To an anonymous prompt.
“Are you sure you’ll stay, then?”
Shea hadn’t been looking for the underground facility – hadn’t been looking, at least, for this specific, deep-cavern-system underground facility, with its refugee population hidden there since the Catastrophe. But, having found it, and, more specifically, having found them, Shea couldn’t leave without doing something.
Some of the refugees, some ancient, a few teenagers, three mothers of infants, had agreed to leave; Shea knew a place where they could be safe and learn to adapt to the world outside. But the Elder, and most of the rest of their group, were adamantly refusing to budge.
The Elder in question shook his head at Shea one last time. “I’m too old to find out what a post-Catastrophe world looks like. And many of the rest of the group were born down here. They’ve never seen daylight, never tasted un-filtered air. They wouldn’t survive the brightness.” He gestured at the dim emergency lighting that had sustained them all this time. “None of us can handle the greenhouse lights without protective gear anymore.”
Shea nodded. “I’ll be very careful with those who come with me. And for those of you that stay behind…”
The Working was complex, but Shea had grown used to strange and weird Workings while exploring the ruins of fallen civilizations. The trick was to make this one last, not a couple days, but as long as possible, ever changing.
After a small eternity, twenty or thirty minutes, Shea turned back to the Elder, a glass jar in hand. From the jar, a faint glow, barely brighter than the emergency lights, emanated. “This is my gift, a seed of a sun. It will grow, slowly, mimicking the effects of a real sun, although it will never be as bright as Sol. It will adjust over years, so that you have time to adapt to its light. Hang it in your largest cavern, and, in twenty years, grass will grow there.”
The Elder cradled the tiny sun-seed, tears coming to his eyes. “Thank you,” he murmured.
“I came here for enlightenment,” Shea answered dryly. “It is only fair that I leave some in return.”
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