Snow Angel: Chapter 50

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Chapter 50: It's Over

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

 

“We should take this intel back to the Corps and the people of Ashburn,” Krysta suggested. “If nothing else, it’s a missing part of our history.”

 


 
Author's Note: 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 50: It's Over

We had to fend off five more Demons before the MIST arrived and Risha uncloaked it so we could make our way inside. As expected, she wasn’t able to land it, but she was able to keep it hovering low enough that we were all easily able to jump up to the ramp to get inside. Autumn was soon resting somewhat comfortably on one of the cots in the living area and I was sending a message to both of our sister teams over comms before we made our way to the central spire.

“Should I prepare some plasma grenades to dispose of the corpses, Snow?” Lisbet asked as I waited for replies from Phantom Wing and Shadow Wing.

“No,” I said after considering it for a moment, “this whole forest is already infested with Demons, and it probably can’t get any worse. The strong ones are already killing off the weaker ones and likely leaving other corpses all over the place anyway. If we stick around here to try to keep the fire controlled for the bodies that we know about then we’ll just end up having to fight off more of them, but if we just start burning the bodies and go, the whole forest could burn down. Let’s just get to the tower, at least if we can shut down the FTL comms for a few days we shouldn’t have to worry about seed-storms again.”

“Yeah, and with no more seed-storms the Demons will not propagate as quickly,” Risha added. “The Angel Corps will no longer have to focus on the aftermath of such storms anymore and can focus on trying to clear out the ruins and responding to Demon sightings more efficiently. Once we’ve made Misota a Demon-free zone, then we can start worrying about places outside of our territory. For now, we should focus on shutting down that tower.”

Our sister teams responded as we were on our way to the central spire. Both Phantom Wing and Shadow Wing were in the thick of fighting when I messaged them and were withdrawing back to their MISTs as well now that they knew we were able to do the same and we had the all-clear to head to the tower. The fighting was thick for them too as they tried to draw enough Demons to them so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and neither team had come out of their battle unscathed.

Peter and Fawn had both been seriously hurt in Phantom Wing’s battle. Peter suffered a broken leg that was likely to take as long to heal as Autmn’s shoulder and Fawn had been impaled by some Demon that was covered in poisonous spines and fired them off in all directions. The others had been far enough to evade them, and Kyra’s wool protected her, but Fawn got struck in the chest and the metallic spines were going fast enough to pierce her HESS armor, narrowly missing her heart.

Marti from Phantom Wing said that Fawn would live, due to her nanites and quick medical treatment to prevent her from bleeding out, but the chest wound was serious, and she would have to be kept immobile in bed for a few days while her nanites healed the wound and counteracted the toxin. It was a good thing that we were planning to shut down the FTL comms system and hang around the tower for a few days because I wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to try another suborbital hop while Autumn and Fawn were on the mend.

Shadow Wing reported in last and was hit the hardest though while fighting near a tributary of the river we had flown past earlier in the night. Sarin, Mera, and Krysta all suffered various injuries. Of the three, Krysta got off easiest with a sprained ankle and the tip of her big floofy tail needing to regenerate after a close call with a drop bear.

Mera had been injured while fighting what Clover called ‘a massive, spiky crocodile Demon’ that had attacked from the river. Apparently, she stabbed at it with her harpoon to draw it away from the others and back into the water, kept a grip on its back, and kept fighting even when it rolled and tried to crush her underneath it. She would have lost her primary weapon if she hadn’t been able to use her gift to attract the metal weapon back to her, allowing her to get a lucky stab at its eye while it was trying to get its bearings again. As a result of that fight, Mera was suffering from an assortment of bruises underneath her HESS armor as well as five broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder.

Sarin seemed to be the worst off of the three, but that was almost to be expected since she served a similar role on her team as I did and usually fought up close and personal. The Devilkin’s war hammer was a close-range weapon with only limited power in its long-range mode since her gift energy was limited, and she needed to touch her opponents to use her Hellfire touch on them. She usually relied on quickness and agility, but she had tangled with a vicious horned lizard Demon that nearly matched her in both and was much stronger.

When the two literally butted heads before she managed to finish it off with her Hellfire touch, it was only her thick and sturdy horns that had protected her skull from being caved in. One of her horns snapped off in the process and needed to regrow and she had suffered a serious concussion as a result. She also had a severely mangled right arm from when the Demon bit through her armor while she was finishing it off with her gift. They had to pry the damn thing’s jaws off her arm.

I felt bad that our encounter with the drop bear had turned this whole scouting mission on its head and necessitated these fights with Demons we had mostly never seen before and knew nothing about. Their injuries could have been avoided if we had some idea what we were dealing with and what abilities these Demons might possess. It was something that I found myself brooding about until we hovered outside of the central spire.

“We’re at the tower,” Heather said, breaking me out of my thoughts as she slipped her arms around me and held me close.

I started in surprise, as much from her voice drawing me out of my thoughts as from the pink-haired Fay initiating a hug. “I… thanks, Heather. We should discuss the plan, I guess,” I replied as I reluctantly tried to leave her embrace.

She just pulled me closer and kissed me tenderly before backing off just enough to tell me sternly, “Snowy, I know what you’re probably thinking but none of this is your fault. It’s like Archangel Abbadine told us during training, ‘Sometimes, a mission is going to go to shit, and there’s not much you can do about it but do what you can to win and keep your wingmates safe.’ Nobody died, Autumn is fine, we’ll all heal up soon, and we’re going to make it so Mother Darkness can leave our planet, and hopefully never come back. I’d call that a win.”

I let out a sigh and nodded before hugging and kissing her back to show my appreciation and thanks. “Thanks, Heather, you’re right. In our line of work, I guess it’s not very realistic to not expect someone close to me to get seriously hurt like that at some point. Let’s go see if we can find someplace to land and figure out a plan with our sister teams over comms while we wait for them to arrive.

~o~O~o~

Thankfully, there was enough space to land the MISTs since the tower was fronted by a level platform made out of the same wonder metal as the tower itself that was maintained and kept clear over the long years by the tower’s repair and maintenance nanites. Risha guessed that this was meant as a landing pad for anyone who needed to access the tower for some reason and to keep the area clear for the security systems to spot any intruders coming by ground. She also spotted a massive number of indents along the length and breadth of the tower’s outer walls that she assumed were weapon placements.

-= Wow, overkill much? They really didn’t want any unauthorized access here, =- Clover’s voice snarked over the comms system.

“Yeah,” Risha agreed with a frown. “I would suggest remaining cloaked and dropping me off as close to the entrance as possible. Once the cameras spot movement on the ground, I’ll have five minutes to get to the access keypad and enter the proper code. It should not take me nearly that long, but I would rather err on the side of caution and maximize our chances of not getting shot at. Once I’ve finished, it will be safe to land and uncloak the MISTs.”

-= What happens after that? =- Maryn asked.

Risha shrugged as she responded, “Once I get access to the inside, it should be smooth sailing. I’ll just need to find the main computer and initiate a temporary shutdown of the FTL Comms system, but I’ll wait for confirmation before doing that. So, one of you in-charge types might want to contact Archangel Abbadine and Sira to let them know our status.”

-= I’ll get on that, =- Rose offered.

“I’ll guide us in so we’re nice and close to the doors,” Karina offered from the pilot controls.

Risha nodded and smiled at the Devilkin. “Thanks, Karina, I guess I should get to the hatch and get ready to jump then.” Then she turned and made her way to the back of the MIST and I tagged along.

She hit the release and as the hatch began to open, I gave her a kiss for luck. “Be careful down there, Risha,” I told the blonde Avatar, holding her in my arms until the hatch was fully opened.

Risha took that as her cue to kiss me back as I released her. Then she gave me a sloppy salute and a reckless grin before taking a couple of steps back to drop to the ground below. A moment later I heard on the comms, -= Superhero landing! You know, that’s really hard on your knees, totally impractical. =-

-= Rish, you’re supposed to be breaking into the tower, not… breaking the fourth wall, =- Clover commented through a fit of giggling as I watched my AI mate-to-be run for the door from the rear hatch.

-= I thought Risha said those walls were practically indestructible, so of course she has to use the door, =- Dayna contributed while sounding very confused and just a little frustrated.

-= Yup, nothing goes over your head, Dayna, =- Risha playfully countered as she reached the door and began to enter the code.

-= Her reflexes are too fast; she would catch it, =- Clover added almost seriously before the comms came alive with the sound of both her and Risha giggling.

Once the sound of giggling died down, Risha called out, -= All clear. I’m heading inside and you are good to land. =-

It was as we were easing the MISTs down onto the landing pad that Rose’s voice reported, -= I’ve let Sira and the Archangels know our status, and we’re clear to shut down the comms system as soon as we’re ready. They’ve already sent messages to Ashburn, all Angel bases, and all Wing Commanders that the FTL comms system will be down for a few days. Everyone will switch to the farspeakers as a backup system until it’s back online. =-

Everyone was quiet after that as a sort of nervous tension came over us. I think that we were all thinking something along the same lines. This was it. Everything that we had gone through led to this moment. In just a few moments, Risha would flip the switch that would hopefully rid our planet of the Darkness and the Demon Seeds forever.

I wasn’t the only one to jump as Risha’s voice muttered, -= Well, fuck. =--

“What?! What’s wrong?! ‘Well, fuck’ is never a good thing!” Lisbet called out after the moment of silence that followed Risha’s curse. The Harekin sounded stressed, but I think the pressure of possibly failing at this point had all of our hearts racing.

-= Oh, sorry, it’s nothing serious, =- Risha quickly apologized. -= I can still shut down the comms system as planned, I just found something… interesting. Also, I’ll need to rearm the ground defenses, in case any Demons get too close, but I’ll set that on a timer, so we have time to take off and find somewhere relatively safe to bunker down for a few days. Unfortunately, I don’t trust these defense systems to not attack us along with the Demons, and the system isn’t really AI friendly. =-

-= Wait! What did you find?! =- Kyra’s voice begged.

-= I’ll show all of you when we’re safe somewhere else. I’m shutting down the FTL comms system now. =- the AI promised before the channel went silent.

Phantom Wing and Shadow Wing were already in the air and the sun was just starting to rise as Risha ran out of the tower to board the MIST. As soon as she was safely on board with the hatch sealed behind her, we took off as well. We would have to stay in touch with the farspeakers to communicate properly, but one had been included with the emergency gear for each MIST. They didn’t have the range for us to talk to anyone in Misota or Ashburn, but at least we could coordinate as we searched for a place to wait out the next three days.

It took several hours of flying south at top speed, but we found a nice stretch of beach where our scanners hadn’t picked up any extraplanar energy signatures among the life signs. Risha joked that we would just have to worry about Australia’s natural wildlife, but not many of us were awake to hear it. It had been a long and eventful day, and I was the only one awake as our MIST landed except for Risha and Marti, who had offered to take over piloting so everyone else could rest.

I was watching over Autumn, who was grimacing in her sleep. Her nanites could heal the injuries, but they couldn’t do much about the pain. Marti had given her something to help with that, one of the drugs that our nanites were programmed to ignore in case we sustained serious injuries, but it didn’t look like it was helping very much. “Get some sleep, Snow,” Risha half suggested, and half implored as she and Marti entered the living area from the pilot’s compartment. “I’ll watch over both of you.”

“Yeah, Snow. You need rest, doctor’s orders,” Marti quickly chimed in.

I reluctantly gave in, but I didn’t think that sleep would find me easily. I missed the twins, I was worried about Autumn and the others who had been injured, and there was just too much to think about. I must have been more tired than I thought because I fell asleep not long after getting comfortable in my cot.

~o~O~o~

When all the members of all three of our wings were awake and eating breakfast the next morning, Risha told us what she had found in the FTL comms system. “There were messages with a high priority in the system buffer, but they were never answered by anyone Earthside. Hell, they were probably never even received by anyone.”

“What kind of messages? And from who?” Orchid asked, her eyes brimming with curiosity.

“S.O.S messages, and they didn’t come from Earth,” Risha replied with a shrug. “The first came a few days after the VIPs left all of us here on Earth to fend for ourselves. The world was pretty much in chaos then, so the message wasn’t received, people who had access to the FTL comms system and the right channel had other things to worry about, or they just didn’t care. Apparently, a Demon somehow got on the Magellan and caused a mass outbreak. It was like listening to a horror movie with no video.”

There were other messages after the first that she told us about. The second was roughly three weeks after the first, and it came from the Armstrong. Containment failed on their star drive and Risha figured that sending the S.O.S was all that they probably had time to do before the ship either imploded or was consumed by a runaway fusion reaction.

The third message was from the Columbus. They lasted almost five years out in the vastness of space on their way to New Terra before disaster struck them as well. There was an incident when they transitioned from FTL travel to their impulse drives to take on extra matter for the food dispensers and larger matter reorganizers. The ship was damaged enough that they had to make an emergency landing. It sounded like most of the crew and passengers survived, but they were marooned on a lifeless rock. They continued to send messages to Earth, like clockwork once per month, hoping for some kind of help until eleven years later when the messages suddenly stopped.

“So, they left us all to struggle to survive here on Earth, and doomed themselves in the process,” Kyle murmured thoughtfully.

“It couldn’t have happened to more deserving people,” Mera viciously pointed out with a laugh before wincing at the pain that was caused in her still-mending ribs.

“We should take this intel back to the Corps and the people of Ashburn,” Krysta suggested. “If nothing else, it’s a missing part of our history.”

