Chapter 29 – Case Closed (Part III)


Elaine walked over and took the phone from him, once unlocked and the cryptography on the phone broken she could easily use the Enoch at her hip to access the active storage on the phones. A moment later and she had what she needed from her entire team’s set of cryptophones.

“Yes. They’re all green,” she said. “There was no malware.”

David shook his head. “I don’t get it. Why did you have us do that if there’s no malware. You can’t determine who did it.”

“Determining who did it was easy,” Elaine said. “You did it.”

Susan took a long, hard look at David and then tipped the cryptophone in Elaine’s hand down. “His phone turned green like everyone elses?”

“That was a trick to get you all to unlock your phones for me. The encryption method that I used on all of them was so solid that even I couldn’t easily hack them in the time we had in this meeting, so I had you all make them vulnerable for me.” Elaine pointed at the blank screen on the side of the computer lab and the projector hummed to life. A moment later six document images appeared with names beneath each of them—the image from Brad’s smartphone materialized on the screen.

The partially blurred document moved over each of the displayed documents until it came to rest on the one marked with David Dalton’s name and displayed the word “MATCH.”

David swallowed.

“I already had some proof that it was you,” Elaine said. “Because the header section of all these is marked with barely visible digits that told me that the stolen document came from the document that Roger here had shown to you specifically. However, someone else could have taken a picture of your document and delivered it that way. I have just proven this is not the case. Mr. Dalton. You are the spy.”

“I suspect that you’ve been trading the secrets every time you get coffee. In fact, there’s a direct correlation to you joining the rest of the group with a cup of iced coffee and the releases from the spy,” Elaine said. “If someone were to investigate, I think we’ll find your partner, or partners, work at the Starbucks stand on the north side of campus.”

Zane walked slowly from his place with his team until he was facing David. The two men were about the same height, with similar builds, but Zane looked entirely underdressed standing next to David in his lawyer-going-to-court styled business suit. Susan and Russell moved away from the pair as Zane exhaled and shook his head.

“Why?” he asked.

David worked his jaw and rubbed his hands together, his eyes had taken on a slightly wild look as he glanced at the door. He set down his coffee on the table next to him and backed subtly away from Zane’s intense stare.

“They paid me,” David said.

With that admission the rest of the room moved almost like a pack of wolves. Even Brad’s team quit their side of the room to move into a semicircle around Dalton’s trapped and shrinking form. Elaine and Frog did not move—only watched. Zane stopped their advance with a gesture, a single finger in the air.

“Tell me who and how much and you can go. No one will stop you.”

David looked at Susan and Casey—who had managed to flank him. Then directly at Elaine and Frog with a defeated but defiant expression. “Another DarkNet team…they’re team three. They paid me a thousand dollars for the information and I figured that I could sell it to other teams.”

“You tried to sell us out, you bastard,” Susan said, clenching her fist.

“You should go now,” Zane said. “Susan, move aside.”

Without a word, her jaw held tightly shut, Susan slid out of his way and David took no time to walk quickly to the door. The room remained tense and silent until the hiss of the closing mechanism was punctuated with the rattled and click of the door locking itself.

“David?” Russell said. “I would not have guessed. He’s pre-law. You’d think he’d know better.”

“Well at least we got him,” Brad said, clapping Zane on the shoulder.

“Another cheater caught, ey Elaine,” Casey Vargas said. “I think that you’ve probably saved the day a dozen times by now. Too bad we’re about to become opponents again. The last comm instructions are here and I think now that this is over…we should audios.”

“Thanks guys, and thank you Brad,” Zane said, shaking the other student’s hand with gusto. “May the best team win.”

“May we win indeed,” Brad said, tossing the package he had into the air and catching it again.

With a few goodbyes the other team filtered slowly out of the room.

Elaine nodded to herself as Zane’s DarkNet team filed themselves into chairs to wait for the Flashdrive to be inserted.

Impatiently, Frog shouldered Zane out of the way and looked down at her shorter friend. “So…what’s the verdict?”

“We have successfully ended the ‘cheating ring’ that was causing Dean Harwood problems for his department, thwarted a cheating attempt gone awry, and even caught a spy in an alternate-reality game,” Elaine said. “Case closed.”

Yes!” Frog jumped into the hair, her green hair flailing everywhere as she pumped her fists as if she were holding pom-poms on a football field.

“Good job, sis,” Zane said. “You’ll have to fill me in on everything—”

“Are we going to run the comm?” Russell asked. “I want to beat those bastards.”

“Me too,” Susan said.

Zane shrugged. “Well, you’ll have to fill me in after we trounce Brad’s team in this final contest.” He unwrapped the Flashdrive and put it into the tablet.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”


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