The Alien Invasion of Earth has been put on hold: when the Ganae invaders arrive, they find humanity dead in its home. After studying human relics, they discover that although humans were obviously more advanced than themselves, they were all wiped out almost overnight by something. Intrigued, they pick up a number of human remains from different eras and resurrect them for interrogation. The first one is an Egyptian pharaoh; the second is a drunken driver from the 20th century. The third is a man from around 4000 CE, whom they dub "The Monster" after he very nearly wipes all of them out with telepathic control over his era's machinery before they manage to nuke him. However, they still need to discover the reasons for humanity's extinction, so they decide to resurrect someone who actually witnessed it...
This story provides examples of:
- Alien Invasion: Let's just say that it gets subverted.
- It is also said that the Ganae have invaded and massacred countless planets across the galaxy before.
- The Chessmaster: The fourth resurrectee plays the Ganae for utter fools while looking utterly bored.
- Humanity's Wake: The Driving Question of the story is "What wiped out a civilization as advanced as humanity?" The answer is "nucleonic storm" that was so huge and sudden that humans didn't manage to teleport out in time.
- Humanity Is Superior: Humans are obviously the most advanced race Ganae have ever encountered (and lived to tell), which makes their extinction ever more puzzling to them.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: How the Ganae start viewing humanity after certain events.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: The Ganae note that there are no child skeletons on Earth, and conclude the humans must have solved the problem of aging.
- La Résistance: It is mentioned that two of the planets conquered by the Ganae still have areas held by natives, because destroying them isn't considered worth it.
- Mugging the Monster
- Nuke 'em: Works as the last resort against the third resurrectee. The fourth just prevents the nukes from detonating.
- Rousseau Was Right: It is strongly implied that humanity was at peace and generally Crystal Spires and Togas at the time of its sudden extinction.
- Take a Third Option: Confronted by the possibility of either bringing the human to their planet or giving away its location via transmission, the Ganae decide to commit a Heroic Sacrifice. Suckers.