Chapter 1: Rule 52: Never ask when you can take
Statzia gave a sigh as the cool water splashed against her face. She’d given a quick farewell to the crew as they all departed the conference room, but she’d made a quick exit to the washroom. She braced her hands against the cool tile of the sink, letting the water run as she slowed her breathing, using the sound of the water as a focus point. One hand fumbled for the zipper of her uniform top, loosening the collar. “Prophets–” she muttered, splashing another handful of water on her face.
“If you have a direct line to a higher power, have them send a lightning strike on that asshole.” Patricia leaned against a wall, lighting up a cigarette. “You didn’t have to take the heat for Edra, but I appreciate it.”
Statzia turned the spigot, stopping the flow of water. “If I had a connection to a higher power, I’d still have a leg, a kidney, a finger, and the other half of my liver.” She gave her hands a shake, flicking off the droplets of water. “And it was my department. Heat was mine to take.” She looked up, making eye contact with Patricia in the mirror. “Besides, she and the Captain have kids. Not keen on separating kids from their families.”
Patricia blew out some smoke towards the ceiling. “All the same, thank you.” She let the silence linger for a moment. “So, you wanna break your AI friend out of jail since we’re here?”
Statzia quirks a brow at the reflection before turning to look over her shoulder. “I called in every favor I had left, and I was denied every time. If I wanted to get Emma back, I’d have to steal the whole goddamn shuttle out from under Starfleet’s nose–”
Patricia just gave a small smile. “You were saying?”
The corner of Statzia’s lips quirked up in a grin. “You’ve been in this line of work, so I’m assuming you know what we’d have to go up against just to get access to it, not to mention doing it without raising alarms or tipping sometime off as we’d fly it out, and then hope that nobody notices that it’s missing?” She let out a soft laugh. “I mean, I’m good, but I’m not that good.”
“I have someone in mind.”
(two hours later)
“No, no way, not doing it.” Evelyn paced in front of Patricia and Statzia. “I’m still on everyone’s shit list for maybe creating a proto universe in my spare time and now you want me to hack Starfleet Intelligence?”
“You kinda owe me for hacking my files.”
“First, it saved your life, and second I already repaid you for that.”
Patricia tilted her head. “Did you though?”
“It was bad enough having one of you and now I get bullied in stereo.”
Statzia gave a soft sigh, shoving her hands in her pockets. “I’m not trying to bully you. But my friend of 20 years has been locked away in that shuttle’s computer for the last year. From what I understand, they wouldn’t even let her take the mobile emitter off the shuttle when she brought me on my deathbed back to Federation space–and that’s assuming they haven’t tried to dissect her program.” She looked from Patricia back to Evelyn. “People like me in jobs like mine don’t get to make many friends, and the person who knows me best in the universe just happens to be a heavily modified EMA locked in a Na’Far class shuttle in Starfleet impound. I just want to get her back.”
Evelyn looked between them. “I”m not going in. I’ll coordinate and if you get caught I’m cutting the cord and you’re on your own.”
Patricia nodded. “That’s fine. We’ll be able to do what we need to do if you can help scramble cameras and sensors, maybe unlock a door or two.”
“Why me though? There’s a lot of very capable people I’m sure you both know very well.”
Patricia looked uneasy, but just decided to stop playing for the moment. “Because a very good friend of mine thinks highly of you. So I trust you.”
That made sense. “Let’s not tell her about this either, she’ll worry and then she’ll want to go with you and I do not want that to happen.”
Statzia chuckled. “From what I’ve read in her file, it sounds like the Counselor could hold her own without us. If it weren’t for her Academy file, I would guess she did a stint in Security.” At Patricia’s look, she smirked. “What? You didn’t think I’d figure out who you two were talking about?”
8Evelyn looked between them. “It should take 2-3 hours to set up the program to tunnel in and replicate. From there I can get you physical entry and I can download a map to your device. The hardest part will be getting out. They’re not going to just let you fly away.”
Statzia smirked. “Let me take care of the flying. Just get me in.” She gave a nod to Patricia. “Meet me in my office in two hours?”
“Will do.” Patricia walked out with Statzia.
“You’re welcome,” Evelyn said to no one.
Statzia stepped through the doorway to her personal quarters, gesturing for Patricia to follow. She crossed to the small sofa, picking up the uniform pieces draped across it and relocating the clothing to a pile on her bed. “Sorry for the state of things. Counselor relocated me a few days ago, and we’ve been a little busy on the Intel end.” She gave a nod to the weapons crate that still hadn’t moved from the small dining table.
Patricia sat where indicated. “I live with two men, even if one is seven. I’m used to messes.”
“I’ve been on my own since 18. Aside from living with a hologram, I’m not usually the one having company over. Not that the shuttle had room for company.” Statzia made her way to the cabinet, where she had stowed the quarters-warming bottle of bourbon. “But I had four older brothers, so cleanliness wasn’t exactly a trait they passed down to me.” She set two glasses and the bottle down on the table in front of them.
“So what now, I mean with your friend? Gonna take a lot of convincing for the Captain to agree to tie her into the ship’s holo emitters.””
“Well, I’d have to get her out of the Rule Thirty-Four first.” Statzia reached for a glass, taking the cap from the bottle. “I should probably start with telling the Captain that I’ve parked in the shuttle bay. Hopefully our friend’s little records change keeps inquiring minds from asking about a missing ship until they recall me back into the field.” She poured herself a generous serving, passing the bottle to Patricia.
She took it and poured a quarter of a glass. “I’m glad it worked out. Have to admit I had some doubts.”
Statzia took a swig. “You and me both. Though I can’t say I’ll be quick to point out the exploit in the Intelligence systems–that may come in handy again.” She swirled the glass, watching the amber liquid. “I have half a mind to recruit the girl as an asset.”
“Yea she comes in handy when she’s not almost destroying the ship.” Patricia took a small sip.
Statzia chuckled. “I read that report. Why the hell is that kid still on a starship? If she can create a universe and hack into Intelligence, her talents are being wasted on an exploration vessel.” She gave a shrug. “But, from what I can glean from your redacted file, your talents are in a similar predicament.”
“Seems like a whole lifetime ago. I love my life right now but there are times I don’t recognize myself.” She gave a soft shrug. “I guess that’s the tradeoff. So now I help where I can.”
“Well, if it helps, I didn’t recognize you, either.” Statzia took another healthy swig. “But you seem to be doing okay for yourself. Captain’s family seems nice.”
“They are. They actually accepted me long before I met their son. He has given me something I never thought was possible. Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to wake up and find out I dreamt it.”
“Yeah, don’t give that up. It’s something that you wind up regretting twenty years later.” Statzia swirled the liquid in the glass again.
Patricia nodded. “That’s the plan. I even have an old woman tree planted in my front yard that I can retire with.”
Statzia paused, her glass a few breaths from her lips. “You have–a tree?”
Patricia nodded. “And she judges me every time we go home.”
Statzia raised an eyebrow. “You have a sentient tree. At your house?” She lowered the glass. “And people still get confused as to why I hate being planetside.”
Patricia finished her drink. “Thanks for the drink but I’m scheduled for a bedtime story. Snow White, but in my version she storms the queen’s castle and blows it up. He prefers my stories to his father’s.”
Statzia nodded but didn’t stand. “Give Snow White pink hair and a nose ring. Makes her more badass.” She paused. “Thanks for storming the castle with me.”