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At last, the day had finally come for the tour.  While that date hadn’t panned out as well as I hoped it would, it afforded me a bit more free time to brush up on my html code that I’d learned a bit of while managing a forum for roleplaying when I was in my early teen years.  Things were quite a bit different than back then, but the core idea was still the same.  Still, putting glittery graphics on everything wasn’t the same as hacking, but I had to try.

When I got to the tour, they had us go through the usual security and sign-in procedures as anyone in today’s society would.  After we got past that phase, the guides lead the group of about twenty people up to the office, where we got to see the laboratories that didn’t have classified projects going on, a few of the conference rooms, the marketing department, and the CEO’s office.  Along the way, a few people asked questions, and thankfully one did as we were exiting Innis’ office, or else I couldn’t have slipped back into there to do what was needed.

I found it somewhat odd that she wasn’t at the office, but it was more fortuitous for me.  The work computer entry, however, wasn’t as good of a situation.  I tried so many passwords that I thought would work, but ended up denied at every turn.  I was just about to give up, when I slammed my hand on the desk drawer.  It hurt, but it made a compartment I didn’t see on the printer stand pop out.

Curious, I pulled it out more to find a laptop in sleep mode.  It was unlocked, which is either arrogant or unusual for this day and age, and had a file pulled up for a spreadsheet of human trafficking numbers.  It was the evidence I was looking for!  I knew I had to work quickly now, for the tour guides had probably started looking for me.  I copied everything I could about the trafficking business–numbers, emails, addresses, dates, pricing, pictures, even a audio recording that looked suspicious–onto the flash drive I had brought with me.  Once I got what I could, and listened to that danger sense I’d acquired since obtaining the collar, and put the laptop back where and how I found it.  Then I hightailed it out of there and headed towards one of the bathrooms.  The lady guide found me not five minutes after I’d gone in.  I’d made an excuse about having something for dinner the night before not agreeing with my innards, and her objections to my disappearance dropped.  She lead me back to the group, where they talked about a reveal of their newest project to the public and invited us to attend.  Most were noncommittal, but a few of the group said they would come.

Once the tour let out, I did a few stops on my way home to make sure I wasn’t being followed, and was finally able to peruse the information on the flash drive at my leisure.  Thank goodness I had an old laptop that took flash drives and didn’t connect to the internet, because otherwise I think that one of the photos would have net tagged me and I would’ve been an easy target.  Even the disapproving hawk that now sat outside in the apartment garden trees couldn’t take down my relief.

I will spare the details of what happened next, but in retrospect I had time to burn until the public reveal, which I had decided would be the reveal of her side business as well, and wanted to put some pressure on her.  I ended up hitting a few of the “storefronts”–as she’d labeled them–freeing the women (and a few men, in one of the places) and tying up the operators in the fashion of their now freed product.  At the last one, I was able to have an interesting conversation with an FBI agent about my motives and gave him a copy of the flash drive I’d made (sans trace picture) before being accosted most of the way back home by the unapproving hawk.  Thankfully, he didn’t care for the SRA guys that were sure to show up once a report of a super was on the wire, but he did give me a choice and a number to call once I’d made that choice.

It was a week before the reveal when I called the number.  Special Agent Brenner answered the line, and we talked for a while.  He made me a deal–tell him who the suspect I had was and testify in court against them, and he would feed me information to other cases that were baffling his guys under the table, with the promise to help him out on said cases from time to time.  I tried to get him to have the SRA kept off my back, but he couldn’t do it.  I accepted, but reserved the right to refuse if my own load was too heavy.  We then coordinated to what would go down at the reveal, and that damn hawk then knocked the phone out of my hand.  It also tried to get into my apartment too that time, but I was too quick for it.  It ended up leering at me from the balcony and pooping on my downstairs neighbors’ plants.

Hawk or no hawk, it was almost time for midterms.  The final showdown too, but I had to study for my tests.  Taking down a crime ring lady would be easy compared to tests, I thought at the time.  I wouldn’t need to train for that.

Ah, how naïve I was.