Friday, October 7, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 38: Inamma Possesses Daniel

Without turning around, Dr. Viahakis said, “Don’t take too much time outside. We need to find out what’s in them as soon as you’re ready to get to work.”

Emerald nodded and walked out.

Before she could escape, Dr. Viahakis suddenly spun around in her chair and said, “Oh, a few more things, Em, dear.”

Schooling her face to hide her irritation, Emerald turned around as Dr. Prymore said, “Don’t get into trouble.”

“What? How could I get into trouble now?”

“Your best friend has a left leg broken in,” she touched the opad in her hand and read from it, “four places including a triple fracture of the left tibia characteristic of athletes who play Jump – which she’s too young for,” she looked up, raised an eyebrow and added, “Of course. You and your friends believe some sort of alien robot is chasing you for an unknown reason and that it murdered a SOLAREX crewmember. And while someone has been reported missing, it’s probably nothing. Adults can go off the grid if they’re determined enough. You have bizarre dreams and you tried to beat up your ITT leader. One of your friends also added that she thought he was ‘possessed’. You’ve been arrested once and confined to quarters only to escape under the watchful eye of myself...” She paused then said, “Should I stop, Em?”

“Yes,” Emerald stepped away.

“Oh, I forgot to add that you’ve been on this blessed sky rock for only five weeks and have caused more mischief and mayhem than both Team Four and Team Twelve have – combined. And that includes the continuing drama on Team Four whose name is Zechariah Clydesdale Brewpub.”

She couldn’t help herself, blurting, “That’s actually his name?”

Dr. Viahakis nodded slowly, adding, “As far as I’m concerned, he deserves it.” She paused. “Now, go talk to your friends and get ready for the ship to slingshot around the Sun.”


“You don’t expect us to carry enough fuel to blast through the whole Solar System, do you?” Emerald shook her head but Dr. Viahakis didn’t notice. “Most of our trip will be spent falling into a Schwarzschild Singularity.”

“There aren’t any black holes near Earth.”

“Naturally speaking, you would be correct. But we create our own, casting it in front of us using a particle accelerator that runs through the Core of SOLAREX. Once the density is high enough, the matter collapses, creating an electron-sized singularity. It’s in motion and remains in motion and as it attracts the ship, we begin to slide toward its center. It ends up pulling us along with it, sweeping the space in front of us of debris and accelerating the ship fast and faster.”

“What happens when we want to stop?”

“We shut down the particle accelerator, let the singularity dissipate and use rail guns to slow our forward momentum and eventually fall into orbit around whatever planet we are heading for. Venus is our first stop.” She gestured Emerald away and said, “Now go and have fun with your friends.”

Emerald started out of the lab, then stopped, turned around and said, “Doctor Prymore?”

The woman scowled as she turned and opened her mouth.

Before she could correct her, Emerald said in the sweetest, littlest girl voice she could manage when she had wheedled Daddy, “My name is Emerald, if you please, Doctor.” Then she straightened her spine, narrowed her eyes, and in the best fashion of the Marcillon women she knew and mostly loved, added, “The vice-captain of this ship is my direct ancestor. All Marcillon women are brought up under the supervision of the other, elder women.” She curtsied as best she could in the ship suit, left the lab, hurried down the hall and punched for the Core without breathing.

When the bolus finally arrived and Dr. Viahakis hadn’t followed her, she stepped into it, the door closed, and she finally took a breath as the bolus dropped a few moments then opened to the same station where she and Ayaka, Izegbe, Daniel and Søren had started their hike along the Core Trails.

Ayaka was staring up at the Core where a Jump tournament 3D commercial played. The sound blared from every nearby speaker, “The First Annual Jump Playoff games begin this Friday after SOLAREX clears its maiden slingshot around the Sun! Stay tuned for more announcements!” The 3D faded.

“How’d you know I’d come here?” Emerald asked when Ayaka turned to her and waved.

She held up her ipik. “I called Dr. Prymore.”

“How’d you get your ipik back?”

“I didn’t. They still have it. This is my spare.”

“You got a spare?”

Ayaka shrugged. “Doesn’t everyone?”

Emerald shook her head. “Not me.”

Ayaka waved it away, “Probably ‘cause you’re only twelve.”

“Hey! I’ll be thirteen” Emerald stopped. What month was it? “Uh...I don’t even know the month right now.”

Ayaka shook her head as Daniel and Søren came strolling around the Core’s central lift platform from the food carts which sported flags and signs announcing HOT PRETZELS, POPCORN, CARMELED APPLES, SHISH KEBAB, EMBARE SWEETS, BURGERS, GYROS, BURRITOS. They were both eating tacos and holding drink bulbs on a loop around their thumbs.

