Snow Angel: Chapter 32

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Chapter 32: Heart of Darkness

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


“By the spirits,” I muttered. Everyone should have been shuttered inside of their homes or shelters by now. “Lead the way Risha!”


Author's Note: Hey everyone, here is chapter 32 for my loyal Big Closet readers. Thanks to Big Closet and to all my readers for your support. I hope you all enjoy. Further chapters are (or soon will be) available on Patreon.~Amethyst.

Chapter 32: Heart of Darkness

My mind was awash with agony as Mother Darkness, the Darkness itself spoke in my mind. The only others that I had ever heard about hearing the Darkness had been those who had gone mad from the voice in their heads, those who it told to kill. Even in the haze of agony that I was in, I began to fear that I would now number among those unfortunate few. Afterall, what else could it want from me?

*Yes, others have heard me before you. Sadly, their minds were not strong enough. I hope that yours fares better, for you are more suited to hearing my voice than others who came before you, and I will be as gentle as possible,* the voice told me as the pain lessened once again, making it almost bearable. *Yes, when I first became trapped upon this world, I became angry, and those who could hear me perceived my anger as intent to kill. That is not what I desire from you, Snow.*

There was something there in her mind, a brief glimpse of something that every instinct I possessed told me to ignore. I brutally tore my mind away, not allowing myself to see it, and I could sense it being quickly brushed away as the pain in my head lessened slightly more. Was she trying to keep something from me? Was it for her protection or mine? I managed to focus my mind enough to ask, “What do you want then?”

*I wish to be free of this world, Snow,* Mother Darkness responded with a deep sadness that I could feel in my bones. *For time immemorial, I have migrated across the Aether to release my seeds upon various worlds. To seed them with new life, encourage evolution and growth, and prevent stagnation among my countless children.*

So, she really was what I suspected. And it seemed that she did indeed see as us her children in a fashion. I had caught her interest because of my strong connection to what she called ‘the Aether’, and that was why I was so different from other Animen. I could sense it in her mind, even as she brushed away something more that I didn’t dare try to look at. I wondered briefly how she felt about us killing the Demons, who were also her children, before asking, “How could I possibly help you with that?”

A sense of amusement washed over me. *You are all my children, and each will do as they must to survive and thrive. The clever and strong will do so and prove themselves worthy of the gifts that you have been given. Some, like you, are closer to me than others. Too many seeds can cause an imbalance though, or conflict that would eliminate the life that I wish to nourish. I usually only stay upon a world for a few rotations around its star before moving on to the next. I have remained here for far too long.*

The voice paused, seemingly to give my mind a break for a moment, before continuing to explain. *Your world has become unbalanced from my being trapped here for so long. I have attempted to avoid major population areas to prevent further imbalance when I must expel seeds, but it is a temporary measure and other worlds require change and new life. You can help me by finding whatever it is that keeps me trapped here and finding a way to set me free. Doing so will help both me and the people of your world.*

I harbored the brief hope that this could mean an end to seed-storms before the reality of it hit me. I had no idea what was keeping Mother Darkness trapped in our world, and even if I did, there was likely nothing that I could do about it. Another thought slipped through the haze of pain as I considered that. “If you have been trying to avoid cities, then why are you here?”

*I am caged on this world by an energy barrier that manifested after my arrival and which prevents me from entering the Aether. I can still draw upon its energies, as you can, but I cannot enter the Aether, even in my immaterial state. I apologize for traveling over this city, as you call it, but it was the quickest route to my destination. I had hoped to investigate a breach that I sensed in the barrier. It closed recently, but it remained open much longer than previous breaches that I have sensed before. It would not have allowed me to escape my confinement, but I had been hoping to determine the cause,* she offered sadly.

After a moment, some of the sadness seemed to fade and there was this sense of hope in its place. *And then I felt the mind of one of my children, one who I could speak with. Please, search for a way to free me, Snow. For my sake, and that of your world. I will release my hold upon your mind now since I do not wish to risk madness in you.*

The great pressure that I had felt certain would overwhelm my mind faded, leaving me gasping and still clutching my head as I lay on the ground. “… wrong with her?” Autumn’s voice was asking in concern as she looked down at me with a worried expression and tightly gripped my hand as I attempted to shake off my contact with Mother Darkness. My head was killing me, but I didn’t think that I was going crazy, or at least I hoped that I wasn’t.

