Two

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After being read the note, everyone was silent for a minute. Alvin seemed to be in deep thought as Melissa and I tried to determine whether or not this was the real deal. It was hard to believe.

How in the world would Victoria have been able to find Melissa, discover where she was living, trace my computer's IP address and do it all while being held captive?

I mean, I knew she was intelligent but that would be... other-worldly.

"Do you really think this is her?" I asked Alvin. "Do you think it's really Victoria?"

Al stood from my desk and swallowed hard. There was a look in his eyes that told me there was more to this message than he was letting in on. He knew something we didn't.

"Y-Yes," he stammered. "But this message... it makes it all real."

Melissa moved closer to me as we tried to determine what the hell he was talking about.

"It makes what real?"

"Everything," he whispered.

When he finally snapped out of his daze, he saw that we were genuinely confused.

"Hackers like Victoria and I... there are very few of us, and for a reason," Al revealed. "It was about a year ago when some guy made a claim, or more of a conspiracy theory, to the hacker community that he had been a tech hired by some of our top government officials to do exactly what this note explained."

The air was still.

"He said that there were people in our government, and in our military, that were planning on starting another world war." Al looked up at us. "Then, after just a few hours, the video was gone and this guy just... disappeared."

After the past few months, I no longer believed in coincidences. Now, I believed everything had a reason for happening, and this instance was no different.

"After the guy disappeared we wrote it off as a hoax, but... if this is Victoria, and what she's saying is true..." Alvin paused. "Then that guy wasn't lying."

"And it's possible that man was killed for doing exactly what Victoria just did," Melissa included, pointing to the decoded letter.

Alvin just nodded.

My heart pounded in my chest. Suddenly everything was a lot more serious now that Alvin had barged into our lives and started making these accusations. But was it true? Was this really what they had wanted Victoria for all along?

"Is that why you need that external-drive?" Melissa asked. "Because there's something on there that has to do with this?"

Alvin's eyes were locked on the crime board I had made for Anna's case, which stood behind me. I could tell he wanted to ask about it.

"That's what I'm starting to believe," he answered. "Like I said, I never got the chance to look at it. But Victoria never did anything without a damn good reason."

My hand continued to play with the key card in my jacket pocket. The key card that could grant us access to anything in the NIA building. Including the evidence room.

I looked at Melissa, who seemed to be thinking the same thing I was.

"Let's say we do get you that drive," I continued. "What are you willing to do for us?"

He took in a deep breath.

"Anything," he replied. "Whatever you need."

That's when he walked up to the board on the other side of the room. He studied the red yarn and looked back at me.

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