It’s been a while since I’ve done a “what if” post, but Wired’s Danger Room posted a story that was too good to resist. The story summarizes nine secret military programs that have experienced leaks to varying degrees.
The programs include the USS Jimmy Carter, a specially-equipped spy sub; the Air Force’s X-37B space plane (I wrote about this program here and here); the stealth helicopter that participated in the Osama Bin Laden raid; T Wing, a special group within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence built by the U.S.; a CIA plot in Somalia that bluffed warlords; the Beast of Khandahar, the type of stealth drone allegedly brought down by Iran; and more.
These sorts of posts make for great “what if” prompts because they combine cool tech and conspiracy theories. Whether you use just one of those elements or both, they should add some interesting spice to your writing. What is hidden away inside the USS Jimmy Carter’s special compartment? What is the X-37B’s mission? Why was it recently extended–just to test the ship’s endurance or to take on a secret task? How do you build something like T Wing? How do you exclude double agents? What does the T Wing look like 20 years from now? Are the T Wing’s personnel ever trusted again by the rest of the ISI? Are they forced to go “rogue” inside Pakistan as the US withdraws? What happens if a Somali warlord calls your bluff? What does the CIA do next time in Somalia, once this bluff leaks? How do you build trust/fear/respect next time?
When planning your story, what if you try to jump a few generations ahead in terms of technology? What about faster, stealthier drones? What about specialized underwater drones? What would the X-37G look like, and what would it be capable of? What new tech would you put in its cargo bay? What if a space tourist accidentally spots the craft doing something secret? As drones evolve, this technology will filter down to the consumer level. How will hobbyists use the improved technology? What about the police? Criminals? Protestors? Will they use the drones to transport illicit goods or information? To spy on others? What if they weaponize drones? Who would be the target then–people or other drones?
Like I said, there’s a lot of stuff to work with in stories like this. I hope it sparks some ideas for your stories. Let me know if it does.