“I’m… okay. H-headache, but otherwise fine,” I tried to reassure my teammates. I wasn’t sure if I or any of the others who were looking down at me in concern believed it though. Heather was gone, and it took me a moment to remember why. “Shit, we need to go after Heather and stop her from doing something that we might all regret.”

“But, Snow, you…” Karina started to protest.

“I’m fine,” I told her stoically as I got to my feet. “We can talk about it later. We need to go after Heather. At least we know where she’s headed.”

Autumn and Risha both looked guilty as those words left my lips. It was Autumn who said with teary eyes, “I… couldn’t leave you when you were like that, Snowy. I couldn’t do anything but hold your hand but I wasn’t going to leave you while you were screaming in pain.”

“M-maybe we should be taking you to Marti, to get checked out,” Lisbet said in a quiet voice, earning nods of agreement from the others. “Whatever that was just now, it wasn’t normal, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that it hit you when the seeds started falling around us.”

“I’m fine,” I grimly reiterated, “let’s go. I know what caused it and I don’t think it will be happening again, at least, not anytime soon. She doesn’t want me going crazy, she needs us too badly. I’ll tell you all about it later. Heather first, and then we have Demons to fight off.”

“Are you sure that you are good to go, Snow? You’re still looking a bit shaky from whatever that was. I can carry you if needed,” Risha suggested as she cast an uncertain look in my direction.

“I said that I’m fine,” I replied carefully. I didn’t want to snap at anyone since I knew that they were just concerned for me, but I also just wanted to put that behind me and get to work. We had a job to do. We couldn’t afford to leave the western gate unguarded while taking care of the problem with Heather though. “Risha, Karina, and Lisbet, please head to the west gate to help fend off any Demons that come from that direction. Karina will be in charge until we can come and join you. Autumn and I will go and try to stop Heather from killing her father.”

The others looked worried still, but reluctantly agreed and Risha cast one last longing look toward Autumn and me before following Karina and Lisbet westward. I felt bad for leaving Risha out of this since she was as close to Heather as Autumn and I were, but we couldn’t both go and, in my current state, she would be more useful in a prolonged fight than I would. I think she realized that too, with the way she had looked at me before turning to follow the others.

My head was still pounding with the after-effects of talking to Mother Darkness and, while I didn’t want any of the others to worry, the encounter had shaken me somewhat. She didn’t seem to be the evil that I was fearing, and our goals were aligned for now, but her presence in my mind had been overwhelming and now I felt weak, weary, and shaken in addition to the slowly fading pain in my head that had me barely able to see straight.

I guess that it was to be expected. From what I had learned during my brief and excruciatingly painful brush with her mind, Mother Darkness was ancient beyond measure. She was probably the origin of all complex life forms on our planet, and many others as well. She was also as powerful as she was old, though that seemed of little concern to her, and her mind alone had made me feel like an infant in comparison.

It was no wonder that those who had beheld her mind before I did went mad. This was something that no mortal could possibly comprehend and remain sane, and I strongly suspected that her ‘being gentle’ was more than just restraining the overwhelming power of her mind. She had been withholding things as well, cocooning my mind away from her ages or experience and knowledge of what lay beyond our reality. I had sensed brief glimpses of it peeking through the protection that she had tried to give me, and some instinct had made me ignore those brief potential glimpses into the beyond. Perhaps that instinct had saved my mind as much as her attempts to be gentle.

I looked warily up at the shadowy haze far above us which rained down seeds and failed to suppress a shiver as I ran alongside Autumn. With her seeds falling around us now, the shadow was all that I could see above us as it blocked out the moon and stars in the sky. Mother Darkness was vast and I found myself confronted with my mortality and how small I truly was upon the grand stage. Sure, I wasn’t technically mortal anymore with the Angel nanites to keep me young and in prime condition until I eventually die a violent death, but that was little comfort and brought up its own terrifying realizations.

“You’re being quiet, Snowy, what’s wrong?” Autumn pressed as we ran full out toward the palace and the silence lengthened. “First that screaming like you were in the worst pain of your life, and now you’re being all quiet and brooding. And I don’t think it’s just the thing with Heather that has you doing that.”

Autumn could read me far too easily. I kept my eyes on the flagstones ahead of us as I replied, “I’ll tell you later. We have too much to do right now, and I need time to think about some things.”

We continued in silence until we reached the palace, but I was sure that Autumn was worried about me and she probably wouldn’t let go of this easily if I didn’t talk to her and the others about this after the mission. I could see her concerned gaze falling upon me too often as we ran. We had to stop a couple of times to dispatch some rats that were in the process of changing into Demons, but we were soon at the palace gates and arrived in time to see Heather looking for a way inside past the steel-shuttered doors.

Those steel shutters were on the doors and windows of the palace, as well as several shelters around the city to keep out Demons during an attack or a seed-storm. They probably wouldn’t keep out anything truly powerful and determined, but they were secured from the inside and Heather was pounding on the front doors vainly. She screamed with each impact of her fists upon the metal and by the time we reached her she had collapsed to the ground but was still weakly beating her fists against the barrier.

Autumn and I knelt beside the former princess and wrapped our arms around her tenderly. “Heather, you’re not going to be able to get in there right now,” Autumn told her fellow Fay softly.

“I know that you’re hurting right now, and we all know who is to blame for that, but right now we have more important things to do. We have to do our job, we need to keep the capital safe from Demons,” I whispered into her ear.

“No!” she shouted in protest as we clung to her tighter. “Snow, you could probably break down those shutters, right? We need to stop him, he may not look like a Demon, but he’s worse than any of them on the inside. At least they can’t help their nature. He chooses to be evil. I’ve got a seed right here, I’ll shove it down his fucking throat so we can make it official! It’ll be like hunting any other Demon and Mom, Lisa… all of Misota will be safe from him.”

“Heather, Honey, I know that you think that might feel good, but that’s not going to help anybody,” Autumn said as she gently stroked Heather’s pink hair.

“He’s not a Demon, Heather. I agree that he’s evil, but he’s not a Demon, he’s Human. He also made a very big mistake,” I told her calmly as I held her and rubbed her back. “He thought that they would turn into Demons and that we would be too busy to prevent it, but your mother and sister are safe. They’re out of his influence, and if Marti can help your mother and we can find the device that he was using to influence her, then we’ll have him for high treason. That’s a death sentence. Your mother can get justice for everyone when she recovers and he can be captured.”

She was now crying in our arms, shaking from the heaving sobs that tore through her chest. “B-but… how are we… g-going to find it.”

-= I don’t think that we’ll have to look very far, =- Risha’s voice said over our team comm channel.

“Risha…” I said with a sigh. I should have known that she’d have a drone watching us. It wasn’t like she couldn’t monitor them all at once as well as kill any Demons that cropped up.

-= You said that I should go with Karina and Lisbet, and I get why, so I’m doing that. We’re nearly at the gates now, and we’ve disposed of any turning Demons that we’ve come across. You did not say that I could not keep tabs on you, Snow. I was worried about you and Heather, and I am not going to stop watching over my mates just because I can’t be there physically, =- the Avatar told me sternly. Then she went on to explain the reason for her interruption. -= Desra said that the device that her mother made was worn on the head. If he wanted to keep her suggestible, even with other people around, I can only think of one place where he could have hidden it. =-

“Her crown!” the three of us exclaimed as Risha’s hint hit us all at once.

-= Exactly, =- Risha replied in a smug tone.

“M-mom wore it all of the time after being crowned Queen, and a new one is made for each Queen since it’s a symbol of their reign, and the past Queens have always been buried with theirs,” Heather said in a rush.

-= Well, she wasn’t wearing it when I snatched her, =- Karina put in, -= but she was running in a blind panic and dragging along a kid who knew better than going outside in a seed-storm. She could have lost it somewhere while running from the palace, or maybe in the palace itself. =-

“We’d need to break down those shutters to get inside the palace, and that would risk seeds getting inside and turning innocent people. We’ll head to where Risha spotted them on our way to join the three of you at the west gate. Hopefully, we can find it, or Heather can sense it with her gift while we make our way there,” I told everyone firmly.

“But…” Heather hesitated as she looked again at the shuttered palace entrance.

“We’ll find it, and even if we don’t, as long as we keep it away from your mother then it can’t be used to control her anymore,” I told her seriously as I placed my hand on her shoulder and turned her face to look me in the eyes. “Your father will get what he has coming to him, I promise, Heather. Now, let’s go, we have work to do.”

Heather took a deep breath to calm herself and then nodded. “Okay, Snow. You’re right, I’m sorry for running off as I did, I was just so… angry.”

“We understand, Heather. You made us worry a bit, but only because we love you,” Autumn told her as she too released the pink-haired Fae and gently caressed her cheek before getting to her feet. “Now, let’s go kick some Demon ass.”

We each held out a hand to help Heather to her feet, but before we left I asked her, “You could sense the crown if we’re close enough, right?”

“Umm… yeah, it’s mostly made of gold, and that has kind of a distinctive feel to my alchemy sense,” she confirmed with a nod.

“Well, keep your senses alert while we run then,” I told her. “It might be harder to sense it in the palace, but I doubt that there’s much gold out on the city streets, especially with them being empty of people right now. I caught your mother’s and sister’s scent when we caught up with them, so I should be able to follow the route that they took from here. It hasn’t been too long and the only strong conflicting scents are ours and the seeds that are falling. I think that I can filter those out and we might get lucky if we can follow their route.”


We were roughly halfway to the spot where we had encountered Heather’s sister and mother when Heather sensed the crown, and I had her put it safely away in one of her pouches until we could have Risha inspect it later. Once we had found it, we diverted our course to get to the western gate and our teammates as quickly as possible. Damn, there were a lot of Seeds though.

It was a bad storm, and I suspected from what little bit of information that I had gleaned from the painful amount of extraneous information that I had received when sharing mental space with Mother Darkness, that she had been in the middle of a seeding cycle when passing over Misota. There was a lot of little information like that in my head. At the time, I had been in too much agony to process all of it and trying to avoid the stuff that my instincts told me to avoid, but now little bits of information were popping up here and there.

At least Mother Darkness and the storm that followed in her wake had passed over us quickly, though I was worried that we were going to have to get flamethrower crews to go over every inch of the capital before we could sound the bells that would tell the people that it was safe to leave their shelters. As chance would have it though, that was when it started to snow, and not just a light flurry either. It was wet snow that for the next two hours and built up into a cold slush on the ground that had me wishing that I was inside one of those shelters.

On the positive side, Risha was fairly certain that any seeds on the city streets and rooftops that hadn’t already found hosts or died would be drowned or killed from all of the slush and ice. The negative was that now we had all of those seeds that had found hosts maturing into full-grown Demons and popping up all over the slums outside the city gates. Half the slums were in ruins and we were out fighting in the rubble in the foul weather. We were wet and tired, and there was no end of Demons in sight. At least our HESS armor was keeping us warm and relatively safe from most attacks.

I ducked under the swing of a Reaper’s scythe-like forearm, deflecting the blade with my own and then swinging it around to cut the creature nearly in half. From the patches of fur falling off of it as it crashed to the ground spraying blood and breathing its last, it looked and smelled like it had once been a wild animal, maybe a bear. It was probably drawn by the sound of battle or the scents of the city, like some of the other Demons that I was seeing. There were way too many for them to be just from the slums and our forces in the forest had been spread thin.

A second Demon fell to the ground with a well-placed hole in its head before it could reach me and I paid no more attention to it as Heather’s voice called out, -= I’ve got you covered, Snow. Lisbet and I have the high ground like you ordered, and we’re ready to go when you get here. =-

“Good work, girls,” I replied, but I said nothing more than that as I sloshed quickly through the slush and continued running toward the western gates with a pack of furious Demons hot on my heels.

