A Year and a Half Before the Presidential Election
President Chesterfield paced around the situation room like a caged tiger. He was awaiting word if his forty-billion-dollar top-secret satellite launch had booted up and was ready to protect the entire cyber-infrastructure of the United States. He had made a campaign promise to protect his country from its enemies who continued to hack the information infrastructure every citizen trusted. No more will Americans be influenced and manipulated by countries that hate democracy.
His predecessor, who was convicted of treason, had fled the country and was under the protection of Russia. He had lost all his business holdings and was paying Russia millions of dollars to live there the rest of his life with his daughter and two sons, draining his wealth. What would happen to him when his funds ran out was anyone's guess.
The entire room was filled with the president's closest advisors. They all sat silent their eyes riveted on the eighty-inch monitor.
They had live coverage of their new weapon and were waiting for confirmation that the satellite had booted up.
Chesterfield stopped pacing. He was positioned behind his NSA director Douglas Babcock's chair. His hands were squeezing his director's shoulders tightly. "How long will it take for you to confirm that my weapon has been activated and ready to do its job?"
"Anytime now, sir. I've had one of our weather satellites positioned so we can witness this magnificent event live from one of their high-resolution cameras. This will be historic, sir," he said.
President Chesterfield flopped down in his chair, riveted on every twitch on his NSA Director's face. His presidency and re-election were riding on this satellite’s software to allow the United States to disable any enemy's cyber threats. The tax dollars he had spent he justified was for national security. He had inherited a mess from the previous president, who had refused to allocate enough money to counter Russian and Chinese cyber-attacks into America's election systems and power grids. He had made a commitment to every citizen that he'd defend the country from all threats, and within minutes, his promise was about to be kept.
Chesterfield made bold promises during his campaign run within his first term restore the security systems the United States needed to thwart any cyber attack by any foreign enemy. It had not been easy selling his current idea to Congress. It had been voted down four times. The House of Representatives had a memory loss about their failures with the last administration, blaming him and his administration for not adequately protecting the security of the country he swore to protect and defend. He realized he had to take matters into his own hands and declared a National Emergency, re-allocating funds from the military budget.
Inside the situation room with him and the NSA Director, where his Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, the CIA Director and his Chief of Staff. Congress did not know about this secret project. Failure was not an option he could afford a year and a half before his re-election bid, which every national poll was showing him not doing well. For the president, this would be a game-changer.
He watched the large digital wall clock ticking down. He had two more minutes until his weapon was fully functional. He'd have the ace up his sleeve to help him get re-elected and overcome the impeachment inquiry that had started.
Babcock was rocking back and forth in his chair. He was rubbing his hands together nervously. "Mr. President, this project will be huge for this country. Your administration's war on terrorism will be a big victory for you," he said.
"Not just the war of terrorism," president Chesterfield said, "but our ability to disable weapon testing around the world by our enemies, especially North Korea," he said, his voice calm and resolute. "The NSA will, once again, be this country's eyes and ears, keeping us safe again."
The digital clock continued to tick down...three, two, one. Then, the large monitor went black for a few seconds, as the weather satellite's cameras stopped recording, and the new communications satellite attempted to boot up and become operational.
Babcock was pressing his earbud, listening to a response from Houston. His face turned bedsheet white. He looked at the president and shook his head.
Chesterfield did not know what to make of his reaction. "Speak up. What's happening?"
Babcock's words sputtered out of his mouth. "Sir, we've lost our communication signal. NASA is trying to reboot again, but nothing was happening. Right now, we have a satellite spinning around the earth, and we do not have any control over it," he said, blotting his forehead with a napkin.
"What the fuck does this mean? What just happened? If we don't have control, who does?" He was rubbing his temples, his chin resting on his chest, a vacant stare at the monitor.
"Sir, I doubt anyone could have hacked into this system. It was top secret-with firewalls that are impenetrable. Only the people in this room knew about what we were doing. We'd be in a whole lot of trouble if our enemies got a hold of this weapon," Babcock said.
Chesterfield leaned back in his high-back leather chair, his hands squeezing his cheeks. "If we've lost control, then it needs to be destroyed," he ordered.
Babcock bit his lips, drawing blood. "Sir that might be a problem. We have no communication with the satellite. Our missiles cannot reach the high orbit we had placed this satellite in. It was, if you remember, your fail-safe scenario."
"Shit. So, we watch and wait. Maybe pray that a foreign hacker group has not gotten control of our most powerful weapon? I feel this will be the final nail, in my already decomposing coffin," he sighed.