by Eric J. Krause
I watched the video in the office of the director of the ASD, the Alien Security Division. Like everyone else in the world, I'd seen it often enough over my lifetime. This time, however, something was different.
"How come I've never seen this feed before?"
The director cleared his throat. "That's why you're here. Keep watching and I think you'll see."
My eyes never left the screen. I saw the hundreds of nuclear missiles from all over the world shoot up towards the sky, aimed for the airspace above the equator. The huge mothership of the unknown alien invaders hovered above the atmosphere, ready to strike out at other countries. In every feed I'd ever seen, the missiles disappeared from view, and the explosion filled the screen. Nothing useful was ever gleaned from the monstrous clean-up effort in orbit around the planet.
This time, the camera rose with the missiles, and when it got through the layers of atmosphere, the spaceship detonated before impact. The nukes exploded into what was left of the giant craft. The now-tiny pieces of ship scatter into space. Those few that did fall to Earth were miniscule and burned up before reaching the ground.
"It self-destructed," I said. "They knew we were going to get it, so it chose to go out on its own. Or maybe its weapon systems overloaded and malfunctioned, like they pushed it too hard. Maybe they didn't expect us to retaliate. But I can't imagine that's why you called me here. I'm sure your people could have figured something like that out."
The director shook his head. "We already know what happened to the ship. That was just background for what's coming."
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
He looked at me for a few seconds, a stare that bored past my eyes and into my brain. "We built that ship behind the moon where no one could see. Our plan was world peace, and we achieved it."
"What do you mean world peace?" I asked, the words heavy on my tongue. "That ship took out Italy. Literally wiped it off the face of the earth. How can that be a proponent for world peace? How could the ASD do that?"
He pointed to the screen and the video of the historic world meeting flashed on. This might be the second most famous televised shot in the history of mankind, where every nation of the world agreed to band together to stop the alien menace. More than one leader brought up that if it hadn't been for the destruction of Italy, they wouldn't have shown up to the summit.
"You destroyed Italy for world peace?" This had actually happened? "Why Italy?"
"You've heard of Program: Minus Earth? The old terrorist group?"
I had. They wanted to find like-minded individuals, ferry them to an interstellar spaceship, and detonate Earth. The planet had grown too polluted, too overpopulated for them. From what I understood, they felt it easier to save just those few they deemed worthy and destroy everyone and everything else.
"What about them?" I asked.
"They took refuge in Italy. We knew where they were, and we saw an opportunity, not only to rid ourselves of the menace, but to unify the world."
I shook my head. "But all of those innocent lives. They were just cannon fodder? Expendable losses?"
The director sighed. "It wasn't an easy choice for us to make."
I stood up and paced the back of the small room. "So what do you need me for?"
The director shrugged. "You have the ear of the entire world. You're trusted by all. They'll listen to you."
I didn't say anything. I had no idea where this was going.
"What is the name of our organization?" he asked.
"The ASD," I said. "The Alien Security Division."
He looked at me like I should make the jump. It took me a second--I wasn't quite sure--but I took the stab. "You're saying aliens are coming? Real ones?"
He shook his head. "No. They're not coming. They're already here. I need you to bring the news to the people. Tell them lay down their arms and welcome them into the fold."
The director yanked on his face, and I screamed as it tore off in his hands. A furry gray head with huge red eyes looked at me. "If you help us enslave your race, you'll be treated as one of us."
My mouth felt like it was full of cotton. "What happens if I refuse?"
The director laughed. It no longer sounded human. "We eradicate you and go to war. We won't lose."
"So why did you go through the trouble of the alien invasion ruse all those years ago?"
I could sense it smiling, even though I couldn't see for sure. "With world peace, with no enemies for anyone, your people became soft. Who's going to stand up to us? They may try, but who really can pull it off? You're no military leader, my friend."
I sighed and sank into a chair. What could I do? He, it, was right. A war would mean genocide for the human race. Through tears, I said, "Fine. Tell me what you want me to do."