The plan had been easy enough in theory. Harass and piss off all of the Demons that we could find while Lisbet and Heather got to the high ground atop the city walls over the western gate and then make a run for it to draw them all into one place where we could exterminate them en mass. I had drawn those from the northwestern slums, while Autumn took the southwestern slums, and Karina and Risha took any that had cropped up in the city that the Avatar could find with her micro drones.

Fortunately, most of the Demons that I was encountering seemed to be small fries since I was getting very tired by this point. I had already had to use my Gatling mode to eliminate a swarm of newly spawned Razorwings and other fliers in the air. That had exhausted most of my gift energy reserves for the moment, but it had to be done if we didn’t want to be attacked from above.

“I’m closing in on the gates, how about the rest of you?” I huffed as I rolled to the side and through the wet snow to avoid the reaching tentacles of a Cthulhu. Even as I got to my feet, I slashed out, slicing the tips off the insistent appendages and causing the Demon to scream in pain and fury. It seemed that I had its attention now, so I bolted and continued on my way.

-= Almost there, =- Autumn replied to my query. -= There aren’t many buildings left standing to use to my advantage so I had to get creative. =- She sounded as tired as I was, but that was no surprise since we had been in combat for nearly five hours by this point and it was made more difficult by the snow and rubble that the newly risen Demons were leaving behind them.

-= Risha and I are close too, the market district is a mess though, =-
Karina muttered over comms.

Risha quickly added, -= There are a few that we’ve missed, but the roamers from the academy are already engaging them on the east side of the city. And just think, there are still any Demons that have cropped up to the east of the capital to take care of too. =-

-= Thanks Risha, I really didn’t need to hear that, =- Lisbet audibly pouted. -= I hope that the shelters are kept well stocked because it could be days before we can get the Demons in the area cleaned up thoroughly enough to let those people out. =-

I made it to the area outside the western gate roughly at the same time as Autumn, and the fiery Fay grinned tiredly at me as she quickly snatched me up in her arms, lowered her gravity, and then leaped up so that we could join Lisbet and Heather atop the wall. As the two groups of mixed furious Demons crashed into one another and began going at it tooth and claw, we took a quick breather and watched as Karina and Risha led the third group into the melee.

Once Karina had teleported herself and our AI to join us safely on top of the wall, Lisbet rained fire down upon them with a barrage of grenades. When the smoke cleared, those who were left standing were taken out by our long-range fire. “That’s the last of my grenades,” Lisbet offered with a sigh. “I’ll have to use my pulse cannon now, and I don’t know how much energy I have left for that. I’m completely worn out, and I know that Snow and Autumn are nearly spent too.”

“Yeah, I’m limited to the sword or my reserve pistol now, but I’m exhausted,” I admitted. “How are the rest of you doing?”

“I’m in the same boat as you, Snowy my love. I used the last of my energy to jump us up here. I’m limited to my rapier mode or my backup pistol until I can eat something and rest for a bit,” Autumn offered tiredly.

Karina nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I‘ve been using my teleportation and my wings a lot, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up.”

“I have a clip and a half of bullets left for my rifle, and then I’ll need to switch to glaive mode and my pistol,” Heather added dourly.

“How about you, Risha?” I asked the blonde Avatar.

“I am not in any danger of draining my core, but using my built-in energy weapons so much has been tiring. I am nowhere near as tired as the rest of you look though, and we have taken care of all the Demons that I have detected in our defense perimeter so far,” she replied with a shrug.

I sighed and nodded. “Okay, keep watching through your mini drones, and let me know if that changes. We can probably rest up a bit until more Demons show up so, everybody, take a breather while we have the chance.”

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Why Mother Darkness is trapped

Well I do have a shrewd guess, as do all the other usual shrewd guess suspects, as to why Mum Darkie is not able to leave but I will clamp my metaphorical mouth shut on that one.

So, if this can be solved, what would be the purpose of the Angels be afterwards? A police force?

They are far less likely to die if demons can be totally stamped out unless of course existing demons can reproduce from among themselves (visions of demon sex *eww*).

So now we have a nigh immortal branch of the non-humans existing. Do they continue to have control over the means by which only a select few have this access to immortality ? What would be considered 'fair'?

