Friday, August 5, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 29 -- To the Danger Poles With Daniel

THE STORY SO FAR: Emerald Marcillon’s parents excavated artifacts in the Chicxilub Crater that point to a long-ago alien war that spilled over to Earth. Inamma, an alien AI survived the war and will kill to retrieve the artifacts. When assembled, the AI intends to create a weapon that will destroy all of Humanity – thinking we are descendants of its ancient enemies. Emerald’s parents are dead, and she has escaped Earth to the SOLAR EXPLORER but finds that Inamma has followed her. The crew, aware of the origin of the artifacts, plan to protect her and hides her among the rest of the young people in the crew. Emerald lives with autism and making friends is difficult. She has a few good friends now, and while she holds the key to the artifacts, she has discovered the sport of pryzhok, and the odd hiding places the young players have hidden their clandestine pryzhok sphere. It appears that Inamma is on to them all…

(If you like what you see, share this link with a friend! This is where the story starts -- Season 1, Episode 1 is at the bottom:

Emerald sat in silence for a while, beaming. Izegbe sent again, “Daniel ipiked me. He says he wants to find this Inamma thing. While he was at Ayaka’s unit, he dreamed about dancing knives.” Emerald felt cold but kept reading, “He says he has to find something. He doesn’t know what.”

She ipiked back, “I know what he’s looking for.”



“What’s that mean? dbase sez Inamma = enemy. nme v u?”

Emerald smiled. Izegbe only used ipik speak when she was mad or excited. Otherwise, she always used standard Spandaringlish or English. Emerald ipiked back, “Me?” she stared at the bulkhead of SOLAREX then shook her head slowly then continued, “Maybe, but only because I can open the artifacts Mom and Dad sent up. Otherwise I think it wants me dead.”


“Yup. It wants everyone dead.”

“What does it have against us?”

Emerald paused. She didn’t know for a fact what Inamma wanted. It was a sense she got from seeing it kill her parents and the way it was stalking her – and the liquid color that had oozed from the boxes. Had that been a dream? A defense? She didn’t know. She wrote, “Not just you and me. All Humans.”

The ipik went dark, signaling that Ayaka had cut the connection. Emerald stared at it for several minutes, then went into her bedroom and changed. With her back against the wall, curled around herself, she stared into the darkness until she finally fell into an exhausted sleep.

A day later, they were back on the plantation. The ground had cooled down enough to not melt the boots. Despite the near-firestorm, no one from Bridge had called any of them up. They spent the first few hours hosing down the buildings and scrubbing the boiling pans free of soot. They looked up every time the bolus opened on the cane field. Colonel Berg popped out of the bolus twice briefly, looked around until he walked past Emerald, then went back under whatever rock he’d crawled out from under.

Emerald ipiked Izegbe, “He knows something.”

She started to ipik back when Daniel glared at both of them and said, “Bridge says that academics are suspended for the next week.”

The rest of Team Twelve – Mikhail, Zadok, Elisavet – cheered. Emerald, Yamata no Orochi – Emerald, Ayaka, Izegbe and Søren passed a look among themselves that damped the other three. Daniel continued, “We’ll be working until we’re dismissed by Bridge.” He paused, took a deep breath and said, “We’ve got work to do. It will be filthy work because of the ashes, soot, and burned plant matter. You three,” he pointed at the rest of the team, “will start gathering cane and hauling it into the shredder.” He nodded at Izegbe, Emerald, Ayaka and Søren. “The five of us will finish cleaning the boiling house, start pressing the cane and haul bagasse to the vacuum dryer. As needed, we’ll bale, haul and stack them alongside the corridor wall. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Let’s do it.”

Emerald was too small to actually haul cane and bagasse. Daniel taught her to drive a small electric forklift. At the end of the week, Daniel called them together again. “We’ve done a good enough job that Bridge says we can take a day tomorrow off. For anyone who wants to, I’ll be hiking through the Core Biomes.”

Emerald leaned to Ayaka and whispered, “What’s that mean?”

Of course, Izegbe, the second head of Yamata no Orochi said, “The Core’s divided into biomes from pole to pole, a little desert at the fore pole and running through savannah, subtropical and tropical to deciduous and coniferous forests, tundra and a cold pole. There are sixteen Core Trails you can walk from one end to the other. Some of them spiral through each Biome. Others follow the river and some just take a straight shot through the Core from Pole to Pole.”

Emeralds eyes grew wide. “There’s snow at the pole?”

Ayaka snorted and said, “At one of them.”

“What’s at the other Pole?”

“A desert,” said Izegbe.

“Does the Cold Pole have enough snow to ski on?”

Ayaka shrugged, “Why would I need to know that?”

“I’ll go with you,” Emerald said, raising her hand.

She wasn’t quite sure what Ayaka meant when she covered her mouth with her hand. It was supposed to have sounded like a cough, but Emerald suspected she was laughing at her. She shot her a looked meant to be daggers, but the older girl only smirked.

Izegbe raised her hand. When Søren turned his back on her, she elbowed him. He raised his hand. An instant later, she hip-checked Ayaka who raised her hand. She smiled at Daniel then said, “We’d all like to go on the hike.”

“Why would you all want to go on a hike with me?”

Izegbe smiled and shot back, “Why would you, a practically eighteen-year-old-boy want to go on a hike with Emerald – she’s not even thirteen yet.”

Daniel glared at her, lips pressed into a thin line. He growled, nodded, spun on his heel and headed for the bolus. Suddenly, he twitched to a stop, shuddering. He turned slowly around and his face was tight, as if he were in pain. He looked as if he forced himself to blurt, “Necklace! Where it is?” He sank to his knees. Ayaka, Søren, Izegbe and Emerald sprinted to him. When they reached him, he was on his hands and knees. He looked up at them and said, “All of you meet me at Core Lift Platform Four at oh-seven-hundred tomorrow morning.” He climbed slowly to his feet, stumbled into the bolus and was gone.

“What happened to him?” Ayaka exclaimed.

Søren said, “What was that?”

Emerald was staring after him. She said, “He was fighting something.”

Izegbe snorted and said, “Yeah, his ego.”

Emerald bit her lower lip, forgetting what she was going to say.

Ayaka blurted, “I was gonna sleep!”

Søren echoed her, “Yeah, me too. I’m beat after this week. And I wanted to spend some time reading. I just found this great series of science fiction books in the library. I downloaded the whole set – I think there’s ten books, most by this guy named Asimov.”

Izegbe said softly, “So, you both wanted to leave Emerald alone with Mr. Fire Starter while he takes her on a tour of all the deepest, darkest forests of SOLAREX – where not even Bridge can see all the time?” She paused then added, “We all figure he’s up to something.”

Both of them continued to glare, then Søren’s eyes widened and he looked down at his feet and muttered, “Uh, I’ll be there.”

Ayaka sighed dramatically, but said, “Fine. I’ll be there, too. I suppose protecting someone from Daniel is part of the sacrifice of friendship.” She glanced at Emerald then shook her finger at Izegbe, “You owe me big time on this one!”

Izegbe sniffed. “Let’s just call it even and get home and get some rest so we can hike a bazillion miles tomorrow.” She headed for the bolus, with Søren and Ayaka beside her. Emerald trailing behind them, smiling. Despite her best efforts – or her worst efforts depending on how you looked at it, she’d somehow managed to make friends here.

She stepped into the bolus behind them. What did Daniel mean when he said, “Necklace. Where it is”? As the door squelched shut, she didn’t hear the clear sound of knives stabbing angrily into the sand at the edge of the partially cleared sugarcane fields.

If she had, she wouldn’t have been smiling.

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: