Saturday, October 29, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 41: Recapturing the Crates

“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.”

He was snotty. He was angry. They were in deep trouble. Emerald didn’t know what to say. Below her, Ayaka and Søren were silent as well.

Berg said, “Now climb down slowly to Level Three so I can arrest you and lock you up in your Units where you belong.”

“Colonel Berg, someone was moving the artifact boxes that Dr. Viahakis was studying but they got caught in the Core riot and we can see the antigravity pallet sitting near the Central lift platform without anyone near it and if we don’t rescue it, Inamma’s going to get it and take the boxes away!” Emerald cried in one breath. Looking down, she saw Berg pull Ayaka into the corridor. A moment later, Søren was dragged into it. Emerald hesitated and called out, “Do you believe me, Colonel Berg?”

His head poked into the shaft. Above Emerald, one of the security people was climbing. “What are you whining about?”

“The boxes with the Chicxulub artifacts in them are sitting unprotected on an antigravity pallet in the Core while everyone’s rioting! We have to get to them and save them from Inamma!”

“How do you know that?”

“We can see it on one of the Core feeds. Ask Søren which one he was watching.”

Berg scowled and shouted, “You’re not going anywhere but down here, girl!” His head pulled back into the corridor.

After a few clanking steps, the security person from Level Two was even with her head. The voice said, “Do not move any way but down. Get going.”

“I’m going to wait until...”

“You’re going to get moving right now, little girl!”

Berg’s head poked into the ladder shaft and he called up, “Get down here, fast! We’re going up to the Core. Now!”

Emerald launched herself down the ladder and swung into the corridor.

Startled, Colonel Berg took her by the elbow and said, “Let’s go.”

Emerald tried to pull away from him, but his grip tightened suddenly. “Where are we going?” she cried.

“We’re going to the Core. The Lemur IIa is there already,” then very grudgingly, he added, “…just like you said.”

“What about Søren, Ayaka and Daniel?” Emerald said.

“The only person I need is you to open the boxes.” He stopped, made a thoughtful face then said, “On second thought...” He stepped up to a Unit security panel and put his hand on it. The door slid open and he pushed her into an apartment. Motioning to the other security people, they deposited Ayaka and Søren with her. A moment later, another helmeted figure carried Daniel in over its shoulder and dumped him unceremoniously on a couch. Berg cleared his crew out and said, “Computer, acknowledge Berg Master Override.”


He pointed at Emerald and said, “Detain without privilege in this unit until I return to countermand this directive. Acknowledge.” The computer did so, then he stepped back and the door slid closed.

Emerald launched herself at it, pounding on it and shouting for Colonel Berg to come back and let them out. She spun to Ayaka and Søren who were helping Daniel sit up. Their Team Leader was pale and wobbly.

He gagged.

Ayaka let go of him and put her hands up in the air. Søren scowled at her and said, “If he falls over, I can’t hold him up. If he throws up, chokes on it and dies, you’ll be responsible for his murder.” He glared until she came back to help him hold Daniel upright.

“What are we going to do now?” Emerald said.

Søren looked at her over his shoulder and said, “Wait until Berg and his thugs come and let us out.”

“We have to break out of here! We have to get the boxes!”

Ayaka looked at Emerald sideways then shook her head, “We’re stuck here, Em. Now we wait.”

“No!” Emerald shouted, stomping her foot. She immediately blushed furiously, pursing her lips. Then she held out her hand to Søren and said, “No. We’re going to appeal to a higher power. Give me your ipik.”

“Call your great aunt?” Daniel said faintly.

“No, higher than that.” She keyed an ID code and waited until a voice answered. She said, “Dr. Viahakis? The Chicxulub artifacts my parents sent up with me are sitting in the Core in the middle of a riot down by the central lift platform. I believe that Inamma is going to grab them. Colonel Berg is headed to them right now, too.”

Dr. Viahakis said, “Do you have the necklace?”

“Yes. I’m also being detained in unit,” he glanced at Ayaka, who mouthed, “Unit Three-Fifteen-Ninety-one.”

“There’s nothing either Berg or Inamma can do without the necklace – it’s the key to the boxes and it has to be with your DNA, your heat signature and possibly even your retina pattern.” She redirected her ipik so that it showed her lab as she said, “Inamma somehow got into the lab. It didn’t blow a hole in the wall so it must have grabbed someone – probably a teenager, and manipulated them to load the boxes and move them. I didn’t order the boxes moved.”

“There are other people Inamma is controlling?”

“There would have to be.” There was a short pause. “Where are you?”

Emerald looked to Daniel. He said, “Level Two, Congo Sector Unit 1591.” He looked up at Ayaka.

Ayaka said, “You should probably tell Colonel Berg there’s a riot going on up on Level Four, Congo Sector; all teenagers. He should just poke his head into the hallway and listen. It’ll be obvious.”

