with five lashes as a demonstration of what might happen. Some dropped out of the program at that point. Most of the students dropping out were male students. Those of us left knew what to expect, Ma’am.”

“Very well. Your work here thus far has been excellent and I get nothing but positive remarks about your water safety and rescue training programs, It is my hope our relationship shall continue beyond the start of the university year, when the rest of the cadet battalion returns from summer field games. Lt. Drakov will see to your arriving home safely. You are dismissed, the pair of you.”

Marcia turned to Lt. Drakov and meekly asked him, ”Lieutenant, by the way, she hired me and she switched me, but I’ve never caught the Vice Commandant’s name.”

“Oh, I think you’d recognize the name when you hear it,” Drakov chuckled.

“Well?” and exasperated Marcia uttered sarcastically, “Are you going to tell me?”

“Her name is Colonel Magda Drakova, she is my mother,” Drakov chuckled again.

Resisting the temptation to rub her sore rear, Marcia muttered, “Your Mom sure swings a mean switch.”

“She learned taming my two brothers and me as we grew up,” Drakov grinned.

The pair reached the motor pool, where the Vice-commandant’s driver and car awaited them.

Both sat in the rear, Marcia on a special cushion with a towel over it, and Lt. Drakov gave the address to which the Instructor was going.

A much shorter while later than the trolley and transfer system allowed, Marcia was at the Siminov front door saying good night to the young officer in full uniform. To kiss him or not to kiss him, Marcia wondered? What was Danubian protocol on that? Marcia had the question answered by Ivan Siminov coming to the door and saying, “Lieutenant, if you wish to court this young lady you will begin by having dinner at my family table on Sunday.”

Feeling herself dragged into the house by Ivan’s strong right arm, Marcia grinned back at Drakov. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “See you at work tomorrow?”

His response of, “Definitely!” thrilled her heart.

That thrill ended with the chant of the twins, “Marcia’s got a boy friend”; in typical twelve year old brat teasing whine.

Kivar put life further into perspective with, ”Never mind the boy friend, Marcia has a switched bottom.”

Marcia would spend the better portion of the pre dinner hours explaining her day, and the reasons for her welted bottom.

Ivanka arrived home, saw her roommate’s backside and took her into their shared water closet. A tube of cream, some of which Ivanka liberally applied to Marcia’s welts, was shown to Marcia and she was told to use it once daily before bed time until the bruising receded. To say the rest of the evening was uneventful as compared to the day was an understatement.

Chapter 6. Help, I’m Drowning…

Arriving at the academy gates the following morning, Marcia was again instructed by the guard to go directly to the Vice Commandant’s office.

“Go right in, Instructor Shevat, the colonel is expecting you,” came from the uniformed receptionist. Knocking and being told to come in, Marcia saw a light breakfast buffet laid out on the table nearest the Vice Commandant’s window, and a male officer standing nearby to it.

The male looked to be an older version of Lt. Drakov, and Marcia had another of her, oh, oh, moments.

“Brigadier Mykle Drakov, I would very much like you to make the acquaintance of Instructor Marcia Shevat,” Col. Drakova introduced the pair. “Instructor Shevat, my husband Brigadier Mykle Drakov, after whom my son Mykle is named.”

Marcia bowed, hands at her side. As she was still a public penitent and nude, Marcia could not salute. The usual protocol of kneeling before a superior was waived in the military, as was the usual kissing of the person administering punishment’s boots. Both were viewed as not within military tradition The Brigadier acknowledged the formal greeting with a nod, and gestured toward the table.

“First turn around, Instructor, so the Brigadier may see that your discipline has been successfully completed and is, shall we say, behind you,” the Vice Commandant chuckled.

Marcia complied with the order, the ten purple stripes across her otherwise white backside showing up dramatically. She then took a cup of tea and a pear from the tray near the window and sat on a pillowed and toweled chair obviously provided for her.

“I am a military man and not one for mincing words, so I will make the point the colonel and I wish brought to your attention,” the Brigadier voiced in a quiet yet authoritative tone. ”Our son is quite taken with you, Instructor Shevat, and has asked our permission to court you. We have two concerns that we would hope for you to assuage. First, do you have feelings for our son? Second, would you be willing to trade your life in America for one as a Danubian housewife, if the relation settles into one of serious permanence?”

“Sir and Ma’am, I genuinely like your son. He is sweet, intelligent, he makes me laugh and he has taught me a great deal about the military culture in Danubia. I would be honored if he wished to court me. As to your second question, Sir, I have no answer. I have not yet begun my course work for the first semester of my exchange student status, and while I love the regimen here at the academy I do not know if I could balance being courted, instructing here, and also taking course work there.” Marcia spoke honestly.

“We have spoken to the exchange student counselor at the university, Marcia, “ Magda Drakova stated, “they have no objections to your doing your course work here, as your study of athletics and kinesiology would be the same in either institution. Your Danubian culture and history coursework can also be done here and you have our pool available for your training whenever you need it.”

“Also, your job as Instructor here entitles you to take classes at the academy free of charge in exchange for your Aquatics Training program,” added Mykle Drakov, “so if you wanted to stay in Danubia beyond your student visa time you have a job and schooling to justify your extension.”

“A very tempting and interesting offer indeed, Brigadier,” Marcia turned to the Vice Commandant, “How many courses would I need to take here to qualify me as a student?”

“Three a semester will give you the twelve contact hours your university requires,” the Vice Commandant replied, “and during the week we would like you to accept housing in the unmarried female staff barracks, as academy hours are more erratic than our public transportation allows for. Our military priest and priestess assure us that you may continue your public penance while with the Siminov family and be absolved of it while on campus. Therefore, with the exception of your poolside teaching duties we would like you to wear this.” She handed Marcia a garment bag.

Marcia removed the garment. It was a modest caftan, in the military brown of the Danubian armed forces, mandarin collar at the neck, pinched to a princess waist and coming to the floor stopping just at Marcia’s ankles. A military belt was provided for the loops above the hips of the caftan. The Danubian script letter I was on the epaulettes, where the rank insignia would have been, and two medals hung from the left breast pocket. One was the Commendation of Heroic Action in Saving a Life award for the incident with Cadet Kara and the other the Danubian Academician Second Class for her development of the aquatic training and water safety program for the academy. A soft fore and aft cap with the Danubian military griffon crest on the right and the letter I on the left completed the look.

Marcia slipped the caftan on, still bare footed, and was surprised at the light weight feel of the fabric, which looked so coarsely military but felt like silk against her body.

“As a symbolic gesture toward your penance, you may remain barefoot until the cold weather sets in after the Days of the Dead at the Fall Equinox.” The Vice Commandant added.

Giving the fist to chest salute and having it returned by her superiors for the first time (nude penitents do not salute) felt odd to Marcia, another protocol she would have to remember in the future. Worse was as she left, the enlisted receptionist immediately jumped to her feet and saluted. Marcia returned it and told the girl to return to her duties.

Mykle Drakov, Lieutenant, Danubian military, took one look at Marcia in her uniform and did not know whether to laugh or to cry. To laugh for the sheer joy of the woman for whom he had affection being in the uniform of his life’s work or to cry as now he could no longer openly stare at her beautiful body and drink in the woman whose essence made his life worthwhile.

She saluted him and he responded in kind. How best to normalize things with the now clothed Instructor? He quickly decided to simply ask Instructor Shevat if she had enough time for a cup of tea in the officers club. She allowed she did indeed and the two went off not touching each other but close enough that no one would want to get between them.

The next shock was bumping into Cadet Kara and her cadre. Salutes and, “Doc-Doc Instructor Shevat,” echoed from the group. Instructor Shevat and Lt. Drakov entered the Officer’s Club and were greeted by several of Mykle’s colleagues and one or two instructors who knew Marcia. For Marcia this was a new experience, since nude penitents could not enter the officers club.

Over tea and biscuits the couple spoke of all of the aspects of their duties at the academy. Marcia explained her incorporation of water safety, water rescue and basic lifeguard techniques in the various cadet classes. She mentioned that several of the cadets had approached her, with permission, about starting intramural competitive swims. She asked Mykle how this would be received in a society in which physical culture was approved but competitive athletics were almost unknown.

Mykle sipped his tea and thought for a moment, then suggested, “Why not come to dinner on Sunday, at my parents, and we’ll all discuss this at that time?”

“I should go see the Siminov family, it has been almost three weeks since we’ve broken bread; and I hate to admit it, but I miss Kivar and the twins.” Marcia responded.

“We shall go together and visit your host family for an early lunch then, Marcia, and return to the academy for a late dinner with my parents.” Mykle made it sound so final that Marcia simply nodded in agreement. Marcia had three more aquatic training classes to finish that day and five scheduled for Saturday, and then she was free. Mykle was taking a group of senior cadets on a night exercise and would be free on Sunday after 0800 hours.

So it was agreed. Phone calls were made, and the Siminovs and the Drakovs would both have guests at meals on Sunday.

Chapter 7. Dining Out

The trolley ride from the academy to the Siminov home took the normal two transfers and then a short walk to the family front door. Unsure of the protocol of entering while accompanied by Mykle, Marcia knocked and waited for someone to answer, and it happened to be Kivar. Quick witted as always, Kivar yelled into the house, “Ivanka, there are two people in uniform at the door who wish to speak to you,” he then grinned and winked at Marcia.

Ivanka came scampering to the door, her pubic region freshly shaved. Marcia realized it was near the start of the university semester and Ivanka had either just received her second twenty-five lash switching or was due for it tomorrow.

“Stand for inspection,” Mykle snapped the order, playing along with Kivar, and Ivanka followed the order by about facing and showing the two uniformed guests her bruised and welted bottom and thighs.

Marcia giggled, and blurted out, “Got you good this time, eh, you naughty school girl?”

“Oh,” Ivanka in feigned anger when she realized it was Marcia in the female uniform, “It is only you two. Do come in and make yourselves comfortable.”

