Note: his story contains material strongly religious people may deem offensive. I'm a German physicist in Europe who doesn't take scripture at face-value. You've been warned.
2088-12-26 Earth - NAC - High Sierras
The snow crunched under the cybersteed's hooves. Here, high up in the mountains way above the desert level, it had snowed and thawed and frozen and snowed again in the last weeks, creating an intricate pattern of ice and snow that caused dramatic light effects in the winter sun.
At least to his eyes. Snow crystals, glittering in rainbow colors, were blown into his face by the wind and the horse's swift pace. Pearls of ice hung like beads on a string on the thin twigs of the trees lining the trail where the stands of firs gave some path for them, each one of them glittering with a minuscule mirror of the sun in his back.
He was cantering through a land of ice and rainbows. For a moment, he wished he could share the sensation of it, but he knew why he was alone out here. She would have grown cold too swiftly, and her eyes would only see white. White and black and blinding glitter of sunlight on top of it. So he came out here alone, urging Triton to a swift gait that covered the ground, for once not worrying about imprints and tracks. Not today. And tomorrow he'd be gone off-planet again anyway.
Having reached the top he got out of the saddle, wandered the last meters by foot. One of the few benefits of a service record kept clean so far: he could move freely on base, something he'd come to appreciate recently. The snow lay high here in the small clearing of the firs, actually reaching up to his thighs. He felt the first trickle of snow melt searching its way into his boots. He didn't care, actually sat down in the deep snow and studied the bluish green of the sun filtering through half a meter of snow before reaching his eyes. For a moment, he wondered how ice caves would look to his eyes.
A single drop of ice was almost white. Almost. He raised a half-frozen drop dangling from his fingertip and watched it reflecting the sunlight above the snow. Glittering rainbows and tiny suns. It was silent out here. The wind had ceased. Triton knew better than to disturb him. The GPS was killed, and any creature moving would cause significant creaking in the frosted snow surrounding him. Still, he scanned the landscape with a distrusting glance before he dropped back into the snow and felt the cushioning mass envelope his figure. For a brief, silly moment, he just...
With the result that he was soaking wet when he returned to base four hours later.
32,000 meters above, an infinitesimal boost of a thruster caused a tiny satellite cube to spin about on its spacial axis. Fourteen seconds later, another infinitesimal boost in the opposite direction halted the movement. A system of semi-biological photo receptors strangely resembling the eye of a fly vibrated as they zoomed in on the snow covered surface below.
A mountain peak came into view. Roughly pixilated at first, then, with growing resolution, more and more details showed up. Black firs lined a clearing. A single hoof trail ran across the snow, stopped, continued as foot prints that ended on the very top of the mountain...
With a touch of disdain, Oberon Michael stared onto the screen at the other end of the TRC on board of the HHS Helven. His second, Gabe, looked over his shoulder and chuckled. "Two thousand and some years since, and they still haven't forgotten that outrageous outfit of yours."
Michael sighed theatrically. "If only we'd gotten that crewman in time back then. The mess he made of the planet is still sickening me. And not because of the bedsheet I had to use to cover the Roman uniform. Darn intelligence, they should have realized that was the wrong people!"
Gabe patted his shoulder sympathetically. "Intel, recon, and deserters are always a hassle." He studied the no-longer-grainy image of a snow angel a bit longer. "From the one we're watching? The one who faced the Fenrij?"
"Yeah." Michael nodded, laid his fingers together and applied enough pressure to have the tips almost glowing white.
"Do you think he's mocking you?"
"Don't think so. He isn't that aware of us." He snorted. "Still... call Intel and Covop, it's about time Lucy gets his thing together!"
Gabe laughed faintly. "Consider it done, Boss. Just don't call 'Cifer 'Lucy' to his face. Rafe would object to piecing you two together for a second time in two hundred years and I don't have another chorus willing to give the bridge a new paint job."
Michael grunted. "And Gabe... Don't call me 'Boss'."
"Aye, aye, A-A."
Behind him in the captain's seat, Oberon Archangel Michael buried his face in his hand and groaned.
Glossary & Names
Covop: Covert Operations
Fenrij: the species that built the scarecrows
Helven: just mix Heaven, Hell, and Elven and see what you get.
HHS: Heavenly Hosts Ship
TRC: Trans Reality Connection
Names followed by (!) are felt offensive:
Gabriel "Gabe" "Gaby"(!) - first officer
Lucifer "'Cifer" "Lucy"(!) - covert operations head officer
Metatron "MT" - ship computer & communications system
Michael "Mike" "Mikey"(!) "Mickey"(!!) - captain (oberon) of the Helven A
Raphael "Rafe" - medical captain