Snow Angel: Chapter 39

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Chapter 39: Observations

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


Risha sighed. “I am afraid that I have bad news on both fronts, which would you like to hear about first?”


Author's Note: I had a couple of really sucky weeks but I'm trying to get back on schedule. I was hoping to pose this last night but I didn't finish the patreon chapter until late and was having major lag problems on BCTS. Anyway, here is chapter 39 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 39: Observations

“If it isn’t Storm Wing!” Uncle Jarl’s voice bellowed cheerfully as we entered The Rusty Halo. Seconds later the large man was upon us and wrapping each of us that he recognized into a bone-crushing hug, though he was more careful with Autumn and me since we had the twins snug against our chests in the baby slings. When he freed me from a gentle side hug, he glanced down at Kallie in the sling with one of his bearlike grins and boisterous laughs. “Maryn told me that you’d been blessed with twins, Snow, but I thought she was pulling my leg!”

“Hi, Uncle Jarl,” I replied with a smile. It was hard not to smile when talking with him since he was such a kind and jovial person. “This is Kallie, and Autumn is carrying Kassie. Their mother was like me, and she died keeping them safe during that big Seed-storm, so since they seem to have taken to me, I decided to adopt them. Oh, and this is our new team medic, Marti. The redhead is Kiley, a good friend of Risha’s, they grew up together.”

“Kiley is older than she looks, heck she’s a little older than I am,” Risha offered with that smile she always has when telling half-truths about her true nature. “Neither of them has seen the capital before, so we decided to give them a tour.”

“Of course, we couldn’t do that without starting here for the best food in town,” Karina added with a smile of her own for Uncle Jarl.

Uncle Jarl laughed again and reached out his large hand to engulf Marti’s and then Kiley’s in a firm handshake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both, and welcome to the capital, but I’m afraid these girls flatter this old man. I’ll do my best to make sure the food lives up to the hype though. Call me Uncle Jarl, Storm Wing is like family here.”

“It’s… umm… nice to meet you, Uncle Jarl,” Kiley offered self-consciously after a glance toward Risha.

Marti, on the other hand, seemed even happier than usual at meeting someone as cheerful as she was. The others told me about you and this place, and it’s so exciting to be here and see things for myself! I can’t wait to try the food and see the rest of the capital!”

Uncle Jarl let out a bit belly laugh at her enthusiasm. “Well, let’s not make you wait any longer then, lass. We should get you all fed before those little ones wake up and start demanding attention anyway,” he offered with a grin as he wrapped an arm around both mine and Autumn’s shoulders to guide our group to a large and unoccupied table.

Once we were all seated, Uncle Jarl took our lunch orders, and he even managed to take some time to sit with us and have a bit of a break as we ate. The food was outstanding; as usual, and both Kiley and Marti seemed to enjoy it. While we ate and talked with Uncle Jarl about the current atmosphere in the capital, Marti seemed to be in her element while Kiley was largely quiet and lost in thought.

I often saw the young-looking AI casting glances toward Autumn, though I couldn’t be sure if the preoccupation was due to her looking so much like her biological body had, that she was technically her great great granddaughter, or a combination of the two. Autumn was casting her share of glances back at her and I was fairly certain that she was trying to hold back her questions so she wouldn’t overwhelm Kiley. Knowing her, she was curious, but she didn’t want to unintentionally hurt someone who was already emotionally fragile.

She did have every right to be curious, of course. Not only did Kiley likely have memories that predated the arrival of Mother Darkness, but also those memories and her personality could tell Autumn a lot about a relative that she admired, someone who helped to found and establish her village and the Fay way of life. She could see what her grandmother looked like before she became Fay and, in a sense, she really was that person, so Autumn was burning to learn more and get to know her.

Hopefully, once Kiley was adjusted more to her situation, the pair would be able to talk openly and ask one another the questions that they were eager to ask. For now, the AI seemed to be distracted as we said our farewells to Uncle Jarl and started a tour of the city. I could see Kiley becoming a good friend for all of us, but I didn’t think that she was the solution to Ashburn’s lack of AI. She had a lot in common with the residents of that city-state but even once she was used to the intricacies of being an AI and knew how to use her abilities with more confidence, I just couldn’t see her being the type that would want to stay in a crowded city and become a glorified maintenance bot.

Kiley seemed shy and uncomfortable with large groups of people, but that wasn’t truly surprising given what I knew of the original from Risha and how the Fay in general prefer smaller and more intimate gatherings. She seemed to be enjoying the tour of the city, but it was in part because she was curious, and it was all so new to her. Except for Risha, she had been largely alone and secluded at the research center, and I imagined that the memories she had of her time as K1L3Y (what she preferred to call herself when in her current form and without access to all of her memories) had been much the same, only spending time with her ‘Daddy’.

Now, she was out in the wider world for what was probably the first time since Mother Darkness arrived and she was curious and spreading her wings. She had been asking Risha and the rest of us enough questions about the world that it was becoming clear that she was itching to learn more, explore, and experience things for herself. No, trying to convince her to choose to help the people of Ashburn at the cost of her newfound freedom wasn’t something that I was willing to entertain, and I was fairly sure that the other members of my team would feel the same way.

Where Kiley was taking everything in with wide eyes but more than happy to see and experience things without directly involving herself yet, Marti was eagerly talking to everyone she met and trying to learn as much as she could. She was much more the social butterfly than the rest of my team or Kiley. She wanted to meet people and help them, and I felt a little guilty when I had to quietly warn her away from revealing any of her advanced medical techniques for the moment. AIs, and what they could do, were still classified, but hopefully, we could find a way to help teach others at least some of what the Marti collective had in their medical and treatment databases soon.

Except for a brief break to change and feed the twins, we spent much of our afternoon showing the pair of Avatars around the marketplace and exploring items of interest such as the defenses along the city walls. We also stopped at some of the areas that had been damaged by Demons during that big Seed-storm. I wanted to see how the rebuilding was going and make sure that the people were getting back on their feet. Winter in Misota was a bad time to be homeless.

Thankfully, things were going better than I feared since the Queen was offering experienced masons, carpenters, and others with useful skills a premium to help get the damaged areas repaired or rebuilt as soon as possible. From what we were hearing, Her Majesty was also trying to make the Seed shelters as comfortable as possible for people who were waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. It was reassuring to see that even while she had been confined to her bed, Heather’s mother was seeing to the best interests of her people.

Heather couldn’t stop smiling from the reports we were hearing. The others had noticed it too and Autumn leaned in to lovingly kiss her and say, “Your mother is showing the people the kind of ruler she really is. It’s a pretty big difference from how she was under your father’s control.”

“Yeah,” the former princess replied with a smile. “It’s good to have my real mother back. I remember the stories she used to tell me. I remember them so clearly, because she admired Archangel Abbadine and the Queens who came before her, and that admiration showed in the way that she spoke about them. She knew that she could never be like our Wingleader without a Seedborne gift, but I think that she’s determined to be the best leader that she can be for the people of Misota. All the people of Misota.”

“Well, if she keeps doing what she’s doing, I think she’ll be a great Queen,” Lisbet offered with a smile.

“Any idea when her former consort and his cronies are going to get the axe?” Karina asked with an edge to her voice.

“I guess that’s one of the many things that she’s discussing with Sira and the Archangels today,” I replied with a shrug.

“I… kind of want to talk to my mother about that if we get the chance tonight,” Heather said with a sigh as she looked down at Kallie in the sling she was wearing to give me a break. Risha was currently carrying Kassie to give Autumn a break as well since we had both been tending to them since leaving the former Governor’s Mansion.

I put an arm around her, and she leaned into my embrace as I asked, “Why? I know that you loathe him, probably more than just about anybody, but I didn’t think you would want to bring it up at dinner.”

“That’s just it, I hate him, but I also know that there is someone who hates him as much, or even more than me, Mom, and Lisa do. I think we need to tell Mom about Desra. She’s mine and Lisa’s sister, and yeah, she may be my father’s kid instead of Mom’s, but she and her mother suffered just as much as we have because of him. Desra deserves to be there when he dies for his crimes. She needs closure. Hell, if I was the one making the decision, I would let her be the one to swing the axe.”

“If the opportunity presents itself then we will try to bring it up,” I promised.


We still had an hour before we planned to return to the palace to get ready for dinner with the Queen when I received a transmission from Sira. She wanted Risha and me to report to the Queen’s study to contribute our views on a few things that Storm Wing was involved in. Seeing a possible opportunity to bring up Heather’s concern about Desra as well, I asked if she could come too since she was second in command of our wing.

With permission given, we hurried to return to the palace, where the others would wait in the sitting room with Kiley and the twins until we were done. Then Heather led Risha and me to the Queen’s study, where I carefully knocked. The door was answered by someone whom I had never seen in person before, a tall and muscular Devilkin woman with crimson skin, and small black horns atop her head that starkly contrasted her snow-white hair.

With great effort, I swallowed the lump that had suddenly taken residence in my throat and managed to speak, “Snow Bengal of Storm Wing, and my wingmates, Risha and Heather, reporting as requested.”

The red-skinned woman’s lips turned upward as she tried to fight a smile. “At ease, Wing Commander, try to relax, this is an informal meeting. Please, come in and join us. Abby has been telling us great things about your team and it’s nice to finally put some faces to the names,” she assured us as she returned to sit at one of eight chairs surrounding a massive oak table that had a map of Misota spread out on it. The Queen sat at the furthest end by the large window and facing us while Sira was seated at the end closest to us and faces that any member of the Corps would know occupied the three seats along each side between the pair.

Relax? Was she serious? The only people in the room besides us were the Queen, Sira, and the six Archangels. I felt so small and insignificant with all of those important people watching us enter the room. I may not have met any of the other Archangels before in person, but I had looked extensively at each of their files since they outranked me and were arguably as strong as my grandmother.

The one who had opened the door and who was seated at Sira’s right was Vessa Oni. She was well known to be one of the fiercest fighters in the Corps and she used the same chain scythes as Karina. If that wasn’t intimidating enough, her Seedborne gift was to cover her body and weapons in hellfire that could supposedly burn through even the strongest Demons that she had encountered with ease.

Sitting next to her in the middle was a tall and handsome Fay man with short-cropped brown hair and intense green eyes. Oak Under Moonlight was the first Angel to ever use the R-15 Cobra that Fawn had been assigned and watching him use it against Demons in its whip-blade mode was supposed to be like witnessing a symphony of death and carnage. He was possessed of an infallible courage, and his gift was to project that courage and share it with those fighting at his side.

My grandmother was sitting beside Archangel Oak and to the Queen’s left, but seated opposite her was the second to receive the rank of Archangel, and the second oldest person currently in the Corps. Taka Grizzly was an absolutely huge Bearkin with golden hair and deep brown eyes and his gift was to project terror, much like Oak could courage. If any Demons managed to resist that and survive the barrage of grenades from his ranged weapon, he would beat them into the ground with his massive sledgehammer.

Seated beside the huge Bearkin was a short but muscular Dogkin man with dark skin, short black hair, a long and thin gray tail, and somewhat large gray-spotted ears. Jack Shepherd used the SP-27 Gemini, the same paired pulse pistols and short swords weapon that Maryn used. She would be freaking out if she was in the room because she idolized him. His gift allowed him to increase his speed drastically for short bursts, and that gave him an edge when fighting large groups, he would charge in and sow chaos before his enemies even realized what was happening.

Seated to his left and Sira’s right was a woman who looked like an ordinary human at first glance. She had brown hair and eyes and no distinctive scars or other features. Violet Crane’s gift was anything but ordinary though. She was mostly a sniper, like my grandmother, but her gift allowed her to infuse her ammunition with explosive energy that could allow her to double as a heavy hitter and demolition specialist as well. Sira had told me once that, before I joined the Corps, Violet held the strongest recorded potential for drawing on extra-planar energy.

My wingmates and I nervously approached the table, and my grandmother gave us an encouraging smile before speaking. “I called you here for a couple of reasons, the first being to see if Risha has made any progress with the tasks that we’ve assigned her.”

Risha sighed. “I am afraid that I have bad news on both fronts, which would you like to hear about first?”

“Let’s start with the potential for ridding our planet of the Darkness,” my grandmother said with a frown. It’s probably the most important issue, and there are other matters related to Ashburn that we will need to discuss.”

“Okay, so here is the deal. I have figured out what is keeping the Darkness here on Earth, it’s the FTL communications system. If we want the Darkness gone, then we’re going to have to take down the system temporarily,” Risha began to explain.

“And how do we do that?” Archangel Violet asked with a pensive expression.

“There are two ways,” Risha replied carefully. “First, we can access the system and manually shut it down for a couple of days to be sure. There are two places to do that, either on the moon or at the central spire in Australia. The moon is impossible with our current lack of space-worthy craft capable of traveling there. Australia is doable, but it’ll be dangerous since it was an incredibly hostile environment with the deadliest wildlife on the planet even before the Seeds started raining down. In addition, I will be needed to initiate the shutdown, so my team would have to be involved. Preferably we would send several teams in MISTs since we can’t be sure what we will find there, but this will take time since all of our special ops teams need more training and experience.”

“And what is the other option?” Sira inquired.

“We can try to take down a tower long enough for Mother Darkness to slip through the gap in coverage, but I cannot be certain that that will work. I don’t think the gap from one tower going down will be enough for that seed-hurling bitch to escape through. By my calculations, we would have to take down a circle of seven towers to create a gap large enough for her to slip out. I’m not just talking about taking them down and forgetting about them, we would need to do enough damage to take all seven offline while they repair and then keep them all from being completely repaired until we are sure that she’s escaped.”

“That means that we would need our heavy hitters on those towers for the duration of the operation, and since FTL comms would be down, teams would have to stay in contact through farspeakers. We would be spread thin, and if Mother Darkness is in a seeding cycle when we do it, we’ll be looking at another Seed-storm like the last one,” I pointed out.

“Snow, the Darkness has spoken to you. Which plan do you think is more likely to work?” my Grandmother asked.

Several pairs of eyes around the table widened to gape at me at that revelation and I kind of wanted to sink into the floor. I did answer though. “Either could work. She doesn’t want to be here anymore than we want her here, she told me that her being here as long as she has been has already caused an imbalance on our world. If we can do the shutdown or open a hole big enough, she’ll be only too happy to leave.” Then I shivered as I added, “If we try to open a hole though, I may have to be close by in case she needs to talk again.”

Queen Sabine nodded, “Thank you, girls, we will discuss this later and decide on which plan of action to pursue.”

With that topic shelved for later, my grandmother looked at Risha again. “And what about helping Ashburn with an AI?”

Risha sighed and shook her head. “I would rather not have an unwilling AI doing the job there; it could be more dangerous than no AI at all. I could create one, but it would be no different than what Humans have always done to AI, making them for something that they might not even like doing if they become self-aware. I considered just a basic automated program, but they have no empathy to make decisions and think about consequences.”

“I don’t think that Kiley would be able to do it either,” I added, earning a grateful look from Risha. “Even once she does get used to the idea of what she is and becomes better at using her abilities, what I have observed from her would make her a poor match for their needs.”

“What if an AI were taught to feel at home there and could be encouraged to want to help?” Heather asked after some hesitation. “If they treated a young AI as part of their community, raised it, taught it their values, and showed that they cared for it, it might be inclined to care for the community in return.”

“It’s an interesting idea, but they had trouble accepting me as a living, thinking, and feeling person once they discovered what I was,” Risha countered. “I had trouble just winning over four people, how is an AI who would be little more than a child, supposed to change the views of the entire city?”

“Start small,” Archangel Taka’s booming voice offered gently. “One person is all it takes. Find one person with a lot of love to give and have them raise the AI as their child. The rest will take care of itself as the child grows up among them.”

“I guess we could try it, I mean running the house and the research station’s systems wasn’t a chore for me because I was doing it for Kiley’s sake. I loved her and it helped to keep her happy and safe, and this idea would be similar,” the AI reluctantly admitted. “I would have to make a specialized avatar and core programming that could emulate growing up. I guess I’m willing to try, but I would have two conditions. One, no trying to hide that they’re an AI from them like Kiley’s Dad did, they need to know what they are. Two, the child can decide for themselves what they want to do with their life once they’re mature. Until then, I guess that we could go check up on them every few months to make sure they’re being treated right, and I could do any maintenance in Ashburn’s AI core while we’re there.”

