Friday, June 10, 2022

Emerald of Earth – SEASON 2, EPISODE 21 Boiling Room

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.)

She woke up to GADI saying, “This is your oh-five hundred wake up call. You are scheduled to report to the Team Four and Team Twelve sugarcane plantation at oh-seven hundred...”

“What does that mean? ‘Oh-five hundred and oh-seven hundred’ has never made any sense to me!”

“SOLAREX runs on military time because crew members came from a number of continents and we have no solar cycle. We revert to the artificial twenty-four hour day of the military. Midnight is zero hour. Six am is oh-six hundred. Noon is twelve-hundred hours. Six pm is eighteen hundred hours...”

“Stop already! I get it, I get it! I’ve been here for a month – it’s just that I never got the whole time thing.”

Taking up the entire 3D wall, a black cutout of her jungle’s skyline appeared. Watercolor reds and lemon yellows filled the sky above and behind palms and acacia trees. Beyond the raucous sound of squawking macaws, shrieking Yucatan parrots, chirruping beetles, wailing howler monkeys, and dogs barking, was the sandy hiss of waves rolling up on a long shoreline. For an instant, she thought she was on the Yucatan again and it was a fine morning, the day full of promise.

Then she groused, “You didn’t have to do the ocean sunrise thing.” Just then, a tiny arc of sun broke free of the horizon, lancing through distant breaks in the foliage, spilling a molten gold beam at her feet. Holographic light warm on her bare foot, made her squint painfully and raise her hand to block the glare. “How do you do that?”

GADI didn’t reply at first then said, “You need to get going or Team Twelve leader Daniel will have to come and get you.” Emerald gulped and hurried to grab a clean brown coverall and sealed herself in it. GADI said, “I ordered another set of boots and gloves for you. Your machete is still in your plantation locker.” Emerald picked up the boots and gloves and headed for the door. “Don’t forget your homework!” GADI said.

“I transmitted it already,” she snapped over her shoulder, irritated for some reason she couldn’t put her finger on as she walked to the door. It slid open.

“Just checking. Good job. Sending it last night at oh-eighteen-thirty-six earned Team Twelve an extra ten points.”

“Is that good?”

“Very! Shows you’re a team player. Have a nice day,” GADI said as the door slid shut.

Emerald frowned and hurried down the corridor to the bolus. Once the door squelched open, she coded the plantation.

By the time the door opened at the plantation, she’d pulled on her boots and gloves and was ready for the day. Daniel was waiting for her, “You’re almost late!” he snapped.

“But I’m not,” Emerald said, stepping around him. She turned and looked up at him. “Am I?”

Scowling, he shook his head and said slowly, “Technically, no.” He nodded to the rest of Team Twelve. “But everyone else is here already.”

“I’ll be early next time.” She smiled sweetly. “Did you check our homework?”

His eyes narrowed and through clenched teeth, he replied, “Yes.”

Emerald stepped to the far right of the end of the Team’s line up and turned to face Daniel.

He finally said, “Emerald, Izegbe and Ayaka – you have boiling house duty today. The rest of you get to the field. You should be weeding and trimming. I’ll be fertilizing.”

“Why me?” Emerald, Ayaka, and Izegbe said at the same time.

Daniel smirked and replied, “Vice-captain’s orders.”

“How did she know what was going on?” Emerald exclaimed.

Yamata no Orochi pointed in unison with opposite hands overhead at hand-sized lumps on the ceiling. “Those are the security cameras we can identify,” said Izegbe.

“We’re sure there are others hidden all over the place,” said Ayaka.

Daniel growled, turned, and stalked off toward the manure pit and the electric four-wheeler with its sprayer and tank.

“Are we living in a police state?” Emerald said, staring at the camera.

“No. Nigeria – where I’m from – is a police state. This is an open and transparent society,” said Izegbe.

“What?”

“At home, only the police can see everybody. No one can see when the police break the law. Here, I can go on my computer and usually see what’s going on up on Bridge or the main shuttle deck, in the Core, in the hospital, and in just about any of the labs.”

“Can they see us everywhere – and can they see everyone?” Emerald asked, looking after Daniel.

Grumbling, the rest of the Team headed to their lockers or the tool shed, leaving the three girls alone.

Daniel came back to them, the four-wheeler muttering, stopped and glared. Ayaka and Izegbe looked at him, looked at Emerald and they busted out laughing.

Emerald bristled. Daniel muttered a curse and gunned the four-wheeler into the fields.

Izegbe said around a snicker, “Danny-boy got reprimanded for the little manure pit fight he tried to provoke.”

“What happened?” Emerald asked.

Ayaka cut in, though she still wasn’t smiling, saying, “Animal Waste Processing one hour a day for two weeks.” Izegbe burst out laughing again. Ayaka shook her head and said, “Come on. We’d better get to work, Big Brother is watching.”

Emerald opened her mouth to say that they’d just said that was a good thing. Then she looked at the backs of the girls, closed her mouth and followed them to the boiling house.

The boiling house was made of dark, square-cut blocks of stone with a wood and corrugated metal roof. A blast of heat rolled over them as Ayaka opened the door. Four rectangular pans, the largest two meters on a side and a meter deep; the smallest a meter on a side and only half that deep, lined one side of the house. The largest was highest off the floor sitting on a hotplate and had a stepladder leading up to it. A platform had been built beside it. The other pans were empty and stepped down from there. Each one had a shovel-like ladle leaning on a stand. The first pan was nearly full to the top with brown juice and boiling furiously. A cloud of steam rolled from it into the air and out a roof vent.

From higher on the wall over the large pan, a spigot poked, dripping fresh, tan-colored liquid into it.

“What...” Emerald began.

Izegbe cut her off and said, “After we harvest the cane from the field, we bring it to the other side of the locker room building. The shredders chop it up and press it. The bagasse – that’s the junk that’s left over – goes out to lay in a special vacuum sun room that dries it really fast.”

Emerald wiped the sweat beading from her forehead. “What do we do here?”

“Stir,” said Izegbe, jerking her chin up to the platform above the pans. “And dump one

load into the next pan.”

“What’s the purpose?”

She grabbed the sleeve of Emerald’s coverall and dragged her to the last pan...


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 https://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/. For an interview with me about EMERALD OF EARTH, try this: http://www.writersandauthors.info/2015/09/interview-with-guy-stewart.html

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