When they came, it would've seemed very far away from Jenny's little farm were it not for the giant spaceship hovering over Jenny's little town. It projected the image all the way from New York across the sky for all to see. That was where the mothership was hovering. Directly over the U.N.. The projection in the sky was real enough to make Jenny feel like she was actually there in the Big Apple. It was enough to make her feel the total terror, the slight air of hopelessness, and her own minuscule spark of excitement. This was what she dreamed about, after all. The dream had just turned into more of a nightmare.
A door opened on the projected image of the mothership. Standing on the platform that was left there were three genuine aliens. They were humanoid in form, but they clearly were not human. The largest male had dark grey skin and bleach white eyes. His hair was vertically spiky to a length that suggested it grew that way naturally. He was clearly very large, and his face was haggard. A scar stood out across his left cheek.
The woman standing next to him had bright blue skin. Her eyes were a violetish-indigoey color that humans don't have a word for. Orange hair framed her face. She was only a few inches shorter than what seemed to be her husband.
Another male was with them, about a head shorter than the female. His skin was a lighter shade of grey that seemed to shimmer with blue. His eyes were a dark violet, and his black hair was spiky as well, but a little more wild. A thin braid went down from the base of his neck.
With his ship still hovering above the U.N. building and threatening one of the most prevalent cities in the U.S., the largest alien made his demands. "I am Jafezar, king of the Jizzilians. There is a war being raged across the stars. One that the likes of you could not possibly fathom. We cannot wait for you to. The fate of the universe is at stake. All must fight for the survival of all."
"We do not wish to force you into anything." The woman's tone and posture belied her peaceful words. "But we will, if we must. We will make you a deal, Earthlings, and we will only make it once. Surrender your troops to us. Fight for us. Give us members of your species that are of able mind and body, and we will not take your children, your elderly, or your infirm. Refuse to surrender to us, and we will take you all. Our technology and weaponry is far superior to yours. Resistance would not be wise. You would not prevail."
The transmission cut off, and the world waited on baited breath for the U.N.'s decision.
The world became a very different place in the months that followed. Each one was more agonizing than the last. All of the cheer had been sucked out of Jenny's small town, and out of Jenny. The ship that had shown up the first day never left. It's presence was domineering and oppressive. People left their homes only when necessary. They returned as soon as possible, and always before dark.
Jenny no longer lived on the farm with her parents. Her and her older brother still lived on the farm, but their grandparents came to live with them. Their mother had been taken the first month of Earth's induction into the intergalactic war. Their father had followed in the second. Jenny no longer watched the stars late at night; their magic had been stolen along with her parents.
She walked as quickly as she could down the street, head down, focusing on not looking at the giant ship hovering over the town. Bitterly, Jenny wondered if they could win the war if they spent less of their fleet terrorizing innocent planets. She quickly squashed the thought. It wasn't helping, and who knew what kind of telepathic abilities The Invaders may have? No, it wasn't safe anywhere. Not even her mind.
It was a relief when she reached home. Jenny didn't know why. Home wasn't actually any safer than anywhere else. But there was the illusion of safety. And the remaining people she cared about were there.
The air was tinged with tentative excitement. It was dimmed somewhat by circumstance, but the occasion was an important one. Her brother was turning eighteen. That didn't mean everything it used to. Rights were restricted by The Invaders. No one went to college anymore. But lately, any excuse to celebrate was a good one.
Jenny and her grandparents worked in swift, silent tandem. Sweets were a limited commodity. The resources simply couldn't be afforded. Still, the small family managed to procure a cupcake and a single candle for the occasion. The radiantly joyful smile from Jenny's brother made all the strife worth it.
He blew out the candle, wishing for freedom. He ate half the cupcake before shoving it over to Jenny. "You eat the rest."
She looked up at him questioningly. "That's yours. You eat it. It's your birthday, not-"
"Jen, you eat it," he ordered tenderly. "Who knows what the situation will be when you turn eighteen?"
And Jenny couldn't really argue with that. Or the warm compassion radiating from her big brother's eyes. "Thanks."
It was one of the best nights they had sense The Invaders arrived. Laughter had found its place in the house once again. It died when the doors burst open. The Invaders looked large on TV. They were even larger in person. "We have come for the young Earthling."
The tone brooked no room for argument. Jenny argued anyways. She stepped closer to her brother and clung to his arm. "No. No way. No"
"He is of age by the standards of your society," one of the invaders informed them coldly. "He will fight now."
"I don't care." Jenny was exhibiting a fierceness none who knew her had witnessed before. "I won't let you take him."
Jenny's brother hugged her. He tucked her head under his chin and rocked back and forth. "I have to go, Jen."
"What? No!" She clutched him tighter.
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I have to. If it's not me, it'll be someone else. If I don't go, they could take you."
After one last tight squeeze, Jenny's brother gently pried her off of himself. He pushed her towards their grandparents. They held her back while she watched her brother walk out for what might be the last time with the two invaders. Something in Jenny broke, then. Something she hadn't even known existed in the first place.