There are lots of thorny questions if things get solved.

I didn't keep my fingers

I didn't keep my fingers closed. I used ALL of them.

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

I believe it was mentioned in

I believe it was mentioned in the first chapter or two that getting touched by a demon is enough to infect a non-Angel. Which means that even if demons are unable to reproduce with each other, they are still going to continue increasing in number for quite a while. Before you add in the existence of demon seeds which landed in positions which protect them from dying before they eventually are touched by a potential host. Something that has the potential to be REALLY problematic for a long time if glaciers, permafrost and other methods which have preserved organic material from prehistory only ALMOST always kill off the demon seeds that land on them.

Having said all that, it does look like Mother Darkness is trying to 'induce' evolution. Which strongly suggests that demons are capable of reproducing by themselves. Might be something where a demon that isn't created by a seed is 'weaker' than a 'pure' demon, thus allowing the 'supernatural' abilities to eventually decay over time. But I don't think demons are going to be wiped out for a long time.

Let the flames of inspiration blaze within, and the sky be less of a limit, and more of a challenge


Amethyst's picture

Contact with Demon blood can cause someone to turn if that blood has the parasites in it. And Demons can indeed reproduce.

*big hugs*



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


Amethyst's picture

I have tried to give hints as to what might be keeping Mother Darkness stuck on Earth, so you may be right. Unless, of course, it's all been red herrings, in which case, you would be not so right.

Angels will still be needed for a long time to come since Demons can indeed reproduce and many have the parasites that can infect others as well. Reproduction has been established early on with the Spidren having eggs , and technically all Seed-borne are Demons and can reproduce, or Snow and her friends wouldn't be around.

Technically, the immortality only works for Seed-borne because the nanites are drawing on extraplanar energy, so pure humans wouldn't be able to get access to it anyway. It might not even work for all Seed-borne.

There could be issues if things ever get solved, but things would change regardless if Mumsie can be allowed to leave.

*big hugs*



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

Without the parasites though,

Without the parasites though, they are mostly just dangerous Fauna, which can eventually settle for a stable, if hostile ecosystem, where the infectious would destroy ecosystems.

Gee. What went down just

Gee. What went down just recently that's a global phenomenon?

Could it be the instant communication from the towers?

Sounds like the first thing that needs to be done is pick a tower, and shut it down for a couple of weeks. Let Mother Darkness leave.

Then figure out how it caused the problem in the first place, and if it's causing some OTHER problem.

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

Could be

Amethyst's picture

I would say that's definitely possible. Though she did seem to think that the breach wouldn't have been large enough for her to escape, so they might have to try an entire system shutdown temporarily. When she's gone, restart the system and it'll probably keep her from coming back. Though they may indeed want to see if it's causing other problems first.

*big hugs*



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

The tower?

Or was it that fusion reactor?

Mother Darkness

Since Mumsy has been so frustrated with staying in one place too long, it behooves Snow to help her out, first with helping her find her way out and as a bonus inform her of a place with very little diversity at the moment, newly terraformed at the moment as a matter of fact as a goodbye present ^_^

New suggested location for

New suggested location for mummy Darkness: the world(s) where the "Exodants" escaped to, so that they can get the "TLC" they missed out on. >:->


Amethyst's picture

Well, if Snow was able to tell her exactly where the Exodant's went to, I'm sure she would. They could use some variety in their lives.

*big hugs*



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

While the angels are quite effective

The androids would be much better. They don't truly get tired (though they will need recharging now and then).


Amethyst's picture

From a technical aspect, yes, androids would be better. But they've been doing this a while and that option has only recently become a possibility. It's actually far faster and more reliable for them to produce things like HESS armor and Angel nanites at this point though.

*big hugs*



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

'dumb' androids wouldn't be

'dumb' androids wouldn't be very useful anyway. They'd have to be able to actually have cognition, and they don't have the skills right now to produce new AI. The Mercy units can probably eventually be separated, but they're not really generalists.

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

mother Darkness

hmm, might be a way to free both her and Earth.


It's possible,Dot

Amethyst's picture

We'll have to wait and see if it works out though.

*big hugs*



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