Chapter 29 – Case Closed (Part II)

«      »

Frog smirked and passed a finger through some curling green hairs dripping down her bangs. “I know everyone is anxious to get this over with,” she said. “But we just need to wait a little longer for David and Russell to get here.”

A knock at the door to Elaine’s lab and Frog opened it to admit Russell Murphy and David Dalton. Russell smiled at Frog as he walked past, drawing a pinched look from Ben Osborn—from Brad’s side of the room. David sauntered past with a cub of coffee in his hands marked with the Starbucks logo emblazoned on the side.

“We were delayed because David needed a cappuccino,” Russell explained as he took up a position next to Zane.

“Looks like both gangs are all here,” Zane said.

Frog tapped Elaine on the shoulder and she switched off the data visualization in her goggles. With a practiced motion, she pushed her goggles onto her forehead and replaced her spectacles.

“Brad Wright,” she said. “Please let everyone know why we are here and we’ll get on with this meeting.”

“Sure.” Brad stepped away from his side and into the center of attention. He pulled a smartphone out of his back pocket and pressed a few buttons. “About ten minutes ago, my team received another invitation to pay $100 to some unknown person to receive updates on information about Zane’s team. Same as last time, it was $100 by the end of day or the information would go away.”

Nervous coughs echoed through the room as he turned, looking at each member of his and Zane’s team in turn. In a rare show of sensitivity to the gravity of the situation, Adam Roach extinguished the light on his Bluetooth headset. He frowned back at Zane when his eyes fell on him.

“We’ve known for a while that there’s a spy and that spy is someone in this room. So we came up with a plan to catch him—or her.”

“You didn’t pay them, did you?” Adam Roach said. “That would probably be a losing proposition and play right into their hands. It doesn’t make good business sense. Plus, if you got caught paying them you could get disqualified from the game.”

“No. We did not pay them,” Brad said. “What I did do is contact them again and ask for proof that they had the information we wanted, and I received this.”

He held up his smartphone and passed it by everyone in both teams. On the screen was the topmost part of a document with an ASU letterhead and the rest blurred beyond recognition. As each person looked at it they nodded in recognition: it was one of the documents they had loaded into their phones during the weekend from the operation they’d run together at the Student Administration Building.

Operation Honeypot. Elaine had called it—but the participants in Zane’s team did not know that.

“So they picked up info from the last comm,” Susan Pilgrim said. “And they’re hoping to sell it so that someone else can solve our clue without our help?”

Zane nodded. “The spy has been doing a good job of getting our clues and trying to sell them to the other groups. I’ve reached out to the other groups to make sure they don’t try to buy it either. But I think this proves that the spy is in fact getting real, actionable information.”

“And that spy is in the room with us now,” Susan said. Not a question: a straight blank statement. She looked left and right at the other members of her team.

Russell frowned. “I don’t like where this is going either.”

“Frog,” Elaine said and gestured to her friend. “Please let Roger into the room. I think he’s been waiting in the hall for a little too long at this point.”

Frog trotted to the door and pulled it open. When nobody entered, she poked her head out and waved franticly. After she pulled it further open, Roger’s lanky frame slid through the door and walked into the room. He waved as he walked past as gasps and grunts of recognition echoed from those present.

“The whole affair at the Student Administration Building was a ruse,” Elaine said. “A honeypot operation to catch the spy.”

“Who is it?” Susan said abruptly. “If you know, why the production?”

David Dalton just finished a sip of his coffee. “She’s drawing it out for dramatic effect.”

“I don’t quite know yet,” Elaine said, “but we’re about to find out. Everyone take out your cryptophones and turn them on. The documents loaded into them from the honeypot operation have been tagged with malware which will turn your screen blue if you transferred them off.”

Suddenly every cryptophone in the room had been pulled out and turned on. A few keytaps later and each of Zane’s team were staring at their screens and scratching their heads.

Susan and Russell immediately flipped their phones around to show that the screens remained the standard green hue that the cryptophones always displayed. Benjamin Miller quickly also displayed his phone. Zane, of course, didn’t even look at his phone before displaying it to the room. Adam Roach looked at Susan, Russell, and Ben then displayed his phone with amusement. The only person who didn’t immediately flourish his phone was David Dalton, he glared at the screen for a long moment.

“David?” Frog said and walked over to him. “You’re the only one still not showing your phone.”

“It’s green,” he said suddenly and displayed it along with the others.

«      »

About this entry