Angela: Song in the Darkness
Angela and Hilth were in transit.
Their means of transportation was a ball of pinkish energy that surrounded them both and moved rapidly, partly through normal space and partly through subspace or something very like it. At first, Hilth didn't like it. She was formerly a librarian on a world Angela had aided in a war, and she hadn't been off-planet much, and those times were in a commercial starcraft, usually on a package deal with some other workers.
Now she was able to look out and see the stars through a pinkish curtain as they moved at speeds far greater than light.
She forced herself at first to get used to it. A woman who accompanies a warrior-angel must make such accomodations. Now, she was at the stage of awe, trying to comprehend that only the pink energies held her back from the vacuum and eternal night.
In a way, it was kind of fun.
Angela had a job on another planet, and even for her, it would take some days of travelling.
The librarian had hooked up with Angela on her homeworld, cajoled her into letting her tag along on her next adventure, and, with the help of Angela's two partners, conned her way into becoming the warrior's sidekick. Angela was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, thank you, but even she admitted that she was a fool for friendship. When Anahite and Kwan Yin weren't there, she really wanted someone to talk to. And she'd found it in Hilth, who talked to her or read books to her or listened to Angela talk or was just there, which may have been the best thing of all.
So they sped through the second heaven. And during a space of silence, Angela said something.
"It's December 25th," she said. "By the Gregorian calendar on Earth."
Hilth looked at her blankly. "This Earth being the planet you were assigned to, Angela? I have heard you speak somewhat of it, yes?"
The masked, thinly-clad redheaded warrior turned to her friend. "I sojourned many years on Earth, Hilth, yes. Perhaps someday I can take you there and let you see what it's like. It was the site of some most prodigious doings."
"And this date that you speak of, it's one of some importance there?"
"Well, it's a holiday," she said. "Christmas."
"Ah," said Hilth, and opened her book.
Angela looked down at her. "Well?"
"Well, what, Angela?"
"Well, aren't you going to ask me the significance of Christmas?"
The short and rather rotund woman grinned up slyly at her friend. "I knew ye'd be doin' that bit of business yourself, directly."
Angela half-smiled. "Let me be hoist by my own petard. All right, Hilth, do you wish to know about it?"
"You appear to wish to tell me, so--" Hilth spread her hand, palm upward.
The redhead sighed. "All right, then. It is not the date upon which the Savior was born, but it is the day upon which Christians on Earth celebrate His birth."
"The Savior?" Hilth crooked her head. "We've legends of such a one ourselves. D'you mean to tell me He's already been born, and us not knowing about it?"
Angela nodded. "T'was two thousand years and a bit more ago, Hilth. The Gregorian calendar was to have begun with His birth, but they got the year wrong, just as they got the day."
"Appears those Earthers aren't much on accurate work."
"This was long ago, Hilth, and Earthers haven't yet mastered interstellar travel. But they do well, in their own way."
"Can you tell me somewhat of this birth, then?" Hilth had placed the book, Star Monarch's Quest, in front of her crossed legs. "How did it go?"
"It was rough travelling for His parents, as they were required to go elsewhere for a census," said Angela. "The night of the birth, they had to go to an inn, which was all filled up save for some rooms where, on occasion, animals were stabled. That was where they had to go."
Hilth was agape. "To a stable? To have a baby?"
Angela nodded. "Just so. They had no anaesthetic drugs, nor a midwife. The delivery had to be natural, and it was. The baby was borne properly, thank He Who Is. One of us, masquerading as a star, led three astrologers to Him later on..."
"To the Savior?"
"Yes, Hilth. There were many signs and wonders surrounding that birth. I know."
Hilth was cautious. "You...know?"
"Oh, yes," said Angela. "Some of the Host were assigned to one duty, some to another, some to still others, but we all had our jobs. Few of the Earthers knew of the baby's import then. But we all knew." She looked out at the stars beyond the pink curtain, nostalgiacally. "There are many of us still who remember that night. Many of us still who remember the song we sang."
And Angela closed her eyes, tilted her head back a bit, and, for the first time since Hilth had known her, began to sing.
"'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, to men of good will. Glory to God in the highest--"
"--And on Earth peace, to men of good will."
Hilth gasped, jumped up, grabbed her friend around the middle. "Angela! More than just you sang! I heard them!"
Angela put her gloved arm about Hilth's shoulder and smiled at her. Her eyes were bright behind the mask she wore, and her face bore a smile of contentment. But she was looking not at Hilth, but at the stars in space all around them.
"Aye, Hilth. Many of us there are who still remember that night. And many of us still who remember the song."
Angela was created by Neil Gaiman and is property of Todd McFarlane. No infringement is intended, no money is being made from this story.