Friday, July 1, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 24 Alien Robot ATTACKS!

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.

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From living in the Yucatan, she recognized it as a game trail, though it had been worn by Human feet as well.

Twenty minutes of uphill wandering as the shadows cast by the foliage deepened, blocking the lights above, brought her back to a circle of flat, rocky ground. She turned right, keeping to the edge of the trees and bushes. Once she’d gone most of the way around, she realized the jungle island was sitting on bare rock, maybe a hundred hectares. It was like a terrarium with plants and, if the noises were any indication, animals living among the trees.

She stepped on to the ground, but instead of solid rock, it had give. She bounced experimentally on the spongy soil then kept walking. In the center of the spongy rock circle, obscured by air that seemed to distort the light around it, was a yam-shaped rock. She recognized that shape – Mom and Dad had stored images of most of them while they were attempting to figure out the shape of the object that had slammed into Earth and created the Chicxulub Crater, it was an asteroid. Probably scavenged by SOLAREX for raw materials. The closer she got the more she could tell it had been an asteroid; an immense, cratered, fat, potato-shaped object about seventy meters long and thirty meters high – about the size of an Mexican football stadium. At the base closest to her she frowned, leaned closer, squinted and finally stood up straight. Coatis, South American ring-tailed cats, their gray and black tails nearly as long as their bodies and usually held straight in the air like flags when they were roughhousing, were doing just that.

Emerald whispered, “Coatis?” The cat-sized carnivores had once been common pets among the Mexicans who had lived near her parent’s dig at the impact Crater site in Puerto Chicxulub. Mom said they’d become extinct in the wild in the late ‘30s due to loss of habitat. She’d also pointed out that that was too bad as physiologists had discovered an enzyme in wild coati muscle that improved human muscle contraction speed by fifty percent. The rest of what Mom had said escaped her – except that solitary males could be nasty to handle even if you were an adult.

Emerald squatted, studying the rock that seemed to fade into vision and out again. As she watched, a young male jumped, landing on the former asteroid. Abruptly an invisible hand seemed to grab him, slamming him down and squashing him flat-as-roadkill on the floor. The others squealed and ran around to the other side. “What?” Emerald muttered. She’d seen the effect one other time before, when a tech demonstrated what a controlled gravity field might do to an orange if the field suddenly changed from one G to ten G’s.

It had made OJ out of the orange.

Emerald crossing the springy floor slowly. The asteroid rippled, as if it had a glass surface. She stumbled, her knees buckling for an instant when she suddenly felt like she’d gained ten kilos. Grunting, she kept her eyes on the shifting image that sometimes looked like an asteroid and other times seemed transparent. She could make out some sort of cradle, holding the asteroid off the ground. She leaned forward to touch it and as she did, an incredible feeling of lightness came over her, making her abruptly giddy.

She shook her head trying to shake off the weirdness.

Besides a captured asteroid, what was this thing?

Back in the direction of the jungle, came the distinct squelch of the bolus doors, echoing through a cavern that was empty except for the jungle, the coati, and the gravity modified asteroid.

A female voice called out, “Emerald?”

There was a pause when a different female voice called out, “Emerald, are you here?”

The ground trembled suddenly. Something moved on the surface of the rock, as if a door were opening. The asteroid loomed over her and she felt her stomach drop as if she were in freefall. Somewhere along the surface of the asteroid, she heard a distinct sound, as if the tips of knives tapped along a hard surface. The sound changed to knives slipping into and out of sand then back to tapping.

When gravity returned to normal, Emerald walked quickly around asteroid, local gravity changing abruptly three more time until she came to a ramp leading up to a black circle, obviously a door.

It was gaping open and waves of heat rolled out, the stench of sweat, burned plastic and ozone oozing like jungle rot on a hot, hot day. A boy in a skin-tight, neon orange suit clutching a matching motorcycle-style helmet suddenly lurched out the door, leaning against it, panting, his free arm dangling loosely.

Emerald backpedaled until she reached the underbrush, then spun, crawling into the trees as another kid – the one she’d seen in the Core with his box that made the bugs explode – came around the opposite side of the asteroid. He ran forward, catching the boy from inside as stumbled. The injured boy tried to catch himself with his injured arm and screamed. He was lucky the gravity chose that moment to change to slightly negative and he floated to the ground. The boy – Zech, she recalled – knelt beside him. The guy in the bright colors snarled, “I don’t need your help, freak!”

“I was just trying...”

He rolled away from Zech, lurched to his knees and stumbled away.

Pounding and stumbling around the edge of the asteroid came Ayaka who screamed, “Where’s Emerald?”

Above them all, the door slid over the opening and was sucked back inside, closing tight.

There was the sound of knives slipping into sand again, much closer than it had been before, not far from her. She couldn’t see the knife-footed robot from the Chicxulub beach, but she suddenly knew it was near. She lurched forward on to the spongy ground. Ayaka and Zech turned to her. Ayaka shouted, “Emerald!”

Zech stood up and said, “Who’s she?”

Emerald cried, “Inamma’s coming!” Running at them, she stumbled, and instead, head butted Zech, knocking the wind out of him and sending him staggering backward. The knives-in-the-sand sound grew louder and faster. Emerald grabbed Ayaka’s hand and ran, leaving Zech behind, staring at the asteroid and the guy he’d tried to help. “It’s chasing me! Help!”

Emerald and Ayaka both shouted then Zeck spun around, and sprinted after them shouting, “Run! Run! The robot thing is chasing you!”

They reached the far edge of the spongy circle, plunging into the jungle, branches of underbrush slapping them and cutting their faces and hands. When they suddenly came to the slope, Zech fell, rolling downhill to the hard rock surface. Ayaka and Emerald slid in the pebbles, but kept their feet under them.

Zech tried to stand but couldn’t get to his feet, loose sand and gravel cascading downhill. By the time he got back to his feet, an ancient, pitted robot on six pointed legs came out of the jungle and stopped. It lifted a leg and waved it the way one of Dr. Clerck’s ants waved its antennae. It lifted a second leg and the tip opened to reveal an energy weapon, purely malevolence.

Zech backed away, terrified.

Then Izegbe appeared ran out of the darkness, grabbed Zech’s arm and dragged him to his feet. He said, “What’s Inamma?”

Emerald said, “The robot you saw is Inamma.”

Dodging the wall, they reached the bolus door which stood open. Emerald plunged headlong into it with Ayaka and Izegbe. Zech stopped. The bolus was full. He was too fat to squeeze in with them. The looks on their faces said that they knew it, too. turned and faced the sound of knives in the sand, then shouted, “It’s here!”

Emerald shouted, “Come on! Get in!”

“Go!” he screamed over his shoulder. The doors squelched shut as Ayaka slapped the control panel cutting off the squeals of coati, a rumbling floor and the frantic tapping of knife-points.

Followed by Zech’s scream.

Emerald shouted, “We left him behind with that thing!”

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: