The planet had been, to all of their sensors, bare of tool-using life. There was nothing there that showed up using anything more complex than a stone axe. No smelting. No radio waves. No large gatherings of populations.
(Not that it really would have mattered. They had nowhere else to go, after all).
They had landed in a place that looked clear, on a body of water their initial survey told them was potable, near some purple and green vegetation that, even if not edible, would be useable in building materials. They had landed… and stared, open-mouthed, at the landscape around them.
They had seen ruined cities. They had seen corpses. All of that, they had left behind. But the ruins on this planet, where nothing was left using tools; the corpses stacked by the side of the city, like someone had been trying to be tidy; the strange architecture, built to fit those strange shapes, those twisted spines… it was like stepping into their own nightmares, twisted into alien forms.
The worst of all wasn’t the vegetation growing over the things that could be houses, the purple flowers that they soon found were flesh-eating and blood-hungry, the buildings that would never quite fit them. The worst was the statues by the waterfront, and the others, tucked in every place where a god might look, the strange and creepy edifices seeming to beg help from gods who, it seemed, had turned a blind eye.
They slept inside the ship that night, but they could not go home, and they had nowhere else to go. The next morning, they began to dig graves for the remaining corpses, to brush out the biggest of the residences, to plan their own statues to gods they hoped had followed them.
I think it’s in the same world as “Dancing for Joy” http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/43474.html and a couple others
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