Kivar, beside himself laughing, ran to get out of his older sister’s sight. Seeing Momma and Poppa Siminov in the kitchen, Marcia quickly introduced Mykle to them and then asked if they might use Ivanka’s room for a moment.

They were excused and leaving the door open a bit, each removed the uniform, so that they were as nude as the rest of the Siminov family.

“Ah, that is more comfortable, “ Mykle stretched and grinned. He asked Kivar, “Have you ever thought of a career in the military?”

Ivanka muttered, “No, he is destined to go on stage at the Socrates club as a comedian.”

This brought howls of laughter from the adults, although the twins did not get the joke. Ivanka promised to explain things later, alone, and this satisfied Kaleen and Martina who were more fascinated by their military guest than a lame joke at the moment.

“What are your intentioned toward my daughter, Marcia Shevat, Lt. Mykle Drakov?” The question came after a desert of fruit and tea while the family sat in the dining room.

“Ivan Siminov, I am here to formally request your permission, and that of your family, to court your daughter Marcia Shevat.” Mykle answered formally.

“You may do so in this home, and in the home of your parents. You may also do so while well chaperoned and in public.” Poppa Siminov gave the formal blessing.

Mykle would have to send a gift, by courier, to the Siminov’s by Wednesday of the following week to acknowledge his honorable intentions. The gift he had chosen would be both unique and one the family would not expect.

After exchanging goodbyes’ the couple, now again in uniform, left to take the double trolley trip back to the academy and to Mykle’s parents' residence. Dinner at the Drakov’s was more formal, with orderlies serving the several courses of food and polite conversation held to a minimum. Talk about duty, class scheduling and cadet disciplining arose, including Marcia having to take the course in proper administration of corporal punishment, if she was to continue in her post as Instructor of Aquatics training and Water Safety. Her courses in Leadership, Organization and Structure of Danubian Society, and Military Law and Protocol had been going very well for Marcia. The instructors she sat under for these courses appreciated the different cultural background the American student/instructor brought to the class discussion and honored her input on many topics that otherwise would have resulted in the Danubian cadets resorting to rote memorization of fact and regurgitation of those factoids on the examinations.

Marcia was told by Brigadier Drakov that the cadet officer corps had asked that Marcia be named an “Instructor of Merit” in recognition of her work to improve the entire corps of cadets physical well being and motivation towards water safety.

The Vice Commandant added that the Officer Instructors had requested Marcia be given full Instructor status following the end of this semester and the brevet rank of Signet, the lowest commissioned rank in the Danubian military.

“Would you think about extending your visa from a student stay to a working visa status,” Colonel Drakova asked, “and signing a three year Instructor’s contract with the Academy?”

“Wow, that is a lot of stuff to think about,” Marcia exclaimed, “ I’m honored that your people think so highly of me, Brigadier, Colonel, and I will strive to meet or exceed the standard I have already set in my work as Aquatics Instructor. However, I am only a second semester Junior in my American university and I don’t see how I’m qualified to do what you perceive me doing.”

“Marcia Shevat, when you complete next semester’s course work at the academy and in conjunction with your working as an instructor while yet a student, you will have, with your American course work added, sufficient credits and practical experience to graduate from the Military Academy of Danubia, undoubtedly with honors.” Brigadier Drakov offered.

Mykle Drakov cut in to the conversation with,” Besides all that, Marcia Shevat, my heart would break if you were not to stay and I’m sure the Siminov family would feel the same way.”

Marcia laughed and said, “Kivar is already disappointed, and did you see the look on his face when he saw me in uniform instead of naked the way he is used to seeing me?”

“We make excuses for teen age boys,” Mykle chuckled, “all adult males pass through that stage.”

“A gaggle of giggling teenage girls is almost as bad,” Marcia noted, “and I’ve seen some of the first year cadets ogling one another on the poolside while waiting for their turns at lessons. I guess that sort of attraction is built into us all, or none of us would be here.”

“Using that as a segue, Marcia Shevat,” Colonel Drakova smiled and her voice was almost a whisper, “what are your intentions toward our son?”

'Oh my, now I’m committed,' Marcia thought, and then said,” I would, very much, request the honor of being allowed to see your son, Mykle on a regular formal basis.”

“Mother and Father,” Mykle interjected, “I have already asked permission of the Siminovs to court Marcia formally.”

“So be it then,” the elder male Drakov pronounced, “from this day forward you are welcome in this house as the official guest of our son and we offer hospitality.”

“Mykle,” asked his mother, ”have you arranged a gift for the Siminovs?”

“Yes, Mother,” rank dropped this was a family matter not a military one, “ I have. Although it took some negotiation between the University and the office of the Spokesperson for the Criminal, but I believe my gift is more than adequate.”

His mother smiled. Marcia thought for a moment put two and two together and was very pleased with Mykle’s thoughtfulness.

Chapter 8. The Gift For The Siminov Family

Nine thirty in the morning, the first case on the court docket, Wednesday, is a Mitigation Hearing in the case of Ivanka Siminov. Beth-Anne Takinva, the Spokeswoman for the Criminal, Professor Wilhelmina Novatna, and Lt. Mykle Drakov stood before the Judge in the Criminal courts and each expressed the same story from a different perspective.

The Professor stated that while indeed the act of false swearing had taken place and the wrong theme paper was placed into her hands, she might have been better served accepting this matter as a case of carelessness to be dealt with on university terms, rather than as a criminal matter. Hindsight being her perspective, she explained to the judge, she did not take the totality of circumstance into account.

“Your Honor,” Professor Novatna continued,” When I was a junior instructor I carelessly reviewed a paper and graded it without assuring myself it was indeed the student’s work. The following semester I read the same exact paper word for word handed in by another student. I brought the matter to the attention of my Department Chairman who, after looking at the paper, told me this same paper had been circulating among students for several years.

“It was then, Your Honor, that I instituted the pledge as part of my classes. With that oath to me in my official capacity if a student swore the work was his or hers and it proved otherwise I had the duty to pursue the falsehood and prosecute it to the fullest. No Danubian likes being lied to, particularly not one in a position of authority. I have been known to this day to hold a very tight rein on the students in my classes. Despite this, at least one student a year tries to get away with passing another persons work as his or her own.

“In the matter of Ivanka Siminov, I believe I may have misplaced my reason and substituted my legalistic application of the rule and the law in its stead. A reasonable woman would have taken the proper theme and graded it and not the draft. I admit that I was unreasonable in this matter and that I wish Ivanka Siminov not receive further punishment born of that unreasonableness.”

Beth-Anne Takinva, acting as her client’s voice, noted that her client had fully accepted the consequences set down by Professor Novatna, despite knowing she had the correct paper in hand, and had taken the suspension from university, loss of exchange student status and the criminal penalty as an obedient child of Danubian society. Her right to protest on the false swearing charge had been limited to the plea-bargaining gained at her original sentencing.

Mykle Drakov acted as a character witness. He cited the many visits to the Siminov home to be with his American lady friend Marcia Shevat, during which he discussed both with the extended family and with Ivanka the events of the day leading to her arrest and the family entering into public penance. He offered that the young woman was not criminally minded and had no duplicity in her life whatsoever. He asked she be returned to full citizen status and allowed to return to school in the January term, ”If Your Honor so decides.”

All three of the plaintiffs asked for the same thing: Ivanka’s sentence to be commuted to time served and she be returned to full citizen status the morning following the Day of the Dead celebration.

The judge, swayed by the honesty of the Professor, the effectiveness of the Spokeswoman, and the testimony of the military officer agreed to end Ivanka’s sentence immediately following the ritual cleansing the morning after the Day of the Dead.

Following the court case, Mykle Drakov met Marcia Shevat for lunch in an outdoor café in the central square of Danubia City. His reason for appearing in court was not a secret between the couple but it was not open for discussion either. Marcia knew that until Mykle had the appeals court document in his hands the petition for leniency might yet fail in the appeals court. Therefore, waiting before even openly discuss the matter seemed the wise choice.

What they were discussing was the participation by Marcia in the annual Day of the Dead ceremony. All penitents and criminals were required to march the ritualistic route around the city, and Mykle explained to Marcia that many who did so felt a profound spiritual presence and gained insight from the spirits of the ancestors as to the participant’s life path.

“Some are led to see old hurts in the past that have caused their present to be imperfect, others see glimpses into a future that might be, if they set their feet on a particular life path in this present, while, sadly, others see nothing at all.”

“So, at the end of the day, I might see nothing, but I might learn much about myself?” Marcia rephrased Mykle’s statement.

The young military officer nodded and smiled.

Twenty days later, penitents and criminals, numbering 2300 in all, formed in the central square of the capital city to receive a coating of white body paint and then daubs of black over that to represent the rotting physical body which must be yielded on death to free the soul on its eternal journey. All were issued torches and a sling-like torch holder and half were sent to walk around the city perimeter clockwise while the other half marched counter-clockwise. All would pause for food and rest at daybreak and at the halfway point, and would complete their journey the following night as the sun set, ending in front of the temple at sunrise.

Sustained in this by breaks, every two hours, for berry juice and relief breaks for bodily functions, the groups would march in silence, each keeping his or her eyes on the buttocks of the person in front of them and each keeping to their own thoughts hoping to clear their minds sufficiently to catch a glimpse of what the spirits of the ancestors might wish to share with them. Marcia was walking with the Siminov family. Ivan and his wife led the family then Ivanka, then Marcia, with Kivar just behind her. The twins, too young to participate in the march, were draped in black robes and kneeling at the side of the road with Mykle and his parents.

Seven hours into the first night’s marching Marcia heard a voice she recognized. Knowing it could not be anyone in the line of marchers, Marcia listened intently. Then the voice was joined by a vision, only snatches and bits, of a family picnicking along the Danube River, a toddler wandering in the streamside, slipping in mud and being swept away in the current. She saw herself, stripping off her military caftan and sandals, plunging into the water and clutching on to the little arm of the frightened babe, as she was about to sink beneath the water. Swimming to the bank, too tired to pull herself from the water, she felt the strong hands of other Danubian police and military hauling her and the child up onto dry land. The vision ended as Marcia entered the rest camp. A Priestess took Marcia’s torch and directed her to the kitchen tent where a traditional meal awaited the marchers.

