COURSE FIVE: SCIENCE FICTION
It had been nearly a century since the Tripods had first come to Earth. We tried to fight them, with biplanes and bullets. We might as well have tried to shoo them away from our planet with angry words.
We called them “Tripods” because the aliens were revealed to have three spindly legs, each ending in three clawed, bulbous toes. Their arms, similarly, formed on a triangular axis, and each of three arms end in three bulbous, clawed fingers. What we would interpret as their heads appeared to have clusters of angry red sacs, like pomegranate seeds, which our scientists believe are their sensory organs. We have never had an opportunity to study any of the Tripods … and by study, I mean dissect, so there's still an awful lot we don't know about them.
It was not readily apparent what it was that the Tripods were after. Our records say that their ships hovered in orbit for days, without any activity. When they did venture out of their ships, they materialized in cascades of shimmering light. First, strangely, they took our dead. They robbed our morgues and our cemeteries, and whenever anyone has died in the past hundred years, a Tripod has appeared in their shimmering light, grabbed the dead body, and disappeared again. We surmise that they are eating our dead.
Apparently we weren't killing ourselves off quickly enough, because after a time, the Tripods expanded their efforts, and began to abscond with our deathly ill. This new pattern took us some time to discern, as they would move through a hospital, taking some but not others. Eventually we realized that those who were taken were very close to death.
Still, for years the Tripods seemed content to remain in orbit across the globe, appearing only as grim reapers, as valkyrie escorting the dead away from the World of the Living. It wasn't until several years later that scientists working on a missile capable of destroying the Tripods' ships managed to catch their attention. At least, our records indicate that is what the team was commissioned to build. Allegedly, the scientists were all killed (and then, of course, taken), their prototype destroyed, and their notes were rendered completely unusable.
From this unsuccessful first attempt was born the Human Resistance Movement. The Resistance met in secret, using ciphered language to ensure that the Tripods would not learn of our plans. All of our projects were disguised as being for other purposes.
Yet, the hero of our revolution was never intended to be used as a weapon. Which is clearly why it worked. A geneticist in Armenia developed a new strain of pomegranate to stimulate her country's sagging economy. This new pomegranate grew faster, put out more fruit, which had an improved antioxidant effect in the human diet. Within months, every pomegranate-producing nation in the world was growing her new super-pom, which worked its way into greater exposure thanks to certain fad diets.
As people who had consumed these pomegranates began to die, they were whisked away by the Tripods. As these people were consumed, this altered piece of DNA wreaked havoc with the Tripods on some major level. It was first noted that people were dying without being picked up. Eventually, a Tripod had a very public meltdown, literally. As the poor bastard began to dissolve into so much alien stew, another Tripod “harvested” it.
It has been over a year since the last Tripod was seen, though their great ships still hover in orbit over our planet. We tried to fight them off with planes and guns and even missiles, but it turns out the saviour of our race was a rogue strand of DNA.