It was in the year 2050 when humanity found out that it was, indeed, not alone in the universe.
They appeared without warning above the capitals of all major nations. The huge, menacing, and completely unresponsive space ships dominated the skies, sending the media into a complete tailspin. The governments of our world argued back and forth on what to do. But, in the end, they did nothing.
First contact came within hours of the sightings. The question of what these aliens wanted prompted emergency closed-door meetings in Norway, held by NATO. Meetings were held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Union of South American Nations, the African Union, and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, among others. The media speculated endlessly. The talks lasted for two days, while the world waited and watched. Early on the morning of the third day, a news conference was held and details were finally released to the public.
The name of their planet was Tah'Nar—and it was dying. Originally, the Tah'Narians had been an intersexed warrior race. Chemical warfare had essentially rendered them sterile. Many scientists from all over the world eagerly volunteered their assistance to aid the alien race. The benefits to our own world hovered foremost in the mind of every government official present at the meeting. The Tah'Narians required DNA for their harvesting program. Since we couldn't duplicate their technology, those males who were to participate had to be transported to their world, which, of course, triggered all sorts of questions from people. If these aliens were so advanced, why couldn't they extract the needed DNA? Why did humans have to be taken off-world? The story had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
After about a week of questioning, a press release from our government stated that the two strands of DNA were too fragile to be frozen and transported through space. The release claimed that the nucleobases—the four molecules that form the genetic building blocks of DNA—would be damaged and might even disintegrate once the alien starships jumped to star drive, the method used to travel through time and space so quickly. People, however, could be protected in ways that extracted DNA couldn't.
Agreements were reached with each government—and boy, didn't that take a while—that these men would be returned to Earth once the program was completed. Here in the United States a lottery system was set up, and each young man between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-eight was assigned a number. Once a year, for the next five years, numbers would be drawn and a new set of one thousand men would be collected and escorted to holding centers. Medical and psychological tests would be run on the subjects, and, if they passed the tests, they'd be transported to waiting spaceships. Other industrialized nations followed our example and set up their own lottery systems. Word soon leaked that only gay men were being targeted, but our government vehemently denied this accusation.
The media coined the expression 'The Harvest' for the times when the Tah'Narians would return to collect these young men. I was seventeen when the aliens first appeared, so my parents assumed I was safe. The final collection would be done before I turned twenty-three. I didn't fall within the guidelines the aliens had established, so I thought I had nothing to fear.
I was wrong.
Exactly one week before my twenty-third birthday, an extraction team showed up to collect me. My parents were distraught and I fought them, but nothing could stop them from taking me. I just knew somebody somewhere had made a terrible mistake. But no one would listen to me.
"I'm not supposed to be collected!" Men in SWAT gear dragged me to a waiting van. One of the aliens stood off to the side, watching. I dug my feet into the ground, trying to halt the parade of their progress. Two human soldiers were beside me, trying to secure my arms behind my back, but I kept twisting and jerking, frantic to break their hold on me. "Listen to me! I'm only twenty-two years old."
"Son of a bitch, stop jumping around, you little fag," the man to the right of me hissed as he grabbed at my wrist and twisted.
"Fuck!" I yelled as pain radiated up my arm. I managed to get my other arm free long enough to get in a good solid shot at the asshole who was currently trying to twist my hand off. I busted his nose. Anger boiled in his eyes as he whipped his arm back to strike me.
Before the blow could land, the Tah'Narian with the extraction team jerked the man away from me by the front of his shirt. Another human took his team member's place immediately, but I was too focused on the alien to pay the guy holding my arm much attention.
The alien lifted the human completely off the ground and shook him like a rag doll, snapping his head back and forth. The Tah'Narian's low growls sent shivers up my spine as he spoke to the team member. And his strength was astounding. The man the alien lifted wasn't a small guy, by any means, and he lifted him with one hand. Then he tossed the guy to the ground, pointed at me and babbled something I couldn't understand.
"I... I... okay. I won't touch him again." The team member stumbled back to the van, never looking back at me.
Good God, the extraction team and that alien could somehow understand each other. Momentarily distracted, I didn't have time to react when another team member handcuffed both my arms tightly behind me. Someone on each side held me tightly, determined to march me to that waiting van.
"Let go of me, dammit!"
"Stop fighting, kid. You can't win against five of us." The new guard fastened a second set of cuffs higher on my forearms. "Plus there's that alien, too. You just saw his strength. The more you fight, the harder this is going to be."
I slumped in their arms, the fight draining out of me. "What did that alien say?"
"Basically, that you've been chosen by one of them," one of the guys from the team leaned down and whispered to me. "I'm sorry, kid. Never heard of something like this happening. No more talking or they'll gag you next."
Horrified, I hung in their arms as they dragged me to a waiting van. I desperately wanted to ask him what he meant about being chosen, but after his warning, I was afraid to say anything. What the hell was going on, and why were the rules being changed all of a sudden? These aliens weren't supposed to be able to pick and choose. That defeated the whole purpose of having a lottery system.
The trip was short and silent, and soon we arrived at one of the holding centers where the men who'd been harvested were inspected. I was led to a doctor's exam room. Two human doctors were there, along with human military.
"Strip," the doctor snapped at me.
"Yeah, fuck you," I replied in the same tone of voice.