Friday, November 4, 2022

Emerald of Earth – EPISODE 42: Inamma Escapes

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

Emerald said, “Rocks? And something that looks like a diamond,” she reached in and picked up a container, shaking it, “Dust.” She put it down and picked up another, shook it and said, “Pieces of metal.” She frowned and reached deeper. “And this cube.” She took out a cube of silver metal, highly reflective as if it had been chromed. It was five centimeters on a side. Abruptly, the surface moved, as if something inside of the cube stirred. She blinked and looked up at Daniel, Ayaka and Søren. They were staring at her.

“It looks like some sort of ceramic metal,” said Søren. “I’ve seen that stuff in the electronics lab on Level Two. My older brother works there.”

“But it’s alive,” said Daniel as he pressed the cover back down, saying, “We’ve got to get to the Hot Pole.”

Emerald nodded and slipped it into her pocket. She said, “Maybe my parents touched this, too.”

Daniel nodded to the box. Emerald touched it and it flashed green again as she pulled her hand away.

“We’ve got to get Dr. Prymore’s office, fast. Everybody push and I’ll pay attention to driving!” They got it moving again and he started walking, his strides long and steady. He seemed to have shaken off the taser stun Berg’s security had used on him.

“Why do we need to get to the Hot Pole?” asked Emerald, running alongside the cargo float. The rest of the group jogged with her.

“There’s a direct connection between the Hot Pole bolus spike and the Cold Pole spike. Bridge isn’t far from the Cold Pole, either. That’s where we have to take the boxes.”

“What about Dr. Viahakis?” Ayaka said.

“Her and Berg and Inamma were all on their way here. I think they ran into each other. So we’re gonna use the diversion they’re creating for each other to get the boxes to someone who can really protect them.”

“Great Aunt Ruby will protect us and the boxes,” said Emerald.

“Exactly. Now we just have to cut through the zones and get to the Hot Pole,” said Daniel.

“That’s all?” said Søren. “We had enough trouble getting there the first time and now you want us to go off trail? How do we know if it’s even possible? I’m sure the SOLAREX planners wanted people to stay on the trails...”

Even as Søren spoke, Daniel yanked the float off the path and into the jungle. The others followed, shoving the float back and forth, making it weave between the trees, brush and saplings. They walked for forty minutes as the jungle changed to deciduous forest then dried into grasslands. The temperature was noticeably warmer.

“Look! Back there!” Søren called, pointing. The group stopped for a moment. At the far end of the Core, from what would be the steppe just before the Cold Pole, the blimp was lifting into the air. “They’re coming after us!”

“Or they’re going to gas the crew to stop the riot,” said Søren.


“Dad’s one of the environmental team members. They can inject anything they want to into the air of the ship – they’re the ones who control how much of the smoke from the sugarcane burn gets into the air...”

“What has that got to do with the blimp?” Daniel exclaimed, yanking on the float again to get it moving faster. “We have to get to the Pole before they catch us!”

“What I’m trying to say is that Security may be using the blimp to gas the rioters!” Søren said, running to catch up with the others.

“We can hope so, but I ain’t gonna bet on it,” said Daniel. The cargo float hit a slope, kept going and launched into the air, sailing up to Daniel’s shoulder height. He lost control and it tilted, spilling three of the boxes to the ground around them. Cursing, he pulled it back down to the ground. “Pick ‘em up! Pick ‘em up! Hurry! The blimp’s not stopping to gas any rioters!”

Emerald grabbed a box, which flared green. She exclaimed, “This is heavier than a regular plastic box. It’s not rattling. There’s something in it besides rocks and dust.”

Søren nearly dislocated his shoulders when the box he tried to pick up was so heavy he and Daniel needed to help him get it back on to the float.

Ayaka looked up, “Hurry! The blimp’s coming this way!”

They scrambled to push the float faster, Daniel straining in the harness. They were gasping for breath by the time they reached the edge of the desert. Sweating, they pushed as fast as they could, Daniel running now that he didn’t have to steer over the open sand. They rounded the huge, wave-like dune. The Hot Pole spike towered over the desert.

At the base of the spike was Inamma.

