Reverend Sister Monica finished her sermon for the day to the humming chorus of amens. Today was a special day, and every nun in the Order of Sacred Secrets knew what that meant: their piety was about to be tested. The assembly began to break up as nuns stood and mingled before returning to their duties. Monica went through a side door on the pulpit and sat at her desk, waiting for the sisters she had assigned to the test this time around.
The Order cruised around the galaxy in a large, village-class ship. There was room enough for over a thousand nuns, though they kept their numbers below 300 and used the extra rooms for other purposes. None save the nuns were allowed on board. At this moment they approached a broker for the Galactic Alliance though they did so in stealth.
Sister Dahlia and Daughter Cynthia knocked, then entered the office, inclining their heads to the Reverend Sister. Dahlia was strong, both physically and in the faith, and in her thirties. A good mentor and teacher, which was why she was assigned to five Daughters, including Cynthia. Cynthia, on the other hand, was barely a woman; what she lacked in physical maturity, however, she made up for in a dark and serious demeanor. The older nun spoke up.
“Reverend Sister, we have come as bid. Is it right to assume that we will be the infiltration team for this special day?”
Monica’s mouth tightened in what could have been a smile or a grimace. The wizened woman’s brown skin belied her age, but her manner was enough to command the respect of her crew. “Yes.”
The younger nuns sat in the chairs in front of Monica’s desk, uninvited. It was both a sacred and difficult duty they were being charged with. The Order needed to ensure its longevity, and in order to do so, it generally needed one of two things: members, or cash. As they’d recently inducted about 20 new girls to learn their ways and introduced 10 of the previous group as Daughters, there was no way this mission was about recruitment.
Cynthia cleared her throat then ran a hand through her red hair. “Beggin’ your pardon Sister and Reverend Sister, but my trainin’ ain’t complete. I dunno our techniques to…”
“…to the satisfaction of your schoolmarm, I know,” Monica interrupted. “However, Sister Dahlia here has talked to me of your prowess in the arts of subtlety and subterfuge. I do believe, my dear Daughter, that you have greater potential than you let on or know.” It was the most the Reverend Mother had ever talked to Cynthia or anyone who held the rank of Daughter or Initiate. She turned to Dahlia, whose dark skin burned with a blush at the attention.
“Now, Dahlia, Cynthia. Our target is a broker for the GA. This means a certain standard and set of expectations for security…” over the course of the next hour the old crone lectured the nuns on what they could expect. Their mission was simple: infiltrate the broker, steal box 246A, and return to the nuns without detection or incident. In their 600 year history, the nunnery had never been caught, but that was because they had certain tricks up their sleeves.
“Are there any questions? No? Good. Now, let me see you both shift.” Monica said. Dahlia and Cynthia rose and both clasped their hands in front of them, offering up prayers to the divine. As they did so, Dahlia began to disappear from existence, at first seeming insubstantial and whispy before disappearing altogether. Cynthia did not disappear but rather changed. Her shock of red hair turned auburn and her skin darkened slightly, freckles disappearing. The robes she wore seemed to shift, becoming the average spacing gear that most women pilots would wear. She altered the shape of her face to match that of a photograph Monica had pushed across the desk.
“Good. Very good.” Monica stood and extended a hand in the general direction where Dahlia had been before. After pumping the air, she turned to Cynthia and shook her hand as well. “The Order needs that box. Good luck on your mission.”
The two nuns were successful, of course. On their return, the ship (which was literally registered as The Nunnery) flew away from the station far enough to go into faster than light travel. Once it entered FTL, the nuns who had been praying over the hull ceased and the ship became visible to scanners and the naked eye again; but they were long gone from the broker and had theoretically never been there at all. In the box was a rare and prized metal, which a fence was already in the process of finding a buyer for.
Sometimes they did worse than petty theft, but mostly the sisters kept to themselves, praying and studying their religious secrets. Maybe someday they would re-enter into civilization proper, but so far their lives as parasites and symbiotes worked just fine.