Sophie snored, her drool running onto the countertop. She didn't notice the dinging of the bell as a pair of men in severe suits entered her pet shop, but the sudden silence of the pair of yapping dogs at her feet woke her.
"Hi, good morning," Sophie said, wiping her mouth on her sleeve and getting her bearings. "Can I help you?"
"Are you Sophie Emily Destrida?"
"Are you the owner of this pet shop?"
"Yes," Sophie said.
"We're from the TBD."
"What? You're not sure where you're from?"
"The Terran Bureau of Defense. We're going to have to ask you a few questions."
"Wait a second. Can I see some ID?"
"Absolutely," said one of the men. "I am Gamma and this is Epsilon." He pulled out a small plate the size and shape of a saucer from a tea set. Setting it down on the counter, he waved his hand over it. The saucer buzzed for a second, then darkness fell in the pet shop. Sophie gasped. The morning sun had ceased to stream through the windows and the flourescent lights had gone out. A park bench outside, her shelves full of inventory inside, even Gamma and Epsilon glowed with a peculiar blue and purple hue in the dark.
Faint, glowing text hovered in place over the saucer, in a strange alphabet that Sophie had never seen before.
"Sorry," Gamma said. He waved his hand near the saucer, and the text changed to the normal alphabet.
The text read "Gamma" and a floating hologram of Gamma's disembodied head spun lazily in the air next to it. The hologram disappeared and the light returned.
"That was awesome!" Sophie said.
Gamma smiled. "So you'll help us?"
"Grab that tank," Epsilon said, pointing at an aquarium behind Sophie, "and come with us."
After a ride in a very comfortable limousine to a run-down warehouse in an abandoned industrial park that was actually the most advanced science facility on the planet, Sophie felt nervous.
A lady agent, named Lambda, helped Sophie change into a wetsuit that contained a million miles of super-fine, top-secret superconducting wire carrying enough current to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a fish fry. Lambda finished connecting the final pair of snaps on the back of the outfit.
"There. You're ready to go," Lambda said. She walked out of the room, Sophie following and the suit squeaking with each step. Lambda led her into a waiting room. Sophie recognized many of the other owners of pet shops in the area, all of them wearing ridiculous suits.
Gamma stepped into the room before Sophie could ask a question.
"A great fleet of battleships from the Lizordo System entered out solar system last night. Our sensors indicate that they will arrive in orbit around Earth at any moment. Our conventional planetary defense systems have been overpowered by skirmishers sent by these horrid lizard people. Each of you has been selected due to-"
But Sophie would have to wait to find out she was selected, for at that moment the klaxons embedded in the walls began to wail and red lights began to flash.
"The time is upon us! You will be teleported aboard the battleships to deploy your payload! To the teleportation room!"
Gamma led them to a bank of teleporters, which appeared to be nothing more than large wooden boxes covered in aluminum foil, inside and out.
"To the stars!" Gamma yelled.
Sophie was in the first group to enter the teleporters. The box buzzed. Electricity began to leap and spark around her on the foil. Her hair stood on end and she felt a buzzing in her head.
A moment later, she found herself in a bright room, brighter than any place she'd ever been before. Something crunched beneath her feet, like gravel. Sweat sprang out of her pores in a vain attempt to cool her. As her eyes adjusted she saw moisture seeping down the walls. And around her stood a group of lizard people, who were becoming less astonished and more angry with every passing moment.
"Uh, hi," Sophie said.
One of the lizard people, standing on a raised dais in the center of the room, pointed a clawed finger at Sophie.
"Who in the name of Reptilion is this horrible monkey person that dares to enter the command chamber of the Broodqueen Zorzaxa?!"
"I'm Sophie," she said. She grabbed an oblong container, about the shape of an egg but twice as big, off of her belt. "And I'm supposed to give this to you."
"A trick! A trap! Destroy the offering!" yelled Zorzaxa.
One of the lizardmen approached her and slapped the egg out of her hand. It hit the gravel on the floor and cracked.
Sophie realized why Gamma and Epsilon wanted her to bring her tank of crickets. Before her eyes, the crickets contained within the egg began to hop around and, as they did so, they grew to the size of chickens. Each chitinous joint glistened in the bright light of the command center.
"Curse you, you wretched monkey person!" Zorzaxa bellowed as her warriors began to give chase to their lunches. "You've ruined the invasion!" Zorzaxa lunged at a particularly juicy cricket and missed. It hopped away down a hallway nearby and Zorzaxa soon followed.
The tickling sensation returned and Sophie was standing back in the teleporter bay, being pulled out of the foil-lined box by a pair of nurses.
Gamma stood nearby, watching a viewscreen of the battleships flying in zigzag, haphazard patterns.
"It's amazing. All it took was crickets, quadrillions of dollars and countless years to defeat the threat of lizard people."
Gamma took his sunglasses off and he stared at Sophie. "For now."
The Moral: Make sure to bring your own crickets so that you don't get distracted.