Chapter 6 - Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Patricia casually walked down the corridor, giving a nod or a pleasantry to anyone she came across.  Finally she stopped in front of the Counselor’s office.  She checked to ensure no one was looking and entered the override code.  The doors opened on the blackened room.  She stepped in, allowing the darkness to consume her.  She knew the layout of the room with her eyes closed and made her way to Millie’s desk.  She crouched down and reached for a drawer.


Statzia tapped her thumb absently on the edge of the PADD as she walked down the corridor. It was odd, she thought, that she hadn’t been able to access all of the Counselor’s logs from her office. “Unable to comply” was the only reason that the ship’s computer had given, even with her Intelligence clearance. So, begrudgingly, she’d made the walk over to see what she could figure out why the computer was refusing her access. She paced herself down the hall, making sure she wasn’t drawing the attention of anyone else down the corridor. She slowed her pace, glancing at her PADD as two Ensigns scooted their way past her. Glancing over her shoulder, she made sure nobody was within visual range and entered her override code on the door to the Counselor’s office.


Patricia heard the door begin to open and froze, hiding under the desk.  Who the hell would be breaking in…beside herself?


Statzia slipped inside, stepping to the left of the doorway and letting it slip closed, putting her into darkness. She took a single step forward and paused. She held her breath, listening carefully. After a few heartbeats, she slowly shifted the PADD to her left hand, reaching down for the phaser she always kept tucked in her right boot.


Patricia trained her ears to listen to the footsteps and it was odd because they didn’t sound…even. She stayed in her hiding spot, wondering if the person would leave quickly so she could get back to what she was here for.  No matter what anyone told her, something was bothering her. Chance said it was a form of survivors’ guilt and that sometimes accidents just happened.  If she could find something, anything, to show that there was more to Millie’s death she might have some kind of closure.


Two more steps into the room, and Statzia realized what had her on edge. It didn’t smell like the Counselor. The Counselor smelled like the cocoa butter lotion she knew the woman rubbed on her feet after her dance practices, and a mix of her kitten daughter and the formula mix she fed her. And it wasn’t Evelyn she smelled because she smelled more of Engineering than anything. This was recent–something floral. And they would have been in the room not long ago, because the counselor had been gone long enough that anything from her or her patients would have dissipated by now. Statzia’s breathing slowed, and her thumb flipped the phaser to stun. 


‘God damn it,’ Patricia thought, ‘when are they gonna leave?’ Her legs were starting to cramp from her positioning.  She needed to think of something and then it hit her.  She slowly crept out and slipped into Millie’s chair.  She steeled her eyes in the darkness but couldn’t make anything out.  That chided herself for her age. She slid her fingers across the desk to the lamp, counted to three, and turned it on.


The sudden brightness in the room made Statzia flinch, but she quickly raised the phaser, pointing it towards the desk. She blinked a couple of times, her eyes adjusting to the light. “Prophets–” she cursed under her breath.


“Funny meeting you here.”


Statzia lowered the phaser slightly, but still had it leveled in front of her. “Didn’t expect to find you hiding out in the Counselor’s office.”


“I wasn’t hiding.  Although I didn’t expect you to break into her office either. So what brings you here at this hour?”


Statzia surveyed Patricia. The woman looked exhausted, like she wasn’t sleeping. “Research,” she stated simply.


Patricia watched her, but as suspicious as she was, the woman had earned some trust. “I’m trying to find a clue to explain why it happened. I know it won’t change anything but maybe I can put it to bed if I know.”


Statzia let out a slow breath and flicked the phaser off, tucking it back into her boot. She knew how exhaustively K’Naut had poured through everything from the transporter–and had nearly taken the thing apart trying to find a cause, but the Counselor’s transporter pattern had just evaporated mid-transport. “I was…trying to access her logs. I’d tell you it was a request from Command, but you don’t need to be lied to right now.” She closed the distance, setting her PADD on the corner of the desk. “Computer denied my access from my office. Thought I’d try a more direct approach.


“Denied? I didn’t think she’d protect her files to that point. But I’m glad to know it before I went looking.” She drummed her fingers for a moment.  “If it kept you out, I wouldn’t have much better odds.  So how do we take a peek?”


Statzia let out a breath. “Well…” She tapped her fingers on the PADD she’d set on the desk. “If it doesn’t let me override it with command access, I was anticipating having to brute force my way in. I’ve…picked up a few tricks. Didn’t expect to ever have to use them on the Counselor, though. She’s…” Statzia let out a soft chuckle. “She’s not what I expected from a ship’s counselor.”


“Part of that is my fault, part of it is because of a Klingon. She deserved better than to just be an accident. I’ll never get over that and so I need answers. So what do we need to do?”


Statzia reached into her pockets, pulling out two tools and a small length of wiring, setting them on the desk. “Let me have the chair?” Statzia gave a gesture with her head that indicated that Patricia should let her sit.


Patricia stood and walked to the wall close by, leaning on it.  “I went to see Moro today. She’s holding up decently well, still kind of vacant in her eyes. But she’s scared shitless that she’ll lose the kid.”


Statzia nodded as she sat, turning on the monitor at the desk. “That’s why I went digging. The file on how the crew located the missing child seemed…lacking. I thought maybe if I could find something more, that might give the kid some extra leverage, or at least maybe find something to support the case for keeping her here.”

The screen came on, and a password prompt appeared. Statzia furrowed her brow, looking up at Patricia.


“Evelyn? La’lana? Bolshoi?”


Statzia typed in all three, and was met with a “Access denied” from a computerized voice each time. Statzia scowled again. “How many people on this ship do you think protect their personal computer terminal with a password?”


“Well I do, but I’m paranoid.”


“And me, for the same reason. But K’Naut doesn’t. Does your husband lock down his terminal?” Statzia tapped her finger on the edge of the desk in a repetitive pattern.


“Yes, but that’s because Keiran wanted to play some games and once found some….pictures I’d sent his father.”


Statzia raised an eyebrow in a manner that was almost Vulcanesque. “So, paranoid people and parents of small children. But I sincerely doubt that her kitten can access a terminal.” She looked back to the blinking cursor on the terminal. “I can understand putting an access verification on information about certain personnel, or about something classified, but this is her office. I’m assuming you had to override her door, just like I did?”


“Yea, I bypassed it with an older security code that’s useful for back doors. Why would she lock away personal things like that? I feel like if she had a secret she’d have shared it, at least with me….or…” she looked at the other woman. “I wonder if Moro knows the secret word.”


Statzia clenched her jaw briefly, glancing at the chronometer on the wall. She gave a long sigh before tapping her combadge. “Liski to Moro.”


It took a moment but a reply came through, with a yawn.  “Moro here, did your console conduit overload again?”


Statzia’s finger began tapping the same pattern again, this time on the arm of the desk chair. “I’m…sorry to disturb you, Ensign. I’ve been…tasked with relaying the Counselor’s logs, and I’ve—” She sighed, as if regretting the lie she was about to tell. “I’ve encountered a password protection on the console in her office, one my command access can’t override.”


“You’re looking at her files at…0230? Uh, did you try things like names?”


Patricia rolled her eyes as if to say of course we have.


“Yes, we did. Yours and La’lana’s. And Bolshoi.” Statzia paused, glancing up at Patricia out of the corner of her eye. “Did the counselor have any other family?” Statzia touched her fingers to the keypad, typing in PATRICIA, only to once again receive the soft “Access denied” chime.


“Well her mother, but their relationship is…was….really backwards.  I don’t think she even knows what happened yet.”


Statzia’s brow furrowed once again. “They didn’t contact her next of kin?” She gave a questioning expression to Patricia.


Patricia mouthed “she’s a bitch.’


Statzia picked up her PADD, tapping away at it for a moment. She set the PADD down and typed VEROCHKA into the console. “Access denied.” Statzia ran a hand through the microbraids at her temple. “Did she have a certain way she wrote her passwords? A special character, or letter substitutions?”


“I’m not familiar with her natural alphabet.”


Statzia blinked. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “The counselor is from Moscow,” she stated more than asked.




“Is…is someone else there?” Asked Evelyn.


Patricia grimaced, forgetting to be silent.


Statzia shot Patricia a glare. “My apologies, Ensign. I–I reached out to Patricia Crow for assistance first. I was hoping to be able to resolve this problem without disrupting you…during this time.” 


“Well, if I think of anything else I’ll let you know but she never told me some super secret code word.”


Patricia walked around the desk, looking at the screen, her eyes on the mother’s name.


“Thank you, Ensign.” Statzia gave a quiet sigh. “Again, my apologies for the disturbance.” She heard the soft click of the combadge disconnection and looked up at Patricia. “I know a lot of languages, but Russian is not one of them.”


“She said Millie described the relationship with her mother as backwards.”


Statzia quirked an eyebrow. “You really think…?” Her index finger tapped the backspace button repeatedly until the window was cleared. She slowly typed AKHCOREV.

“Access granted.”


“I’m kinda proud of her for that kind of encryption.”


“I would have never have thought to use her estranged mother’s name. People usually pick someone they like. Or their pet.” Statzia began keying in a series of commands, and soon they were looking at a long list of entries, all listed with Stardates, crew names. A few more keystrokes, and another window opened with a list of all incoming and outgoing communications.


“Those don’t look like normal Federation encryptions.”


Statzia looked where Patricia was indicating. “That’s because they aren’t.” She typed for a moment, and all of the similar communications logs assembled together. “These go back…” Statzia scrolled down the screen. “Several years, almost.” She touched her fingers to the display. “A lot of these are video and audio communications, but…what are these?” She highlighted multiple logs on the screen.


“She was talking to someone a lot. Seems like they’re always reaching out to her though, never the other way around.”


“And not at regular times, either. Not like she had a set appointment time.” Statzia tapped one with the odd communication pattern. “This one was almost four hours long, and it’s practically in the middle of the night, received in her quarters.” She scowled at the screen. “But this wasn’t an audio call. What…what is this?”


“Who would be bugging her all night for hours? Had to be a client.  Who on the ship could create this kind of thing?”


“Did the counselor have private clients?” Statzia tapped the screen. “This isn’t an internal communication, and it’s not a Federation communication channel. Even someone from one of her previous postings would come through Federation channels. And the coding on this is all wrong. Whatever was coming through was much bigger than your standard feed. It’s…”


“She never said anything to me about having outsiders.”


“Not outsiders. Just one.” Statzia sighed. Her fingers tapped out that same rhythm. “And they came into her personal quarters…until about a year ago.”


“About the time she and Moro got really serious.”


Statzia’s hand paused on the keyboard. “She…didn’t have a lover, did she?”


“Not that she ever told me about.”


“Was she the type of person who would tell you if she did?” Statzia raised a brow.


“I like to think she wouldn’t keep that from me.  We were pretty close.”


“Well, it looks like she may have kept this client from everyone…including you.” Statzia tapped on the keys again. “If this were a client, she would keep notes on their sessions, right?”


“She did for everyone else.”


Statzia paused, glancing up at Patricia. Normally the woman’s face was guarded, but now she seemed to be struggling to keep her normal stoicism on her face. “You know, you don’t have to be here for this. I know you two were close. I can let you know what I find.” She paused. “Sometimes it’s hard to find out that you didn’t know someone as well as you thought you did.”


“Story of my life.  Show me what she had.”


Statzia paused for a brief moment and then nodded. “Let’s start with her logs.” Statzia returned to the initial window that she opened, listing all of the crew sessions. She skimmed as she scrolled. Finally, her fingers stopped, pointing to a log from just after their return from shore leave. “We don’t have any crew members named Wolf. Not even a civilian.”


“So it’s a nickname. Sounds like someone who stalks or is dangerous.”


“And she stored the information in the crew log files.” Statzia tapped at the keyboard. “But this isn’t attached to any crew records, and isn’t linked to any Starfleet personnel file. Whoever it is, they aren’t Starfleet, or even Federation, based on the communications.” Statzia clicked and opened the file.