There was a long pause on the ipik then Dr. Viahakis said, “I’ve overridden Berg’s security lock.” Suddenly the door slid open. “I’ll meet you in the Core. Watch out for Inamma and for Colonel Berg’s security forces. I sent them an anonymous tip about the riot in the teen cafeteria.”

“You know about that?” Søren exclaimed.

“I know everything, kid. Now go!” The screen blanked.

“Aye, aye, Sir!” said Emerald. Daniel lurched to his feet. Emerald cried, “You can’t come with us!”

“I’m not waiting for Berg’s thugs to come back and stun me again. Let’s go!” He lurched forward, but didn’t fall, grabbed the corner of the door and swung into the hallway. “Hurry up or I’ll beat up on Inamma without y’all!”

Emerald, Ayaka, and Søren ran after him. He was panting by the time he reached the bolus, but pounded the panel and opened the door. It squelched open, they piled in and it squelched shut.

“What if Colonel Berg sends someone to check up on us?” said Søren.

“He won’t,” said Ayaka. “He has too many other things to worry about right now.”

The bolus slid to a stop and squelched open to the roar of the crowd. Emerald led out followed by Daniel, Søren and Ayaka. A louder voice boomed, “Please remain calm. SOLAREX Administration is in direct contact with the World Jump League...” the announcement was drowned out by another angry roar.

The riot wasn’t anywhere near the platform and seemed to be concentrated toward the Cold Pole, almost directly underneath the central holotank, which was projecting SOLAREX’s vice-captain of personnel, Imelda Tanjuatco. Objects flew into the air, passing through her image.

Søren shouted, “Why do they keep calling it the ‘World League’? If we’re in it, it’s not the ‘world league’! It’s the Solar League!”

Emerald ran to the Hot Pole edge of the platform and looked around. Ayaka understood what she was doing, pushed Søren to the East edge and Daniel to the closer West edge while she looked toward the Cold Pole. After a moment, Søren ran to Emerald, “It’s over here! Didn’t you hear me? It’s over here!”

No one could hear anything over the roar of the crowd, so Emerald and Søren ran to Daniel and grabbed him, then grabbed Ayaka, and ran as a hand-holding amoeba to the East edge of the platform. The gravity modified cargo float was sitting beneath a tall pine tree, the boxes piled on it haphazardly, the tow harness laying on the ground, and the whole thing hidden from plain sight by low-hanging branches.

Daniel started down the steps but Emerald grabbed him. “What?”

“It got moved,” she shouted over the dull roar of the rioting SOLAREX crew. “Who moved it?”

Søren pulled out his ipik, thumbed through the images until he looked up and said, “I can’t see what happened because the rioters moved through here...”

“We have to get it before someone else does,” said Emerald. Daniel bit his lower lip then nodded and led the group down the steps to the float, scanning around them all the way.

“We have to get going.”

“Where are we going to take the cargo float?” asked Søren.

“We have to get it back to Dr. Viahakis’ lab. It was secure there,” said Emerald.

“What do you mean it was secure there?” shouted Daniel. “Inamma just grabbed somebody and had them take it out!”

“Where else are we supposed to hide it? Inamma can go anywhere it wants to!” said Emerald.

Ayaka looked around and added, “Wasn’t Dr. Prymore going to meet us here?”

“Colonel Berg was on his way, here, too,” Søren said.

“And Inamma,” said Emerald.

“But no one’s here,” said Daniel. He grabbed the cargo float’s activation handle and turned it on. It rose up from the ground. He slipped into the towing harness, belting it over one shoulder and pulled it as if he expected it to be light, but it hardly moved. “This is way heavier than it looks!” He pulled harder. One more grunting lunge and it began to move.

“I thought it was a gravity modified float?” said Søren.

“It is, but antigravity doesn’t mean anti-inertia. It floats, but I still have to pull it to get it moving and it’ll resist that pull until I can overcome its tendency to just sit there.”

“What are you talking about?” Emerald exclaimed.

Daniel made a disgusted face and waved her away, steering the float. “It’s physics. You’re too little to...”

“Newton’s First Law,” she quoted. “A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an outside force.”

Daniel stared at her, mouth open, snapped his mouth shut as he blushed furiously, then shouted, “Everybody push! I can’t do this by myself.”

They got behind the float and got it moving. Faster than Daniel could control it. It got ahead of him once, ramming an oak tree. None of the boxes was strapped down and one near the edge started to fall. Emerald lunged to shove it back.

The instant her hand touched the box it flared green then went back to being plain gray box. She didn’t move as the box vibrated under her hand. Several moments later, the top opened.

“Emerald! The necklace!” Ayaka exclaimed.

“I can’t see it! What’s wrong?”

“It’s glowing,” said Ayaka. She stepped forward as did Daniel and Søren as she looked inside.

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 read, 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: Image: