Snow Angel: Chapter 36

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Chapter 36: Pillow Talk

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


“I asked where it was, not what it was, Risha,” I pointed out as I wondered why she was so hesitant.


Author's Note: Hey everyone, here is chapter 36 for my loyal Big Closet readers. As always, 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 36: Pillow Talk

For the next few days, Queen Sabine remained on bed rest. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath while waiting to see what would change, and how, following her address to the public. I was told that there was tension throughout the capital as people discussed the current state of affairs and the former consort and his fellow conspirators awaiting death in the palace dungeons.

The conspirators who had not been in the capital had been caught, mostly because the veetols allowed Angels to get to the more remote estates before word could travel about what had happened in the capital. A few had resisted or tried to run, but the Angels who captured them hadn’t had to put out much effort to do so. They were used to fighting far worse, after all. City guards were still searching for a pair of merchants who had been in on the plot and had slipped through the cracks in the capital, but otherwise, it seemed that the failed coup was over.

Not that my teammates and I had much time to think about such things or keep up with the news in the capital. My grandmother and Kelsie had Storm Wing and Phantom Wing return to Woodbury Base to get back to our training and ferry some passengers with us. The first group of passengers was four women that had been chosen to help set up and run Woodbury’s new childcare center for Angels out on assignment.

Denise and Hannah were older Human women who the queen trusted implicitly, they had been nannies to both Heather and her younger sister, and Heather said that she had fond memories of both of them before she was placed in the hands of her governess. There were also a pair of Animen women named Koda and Mink. Their village had been one of the first hit by the massive and unexpected seed-storm and had been mostly destroyed by newly turned Demons before the first group of Angels arrived. The pair of women, and Koda’s son, had been the only survivors that had been found.

Koda was a large and sad young Bearkin woman, perhaps in her early twenties with dark hair and a tanned complexion. The baby that she kept swaddled close to her chest couldn’t have been much older than Kallie and Kassie. Her husband had died in the chaos while making sure that she and their son were safe in a cellar with seed shutters.

Mink had been in that cellar as well and was only a little older than me and most of my teammates. She was a pale, tall, and slender Weaselkin girl with gray eyes and raven hair that was a stark contrast to the small round white ears atop her head. Her tail matched her ears in color, and she was understandably quiet and withdrawn. I let her hold a sleeping Kassie to keep her occupied on the trip to the base while the two older Human women watched and gave her the occasional pointers on how to hold the infant.

If the two Animen women had possessed Seed-borne gifts, they both likely would have been offered the Angel nanites, but they both lacked any sort of gift. Instead, Sira had offered them both a place in Woodbury helping with the childcare center. It hadn’t been a hard decision for them, they had lost everything and there wasn’t anything but painful memories waiting for them in the ruins of their village.

The members of the Marti collective that had joined us in the capital were our other passengers in the MIST. They were eager to return to their sisters now that the emergency was over and the Queen was relatively healthy or would be with some proper rest. They also wanted to refer to the medical records and research in the hospital database regarding the Queen’s memory loss. They were hoping that there might be some pertinent information there that wasn’t part of their medical programming.

Once we had returned to base, the next few days were a blur of training for both Phantom Wing and us. We each had our individual lessons from Kelsie and my grandmother as well as combat and vehicle piloting sessions in the VR training stations. Both of our teams also had a new team member of sorts to get used to.

Sira had decided that since we had the Marti system available, and since they had proven their usefulness during the great seed-storm, each of the three special operations teams should have one assigned as a permanent medic since we would be used for long-term and hazardous missions. They would mostly be filling a support role and likely wouldn’t see combat, but each of their new avatars did have Risha’s combat upgrades included in case they needed to fight for some reason. For that reason, we were including them in our training sessions as well.

Our Marti was one that we had already become familiar with, though I couldn’t be sure if that was a good or a bad thing since she had eagerly volunteered for the assignment. She was the outgoing and perky Marti who wore her hair in pigtails. She seemed to be one of the most eager to do things apart from the rest of the Marti system. She still considered their shared AI core home, but she wanted to spend time with us outside of team exercises as well to try to become a friend as well as a teammate to the members of Storm Wing. While her constant cheerfulness was a little hard to get used to, I did appreciate the effort that she was putting out.

For one thing, she was willing to help with the twins. In fact, she doted over them and appointed herself as their personal medical caregiver. The night that we had gotten back to base, she had shown me and Autumn a wide variety of baby clothes in the boutique booths so we wouldn’t have to worry about them catching cold from only being swaddled in blankets. She had also suggested a few safety measures for around our home for when the girls were old enough to move around on their own and get into trouble.

If the rest of us had lessons or work in the labs at the same time, Marti was perfectly willing to watch the twins for an hour or two. The fact that she could change her scent like Risha helped with that and Kassie and Kallie were in good hands with her. It was actually something of a relief since Heather, Risha, and Lisbet were all spending quite a bit of time in the labs when we weren’t doing other training or lessons during the day.

With Marti doing training sessions with us though, the base’s new childcare providers were being put to work. Not that they weren’t working when they weren’t caring for the twins. They had plenty to do as a few of the Marti collective helped them to learn to use the food dispensers and other technology, make sure that the daycare was ready to go, and remodel the floor above the daycare into a proper living space for all of them. Hopefully, they would be completely set up by the time the other Angels and support staff were ready to move to Woodbury base.

We were all too busy with lessons and work not to appreciate the help that Marti and the new caregivers were giving us with the twins. As much as I didn’t want to let them out of my sight, even if I had most of the basic education required for Angels, I still had leadership, diplomacy, and combat tactic lessons alongside Maryn. Meanwhile, Heather and Lisbet were both trying to become more proficient with their respective gifts, Autumn and Karina had lessons to improve their literacy and to get their ‘book’ knowledge up to Corps standards, and Risha had a pair of projects that Sira had assigned to her before we left the capital.

The first task that Sira had assigned her fellow AI was to attempt to create a solution to Ashburn’s AI problem since it would help greatly in our future talks with them. It might be against Risha’s programming to alter or copy her base code, something she was as bound to as Sira and Marti, but she probably knew more about AIs and their coding than anyone else on the planet. Her father was the father of all modern AIs and she had learned from him and studied his research.

If anyone could create a new AI, it would be Risha, but she was reluctant to do so. She didn’t want to bring a new artificial intelligence into the world just so it could serve people. She felt that any AI that served the people of Ashburn should be doing so voluntarily and by their own free will. She didn’t want to consign a new intelligent being to the same fate that Sira and others had been created for. She did mention that she had another idea that she planned to discuss with Sira and the Archangels though.

With that in mind, she was mostly working on the other project. Trying to find out what was preventing Mother Darkness from leaving our planet and how to counter it. Sira had given this project a top priority once I had delivered my report about my mental brush with the ancient entity, and what I had learned from it.

The Angel Corps was created to fight Demons and if we could somehow figure out a way to set their source free from her imprisonment here, then we would only have to worry about those Demons remaining once Mother Darkness was gone. Exposure to their blood, saliva, and such would still infect people and other living creatures, but we wouldn’t have to worry about seed-storms anymore. Earth would probably never be completely free of Demons again, but without Mother Darkness around, we could at least control their spread and make efforts to clear out the worst areas, such as old world ruins.

Risha already had a suspicion regarding what was keeping Mother Darkness trapped on our world, but she said that she needed to do some research and track the last seed-storm’s path to confirm it, and to look into possible solutions. I know that it was an important task, probably one of the most important things that any Angel has ever done in the fight against the Demons, but Risha was probably working a bit too hard on it, seeming to be focused on it whenever we weren’t in training simulations or at home for the evening. I suspected that she might even be working on it while the rest of us were sleeping since she didn’t need sleep like the rest of us.

She would still get up to help with late-night feedings, which were made easier by the bassinet in our room, but I had a feeling that she was still working on it in the back of her mind while she was laying there in bed cuddling with Autumn, Heather, and me. Finally, on our third night at home, I decided to talk to her about it while we snuggled in a chair and fed the twins together. “Risha, what are you thinking about?”

“Snuggling with you, and feeding Kassie,” she said with a faint smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“What else are you thinking about?” I clarified with a frown, as I looked her in the eyes. “Neither of those things should be making you look so serious. And don’t give me that, ‘I’m an AI, and perfectly capable of processing thousands of tasks at once’ bullshit.”

Risha sighed and looked down at Kassie in her arms before reluctantly nodding. “Fine, most of my processes are currently focused on the tasks that Sira gave me. I am sorry; I know that it is not fair to you and the twins.”

I leaned over to kiss her tenderly on the cheek. “Is there anything I can help with?”

“No, I am 98.3 percent certain that the energy field keeping Mother Darkness here is being created by the FTL communications relay system. It cannot be a coincidence that the path of the storm was taking her directly to the damaged tower we went to. The hole in the energy field had to have been caused by that,” she replied.

I thought that over for a moment before nodding in agreement. “Yeah, I can see that. She said that the breach had recently closed too, and it wasn’t long after the tower went back online. But she also said that the breach wasn’t large enough for her to escape. Are you having trouble with solutions?”

Risha was quiet for a long moment, a thoughtful expression on her face as she looked down at the twins suckling at their bottles in our arms. Finally, she uncertainly announced, “I have devised three possible solutions to the problem, but none of them are easy and all of them are time-consuming and problematic. The first solution would be a large, coordinated attack on at least half a dozen towers at once. The towers would have to be close together and we would have to do enough damage to each tower to leave them offline for long enough for Mother Darkness to sense the breach and escape through it. That could take days, divert most of our manpower to do enough damage, it would interrupt communications for the entire time, and it is not guaranteed to work.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t sound like the best option,” I agreed. “What else have you got?”

“We can force a shutdown of the entire FTL communications relay system,” she replied grimly as she gently stroked one of Kassie’s ears. “There are two ways to do that, and those are my other two solutions. It will require communications to be down, but it is guaranteed to allow her to leave our world. I would suggest keeping the system offline for two days just to be certain, but once the system is back up it should prevent her from ever returning, just as it kept her trapped inside all of this time.”

That sounded like a better option, so I pressed, “So how do you do that? Can you do it through the base’s communications room? That is how you found the problem with the tower.”

“No, Snow,” she replied sadly as she burst that bubble. “The system is protected to prevent people from shutting it down remotely and disrupting communications. There are only two places where a system shutdown can be initiated, and it must be done manually. The first is on the relay base on the moon, and that just is not feasible. The MISTs and the newer VTOLs might be able to leave the atmosphere, but they are not capable of going any further than low orbit. The antigravity system lets them do that much, but they are not built for space travel and their thrusters just are not powerful enough for a trip to the moon or precise enough for precision maneuvering in a vacuum. Power would have to be diverted to life support systems as well.”

“Could they be modified somehow?” I asked as I raised a fussy Kallie to my shoulder to burp her. Once she had done so I cradled her in my arms once more to resume her feeding.

Risha shook her head in response but waited until Kallie had belched to clarify. “Any modifications that we made would likely require engineers with a lot more knowledge than I have to do it without possibly compromising the vehicles’ structural integrity. That is why that option is out. Even with the right resources, it would probably take at least a decade of dedicated research and effort to develop and then build a craft that could reliably make it out of orbit and to the moon. And that is not counting tests and design revisions or the possibility of some Demon knocking all of that hard work out of the sky when we eventually could launch.”

“Okay, so where’s the other place then?” It had to be better than the moon, right?

The Avatar sighed and decided to focus on burping Kallie as she hesitantly answered my question. “I have been looking into this for the past two days, and the only other place that a full system shutdown can be initiated is in the central spire. It is the tower that controls the entire system and where the central communications beacon is located, so it is bigger and a lot more secure than the other relay towers. A team could go there and back easily enough with a MIST, the trip wouldn’t even take long by suborbital hops and the MISTs are designed for that sort of thing.”

“I asked where it was, not what it was, Risha,” I pointed out as I wondered why she was so hesitant.

“It is smack dab in the middle of the Australian outback,” she replied with a very human-like groan. “They built it there because they were uncertain whether the system was going to have a negative impact on people living close by.”

“Australian outback?” I repeated, testing the unfamiliar name on my tongue.

“Yeah, there are a lot of terrains there, but the area we would be looking at was mostly desert, and even before Demons were a thing, every living thing on that whole damn continent was practically designed to kill people. I do not even want to think about what Demon Seeds might have cooked up there. If we use that option, then we will need to be prepared. We cannot expect to just drop in and walk right up to the central spire. It will not work out that way,” she responded with a troubled expression.

“And that’s our best option?” I hissed incredulously, trying not to wake anyone else up and unintentionally jostling Kallie, causing the infant to protest.

“It has the highest probability of success. It would also use the least resources and not risk leaving the corps short-staffed and spread out while practically inviting a massive seed storm to show up when Mother Darkness tries to bolt. This way we might face some danger and we will have to shut down the communications system for a couple of days, but we could actually do it. We could make sure that there is never another seed-storm again, at least, not on Earth.”

“Well, we did know that being Angels was going to be dangerous when we signed up,” Autumn’s voice pointed out casually. I turned toward the sound to see the redheaded Fay smiling sleepily at us from the bed, propped up on her elbow while Heather clung to her in her sleep.

“That’s true,” I replied with a smile as I thought about everything we had done since we first met. “Danger is kind of our entire job description. I take it that you’re planning on suggesting our team since you were saying ‘we’ when talking about the dangers involved.”

“Yeah, I am the only one who has the proper knowledge to initiate a full shutdown,” she admitted with an awkward shrug. “Even I am going to have to learn some things before this can be done though, and I am going to suggest survival training in harsh environments for the rest of you. There are simulations in the VR training, but I believe that real-world experience would be better. As I said, I have no idea what we might face there. We could be separated or injured, and our HESS armor could be damaged. I believe that it is wisest to prepare for worst-case scenarios.”

“How long do you think it’ll be before we’re ready?” Autumn inquired.

“We should be fully prepared by the time we graduate from the Academy,” Risha responded. Then at our looks of surprise, she shrugged once again. “We cannot rush this. I know we make a good team, but we are all still rookies and we need a lot more experience and training before we will be prepared to handle something like this in unfamiliar, and possibly hostile territory. Yeah, I know it is another three years of seed-storms but after that, not another one, ever. Our world has gone through over six hundred years of this, what’s another three if we can end it for good?”

She made a good point, so I decided to let it go. She would make her recommendations and Sira and the Archangels would decide what course of action to take. Instead, I burped Kallie one more time and asked, “And what about your other task? Have you made any progress on that?”

Kallie was starting to get sleepy and satisfied from her meal, so as I awaited an answer to my question, I offered the bottle one more time. She didn’t seem interested so I carefully placed her back in their bassinet. We had already changed them when they had awoken us wanting to be fed, so I didn’t think that she would need it again so soon. She was so cute, but even cuter when Risha placed Kassie beside her and the drowsy twins sleepily nuzzled one another.

I was covering them up with a light blanket when Risha finally spoke. “I am still unwilling to bring another AI into this world to have it live a life of servitude. Working for the people of Ashburn has to be a choice, and they have to have the freedom to determine their own fate. That being said, I might know where we can find another AI. I cannot be sure whether he’ll still be functional, or even sane, after over six hundred years, but if he is, he might be willing to help them.”

“Wait, you know about another AI and you’re just telling us this now?” Heather complained from where she still had her arm securely around Autumn in our bed and wasn’t as asleep as she had been pretending to be.

“It has been over six hundred years,” the AI countered as she and I joined the pair back in bed. “And as I said, I have no idea if he will still be functional, or what state he will be in. He… I guess you could call him my brother. He was B4 to my Data.”

I turned around to give her a confused look as I wrapped my arm around her and felt Autumn’s drape over me. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my confusion because Autumn’s breath tickled my ear as she leaned over me to blurt out, “Your what? Are you saying that he was built before you?”

Risha nodded. “Yeah, he was a different model, built before me and he was nowhere near as advanced as I was. He was built for Kiley’s father as a simple butler AI, sort of a predecessor to what eventually would become Sira’s model. He served the Governor and ran the various systems in the Governor’s mansion as I did Kiley’s home, but he wasn’t built to be a companion, just to serve. If he was ever given a name, I never heard it, so I always called him Jarvis when Kiley’s father visited and brought his basic avatar in for maintenance.”

“Do you know where Jarvis would be now?” Heather pressed eagerly from behind Autumn.

“For all that I know, he could have become self-aware in that time, but his avatar wasn’t even close to being as advanced as Sira’s was when I first met her, it could only hold a charge for a few hours so he could probably never leave the mansion unless it was for quick errands. If the mansion and the AI core are still intact, then he is probably there, in the AI core. I don’t really know much about the Governor’s mansion except that it was in St. Paul, so it would be somewhere in the twin city ruins. Since it was government related, I should be able to find a GPS location in the data archives here at the base though,” the Avatar admitted. Then she cautioned, “This is not a sure thing, the building and the AI core are probably both long destroyed by now. Or he could have gone batshit crazy, and we could be facing a Red Queen situation.”

I nodded and wrapped my arm more tightly around her. “I know, Risha, but we’ll report it to our Wingleader and Sira anyway; they might want to check it out on the off chance that Jarvis might still be intact. Who knows, there could be technology to salvage as well. Now, let’s get some sleep. We have another busy day tomorrow and Storm Wing needs to report back to the capital after lunch.”

“Wait, what? Why am I only just hearing about this now?” Heather protested. “Will I have time to see Mom and Lisa?”

“I just found out about it this afternoon, but I guess that’s the whole reason that we’re going. Her Majesty is back on her feet again and wants us and our Wingleader to report to her and Sira at the palace. I guess Sira and all of the Archangels will be meeting with her throughout the afternoon to discuss the future of the Angel Corps and Eden Base. They will probably also want Risha to report on her progress at some point. I guess we’re going mostly because your mother wants to get to know your mates and other teammates better, Heather. We’ve been invited to dinner. And yes, the twins are coming with us, orders from your mother.”

“Snow! You can’t just spring something like this on me so suddenly!” the former princess hissed, trying to relay her frustration while keeping her voice low enough to not disturb the infants who were now sleeping. “A dinner at the palace! We’re going to need to dress properly, we can’t just leave this until the last minute, and we need to look nice!”

“Well, I was told that it’s an informal dinner…” I tried to counter.

“No! We can’t just show up looking like we just threw on the first thing that was clean, I…”

Her protest was cut off by Autumn, and I could practically smell the redheaded Fay smiling behind me. “Worry not, my lovely mate-to-be, I have us covered. I have the perfect outfit for us to wear and Kyra and Fawn helped me to download the pattern to my HESS armor. I may have put it on yours as well the other night, while you were all sleeping.”

Heather gasped; seeming to know as well as I did just what outfit Autumn was referring to. “No, we couldn’t! The scandal! I…”

“Did Her Majesty not say that she wished to learn more about Fay customs and culture?” Autumn gently teased. There was an underlying sense of seriousness though as she added honestly, “What I am suggesting is traditional Fay clothing, how better for her to start to learn about our people by seeing it for herself? We can tell her about Fay customs all we like, but it will take observation and experience for her to truly understand. Besides, it will be our HESS armor; if she cannot handle it then we can just switch to something more formal and boring on the fly.”

“We can all look through the boutique booths for something more formal before our training session if it worries you that much,” Risha suggested in an attempt to placate Heather. “I do think that Autumn has a point though.”

“I… yeah, I guess we can do that, and maybe I can help you all with your hair and makeup before dinner. We can use my old rooms for that,” she replied before heaving a sigh. Whether that sigh was one of relief to have a ‘sensible’ clothing option or one of resignation for Autumn’s plan, I couldn’t tell.

I too was a little uncertain about dressing so provocatively in the palace, but Autumn did have a point. While it did make me blush a bit, the thought of dressing in the matching Fay outfits with my three future mates while carrying one of the twins was a pleasant one. I fell asleep with a smile on my face as I snuggled up between Risha and Autumn and enjoyed the closeness of my family.

© 2021-2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

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fey outfits?

why am I picturing them wearing a couple of leaves on top and maybe one down below?

(I mean, besides the fact I'm kind of kinky?)


Fae fashion.....

Im imagining barely there harem girl outfits made of silk and gossamer and all the metal accessories made from mithril. Don't worry my vision of what fae clothing looks like is much more kinky than a few leaves. The princess Leia slave girl costume is actually pretty close add a twist of "I Dream of Jenie" and then make it barely decent by today's standards. Like burning man festival wear kinda. Just my thoughts on what fae might wear.....

EllieJo Jayne

I'm thinking about two things

I'm thinking about two things. 1) Bunyip. 2) Mutated animals in Au that _don't_ try to kill.

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

drop bears.

drop bears.


Perhaps they can use something that is not conscious or self-aware, like Chat GPT or Stable Diffusion -- but trained for the purpose.

probably wouldn't be capable

probably wouldn't be capable enough, plus it's not just the reactor if they are to add the other defenses the AI is supposed to operate or make better use of the repair nanites, they need a full AI, given that all the AI we have met so far have become self aware, it's probably better off to start with a self aware AI so bad practices that may happen when dealing with an unaware ai don't start, and you don't have to worry about the AI becoming self aware when subjected to poor treatment.

Informal mom wants

Wendy Jean's picture

Informal she gets. The person she used to be seems pretty nice.