Once upon a time, the aircraft used to drop aid packages, parachuting down to earth in sturdy crates, filled to the brim with food, medicine and supplies.
He didn’t understand the politics that caused the changes. He was only a young boy. At first the planes didn’t come. The soldiers in their peacekeeping uniforms, the ones who would give out bars of candy on occasion, had gone too.
The fun programs he used to watch on the television went. Important people said important things that he didn’t really get, but it worried his parents, the parents of his friends, it… well, everyone was more tense. Strange, scary men and women with big guns and rugged vehicles roamed the streets. He was forbidden from playing outside. That was for the best really.
Planes returned after a few weeks. But this time was so different. Missiles streaked up into the sky, roaring fire behind them. Bombs fell from the planes, sending dust and debris upwards as they exploded. Barbed wire barricades came up around the city. Concrete barriers were laid outside important buildings.
He was awake one night, peering out of a window. It gave him a view of something he had never seen before. Steel rain came from the sky, high-flying planes supported by little dots dropping larger metal objects. As they fell, they twisted and turned and fired out at the missiles coming for them.
As they fell closer, they released parachutes to slow their descent. The steel rain landed on the ground with clouds of dust swirling underneath. If he hadn’t have seen them, he’d think it was fiction, something from the cartoons he used to watch. With large metal feet they stomped around, an array of weapons firing as they began to fight with the scary people in town.
His father pulled him away from the window, carrying him quickly to the kitchen to hide under the thick wooden table that his mother was already crouched under.
“Father, what’s happening?” He asked in a hushed whisper, pressed between his parents as artillery fire rocked the neighbourhood. The second word his father used, he didn’t understand. The third one though, he knew too well.
“The Annexation Wars, son. The war’s come here properly.”