The sun rose over the horizon; not like a day on earth. This sun rose only once every ten thousand years. Ice melted in the sudden glare and the natives awoke again.
By early morning, a thousand years later, they had climbed from the caves into the land rich with mud and food. One generation after another lived and died, pulling themselves up from the darkness.
The urge to build came at midmorning. Mud had begun to dry, water to form into pools and seas. The creatures -- multi-legged, large round heads -- scurried across a landscape rich with bios. They built walls of mud brick, intricately designed curves and circles, marking out clan from clan. They tended fields of rich purple moss and yellow fungus. The people lived well, resting in the shadows of their buildings, and never fearing more than the darkness of places they dared not go. Dark and death became synonymous, and even the darker shadows of buildings were lighted with more windows.
Cities rose along the shores of lakes and seas. By afternoon, five thousand years after the sunrise, they were strong and prosperous, generations born to civilization.
But some already whispered that the sun would be swallowed and their lives of perpetual sunlight would be gone again. Adventurers found caves they claimed had birthed the ancestors. Priesthoods rose, studying the sun, claiming there was more beyond the One Light.
And as the sun began to set, more and more of the creatures began to believe. Grandparents, seeing their own deaths coming, told the multitude of newly hatched about the darkness that would devour their world.
But for a while, the light still held. For a while, the children of the sun lived their good lives and ignored the coming of the dark as best they could. It would not be their lifetime and they tried not to mourn for the loss of all they loved. They would not see it.
And so they held on, the long morning drifting down and down, until they had no doubt. By eight thousand years, shadows were growing long. Fear became an aspect of everyday life.
And after fear came the madness.
The sun fell farther to the horizon, and as each generation measured the degrees of life left, they went mad with frustration and fear. Nothing they could do to save their world. Nothing they could do to save anything here, and towards the ends, hordes of the Children of the Light tore down what their ancestors had built. The winds of the long dark had started to howl around them, like the shouts of all those who had already gone to the shadows, come back to grab them. They killed and died and lived in such terror that none could believe there had ever been anything good before them.
Some found their way far deep into caves where florescent rock gave more light than the long shadows of sunset. Here they finally found peace, curled up among the gases that fed them through their skin. Those did not see the final light disappear over the horizon as their doomed brethren did. Nor did they see the glory of the stars sweep across the sky, a nebula right with colors standing where the noonday sun had once stood. Those few who lived that long died in the harsh winds that wore away the carapace that had protected them from harsh sunlight.
All gone to wait the long night and begin again.
Five thousand years later, a shuttle sat down on the edge of what must have been a wide sea. The scientists conducted experiments and some even donned their own self-made form of carapace and went out to walk along the shore where nothing more than some microbes existed, locked in eternal cold.
Nothing here, they decided at last. Too harsh a world for terraforming, and thousands of years from seeing a sunrise again. A bleak, forgotten place, numbered and abandoned. No wonders to find here.
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