Millie appeared on the monitor, curled up in the desk chair, cradling a mug in her hands. “Mister Wolf came to see me in my office. It always worries me when he shows up unannounced. I still haven’t been able to figure out how he’s been getting access to my personal movements or my schedule, but he seemed to know when I was planning on being on shore leave, and when I was going to be in the office.” Millie gave a quiet sigh. “He was more…insistent this time, even though I’ve made it clear that I need to put personal and professional boundaries in place. I’m beginning to think that I need to break things off, but I know what’s at stake if I do. He’s too dangerous to just end things with, and I don’t think he’d accept my refusal if I did.” Millie lifted the mug as if she was going to take a sip of whatever was inside, but it never made it to her lips. “I’m afraid that if I end things, that he’ll come after them. He’s already threatened to seek out Evelyn, and I have no doubt that he’d come after Patricia as well…but now he knows I have a daughter. I was trying to keep that information from him, but it slipped out when I came into the office late…and now he knows.” Millie opened her mouth as if she were going to say something else, but seemed to change her mind. She sat in silence for half a minute before finally saying “Computer, end log” and the screen went back to the list again.


Statzia scrolled up. “That’s the last log for Mr. Wolf before her transporter accident. Did she ever tell you that she felt like she was in danger?”


Patricia’s face was full concern. “No, she never mentioned any of this.  And she put herself in danger thinking she could protect me.”  She began to pace. “And he’s still out there, whoever he is.”


Statzia scrolled down the screen. “There are dozens of logs. They go back over four years. All marked as ‘Wolf’.”


“She never told me…I could have done something, I could have ended him.” A tone she’d lost began to bubble up, it felt familiar and welcoming.


“From what I’ve seen, and what I’ve read in her file, I think the Counselor is one of the more capable combatants on this ship, and her recent marksmanship test was far above what is typical of a Starfleet officer.” Statzia opened one of the earlier logs. “I think that, if she’d wanted to, she would have ended his life a long time ago.”


“Okay not backpatting but I did train her well. If he’s a threat and he was here…in this room….why not just kill him?  She knew damn well I’d help her cover it up. Why keep this game going?”


Statzia furrowed her brow. “In this room?” She backed out of the Counselor’s notes and went back to the list of communication logs. “That’s what the communication files are!” She slid the chair back quickly, almost running into Patricia. “Computer, lights full!” The rest of the office was soon illuminated, and she strode around the office, examining the ceiling.


Patricia squinted.  “A little warning?”


Statzia stopped, staring up at one point. “There.” She gestured with her finger. “There’s a holoemitter in her ceiling.”


Patricia walked over, looking up. “We’ve had those installed in the last ship upgrade, part of the system that may work for your friend on the shuttle to stretch her legs.”


Statzia shook her head. “This one isn’t like the ones in my office or my quarters. This one is grey. The new ones are black.”


Patricia pulled a chair over and stood on it to get a closer look. “Yea…,so how does someone get another piece of equipment on the ship?”


Statzia looked up at Patricia, her arms folded across her chest. “Someone has to have it installed. And before our last retrofit, the only place we had holoemitters was sickbay, the holodeck, and the Bridge.”


“And a whole team of engineers came aboard and expanded that system. So maybe Wolf was one of them.”


Statzia perched herself on the armrest of one of the chairs. “I’m not so sure. Her last log said that he found her on shore leave and came to her office. It’s unlikely someone like that would be the kind of person to do the dirty work themselves.” She thought for a moment. “There’s the possibility there might be other similar incoming communications. If the counselor was being followed…”


“Is all of this even applicable?  I mean Wolf, the holo….what if it doesn’t explain what happened to her.  This seems like a rabbit hole we’ll never understand.”


Statzia gave a quiet sigh. “Patricia, I think the transporter really was just that…an accident.” She gave a brief glance back to the console on the desk. “The Counselor spent the last four years protecting the people she loved, and that included you. Maybe what we should be focusing on right now is how to keep the people she loved safe in her absence.”


“Whoever this Wolf is, wherever he is, he’s a deadman.”