Friday, May 13, 2022

Emerald of Earth • Season 2, Episode 17: “Into the Manure Pit”


While Daniel was busy trying to be nice, the girls who were only a little older than Emerald were just as busy being obnoxious.

Ayaka, who’d fended off Emerald’s practiced roundhouse kick, was waiting for her when she stepped out of the bolus the next morning. She and Izegbe, her silent, glowering friend, stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Ayaka was the mouthpiece of the pair of bullying girls that Emerald had one day called Yamata no Orochi, after the Eight Headed Snake of Japanese mythology. Ayaka said, “You’re late.”

Emerald said, “You’re not my boss.”

“We’re older than you.”

Looking directly at Izegbe, Emerald said, “Listen Orochi, if Daniel says I’m late, then...”

He rounded the corner of the boiling shed and said, “You’re late.”

Yamata no Orochi – Ayaka and Izegbe – smirked as one. Emerald lifted her chin a bit and said in a childish a voice as she dared, “I had nightmares last night. I didn’t get much sleep.”

On every other day she’d spent on the plantation, that would have elicited at least a worried look. Today, Daniel shook his head and touched his ipik, saying, “That’s a demerit.”

Yamata no Orochi looked doubly surprised.

Zadok scurried in, trying to get his wildly curly red hair to lay down. It was too short and he only succeeded in making it stick up worse. Daniel glared at him and said, “Demerit,” and touched his ipik. He shook his head while studying his ipik and finally said, “We’ve got jobs to do, kids. This isn’t grammar school any more. So, we have an infestation of beetles and the sugar cane is not doing as well as projections had estimated it would do.”

Søren said softly, “We’ve only been running for a year. We’re still in the data gathering phase.”

Daniel snorted and said, “Try telling that to Master Usorituen! Besides, we have to figure out what’s going on before Team Four does.”

Emerald looked around her Team and said, “Who’s Team Four?”

Ayaka made a raspberry sound and said, “Didn’t you read the prospectus?”

“What’s a prospectus?”

Søren said, “In our case the prospectus is a description of the ideas behind this project.” He paused, “Are you familiar with concept notes?” Emerald shook her head.

“I’ve been online schooled and field schooled my whole life – except maybe for kindergarten.”

Søren nodded and said, “They’re usually used by students embarking on research to gather and present preliminary ideas. We’re doing...”

Daniel cut him off, “That doesn’t matter! If we don’t solve this, then Team Four will get the prize!”

This time Yamata no Orochi spoke in chorus, “The prize is...” Ayaka said.

“A day trip to the Jump Sphere Tournament on the surface! The SOLAREX Comets are playing DUKHAN Dragons!” Izegbe said, gesturing wildly.

Even Mikhail looked puzzled and said, “It’s a virtual tournament. It won’t even really be happening.”

Izegbe bristled, making fists and shouted, “You take that back!”

Daniel stepped between them, throwing Mikhail a dark look then turning to Izegbe and saying, “Head over to the manure pit. You and Ayaka and Emerald are going to be working there this morning.”

Yamata no Orochi cried in unison, “The Pit!”

Daniel make a brushing motion and said, “All you’ll be doing is collecting vials from the processor. Master Usorituen agreed to let me program it to collect a few complex proteins and organophosphates we can try to use to control the beetles.”

Zadok said, “Hey, I could ask my dad if he could design...”

Daniel snapped, “I don’t want your mommies and daddies coming to our rescue!” He pointed at Zadok with his ipik. “If you can’t do it yourself, then don’t volunteer it! Can you program a bioresponse package on a DNA Manipulator?” Zadok shook his head slowly, eyes wide. “Then don’t volunteer your parent’s skills! We have to solve this ourselves!”

Elisavet raised her hand. Daniel snapped, “What?”

She said, “I can do a simple database search for a natural response match.” She shrugged, “If we could find a natural predator, we could requisition a batch from the Cloning Lab.”

Daniel’s eyebrows went up and he smiled a bit. Nodding, he said, “Good thinking, Elisavet! You can work from home if you want.”

She smiled and the change was stunning. Emerald thought she should try smiling more often. She was somber most of the days they’d worked together and while she’d talk about the technical parts of the plantation, she wasn’t much for gossip or snarky remarks. Yamato no Orochi Ayaka and Izegbe, Zadok, Daniel and Mikhail were the ones who rarely stopped talking – Mikhail and Zadok liked to “boy gossip”, Ayaka and Izegbe would tear anyone down they thought deserved it and Daniel just liked the sound of his own voice.

He turned to the rest of them and said, “So the girls are at the manure pit, Søren and Mikhail, I want you over in the outer corner checking the walls. I want to know if the beetles are getting in from there. Zadok and me will start on the inner corner. We should meet in the middle by the time Team Four arrives.” He sighed, “Maybe Eli will have something for us by then. Let’s go!”

The boys headed for the boiling shed and were soon speeding for the far corners of the plantation on electric four-wheelers. The girls went into the locker room adjoining the garage and changed into their work clothes then headed for The Pit. When they all three reached the door at the same moment, they stopped, standing at the door. Then Emerald headed for the manure pit. She heard the girls whisper, then laugh behind her.


To be continued...