We breathed heavily. We were stressed and worried. This was the first time, the first attempt to rise up above the ground, in our deep sanctuary. We had been safe. We had been careful. We had survived.
However, it was time to leave.
The signs were The Enemy had left the Earth. And now we could rise and rebuild. And be prepared if they returned.
We were the first team tasked to venture forth and it was exciting; it was terrifying; and it was momentous.
We were equipped with the best pre invasion technology. The prototypes we'd refined in the century since. The ones that were almost ready when They came. We checked each other's powered armor. We checked the breathers: we didn't know if The Enemy had salted the surface with biologicals to kill us off. Or nanites to tear us apart, subtly. Or xenobiologicals that might just make us sick, because they were, well, alien.
We were prepared. We were ready.
The door swung open.
What met us was a surprise and a terror and a delight. The eyes were pleased. The mind was terrified.
The town of Los Alamos was gone. We had largely expected that. There had been multiple strikes on the Lab and the town. There were still foundations and crumbling concrete walls. But...
This was no longer a desert. No longer the high mountain desert of New Mexico with Ponderosa trees and scattered junipers and the occasional pinion brave enough to grow at this altitude.
It looked far more like a jungle than a desert. The humidity matched too. And there were signs of rain. Lots of it. However...
The plants were not all terrestrial. Or even by half. There were talk trees that were a riot of orange and yellow. Shrubs of red and purple. Vines with with sickle shaped thorn-leaves in zebra stripes. And a moss or grass or some sort of ground cover squished when we walked.
The troop was very nervous. We had our guns out and ready. The drones gave us a view that would make it impossible for an ambush...but...they spotted something ahead. A clearing. With...something.
We advanced to the clearing. It had normal earth grass, green and seemingly cut. In its center was a monolith. A monument.
We checked and there was no sign of power from the obelisk. It appeared to be inert obsidian.
We took up positions to defend ourselves while the science team went forward. And then...and then...
They had known where we were. They had left us a marker to tell us of that fact and that they could have wiped us out at any time, without even a minor trouble: they had crossed the vastness of space and mastered energies nearing what our sun produced. They could ripped the Earth open and shredded it like so much cheese.
Our thousand original inhabitants were no threat. We were still no threat. This message was a warning to not EVER be a threat.
If we ever became a threat again, they would return and not be as merciful.
We looked at each other.
We were terrified and confused.
Against a race that could sunder a world, how had we ever been a threat?!