Snow Angel: Chapter 17

Printer-friendly version
snow angel.png

 

Chapter 17: Day Off?

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

 

Then the moment we were out of the hospital the pilot visibly relaxed and let out a long sigh. “I really hope that I don’t have to go to the hospital often, I’m not sure that I can handle meeting any of her other personalities.”

 


 
Author's Note: Here is chapter 17 of Snow Angel. 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 17: Day Off?

The place that Risha had in mind was one of the larger officer homes that we had checked out during our exploration of the base complex. It wasn’t the biggest or fanciest place on the base but it was large enough for our needs, boasting two floors above ground and another below ground that Risha called a basement. The basement was mostly just empty space but Risha figured that she could probably have three bedrooms constructed down there if we all really wanted our own private space.

The main floor was something that Risha called an open floor plan with the kitchen, dining, and living space together as one large room, much like the cabin that I had grown up in. The furniture all looked comfortable and the kitchen had a food dispenser, but it also had cupboards and stuff for keeping raw ingredients fresh and cooking our own food if we wanted to. There was a basin with a faucet that produced clean water, a high-tech stove and oven, a machine for cleaning dishes, and even a big machine that Risha called a fridge, for keeping things fresh or keeping things like drinks or leftover food cold.

Other than that, the main floor had a lavatory with a shower and something called a laundry room that had machines to wash and dry clothes. People of the old world sure had things easy. As she led us to the top floor, Risha promised to show us all how to use the various appliances the next day, and to show us some ‘movies’ on the holo-projector in the living area.

The top floor had another full lavatory but this one had a large tub that Risha called a Jacuzzi as well as the shower. That floor also hosted the house’s three bedrooms. Two were smaller rooms with small but cozy-looking beds, closets, dressers, and desks with comfortable rolling chairs. The desks also contained holo-computers, like the one that we had seen in the base commander’s office.

The master bedroom was much larger and furnished much the same, with only a few notable exceptions. First, it had a boutique booth like the one that had been in Kiley’s bedroom in her home, and the closet for clothing was so big that it was almost another entire room of its own. Secondly, Risha said that the holo-computer inside the desk was tied into the base’s network so I would be able to use it to send reports to Sira and she would be able to use it to remotely access the AI core if it was ever necessary. Thirdly, the bed was absolutely huge and it felt like lying on a cloud when I tried it.

Lisbet and Karina quickly claimed the two smaller rooms while everyone insisted that the large room should be mine since I was our team leader and it was technically my house. Risha thought that she, Autumn, and Heather could share the big bedroom with me until we could get some new rooms made in the basement. Somehow, I thought that that might have been her plan all along and that those rooms might never get built. I wasn’t going to complain though since I was growing to enjoy snuggling with Autumn and the other girls and I thought that I might start to get lonely sleeping alone.

Heather was surprisingly easy to convince to join us and I thought that she just might miss the cuddling in bed too. She had been so starved for positive attention and now that she had some I thought that she might be reluctant to let it go. Her main concern was that people might get the wrong impression and think that we were breaking the ‘no sex’ rule.

Karina laughed at that. “Nope, no problems there, Heather. I was… umm… curious and I asked Sira about how they could make sure we weren’t breaking rules. Until we graduate in three years, our NCIs will be monitoring us and reporting any rule-breaking directly to Sira. As long as you all keep it to just cuddling, you should be just fine.”

Heather let out a long sigh of relief. “Okay, I guess that should be okay then… until we get the other bedrooms built, anyway.” Her cheeks flushed and I tried not to smile at her acting like she was reluctant when all of us could see that she wanted it.

“Let’s get ready for bed then, I’m exhausted. We may need to use our bedrolls for now though,” I said, trying to stifle a yawn.

“No need, Snow. You can use the boutique booth to make some sheets, pillows, and blankets for the beds. There should be a preset for it. While you are doing that, I will access the computer to clear the outdated base housing records and mark this as your home. I will make a note that your team members are living here as well.”

It took a few minutes to find the presets, and then we needed to put some raw matter in the reservoir. Water from the basin in the sink solved that issue though and soon we had enough sheets, blankets, and pillows to cover all of the beds. By that time, Risha had done what she needed to do, though she had called me away briefly to place my hand on the desk. Apparently, the computers on the base network were ‘DNA locked’ so that only the officers assigned to them could access certain functions. Risha could too, of course, but only because she was an AI and avatar that was now recognized by the base’s currently automated AI core.

