Prompt by: u/AnakinWayneII
2020CE: a group of investigative journalists and rogue intelligence analysts are investigating “wild” claims that 2 secret manned missions to Mars occurred nearly 40 years ago. Things get heated after some of the journalists die in “accidents” and intelligence analysts begin to go “missing”.
There have been rumours going around that the space shuttles weren’t the only new space crafts launched in the eighties. Whispers of a project even more ambitious than the International Space Station. Grander than the Moon landings.
Wild claims, ridiculous claims. Really, we shouldn’t have even bothered. The fact that we managed to get together such a big team is honestly ridiculous. No one really believed in some secret manned missions to Mars. How could something like that remain a secret?
But work had been slow the last year, and this sounded more interesting than the usual slog. It didn’t take long before I was joined by others bored out of their minds. It started with me, an investigative journalist. I was joined by two of my colleagues, one of whom had contacts in a conspiracy magazine. When their intelligence specialists got wind of our investigation, they practically begged to join us.
It was fun. I’d never worked on a single investigation with this many people before. We got together for late nights after work and scoured the internet and the various physical archives we could get our hands on.
Before long our investigation devolved into nightly get-togethers with drinks and food. It wasn’t until Sarah talked to some distant cousin of hers whose father worked for NASA that we got a lead.
The 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Tragedy. Seven people died when the Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off. With the tragedy being so very in the public eye, conspiracies were not hard to find. The internet was full of them, and we’d read through many of them before. But Sarah’s cousin’s father, let something slip that might confirm one of them.
The explosion wasn’t an accident. The crew had learned of something they had no business knowing, and they were silenced before they could tell anyone.
It seemed… ridiculously convoluted and conspiratory at first. I certainly didn’t take it seriously. Not until a few weeks later, when Sarah got into a car accident when on her way back from meeting the same family member.
Suddenly, the conspiracy was real. With every step closer to the truth, we put ourself into more danger. But we couldn’t stop now. Not with Sarah’s death looming over our heads. It was like a fire had been lit under our feet, driving us from lead to lead, uncovering more and more. We were so focused that our own safety didn’t even cross our minds.
We focused our research on 1986. We found signs of another launch base. Witnesses from a nearby town confirmed something was launched on the same day as the Challenger. Now, the tragedy wasn’t just an orchestrated accident to silence people who knew to much. It was also a diversion for the real important launch. Armed with this knowledge, we found the same pattern replicated in 1981 during the first Space Shuttle launch.
But from that moment on, our investigation came to a standstill. Members of our group dropped one by one while investigating people and archives. We could never confirm if they really were going to Mars. We couldn’t even confirm if they were manned missions or not. Every time one of us found something, they would drop dead before ever making it back with the information.
What could be so important that they would go to such lengths to hide it? If they really were going to Mars, then why hide it? What could be so secretive on such a barren planet?
I don’t believe the missions had anything to do with Mars. If it were then it wouldn’t have to be a secret. It must have been something else, but I have no clue what it could be. Aliens is a word that keeps coming to mind, but I keep refuting it as ridiculous at the same speed.
Maybe that’s why I’m the only one left… I don’t pose a risk if I won’t even humour the idea.