The rest of the world is in even worse shape. Sub-Saharan African migrants trying desperately to get into Europe are now being shot out of the water by Italian gun boats. South East Asian migrants trying to get into Australia, Thailand, and other countries that might provide a means of survival are also meeting armed resistance. Migrants are trying to come into the U.S. from the traditional countries south of the border, but also from island nations on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The government has hired mercenaries to keep them out, with ‘whatever means’ are necessary.
Scientists are predicting ‘end of the world’ scenarios in a ‘we told you so’ rant. People are starting to believe the scientists, despite a concerted disinformation campaign by the administration.
A revolution appears to be brewing. Upwards of a hundred and fifty well-armed militias across the nation (plus a multitude of piss-ant also-rans) have gathered their brethren. The only thing stopping them from outright revolt is their inability to agree on who’s in charge.
Now, there’s a man who up to now has been a pain in the ass for the administrations that have come along since big money succeeded in getting a permanent Republican president and majority in both houses of congress elected, because he’s continued to insist that the climate science is right -- fossil fuel CO2 emissions are the culprit in global warming -- and the moon landing was real, among other ‘leftist conspiracy theory’s’ he’s promulgated.
The administration realizes the old curmudgeon, Ernest ‘Ernie’ Hemingway Codfelter, can be useful to their plan by being proven right about the moon landing. A scheme is hatched to have Codfelter ‘discover’ new evidence of the landing’s authenticity. The administration will admit he’s right -- the moon landing was real (they’ll blame past administrations going way back for not listening to the old fart) -- and they’ll announce the plan to land astronauts on Mars.
It turns out, however, that Codfelter isn’t the gullible dupe they take him for, and he’ll switch his attention from the moon landing to the Mars mission in the time it takes Koch VI to say, “What the fuck!”
Codfelter graduated with high honors from Caltech, but what started as a promising career in astrophysics was derailed by post graduate work in getting stoned, complicated by borderline bipolar disorder. He ended up working as a blackjack croupier in Las Vegas. In his spare time, of which he had plenty, he wrote a blog detailing the conspiracy theory du jour, much of which dealt with the disinformation campaign that led up to the government outlawing research into climate change, and prohibiting NASA, NOAA, the EPA, and other government agencies from using the terms climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, drought (‘dry’ was substituted), and hurricane or tornado (‘windy’ was substituted for both).
Koch VI starts making the rounds of TV ‘news’ programs to promote the Mars mission. “If they could do it way back then with their technology, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to do it,” Koch VI tells Sean Patrick Hannity IV, host of the TV program, ‘Fox the Nation.’
A contest is initiated to name the mission and the spaceship that will carry the intrepid astronauts aloft. The winner will be ensured a seat on the first follow-on flight to Mars. Codfelter’s submittal is ________ and __________.
“It’s a fake mission, Varley,” the President says.
“Still,” Broadwidth says. “The NASA budget should look as though it has the appropriate funds for such a mission.”
Before the President can respond, Broadwidth goes on, “And if the budget is raised to accommodate the mission, our budget would make us one of the largest organizations in the government and therefore my pension should be raised accordingly.”
The President just stares at Broadwidth for a minute or so before saying, “Okay, I’ll have Appropriations raise your pension concurrent with the public announcement. However, you have to agree to stay on as NASA Administrator until the first landing of settlers on Mars.”
“Of course, Mr. President,” Broadwidth says, beaming.
In preparation for production, Koch VI clears RLS for access to Area 51, where they’ll set up the sets and film the mission to Mars. Koch VI’s biggest problem is finding a director for the production. He needs someone skilled in making convincing films with implausible plot lines, whom he can trust to keep his mouth shut about the ruse. Damn, I wish Stanley Kubrick were still alive, Koch VI thinks. He finally decides on Baxter Wallace, known for his films, Finding Jesus at Your Door, Heaven is for Real VI, Potato Head Mary, and A Meeting at the Gates. Wallace readily agrees after being assured he’ll have a guaranteed seat of the first spaceship that actually travels to Mars, should that ever occur. “I have faith it will,” Wallace proclaims. “I’ll have my agent meet with your people to discuss my remuneration requirements.”
Everything turns to shit when China, convinced the U.S. is about to launch the Mars settlement mission, invades America and attempts to take possession of the spaceship. They end up confronting the RLS Mars mission production team at Area 51. Told that the whole thing was a fraud, they line up the RLS bastards and shoot them. Then they stand around smoking and discussing what the hell to do with the United States.