We had a heavenly sleep that night. The bed was so soft and snuggling in it with Autumn, Risha, and Heather conspired with my exhaustion to put me right to sleep. The others seemed similarly well-rested and even Heather had a smile on her face as we all snuggled in the big bed for a few more minutes before finally getting up and going about our business for the day.

It was while we were eating a nice breakfast that Sira contacted me to let us know that she had arrived at the base at dawn, several hours earlier. Risha had already sent the other AI all of the important information about the base, and she had had a quick look around at the important areas herself, so Sira likely wouldn’t need us for any information on the base. She did want us to meet with her at the vehicle elevators for another reason though. Or, more specifically, she wanted to meet with Risha but felt that it would be a good idea for the rest of us to accompany her as well.

So, as soon as we finished breakfast, we placed our cutlery in the dishwasher and everything else in the reservoir for the food dispenser before heading out toward the tower at the center of the base and the elevators around it to wait for Sira. She was already waiting for us, standing beside the older model veetol that she had likely arrived on, prompting Risha to grin as she said, “Well, they are still in one piece, so I guess the authorization code worked.”

Sira was waiting for us along with my grandmother, Raven, and a couple of Tinkers that I recognized from when they arrived at Kiley’s house. After another of their wordless and lightning-fast exchanges, Sira nodded and then turned to look at me and the rest of my team. “And what do you girls have planned for your day off?” she asked, though I had a feeling that this was leading to something.

“Not much,” I replied with a shrug. “Risha mentioned something about movies later tonight, I have to finish my mission reports, and Autumn and I need to get some practice in with our new weapons at the shooting range. Other than that, we didn’t have anything specific in mind.”

Sira looked at me thoughtfully and nodded. “With these new facilities, we will be starting to have team leaders submit reports by typing them up and sending them via computer rather than hand writing them. Since you don’t know how to type yet though, you can just give me verbal reports this time and I will transcribe and file them. If you have no other plans though, might I suggest joining Raven in the simulator room? I would like Risha to show Raven how to start a training simulation on the newer veetols, and you could all get a head start on learning to pilot the R.E.Vs and the M.I.S.T.”

I slowly arched an eyebrow in interest. I wasn’t against the idea but, at the same time, I was wondering why she had mentioned those two vehicles in particular. “That could be interesting,” I agreed. “Aren’t the M.I.S.T air transports like the veetols though? Shouldn’t people like Raven be training for that?”

Sira shook her head. “The controls for the M.I.S.T are completely different from those of the veetols, relying more on touch screens and interfacing than the more old-fashioned controls of the veetols. I want the pilots to concentrate on learning to fly and maintain the new versions of the veetols so that they can train others we recruit to do the same. I want your team to be one of those who learn to pilot the M.I.S.T and R.E.Vs though.”

“Umm… why us?” Autumn asked uncertainly.

“The M.I.S.T transports are ideal for the type of long-term missions that we have in mind for your team,” the AI responded candidly. “And since each includes a pair of docked R.E.Vs as well, I would like you all to learn to pilot both, and for Risha and Lisbet to become familiar with their systems and maintenance. I plan on assembling two other teams for these types of missions as well and you will be rotated every few months between being out on missions or patrols and being here at the base, much like we will rotate those on sanitation duty at our new forward base in the ruins.”

“You have already proven yourselves well suited to handling long-term missions in hostile environments and handling specialized missions. These vehicles will give you an edge while doing so, as well as act as a mobile command center that can be shielded from the sight of civilians and Demons. We’re considering having Rose and another team leader that you haven’t met yet recruit a couple of new members for their teams, and having them start training as the other two special assignment teams,” my grandmother quickly added. “With each team assigned a M.I.S.T on a permanent basis, you’ll also be able to take on other specialized assignments while staying on base.”

“And you’ll be self-sufficient if you can all pilot it. Otherwise, you’d have to bring along two pilots on every long-term mission to ensure that they’re properly rested. Honestly, there aren’t that many of us to go around at the moment. As it is, we’re going to have to recruit a bunch of new pilots to have enough for the veetols we have now,” Raven contributed thoughtfully.

“Not to mention gunners, there will need to be one of those for each of the veetols and H.A.M.E.Ts too,” Sira added. “They will all have to be trained to act as co-pilots as well. It will be a while before we can quietly recruit enough people, vet them, ensure that they have interface nanites, and train them. We cannot afford to let the Queen, or those influencing her, think that we are actively recruiting more support staff either, especially once we are out of Eden Base officially. If they think that we have found something more valuable rather than struggling to get by while building a new base, they will want it for themselves.”

