Snow Angel: Chapter 47

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Chapter 47: Scouting

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

 

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “Let’s just focus on the mission, okay?”

 


 
Author's Note: I should have had this posted yesterday, but trying to finish patreon chapters while plagued with a massive case of writers block delayed things a bit. Also, I have a few really busy weeks ahead at work where I won't have many days off, so my posting schedule will probably be affected and I many not have time to work on chapters of AD and I Wish like I'd been hoping. 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 47: Scouting

The next two weeks were a bit of a blur of activity that Risha and Clover referred to as a ‘training montage’ for Storm Wing, Phantom Wing, and the newly restructured Shadow Wing. All three of our wings were working from dawn until dusk every day on our various lessons, training, and team drills with only breaks for our midday meal. All of this was done in the VR training stations at the maximum time variance to ensure that we all had as much time as possible to learn everything that we needed to.

By having forty hours each day to learn and practice, everyone was improving by leaps and bounds in both combat training and our other studies. Even Rose and the other senior members of Shadow Wing were steadily improving their skills. Risha said that most people’s minds wouldn’t be able to handle the strain of such accelerated learning, or as much time in accelerated time VR sessions as we were putting in every day, but our nanites and NCIs were helping to mitigate that.

The biggest issue from this amount of training every day was that I wasn’t getting to spend much time with the twins. They were spending most of their days in the childcare center while we were in VR simulations and with the time variance making our days seem so much longer, I found myself missing Kassie and Kallie. I think that the other members of Storm Wing felt the same way since after training we would often spend our evenings hanging around the house and spending quality time playing with them while relaxing and watching one of the movies from Risha’s collection.

Today was going to be different though. Not wanting the members of our wing to become burnt out before the big mission, Sira and my grandmother had decided that today would be a departure from the pattern of intense training that we had been following. Since we also needed Intel on the area of Australia that we would be going to, and any resistance that we might meet there when the time came for the real mission, today we were all going on a scouting mission.

It was just after dawn, and while the other members of our teams were heading to the hangar to get our emergency gear loaded in the MISTs and prepare for liftoff, Rose, Maryn, and I were getting final orders from my grandmother following our quick breakfast. “This is a scouting mission only. Once you arrive at the target area, split up to get detailed surface scans with your MISTs and try to get some idea of what Demons inhabit the area so we can determine what forces we’ll want to send with you when we try to access the central spire to shut down the FTL communication system. Remain cloaked at all times and stay in contact.”

“What if things go sideways, Archangel?” Maryn asked.

“As long as you stay cloaked and in contact with home base and one another, this should just be a routine scouting mission. Should something unexpected happen, I trust in your judgment as Wing Commanders. Keep us in the loop and if anything happens, we will do what we can, but you might be on your own for a while since the veetols aren’t as easy to hide as those MISTs. This is why we’re sending you in with emergency equipment and plenty of ammunition,” the First Angel replied. “Who knows, we could be making all of these preparations for a major operation for nothing.”

“Yeah, maybe the area around this this central spire for the communications hub will be deserted. We could just drop in and shut the comms down for a few days without having to worry about clearing out a major Demon infestation,” Rose added, not sounding like she believed it for a moment. “I wouldn’t bet any money on it though.”

“We should be fine,” I said with a shrug. “We shouldn’t have to fight anything, but at least we’ll be going in prepared if we do. We’ll just go in, do some scans with the MISTs’ sensor suites, try and get a general idea of what we might be facing during the big mission, and then get out. Now, let’s get going. The sooner we’re gone, the sooner we’ll be back, and I can spend some time with the twins.”

I wasn’t happy about leaving Kassie and Kallie in the childcare center while we were all gone. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Denise, Hannah, Koda, and Mink to take proper care of them, they were all very good with children and the twins had taken well to all of them. The problem was that I wasn’t certain how long this scouting trip would take with the MISTs and the longest that I ever had to leave the twins in the care of someone other than myself or others on my team was the length of our daily training sessions. Even then, I was always just across the base if something came up with them that demanded my attention as their adoptive mother.

This time, if Risha was to be believed, we would be on the other side of the world. I found myself worrying about that distance between us. What if they got sick? What if something happened to us out there and I didn’t come back to them? What if I missed something important in their lives, like their first words or something? As a result of these worries, I was feeling a little moody since we woke up and dropped them off at the childcare center, though I tried not to take it out on the people around me.

In truth, I would have liked to bring the twins with us but bringing them would be endangering them. Our work was inherently dangerous, even a simple scouting mission like this could turn disastrous if we weren’t properly prepared or encountered something that we couldn’t handle. I had to be responsible, even if the thought of leaving them like this was making me more nervous than any Demon I had ever fought.

My grandmother gave me a sympathetic glance before smiling at the three of us. “Good luck, ladies. I’ll let you get to your MISTs so Risha can brief you on your travel itinerary.”

The three of us quickly stood up and snapped a quick salute before leaving the mess hall and boarding the elevator to head to the hangar level. Once we were in the elevator Maryn asked, “Is everything okay, Snow? You seem a bit… well, moody this morning. It’s not your time of the month, is it?”

“No, it’s not, and I’m fine,” I tried to assure her, though my heart wasn’t really in it. It certainly wasn’t my time of the month, I had experienced that for the first time last week and it had turned out to be a truly mixed blessing. One on hand, it was something that I never thought that I would experience before becoming an Angel and at first, it made me giddy enough that I could ignore the horrid cramping and discomfort. That hadn’t lasted for long before I was as miserable as Karina, who was going through hers as well.

“Separation anxiety. I’ve seen it before in Angels returning to duty after having babies,” Rose explained. “She’s probably worried about leaving them here, and that’s perfectly natural since we have no idea what we’re heading into, or even how long we’ll be gone. Snow seems to have it the worst, but I noticed that Autumn and Heather were both a bit moody and distracted during breakfast as well. I’ve heard that it gets a bit easier over time.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I mean, we’ve all seen how Snow dotes on those little ones, and Autumn is nearly as bad as she is when it comes to the twins,” Maryn agreed.

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “Let’s just focus on the mission, okay?”

Neither of them said another word about it and soon we were walking across the hangar toward the MISTs, where our teams seemed to be finishing loading up the supplies and lashing them down in the cargo section. Risha was waiting for us, and she grinned and gave a playful salute as we approached. “Wing Commanders, Archangel Abbadine and Sira have asked me to explain how we’ll be travelling to Australia today.”

“Well, obviously we’re using the MISTs,” Maryn shot back. “How long will it take? Are we going to need to change pilots once in a while?”

“Well, if we went the usual way, it would take about twelve hours or so at the MIST’s top speed, so we would be looking at a full day round-trip, at least, not counting the actual time spent there scouting and getting the lay of the land,” she said, holding a hand out horizontally in front of her. Then she moved her hand so it was pointing straight up and slowly raised it. “Good thing we’re not going that way. We’re going this way. We’ll be doing a suborbital hop. The MISTs might not be able to make it as far as the moon, but they were designed for hops like this.”

“A suborbital hop?” I asked. At least the other two Wing Commanders seemed just as confused as I was.

“Yup,” she agreed with that grin not fading at all. “We’ll be going up into a low orbit and then we’ll alter course and wait for Australia to come into view before plotting a landing vector that will take us where we need to go and attempting reentry before we even reach a full orbit. An hour or so travel time, tops. We’ll be doing the same for the way back, so if everything goes well, we might be back in time to have lunch and spend an afternoon with the twins, Snow.”

I perked up immediately at that, but Maryn interjected with a very good point. “Ummm… we haven’t been trained on how to do anything like that,” Phantom Wing’s leader pointed out.

“Well, there’s no time to learn like the present, which is why you three can be copilots for the first hop. Honestly though, there are a lot of calculations involved on how to do this right, and I think that we’d all rather not burn up on reentry or something. Organic pilots can learn to do this kind of thing by feel, but it takes experience and practice, and we didn’t have the time to train for this and everything else, so I did the next best thing.”

“And just what is that?” Rose inquired.

Risha gestured to the three crafts in front of us and explained, “The MISTS have robotic and AI pilot compatibility. It’s why I can fly them remotely if I need to. There is also a redundant piloting program on board, in case a robot that wasn’t programmed for piloting, like a medical drone, might need to take over flying for some reason, and I downloaded that the first time that I interfaced with a MIST. With that, I have enough knowledge of the craft and the calculations involved to do it. I’ve had Clover and all of Marti download it as well, so they will be able to do it as well without me having to constantly feed instructions to them.”

There were probably a lot of very good questions that we should have been asking, but none of us had the technical knowledge that Risha had. I trusted her judgement, and not just because I wanted to get back soon to spend some time with Kallie and Kassie. I knew that she would never do anything to put us in any more danger than our jobs usually entailed. If she was confident that she and the other Avatars could do this, that was all that I needed to know. “Let’s do this then,” I said calmly.

Ten minutes later, we were all buckled into our seats in our respective MISTs and doing the final checks before takeoff as the elevator brought us to the surface. I was seated beside Risha in the copilot’s seat. The AI quickly manipulated the control panel and glanced over to me. “There we go, Snow. The engines are hot, the rear hatch is sealed and airtight, and I’ve set up a secondary dedicated comms channel between the three MISTs. It should make it easier for us to stay in constant contact during the mission. I’m ready to connect and give us all the go ahead whenever you’re ready.”

The elevator reached the surface, and I gave the blonde Avatar a nod. “Go for it, Risha.”

Risha tapped the comms on and promptly announced, “This is your captain speaking. Good morning, and welcome to Angel Airlines, flight 101. We are ready for liftoff so please make sure that your seatbelts are fastened, and your seats and trays are in their locked, upright position. Seriously, folks, just sit still and try to enjoy the ride. These MISTs are marvels of technology, but even they won’t fully protect us from all of the G’s we’ll be pulling to reach low orbit. If everyone is ready, we will stagger takeoffs with one minute between so we’re not crowding one another. Storm Wing will lead the way, followed by Shadow Wing and then Phantom Wing.”

-= Shadow Wing is ready, =- Clover responded.

A few seconds later she was repeated by Marti from Phantom Wing. -= Phantom Wing is ready. =-

I was ready for us to launch immediately, but Risha gave me a playful smile and started singing, “I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again…”

She launched us into the air as Clover’s voice echoed over the comms, -= Leaving on a jet plane… =-

The pair sang the entirety of whatever old-world tune that was as we climbed higher and higher into the sky and a weight pushed me back into my seat. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was noticeable. It seemed like only minutes later that we were all staring out the forward view screen at an endless starry expanse.

That view was at once the most breathtakingly beautiful and terrifying thing that I had ever seen. It seemed endless and made me feel kind of small and insignificant. That feeling only seemed to grow as Risha adjusted our course and I got my first good look at our home world laid out beneath us. It was a globe of green, blue, and white that had me staring in wonder before Risha spoke and snatched my attention away from it.

“See that big dark spot? That’s probably Mother Darkness, it looks like she’s somewhere over the Atlantic right now,” she said, frowning at the dark spot in question. It wasn’t hard for me to spot the black haze in question, and I joined her in frowning. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I told myself that, if we were successful, we wouldn’t have to worry about Mother Darkness for much longer.

~o~O~o~

There wasn’t all that much to do while we were waiting except play around in zero gravity and take in the view, not that we had much time for that. We could have produced artificial gravity on the MIST, but Risha said that would just be a waste of power since our HESS armor could produce magnetic fields to help us get around if we really didn’t feel like floating around. Most of us had fun doing that, especially Marti, she was like a little kid playing with her new favorite toy.

The rest of the team had a little fun with it too before having to get belted back in, though Risha and I stayed in the pilot’s compartment since we needed to keep alert for any debris that might pose a threat to our small crafts as we charted and followed our course heading. Well, Lisbet and Autumn didn’t really have much fun. The Harekin was far more interested in studying the effects of zero gravity on herself and the others while Autumn just didn’t see what the big deal was since she was used to her Seed-borne gift allowing her to play around with gravity at will. I was pretty sure that Heather was enjoying herself, not that she would admit it to any of us.

