I remember clearly the day the Sun went out. "Lagrange Point orbit reached," the captain of The Covenant said over the intercom.
I peered out a porthole, a look of joy upon my face. It was easy to feel joy back then. I was only twelve.
"Look, Grandpa!" I said. "Fireworks!"
The Earth below glowed in hues of green and yellow, as auroras roared across its atmosphere. The entire planet seemed iridescent and alive, like the language of the Spitfires. Streams of radiation poured into the poles as the wind from a thousand atom bombs blew chunks of the Sun at us.
My grandfather smiled warmly, to hide his tears from me. He knew -- and I guess I did too -- that every living thing we'd left behind was succumbng to the effects of the solar radiation we'd released to kill our alien guests. By the time we landed, some sixty-five days later, those we'd left behind would be counting the days they had left before radiation sickness and cancer took their lives away as well.
"Yes, Regina," Grandpa said. "It is beautiful. But remember..."
He choked up and stopped talking. "Remember what?" I asked.
"Everything," he eked out, before pausing again to regain his composure. "Try to remember everything. This is your time now."
I thought about something my dad had talked to me about, back on Earth before we left. He said the Spitfires used what he called crystals of time to steal a bit of mass from a star like our Sun, and use it to cheat time. He said it was that same way we steal a bit of centrifugal force from a planet to slingshot rockets into space. We had just done that to our dear Mother Earth, and then her sister, the Moon, slingshotting The Covenant while on our way into Lagrange orbit to hide from the Sun.
The Spitfires would slingshot their way through time by flying into one star and coming out another, many light years away. That was how they found us. One day they came out of our star and landed on Earth.
It was during World War II.
They came out of nowhere. Quite literally, in fact. Two showed up in Washington D.C. in The United States, and at the exact same time, two others appeared ar 10 Downing Street in London. They appeared before President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill at a moment of our most dire need. As Christmas 1941 turned to New Year's Day of 1942, Churchill braved Atlantic waters infested with German U-boats to confer with Roosevelt in private about the event.
Afterwards, he addressed The United States Congress.
"We are masters of our fate. The task which has been set before us is not above our strength, its pangs and toils not beyond our endurance. Salvation will not be denied us. In the words of the Psalms, we shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Our hearts are trusting in the Lord."
In 1942, German Axis victories took Stalingrad from Russia. They threatened to do the same to the oil fields and factories of Caucasus. Africa began falling to the superior tanks of Rommel, as he pushed the British Armed Forces around at his will. And seemingly from everywhere, U-boats preyed upon the weak from ocean depths, while the Luftwaffe rained hellfire from the sky.
Things weren't going any better in the Pacific Ocean. Japan lorded over China, killing with impunity. They stole Indonesia from the Dutch, and the Philippines from the Americans. Even the mighty United States Marines were no match for the Imperial Japanese Navy after Pearl Harbor was destroyed. For the Allies of the free world, hope had reached its nadir.
Yet Roosevelt expressed optimism.
"The price for civilization must be paid in sorrow and in blood. It will not be impeded by the faint of heart, or by those who put selfish interests above the interests of their nation. It shall not be imperiled by betrayers of Christianity -- would-be dictators who in their hearts and souls have already yielded to defeat, and thus woud have the rest of us do likewise.
"We are The United States of America! This is for our victory!"
And this is why the Spitfires came to us. They called themselves something else; an impossible-to-recreate palette of swirls and colors that floated in the air. We humans called them Spitfires because they looked like dragons. These dragons were not borne of fantasy and legend. They were born on some planet halfway across the galaxy. But like those dragons borne of fantasy, Spitfires were terrifying. They towered over us in height, and with their tails included, exceeded our height in length by three-fold and more. They even exceeded us in the number of their limbs, with four legs and two arms, all ending in huge feet and hands that gave them the power of a jet boat when they swam. They covered their hides with refractive scales made of titanium and molybdenum, thick like battle armor. Besides this armor giving them weight so they could better sink to the bottom of the ocean, they decorated themselves with spikes and knifed-edge razors to be all the more intimidating.
Oh, how they could have feasted on us in our most darkest hour! As we fought like children over scraps of land and tiny thatched roof hamlets, they could have wiped us off the face of the planet with their acrid breath. But that wasn't why they came. Instead of coming as an army, they came as emissaries. Instead of many millions, only four appeared.
They came in silence and unarmed. Unarmed because they had no fear of us, and in silence because they didn't speak. Rather than having a language that relied on sound, theirs was made of light and motion, drawn from tablets hung round their necks. When touched, these tablet brought the very air to life. Images in three dimensions danced above their heads, controlled by magnetized fields of plasma. And though they couldn't communicate with the leaders of the western world, they could paint pictures for them.
At first they painted pictures of fear and brutal governance, where those they deemed unworthy would be slaughtered by the millions. We'd grown so fat and lazy, the well-off among us humans. We thought nothing about unwashed masses being born and bred for servitude. So shameful we were in our indolence, that monsters of our own kind rose up, to our left and to our right, to crush us in the middle. Monsters bearing human names, like Hitler and Mussolini, Hirohito and Toyo.
Back then it was thought that the Spitfires were not monsters. Monsters were borne of men, and the Spitfires came as saviors. Like angels sent from Heaven, they bore kindndess as their weapon and wisdom as a shield. With their help, enemy codes like ENIGMA and PURPLE fell to Sigint and GCCS. Hiltler and Hirohito lost the power of surprise their tanks and ships once had. With their plasma tablets, the Spitfires taught our leaders how to comminicate and our soldiers how to fight, and how all of us could be better served if we treated one another fairly. They furthered our intelligence by convincing us to give up on kingdoms and on empires, and create governments run by the people. They taught us to care for those who love us, and have mercy on those who don't.
With that, monsters borne of men died off. The Axis fell in disgrace, their leaders thrown from power. After victory in World War II, the Spitfires moved peaceably into our oceans. They began to emigrate, bringing fathers, mothers and their young. They built underwater cities cloaked from our view by their superior technology.
We thought nothing of it until the fateful day of July 7th, 1947. That was the day when, against the wishes of its leaders, a Spitfire on a reconnaissance mission entered the Earth's atmosphere in its craft. It had no way of going home, for it had deserted its post. It also had no way of landing, as its craft wasn't suited for the task.
So it crashed instead, in the New Mexico desert near a town called Roswell. The Spitfire did not live long after that, but living wasn't its intention. Delivering a message was. And with its dying breath, it drew patterns in the air.
The first part of the message was easy to decipher. "We are coming," it said.
The rest of the message was not so easy to decipher. It may have been in part because the alien was dying as it drew its words, painting pictures in the air for people unfamiliar with its language, many even unknowing of its presence by the thousands in our seas. But soon, descriptions of these patterms of light reached those who knew how to read them. Armed with this information, men in power realized that these beings from another world did not descend from Heaven.
Shooting out of our Sun, these monsters came from a different realm altogether. From a place where angels fear to tread.
"To steal your oceans," was the last part of the message.
- Upright. In the Den.
- Sci-Fi Action Adventure, propelled by a little Romance.
Hello! Who's there? A maiden pure?
Tis me! To be, for you.
Please let me in, O doleful Sir,
To do the things I'll do.