Previous Page Next Page

UTC:       Local:

Home Page Index Page

The Emerald Sea: Prologue

       Last updated: Thursday, December 18, 2003 03:40 EST



    The fifteen ton asteroid had been named, in the deepness of time when men still did such things, AE-513-49. In the latter 21st Century, when every chunk of ice and rock which was of any conceivable danger to the earth had been mapped and tracked, it had been concluded that AE-513-49, which looked a bit like an elephant's foot and was composed of nickel-iron, had a probability of impact with the earth low enough that the heat death of the universe was a more likely problem.

    AE-513-49 had been considered for mining until it was determined that, as a Helios asteroid, one close in to the sun, bringing out the materials would be more costly than those on the relative "downslope" towards the outer system. Then asteroid mining, after a very brief heyday, went away as the human race started to dwindle and, with it, the need for metals from beyond the atmosphere.

    Thus AE-513-49 had been permitted to continue on its lonely orbit, circling the sun like a very small planet, hanging out at the very edge of the "life belt" between the earth and Mercury.

    Until a curious thing happened.

    A couple of years before, small gravitic nudges were applied to it. They first sent it inward towards the sun where it would, of course, have impacted without any noticeable trace. But then it encountered the gravity well of the small planet Mercury and "slingshotted" around it, headed back "outward" in the system.

    More small nudges, some of them infitesmally faint, adjusted its trajectory until it was precisely aligned with a point in space through which the earth would pass. Then, for almost a year, nothing.

    As it approached the earth, however, more nudges were applied. A few adjusted the course so that it would assuredly hit the earth and, what's more, on a particular circular zone of the earth. Other nudges sped it up or slowed it down so that it would hit a particular point on that circle. Then, as it approached the atmosphere, the nudges became more distinct. It was now targeted on that one small point.

    As it entered the atmosphere, thin and high, it began to fluoresce, corruscating waves of fire leaping off of it as the lighter materials it had picked up on its two billion year journey through the solar system burned off leaving the solid nickel iron core revealed. This, too, began to burn as it hurtled closer and closer to the face of the earth until the whole mass of nickel-iron was heated to its melting temperature, and beyond.

    Thus it was a melted ball of nickel-iron, held together by the enormous pressures of flaming air, hurtling downward at far more than orbital velocities, trailing an immense line of fire behind it, that slammed to a stop in mid-air thirty five meters from an unassuming home that was sitting, against all reason, in a pool of lava.

    The nickel-iron that had once been AE-513-49 spread itself across an invisible hemispherical barrier, practically covering it and shutting off all light to interior for a moment, then slid away, bubbled as if from the application of some tremendous energy, to join the rest of the lava.

    A disinterested observer of the impact with a cursory knowledge of impact physics would have noted, curiously, that the ball did not explode into plasma. There was no resounding shockwave, no ball of plasma fire, no thermal bloom, no mushroom cloud, the furiously hot, melted, nickel-iron did not even splash outwards. Just a solid, wet, thump. Loud, but not by any means catastrophic. Then a slide into oblivion.

    At the thump, Sheida Ghorbani opened up a view-screen, as she did at least once a day, and looked at the lake of boiling lava that surrounded her home. The whole valley around her home was a mass of red and black liquid rock, fuming and spitting plumes of yellowish sulfur-laden steam. As always she called to mind the lofty Douglas Firs, winding paths and crystalline mountain stream that had once been. Back in the days before the Fall.

Home Page Index Page




Previous Page Next Page

Page Counter Image