Friday, October 21, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 40: Inamma Seizes the Alien Artifacts

Sorry for the late post. We were in Northern Minnesota, at a cabin, on a lake, and Wi-Fi was very, very spotty...

Daniel made a face then said, “Oooo...I feel warm all over.” He opened the bolus and stepped aside. “Let’s go.”

“We were on our way to the Congo hangout when you attacked us.”

“I didn’t attack you,” said Daniel as the bolus dropped downward.

“Who did, then?”

“Inamma,” he replied as Emerald and Søren said the same thing.

Ayaka swept them all with a look and said, “Ah. I see how it is! Solidarity is it?” She leaned very close to Daniel and lowered her voice, “Fine, but if I suspect for even a second that you’re under the influence of that alien robot thing, I’ll kill you. My hands are registered weapons. Check the database if you want to. Emerald’s my friend and I’ll protect her from any alien SOAB that cares to show its robotic face.” She stepped back and continued as if she hadn’t said anything. “When we get to the Congo hangout, there should be a pryzhok tournament going on.”

Søren pulled out his ipik and tapped it.

Emerald said, “I thought your ipik was confiscated?”

He shrugged, “I borrowed my sister’s.” He stared at the screen for a moment then said, “Hey! It’s the first games of the Jump Solar Cup!”

“How can there be a Solar Cup? They don’t play Jump on Earth,” Emerald said, “It’s a space game.”

Søren sniffed, “Shows how much you know. There’re already ten Earth Jump teams: Peru...” he paused, frowning, fiddling with his ipik. “Arabian Peninsula, India,” paused again, “um...Central Russia, Japan,” he thumbed his screen, muttering.

Emerald rolled her eyes. She hooked the tektite necklace back around her neck. “You know the teams practically by heart, don’t you?”

Ayaka snickered as Søren continued as if no one had said anything, “China, Brazil,” he bit his lower lip then looked up and said, “The African Cooperative, and NorthAm! Fifteen people in the SOLAREX crew were pro Jumpers before we left – we practically got our own pro team up here.” He read some more then exclaimed, “They added some semi-pros from the ship and petitioned to play in the Cup.”

“How can they play other teams?” Daniel asked.

“Duh! They play remote in a holographic tank with full integration suits. If you didn’t know they weren’t face-to-face, you couldn’t tell. They did one of the matches last year that way when Australia had its Winter Trouble and couldn’t fly their team to Sao Paolo for the finals,” said Søren, hunched over his ipik.

“You follow all of that?” asked Emerald.

He looked up, “Yeah. Who doesn’t?”

Everyone else in the bolus raised their hands and turned to look at him.

He cleared his throat and added, “Sometimes I do.” No one turned away. He threw his arms up and said, “OK! OK! I just started a couple days ago!” The bolus stopped and squelched open. Søren started out, still staring down at his ipik.

Daniel shot an arm out, blocking him.

Søren exclaimed, “Hey!”

Daniel said, “Don’t forget there’s a crazy robot alien trying to kill Emerald. No doubt it will kill us if it has to.”

Søren blinked and slipped his ipik back in his pocket, nodding slowly as he said, “I, uh, forgot.”

Ayaka slugged his shoulder, leaning forward to peek around the door, “How can you forget? That thing’s tried to kill us a hundred times!”

“I’ve never been hunted by a crazy robot before! How would I know what to expect?”

Daniel leaned out into the corridor, looked both ways then stepped out. “Come on. There’re not a lot of people around.”

They hurried down the corridor, noise, shouting, and music growing louder as they drew closer to the teen hangout.

“I thought everything would shut down when we did the slingshot around the Sun?”

Daniel shrugged, “You know teenagers. They’re all fools. Neurons from exuberance haven’t made cross-connections yet.”

They stared at him until Søren said, “You’re a teenager.”

“Not for much longer,” he arched his brows, then touched the keypad. The metal door slid aside. It was like walking into a riot. Waves of heat, young men and women throwing food, leaping from tables and chairs that were luckily bolted down, screaming, and shaking their fists at the huge 3V screen hovering in the center of the cafeteria. Ayaka, Emerald, and Ayaka started to back away, but Daniel said, “Wait a second.”

A few boys ran past and Daniel snagged one, shouting, “What’s happening?”

The boy shouted back, “Solar Cup officials just disqualified SOLAREX from playing – after we beat Central Russia! People are going crazy!”

Daniel grabbed Emerald’s and Søren’s hands and shouted, “Come on!” He pulled them into the mob. Emerald grabbed Ayaka’s hand and they plowed through the riot, ducking and stopping, rushing and dodging, until they reached an empty booth at the edge of the room far from the 3V. He slid in, dragging Emerald in next to him and directing Søren and Ayaka onto the seat across from him.

“What are we here for?” Emerald shouted.

“It’s good cover!” Daniel shouted back, punching his order into the table server. “Maybe Izegbe’s here!”

“Good cover for what?” Ayaka shouted, she stood and did a quick look around the riot, then sat and shouted, “I don’t see Izegbe!”

“This’ll keep us safe from Inamma,” said Daniel, all of them ducking as a tray spun toward their table. Intercepted by a coffee mug, it went tumbling in another direction.

“Where’s Colonel Berg and his crew?” said Emerald.

“The ship is supposed to be locking down,” shouted Søren, holding out his ipik. Emerald leaned forward. The tiny screen showed the Core of SOLAREX. Søren shouted, “The old folks are rioting, too!”

Emerald grabbed his hand and pulled the ipik closer then spun to Daniel, “Look closer!” She twitched Søren’s arm with the ipik toward Daniel.

