Friday, January 21, 2022


Almost-thirteen Emerald Marcillon lives with her parents, who have dug up evidence of aliens in Chicxilub Crater in Yucatan, they have found artifacts that point to a long-ago alien war. An alien artificial intelligence called Inamma has survived that war. It tries to steal the artifacts that when assembled, can destroy all of Humanity. But it can’t find them and kills Emerald’s parents. Emerald escapes and is taken into Earth orbit to the SOLAR EXPLORER. Inamma follows Emerald into space, and the ship’s captain, who is also her great-aunt, tries to hide her from Inamma. Emerald holds the key to the artifacts. Emerald is not the best at making friends, but manages to make a few on SOLAR EXPLORER. When her friends and crew members find what Inamma is, they fight together to protect the artifacts.

(I’m posting Fridays, because if you like what you see and you’re a friend/parent/aunt/uncle/friend of the family, you can forward, text, Instagram, or tiktok the story to your child/niece-nephew/friend-of-the-family – and your significant young adult would have Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday to read it, so it won’t interfere with the Homework Schedule.)

By the time she got to the trailer, Mom and Dad had stopped arguing and they were deep into their formal presentation. Why had they waited until now to bring out their little show? Usually it was the first thing researchers and professors saw. Mom was the speaker, Dad the stoic scientist, nodding sagely off to the side. Mom was the enthusiast, ramping up the energy in the room then startling her audience. Sometimes Emerald wondered how she had ended up being a silent child with downcast eyes and unable to speak to strangers.

In the trailer, she slipped went to the kitchen cabinet and pushed aside a panel. This way, she slipped under the desk in the presentation tent. It held Mom and Dad’s laptops, the wi-fi router, and their micro satellite uplink. She was very much out of anyone’s way.

She could hear Mom pacing back and forth, then stop suddenly. The low hum of the holographic projector was creating a 3D image of a star system that appeared to float in the middle of the small lab. Mom would gesture to it as she said, “The evidence we’ve gathered so far clearly indicates that a massive object – probably a microscopic black hole – grazed Uranus and tipped it on its side.” An invisible something struck the gas giant, throwing off a jet of plasma. “On of the ships of the invading interstellar fleet of the ones we call the Júwàirén, using singularity energy technology, probably experienced a disastrous explosion, releasing the microscopic singularity to fall toward the sun. It gathered asteroid, space debris sweeping through the Solar System, dropping comets, shattered rock as well as parts of the invading fleets ships. They certainly missing Saturn but rained down on Jupiter, some massive flotsam setting off the Great Red Spot hurricane.” A flash in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter set its gases roiling. “The worst was yet to happen,” she continued as the image zoomed in on a blue, reddish-brown and white Mars. “The surface was covered with shallow oceans that teemed with microscopic life forms. A large rock, possibly an asteroid knocked from a stable orbit and carried on the shockwave of the explosion, slammed into the planet, blowing away much of its atmosphere, allowing the oceans to boil away under low pressure.” The image zoomed closer, focusing on a world that was obviously Earth in the Cretaceous Era. “Another piece, an immense asteroid or part of a shattered moon, struck off the coast of what would one day be the Yucatan Peninsula. The dinosaurs and thousands of other life forms, already environmentally and genetically stressed, were launched into extinction.” She paused for effect and as the image swung away from Earth’s nuclear winter, it stopped this time on another world. It was a virtual twin of Earth with a silvery moon and abundant water – though its surface showed less brown, and more green, the continents were smaller and more scattered, and a true world ocean wrapped it in swaths of clouds and sparkling water. “This is the world of an alien, probably sauroid intelligence; native to the planet we now call Venus. They were aggressive and powerful. Spreading through our Solar System, we have evidence that they conquered beyond it. The invasion fleet had come to put a stop to it.”

Emerald imagined Mom’s face as well as Dad’s. They hadn’t been fooled by the military pretense at all! They’d known there were soldiers in the compound all along.

On his chair to one side, Paolo Marcillon, Emerald’s Dad, glanced at the faces of the Combined Forces officers. He shook his head and rubbed his temples. Nhia shot him a look but continued, “But the accident that destroyed the fleet and saved the sauroids next threatened them with the mindless destruction of chance.” A massive debris cloud – the remnants of the invasion fleet, asteroids, shards of Jupiter’s rings and moons – after dropping a few pieces in the Earth-Moon system, slammed full force into Venus and its moon. Nhia took up the narration, “An object nearly large enough to split Venus’ moon in half struck, knocking it cleanly out of Venus’ orbit, where it drifted until the Sun captured it again, the molten scar on its surface glowing red hot for nearly a century. The world we call Venus was pounded by meteorites sleeting through the vacuum of space, fielding one object large enough to reverse Venus’ rotation, likely a moon of Mars.” She paused – as she had one hundred and twelve times before – before she finally said softly, “The Solar System had been reshaped and the intelligences on the second planet of our shattered star system were extinct. Humanity, born because the dinosaurs vanished, and the People of Venus died entirely; are the heirs of those shattered spheres. We are the ones who must piece together the details. We are the ones who must find the bits of technology that we can use to go to the stars...”

There was a pause. A “professor”, who now spoke like a general; Emerald knew exactly who he was, an older man whose hair and moustache were completely gray said, “Thank you very much, Drs. Marcillon.” By the sounds on the floor, he stood slowly. “Unless you have some material evidence to support your theories, I think it may be time for us to go.”

Mom said softly, “We have evidence, Commander Shinichi.”

His reply was just as muted when he said, “Go on.”

“One of your operatives has already discovered some of the evidence, Commander. I’ll offer you a bit of advice, however: don’t try to open the box on your own. We’ll cooperate with your people – but the timetable and conditions under which we will cooperate will be ours.” He started to turn away as she added, “If you try your hardest and set your best people to break any of the six of them open, they are set to destroy the evidence inside.”

Commander Shinichi was silent for some time before he said, “We’ve imposed on your hospitality long enough, Ma’am; Sir.” He and the other “professors”, subordinates in one way or another, stood with him.

The “professor” and his retinue strode back into the heat of the jungle and Paolo said, “We’ll never see them again.”

Nhia scowled at him and snapped, “There’s no need to curse the presentation just because...”

Paolo stood up, shaking his head. Despite the air conditioning, the air was humid, overly warm. “I’m not cursing something that has failed ninety-six times! Why can’t you just admit that no one is interested in investing in our wild science fiction?”

“It’s not science fiction!” she exclaimed, swiping her hand through the hologram, making it vanish. “It’s hard science! We’re...”

“We were once respected paleoxenoarchaeontologists – we invented the field! People came to study with us! They still want to – but not in this freaking jungle! We have to go back...”

“You’ve lost your sense of adventure, Paul,” he hated it when she called him by his anglicized name. She knew that very well. “You were so brave and daring when we first met...”

He cut her off, “You had some modicum of good sense when we first met...”

They both heard the door slam as Emerald left the trailer. Their argument died as they turned, avoiding each other’s eyes. Paolo started walking. “I’ll go after her. It’s my turn.” By the time he reached the airlock, it was standing open to the hot and humid Yucatan Peninsula air. In the distance, he heard Emerald’s retreat. He called out, “Emerald?”

“I just want to be alone!” she shouted over her shoulder. Emerald Marcillon fled through the airlock that kept the equipment in the mobile home cool and dry and raced into the humid Mexican night.


Guy Stewart is a retired teacher and counselor, with science fiction for young people and adults published in ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact; podcast at CAST OF WONDERS; and in CRICKET the Magazine for Children. For links to his other works, go to For an interview about EMERALD OF EARTH, try this: