RIPPLES OF DYING LIGHT washed over the sea, weaving a shimmering copper net that melted and reformed with the waves.
“Perfect.” Leeza, up on the flying bridge, held her camera on the red-gold sunset, a mellow buzz finally easing her overwired nerves. The soundtrack, Kiri Menoth’s “Ectoplasmic Wavelengths” through the ear buds, and she was soaking in the scene, electric sparks racing through her nerves and down the leads, gold stored in her chip. Magic—like she could dissolve into it, become pure energy. Humming, she rode the waves of light and sound, reflections fading into deep sapphire blue.
She lowered the camera to the bench, twisting the Demodakis ring on her finger to frown into the gem’s facets. The color was changeable, like Ariadne’s eyes—untouchable cool, but catch her off-guard and they’d go Cherenkov’s, sizzling heart-of-a-star blue.
She shuddered, but couldn’t resist Linking in to scan the recording once more: The Hot Zone.
***Desolation. Pulverized rock crags dusted with white ash, deadly glowing waters lapping, the only sound. Like some weird lifeless planet. No, post-life. Anti-life.
Leeza flashes on a memory byte: surrealistic painting, clock faces dripping impossibly fluid over sharp stone edges. Here in the nuked bay, pieces of once-rigid ships, melted into impossible contortions, massive metal flung and twisted ribbonlike and fused into the stone cliffs. And that sparkly radiant glow of the nuked sea. Hypnotic. Luring her closer deeper so totally drop-dead gorgeous. . . .
“Ugh!” She jerks back from the rail, swallows, then carefully leans forward to follow the startling movement in the shallows. Fins wriggle awkwardly, dragging the fish along. It turns, flashes a glimpse of misshapen tail fin and grotesque pinkish blobs of mutated flesh where streamlined gill slits should have been. The shimmering hot blue closes over it ***
Leeza shivered and resisted the sick urge to scan once more her data on ionizing radiation, RADs, REMs, somatic effects, cancer deaths per million organ-REMs, chromosomal damage. . . .
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