Friday, May 27, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 19 Into the Darkness…

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, share the link with a friend – and you’ll have Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday to read it, and it won’t interfere with your Homework Schedule.)

Emerald left her filthy coverall and boots in a pile in the girl’s locker room after locking the door and taping the gaps with gray tape. In case Yamata no Orichi wanted to come back and finish what Daniel and Ayaka had started. Now she stood under a searingly hot spray in the boiling house. She’d been here for over an hour, washing her skin, her hair, her face and her feet. Once she was done, she got into another coverall, untaped the shower room door, unlocked it and peeked out.

No Daniel.

No Yamata no Orochi – Izegbe must have stalked away with Ayaka.

No one. She was alone and it was silent except for a faint hum somewhere – maybe the four-wheelers charge packs. The lights overhead made a noise, too. Not exactly a hum...but some sort of sound. They began to fade. She figured that served as nightfall in SOLAREX.

The ship also didn’t spin for gravity the way some of the old, ring-shaped space stations had done. Instead, the ship generated artificial gravity over a mesh set into most of the floors. They typically spun it to keep the surface evenly heated and keep them on a regular Earth day schedule and dimmed the lights to mimic sunsets. The amount and intensity of light varied as well with the lengthening and shortening of days following a 45 degrees North or South Latitude. It could pretend to be a long summer day and six months later, they might have a dim, short winter day and the ship’s average temperature was lower than normal. She knew it was all about keeping Human cycles turning in space.

She hurried to the bolus and pressed the call panel as twilight fell. The door opened right away and she stepped in and said, “Nile Sector, Level Three, Unit eight hundred and fourteen.” With a faint squelch, it moved and fifteen minutes later, it opened not far from her Unit.

It stopped once on the way and four teens dressed in pink tights so bright she had to turn away got in, chattering excitedly between themselves, ignoring her. She pressed against the wall, as far from them as she could get. Their sticks were different than the ones used by Jump players – which were modified lacrosse sticks. Theirs looked like a cross between a lacrosse stick and a double hockey stick.

“What are you dressed for?” she asked abruptly.

One of the girls looked down at her and said, “You’re new here, right?” Emerald nodded slowly. “We play pryzhok. Watch for us – we’ll be the champs in a few weeks!”

When the bolus stopped and squelched open, Emerald fled, terrified that she’d even said anything. Her Unit knew who she was and opened her door. She said, “GADI, start a shower for me. I want you to destroy these clothes and get me a new set.”

“What happened, Emerald?”

“I fell into the manure pit down at the ‘cane plantation,” she replied, peeling out of the clean coverall.

“It looked to me like you threw yourself in. Though I must confess the angle of the security video...”

“I didn’t throw myself in!” Emerald exclaimed.

Abruptly, a three dimensional image appeared where her wall had been. It looked as if it had been recorded from the roof of the boiling house. It replayed the scene: Emerald charged, grabbing for the pathetic looking piece of jewelry. Daniel hunched down and shouted an obscenity that the pickup caught perfectly. They collided like a couple of midfielders as she plowed into him. He fell butt first, sinking slowly, his hands and feet sticking out of the thick, mud-like slurry. His head went under as he slowly tilted back.

Emerald winced.

GADI froze the image. Arms crossed over her chest, Emerald said, “Fine then. I jumped. Turn on the shower.”

“You already took a seventy minute shower, Emerald.”

She glared at the surveillance pick up in the ceiling and snapped, “Imagine you’re Human,” she paused. “Now imagine that you just fell into a giant pond of partially decayed cow manure. Respond immediately: is a seventy minute shower long enough?”

GADI paused then said, “Your shower is ready.”

Two hours later, her fingers wrinkled as raisins, Emerald finally stepped into the sitting room of her Unit. She said, “Thanks, GADI.”

“The antiseptic effect of isopropyl alcohol is well-documented. Combined with skin and hair conditioners, you are now as disinfected as you can be without going through actual decontamination procedures.” GADI paused. “At your desk, you will find tonight’s homework assignment.”

“What homework?” Emerald exclaimed, squeaking slightly. “I’ve had a hard day! Harder than usual! I shouldn’t have to...”

“If you refuse this assignment, I will contact Team Twelve Leader Daniel Clayton.”

“No!” Emerald sighed and stepped to her work desk, dropping down into the hard-backed chair. “Why can’t this chair conform to my body like the round one does.”

“You are not relaxing. Studies indicate that a small amount of discomfort...”

“That was a rhetorical question,” Emerald said. “What’s the homework?”

“Where would you like to read the display, your desk screen or the wall screen?”


A satellite map centered on Mexico appeared. “You will be studying Mexican history. In particular, you are to research and comment on the following question: Did the ancient Mayan or Aztec people use tektites?”

Emerald’s pulse roared in her ears. “What did you say?”

GADI repeated herself.

“Why are you asking me this?”

“I have been programmed to assist in your education. One of your current educational goals is that you will be able to conduct independent research and prepare a written report communicating your findings. A secondary and short-term goal is to become familiar with SOLAREX databases. As our distance from Earth increases, we will be less and less dependent on Earth for direct database sharing. Your subject is student-specific. The due date for your written findings is tomorrow, seven pm Shiptime. Please refer to the printed assignment for specifics of format and for the rubric.”

Emerald nodded and hunched over the desk screen and started searching the SOLAREX database. It wasn’t long before she discovered that at the end of the Twentieth Century, tektites were discovered in the ancient Maya city of Tikal...

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 online works, go to For an interview with me about EMERALD OF EARTH, try this: