In the mornings, the children were gone, as they always were, disappearing with the sunrise, sent off on whatever journey it was that allowed them to bring back the seeds that would fill the garden. They would be gone for the day, and return only at sunset, only once they had handfuls of seed and root, some way to fill the gardens we depleted as soon as we filled them. More and more, they looked exhausted, drained, haunted by their work, but determined to see it through. None of them would speak of it to us, nor tell us where they went — not even the littlest one who could speak, the youngest of the original survivors, Pau.
We let it go on in part because we had no choice — we had tried to stop them, had tried with threats and cajoling. We had stayed with them, tried to follow them — and part because without their actions, we would not have survived. The Captain had blessed the journey, and we had to follow through.
We had hoped that once we had enough to harvest, we could simply take the seeds from something we’d grown, and use them for the next planting, but once the plants blossomed in their fullness and offered up their fruits, we found that none of them contained viable seeds in their own right — those of us who remembered Before knew that we had engineered them for this purpose, though not even those who knew of it could explain why.
We remembered the towering cities, the hothouse labs, the agricultists whose dark sciences fed the continents, but they could not explain what had driven us as a people to remove the spark of life from life itself, and keep it for our own.
All that mattered, once we knew, was that there was no way to grow our own food beyond the seeds that came back to Songfall.
Our future, our children, even littlest Pau, would not be able to put down this task.
The children would have to continue their journey into the unknown indefinitely.