She thought to ask Mykle about the currents in the river where the public park and beaches were and whether precautions such as swimmers ropes and buoys were provided.

A short walk to the sleep tents where she found an empty cot awaiting her beside Ivanka and with Kivar on her other side, then she slept a deep dreamless sleep until awakened by the priests to continue the march. A period of repainting the body make-up followed before torches were reissued and the marchers set out again as the sun set.

It was midnight when the voice came to her again and she realized it was her father, “Little girl, remember your training, remember your discipline and follow your heart.” The voice ended and was replaced by a horrible roaring of engines and the sound of small arms fire. Marcia looked about and realized this was all in her mind's eye. There was no perceived or real threat nearby. Yet she could not shake the feeling that what she was now seeing was about to play itself out somewhere in the Danubian countryside in the near future.

The march ended in the courtyard of the main Temple just as day broke above the eastern wall of that great imposing building. The blessing followed by the washing off of the body paint in the waters of the river ended the religious portion of the ceremony. The legal portion, where criminals received their capes and boots for the winter, would be held in front of the Ministry of Justice building in downtown Danubia City.

For penitents ending their period of obligation, the priests and priestesses came to remove the temple collars on the steps of the Temple, then presented the absolved penitent with a simple heavy cotton hooded robe to wear home. Ivanka went to Danubia City to see her Spokeswoman, while Marcia and the two Siminov parents as well as Kivar knelt on the Temple steps awaiting release by the priests.

“What did you see, my child,” The Priestess who came to unlock and remove Marcia’s collar asked,” For it is obvious from the look on your face something has been revealed to you.”

“It was more a feeling, Ma’am,” Marcia replied, “and I heard a voice, clearly, in my head.”

“Did that voice tell you anything?”

Marcia looked up at the priestess and nodded. He said “Little Girl, remember your training, remember your discipline, and follow your heart.”

“Who was the he?” The priestess kept drawing out Marcia’s story.

“Both the words and the voice were my father’s, but he died when I was much younger,” Marcia let her voice trail off, then said, “Oh, I have had a visitation from my ancestors, haven’t I?”

By now the collar had come off and Marcia still kneeling awaited a hooded robe, which the priestess held but had not relinquished. “Tell me the rest, please,” she asked looking deeply into Marcia’s eyes.

“The first night of the march, toward daybreak, I had a vision that was so real it shook me to the point I could not tell anyone. I saw a small child being swept up into the rapids of the river. I jumped in to save the child and barely was able to fight the current, so strongly it pulled against me. I was able to bring the child to the edge of the riverbank where several soldiers and policemen reached out to take her from me. Then I was trapped in the current, swimming as strongly as I could but not moving at all. Nor could any of the hands reaching for me grab me to lift me out of the current. The trance broke as we reached camp and I did not get the same vision the second night. The second night the voice of my father came to me and then, oddly, the sound of roaring engines and gunfire.” Marcia was relieved to have blurted it all out to the priestess who responded only by handing Marcia the hooded cloak.

“Keep you head covered in the hood until you reach your home,” the priestess instructed, “and come tomorrow at 11 a.m. to visit me. We shall sit by the area of contemplation and reflection and talk further.” With that she was gone, to assist other penitents being released from their collars or listening to others who felt they needed to remain so.

The three Siminovs and Marcia, heads covered and bowed, retreated from the Temple area and walked slowly to the Ministry of Justice building.

There an interesting sight awaited Marcia. A fully clothed Ivanka Siminov, in traditional Danubian ceremonial costume of long pleated skirt, white mutton-leg sleeved blouse and short forest green vest, waited for her family with open arms and a wide smile on her face.

As seriously as she could muster, Marcia deadpanned, “Ivanka, I didn’t recognize you with clothes on,” which drew laughter from the rest of the Siminov family present.

“Marcia, I must tell you that Spokeswoman Takinva revealed a condition of my remission of sentence to me today I had not known before,” Ivanka sighed, “I need for you to act as my proxy for this as I do not feel I can do it, yet someone in the family must. On the day at the end of this semester when I was scheduled to receive my next twenty-five strokes with the switch, Doctor Novatna is to present herself to receive fifty strokes, to make up for the fifty I had already received unjustly. As you hold the authority to switch as an Army Officer Instructor, I ask for you to be my proxy.”

How does someone respond to this, Marcia thought to herself, then she remembered the words her father had clearly spoken that first night follow your training follow your discipline follow your heart. By accepting this duty she would be attesting to all three of her father’s conditions.

“Ivanka, I shall dutifully perform this act as your proxy,” Marcia accepted.

The following morning, precisely at 11 a.m., Marcia presented herself, in uniform, before the priestess with whom she had conversed during the decollaring ceremony. She presented the cleaned and neatly folded linen hooded robe to the priestess and together they walked down a narrow path to the bench of reflection which overlooks the river and which is set in the holiest of ground within the Danubian Republic.

“My child, I have reflected on your words and meditated over their meaning. I believe that you did receive the words of your father and that he even now walks the life path set before you at your side.

“I also believe your river vision to be a parable for your life in the Duchy. You will save what is new in your life while also seeing your old self swept away by the events that will form your future.

“As to the loud engine noises and gunfire, I fear the Creator has not blessed me with the answer to that part of your visions.” The priestess then asked Marcia if she had any questions.

“Many questions, Servant of the Ancients and of the Creator. May I return here to speak of them with you as I find voice to ask them?” Marcia responded.

“If your life path draws you to my door one hundred times, you will find it open to you one hundred and one,” The priestess replied.

A benediction and exchanges of goodbye followed and Marcia returned down the steps of the Temple grounds alone and pondering the priestess’s words.

On her return to the Military Academy, Marcia found she had a lighter schedule than usual as a day of rest had been declared following the Day of The Dead celebration. She decided to spend the time with a good three-kilometer swim, as she had not worked out in the fast and meditation period prior to the Day Of The Dead.

Going to the staff locker room she removed her caftan and belt, kicked off her sandals, and was ready to begin her workout. Looking down at herself she saw that after four months of neglect her pubic area was beginning to fill in as she had not seen it in over five years. Still only wispy from years of waxing, Marcia doubted she had many live roots to provide hair there any longer, but it was an attempt at this culture’s standard. She was sure the hair on her head had come in better, that she could feel as she ran her fingers through it and brushed it. She had long ago learned that Danubians relied on each other for hair braiding and as makeup was not allowed and one could brush unbraided hair without benefit of a mirror, mirrors were in scant supply in Danubia.

The rest of her body, thanks to the laser treatments her parents had gotten her, remained bare. She had finally lost the last of her tan lines and was now an even light-toast color all over her body. She envied the twins, who by summer's end had gotten themselves so deeply and evenly browned that they looked like good pumpernickel bread. Marcia with duties and responsibilities had not been able to spend that much time working on her tan, but wandering about nude for four months had done the work naturally.

“Instructor Shevat, what troubles you,” a small voice asked from behind her.

“Ah, Cadet Kara, you startled me,” Marcia had turned to see the owner of the voice, “and the reason I was so perplexed is I cannot tell without seeing my hair if it is long enough now to begin braiding it.”

“I often braid my barracks mates hair for them, Instructor, and if you would not think it a breach of protocol, perhaps I could try to do yours?” Cadet Kara offered.

“How’s your bottom,” Marcia asked, “That Sergeant really knew what he was doing.”

“Healing nicely, Ma’am,” Cadet Kara said, “Bruises should be completely gone by the Harvest Feast.”

“I’m glad for you that your life path has found you a quick healer,” Marcia turned around and exposed the fact that some four weeks post switching her welts were still raised and angry looking. “I fear I was not so fortunate.”

“Ma’am, permission to speak freely,” Marcia nodded, giving the girl her voice, and she continued,” often I am told, when the punishment calls for fewer strokes, they are given with maximum force.” Cadet Kara stated, “I guess the Vice Commandant wanted you to remember the lesson you were being taught, Ma’am.”

“Well I certainly shall.” Marcia stated. Then added, “Let us get our workouts completed, then perhaps I will let you try to do something with my hair.”

Cadet Norlina Kara had gone from a weak swimmer fearful of water over her head to a mediocre swimmer in time trials yet more confident in deep water. She could not keep up with Marcia Shevat. She was lagging further behind with each lap but persisted in swimming a kilometer and a half before ending her workout. Four weeks ago Cadet Kara could barely complete one lap.

She sat on the pool edge watching her instructor cut through the water like a knife in warm butter until Marcia completed her last two kilometers. Only then did she say, “Instructor, might I suggest a warm shower, a shampoo and my humble attempt to braid your hair?”

“You most certainly may so do, Cadet, our paths seem to be running together at the moment and I would welcome your becoming the instructor as I have never done my hair in this way before.” Marcia smiled as she reversed the roles from instructor to student.

“I feel strange being in the shower room with only another woman,” Norlina blurted from under the spray of her shower head, “Usually there are male cadets in here with us.”

“Oh, I can see that in a culture where nudity is common public practice, after all we came from the pool naked, and now we are showering that way as well, but does it not bother you that males are in here bathing with you?” Marcia inquired.

“No, Ma’am,” the Cadet stated, “as most contact between same sex persons is forbidden by the Ancients, it is comforting to have a boy nearby if you need a neck massage or your back washed. If two girls or two boys get too closely connected it could be presumed they were lovers and that would cause Temple discipline to be enacted.”

“Oh, so there are no homosexual or lesbian Danubians,” Marcia asked in a tone of disbelief.

“Surely, there ARE,” Norlina acknowledged, “but they manage to keep their practices secret or if caught they are disciplined in the Temple courtyard and then expelled from Danubia with no legal right to return.”

“Ah, we call that exile in my country,” Marcia stated, “deportation and exile.”

“Yes, exactly,” Norlina responded, “before the reforms put in place by the Dukov administration, lesbians caught in the act could be sentenced by the criminal courts to a term of ritual prostitution in the Temple back courts. They were called Comfort Courtesans, and for a fee paid to the priests any adult male who had no life partner could use them.

“That was one of the many things the reformers changed,” Norlina continued, “even more common are homosexual men and lesbian women marrying. Then behind the doors of the marriage home they entertain persons of like temperament.”

“Wow, how do the priests take to that behavior?” Marcia asked.

“Officially, what happens inside the marriage home is a private affair between a husband, his wife and the Ancients,” Cadet Kara replied, “The risk is always there that a nosy neighbor will peek through the shutters and see something and report it. Some prefer to take the annual three week mandatory rest period, you call it a holiday, I think, overseas and practice their perversions elsewhere out of the sight and reach of the Danubian clergy.” By this time the pair had dried themselves and dressed. Marcia had left her hair wet so that Norlina could attempt to comb it into sections and begin the tight braiding process. Norlina’s nimble fingers had Marcia’s hair in plaits in fifteen minutes. Parted down the middle, Marcia’s hair now held two semi-circular braids curled neatly over her ears.

“As it grows more, Instructor, I or whomever you wish to redo your hair, can add to the braiding. However, for now, you look perfectly Danubian, Ma’am.” Cadet Kara smiled pleased with the work she had done.

“Thank you Cadet, for your effort, your time and for allowing me to share this portion of your life’s path with you.” Marcia acknowledged. “I shall depend upon you through the end of this semester to remind me when my hair needs to be redone. I wish to maintain a Danubian military appearance now that I have sufficient hair to allow it.”

“I accept it as my honored task to perform such duties for you, Instructor,” the cadet stated.

Status and rank would always keep them distant, yet in a strange way Norlina and Marcia would be linked in a comradeship for many years to come. Dressed and coiffed, the pair saluted each other at the door of the natatorium locker room and went their separate ways.

Lt. Mykle Drakov embarrassed himself with a shocked intake of air when he saw Marcia Shevat exit the Academy Physical Culture building into the parade ground. Right hand to left shoulder salutes were exchanged and then side by side but never touching nor holding hands the pair walked toward the Officer’s Club. “You look so, uh hum, so …” Mykle tried to speak.

“Danubian?” Marcia laughed lightly.

“Ah, yes, that was the word for which I sought, you look so Danubian, Instructor Shevat, so Danubian indeed.” The young lieutenant finished.

'I try, with a little help from a friend, I try' Marcia thought. ‘I hope I can call Cadet Kara friend, she is only two years younger than I and I like her company,’ then aloud said, “My hair was a mess after my swim and Cadet Kara offered to braid it for me.”

“She did a fantastic job, Instructor, I must mention to her that as a military cadet she makes an excellent hand maiden.” Drakov teased.

“Oh, is she or an I in trouble over this?” Marcia asked.

“Not to worry, women often do each other’s hair and spend time in idle conversation, I think you call it gossiping,” Drakov laughed lightly, “in a society where personal vanity is frowned upon and in which few mirrors exist no one would have the exotic braids they do without such company.”

“I was thinking more rank and social status wise, Lieutenant, although she did volunteer her services,” Marcia responded.

“A gift of her time and talent, an act of charity performed for her Ancestors, perfectly allowable even in the military codes,” Drakov finished.

Over their tea, Marcia explained what Ivanka had asked her to do and then told Mykle she had accepted the burden of proxy disciplinarian for the administration of lashes to Wilhelmina Novatna, on the final day of the University semester.

“Only trouble is, though I’ve received them, I’ve never administered them. How does one train for such a duty? The Vice Commandant did mention a course on the subject of discipline, but I’m not sure when I am due to take it.” Marcia stated.

Mykle laughed. Then he said, “Saturday, in the Physical Culture building, be there at 10 a.m. and bring your issued switch with you.”

That Saturday began a ritual of training that would last six weeks. Marcia learned that the weekly demerit punishments for the cadet corps were held on each Saturday.

A cadet would be marched into the punishment room, and while standing at attention would recite his or her infraction and the number of lashes to be doled out. The cadet would then disrobe, be bent over a piece of gym equipment resembling a vaulting horse and an Instructor picked at random by the draw of lots would administer the punishment.

The number was never less than five lashes for something small. Unshined boots, unmade beds and for female cadets poorly braided hair were examples of five stroke penalties. Being late for formation, late returning from pass, or failing a quiz could result in ten strokes of the switch. Failing to salute an officer, properly address an instructor, or blatant disregard of safety procedures on the firing range or in the field rated fifteen lashes. This was the limit for non parade ground punishment. As Marcia had learned, Instructors and Cadets who rated a higher number of strokes were dealt with publicly, to act as an example for the Corps of Cadets.

Lieutenant Drakov addressed the cadets to be punished on the first Saturday Marcia was in attendance, “You are all lucky today. All of you who are due five lashes take one step forward.” Twenty of the thirty cadets did so. “Please state the nature of your offenses then disrobe here and now,” each did so, twelve males and eight females soon stood in a line naked and shivering, wondering why they were so ‘lucky’.

“Because we have a trainee disciplinarian in Instructor Shevat, each of you shall receive only three lashes from her. To complete your punishment, gather your clothing and carry it with you back to your barracks. You are confined there until to Monday morning call and start of classes.” Drakov announced.

“You others, so that you may not think me unjust, shall receive half your sentence plus one stroke, this day.” Addressing the other ten cadets in the room whom he left to the tender mercies of the other instructors.

With that the line began to progress toward the horse were Marcia was to learn to switch. The first cadet, a male who obviously either liked to be switched or was a very poor cadet, had a mass of semi healed welts on his buttocks and thighs.

“Lay three across his shoulders, taking care not to overlap them. Pause thirty seconds between them for maximum effect,” Drakov spoke as he positioned Marcia in the proper stance for a shoulder strike and demonstrated where the blows should land by guiding Marcia’s hand so the switch lightly touched the cadet’s skin.

“Count them Cadet,” Marcia ordered, and began.

“ONE, thank you Ma’am,” the cadet spoke.

“TWO, thank you Ma’am,” He said again.

“THREE, thank you, Ma’am,” the cadet spoke. As he rose from the punishment position he sported a huge erection.

Looking to Mykle and waiving the switch lightly in silent signal, she got an affirmative nod in response.

“Cadet, how DARE YOU disrespect your disciplinarian with such a vulgar display?” Marcia imitated her own father’s drill instructor voice as she bellowed. “You will rid yourself of that immediately. Begin now and if you mess the floor the ten strokes you are to be given for your disrespect will be doubled.”

In front of his fellow cadets the aroused male was forced to masturbate himself to completion and tried to catch every drop in his other hand. Mykle actually used a flashlight to assure no specks had flown onto the floor to create a slipping hazard to the other cadets. The unfortunate male cadet stood, puddle in hand, and waited his return to the horse after the rest of his fellow cadets were finished with their punishment.

Marcia returned her attention to the line, the next cadet, a female who had failed to make weight, presented herself. Mykle again guided Marcia’s hand to show her how to place the blows. The girl counted her punishment then stood and thanked her disciplinarian, gathered her clothing and left. Two more males, then three females, received their punishment and so it went in a blur until the first hapless cadet was back for his second visit to Marcia’ switch. Mykle tossed the boy a towel and he finally wiped his fluids off his hands. He was then ordered to lay himself on his back over the horse. The fear became obvious in the male cadet’s eyes. Legs spread to either side, hands clasped behind his back he was ordered to remain still or face the punishment being started over with four sergeants holding his limbs outstretched.

“You may begin at his navel and work your way down to his crotch, Instructor Shevat,” Mykle Drakov told her. “Only if he becomes aroused again may you strike his penis.” Turning to the cadet, Mykle suggested, “If I were you I would not develop an erection, this time.”

Marcia laid the first welt directly across the boy’s navel. Her second was spaced about a half inch further down. By stroke six she was at the cadet’s crotch. He had wisely remained limp. Stroke seven drew a scream as Marcia struck just below the hips on both the cadet’s upper thighs. With his legs spread the blow landed well into the inner aspect. Stroke eight fell a bit below seven. Stroke nine was two inches lower in mid thigh and stroke ten landed just above the knees. By the time the last one hit the first six had already begun to purple. The cadet wisely found the strength to stand, thank his punisher for his correction, and then gather his clothing up and leave the room in something that passed for a military posture.

When the cadet was well gone, Mykle said to Marcia, “Well, done. Although I doubt he’ll ever have an erection again in his life time, the blatant fact he enjoyed the first punishment needed to be addressed on the spot and you did so.”

“I may need to ice down my arm. My rotator cuff feels like it is about to fall out of the joint in my shoulder. Thank you for feeling I did the right thing. Though for some of those kids, I can’t see punishment being warranted.” Marcia said. “Really, I felt sorry for the girl with the weight problem. She is otherwise healthy and I think she is in my Principals of Military Law course and is quite bright. To be lashed for being plump makes no sense to me.”

“Yes, however, the regulations as written are the rules we must follow. In them it clearly states she is outside the parameters of fitness.” Mykle stated.

Marcia let it drop. Some things she could not change nor understand, due to her outsider status. The things she could, she would bring to Mykle’s parents attention as staff concerns, and perhaps get some things modified while she was here. Marcia attended each Saturday discipline call for the next four weeks. The Saturday before her scheduled disciplining of Wilhelmina Novatna she begged off to prepare for that duty. She was now as accurate with her strokes as Mykle and knew how to inflict the maximum pain with the minimum of damage to the skin and underlying tissue.

Spokeswoman Takinva had also given her the protocol for the session. Monday morning with the Spokeswoman, the injured party Ivanka Siminov, an Appeals Judge, a Priestess and Instructor Shevat present, Wilhelmina Novatna would admit to her overzealous legalistic action against Ivanka, then publicly strip off her clothing in front of her three classes from this semester and Ivanka’s class from the last spring semester.

She would then assume the ‘prisoner position’ legs spread wide apart and hands clasped behind her head, while Ivanka lathered and shaved Wilhelmina Novatna’s pubic hair off. A day of penitent reflection in the presence of the priestess would continue through 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. At that time the professor would present herself for discipline, in the company of the Spokeswoman, the Priestess, and the Appeals Judge. Her Spring class, of which Ivanka had been a part, would be present for the punishment as would the Siminov family. Following the punishment Novatna would be expected to conduct each of her scheduled classes, freely presenting her welts and bruises to her students. She was to remain nude for the rest of the academic year.

On Tuesday morning at 7:55 a.m., the Siminov family sat in chairs to bear witness to the punishment, as the Spring class filed in to fill the rest of the chairs. Marcia Shevat, dressed in the skirt and blouse of her uniform without the over tunic or fore and aft cap, waited the arrival of the nude shaved older woman and her legal and religious entourage. At the stroke of 8 a.m., as the final steeple bell rang out, the trio of religious and legal people escorted the nude professor into the room.

Spokeswoman Takinva formally saluted Marcia, who returned the salute in kind. “Instructor Shevat, I present to you the woman known as Wilhelmina Novatna for discipline, and surrender my temporary custody of her to you.” Takinva spoke the formality, stepped back and saluted again.

Marcia returned the salute; “I accept custody of the woman known as Wilhelmina Novatna for discipline, Spokeswoman. Is there no criminal nor prisoner number assigned?”

The Appellate Judge stood forward and saluted, “On appeal, it was decided this matter was one of consideration as a repentant person for violation of civil statute, in this instance the University disciplinary guidelines. Therefore, no prisoner number has been assigned to Wilhelmina Novatna. You may continue, Instructor.” The Judge then saluted again and Marcia dutifully returned it.

“Does this satisfy the religious community as well,” Marcia addressed the Priestess after saluting her.

A salute and a brief, “It does,” followed from the Priestess.

“Then let us begin,” Marcia nodded her head toward the table on which were arranged several hard pillows to better position the professor for discipline. Novatna walked over to the table and arranged herself correctly on the pillows the first time. It had been practiced in the Priestess’s presence repeatedly the day before. The Appeals Judge and the Priestess bound Novatna’s hands and feet to the legs of the table and Marcia approached. Laid spread eagle over a table with hands and feet bound to the table legs, Novatna would be required to call each stroke and say ‘thank you for correcting my behavior’ after each stroke. Any stroke not counted in the thirty seconds allowed between strokes would not count toward the total.

“Woman, this Siminov family with myself as their proxy, now own your name and your life path. You are Siminov property until such time your name and life path are returned to you,” Marcia told the errant professor. “The woman being disciplined will count each stroke,” Marcia addressed the assembly, “and will thank the Siminov family for allowing her to correct the error of her life path. Following the fiftieth stroke, the woman being disciplined will present herself before Ivanka Siminov, beg Ivanka Siminov for her forgiveness and ask for the restoration of her name. Should Ivanka Siminov assess that the woman being disciplined has not repented of her error, and should Ivanka Siminov not forgive her, the woman being disciplined shall still be free but be nameless and numberless until such time as Ivanka Siminov chooses to return the name and life path to the woman.”

Protocol out of the way; Marcia stated to everyone, “Let us begin. Woman you are advised the first five taps are not your discipline they are my way to assess how best to complete your sentence without permanently damaging your body.”

Even at the first light tap Novatna leapt in response. Marcia thought Novatna would make it, perhaps to twenty strokes before she was screaming in pain so badly she would forget to keep count and thank the Siminovs.

Marcia turned out to be wrong, though sobbing quietly into the u-shaped pillow that supported her neck Novatna never lost count until stroke forty-six. The Spokeswoman called a halt for examination. The Judge told Marcia to move from Novatna’s buttocks and upper thighs to her shoulders.

Stroke forty-six landed across both shoulder blades and caught the flesh of the right upper arm as well. Novatna let out a scream that could curdle blood, and began with a wracking cry that suggested she had broken completely. Marcia looked to the Spokeswoman and Judge for a decision and was told not by them but by the Priestess to, “Complete the punishment without count or comment.” The two legal representatives acknowledged this instruction, and Marcia laid on the last four strokes, alternating sides of the table as she did so. Novatna finished with a scant four inches of non-marked flesh between her neck and knees. The welts and bruises on her buttocks and thighs were already showing blood blistering and angry purple coloration. Her upper back would soon follow.

“Please release the woman who has been disciplined, that she may beg forgiveness of the persons she has wronged and as for her name to be returned.” Marcia saluted and addressed the Judge and Spokeswoman.

The Judge and Spokeswoman undid the shackles binding Novatna but did not assist her in rising from the table. On shaky feet she wobbled over to the Siminov family. In front of Ivanka, she knelt in the open legged prisoner position and whispered, “Please forgive me and release me to follow my life path, Ivanka Siminov,” Novatna then began to sob.

“Woman, my pain is become your pain and my shame is become your shame. By your act of penitence you have restored me to fullness. I know do for you the same. Rise woman and once again take the name and title Doctor Wilhelmina Novatna.” Ivanka had two scripts in front of her, and the other would have denied Novatna her name and title until Ivanka decided to give them back. Ivanka then added, “Your name you may have. Your clothing and worldly possessions you may not. You will finish the terms of my sentence at your hand, to remain nude until the academic year finishes. Only then shall you be allowed to clothe yourself. Go now, your classes await their professor.”

Tears running down her face a humbled Professor Wilhelmina Novatna walked out of the room to bathe in the faculty shower before her class at 11 a.m.

Marcia had worked up a sweat switching Novatna. She wanted to also shower and do her hair, a braid having come loose while laboring as proxy disciplinarian, but the Siminov family wanted to take her to brunch in celebration.

“Well, if you can stand the stink of my body, I sure could use a few calories after that workout,” Marcia told Ivan Siminov.

Wilhelmina Novatna, prepared to be disgraced upon arriving in her first class after her discipline, was surprised to find her entire class, standing next to their desks, clothing neatly folded atop the desks, nude. As she walked through the door, spontaneously, the class applauded. Making the required turn to expose her battered rear to the class, Professor Novatna received an even louder round of applause, and several “Doc-doc professora” calls as well. Remission and repentance were rewarded, and she began the class after insisting they all be seated, as if nothing was unusual. So it was also in her next two classes that day. For the rest of the semester at least a few, sometimes as many as half of her students would remain naked during class as a form of moral support.

Wilhelmina Novatna gradually relaxed into her enforced nudity and, once the bruises healed a bit, actually would sit on a corner of her desk while lecturing in much the same manner as she had when wearing her long skirts and starched blouses and sensible shoes. She also found herself relaxing from the dictatorial martinet of an instructor she had boxed herself in to being and becoming more of a mentor and facilitator for her students. She was pleasantly surprised when she read the themes from her three classes that not one bogus paper was handed in to her.

What she had planned for her Spring semester classes would shock and surprise everyone. She and Ivanka Siminov had joined heads on a concept and were to present it to the administration after the holidays.

Chapter 9. Into the New Year

The celebration of the New Year in Danubia brought several changes to Marcia Shevat’s life. First came the celebration of Kivar Siminov’s birthday. The age of fifteen is of importance in the life of a Danubian teenager. He or she then had to make the decisions that would impact the rest of adult life. Two main choices were in front of Kivar. The choice between trades education and university preparation education had to be made before the next school year.

If Kivar picked a trade, he would spend three days a week in classroom study and three days a week in an apprentice program for the trade he picked. Kivar was very capable working with his hands, he enjoyed helping his father redo tile and grout, or shingle the roof or do simple woodworking tasks. Kivar was also very smart with an interest in architecture or engineering.

Once a life path was chosen, it took a great deal of effort, or a criminal act, to change that path. Kivar did not wish to make the wrong choice. He had consulted his father, his mother, and the Priestess who served in the small neighborhood chapel. Finally he came to Ivanka and Marcia for their views. “I could just avoid the whole process and join the military at age sixteen. I would do my required two years of service and have a bit more time to think about what I want from life.” Kivar offered.

His sister, Ivanka, groaned, “Kivar, soldiering is for the unskilled, take the university preparation courses and train to be someone.”

Marcia offered the other opinion, sort of, “Kivar, I have met some very bright and very good students working at the National Military Academy. All of them took the university track before being admitted to the Academy. Soldiering is not for the dull or clumsy. Those types don’t last long in training or in combat. I think you would excel as a soldier. Yet, I agree with your sister, stay in school and shoot for the higher education.”

“Well, I have one more month before I need to commit to a path. I feel I will do more research and consult you both later on this matter,” Kivar left the room at his point, leaving Marcia to ask again the question she had started when Kivar had entered the bedroom the girls shared when Marcia was not in the Academy barracks.

“So what is up between you and Novatna, Ivanka ?” Marcia asked. "How can you work so closely with the woman who treated you so badly only seven months ago?"

“Professor Novatna, having dealt with instruction of classes while nude, has petitioned the University administration for permission to allow her students the freedom of a clothing optional class in the Spring semester. She asked me to help her write up a syllabus for the course, to be given in the Sociology department, called 'An Exploration of Disciplines and Punishments In Danubian Culture and Society'. Students would be required to attend classes on Monday and Friday clothing optional with Wednesday’s session always being fully clothed, except for the professor, and with guest lecturers addressing the class that day. Students would also be required to spend time with a sentenced criminal, and follow his or her daily routine for a week. An interview with the criminal’s Spokesperson will be included in the reports that each student will present on their case studies. It is hoped that guest lecturers from the education administration, the therapeutic health care facilitators, the government, the criminal justice system, and the military, would present papers on their particular techniques of discipline and punishment during the Wednesday sessions. Oh, Professora Novatna is particularly interested in having you guest lecture.” Ivanka concluded.

Marcia chuckled, “Is this my punishment for bruising the woman’s bottom?” She asked.