My grandmother nodded and frowned as she put in, “Which is why we can’t afford to openly recruit more Angel candidates either until next Kriss-Mass. We can’t let them think that we’re actually doing even better than before.”

“It is a shame since we have the facilities to produce nearly three times as many doses of Angel Elixir now,” Sira replied with a sad shake of her head. “For now, we will focus on creating H.E.S.S armor for all of our Angels and support staff who might see combat, and I have had Marti start replicating doses of the basic interface nanites to be administered to support staff so they can use it as well. It would be better to keep what people we have now safer and slowly increase our recruitment numbers every year than to try to drastically increase our numbers anyway.”

Sira then took me aside for a short time so that I could give her verbal reports of our missions to Kiley’s home and then here at Woodbury Base. I gave her as clear an account of the missions as I could recall from the moment we had taken off from Eden Base. There were a couple of things that she had asked me to elaborate on but, other than that, she seemed happy with both my reports and how we had handled our missions.

Soon after that Sira and her Tinker companions left, with Sira telling us that she would have Risha’s gear ready when we returned to Eden Base the next day. Sira needed to start organizing and arranging for everything useful at Eden Base to be moved here or to our forward base at Kiley’s former home as soon as possible. Preferably that would be done at night to limit the chances of people seeing the veetols. She also planned on moving the mangled remains of the veetol that we had crashed to Eden Base hangar to make it look like we had lost one of our precious few flying machines and to frustrate the Queen’s puppeteers further.

~o~O~o~

Before doing anything else we made our way to the hospital. Our reason for going there was twofold. First, Raven needed a dose of interface nanites so that she could train to use the new veetols and be able to later interface with other things like the H.E.S.S armor and her weapon. Secondly, Risha wanted to download a copy of Marti’s medical knowledge database in case one of us might need medical attention while on a mission. And thirdly, she needed to extract some samples of her modified Angel nanites to reprogram and replicate for Sira’s new avatar body.

During their brief exchange. Risha and Sira had exchanged a lot of information. As part of that, Sira had given her the physical parameters for what she wanted her new body to look like, so Risha just needed to make the modifications to a small sample and then let them replicate until there was a full dose to insert into the avatar. She may not have been the nanite specialist that Sira was but she had altered the programming of her own nanites often enough that this wouldn’t be all that difficult for her. They also weren’t as problematic to work with as the Angel nanites that the other Angels and I had been given.

The nanites given to us in the Angel Elixir were a great deal more complex, for one thing. They weren’t made to just follow some blueprint and make copies from inorganic matter but to optimize our individual genetics and physical bodies based on the DNA sample that they were provided with and to keep us in that state through constant regeneration of that same template. For that reason, they were specifically designed to die outside of our bodies to prevent something called nanite cloning if our blood or other bodily fluids got on somebody else.

Risha told us that, unlike the Angel nanites in our bodies, hers wouldn’t go inert if outside her body since she wasn’t a living creature and her nanites had other safety features, making them easier to handle and replicate outside of her body. They would merely go inactive until activated by Risha or another avatar, but they wouldn’t become completely useless. Even a very small sample would be enough to replicate and create a new avatar body matching the programmed specifications, with enough mass available. If Risha could insert the modified nanites into the avatar body that we had found in the AI core room and activate them later that day, then she was sure that the changes to the avatar would be complete by the time that Sira was ready to use it.

Risha offered to do a sample for Marti to replicate and distribute among her/their bodies as well. It wasn’t that much extra work for her since it seemed that all of the Marti personalities wished to look identical physically. I think she also agreed because it would be several more minutes of the current Marti watching over Raven for any negative reaction to the nanites. It wasn’t that she was particularly concerned for the tough pilot’s welfare but we all found it terribly funny that our current Marti treated her patients like small children. Did they all have odd quirks like that?

Once Risha had the sample for Sira’s avatar body in hand and had given the other sample to Marti we were ready to go and Raven looked very relieved. She wasn’t quite done yet though since Marti went to the examination room’s food dispenser and reappeared with something that looked like a translucent red circle on a white stick. The medical avatar then gave Raven a big smile and said cheerfully, “For being such a good girl, you get a lollipop. Make sure that if you feel sick, even an upset tummy, you tell someone right away so they can call me.”