Ignoring Emerald’s question, Ayaka said, “Izegbe’s gonna be in the hospital overnight.” Daniel belched loudly and Søren shook his head, though he couldn’t hide a smirk. Ayaka flicked a withering glare at them that both boys ignored. She sighed and continued, “SOLAREX is starting its dive around the Sun to accelerate to Venus and the entire adult crew is at their posts all shift long – we’re supposed to be Code Yellow until the slingshot maneuver is done and we’ve got a fix on Venus. The plantation is closed down until we come out of the singularity dive. Everyone not directly involved has to report to their units and strap down in about ten hours for a total lockdown.”

Emerald huffed and replied, “Why do we have to strap down?”

Daniel licked his fingers and said, “They’re afraid something’s gonna happen.”

Søren finished, looked up at Daniel and said, “What do they think could happen?”

Daniel shrugged but said, “SOLAREX could shake itself apart – a Solar slingshot’s never been tried with anything as big as us. Or we could calculate the approach vector wrong and we’d crash into the Sun.”

Emerald added, “I suppose we might have miscalculated the mass of the singularity and its dissipation rate this close to the Sun. Who knows? It might evaporate faster or slower. In either case, we could hugely overshoot Venus or undershoot it by so much that we fall into a decaying Solar orbit.” Daniel gave her a look that was clearly impressed.

The rest of the group stared, their jaws dropped until Ayaka shook her weave and snorted, “My mom’s on that team. Nothing’s gonna be wrong with our numbers. If the ship can handle it, we’ll be around the Sun and headed for Venus by the end of the week.”

“How long are they expecting us to stay strapped down?” Søren asked.

“Probably like three days or something,” said Ayaka, winking at Emerald.

“What if I know...use the restroom?” Søren exclaimed. Daniel, Ayaka and Emerald burst out laughing as Søren flamed scarlet under his flaxen blonde hair. Emerald thought the combination was sort of cute.

Daniel slugged Søren and said, “Cross your legs and hold it!”

Søren looked disgusted and growled, “Shut up.”

Ayaka rolled her eyes and exclaimed, “Boys!”

Emerald took a deep breath, fixed Ayaka with a long look and said suddenly, “We have to find Inamma.”

Ayaka, Daniel, Søren seemed to freeze until Ayaka managed, “Are you insane?”

Daniel and Emerald spoke at the same moment saying, “No, she’s not,” and “No, I’m not.”

“Why would we want to go chasing after your robotic murderer? We all saw what it can do! It killed your parents and that soldier girl! Why would we go try and find it?”

“Because it’s a key to what’s going on with the boxes.”


“Don’t you get it? Inamma went down to Earth, it killed my parents then followed the boxes all the way up here. It’s committed itself to a twelve year mission – there’s no way it’s going to fly off the ship by itself. It’s not strong enough. All of that after getting down to Earth. It’s an alien! It came from somewhere else. Why is it here?”

“We need to find it so we can show it to Colonel Berg,” said Daniel.

“We need to find it so I can bring it to Great Aunt Ruby.”

“So we’re going up to BlackSun to find a homicidal alien robot?” said Søren.

Daniel said slowly, “The thing is trying to control me.” The walking taco and cup of soda dropped to the ground.

Busily trying to manipulate a churro from its bag and into her mouth while trying not to dump an iced coffee down her shirt, Ayaka snorted, “Magically through mental telepathy?”

“No, electrically through microwave or tuned beamed neural impulses,” said slowly, as if his mouth was slowing down.

Ayaka turned her back on him. She huffed then said, “Fine then. I vote we go up to BlackSun again.” Before Daniel could speak, she added, “But I’m only going up because there’s lots of food up there. Not to hunt for Inamma.”

Daniel looked down at the food he’d dropped then looked directly at Emerald. For an instant, Emerald knew she wasn’t looking at Daniel. Something else showed in the intensity of his stare and look of confusion on his face. When he looked at her, the confusion change to anger, as if he abruptly wanted to kill her the way humans used magnifying glasses to burn ants or stomped on cockroaches or dug up dandelions: as pest control. In an incomprehensible way, Inamma was looking out of Daniel, as if it had taken over his higher brain functions. Daniel turned stiffly, once again moving like a zombie. Emerald blinked rapidly as if she were waking up. Søren licked his fingers clean of taco grease and said, “We should go up. If we can help Daniel and Emerald, we have to do it.”

