Persephone | By: Laura Slyer | | Category: Short Story - Sci-Fi Bookmark and Share


As Captain Allagra gazed out of the ships' viewscreen he was reminded of a nursery rhyme his grandmother used to put him to sleep:

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.

It was that rhyme that led him to flight school.
Filled with an insatiable curiosity he'd been obssessed with the idea of actually finding out exactly what the stars were.
That rhyme had fuelled his desire to such an extent that his superiors had chosen him to command a colony ship.
Having woken only hours earlier from a seven year induced sleep, he now watched as the ship with all the colonists neared their new home on the planet Persephone in the galaxy Uripides.
Little did they know how aptly the fertile little planet had been named.

Six Years Later...

Allagra watched as his daughter Xela flirted coyly with Jenji. Born four years ago Xela had the physical body and emotional maturity of a sixteen year old.
Jenji appeared to be eighteen. He'd been born five years ago. At first the colonists had been alarmed at the sudden and rapid growth of their newborn children.
Slowly they began to see the advantages and to use them. They could plant a tomato seed one day and the next be eating fresh tomatoes.
This phenomenon explained why Persephone was such a lush, fertile planet. As the years passed and the colonists prospered the planet seemed to be undergoing a change.
Tomatoes no longer grew overnight, nor did children and the young of the livestock.

Six months after Allagra had watched Xela flirting with Jenji, the planet had changed to an extreme that alarmed the colonists.
Contacting the Council on Earth they were horrified to learn that Persephone was going to change to such an extent that for the next six years it would appear to be barren.
Fourteen years ago when the enviromentalists had surveyed Persephone and marked it as a planet worth colonising it had just entered its summer phase.
This phase had continued for as long as the planet had been under surveilance. The council had not been aware of the winter period to come and had sent the newly selected colonists off while it was in the winter phase.
When the colonists had arrived Persephone had once more entered its summer phase. The time had once more arrived for the barren winter to take hold of the planet.

The Council offered a few suggestions, but none were viable. It was Xela who came up with the solution. during the barren years they would enter the sleep state they'd been in while travelling. They'd orbit the planet during the winter phase and programme the ships' computer to wake them when summer arrived.
This decided the preparations got under way. Now as Xela watched Persephone through the ships' viewscreen she thought of the rhyme her father had used to put her to sleep:

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.

They'd discovered exactly what Persephone was, and they'd been amazed.
Others like them would discover other planets and their secrets, but for the colonists of Persephone theirs was the greatest wonder.
After their long sleep they would return to their fertile Persephone and the cycle of winters, summers and long sleeps would continue.
One thing was certain though, they would return.
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