We spent the next three days relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean while our various wingmates recuperated. Risha, Heather, and I took shifts watching over Autumn and getting her anything that she needed or wanted while she remained on bedrest those first two days. Lisbet similarly hovered over Peter until his leg could heal as well, and poor Kyra wouldn’t leave her sister’s side until Orchid and Maryn offered to watch over her while the Sheepkin got some food, rest, and a little relaxation.

Sarin and Fawn weren’t fully healed until the third day due to the severity of their injuries. The Marti from her team said that it was probably going to take at least another week for Sarin’s still mostly missing horn to grow back completely though. Fortunately, Autumn only took two days to heal from her shoulder injury and was able to join us for some fun in the sun on the third day.

It was a different experience for most of us, relaxing on a hot beach in the sun and listening to the waves lapping at the shore. None of us, save Clover, had ever seen the ocean before and while it was a little too hot for Mera and me, swimming did help, though Clover and Risha warned us that the ocean dwelling creatures here could be just as dangerous as the wildlife. Thankfully, our nanites had no issues counteracting the bites and stings of the snakes, spiders, platypus, and jellyfish that we encountered, though some were very painful.

Speaking of wildlife, Autumn and Heather decided to bring their sugar glider friends home with us since the little critters became so attached to the pair of Fay and followed them everywhere. They had even given them names. Autumn had named hers ‘Leaf on the Wind’, who we called Leaf for short, and Heather had named hers ‘Sweetie’. Marti wasn’t sure, but she suspected that the sugar gliders’ eardrums were starting to heal, though she wanted to see if there might be a way to help the process along when we got home.

I really missed the twins though and felt bad for being away for as long as we were. I also felt bad for having fun while they couldn’t be here with me. By the third day, I was starting to get a bit irritable about it, despite Autumn being fully recovered, and my future mates were trying to keep me occupied and distracted so I wouldn’t drive our friends crazy.

We were all sitting around a campfire when the sun set on the third day, enjoying the company of friends and cooking something called hotdogs over the fire at Clover and Risha’s insistence. Apparently, the hotdogs, and the marshmallows that would later follow were ‘time-honored camping traditions’. I had just finished cooking my third hotdog to my satisfaction and placing it in the bun to add the condiments that Risha had suggested when Fawn, who had a lot more color in her cheeks now that she was healed up, turned to me to ask, “Hey, Snow, do you think she’s gone? Mother Darkness, I mean.”

I didn’t need to think about my answer as I finished my task and snuggled closer to Autumn and Heather. “Yeah, I think it’s over. Ever since my encounter with Mother Darkness, I’ve been sort of able to feel her out there in the back of my mind. I can’t feel her anymore, I haven’t really felt her since Risha shut the system down.”

Clover suddenly laughed, causing everyone to look at the redheaded Fay AI. She was smiling and looking up at the stars as she said conversationally, “You know, I was on a beach far away from home when this all began hundreds of years ago, and now, here I am, once again on a beach far from home when it finally ends. I’m different, the world is different, but there is a certain poetry to it, I think. I’m glad that I became an Angel, even if it was just to lead me to this moment.”

“Well, it’s not over yet,” Rose told her with a smile of her own. “The Angel Corps still has a lot of work ahead of us, but with Mother Darkness gone, it almost seems possible that we could change the world for the better someday. We might even live to see it.”

With the hotdogs and the conversation soon finished, we started toasting the marshmallows, using them to make something called s’mores, and talking about other things until the flames finally died down to mere embers. It was the signal that we had all been waiting for, so I quickly doused those embers as the others gathered our belongings and we all headed back to our respective MISTs. The job wasn’t done quite yet, we still had one last thing to do before we could return home.

We made all due haste northward and back toward the central spire and as we passed over the rainforest surrounding it and scanned it, there were a lot less life signs than before, especially those that radiated extraplanar energy. It looked like the Demons had continued to thin out their own numbers even after we left. I didn’t think that it would last long, but it was a comforting sign.

When we arrived at the tower once again, after giving the proper airspace codes, there was a brief tense moment when Risha dropped to the ground and ran to the entrance to enter the access code. It felt anticlimactic that she entered so easily and a few moments later, her voice rang out over the MIST’s comms system. -= And we’re back. I’ll rearm the security systems and be back on board in a minute. =-

“We copy,” Autumn replied cheerfully from her spot beside me in the pilot’s seat as she touched the MIST down and got ready to relinquish the spot to Risha for our trip home. Once she had done so, she absently reached up to pet Leaf with a fingertip as she added, “Now hurry up and get that cute butt back here so we can get going.”

I smiled and shook my head at her flirting as she headed back to the passenger section to strap in and my hands flew over the controls of the MIST’s comms panel. “This is Storm Wing, calling Woodbury Base, do you read?”