“No, believe it or not Professora Novatna has been following your progress at the military academy with great interest. She was to have been your faculty advisor before all of the changes occurred, and she still needs to do the official evaluation of your progress to send to your University.” Ivanka then said, “I think she would feel safer evaluating you after seeing you work the room as a guest lecturer.”

Ivanka paused and Marcia took a deep breath. “Just tell me where and when on a Wednesday she wishes me to be there and I’ll clear my schedule.”

Marcia’s training continued in the military pool on a daily basis, several cadets now joined her swims as a voluntary part of the academy fitness program and some, Marcia noted, might have had futures as competitive swimmers if such a program existed in the Danubian Republic.

Well into March of her exchange year, Marcia was beginning to perceive herself more as Danubian than American. The advisor from the American university assigned at the university in Danubia told Marcia there were a few other students who achieved this level of assimilation during their student year and decided to continue on in Danubian academia.

During one of these sessions with Professor Novatna and the exchange advisor, Marcia received word that her mother and brothers would be arriving for a ten-day stay on the first of April. Accommodations for them had been arranged at the Military Lodge just outside the Academy gates and several tourist trips were arranged so that they might be occupied while Marcia taught her classes and trained.

“We would like to have your mother and brothers follow you about on a typical day, Instructor Shevat,” the exchange advisor noted, “would that present any problem to you?”

“It might be a shock to my brothers to see everyone nude at the pool, including me, as that is where most of my classes are held,” Marcia noted. “After all, Tyler is fifteen and Timothy has just turned seventeen, and neither is used to nudity as a way of life. I would think, though, if Kivar gets to pal around with them, they might well get over their inhibitions more quickly. My mother, though, is quite another matter. I think she turns off the lights when she showers to avoid seeing herself naked, let alone anyone else.”

“Perhaps Vice Commandant Drakova can suggest a way to amuse your mother while you attend to those duties, or Professor Novatna here might let her sit in on her behaviors class.” The advisor offered.

Professor Novatna chuckled, “Well, if the sight of a woman of my age teaching a class of university students nude does not change her attitudes, perhaps nothing will.”

Marcia quickly added her note of agreement, “We may as well introduce all of them into the mores of Danubia as soon as possible. They will see enough to know what our standard of normalcy is and realize it is not their own, almost as soon as they get off the airplane.”

Marcia was referring to the fact that most of the Danubian ticket agents and baggage handlers were collared criminals who worked their public jobs nude and very few noticed them except for the foreign tourists just off the aircraft in Danubia’s airport.

“Oh, something else,” the advisor reached into an in basket on her desk, ”this came for you from your home university.”

Marcia opened it and read, ”Marcia Shevat, the University swimming and diving team has been invited to the Pan European Games in Munich, Germany. The University is requesting that you participate in these games, in the individual medley, the relay, and the one hundred meter free style events. Please make the necessary arrangements to meet the team in Munich on the Twentieth of April this year.”

“In all probability, Marcia,” the advisor noted, “Your family will want to stay on in Danubia and go with you to the games. We will make the necessary accommodations for them if this is what they wish to do.”

“Well, I’m glad I’ve kept up my training. I feel ready to compete and look forward to doing so for the honor of both my University and Danubia.” Marcia stated firmly.

Chapter Ten. The Family Visits

Twelve days later Marcia was standing on the tarmac of the airport apron watching her brothers and mother deplane. As they exited toward customs, Marcia noted to Mykle Drakov, who had accompanied her, that her brothers seemed a bit taller and more athletic and her mother absolutely radiant.

“Mom, Tyler, Timothy, OVER HERE!” Marcia shouted and jumped up and down more like a schoolgirl than a uniformed military officer. Hugs, kisses and introductions were made, with Mykle first saluting then shaking the hand of each of Marcia’s brothers and politely bowing to then kissing the back of the hand of Vida Shevat. Mykle hustled the boys off to gather up the family’s baggage and Marcia and her mother chatted in person for the first time in over seven months.

“He is quite handsome, Marcia,” Vida Shevat began, “are you sure he is the one? Or is he just the first to show interest in you in a strange land. Oh, MY!” Vida gasped.

A totally nude, save for a collar, young man of about twenty-two trotted past mother and daughter carrying a large pile of bags while being trailed by a couple in their late fifties.

“That is the way in this country, Momma, a criminal must hold a public job and must remain nude at all times except for his or her collar. The collar is radio controlled and has a chip that sets limits for each criminal as to when they may work, how long they must remain in the public eye and how far they may travel. Oh, and see that girl over there?” Marcia nodded in the direction of a tall red headed teenager also nude and wearing a collar. “She is a Temple penitent, you can tell because the collar style is different. She is trying to amend her life path and get right with the Creator by serving time in prayer and penitential nudity under the instruction of a priest.”

“Well, I have never seen anything more disgusting in my life, why did you not come straight home when you found out about this insane way of life?” Vida muttered in a flustered voice.

“Well, almost as soon as I arrived here I found out my host family the Siminov’s, you have spoken to them, and you have told me you like them, Momma, were doing public penance as a family in support of their daughter Ivanka. As I was to be a member of that family for the duration of my Danubian stay I decided to join them in penance. I spent my first four months in Danubia naked and collared, Momma.” Marcia watched the disbelief wash over her mother’s face, then continued, “And even now most of my work is done nude, Momma, as Danubian society disallows swimsuits or athletic clothing for sports and swimming. That is all sport and swimming, Momma, so families on the beaches, at the lakes, and on the river are always nude. Families sunbathe nude in their yards when the weather is warm and it is not unusual to see groups of nude children playing in the streets or on the front lawns of the residential neighborhoods.”

Vida Shevat looked as if she wished to get on the next airplane out of Danubia and go back to the States where sound heads were screwed onto clothed bodies.

“Hey, Mom, Hey, Marcia, did you see that red headed girl over there?” Timothy and Tyler were babbling with excitement over their first glimpse of a nude woman in public.

“Guys, you have seen me and my teammates plenty of times at home, why the oh my gosh moment now?” Marcia asked.

“Yeah, but that was you and your girlfriends, heck that’s like family, and those girls saw us plenty, as well. This was a stranger in public for gosh sakes.” Timothy blurted.

Tyler added, “ Oh, and did you see she is a natural redhead? Not like your friend Heidi whose curtains and carpet don’t match.”

Mykle jumped in with, “While I admire your powers of observation, boys, as your sister might say, ‘too much information’. Now, in polite Danubian society we do not stare at a criminal or penitent going about their daily duties; however, should you need the assistance of one of them, say to carry a bag for you or if you needed directions, they are bound by their status to provide you with that service.” Mykle thought for a second, saw the expressions crossing the faces of the two boys and quickly added, “Not those kinds of services. Asking her for those services would wind with you both up dressed like him,” Mykle pointed to the young man carrying the couple’s bags.

The ride on the express trolley to the Military Inn did not take long and luggage was quickly stored in the two rooms that had been provided for Vida Shevat and the boys. Mykle and Marcia escorted her mother and brothers to the Siminov family home for a Danubian welcome dinner.

Proper introductions were made. Ursula and Ivan warmly greeted the mother of their guest daughter and richly heaped praises on Vida for raising such a beautiful talented and adaptable daughter. Ivanka welcomed the parent of her ‘sister’ into her home and also thanked Vida for allowing Marcia to become so much a part of Ivanka’s life path. Kivar, Timothy and Tyler were friends before they exchanged the few words of each other’s language each knew. Asking to be excused the three boys wandered off to play a game of something or other in the Siminov backyard.

Kaleen and Martina were nowhere to be seen and Marcia asked Ursula Siminov as to where the younger girls had gone. “They are out on the sunning platform, with three girlfriends,” Ursula smiled, “not even May yet and the warm weather has begun. It will be hard to keep a stitch on them if it is as hot as last summer.”

“Oh, yes,” Ivanka agreed,” I was happy to be collared and nude last summer, it was way too hot to wear clothing.”

“I have to agree, it felt wonderful to have the little breeze that blew do so on bare skin and not sweaty clothing,” Marcia agreed with her hosts, “Momma, come on out and meet the girls.”

Ivanka and Marcia pulled Vida out of the kitchen and out into the yard. Vida was shocked to see five young teens naked on the sundeck gossiping and giggling as girls have the tendency to do. Until Kaleen and Martina were called by Ivanka to come meet their guest and they quickly rose to come to Ivanka’s side, Vida said nothing, then it was, to Marcia, “They aren’t even trying to cover themselves.”

“Why should they Momma? They are not embarrassed by their nudity, to them it is perfectly normal.” Marcia whispered back to her mother.

Trying to remain as calm as possible, Vida Shevat exchanged greetings with Kaleen and Martina and then was surprised to hear them say, “Oh your boys are just delightful, we so enjoyed meeting them before Kivar took them to play football with his friends,” Martina acted as translator for the girls and had spoken loudly enough that the other three girls still on the platform nodded and one muttered a very coy, “Oh yes, dreamy.”

Ivanka whispered in Marcia’s ear, “You know if they are playing soccer in the park, they are probably playing naked. How is your mom going to react to her sons running around chasing a ball naked?”

“I’m waiting to see if the steam in the kettle makes it whistle or blows its top off, Ivanka, Momma is in sensory overload right now and I do not think she is processing Danubia all that well.” Marcia noted.

Just then Vida blew the whistle and let the steam out of the kettle, “Well if you can’t beat them join them,” Looking over at Marcia she said, “if this is Rome I guess I should do as the Romans, think these girls would make room for an old lady to join them?”

Ivanka and Marcia exchanged glances that barely hid the laughter they wanted to let out. Ivanka spoke, “Momma Vida, you feel free to get comfortable and join the girls and if you wish Martina is excellent at braiding hair, I am sure yours would look beautiful in a Danubian style.”

Marcia turned to go into the house, with Ivanka following, “Momma and Poppa Siminov, it seems my Momma has converted to Danubian. She is now playing at sunbathing with your daughters and their friends. MY MOMMA! The prude…is out in your yard getting naked to sunbathe with your daughters.”

Ursula slipped the caftan she was wearing over her head. Under it she was nude. “I should join your mother so she has the company of an adult. Those girls are a joy but they can wear you out quickly.”

Ivan looked at Ivanka and Marcia, “Well, it looks as if the meal will be delayed, unless you two take over momma’s kitchen. An act I would not recommend if you value your lives. Therefore, why do you not join the rest of the girls while I go see how Mykle and Kivar are getting along with Marcia’s brothers.”

The older girls were soon outside and mingling with the youngsters, largely fielding questions about the strange layers of garments Vida had removed. Pantyhose, girdles and corsets were unheard of in 'tween and teen girl wardrobes in Danubia.

Marcia found herself having to explain to a culture accepting to the human body as natural and ever different as blessed by the Creator, and why older American women found it necessary to force their bodies into shapes of conformity using elastic, bones and restrictive garments. Sadly, she found she did not have much interest to defend such a practice.

One of the girls, not the twins, broke the ice with Vida by telling Marcia she wished to compliment her mother on her beautiful full breasts and she hoped the Creator blessed her with just such richness of body.

“Richness my sweet,” Vida began, “Hardly richness. This body was left to me by three pregnancies and three nursing babies.” Marcia translated to the girl.

“Yes, Mother, that is exactly what I meant,” the girl responded and Marcia acted as translator, “After three children, the Creator has blessed you with a mother’s body. It is what all Danubian women wish to have as their blessing in their thirties and forties, a mother’s body.”

“It is true,” Ursula added, “Vida, in our culture a woman’s body is revered as a thing of beauty during pregnancy and afterward as a mother. You might be padded about the rear or your breasts might sag a bit after being suckled by babes but that is all beauty in a culture where a nurturing mother is the center of the family life.”

Dinner was, indeed delayed that evening. The males had found in the soccer field the one common language between them all. Mykle returned from the park with three very dusty teenage boys in tow, all of them nude and needing the Siminov shower. Ivan Siminov walked between Kivar and Timothy using hand gestures and single words to demonstrate a technique of a left footed pass between players. The smiles and nods were all Marcia needed to see to know that Ivan Siminov had just adopted two more children into his family.

The women, during that same time frame, had sat around the sundeck until other moms opened kitchen windows and began calling the three girlfriends home to their own houses for their meals. Leaving only Ursula, Vida, Ivanka, Marcia and the young twins Martina and Kaleen to continue the rather deep philosophical topic of what is true beauty in the Siminov soak tub.

“Momma Shevat,” Kaleen entered the conversation, “When Marcia first arrived in our home she told us how Americans look upon pubic hair and body hair as a bother to be removed. Martina and I could not understand this. After all what woman wants to go through life looking like an immature little girl? In Danubian culture the development of a girl into a woman is celebrated both in family and Temple rituals.”

Ivanka entered the conversation, “Yes, they are called the First Budding, First Blooming, and Blossoming celebrations. After the Blossoming, girls are allowed to wear the adult prayer robe to Temple services and may enter the Temple service corps as acolytes.”

As Vida looked confused, Ursula offered the explanations, “First Budding is the showing of breasts and beginning of curves in a girl’s body. First Blooming is the beginning of Pubic Hair. Blossoming is the first menstrual cycle. Girls in Temple service assist the Priests and Priestesses in the ceremonies and services at the Temple and within the local chapels. This work is deemed part of the public giving back to the Creator which all Danubians seek to fulfill.”

Vida was beginning to realize that not only externally, but also philosophically and culturally, Danubia was an entirely new world to the American mind set.

“Are your girls in Temple Service?” Vida asked Ursula.

“Not yet, they are late in the passing of Blossoming,” Ursula said, “but all women know the Creator has the right time for them to Blossom,” nodding to the girls.

“True,” Kaleen spoke,” one of the girls you met this afternoon, Andra, has passed Blossoming and is now studying to be a Maiden of the Four Positions at the Temple.”

The look on Vida’s face indicated her mind had gone to a place the young Kaleen had not intended.

“Momma,” Marcia interjected,” the Four Positions are Fetal, Kneeling, Standing, and Prone. Each High Holiday ceremony has a maiden posed in each position facing in each of the primary compass points. Sixteen girls, nude, and who must remain absolutely stationary. This is the hardest job a Maiden can have and it requires long hours of discipline and training.”

“Oh my,” Vida nodded, then had a thought, “Getting sixteen teenage girls to stay still that long must be a real job for the Priestess in charge.”

All the females in the soak tub were laughing at that when the males walked in to shower. Marcia watched her mother for a reaction and there was none. Vida was becoming more adapted to the fact that nudity was exactly what it was in Danubia, another form of clothing when done with the right attitude and proper hairstyle.

Room was found for the Shevat family under the Siminov roof that night and early the next morning the entire combined group took the trolley to the Military Inn where Vida and the boys had their rooms. Marcia had to report in to the Academy and begin her morning classes, so it was Mykle who escorted Vida and Timothy and Tyler to the Academy.

The first stop was not the pool area, but the offices above where Vice Commandant Drakova waited to meet the mother of her son’s American girlfriend.

Cadet Kara was enlisted by Lt. Drakov to take Tyler and Timothy on a long informative tour of the post and academy facilities. “End at the pool area, Cadet, so the brothers might see their sister fulfilling her life path as our Aquatics Instructor,” the Lieutenant ordered.

“Yes Sir,” Kara responded and led the boys out at a brisk pace.

Mykle excused himself to return to his own duties and left the mothers to converse about their life experiences. Like most senior officer, Vice Commandant Drakova was fluent in English, so there were no problems with language. The two women found they had much more in common than one would have initially thought. Raising children on military posts, moving from place to place every few years, watching children grow up with few long lasting friendships because of rank and military occupation differences of the parents, all these things down to each having borne three children to military husbands they had in common.

“Mykle seems a fine young man,” Vida said to Magda, the women having dropped formality and gone to first names within five minutes of starting to talk with each other.

“Your Marcia is a remarkable young woman as well, I find Mykle well met with her, though I worry about his becoming attached to her,” Magda responded.

“Why so?” Vida asked.

“For the same reasons we have discussed. Marriage within the military and raising children under difficult circumstances,” Magda replied.

“You see marriage in their future, not a passing fling or infatuation?” Vida sounded more concerned.

“The signs are there and if the Creator and the Ancestors have set them on the same life path, who are we to argue? We can be concerned, and love them and advise them, but their life path is their own to follow.” Magda stated.

Vida nodded, after all her parents had objected to her marrying a soldier. They had asked what kind of happiness could she find in a life like that. Yet, she and Jacob Shevat had spent the best fifteen years together a man and woman could have and she would change nothing in her life, given the chance.

“Let’s go downstairs and see your daughter at work,” Magda offered, “Only ten months ago we as an institution knew nothing about Aquatics training. Your daughter has developed a program that not only teaches life saving skills and water safety, but has also included aquatic strength training, kinesiology and endurance training. Add to this her taking classes here to fulfill her University requirements and being at the top of her class while using only a language for which two short college courses were her only preparation. I would say you have raised an amazing child, Vida” Magda finished as the pair entered the locker room. “To enter the pool requires you be nude and have taken a shower.”

Vida started to unpin her hair and Magda quickly stopped her. A dignified Danubian woman always had her hair in braids in public. Magda quickly shed her uniform and waited while Vida took off the added burden of girdle and pantyhose and was finally ready to shower and go to the pool. Timothy and Tyler were already on the side of the pool, quietly watching their sister conduct a swimming class and unabashedly admiring their cadet escort Norlina Kara.

“Cadet, did your tour go well and did your charges enjoy your informative talk?” Vice Commandant Drakova asked of her subordinate.

Standing to attention but not saluting, (one does not salute while nude), Kara responded, “ Ma’am we went on the tour as directed. I explained about our uniforms, the Griffin and its role in Danubian life, and I showed the boys the weapons museum. They then asked me to bring them here, which you see I have done. Ma’am I admit my time with them in the locker room was a bit awkward. They clearly were not used to co-ed locker rooms, nor with watching a woman their age disrobe in front of them.”

“Yet, you handled the situation professionally and overcame the awkwardness, Cadet?” The Vice-commandant asked.

“Yes, Ma’am, as you can see they have acclimated nicely, Ma’am,” the Cadet concluded.

“Would you consider it an undue burden to have them accompany you to classes and cadet activities for the next two days, Cadet?” Colonel Drakova asked in a tone that suggested even if Norlina Kara had considered it a burden, she was to do so. A request made by a superior was an order in civilian clothing.

“Ma’am, if so ordered I would allow the boys to reside in my barracks room with me to give them a complete daily circuit of cadet routine,” Cadet Kara answered, and silently prayed she would not be taken up on her statement.

“Is yours a co-ed room, Cadet?”

“No, Ma’am, it is presently all female, just my roommate and I, that is Cadet Anova and I, Ma’am,” Kara responded.

“Well and good, when you are finished here, take the young men to the quartermaster, have them issued first day gear and bedding and take them to your barrack. They are your charges for the next forty-eight hours. Do not lose or break them.” The Vice Commandant was not known for humor, yet, Kara caught an undertone that said, “Ride them hard, but don’t put them away wet.”

“Ma’am, yes Ma’am,” Kara replied.

Seeing Cadet Anova in Instructor Shevat’s class, the Vice Commandant called, “Anova, to me.”

The Cadet, as tall and blond as Kara was petite and dark haired, responded immediately.

“Ma’am, how may I be of service, Ma’am?” Anova offered as she quickly walked up to the Colonel and stood at attention.

“Do you see those two young men, seated by the pool?” the Colonel asked.

“Instructor Shevat’s brothers? Yes, Ma’am we were introduced in passing as the class began.” Anova replied.

“I have given Cadet Kara full charge over them for the next forty-eight hours. The shall be bunking in with you and her for the next two nights if you have no objection.” The Colonel was using her, ‘you will have no objections’ tone and Anova responded with, “No objection, Ma’am.”

“Then the same orders I have given Kara apply to you, Anova, do not lose or break these young men.” The Colonel finished and dismissed Anova back to her class.

Magda and Vida, military wives and military mothers, together watched as Marcia Shevat drilled her cadets in proper stroke technique and breathing for the freestyle and then walked the edge of the pool as each cadet swam a length correcting mistakes as they occurred.

“She is good at what she does, isn’t she?” Vida was forced to acknowledge.

“We have been blessed by the Creator and the ancients to have her life path cross ours. She has added much to the richness of our training program and we now have a potential officer corps with more skills than ever before.” Magda agreed, hoping to persuade Vida that Marcia Shevat’s place in life was in Danubia for the moment at least.

The women left the pool area showered again and dressed. Vida, at Magda’s suggestion left off the girdle and pantyhose and as an act of liberation tossed them into a trash bin.

Ivanka Siminov met Vida at the outer gate of the Academy. The arrangement having been made that Ivanka would escort Vida on a tour of the outlying parks and lake region while the boys spent time at the Academy.

Cadets Kara and Anova escorted Tyler and Timothy Shevat to the Academy Quartermaster. There the Shevat boys were given one pair of socks, one pair of athletic footwear, one coarse woolen blanket, a bucket, and a bar of soap. Told to remove their civilian clothing and leave it in a bin in the Quartermaster storage area, the boys were now officially first day cadets of the National Military Academy of Danubia.

“As you might gather, cadets, the first seventy-two hours of the Academy are spent nude for all incoming prospects.” Cadet Anova lectured as she and Cadet Kara quick-timed the pair of nude young men across the academy quadrangle.

“This is because the first seventy-two hours of your cadet life are spent in pure physical testing to assess if you are worthy to wear the uniform of the Danubian Republic.” Cadet Kara yelled as the two women quickened the pace.

“For the time you are with us, you will do as you are told, when you are told to do it.” Cadet Anova yelled as the pace quickened yet again.

“You will rest when we are tired, you will eat when we are hungry and you will sleep, perhaps not at all.” Cadet Kara called as the pace picked up to a full run.

The boys, both fit athletes in their own right, kept up with the two female cadets for the first half-mile. Tyler, a gymnast, began to lag at that point. Cadet Anova dropped back and motivated Tyler with a sharp slap across his buttocks. “You will keep up the pace or you will pay the price,” she hissed in his ear, “and don’t drop your bucket.”

With that he found the reserve to pick up his pace and keep up with his brother, who as a soccer player was more used to long distance running. When the run ended, the brothers found themselves at an obstacle course. They ran through truck tires set on the ground and then climbed a cargo net over a six-meter wall dropping into a pool of muddy water. A crawl under a net stretched over a sand pit followed by a rope climb up and over a shorter brick wall left the Shevat brothers fifty meters from the back doors of the cadet barracks.

The two female cadets handed the boys back their buckets and stopped them by a set of water pumps. “Fill your buckets, wash yourselves thoroughly, and then remove your shoes, wash your socks and carry your buckets to the rear entrance of the barracks.” Cadet Kara ordered.

“Rinse your feet in your bucket, then turn it over to empty it and leave it by the back door,” Cadet Anova finished.

A climb up the stairs to the female cadets room and the Shevat teenagers were shown the bunk beds in which they would sleep for the next two nights. By noon of the next day another visit to the quartermaster had the boys outfitted in regulation sleeveless undershirt the color of mud, matching boxer-brief type underpants and an anorak-type top paired with loose legged trousers. The athletic shoes and socks completed their attire.

Timothy attended activities and classes with Cadet Anova while his brother Tyler teamed up with Cadet Kara. Following classes and a meal in the cadet mess hall, the four teen-ages attended night lecture. Night lecture could be on any topic and all cadets of a particular level attend a general session. This one happened to be on the topic of field hygiene. Ninety minutes later the lecture ended and study time began. Followed by next day preparations of uniform and gear then floor vespers with a cadet chaplain, who a man or woman studying to become a Priest or Priestess in military service. Then it was lights out and the boys found themselves silently thanking the end of the day.

The morning found the four awake before dawn and dressed for the daily routine. The difference was that today Timothy was paired with Norlina Kara and Ysabella Anova had charge over Tyler.

Vida and Marcia were waiting at the gates at the end of the day to receive sons and brothers back from their taste of Danubian military life. The boys, still in Danubian issue clothing and carrying soft cloth satchels with the Danubian griffin emblem embossed upon them, were escorted off the post by Colonel Magda Drakova.

Instructor Shevat saluted her superior officer and then mother embraced mother.

“Vida Shevat, I formally relinquish custody of your sons Timothy and Tyler to you,” Magda completed the formality of Danubian custom.

“Colonel Drakova, I accept custody of my sons, Timothy and Tyler,” Vida responded as Marcia had couched her.

The boys, usually not expressive with their mother, oozed with the urge to tell her everything that had happened over the last few days. Marcia left the three family members at the military lodging and went back on post. She had a meeting of her own with the Military Priestess, and then one with Colonel Magda Drakova. She had made a decision and she wanted to be assured it was a good one.

Chapter Eleven. The Competition

Two days later, in the office occupied by the Director of Exchange Students for the University, Marcia was making a commitment. ” I have decided to compete for the University in the Pan-European games as a Danubian.”

The Exchange Director responded with,” How are you going to do that, Marcia?”

“I will swim for the University, Ma’am, but it is my intent to do so nude, as is the Danubian custom. I have committed myself to a full year living as a Danubian, and I feel it would be an affront to the Danubian culture to wear this.”

Marcia held up a tiny nylon-spandex slip of material that represented the University swim team competition suit. She then dropped it into the trash can in the Exchange Director’s office, and said, “Therefore, should the University still wish me to compete in Munich, I shall do so nude.” She turned and left the Director’s office before a word of protest could be uttered.

Munich was known for its pageantry and pomp during athletic ceremonies and competition. Two Olympic games and several Pan-European competitions held there over the years had proved to the world that Munich knew how to be a good host.

Three flights of Griffin Airways aircraft landed in Munich and discharged the Military Corps of Cadets and their officer instructors the evening before Marcia Shevat was to compete.

Rumors were already flying in the media that a non-conformist athlete would be swimming in a non-traditional outfit. Most of the media were speculating that Speedo or Tyr had come up with yet another variation of the skin suit that had become popular in competitions in the past several years.

The morning of the competition, the Corps of Cadets marched in formation from the hotel hosting them to the Aquatic Stadium and took their seats. At ten o’clock in the morning Marcia Shevat’s first event was called. It was the one hundred meter free style, one length down the pool and one back up to the staring blocks.

The announcer gave the name and the university each athlete represented. Marcia Shevat was announced as competing for both her home university and the Military Academy of Danubia. A gasp collectively went out of the audience, and several directors were told by their studios to cut live feed to the event when Marcia stood on the starting block and waved to the crowd.

The starter gun sounded and Marcia hit the water smoothly, cutting through the pool like she had never done before. Her time at the turn was less than a second off the record for this facility and when she finished and touched the poolside she was only three tenths of a second off of that record. She won the event. The media still blacking out the fact that on the medal stand she was nude, panned to the cadets who had risen and were singing the National Hymn of Danubia in Marcia Shevat’s honor. The flag bearing the Griffin Emblem of Danubia rose behind Marcia as she was presented with the medal and a bouquet of flowers.

Still photographs of that presentation, with Marcia blocked by officials or by the large flower bouquet, did make it on the news and into the scandal sheets and gossip magazines around the world. One headline read, “THE NEW SKIN SUIT. REAL SKIN”.

The event committee politely asked the university to withdraw Marcia from future events in the meet. Both the Danubian Military and Marcia’s home university declined just as politely. Marcia’s relay team won their event, and surprisingly the other three girls on the team appeared on the medal stand nude, in support of Marcia. They also celebrated their victory under the Danubian flag and with the Corps of Cadets singing the National Hymn.

Marcia’s second place finish for a silver medal in the Individual Medley event finished her competition. The finish of that event was so close the recording had to be played back in frame-by-frame stop action. In the end the judges ruled a girl from Austria had touched the wall a hundredth of a second before Marcia, giving the other girl the win.

The parade held in her honor from the Airport down the main streets of Danubia City to the steps of the Defense Ministry Building in Government Square was lined with every man woman and child who could get free from their daily work. The schools were closed for the day, and people leaned out of every window of every building along the parade route to catch a glimpse of the girl who had captured not only three medals but also the hearts of the Danubian people.

Marcia, standing atop a horse drawn antique military ammunition carrier, was naked except for her three medals. She proudly waved to the crowd, while her mother and two brothers rode along the route in an open carriage directly behind her caisson. With Brigadier Drakov and Colonel Drakova astride horses and dressed in old style cavalry uniform riding beside the caisson and the Siminov clan in a carriage in front of her, Marcia was completely surrounded by her ‘family’.

At the Defense Ministry Building, a brief ceremony officially granting Marcia duel citizenship was held and she was presented with a Danubian medal of achievement. She in turn thanked the people of Danubia for opening their homes, hearts and country to her and presented her three medals to the Defense Ministry as a token of her thanks. Private celebrations followed, with Marcia finally getting back into uniform. First, she stopped at the Cadet Mess Hall where she thanked the Corps for its support and for allowing her to be on their life path with them.

The next celebration was at the Officers Club. Brigadier Mykle Drakov formally announced Instructor Shevat was out of uniform. Colonel Drakova walked up to her and unpinned the “I” devices on her tunic and cap and quickly replaced them with silver Griffin devices indicating she was promoted to Junior Lieutenant.

“You can now hold that rank, Lieutenant, as you are now a citizen of Danubia,” the Brigadier announced.

The final celebration was a very private one, in a very private place with Lieutenant Mykle Drakov and Junior Lieutenant Marcia Shevat the only ones in attendance. How they celebrated has not been documented.

The End