Snow Angel: Chapter 45

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Chapter 45: New Blood

Snow's whole life changes when the winter solstice arrives.

 

“You Angels really made an impression in yesterday’s battle,” Desra offered conversationally as she led us once again through the large and confusing city.

 


 
Author's Note: I should have had this posted last week, but another long week, and being sick delayed things. As always, thanks to Big Closet and to all my readers for your support. I hope you all enjoy. Further chapters are available on Patreon. ~Amethyst.
 


 
Chapter 45: New Blood

After a good night’s sleep in the academy dorms, we went to eat breakfast in the dining hall. Storm Wing and Phantom Wing spent as much of that time talking to curious Angels-in-training as we did eating. Many of those were fellow recruits that we had gotten to know a little during our short time at the Academy, though some were second and third years as well.

I felt somewhat sorry for Marti, Phantom Wing’s Marti, and the Woodward sisters though since they were all essentially new faces here. The Sheepkin and the Fay hadn’t ever been to the academy before, and the two Marti had only briefly met a few of the people here when administering medical attention during and after the big seed-storm. That made both sets of ‘sisters’ get a lot of attention that most of them weren’t comfortable with as new members of our teams.

I did notice that Pike Wing, including the newly added Taddick, avoided us though. Sira and Pike Wing’s Trainer were hoping that adding Taddick to the team might help all of them to learn to put their mistrust and bigotry behind them and help to round out Pike Wing a bit as well. Taddick might be an ass, but he was an experienced fighter and could help the team a lot if they accepted him. They had considered adding a female member to Pike Wing, but their Trainer had decided that it wasn’t a good idea, and they should start small. In the end, Sira had decided that adding Taddick and mandatory sensitivity training for all four of them was the best option.

Taddick didn’t look happy at all to be sitting with the three Animen, nor were they with him, but at least they were talking. I didn’t care for the glares that were occasionally being sent in my direction though, and I made a point of keeping my ears pointed away from their table so I wouldn’t have to listen to whatever nasty things they had to say. Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with any of them while making our deliveries of HESS armor. Maryn had offered to have Phantom Wing deliver their new armor yesterday since there was bad blood between them and Storm Wing.

Most of the people approaching us were curious about our expanded teams, the HESS armor that we had been handing out, and what other new equipment we might expect in the near future. Now that Woodbury Base, and everything associated with it, were no longer top secret, we were even able to answer some of their questions. For example, I knew for a fact that Sira wanted to use the food dispensers to produce more of the S&W LRX-7 pistols that we were using as holdout weapons, and ammunition for them, so that every Angel would have a standardized holdout weapon in case they couldn’t use their main for some reason.

One of the older students, a large Bearkin woman with brown hair, hazel eyes, and an axe as big as my sword asked, “What about more durable armor? I mean, this is good, but even you told me yesterday that it won’t stop everything and can take some time to self-repair. I’m like you, a frontline fighter, and I need something tough so I can keep the enemies’ attention on me and leave my teammates free to do their jobs.”

Thankfully, Lisbet was able to field that question. “We’ve always got Razorwing metal to make plate armor from, but while it can take a lot of punishment, it doesn’t really insulate the wearer well against things like extreme heat or cold. We’ve gotten our hands on some new materials recently though, and I was considering ideas for a new heavy armor for you strong frontline types to wear on top of your HESS.”

My eyebrows rose as I directed my attention to the Harekin. “How come you never mentioned anything to me?”

Lisbet shrugged and gave me a weary smile. “I don’t really have a prototype yet, Snow. This is something I’ve been trying to work on in my spare time, but we’ve been kinda busy recently. Anyway, I was thinking of Fenris-horn plates with a covering of Dragon scales fused onto the outside. Whatever material Fenris horns are made from, they can take a beating, even sniper rifles could barely chip them, so it’ll make a durable inner layer. The Dragon scales are nearly as sturdy and insulate well against extreme heat and cold. These fused plates could be used to make plate armor for people and protective armor for vehicles as well.”

