"So you're telling me," Mayor Vaughan asked, "that Talley Water Company had a work order from the City of Greensboro to install these things in the aquatic center-- is that what I'm hearing?"
"That's what I'm saying, Madam Mayor," Detective Steed answered.
"So who ordered them?" Mayor Vaughan asked.
"Our computers ordered them," Mark replied. "That is, the City's computers ordered them after someone hacked into the City's computers and told them to order them. Talley got an e-mail telling them that a special filter system was being required by the United States Olympic Committee and as soon as the filters arrived at Talley's dock they installed them and sent the City a bill."
"Have we paid it?" Mayor Vaughan asked.
"Not yet," City Manager Jim Westmoreland answered.
"Are we going to pay it?" the Mayor asked.
"Well," City Attorney Tom Carruthers answered, "As Talley Water Company acted in good faith and there was no way they could know the work orders and e-mails were forged I think we have no choice but to pay it."
"And what about the cost of the filtration system itself," the Mayor asked, "are we going to pay for that as well?"
"Actually," Detective Steed answered, "the City paid $100,000 for that the day it was ordered six months ago."
"You mean to tell me," Mayor Vaughan exclaimed, "that the City of Greensboro is financing terrorist attacks against the City without our knowing we've been doing so?"
"Exactly," Chief Scott answered. "And it gets even worse. We have no idea of how long he's been buying this stuff or how much he's bought."
"So how do we follow the money?" Mayor Vaughan asked.
Everyone in the room looked at one another for an answer that was never to come.
It was warm for early December. The annual Festival of Lights had gone off without a hitch. It had been weeks since there had been any incidents and things were finally getting back to normal.
Over 90,000 people had gathered along the parade route for the annual Greensboro Holiday Parade and the floats, marching bands, antique fire trucks, veterans groups, classic car clubs and others were just beginning their march down Greene Street as the parade got under way.
The sun was shining brightly as majorettes twirled their batons and Cakalak Thunder, Greensboro's radical drum corps beat their drums, danced in the streets and waved their banners for their latest cause. Hope was in the air.
But hope wasn't the only thing that was in the air.
Roughly 5 miles east of downtown Greensboro, dozens of tiny airplanes-- autonomous drones-- were lifting off and flying straight towards downtown Greensboro.
A North Carolina State Trooper first spotted them as they flew above East Market Street as he was pulling out of the Highway Patrol station headed east. He called in, spun his car around and clocked them at 60 miles per hour with his RADAR gun. The Greensboro Police Department had less than 2 minutes notice to stop the parade and evacuate over 90,000 people from downtown Greensboro. An evacuation that wasn't going to happen.
As the drones got closer in they divided up and started following different streets to different points along the parade route. As the drones flew nearer officers drew their weapons and began to fire but few flying at 60 miles per hour were hit.
The few that were hit exploded in the air scattering tiny pellets like shotgun pellets-- bird shot. The others exploded at or just before they impacted the ground sending pellets in every direction through the crowds.
People panicked, began running in every direction trampling over children and old people. Some of the people driving in the parade drove right through the crowds to make their escape. Everywhere people were screaming and children were crying.
Despite the fact that Greensboro and Guilford County EMS have long resisted the use of medevac helicopters, dozens of helicopters from other counties had to be flown in to take patients to emergency rooms in Winston-Salem, High Point, Chapel Hill, Durham, Danville and Raleigh. Every available ambulance was put to use as local emergency rooms overflowed.
At the end of the day, 213, mostly children, were dead and over 1000 injured.
It was believed the cost of insuring the next year's holiday parade would mean no more parades.
Please continue reading Chapter VII. Blood Flows And Tears Fall