Story date: week six?
Summary: Ashley makes two discoveries...
Note: This is an extended freebie from Ysabetwordsmith's prompt.
Ashley stood on a hickory stump, eyes closed, meditating in the early morning light. Captain Perez had indicated an area where she could practice using her power, and try to gain some measure of control over it, while at the same time decontaminating the site for SPAZMAT.
The slight breeze whispered through the cordgrass, bringing the salt tang of the sea and the fecund smells of marshland. It also brought a note of chemical fruitiness to her nose, a result of the rusting barrels of aromatic organic chemicals, which is why she was here.
She’d been smuggled out of the city in the back of a SPAZMAT truck in the grey light of pre-dawn. Supposedly it was a routine mission, taking measurements at various sites monitoring the slow seep of pollutants into the already heavily contaminated marshland. In reality, Ashley was taking the day to practice control, far far away from anyone or any thing she could accidentally harm.
Technically, she was still in hiding, hence the subterfuge. Although the FBI agent in charge of the new Special Crimes Unit had let it be known, via Haruko, that he wasn’t about to arrest Ashley for anything, and more importantly, that he’d reached some sort of understanding with The Ringmistress. Still... she was loose person of mass destruction, and evidently of interest to someone.
Ashley focused on her feelings about the woman, trying to use rage to summon the terrifying new power she’d manifested. She could feel the seething, boiling sensation deep in her bones, a slow crackling, prickling burning sensation like spilled soda on sunburnt skin, crawling upwards from deep inside her.
Slowly Ashley took a deep breath, opening her eyes, she raised her hands up in front of her. Out here in the wilds she’d removed her containment suit, the better to let her power out. Ashley spread her fingers, seeing the small bones of her hand through the flesh as her power made them phosphoresce.
The acid green energy boiled up around her like a deadly mist, the brownish tufts of grass at her feet blackened and withered, curling as if hit by a blow-torch, collapsing in tiny wisps of black soot.
She deliberately held her power in check, trying to hug it close to herself. The wisps of sickly lambent green energy writhed and darted outwards, like snakes, fighting, trying to escape her control. She gritted her teeth, leaning into the singing tension within herself, holding back by sheer force of will.
A tiny flicker of motion caught her eye, a fluttering scrap of buff, brown and rust. As she watched, the insect settled on the rim of a nearby drum, it’s feathery antenna waving, opening and closing it’s wings in the weak morning sun, revealing blue/black eye spots on it’s rear wings.
Ashley frowned, there was something familiar about it... something she remembered reading.
Distracted her power seeped out across the ground with an almost vindictive faint hissing sound, the corrosive energy attacking the organic matrix of the soil, causing it to collapse into a stodgy wet sand like mass.
Ashley gasped slightly, as memory came back to her. The blue/black eyespots with a white flash like light reflecting of a pupil, on a yellow& red hind-wing... that was a Louisiana eyed silkmoth. She remembered reading about them, they were an endangered species!
Ashley swore, biting off a vile word, and gritting her teeth tried to pull back her power. It fought her, struggling to expand outwards, engulfing all it could. Sweat started to bead on her dead white skin, she could feel her pulse hammering in her temple.
The acid green and yellow cloud thrashed around her. Letting her breath out in a hiss between her teeth, she somehow shoved at her power, pushing it off to one side.
The fog-like energy rushed out from her, crashing like a wave over the barrels of chemicals off to one side, and importantly, away from the moth. Ashley could feel the rush of energy, like a rip tide around her ankles. In a river of destruction it poured out, dissolving, blackening and killing everything from where she stood to the open channel of oily water a hundred yards beyond.
The moth fluttered off, spiralling up, and around another of it’s kind.
Ashley breathed out gustily, her shoulders sagging. Her power fading like river mist in the Louisiana sun.
She’d done it though, she’d channelled her power in the direction she wanted it to go. She straightened up, drawing her will up her spine like rod of iron. She. Had. Done. It!
Her muscles ached, her bones felt like crumbly chalk, and she could feel the suck of depression already nibbling at the edges of her mind. But she felt a muted elation. This power of hers wasn’t intractable, it could be controlled.
She felt like skipping, but she strode over to the pile of her things, and grabbed the borosilicate glass flask full of smoothy that Dr Madhurkar had brewed up for her. She sucked down several large mouthfuls and sat, waiting for the formula to replenish her expended neurotransmitters and the other essential metabolites that her ‘burst’ power used up.
As she sat waiting, she thought. She’d controlled her power, or at least, directed it. Even if it had fought her for every inch. She had been half-way convinced she’d never be able to do it, that she was doomed to spend her life on some desolate rock in the middle of the ocean, away from anything she could harm.
After suiting up again, she strolled around, noting where she could see moths spiralling up from the cordgrass in their brief mating flights. Following one pair she bent down low and watched the female laying eggs.
She was fairly certain that the moth was laying on Gulf cordgrass, not the Marshay it was supposed to prefer. Ashley stood up, and looked across the low-laying tussocky area with a slow smile. Gulf cordgrass was a lot less picky about where it grew, and it formed attractive tight sprays of foliage. It also positively repelled Brettaflies, who hated it’s serrated edges.
Which was why it was on the list of approved ground-cover plants she’d drawn up for alternative planting in her moon garden. Now all she had to do was arrange for someone to collect some of the moth eggs and distribute them across the city in appropriate gardens.
Ashley grinned... today was turning out to be a very good day. How fitting it was, to bring forth from destruction the promise of salvation for an endangered species.
“De mortis, est vita.” she murmured to herself.
Louisiana Silk-eyed Moth listed as an endangered species in T-america.
Plants native to Louisiana salt marshes and coastal regions.
Guide to native plants for ornamental planting
Crossposted from: http://siliconshaman.dreamwidth.org/1235
comments so far over there.