“Umm… okay. Thanks, I guess,” Raven replied, looking at the floor in embarrassment as Marti practically shoved what we assumed was some kind of candy into her mouth. Then the moment we were out of the hospital the pilot visibly relaxed and let out a long sigh. “I really hope that I don’t have to go to the hospital often, I’m not sure that I can handle meeting any of her other personalities.”

We spent the rest of the morning in the simulation room. It would have been silly for us not to at least try it out once Risha had helped Raven and my grandmother put on the virtual reality gear and set them up in simulations for the veetol and R.E.V respectively. There were plenty of VR stations and gear to go around so we all got outfitted and let Risha start us in simulations as well.

Risha started us with the R.E.Vs since they would probably be the easiest to get used to. First, she ran us through a simulation for beginners to learn how the machines worked with a teacher who showed us how to put that knowledge into practice and the subtleties of piloting the machines at high speed. It seemed to take me hours to get to the point where I could pass the basic test that my virtual instructor gave.

Once we had all achieved that and were able to ride them at low speed without falling off, Risha upped the intensity by training us in ‘race mode’. She linked our simulations, including my grandmother’s, and had us racing against one another across various types of terrain with barriers and other complications to try to improve our reaction times and ability to ride at higher speeds, as well as our ability to use both the physical controls and issue commands mentally through the interface. The latter was not as easy as it sounded. It was a good thing that we weren’t training on the real thing because there were so many crashes that we would have destroyed real R.E.Vs fifty times over, at least.

Finally, after what felt like more like a full day than a few hours, Risha put a halt to the simulation so that we could break for lunch. We were all steadily improving but I felt that we still had a long way to go before riding those machines at terrifying speeds would come easily. We were all mentally tired though, even Raven and my grandmother. “It feels like I was in there a lot longer than a few hours,” Heather commented as we made our way to the mess hall.

“You were, at least from your perspective,” Risha replied. “You were in there for two hours and forty-eight minutes, but with the time variance, it was probably closer to twelve hours for your minds. These VR simulators can mess with your perception of time. From what I gather, they were created to decrease the amount of real-world training time required to train soldiers and pilots, at least mentally. Their bodies would have still taken time to properly train physically but your bodies will not have to catch up since Raven is already an experienced pilot and, as Angels, the rest of you are already at your physical peak and have the nanites to help with muscle memory.”

“Damn, at this rate, if I do another training session this afternoon, I’ll definitely be ready to fly you all back to Eden Base tomorrow. I’ve got the new instruments and other differences in these newer veetol models figured out, I just need some more practice,” Raven said with a grin. “I think that the hardest part is dealing with the different notifications, alerts, and stuff popping into my head while I’m interfaced. Or sending commands that way.”

She wasn’t wrong. It was very distracting at first for those of us training on the R.E.Vs as well, while trying to pilot the vehicles. More than a few of our crashes had been caused by distraction as we got an unexpected alert or notification via our NCIs. Unless we were specific or very focused on just how we wanted the vehicles to respond when given commands through our NCIs, that proved disastrous at first as well. To think that they were the easiest of the vehicles to handle made me cringe when I thought about trying to pilot the M.I.S.T transport.

After lunch, we all took a bit of a break from the simulations. My grandmother and Raven went off to go get some exercise, Risha went down to the AI core room to inject her altered nanites into the avatar down there for Sira, and Autumn and I went to get some target practice with our new guns at the shooting range. Lisbet, Karina, and Heather came with us as well since Heather wanted some target practice with her sniper rifle and Lisbet with her pulse cannon. Karina seemed content to just relax and watch the rest of us.

By the time Autumn and I had used up all of the ammunition that my grandmother had given us, our aim was starting to improve. That was partly because Risha had joined us halfway through and offered some pointers. Part of her programming to combat Demons had apparently been knowledge of the use of various weapons available at the time. Her advice was helping Lisbet and Heather too, and Autumn’s accuracy with the laser pistol form of her Light Foil seemed to benefit as well.

We had managed a bit of a post-practice break before our trainer and Raven found us and asked if we wanted to have another go in the simulators. None of us really wanted to but we agreed regardless since we all knew that we would probably have a much harder time getting access to the simulators once the base was occupied by Angels and Angels-in-training. It wasn’t like there was much else to do anyway.