The Bearkin woman gave a savage grin. “Now that is what I’m talking about. I want a set of that armor when you get some made.”

“As soon as you have a working prototype, Lisbet, let me know so I can inform our Wingleader and Sira. They’ll be very interested in this,” I told the Harekin Tinker.

The rest of our meal went on much the same. People approached to question us on the HESS armor, other equipment that might be issued soon, the new base we would be moving to, and so on. Some even came to ask me about the twins that Heather and I were holding since there were apparently dozens of rumors flying around the academy about me and the little ones. Once we managed to finally finish our meal, our two wings got back into our MISTs and made our way back to Ashburn.

~o~O~o~

We had barely returned to Ashburn when Maryn and I were summoned to meet with Sira. Leaving Heather and Orchid in charge of our teams to supervise the loading of the next batch of HESS armor, and the twins with Autumn and Risha, the pair of us followed our guide toward Ashburn’s new Angel outpost. Our guide happened to be someone with whom we were already very familiar.

“You Angels really made an impression in yesterday’s battle,” Desra offered conversationally as she led us once again through the large and confusing city.

“We had to show you what your new allies are capable of,” I told her with a smile. “As you may have heard, we are ready, willing, and able to hold up our end of the defense pact.”

“Yeah, I heard that your teams did more than your share and prevented our forces from being overrun. Without you there, the city would have probably been breached. I wish we could have joined in. I can’t wait for those upgrades to be done on Theta’s gear. Garon tells me that those new power cores should allow us to fight a lot longer before having to refuel, and we can do that with water instead of having to swap out power supplies. Those weapons they’re adding sound impressive too, and if that Razorwing stuff is even half as sturdy as they’re saying, we’ll likely need repairs a lot less often.”

“With energy weapons, you won’t need to reload either,” I added with a grin, “and those mini fusion cores can definitely handle the energy demands. How have you been doing since you got back from Misota?”

The other Catkin shrugged, casually replying. “Itching to get back in the cockpit and fight something. I’m not really used to such long periods of inactivity. Too much time to think. You’re not going to start hovering and worrying about me like Pippa and Garon, are you?”

“Nah, I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay after the whole execution thing,” I told her honestly. I was a bit worried, but this was something that she needed to work through on her own.

Desra let out a deep breath and sighed. “Thank goodness, Pippa and Garon are already driving me crazy. I know it’s only because we’re close and they care about me, but I’m not used to all this touchy-feely crap. Yeah, killing him didn’t suddenly fix everything and it’s not everything I was hoping for, but I’m trying to put it all in the past and move on with my life. That was the whole point of killing that bastard. I guess I never really thought past the ‘killing him’ part, or what I wanted to do with my life afterward, but I think I’m good. I’m helping to keep my city safe, and I’ve got good friends on my team, so I think I just want to focus on those things for a while.”

I nodded and gave her a good slap on the back. “Okay, it sounds like you’ve got things figured out for now. I’m glad to hear it and I’ll tell your… umm… sisters to stop worrying. You should probably try to keep in contact with them though.”

“Sisters…” The word was spoken almost like a sigh, an uncertainty suddenly clinging to the power armor pilot that I hadn’t seen from her before. “I’m still getting used to the idea of having those, and Lisa looks so… Human. Your queen… she… umm… offered me a place there if I wanted it. It’s not my place though, I’m a member of the suppression force and my place is here, protecting Ashburn. I’ll try to send them messages if I can, and maybe I can visit once in a while so we can get to know one another better.”

“That’s all I ask, Desra. Like I said, I’ll tell them that they can stop worrying.” After that, things were quiet for the most part, except for Maryn gushing about how huge the city was and how many people there were. She hadn’t really had a chance to take it all in the day before and I think she was also trying to ease the awkwardness of the silence that had fallen over me and Desra.