Just over forty minutes later, we were in a position to attempt reentry on a heading that would take us as close to the general area of the Central Spire as Risha could manage. The ride down was a lot rougher than the way up had been, but Risha and the other Avatars piloting managed to bring us all down in one piece. I was actually less bothered by the shaking than I was once I got a good look outside the front view screen. It seemed to be the middle of the night here, which was a little disconcerting since it was the crack of dawn when we left home close to an hour ago.

“We’re alive,” Karina muttered several minutes after our flight became noticeably smoother.

“Hey, it wasn’t that bad for my first time,” Risha objected. “We’re all still in one piece. The ride probably would have been even rougher in one of the Veetols, but they’re capable of doing this too if we need them to for the big mission. We’d have to get the pilots in the VR simulators to practice first though.”

I nodded but tried to get us focused back on the mission. “Well, let’s worry about getting the lay of the land here and see what we might have to deal with first. Shadow Wing? Phantom Wing? How did you make out?”

-= Reentry was a little rough, but we’re good to go, =- Maryn called out.

-= We might need to touch down for a bit, we have a bit of a mess to clean up in our passenger section, =- Rose’s voice commented over the comms with an audible sigh.

-= I’m sorry! =- Dayna could be heard wailing in apology.

-= Geeze, I’ve never heard of a Seraph getting airsick before, =- Mera’s voice commented.

-= I… I wasn’t airsick! =- the Seraph’s voice protested. -= I’m just used to flying under my own power! And that wasn’t flying, it was plummeting! =-

-= Controlled plummeting, =- Clover pointed out, -= I was in control the whole time. =-

Rose groaned over the connection, and I could imagine her face-palming at her new team members’ antics. -= I think we could all use a bit of fresh air before we start scouting. Let’s look for the Central Spire and a quiet place nearby to land for a bit before we start running scans of the area. We’ll keep the MISTs cloaked and stick nearby. Snow, could you contact Archangel Abbadine to let her know that we’ve all made it here safe and sound? =-

“I’m on it, Rose. Risha, see if you can find a spot for us to all touch down,” I said as I gazed down at the landscape below. Even from high up, it looked nothing like Misota. Everything looked so dead and dry, even under the cover of night. I had never seen a desert before, but I imagined that this was what one looked like. I idly wondered if it was going to be possible to use my gift here. I doubted that there was much water to even make ice with.

I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind as I had Connie connect a call with my grandmother and then I updated her on our status. She was pleased that we all arrived okay and wanted us to keep her posted on what we found. By the time I was finished speaking with her, Risha had something.

The AI was frowning as she looked at the control panel. “We came down further east than I was planning on. It is probably going to take at least an hour before we can get within sight of the Central Spire, at least if we go at a speed where we can manage detailed scans of the terrain and such. There is a ridge that should be safe enough to land on and I don’t see anything down there that hints at any Demon activity close by.”

“Take us in, the others can follow,” I ordered, keeping my eyes on the terrain below and watching for possible dangers.

Thankfully, the ridge seemed to be as barren and unoccupied as it looked once we landed. While Sarin helped poor Dayna clean up the mess in Shadow Wing’s MIST, the rest of us went outside to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. The air was hot and dry, even in what appeared to be close to midnight, and there was no way that I was going to be able to use my gift effectively in a place like this.

Mera looked as unhappy about it as I was. The Undine was fanning herself and scowled as she muttered, “I am not a fan of this heat.”

“It may be winter in our neck of the woods, but here it’s the middle of summer, and if I remember right, Australian summers are hot,” Risha informed us.

“Great,” Mera grumbled. “I hope we don’t have to fight much in this heat. I’m going to dehydrate without any water around.”

I could only agree with a nod and a long sigh. “I think my species might be built for colder climates. I don’t have too much trouble in the cold, but I feel like I’m going to melt in this heat.”

“Well, that would make sense with your coloring and your gift, Snow,” Lisbet agreed. “The twins have the same coloring, and so did their birth mother. It looked like she had the same gift as you too, maybe it’s some sort of racial gift for your whole species.”