This time we decided to give the M.I.S.T transport a try. It was so much more difficult to pilot than the R.E.Vs, having to not only get used to the layout of the various touch screens and keep track of course and speed but we also had to keep in mind things like altitude and weather. There were also the stealth system, various maneuvering thrusters, and some other systems to get used to. Those thrusters were the worst though. They were sensitive and it was far too easy to give them too much or too little power, and either could be disastrous.

When we finally quit for dinner, the consensus was that we all needed a lot more practice with both vehicles before we would be adept enough with them to use them on missions. At least we had a good start though, and Raven seemed comfortable enough with the new veetols to take us back to Eden base the next day. The plan was to leave at eight in the morning though so my grandmother encouraged us to not stay up too late.

We spent that evening in the living room of our new home watching movies on the holo-projector, eating buttered popcorn, and drinking sweet drinks that Risha called soda. She claimed that it was traditional while watching movies. This was a new experience for all of us, except perhaps Risha. The soda came in a variety of flavors to try and countered the slight saltiness of the popcorn nicely. Since we couldn’t all fit comfortably on the couch, Lisbet and Karina sat on a pair of large overstuffed chairs while the rest of us snuggled together to watch.

Risha had given it some thought and decided to start our movie experience with Mad Max, followed by The Road Warrior. She said that they were appropriate for our situation, though she ended up having to explain a lot of things to us. It was a strange experience, watching these events play out in the air in front of us and several of us almost drew our weapons on a few occasions. It was very easy to become immersed and forget that they were fictional stories projected from the strange device beneath the scenes taking place in front of us.

It was almost eleven o’clock by the time we finished watching the second movie and Lisbet and Heather had already drifted off to sleep, the latter snuggled up close to me. With that in mind, we headed to bed for the night. After all, we had to be up early to head back to Eden Base so we could join the other recruits heading to the capital and the Angel Academy.

© 2021-2022 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

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

up
199 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

a thought occurred to me that

a thought occurred to me that hadn't come up when read it on Patreon, they can produce more VR stations and gear, as well as other computer equipment now, with the dispenser tech. Certainly they still have to be careful with anything that could end up public facing, but for instance they don't even have to worry about clearing out memory space, as they can add more data storage drives allowing them to go through the old files over time to see if there's anything useful or otherwise interesting, for example if anywhere would have the locations and access codes for multiple other bases, it'd be somewhere like Woodbury that acted as a hub base.

It's certainly possible

Amethyst's picture

As long as the equipment was off when it was scanned. As for going through old files, Sira will likely be dedicating herself to looking for anything useful information-wise as soon as they're settled into the new base and don't have their issues with the Queen and having to stealthily relocate hanging over her head.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

They will clear everything out from the Eden base

Julia Miller's picture

and leave nothing behind. I want to see the faces on the Queen's delegation when they take over the old base, and all they find are empty rooms. Well, they could leave any useless and broken items behind for them.

that's the idea, anything

that's the idea, anything left would be more to frustrate them than anything, the grand tradition of Malicious Compliance

Malicious Compliance

Amethyst's picture

Yup, they'll take everything they have a use for, and anything they leave behind will be either useless or just serve to frustrate the bas's new owners. It might seem petty to some but just think of what those abusive nobles would do with high tech weapons and things like VTOLs.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

fun chapter

huggles!

DogSig.png

yup

Amethyst's picture

And soon they'll be heading to the academy in the capital, so we'll likely meet some of their fellow students.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

One of the thoughts that occurred to me,

Wendy Jean's picture

Is while they are not going to rebel against the queen, they are certainly making all the right preparations.

Rebellion

effectively they are rebelling, just not with force of arms.

Rebelling

Amethyst's picture

They're rebelling through non compliance until they're in a better position. How much they're rebelling really depends on how much authority the crown has over them.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

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

depends on how many people

depends on how many people are either directly or indirectly employed by them, (say a very significant portion of seed borne at the Capital) they can do a lot of damage just by say relocating everyone that works for them it'd be effectively a rebellion even if it doesn't go against the authority of the Crown, as it may just cripple the Crown's ability to function

Comfortable

Jamie Lee's picture

Having comfortable quarters, access to good food, and good training facilities, goes a long way to not only help the Angels to relax but gain experience in being able to operate the equipment they have and found.

To do what they want, they must take their time and plan for the future instead of the next day. Rushing their plans could result in the Queen, and her ilk, to take action against the Angels.

Others have feelings too.

New Base

With the new base they will entirely self sufficient and with the defenses no one would be able to force them to give up the base.

hugs :)
Michelle SidheElf Amaianna