We had known they were coming for many year, enough to mount our defences; or so we thought. Several countries had intercepted ion probes in the outer edges of space and a handful had even made it down to earth. The technology was ingenious, but not so alien that it couldn’t be cracked.
Of course the public had known none of this at first, but eventually, too many made it through. Terror turned to puzzlement as it became clear that the probes were only spying apparatus. Scientists analysed and deliberated, the press foamed at it’s collective mouth.
The military built countermeasures against the technology; plasma spikes that could cut through the alloy casings and cover-plast, a kind of sealant originally developed for riot control but adapted for isolating potentially infectious agents.
Then one night the attack began in earnest. Sleek silvery pods streaked into the atmosphere, evading defensive missiles with consumate ease. Storm-class intercept fighters, the very latest trans-atmospheric craft, were scrambled to destroy the invaders, all to no avail. The white-hot beams of directed enery weapons seemed to slide from the surface of the ailen craft. Some were destroyed, perhaps by chance, erupting into a million shards of incandescent cloud. But plenty landed.
I was there, amongst the crowd in Montreaux when one of pods landed. I watched as the earths cleverest weapons homed in. Automated bio-sentries that seconds before had been stationary on nearby rooftops touched down on the ground surrounding the silvery machine. Extending needle-like claws, lased the surfaces of the pod, cauterising any potential openings. Then the cover-plast was deployed and the crowds surged forwards, suddenly less anxious. Earth would prevail. The scientists and the military had succeeded as they had promised.
An air of celebration prevailed for perhaps an hour. Shop-keepers broke open their stores as news of similar successes came in from Geneva, Lausanne and the rest of the world. It seemed that the years of worry had been overblown. I recall that moment so clearly now. To my right a young woman laughing, tossing her head in delight at some wise words uttered by the young man with the short, dark hair. A man, holding a pram steady with one hand, his other arm hugging his wife fiercely. A group of four children, passing a bottle of champagne between them and even, at one point, offering it to a passing policeman.
Over the heads of the crowds in the market-place, something in the water caught my eye. Huge plates of jelly-like substance broke the surface simultaeously across the whole expanse of Lake Geneva. It looked for all the world like giant frog-spawn, and suddenly I knew we were in trouble. Some of the people around me caught the horror in my gaze and turned to see what I was looking at. The pods had been a decoy. I don’t know how I knew, but it just seemed obvious somehow. Also, I just knew that the invasion must have begun earlier, much, much earlier when the spawn was planted, and it was clear to me that similar scenes were playing out across the rest of the world. From the moment the alien eggs appeared on the surface of the water we were doomed. Some strange gas or poison they released suffused the air around us and one-by-one, as though in slow motion, the people simply dropped.