“What are those, daddy?” asked the little girl who was peering from her window at the unusually high level of meteor activity in the night sky.
“Those are just shooting stars” replied her father.
“There are lots and lots of them” said the little girl.
“Yes but I wouldn’t worry, it just means that the sky is sharing her treasures” replied her father and he ushered her into bed before tucking her in and leaving her to sleep.
“The unusual amount of meteor activity was witnessed across the world last night; leaving scientists baffled” said the news caster “In the light of day there have been increasing numbers of meteorite finds in areas as far afield as the polar ice-caps and the city of Delhi.”
“I was lucky not to have been squashed like a pumpkin” said old Bert “if I’d been digging my taters instead of the carrots I’d have been a goner. There was a big bang and I was thrown to the floor… when I looked at my tater patch it was gone and all that was left behind was a gert big hole and a ball of rock!”
“We have collected a number of the meteorites and have discovered that they are all around the same size; about the size of a beach ball and are all regular in shape” said the government scientist at the press conference “they appear to be made of an iron ore with a hollow core but all attempts to break through the surface have failed at this time.”
“What do you think they are?” asked the reporter.
“We can’t be sure at this time but I would suspect them to be regular fragments from a larger comet that have broken off… a bit like the fragments from safety glass all being similar sizes when the glass is shattered” replied the scientist.
“Are they safe?” asked another reporter.
“I would not recommend anyone should approach the meteors at this time and would advise anyone who finds one to notify the police” replied the scientist.
“So they are dangerous then?” replied the reporter.
“We cannot categorically state that they are safe so it would be a standard precaution not to touch them” said the scientist.
“What have you tried so far?” asked the scientist.
“Everything except explosives” replied the technician “there seems to be a magnetic field that is preventing anything from actually touching the surface.”
“I had better inform the military” replied the scientist as he left the room “try whatever means you need to.”
“Will do, sir” replied the technician “Harry, get in touch with Kent and tell them that we will be bringing a meteor to blow up on their range in the next couple of hours.”
“Will do, John” replied Harry.
“I’ll open you up if it’s the last thing I do” said John as he patted the meteor.
“It has been two days since the meteor shower and there have been increasing amount of sightings of small, green men reported across the globe” said the news caster “police have maintained that hysteria is the reason for the reported sightings and are trying to keep a lid on things getting out of hand.”
“Daddy, where has mummy gone?” asked the little girl.
“She’s just gone to put the bin out. I’m sure she’ll be…………….”
“Excellent news, sir” said the scientist “we’ve managed to open one of the spheres using a focused microwave beam.”
“Quit the yap, Poindexter… what’s inside?” replied the general.
“There is a small silver ball with strange text over the surface” said the scientist “and inside that is a mix of tiny metallic components and a thick grease-like substance.”
“And what does it do?” asked the general.
“We can’t be sure, sir... whatever it is it doesn’t appear to be functional and has no obvious power source” replied the scientist.
“How many rocks have you got there?” asked the general.
“Forty six, sir” replied the scientist.
“Well keep cracking them open until you have an answer for me” said the general.
“Yes, sir” replied the scientist as he signed off “Harry! Bring up the next one…”
In the depths of the Sahara desert, the meteor shimmered briefly before it resumed its inert state. There was no one there to see it but it happened.
“SIR!” shouted the technician “The meteors are attacking!”
“What do you mean?” asked the scientist.
“Harry’s head has exploded!” said the technician “He touched the meteor and his head blew up… it was terrible… Harry’s dead… he just blew up!”
“Clear the lab” said the scientist as he operated the emergency alarm and contacted the general “Sir, the meteors are defending themselves.”
“Are the microwave weapons ready?” asked the general.
“There are a few… but less than twenty” replied the scientist.
“My team is on the way…you must make sure they get the weapons on their arrival” said the general.
“Was it just Harry?” asked the general.
“Yes, sir” replied the scientist.
“Good, that will make it easier to contain. Captain, inform his family of the accident he had and explain that he is so radioactive that his body will never be released” said the general “and we have opened all of the rocks now?”
“Yes, sir” replied the scientist who looked completely shell-shocked.
“And they all contained the same device inside?” asked the general.
“Yes… even down to the symbols on the shiny spheres” replied the scientist.
“Hmmm” thought the general “they only react when touched but don’t defend themselves at range… what manner of device are these?”