“Good, we’ll probably want to have your team play a role in future contact and negotiations anyway since Storm Wing holds the only people in the Corps that have had any direct contact with the people of Ashburn,” my grandmother pointed out.

“That being said, I want to know what you girls think of the people of Ashburn, I have heard that they do not care much for Humans, what approach do you think would work best in opening up diplomatic talks?” Queen Sabine asked.

“I think that being able to offer a possible solution and assistance with their AI core will help things along and their Prime Consul seems open to the idea. I think we have a lot to offer in trade, and they have technical expertise and people who could join the Corps. There are many of their people who want to help in the fight against Demons but are limited by their use of power armor that doesn’t suit many of their body types, Seedborne that we’ve never or rarely seen like Centaurs, Trolls, Mermaids, and Seraphs. Heather has an idea that might help show our willingness to cooperate with them as well.”

All eyes turned toward the pink-haired Fay. She hesitated as she gave her mother a long and uncertain look, but then swallowed audibly and spoke her mind. She told them about Desra, her relationship to her through their shared father, and how her mother and she had suffered because of him.

Then I jumped in and told them the entire story that Desra had told me, how she wanted nothing more than to kill him with her own hands, and how he had tainted her view of Humans in general. I finished off by adding, “I think that returning their stolen technology and letting Desra and a few more of their people see that he has wronged Misota as well, and is being punished for it, will go a long way toward showing our sincerity. If we allow one of their own to be the hand that delivers that justice for both our nations, it will show that we are open to cooperation and compromise.”

To everyone’s surprise, Queen Sabine burst out laughing. When she managed to calm herself, she smiled at us, “Very clever, I am glad to see that my daughter has chosen her future mates well. My mother once told me, ‘Diplomacy is convincing someone to give up that which they think they hold most dear for the common good and making them look forward to it.’ You are much like your grandmother, Snow, she hates politics, but she too plays the game very well. I believe that with the two of you at the helm, our future negotiations with Ashburn will be in good hands.”

“Umm… is that a yes?” I asked hesitantly while inwardly groaning at the thought of being a diplomat.

“Yes,” she confirmed with a kind smile. “The executions of the traitors will take place at dawn in four days. Tomorrow, I would like you to personally extend an invitation to Desra and a contingent from Ashburn. You three are free to go and return to your teammates now, but I look forward to our dinner together, I am sure that we will have much to talk about.”

© 2021-2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

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

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Amethyst's picture

...generally is cool ;)

*big hugs*



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

Snow is going to make a great

Snow is going to make a great Archangel one day, she is a natural leader.
Thanks for the new chapter this story is one of my faves.


Amethyst's picture

She doesn't really think that she has what it takes, but she's willing to do the important things that good leaders should.

*big hugs*



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

Nice ending

You three are free to go and return to your teammates now, but I look forward to our dinner together, I am sure that we will have much to talk about.

That is a wonderful high point on which to end this chapter.

Thanks JessicaNicole

Amethyst's picture

Yup, I don't always end it on a nail-biting cliffhanger. ;)

*big hugs*



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

Snow is a very

Wendy Jean's picture

Dangerous person, he does not show that on the outside. This seems to be a good starting point for a diplomat besides having the affinity for politics.




Amethyst's picture

Probably a typo.

*big hugs*



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

Ashburn AI

Since mind uploading is demonstrably possible, they can seek a volunteer to be uploaded into an AI core. If the volunteer is elderly, talented, and respected, so much the better. Make sure that the AI has a respected position in the counsel and a good salary -- not to mention a circle of loved ones.

possible yes but also not

possible yes but also not reliable, you don't want there to be a high chance of them going insane


Amethyst's picture

The chance of them coming through the process sane is slim. Kiley was a fluke.

*big hugs*



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

Loving this story. It's an

Loving this story. It's an amazing world you have created. Go team snow!

Aw, thanks.

Amethyst's picture

I do love creating interesting worlds, and I'm glad that my readers seem to enjoy this one so much.

*big hugs*



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