It’s like something out of a bad horror movie. An isolated team of scientists working under drastically harsh conditions suddenly stop communicating with the outside world. It’s unclear if their communications equipment is malfunctioning, or if something has happened to the team itself to prevent them from calling out to the rest of the world.
Even before they lost contact, their project is shrouded in secrecy. What little is known by the outside world has already drawn criticism. Some lambast the project for its lack of regard for local environmental concerns; others that the project is too sloppy, that the rush to complete it will contaminate or distort the results. Still more — the most sober — suggest that no one really knows what they will discover when the project is complete. They whisper among themselves that we should be most concerned about being contaminated by what we find.
They believe that the scientists will — or would have — found life. But not life as we understand it: insidious, possibly alien things long isolated from the slow evolutionary march of life on Earth. Is it these…things, now free of a prison of ice that had held them apart from the world for more than 15 million years that are responsible for the loss of the team?
Or is it?
The Disappearance That Wasn’t
About a week ago, a group of Russian engineers and academics attempting to complete more than twenty years of drilling to reach an Antarctic lake buried beneath millions of years of accumulated ice suddenly lost contact with the outside world. Multiple news outlets reported that the team had disappeared just as they were expected to breach the final layer of ice to take a sample of the water, specifically hoping to prove a long-held theory that the lake contained hardy (possibly alien) microbes capable of surviving in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
But then conflicting reports started pouring in. The spooky lost scientist story was dismissed, with other scientific teams in Antarctica carefully noting that the Russian team at Lake Vostok had not cut contact at all. They were just very busy maintaining their equipment and cataloging their findings, which would surely be shared with the rest of the world as soon as the data could be studied and processed. Of course, in such a busy atmosphere, the team couldn’t be expected to spend all that time on the radio — there were studies to be done! Within days, reports that the team had ever been missing — even allegedly — had been wiped from the web, replaced with the now-standard “busy scientist on the verge of new discoveries” story.
And then things got really weird.
Nazi Redoubt, Mars, and Magnetic Anomalies
Shortly after the hurried media blitz to assure the general public that contact had never been lost with the team, at least one Russian media outlet leaked that the team was expected to make discoveries of historical interest, claiming that the Lake Vostok installation had been deliberately established near the site of a long-hidden Nazi installation founded by Admiral Karl Donitz in the aftermath of World War II. This redoubt — either an abandoned ice fortress containing the secret tombs of both Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun (charged with occult power?) or a technologically advanced Vril-powered UFO base created with assistance from Shaverian Deros — was supposedly the real reason the Russians had established the base in the first place.
Or it was something from Mars. The area around Lake Vostok is also apparently ground zero for a huge number of meteorite impacts, including a significant number from the red planet. Even leaving aside the possibility that the Martian material in Antarctica is something more than just rocks (like, say, dormant tripods), real scientific data has suggested that some of the earliest microbes found on earth may have come from similar meteorite impacts. Of course, other meteors might be hiding the building blocks of a zombie plague, killer superflu, or mutagenic nanovirus capable of rewriting the DNA of exposed humans to recreate an extinct race of bloodthirsty extraterrestrial nephelim.
Lake Vostok is also home to a major magnetic anomaly not unlike that reputed to lie at the center of the Bermuda Triangle, which experts and conspiracy theorists have alternatively blamed on geological activity accompanied by a major thinning of the Earth’s crust, a gateway to the Hollow Earth, or a suddenly active ancient alien/Atlantean observatory using the lake as a kind of reflecting antenna. The possibility that the lake contains the remains of a extraterrestrial artifact (or antedeluvian civilization) would certainly explain the existence of the anomaly, and may also explain why the Nazi’s (at least allegedly) chose the site for their final redoubt.
The Cover Up
Despite the apparent ready availability of all this information to various speculative researchers, conspiracy theorists, and (ahem) gaming bloggers, the international intelligence community has supposedly gone out of its way to hide the truth (whichever truth you prefer, really) from the rest of the public. By the late 1990s, even the US Geological Service (USGS) was in on the conspiracy, preventing the most detailed, updated maps of Antarctica from reaching the general public. As access to commercial satellite photography expanded massively with the advent of online tools like google maps, denying maps to cartography buffs was no longer enough.
At least one element of the US Intelligence Community went one step further — possibly with assistance from the well-connected Raytheon Corporation — taking over the previously public aspects of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories’ polar research program, and then quickly shrouding all subsequent developments in secrecy.
But what, really, are they hiding? Maybe your next campaign.