Desai pinged the URL again. As before, nothing came in response. It couldn’t be the network. He had direct links to a couple of constellations. Each on their own could receive from anywhere on the Earth’s surface. But together they acted much like the Internet in that if one failed then the others would seamlessly replace. No it wasn’t them. It must be the ground station.
The ground stations were simple antenna dishes connected to simple receivers and decoders. For security, they were air gapped. A person with the right access could interact with any ground station of Desai’s private network. But each person with access had certain restrictions. The restrictions allowed them to utilize only prescriptive capabilities. Such as, only some could access the World Wide Web. And only via a transponder on the Moon’s surface. They had no direct connection to the Earth’s Net.
Desai had been a bit over-the-top when designing the security for his network. But, it’s proven its worth many times over. Just a few weeks ago his agent in Hyderabad had provided a perverse and somewhat salacious account of government bureaucrats who spent all their time auditing transcripts of supposed private conversations. These bureacrats had contacted his agent regarding a shipment of rice coming in from Africa that had imaginatively been described as pure genetic contortions. While this description may have been true, neither the agent nor Desai wanted the government to know. So the agent had to make a story about meaning geriatric not genetic. As well he had to feign innocence on all things of recombinant biology. From this, Desai’s agent learnt to never discuss business on any public electronic media platform.
Perhaps more disturbing for Desai is that this wasn’t the first time. Recently he’d been told that one of his sites in Brasilia had been steamrolled. Quite literally. Apparently someone had resolved a grudge by compressing their enemy’s car into a heap about an inch high. And then they kept driving the steam roller into the adjacent building which housed Desai’s ground station. On the surface, Desai thought little of the loss and he attributed no blame. His ground stations were fairly inexpensive and readily constructed almost anywhere. However, there was always some explaining to do when authorities asked about the antenna dish. Desai had begun thinking that there may be some order to this destruction. As if a malevolent intent had identified him as a target.
While debating on trying to ping a third time, Desai thought again about the construction on the Moon’s north pole. It had continued apace. Maybe a little slower than before. But the big change had been the appearance of a satellite orbiting the Moon. The satellite didn’t seem to have any function. It seemed mostly a frame. The surprising thing was that something had been seen to travel from the frame to the north pole site and apparently back to the frame. It may be an autonomous transfer vehicle. Either bringing something from the north pole site to the frame or from the frame to the north pole site. It had happened only once. But it had demonstrated a capability that they didn’t have on their southern site. Desai wondered if somehow there was an association between the owners of the north pole site and the ongoing destruction of his network.
Perhaps the owners of the north pole site viewed the south pole installation as a threat. They may be targeting anything and everything related to the south pole’s habitation efforts. Including his on-Earth activities.
Desai was frustrated. And worried. He had yet to identify the people responsible for the construction at the Moon’s north pole. He knew the companies making the components and the facilities used to fabricate and launch the space vehicles. But he didn’t know the source of the funds. And this worried him. Immensely. He tried to ping once more without any luck. He set the communicator to repeatedly try connecting regularly for the next 24 hours. If still no response then he would have to acknowledge the loss of a second ground station. Though he would send a ground agent to confirm. Desai greatly disliked not knowing; not getting immediate answers. He hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come.