A moment later my grandmother’s comforting voice replied, -= We read you loud and clear, Storm Wing. I hope you have good news for us. =-

“It’s all over, Wingleader,” I said, unable to contain my smile at the thought of seeing her and the twins again. “Mission successful, our unwanted guest left through the open door, and we’re ready to come home.”

-= That’s my girls, =- she replied with an audible touch of pride in her voice. -= Now, get your asses back home. You Wing Commanders have a report to give, one that Sira has been waiting to hear for a very long time. =-

“Affirmative, Wingleader, we’re on our way.” I had barely finished speaking the words when Risha rushed into the pilot’s compartment and practically jumped into the pilot’s seat before buckling herself in and taking us into the air to join our sister wings.

Moments later she, Clover, and Marti from Phantom Wing were plotting the course for our suborbital jump home and loud and unfamiliar music started blaring from our local comms. As we launched into the night sky, Risha’s and Clover’s voices cheerfully sang, -= You don't know what we can find. Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride? =-

© 2021-2024 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

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

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Comments

magic carpet ride, indeed

with Mother Darkness gone, does that mean the end of the Demon seed storms?

nice chapter hon. huggles!

DogSig.png

Yes. The seed storms are

Yes. The seed storms are apparently spinoffs of "Mother Darkness". Basically, Chaos Sweat. With her gone, the existing demons will have a harder time multiplying and infecting.

The main question is - will they continue to end up with extraplanar abilities in future generations, or did that depend on Mother being around at conception as well?


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

Chaos sweat lol

Amethyst's picture

I love that term for the Seeds. And yup, the Demons will have a harder time multiplying now, though it can stilll be done for a few more generations most likely, and two Demons of the same type could always breed.

As for the extraplanar abilities, those weren't dependent on Mother Darkness's presence. The seeds merely activated the genes that allow them to do so, and future generations may receive that gene or not. Take Heather's family for instance. She received the gene, and her sister is too young to tell yet, but her mother did not, so it might be at least somewhat recessive.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

I love this story, I'm going

I love this story, I'm going to hate when you end it, although conceivably it could go on for awhile if they are going to rid the whole world of demons. I wonder how many people left on earth survived in whatever form and if they are getting along any better than humans and changed did in Misota. you would hope after something like this people in all the countries could finally put away their differences and get along to survive
nice ST VIII reference.
Hit the road Jack would have worked when mother darkness left.

Ending

Amethyst's picture

Well, next chapter is the epilogue. I could conceivably keep going for a while longer, but I would rather bring it to an end while it's still going strong. Who knows, maybe one day my muse will decide to come back to this world. We'll find out a bit more about what's happening outside of Misota during the epilogue, and some of those questions will be answered.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

An improvised victory

I suspect more lives could have been lost if they had not grabbed this opportunity. More Angel teams would've been involved in any subsequent attack and consequently more likelihood of deaths despite all of the upgrades. And of course more opportunity for more seed storms.

So, would nanites be capable of keeping an Angel alive if the heart is severely damaged? I suspect not as it can no longer pump blood so even if it is fairly quick repair it would not be fast enough to prevent death.

It sounds like the inadvertent 'Wild Weaseling' ( to borrow a miliary term ) of the demons in the area concentrated them against the team most capable of dealing with them, for better or for worse.

I don't see a follow on to this series unfortunately. I mean, with the FTL system now back on, it will prevent any other Mother Darknesses from sneaking in. Unless of course the Angels will have to fight other neighboring 'nations' due to politics and aggression. In a way that would be worse than dealing with ol' MD as her issue is clear cut whereas politics never is.

I guess we will just have to make do with a nice epilogue for now.

Yep

Amethyst's picture

It was for the best that they took the opportunity to end it while they had the chance.

The nanites are good but anything that would cause near instant death, such as being beheaded or the heart being too damaged to do its job would still result in death.

The Demons coming to get them were pretty random, but the croc-demon showed because Shadow Wing was close to a river, mostly because it was a decent place to drop them off, it gave them a natural barrier against most other demons on the other side, and in case Mera needed to rehydrate.

Yup, no followup to this series now that the main threat is mostly over. Politics is another beast and one that I'd rather not go too much into.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

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

Mother darkness

Wendy Jean's picture

maybe gone, but her legacy will remain.

Indeed

Amethyst's picture

The world has been forever changed by her long presence.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

Camping out

Snowy forgot that the ‘time-honored camping traditions’ included that the participants are required to engange in a ritual known as the sing-a-long after eating the marshmallows. Preferably "Row Row Row Your Boat" accompanied on a harp. ;-)

Thx for another nice chapter^^