“Greetings Ambassador X,” the guard said. “What can I do for you?”

“Just Pilot, Guard– a–”

“Henta. Guard Henta.”

“Henta. Just came to get my things out of Verity,” said Pilot X non-chalantly.

“Oh,” the Guard looked pained. She obviously respected Pilot X and didn’t want to deny him anything. “The Verity is on lockdown right now. Strict orders from the council. Nobody allowed in or out.”

“Understandable,” Pilot X said with an easy smile. “And I won’t touch her controls. Just need to get my stuff out.”

“I’m sorry,” Guard Henta said slowly. “I’m not allowed to make exceptions.”

Pilot X frowned. It was a friendly frown. The frown you have for a friend who’s in a hard position. “You’re not allowed to break regulations either.”

“Exactly,” Guard Henta said relaxing.

“And one regulation says you’re not allowed to store things for unassigned personnel in unassigned capsules, right?”

Guard Henta unrelaxed. “Yes, that’s true.”

“So if you don’t let me get my things, you’re essentially letting me store them in the Verity.”

“I see what you’re saying, but–”

“I know,” Pilot X shook his head. “It’s unfair that they put people in these situations.”

Guard Henta seemed frozen.

“Just between you and me what are the actual orders restricting Verity?” Pilot X asked.

“Well. No one is allowed to enter, activate, or modify the Verity until further notice. No exceptions.”

“Ah. I don’t have any reason to activate or modify her if I just want to get my things. So I’d only be violating the entry provision. However if I leave my things in there, then I’m violating the entire regulation.”

“I guess so.”

“When did the restriction on Verity come down?”

“Right after I started my rotation.”

“Do you constantly check orders while on duty?”

Guard Henta puffed up a bit. “I make it a point of pride to check in regularly.”

Pilot X inwardly groaned at her pride in obedience. “BUt it’s possoble that orders come in that you don’t see right away.”

She deflated a bit. “I guess so.”

“Could happen to anybody!” he reassured. “You just let me get my stuff, I’ll be gone and you say you saw the orders after I left. Right?”

Guard Henta looked unsure. “I don’t want to lie–”

“And you don’t have to. Just don’t volunteer that you saw the orders before I came. Honestly if I just leave with my stuff and the Verity is locked up tight no one will care.”

“What if something goes wrong?”

“You blame me!” Pilot X said cheerily.

“Oh I wouldn’t want to do that,” Guard Henta looked shocked.

“It’s OK. I can take it. Deal?”

Guard Henta came to a decision and nodded. Pilot X motioned and Alexandra came over to his side.

“Who’s that?” Guard Henta objected.

“I need help carrying things,” Pilot X explained easily.

“Oh right. OK. Make it quick.”

“We will,” Pilot X reassured. They hurried towards Verity. Pilot X felt bad about Guard Henta. She was so sincere. And she would never forgive him.