“It’s possible, but let’s not go down any rabbit holes right now, Lisbet,” Risha countered with a teasing smile.

“Yes, it’s better that we keep alert. Something about this place gives me the chills,” Fawn said as the Fay looked around guardedly.

“Me too, Sis, but it’s totally barren out here,” Kyra agreed as she attempted to hide a shiver and her eyes darted around. “There’s nothing but us, the occasional shrub, and those rocks over there.”

Kyle’s eyes widened as he looked in the direction that the Sheepkin’s outstretched finger was pointing. “Ummm… did that rock just move?”

“That’s no moon,” Clover stated as she reached for her sword.

© 2021-2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

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

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Comments

Don't know when we'll be back again

Well that is an appropriate song.

All the crews also qualify as astronauts too so they should get their wings.

These MISTS have amazing range.

Also, we should round out our memes once the unexpected visitor is revealed: Why did it have to be snake demons?!

Or it could be a Basilisk considering it is disguised as a rock. Maybe?

Yup

Amethyst's picture

I thought it was appropriate, and totally something that Risha and Clover would latch on to. And yes, they're totally astronauts, too bad there's no space program anymore. The Mists were meant for the space program originally and changed for military purposes and to make them more versatile. Actual space travel is a bit beyond their means though.

Lol, Indiana jones reference? Nice try, but nope that's not it ;)

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

Snake demons

Well it was worth a try :)

Australia is notorious for its poisonous snakes and one on steroids (so to speak) would not be something I would like to run into.

“That’s no moon,”

giggles. I wonder if anyone else on the team gets that reference?

nice chapter hon, huggles!

DogSig.png

I picked it up

gillian1968's picture

But I’ve seen that movie SO many times!

I wonder what Snowie and her friends have dropped into this time.

Gillian Cairns

It was a bit of a reach

Amethyst's picture

but Clover and Risha both love the pop culture references. Too bad nobody else on the team was likely to get the reference.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

"That's not a rock." "This.

"That's not a rock." "This..... is a rock"


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

lol

Amethyst's picture

Crocodile Dundee, I'm ashamed for missing a reference to that while they're in Australia. lol

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

Everybody sing!

"Papa was a rolling stone..."

snerk

Amethyst's picture

The comments on my stories are the best lol

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

could be crocs they would

could be crocs they would look like a rock if curled up and sitting still, except they would want water.

Crocs?

Amethyst's picture

Bad fashion statements are indeed truly frightening.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

Command structure

I get it that the Archangels rule the roost among the Angels.

However when 3 wings are on mission and the wing leader is not present then who runs the show?

Do the commanders share command? That might not be okay in a sudden battle scenario unless the senior commander is always the one to take the lead in a sudden scenario.

As more teams are created the problem will only get more acute on missions that demand larger force formations.

I assume eventually more levels of command will be instituted?

Wing commanders

Each team has an appointed wing commander who actually has control over their respective wings such as Snow and Maryn
There is also second-in-command on each wing like Heather
Even though Rose is more experienced than Snow this mission was assigned to Snow so she is coordinating all three wings however both Rose and Maryn are responsible for their members

Wingleaders are mostly supervisory roles and will not always be present

Yup

Amethyst's picture

That's pretty much how it works. In this case Snow, Maryn, and Rose are in charge of their respective teams and are coordinating with one another. Each has their own suggestions and tactics to contribute, bit at the moment they're working like a council of three and if any of them proposed something that wouldn't work, the other two would call her on it and suggest something else. By not doing so, they consent to the group action.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

"Moon"

*giggles*
Let's hope that thing won't shoot laser beams.

Thx for another nice chapter^^

Well...

Amethyst's picture

There are Demons that can do something similar, like the Fenris.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

Did those rocks just move?

Wendy Jean's picture

Probably, wonder what they were before they were mutated?

In Australia? Probably

In Australia? Probably sheep.


I'll get a life when it's proven and substantiated to be better than what I'm currently experiencing.

That would be baaaad.

Amethyst's picture

That would be baaaad.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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