Søren, Ayaka and Emerald hauled back hard on the float. Daniel lunged for the control bar, dragging it around, two of the boxes toppling off as it swerved wildly, inertia carrying it forward and up the slope of the next dune. He stopped just before the crest, looking back at them shouting, “Run!”

Ayaka screamed and ducked, going under the float as Daniel grabbed the lead and vanished over the dune, pulling down hard. Emerald, Ayaka and Søren jumped on the float as it sped faster and faster down the crest, then started up the next, gliding until it slowed, stopped and started back down again, jerking Daniel off his feet.

Above them, the blimp reached the savannah. Speakers blared, “Stop what you’re doing or we’ll stun everyone!”

Inamma appeared suddenly on the crest, the sound of knives stabbing sand came over the dune again and Emerald gasped, falling backwards and rolling downhill.

Inamma charged and grabbed a box, avoiding Søren’s grab as it ran for the spike. “No!” Ayaka cried. She leaped. The Lemur IIa was balanced on three legs already and holding on to the box with the other three.

It had no knives free to defend itself, though it tried to stab her with one arm but missed. Ayaka crashed into Inamma, tipping it. The box slid to one side then fell free as the blimp swooped low. Berg’s voice boomed, “Alien robot, stop! You are under arrest!”

Emerald screamed, “You sound like an idiot!”

Inamma dashed for the spike. The blimp swooped even lower, interposing the gondola between them. But Inamma leaped straight into the air, bringing its bladed feet to a point, then stabbing into the floor of the desert.

It disappeared as if the sand had sucked it up, just as it had the first time it ran from them.

Berg and ten of his security piled out of the gondola, running across the sand. Berg reached them first, shouting, “How did you kids get out? You’re all under arrest! Put your hands...”

The sand between the dune and the spike heaved into three fountains. From each fountain, a Lemur IIa leaped, bladed feet flailing. Security fired their tasers, but they’d been set to stun human teens and the sizzling nimbus had no effect as the robots tore into them, slashing and stabbing.

Berg spun, changed the setting on his gun and fired just as one of the robots charged him.

“That’s Inamma!” Emerald screamed, “Save the boxes! Save the boxes! Help me!”

Daniel got to his feet, Søren pulled Ayaka to her feet as well and they dashed for the cargo float in the shifting sand as Inamma’s robots battled Berg’s security.

Berg was down, one arm impaled by the robot, which leaped and landed in front of the float to grab the pulling harness. Daniel reached his end first and yanked it out of Inamma’s grasp.

The alien robot lunged at the boy, and froze.

Daniel stopped moving, staring at Inamma. Then he pulled on the harness and sprinted for the spike, faster this time because two boxes lay on the dune.

Emerald shouted, “Inamma’s controlling Daniel! Stop him!” But by this time, the other robots broke off their battle with security and scuttled to the gravity modified float, following it as Daniel accelerated toward the spike, running around the hovering blimp. “Follow them! Follow them!” Emerald cried, leaping to her feet.

Ayaka and Søren sprinted with her. Berg struggled to his feet, grabbed his gun and ran after them. The upper arm of his uniform was torn and he was bleeding. He called to the remaining security officers, “Secure the boxes!”

Daniel, Inamma, and the float hesitated then rushing into the bolus.

The huge freight bolus at the foot of the spike squelched shut on them as Emerald, Ayaka and Søren rounded the blimp’s gondola. “Stop! Stop!” they shouted together.

The other robots were gone, dimples in the sand like ant lion funnels dotting the surface.

They raced forward, and Colonel Berg slapped the security pad. A moment later, an empty bolus squelched open and they piled in. He looked down at Emerald then at each of the others and said, “This isn’t just your fight any more.”

“I’m the only one who can open the boxes. I’m the only one Inamma cares about. You need me.”

With a growl, he placed his palm hard on the security pad and paused. A keypad lit up and he punched in a code. For the first time any of them could remember the bolus snapped shut and they staggered against the acceleration, crying out in surprise.

Berg, who had spread his feet to steady himself said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” He paused, “Main Shuttle Deck and Staging Area.”

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. (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: