I can't love

There's no place for it, out here, in the danger zone,

We're stuck in this war, with only faint memories of back home,

Our flowers and chocolate are guns and bullets,

Only when this is over can we relax, maybe

Until then, I won't stop till I finish,

Put an end to it all

Finish this fight

[May 14th, 2525 Los Angeles, California, USA - Earth]

The little girl emerged from her bedroom, rubbing her eyes with one fist tiredly, clutching a stuffed kitten by the paw. The toy's fur was matted and stained, but it was a good sign that it was a well adored object.

The girl, whose name was Renee Kilburn, looked similar to her stuffed kitten in terms of condition. Being an eight year old, her brown hair was messily brushed into two pig-tails, remnants of her breakfast was clustered in the corners of her mouth, and her clothes, particularly her elbows and knees, were stained brown and green from her latest romp outside in the yard.

Her father was at work and her mother was currently in the shower, and she had just awoken from her nap. She had played for quite a long time outside with her two friends, Troy Fisher and Amy Smythe. It was the weekend, so the three friends often took advantage of the freedom from school to play games like grav-ball, riding their bikes, going to the park or looking for lizards and bugs in the garden. This particular excursion had tuckered her out and she went in and surrendered to a rest for a while, and managed to nap despite the temperature both inside and outside of the house. The Californian sun, despite it being early spring, shone down hotly, a menacing foreshadow for what was to come during the summer months, and Renee had napped lightly, lying atop of her bed sheets, the curtain pulled down over her bedroom window in attempt to make the atmosphere a little cooler.

As she stepped into the sunlit living room, she was able to groggily make out the digital clock on the mantel, it read 3: 21pm. Troy and Amy would probably be back again soon, like most other days, rejuvenated and knocking at her door to invite her to go play again.

Troy, a lanky and adventurous brown-haired boy, was older than Renee or Amy. Being the age of eleven, he wasn't as easily tuckered out and was usually the first one to come knocking, usually with a soda or perhaps an energy drink in hand, willing to usually share it with Renee.

Amy was nine, with flaming red hair and a face full of freckles. She fit in well with the two, and had been obnoxious, energetic, and tom-boyish since a very young age. Seeming always determined to prove herself, she was always trying to keep up with Troy and his other friends. She never liked to admit she was tired, and kept going until usually she couldn't walk anymore.

Renee, however, wasn't afraid to surrender into slumber when she needed it, and if it weren't for Troy and Amy soon to pay her a visit again, she would have liked to slept some more. However, she felt herself awakening further with each step. She walked over to the couch, and sat down. Her mother hadn't shut off the TV like she usually had the habit of doing, and the news was blaring. Renee settled onto the couch, clutching her stuffed kitten in her arms, and looked curiously at the TV.

A news reporter was anxiously reporting the latest information on the Human-Covenant war. To an eight year old, the news wasn't important, and most children were able to live happily without the war being a current factor on their mind. In fact, Renee's parents did their best to keep their daughter sheltered from it. It had been raging since February now, and it wasn't likely that anything would die down anytime soon. The United Nations Space Command was up against a new and extremely powerful foe, with advanced technology and weaponry. Earth, at this time, was a safe haven. The goings-on of the war were light-years away on the distant outer colonies, but it wasn't to be forgotten that the outer colonies were populated with families just like Earth.

"Today, a Covenant cruiser has entered another UNSC colony planet's atmosphere and launched an attack; this planet's population is about 4 million, and our forces are currently trying to save the planet before the Covenant get a chance to glass it… we have exclusive footage taken from one Marine's helmet…"

Renee was able to understand most of the words; she was smart for her age, and it frightened her. She knew that there was a war going on, but hadn't been allowed to hear much about it. All she had been told is that it was far, far away and she had nothing to worry about. She wanted to look away from the TV, but her childish curiosity kept her watching as the news cut to shaky and static video footage, filled with gunfire and movement. Bright blue and green bolts of what looked to be light streaked across the screen; dirt could be seen catapulting into the air by explosions, the occasional rat-a-tat-tat of assault rifles was heard. Suddenly, a blue armor-clad alien came into view, and Renee gasped, staring wide-eyed in horror as it roared, and charged towards the camera, shooting its weapon.

It looked like something from a movie, but this thing was real. She never saw an alien before, only heard about them, and what she heard was kept at a minimum. Most parents didn't want their children to be exposed to the horrifying truth of what the human race was fighting, including Renee's. If her mother wasn't in the shower, she probably wouldn't have let her even watch the television.

The charging alien in the footage was tall, big, and ugly. It walked on two feet, just like humans did, had four jaws lined with sharp teeth and an elongated reptilian face and little golden eyes with slits for pupils. Just as the monster drew close to the camera, it let out a deep, terrifying roar that seemed to echo, there was a bright blue flash and a loud sizzling noise and the image flickered and diminished to a noisy buzz war of salt and pepper.

It switched back to the news reporter, who looked just as surprised at the video's ending as Renee. He cleared his throat and glanced down to his papers, and began talking again, but his words went in one ear and out the other. Renee sat on the couch, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open in shock. It was difficult to register that what she had just witnessed was not a movie, not fiction, but reality. This was what humanity was up against.

She barely heard the knocking on the door, but she didn't need to get up and answer it, for not two seconds later she heard the door open. For a moment in her eight year old mind, the option that it might be an alien crossed her thoughts. She imagined one identical to what had been in the video stepping into her living room, looking at her with those evil eyes, its jaws parting to let loose that same terrifying roar. She gasped and stared at the entrance of the living room as she heard footsteps approaching down the hallway, her mind betraying her and running wild.

But it was no alien. She was quite relieved to see Troy walk in, hands shoved in his pockets. His shaggy hair a mess underneath his hat, and his blue eyes shone through the dirt on his face. He had acquired a new injury, Renee noted, by the new band-aid slapped on his arm.

"Hey," he said, his calm expression somewhat soothing, "Me and the guys are heading to the park for a game of gravball. Wanna come?"

Renee nodded, although she still felt scared.

"Sure," she replied in a small voice, sliding off the couch and setting her stuffed kitten on the floor, "Amy coming?"

"I'm goin' to her house next to ask," Troy answered, and raised his eyebrow, noticing how timidly she crossed the room, "Are you ok?"

"Mhm," Renee nodded, glancing back at the TV.

"Oh, watching the news?" Troy put an arm around her shoulder, "Don't let it scare you, kid. I'm not scared of those aliens. You know, Dad says that I should go and fight them some day, you know, to help out our planet. We all could someday, when we get older. You, Amy and I," Troy lifted his arms to aim with an invisible gun, "Wouldn't that be cool?"

Troy closed one eye and made a shooting sound effect. He smiled a lopsided grin, and lowered his arms. He glanced over at Renee, waiting for her response.

"No it wouldn't." Renee replied flatly. She couldn't imagine seeing those aliens in real life, fighting them, being in danger of being killed, "Let's go get Amy."

Troy shrugged and they both walked out into the hallway, approaching the front door, which Troy had left casually open.

"Y'never know what the future's got in store for us, RenRen," he simply said.

Renee took one last look over her shoulder at the TV before pushing it out of her mind and running outside, Troy quick to follow.