Miles Armstrong, the ex-Green Beret, may not have officially remained a member of the Special Forces, but he was still a contracted consultant and had access to all the latest technology.
It was Wednesday morning, the day before the Thanksgiving weekend election began. Armstrong walked briskly from his hotel adjoining Grand Wayne Station to Parkview Field.
The personal reconnaissance drone was one of the coolest tools he borrowed from Special Forces. The tiny aircraft – they called it the hummingbird because it was so tiny and quiet – was almost undetectable and could hover above any site of interest.
Hired by Mayor Roberto Gonzalez to find the source of theft of a large portion of the city’s water supply, Armstrong knew where he wanted to aim his ultra-ground-penetrating radar. He traced the line on his Tau map, then synced it to the hummingbird, equipped with a combined radar/camera.
Armstrong walked to third base at Parkview Field. He needed a clear shot to the satellite that would guide his hummingbird. Armstrong loved old ballparks, and this 53-year-old stadium was a beauty, one of the last of its era. Too bad I couldn’t have come here in the summer, he thought as he reached in the backpack, pulled out the hummingbird and pushed a button. The hummingbird flew away, 800 feet toward the Charles Redd train line, what used to be called Pontiac Street.
The previous day, Shelby Loredo and Gonzalez went to Kekionga Dam, which was unguarded. Gonzalez knew a way to get into the control building, but he wasn’t sure how to release water into the river. Between Gonzalez remembering some of the dam controls from when it was built and Loredo’s basic understanding of water, hydraulics and how things work, they released water into the rivers.
Now, on Wednesday morning, Loredo was bicycling along the rivers. She started at Headwaters Park, then followed the St. Marys to the confluence. Water levels were high.
But as she rode east along the Maumee, she could see the level was dropping.
It’s starting to go way down pretty fast after the Black Swamp Trail bridge, she told Armstrong, referring to the rail line once known as Anthony Boulevard.
Armstrong guided the hummingbird north, directing the radar/camera toward the south side of the river. Just past the War Heroes Road, known decades earlier as Coliseum Boulevard, the radar picked up a blip. Armstrong focused the radar, which displayed the pipeline clearly. Liquid was rushing through it toward its destination, right past the end of the Charles Redd line.
Armstrong didn’t know the city well, but when he looked at his Tau, it was clear the pipeline ran from the river to the old International Harvester campus.
The site now occupied by Kekionga Optics.
Just what we thought, Armstrong told Loredo.
Armstrong started to bring the hummingbird home but changed his mind and guided it to about 20 yards above the point it appeared the pipeline ended. Then he walked back to Grand Wayne Station and caught the Redd Line Express.
Security guards at Kekionga Optics were gathered in a circle beside a big storage tank, looking up. A small device was slowly dropping to the ground.
Sadie Palmer, Kekionga’s CEO, walked out of her office to see what was going on. She looked up at the hummingbird, then at the tank. She breathed a big sigh, looked down and began to cry.