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Lupo, who had been slouching tiredly against the door, straightened; Salazar leaned forward. “How can you tell?” Salazar asked.
“There are fragments,” Beck responded. “I mean—there’s enough here to prove that Cutter did report something at that address … uh, yeah; it’s a—a meth lab.” He shook his head. “The only people who have access to delete something from the servers….”
“Why would they go to the trouble to delete the record from the servers and not optimize it to get rid of the fragments?” Lupo wondered aloud.
“Because they didn’t think anyone would look this far,” Salazar responded grimly.
“Or they thought they’d have warning,” Lupo extended. He took a short breath. “I wonder if….” He trailed off and shook his head. “Can you tell when it was deleted?”
“Sure. It’s time stamped.” Beck glanced back at Lupo. “No sweat.”
“Beck, can you make a copy of this?” Salazar asked.
Beck nodded. “Sure. I can back it up.”
Lupo produced a flash drive from his pocket. “A mobile copy might be better—one they can’t access.”
Beck blinked. After a moment, he took the flash drive and plugged it into the computer.
“You carry a flash drive with you?” Salazar asked quietly, and Lupo nodded.
“When I was in Pakistan … you put everything on your flash drive, and then, you guarded that flash drive with your life,” Lupo replied. “I don’t feel right without it.”
Salazar smiled wryly. “Good thing. Maybe I’ll have to pick up that habit.”
“Done,” Beck reported, and handed the flash drive back. “I … also made a backup on the server. It’s encrypted….”
Salazar cocked an eyebrow at Beck. “Would encryption stop you?”
Beck’s face fell. “Uh … maybe they won’t notice.”
Lupo almost chuckled. “Thanks, Beck,” he said, and pocketed the flash drive. He pushed off the wall.
“Can you, uh, keep my name out of this?” Beck asked plaintively. Lupo, his hand on the doorknob, froze and traded looks with Salazar.
“We can try,” Salazar replied doubtfully. “But the chances are that we’ll need you to authenticate the file.”
Beck looked down. “I don’t want to lose my job.”
“Why would you lose your job for doing your job?” Lupo asked blankly.
“Well….” Beck exhaled nervously. “If it was … you know, my lieutenant or somebody who erased the entries in the first place….”
“By the time anyone needs you, whoever erased the entries will be in custody,” Salazar assured him.
Beck gave him a look reminiscent of a deer caught in the headlights.
“McCoy ordered us to investigate,” Salazar continued. “If we lose, and that’s a big if, as long as we do this right … if we lose, and if you get fired, McCoy would be happy to have you join the DA’s squad and keep doing what you’re doing now.”
Beck didn’t really look reassured.
Link to [Part 23]