Once we had reached the new Angel base, Desra left us to return to her teammates. Their power armor might be getting upgraded, but they still had team exercises that they could do without them. As she left, Maryn and I scanned the area for signs of my grandmother and Sira. We didn’t see them, but we did spot Rose, Clover, Krysta, Sarin, and their team Marti crossing a small open area between what would soon be the Angels’ command center and barracks. They had a Seraph with them and another type of Seed-borne that I wasn’t familiar with.

“Rose!” I called out to the redheaded Harekin as we hurried to catch up with them.

The Wing Commander in question turned her head at my call and motioned for the others to halt and wait for us. Once we were close enough for more casual conversation, the Harekin gave us both a wicked grin. “If it isn’t the heroes of the hour! Your teams did great work out there yesterday; I hear that it’s the talk of half of the city. We had a lot more people coming here wanting to be Angels after you put on that little show out there.”

“We were just following orders,” Maryn said with a grin. “Snow and Kyra deserve most of the credit after showing off in front of the suppression teams though.”

“Don’t be so modest, Maryn. We had people watching the battle and you and Snow both used some good tactics out there,” Rose quickly countered. “Anyway, thanks to your teams, we have had plenty of applicants hoping to become Angels and have already finished choosing the two dozen who will be the beginning of our Ashburn branch, as well as two recruits for Shadow Wing. This is Mera Scott and Dayna Brand, who I have chosen to join us. Girls, this is Snow Bengal and Maryn Summers, Wing Commanders of our sister teams, Storm Wing and Phantom Wing. We’ll be training together with their teams a lot over the next few weeks.”

“It’s nice to meet you both,” I offered as Maryn and the other pair offered similar greetings and I looked them over curiously. Neither girl was much older than we were, and they looked a little nervous, but they both looked happy to be introduced as members of Shadow Wing.

Dayna, the Seraph of the pair, was a little short and slender with bright blue eyes, tanned skin, and long golden hair that was draped over her shoulder in a thick braid. Large feathered wings, pristine white in color, emerged from her back and twitched nervously as she regarded us with an expression of awe. Maybe she was one of those Seraphs that I had glimpsed hovering high above the battle yesterday. I had gotten the feeling that they were watching, especially us Angels.

The other girl, Mera, was tall with a well-toned body, probably from swimming so much. Her skin was almost as pale white as mine was and she had pointed ears that reminded me of Autumn’s, shoulder-length dark green hair, and amber eyes that had a second set of eyelids. Her body shape was human though the entire length of both her arms and legs were covered in iridescent aquamarine scales and ended in larger-than-normal webbed hands and feet. The scales were also present along her cheeks and the sides of her neck, and she had strange slits along her ribs that I thought might be gills, though if they were, they were tightly sealed at the moment.

Mera was something called an Undine. They were very similar to Merfolk in a lot of ways, but they could be comfortable both on land and under water. I had to wonder why she wasn’t joining the suppression teams since she had no extra appendages and her body didn’t differ enough in shape to cause problems with piloting power armor. Even though she had webbed hands, they seemed very dexterous and flexible from the way she nervously clasped them as I looked her over. I tried to put the question out of my mind as I turned back to Rose to ask about our purpose for being there.

“Rose, we were summoned by Sira; do you happen to know where she and Archangel Abbadine are?”

The Harekin answered almost instantly. “Oh, they’re in the barracks building, Snow. Archangel Abbadine is helping the support staff set up the beds and medical equipment that Marti requested for the new recruits, and Sira has finished programming the doses of Angel nanites and is ready to start injecting them. We were just heading there from helping to set up the command center. Mostly we were just moving stuff around and fetching things, but the support staff don’t have our strength or stamina.”

“We don’t have your strength or stamina either,” the Seraph, Dayna, commented tiredly.

“You will soon, kiddo,” Sarin’s gravelly voice offered encouragingly as the Devilkin put a hand on the Seraph’s shoulder.

As Rose led us to the barracks, she told us the basics about her two recruits. “Dayna’s seed-borne gift is to generate bright flashes of golden light…”

“I call it Halo Flash,” Krysta interjected cheerfully.

Rose just smiled and rolled her eyes as she continued as if she wasn’t interrupted. “It might not seem like much, but it could be used to blind Demons if we can find a way to keep our eyes shielded. That’s not the important part though; Sira determined that she has almost as much extra-planar energy potential as you, Snow.”

My eyes widened at that, and I turned my curious gaze toward the Seraph in question as I wondered what weapon Sira had in mind for her. I didn’t think that my Goliath would be practical for her, especially if Rose wanted to take advantage of having a true flier on her team. As far as I knew there were at least a couple of other weapons that had power-related issues and hadn’t been used by other Angels before. “It’ll be interesting to see what weapon she ends up with,” I said with a grin.

“I agree, my team could use a heavy hitter,” Rose replied with a shit-eating grin, “and being able to attack from the air as well presents me with some interesting options. Mera being able to work on land and under water adds some nice options too, if Sira can find a good weapon for her.”

Since Mera was now the topic, I took the chance to voice my earlier question. “I’m curious about why she hasn’t already joined one of the suppression teams.”

“It’s… uhh… my gift,” the Undine supplied self-consciously. “I generate an electromagnetic field and I can use it to stick to metal, pull nearby metal toward me, or push it away. I didn’t have very good control over it when I tried to join the suppression forces though and I kinda fried the suit of basic power armor that I tried to use in basic training. I… I’ve been working hard on controlling it since then though.”

“I guess those things can’t be shielded against electromagnetic energy very well, at least, not from the inside. The HESS armor and angel nanites, and most of the weapons and technology that the Corps uses are purposely shielded against that kind of thing though, and she seems to have decent control over her gift now,” Rose added in the girl’s defense.

“Marti and I are well shielded against it too. Don’t worry about it, Mera, you haven’t lost control since we met last night and if you have any more problems, we can help you learn to control it better. I had so much trouble when I was first learning to use my gift consciously, but practice really does help,” Clover put in. Then she added in a near-silent mutter, “I really miss being able to teleport sometimes.”

By this time, we had reached the building that would be serving as a barracks for the Angels posted in Ashburn and Sarin opened the large doors so we could all enter. As promised, my grandmother was inside helping some of the support staff to set things up. The building was by the water so the Merfolk would have easy access, and quarters were being added for them beneath the water’s surface as well. For now, roughly made pools had been filled with water so that any Merfolk getting the Angel Elixir could be properly cared for while going through their changes.

Sira was behind a desk near the doors with everything that she needed for testing Angel candidates and programming their nanite doses nearby. She gave one of her attempts at a smile as we all entered. “Good, I see that you have brought your two recruits, Rose. Their nanite injections are ready to go. They will be the first to receive them, but the other recruits will be coming soon so we should get started. Snow and Maryn, I will be with you once I have finished with Mera and Dayna.”

I stepped aside with Maryn while the AI gave the new members of Shadow Wing their nanite injections. This was a team moment and neither of us wanted to intrude on it. Once the injections were given and their new teammates were taking Mera and Dayna to their beds to lay down before they started feeling the effects, Sira approached Maryn and me. “You called for us, Sira?” Maryn asked.

“Yes,” the Avatar replied simply before elaborating a moment later. “I wanted to tell you personally that both of your teams did wonderfully yesterday. Also, these are for you.”

Sira was gesturing to a pair of piles of colorful paper slips on her desk. At least they looked like paper at first glance, but they were much glossier and had a much smoother texture. It was like the plastic material that Clover’s father had written his confession on but much more colorful and not as large. The surface area of the slips of plastic-paper was only as long as my index finger and as wide as two fingers.

Maryn managed to ask before I could, “What are these?”

“They are Ashburn work credits, what they use as currency here. People have been dropping them off for your teams since after the battle yesterday. It seems that it is a tradition for those in the suppression forces to offer a gift of work credits when a new suppression team has a successful first battle and they have decided to extend that tradition to your teams after you helped to successfully halt yesterday’s attack,” Sira explained.

I wasn’t sure at first what our teams would do with a pile of Ashburn currency, but it hit me a moment later. There were various businesses here, like the Golden Dragon where we could spend the bounty if we ever had time and could figure out the value of the colorful slips. I took one of the thick wads of work credits and placed it in my jacket pocket. “Thank you, Sira, did you need us for anything else before we take the shipment of HESS armor to Eden Base?”

Maryn followed my example of pocketing her team’s share of the odd currency as Sira sent my NCI a data packet and stated, “Once I am finished giving the recruits for our Ashburn branch their nanite injections, I will pack up my equipment and join you to go back to Eden Base. Once we are finished distributing HESS armor to those who need it at Eden Base, I will require you to retrieve the weapons and other items on this list for our new Angel recruits and distribute them once they have finished their transformations.”

“I thought that you were planning to come back to do that?” Maryn asked.

“I need to supervise the movement of personnel, supplies, and equipment to Woodbury Base,” The AI responded with a shake of her head. “The list will tell the two of you to whom the gear is to be issued once all of the recruits have finished their transformations in approximately two days. They have already been issued HESS armor and you can produce their holdout weapons and ammunition through the food dispensers here. Both of your teams will be based here under Archangel Abbadine to oversee the allocation of equipment to the recruits and basic instruction in their use. You will not have much to do until the recruits wake though so I would suggest that you enjoy having some time to relax.”

At our looks of astonishment, she once again gave her approximation of a smile and added, “Queen Sabine, Abbadine, and I have expected much out of the two of you and your teams recently, especially Snow. You have met or exceeded our expectations and all of you deserve a rest. Enjoy it because once those recruits are recovered, your Wings and Shadow Wing will be undergoing intense training to prepare for the mission to Australia.”

“Thanks, Sira,” I finally managed to say after a moment.

“Thank Abbadine, it was her suggestion,” she replied as she shot a glance toward where my grandmother was watching us. “Now get going and load up those MISTs, we will leave as soon as I have finished the nanite injections and can pack up my equipment and join you.”

With her dismissal given, we both replied, “Yes, Ma’am!” and quickly retraced our earlier steps back to our MISTs to help the others get them loaded. They were well over half-finished and waiting for the hover-hauler to return with the last of the shipment. I spent some time playing with the twins until it arrived and then we got to work loading up the cargo sections of our transports. Sira arrived before we were finished, but she calculated that we had enough HESS armor there to cover everyone at Eden Base.

We ended up having lunch at Eden Base before Sira began calling personnel down to the hangar to collect their new armor. It went a lot more smoothly, and a little more quickly, than things had gone at the academy a day earlier, something that we were all glad for since we were looking forward to some time to relax and explore Ashburn a bit. Once we were finished, we went to the armory and gathered the weapons and gear on Sira’s list, loaded them up in the MISTS, and made our way back to Ashburn.

As a bonus, I also got an early look at the weapons for the new members of Shadow Wing. Dayna’s weapon was a thing of beauty that would make great use of the raw power that she had at her disposal. I couldn’t wait to see the look on the Seraph’s face.

© 2021-2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

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Comments

getting some down time

they deserve it, considering how much they have gone through the last while.

great chapter, huggles!

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Down time

Amethyst's picture

That's always something nice to have, especially when you know you're going to be working hard again soon.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I wonder

Wendy Jean's picture

What kind of method will they use to go to Australia?

Travel

Amethyst's picture

Most likely they will use the MISTs, those and the VTOLs are really their only options at the moment for long distances.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Ashburn Angels

I am pretty sure I've commented on this before but I still wonder which side they will take if goddess forbid Ashburn and Misota has a fallen out.

Sides

Amethyst's picture

It would depend in the individual, and how loyal they are to the Agel Corps itself. The Corps may have originally gotten funding and support from the Queens of Misota, but they are not technically a Misotan institution. They swear no oaths to a particular country but rather to the Corps itself and protecting people in general from threats like Demons.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3