One of the main reasons Roberto Gonzalez had been mayor for 20 years was he understood that to be a good mayor, he had to be a good politician.
For the mayor, politics were the means to an end. He made Angelica Lewis his deputy mayor because she was very good at politics, but sometimes he wondered whether she was more interested in winning than accomplishing good for the city and its citizens. Gonzalez wished she was as good an administrator as she was a political strategist, but he had a good team of department heads that had been with him for years. They knew when they could make their own decisions and when they had to kick matters upstairs.
Gonzalez was reluctant to tell Lewis about Emilio Vasquez’s suspicions that Wayne Robotics was behind the mystery of the disappearing water. Her first reaction, the mayor knew, would be to come up with a million ideas about how to use the issue against Mia Brown in the upcoming election. She always had ideas, but Gonzalez never knew which ones she really wanted to pursue and which ones were just the product of thinking out loud.
He needed help. How could he investigate Wayne Robotics and keep it a secret? He could trust Vasquez, who knew the intricacies of the water utility and the rivers as well as anyone. But he knew the police chief, Cash Corrillo, couldn’t keep a secret. He remembered the old joke about the three best ways to spread the word across Fort Wayne: Television, telephone and tell a Cash.
The mayor knew he needed an outside consultant/investigator who was trustworthy, fast and discreet. He had no idea where to start, but Lewis would know. He had to tell her.
And she didn’t disappoint. By midday Nov. 14, 2062, just two days after Vasquez shared his suspicions with the mayor, Gonzalez was sitting in a remote conference room at Kekionga Optics with Lewis, Vasquez and Miles Armstrong, the consultant Lewis chose. Gonzalez also invited Sadie Palmer, the CEO of Kekionga Optics, who he thought was one of the best minds in the city.
Armstrong had been security chief for the Great Lakes compact from 2042 until 2060, and he was still a consultant for the compact. Illegal attempts to steal water from the lakes began in earnest by the early 2030s. Armstrong had seen it all. All manners of pumps, underwater pipes, high-tech surface water siphons, fishing boats that threw out the fish and kept the water – every month, it seemed, someone came up with a new gimmick.
As the weather got weirder, the climate got warmer and the demand for water kept increasing, the stakes kept rising. Armed water wildcatters would pull their tanker trucks up to the lakes and start pumping water, shooting anyone who tried to stop them. A native of Holland, Mich., Armstrong had studied geology and hydrology at Michigan State University, and his first job was with the Army Corps of Engineers. But he got bored and decided to go from the Army Corps to the regular Army, and one of his first assignments was several missions to protect the Mediterranean from terrorists. After he took classes on water security from Israeli commandos, Armstrong’s commanders urged him to join the Special Forces. Two years later, he started the first Special Forces Water Protection Squad.
Lewis could not have found a better hired gun.