Author : William Tracy

The president leaned back into the couch on Air Force One with a smile and a sigh. She had been in office for only a month, but she was already getting used to the perks.

The secretary of defense cleared his throat. “Mrs. President, we need to talk.”

“Yes?” she sat up again.

“As you may recall, in 2004 then-President Bush committed the United States to making a manned landing on Mars by 2020. You are going to have to tell the American people that it isn’t going to happen.”

“Well, if it’s a budget matter–”

“No it isn’t. We cannot land a man on Mars.”

“Really? I listened to NASA’s presentation last week, and their plan seemed pretty complete.”

“Technology is not the issue, either. We landed on the moon in 1969! Yet we haven’t gone back since 1972.”

“Well, manned moon missions are expensive. Funding dried up.”

The secretary shook his head. “That’s only half of the story. In 1973, both the United States and Russian governments secretly signed a pact to make no manned missions to the moon or beyond.”

For the first time, the president looked concerned. “What?”

He tried a different tack. “We’ve had working nuclear rockets since the sixties that could easily and cheaply get us to Mars and beyond. Did we use them? No!” The secretary leaned forward. “Instead, the United States government clandestinely funneled money into Greenpeace to protest the use of nuclear power in any form, specifically to generate political opposition to any such project.”

“Well, Greenpeace is an environmental organization. Why wouldn’t they protest nuclear power?”

“It’s clean, and essentially renewable if you use breeder reactors. A nuclear power plant actually produces less radioactive waste than a coal-fired plant that releases radon gas straight into the atmosphere!”

“Well, after Chernobyl, who could blame–”

“The Chernobyl incident was triggered deliberately.”

The president looked shocked.

“The reactor melted down after every single safety system present was disabled for a ‘test’. The Russians aren’t stupid. Sabotaging Chernobyl was their way of holding up their end of the bargain.”

“You’re telling me that for thirty years the United States and Russia have been secretly pushing anti-nuclear propaganda?”

“That’s not all. We’ve had complete—highly classified—plans for faster-than-light spaceship drives since the late eighties. Never tested, but the physicists say they should work.”

“But why?”

“In 1972, the United States and Russian governments were contacted by an extraterrestrial agent. Our planet was brought to their attention by the X-ray radiation generated from nuclear tests. At their behest, we halted manned exploration of the solar system.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“They agreed not to vaporize us as long as we stay on the reservation.”


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