The meteor in the children’s play-park, just outside Henley in Oxfordshire, began to shimmer with a constant, flickering field around it. A moment later, an area of space next to the meteor wobbled and a tall, dark, walking machine emerged from the portal; closely followed by three more that were identical apart from the symbols on the head carapace. They were as tall as a house and had small bodies with spindly arms and legs. The four machines stood motionless for a few minutes before silently striding off towards the river.
“The scene is one of utter destruction!” said the reporter “eye witness accounts tell of giant, walking machines that blasted everything that moved with some sort of a ‘melting’ weapon and a smaller gun that fired shards of crystal. They have destroyed all of the boats near the rowing club and there are dead birds everywhere…the machines seemed to react to all movement with the same ferocity so many people were lucky that there were so many frightened birds about.”
“Where are the machines now, Glen?” asked the news caster.
“They strode across the fields towards a nearby airfield but before they got there, they disappeared through a sort of air-gate that opened and swallowed them” replied the reporter.
“How have the authorities responded?” asked the news caster.
“Troops from nearby Benson were called in to cordon the area and help the emergency services to control the scene” replied the reporter “there are also reports that there was a known meteor in the area of the air-gate but this has not been confirmed.”
“Thank you Glen” said the news caster “we can now speak with the Prime Minister live from Westminster. Sir, can you give us any more information on what has happened in Henley?”
“As you will be fully aware, an incident like this will require a full investigation and I am unable to pass on any information at this time. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident” said the Prime Minister “I can assure everyone that we are treating the incident with utmost importance and the best scientists and professionals are being drafted in to investigate.”
“What are your thoughts on the information about the meteor being near to the scene?” asked the news caster.
“I am not able to comment at this time and you will have to excuse me because I have urgent matters to attend to” replied the Prime Minister.
“Thank you, sir” replied the news caster “the Prime Minister. In other news…”
“Is there a way of finding all of these meteorites… some way of tracking them?” asked the general.
“No sir… they seem to absorb radiation and any radio waves so all our detectors will be useless” replied the scientist.
“Then we have no other choice… we’ll have to issue an order for all meteors to be reported and we’ll have to respond to every one individually” said the general “How are the microwave weapons coming along?”
“They have gone into full production, sir” replied the scientist “they are being issued to the containment teams as we speak.”
“Excellent” said the general “have you shared the designs with our allies?”
“Yes, sir” replied the scientist “exactly as you ordered.”
“Good” replied the general “we’ll let our enemies find out their own way of dealing with the threat.”
“But sir… what if these walking-machines get a foot-hold?” said the scientist “once they have destroyed our enemies, they will come after us.”
“By that time, we’ll be ready for them” said the general.
“This is a general alert” said the newscaster “Everyone who is not a civil servant is to report to their nearest public shelter. All civil servants are to report to their places of work immediately. All military, whether on leave or off duty, are to report to their duty units immediately with deployment kit.”
That was how it started. We thought we had the situation under control but we didn’t. It only took one or two meteors to start the flood of aliens. No sooner had the walkers arrived, the foot-troops followed; terrible little things with green skin, bulbous heads and eyes as black as night. After the foot troops, the leaders arrived on their little chariots and as soon as they did, a multitude of air-gates appeared and more invaders flooded in. We thought the microwave weapons would destroy them but we were wrong… we lost many troops finding out. In the initial stages, we were massacred; cut down by a variety of weapons that vaporised, burned or shredded… but we learned fast. Concentrated firepower was the key; that and the trusty infantry rifle. Who would have thought that the copper jackets on the bullets would allow them to penetrate the psychic barriers that the aliens used. It took a lot of shots to do it but eventually the copper ‘shorted out’ the barriers. The walkers were still horrendously difficult to bring down but the lessons were learned and the tanks and artillery pieces were armed with copper clad, anti-armour rounds. We eventually beat them back but had to share what we had learnt with our enemies as well as allies in order to do so. We had won the fight but at a terrible cost… many lives were lost and cities were reduced to ash. It was the dawn of world-wide cooperation. Strength through unity, they called it. We didn’t have a choice if we wanted to survive. All meteors were systematically collected and destroyed with microwave weapons but we could never be sure that we collected all of them so we were at a continuous readiness state. We just hoped that the meteors never returned again.
In the depths of space a pair of coal-black eyes peered at a screen. On it was a rotating picture of the earth. A green hand stretched over to a small cup, grasped the handle and drew it up to green lips. The alien drank from the cup, put it down and waved its hand above the screen; extinguishing the image. It stood up and left the control room; grinning as it went.