“Ow! Hey, what are you doing?”

Emerald shouted, “Don’t you see it? There’s an a gravity modified cargo float with gray boxes on it.” Her hand went to her neck. The tektites were warmer than her skin.

Daniel shrugged, “So?”

“Those are the boxes of Chicxulub artifacts! The ones my parents dug up.”

“How do you know that? They’re just gray...”

“I know what they are! The tektites on the necklace – they’re hot! We have to get down there and save them! Someone must have been moving them when the riot broke out. If Inamma sees them...”

Some sort of announcement blared over the public address.

Søren cut her off, “Even that little robot can move a gravity modified cargo float. It’s got a towing harness,” he said as he yanked his hand and ipik free of Daniel’s grip. “No one’ll question it, either, ‘cause the robot isn’t obvious, just old-fashioned. And if even the adults are rioting down there, they won’t care if some robot’s moving boxes around! We have to get down there!” He stood up, catching his quads on the edge of the table, yelped and plopped back down.

Daniel nodded and said, “I agree, we gotta,” he ducked again as something that had been pizza once flew over the booth and smacked into the head of a boy who had just prairie dogged next to them. “...go,” he concluded. “I think we need to crawl out.”

Ayaka protested, “What? Crawl on the floor? That’s crazy. And gross. And...and...unsanitary! I’m not gonna...”

“If we just walk out, Inamma might see us on the security scanners.”

Her eyes grew wide as she nodded. “Good idea, Team Leader.”

“Make sure no one tramples you or stomps on your hands. If we get separated, meet at the interdeck ladders.”

“The ladders?” Søren exclaimed.

“Duh!” Ayaka shouted. “Inamma will be watching for us on the usual security channels. It can’t watch everything, so it won’t notice us in the interdecks.”


“That’s four Levels down and we’d still have to take one of the central lift platform boluses to get there,” said Søren.

“I can climb ladders, and I can keep up with you guys even though I’m smallest. We can’t help the lift platform.” Emerald said. She slid from the bench and dropped to her hands and knees, scuttling like a crab into the surging mob of teens.

“Em! Wait!” Daniel cried. His voice was lost in the roar. He shouted, “Come on!” then dropped to the floor and followed her. Søren put his ipik back in a pocket, glanced at Ayaka and followed the other two.

She was right behind him, muttering, “Beautiful view.”

Emerald made it to the door untouched, but she realized she had to stand up to hit the security pad. She waited until she saw Daniel, then with her face to the wall, sprang up, slapped the pad and dropped back to the floor. By then Søren and Ayaka had joined them. They crabbed out of the cafeteria with no one the wiser.

Daniel stood up.

“Don’t do that! Inamma will see you!” Emerald said.

Daniel rolled his eyes, “Like it won’t see us if we’re crawling on our bellies down an empty corridor?”

Emerald pursed her lips and stood up, saying, “Which way?”

Ayaka said, “The interdeck ladders are this way.”

“How do you know?” Daniel asked.

“I use ‘em all the time. There’s a ladder right outside our Unit and one outside the hospital on Level Four. Saves me time rather than hiking down to the bolus.”


“Come on,” Ayaka said as she set off at a dead run down the corridor, away from the bolus. After a bit, she stopped suddenly and slapped a faintly glowing security panel. Unlike the interdeck ladder Emerald had used when she’d first suspected Inamma had followed her up from Earth, this one was unmarked. Even so, it opened and Ayaka held it.

“I’ll go first,” said Daniel. “Emerald you’re second, then Søren and Ayaka you bring up the rear – or top. Or whatever.”

They piled in and started “up”.

“Shouldn’t we be going down?” Søren said.

“SOLAREX gravitational fields are oriented so that everything in the Core sticks to the walls. No matter what Level you’re on, you’re walking with your feet toward the surface of the asteroid. If you let go, do you think you’d fall toward your head or your feet?” Daniel said.

“My feet.”

“Then that’s ‘down’, toward the surface.”

“Whatever you say,” Søren said.

The climbed ‘up’ in silence until Daniel said, “Level Three.” They kept going. Emerald passing the same Level and saw it was clearly marked in fluorescent paint just like the DANGER signs on the Beanstalk car she’d ridden into space an eternity ago.

“Level Two. I can see the top of the ladder shaft about three meters above me. We have to get out then sprint for the bolus. I’ll scout around first. The rest of you stay in here until I say the coast is clear.” The group stopped, waiting. Daniel slapped the security pad, the door opened and he swung through. Emerald gripped the ladder hard, trying to listen.

They waited.

“What’s going on?” whispered Ayaka.

“I don’t know, I can’t hear anything,” whispered Emerald.

Suddenly, a black-helmeted head with a reflective red security bar above the visor poked into the ladder shaft Daniel had disappeared through. An amplified, artificial voice boomed, “Stop where you are. You are under arrest. Stop where you are. You under arrest.”

Emerald shouted, “Back down! Back down!”

She scrambled down and stopped suddenly when Søren screamed, “Don’t step on my face!”

From way below, Ayaka’s voice cried, “The Level Three door’s opening!”

The voice that boomed up at them was one Emerald clearly recognized. Colonel Berg roared, “Stop where you are! You’re all under arrest! Don’t move or we’ll stun the lot of you and try to catch you as you fall down the shaft!”

Emerald called out, “You can’t do that!”

“We already stunned your big friend.” He paused, “Give me an excuse and I’d be happy to prove you wrong, Vice-Captain Marcillon’s great niece!”

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: