Asiya was lounging in shorts, while her sister Mariam wore jeans, a shapeless sweatshirt, and a hijab. They talked back and forth in clipped tones, too fast for Ellison to understand, before turning to their computers.

“…well?” he said after a moment.

“Well,” said Asiya, without looking up as her fingers flew. “Do you wanna guess why we’ve got the reputation we do?”

Ellison shrugged. “Your father wanted boys, I guess,” he smirked.

“Wrong,” said Mariam, her voice and keyboard tapping all but indistinguishable from her twin. “He always said he hoped for daughters because women are smarter than men, and he was a mathematics chair at Princebridge so he knew his 0s from his 1s.”

“Well, you see, I was just jok-”

“So we’ve had a lot of experience in a nurturing environment, okay?” Asiya continued. “And you know that they say about two heads being better than one; sissy and I are on the same wavelength.”

“Even though I don’t like how you wear your hair,” Mariam said.

“And how I don’t like how you wear your scarf,” Asiya replied.

“And how your girlfriends are all bimbos,” Mariam shot back.

“Let’s not forget your ex-husband the janitor,” said Asiya.

“You don’t believe in anything you can’t see.”

“And you’re convinced gods and fairies are moving the ones for you instead of inconvenienced electrons.”

Ellison was just about to intervene in the squabble when both ladies slapped their keyboards and looked up. “Done!” they said in unison.

“And? Well?” Ellison said eagerly.

“Rijndael cipher with a 256-bit key,” Mariam said.

“Unbreakable without brute force attacks.” her twin added.

“Well, brute-force it then,” said Ellison. “I’ll wait.

“Do you have six weeks to a year to get into this?” said Asiya.

“I have about two days.”

“Then we’ve got good news and bad news,” Mariam said. “The bad news is that a 256-bit AES password can’t be brute-forced in that time unless we get really, really lucky. The good news is that doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah,” Asiya said. “Whoever bought this encryption did an awful job of implementing it. It’s like putting a thumbprint lock on a wooden door. The password is just a gate to access plaintext on a hidden partition of the drive.”

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