Emerald didn’t turn away from Daniel though. They stared at each other until finally Daniel blinked and the alien presence was gone as abruptly as it had appeared. He squatted down to pick up his food, went to a trash receptacle and threw it away, stumbling once on his way, looking even more confused than before. His voice sounded muffled, like he wasn’t used to talking as he said, “That sounds like a great idea.”

Emerald shook her head, frowning, but managed, “Maybe this time I could try some of those sweet pancake things you like, Ayaka.”

“Dorayaki,” Ayaka said.

Søren ran to the bolus doors, and Daniel followed more slowly. Ayaka and Emerald reached the boys as the bolus squelched open. Daniel hesitated then leaned over to Emerald and said, “There’s someone inside my head and I think it’s Inamma. It wants the necklace. It wants the boxes.”

“I have it again,” she said, lifting it out of her pocket. She made to put it on, but Daniel grabbed her hand.

“Don’t put it on.”

“It’s almost all I have left of my parents.”

“You want Inamma to see that you have it here?”

“It already knows. Sometimes it sees me through your eyes,” she paused, “sometimes it even looks through my eyes.”

“I know. I don’t know why or how for sure, but when it uses me all I can do is make it hard for it to control me. I can’t refuse, I can just squirm like a worm on a hook. We don’t need to make it easy for Inamma to get the necklace while we’re going up to BlackSun. We already know Inamma’s up there somewhere.” He stared at her intently then squeezed his eyes shut as if he was in pain. His grip on her hand was firm but didn’t hurt, almost as if he was holding her hand protectively.

Ahead of them, Ayaka pressed the call pad, turned and shouted, “Come on, you guys! You think BlackSun stays open all day and all night?”

“Come on!” Søren called. Emerald and Daniel reached it and stepped in. Ayaka said, “Let’s go!” The doors squelched shut and the bolus started to rise, twisting and turning. “If and when we meet Inamma, what are we supposed to do to capture it? Will you,” she looked at Emerald, “give it a karate chop while the three of us hold it down?” Ayaka snorted then frowned as the bolus came to a halt and the door squelched open. The car shuddered and the door started to close again then snapped open two more times. Daniel stumbled into Emerald, pressing her hard against the wall of the bolus and he said, “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.” He staggered from the bolus, falling to the ground, flailing like he was having a seizure.

Ayaka and Søren shouted, “Daniel!”

Emerald dug into her pocket to find the necklace missing and tried to follow him. Ayaka and Søren yanked her backwards as the doors clapped shut like a snapping turtle’s beak. “He took the necklace!” she shouted.

“Who cares?” said Søren.

Emerald spun on him and shoved him against the walls, “It’s something that Inamma wants! Daniel is under that thing’s control and now Inamma has the tektites! They’re linked to the boxes of alien artifacts somehow!”

“What alien artifacts?” he asked.

“The ones my parents have been collecting under my nose for the past ten years!”

“What are you talking about?” Søren exclaimed.

As they slid through the ship, Emerald sketched in what had happened since they’d been confined to quarters and what she’d learned from GADI, Dr. Viahakis, and her great aunt. She also told him about Daniel’s behavior.

The bolus stopped then and the doors squelched open on to darkness. The three of them fell silent and looked out into a vast cavern. Ayaka said, “Hold the door open, let me go look and see if BlackSun is still out there.” She ducked back in a moment later, shaking her head. “I don’t see the light posts, I don’t hear anyone talking and I didn’t hear the resident mutt packs growling and snarling.” She paused then broke into a wide grin, “But I can see the pryzhok sphere on top of the rock pile.”

Emerald stomped her foot angrily – childishly, she realized, blushing furiously. “Pryzhok doesn’t matter right now! Daniel and Inamma have the necklace! How do we know they didn’t go down to Dr. Viahakis’ lab to open the boxes?”

Ayaka shook her head. “They’re not gonna go there! They’d get caught in a second. Dr. Viahakis, Colonel Berg ,and your great aunt are all on the lookout – if not for Inamma, then for something weird going on with the boxes. Daniel and Inamma won’t go there...”

Søren cut in, saying, “They’ll go to the plantation to hide until after the slingshot.”

“Brilliant!” Ayaka grabbed Emerald and said, “We have to catch them and get the necklace back before they can open the boxes!” She crowded the other two back into the bolus then keyed in the coordinates for their sugarcane plantation.

The door squelched shut on the pryzhok sphere, and Emerald’s voice, saying, “We don’t have any way to fight them with! Daniel’s bigger than...”

They fell away from Level Twelve and shortly arrived on Level Ten.


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:

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: