Invasion

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet, across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment. - H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

Nearly everyone, in the last years of the twentieth century, had heard stories of extraterrestrials. Mankind had read of Martian tripods with heat-rays invading Victorian Britain, watched as little green men in flying saucers attacked, believed mankind could explore strange new worlds and seek out new civilizations with pointy-eared allies, and cheered as freedom fighters in a distant galaxy destroyed weapons the size of moons. Scholars even postulated that our own galaxy, one of billions in the cosmos, might be home to thousands or millions of intelligent civilization. Despite all this, mainstream human society in no way took seriously the notion that creatures not of this earth might visit our tiny and seemingly insignificant little blue planet. Instead, with infinite complacency humanity went to and fro over this globe about our little affairs, serene in our assurance of our isolation and safety. Yet, across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, immeasurably beyond our own, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twenty-first century came the great disillusionment.

October 2013 was the last normal year for human civilization. In the middle of the month, a meteor shower lasting three days and nights, delivered the first wave of humanity's downfall. Not that anyone noticed immediately, however, for humans were not the direct target of the attack. The meteors, the first volley in the war, carried a microscopic enemy unlike anything previously seen by human microbiologists. These microbes infected three groups of plants, rice, wheat, and maize, ever-so-subtly altering their cellular structure in such a way as to render them not only inedible but toxic to animals indigenous to Earth. By the time our scientists realized what had happened, well over 90% of these crops were infected. In a stroke, our yet-unseen and unknown enemies had deprived us of more than two-thirds of our traditional food supplies.

Of course, humanity adapted. This is, after all, what humanity does when presented with challenges. Farmers switched to alternative crops, governments initiated rationing, and those who had horded. It was not enough. In two short years, the human population had plummeted from nearly seven billion to less than three billion. The famine had decimated the Third World and returned the age-old specter of starvation to industrialized nations. America, once breadbasket to the world, had turned inward, barely able to feed itself. The European Union had disintegrated after a war had broken out, with Germany and the United Kingdom fighting France and Poland over food.

This was the state of the world when our enemy arrived.