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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2238985
Legolas plots the end of a global conspiracy surrounding the value of Christmas
Legolas felt conflicted.

If I press the button then I will destroy the workshop and ruin Christmas for billions of children. If I do not then the true message of Christmas might be forever lost and the global corporations will have won. I should do the right thing and destroy the workshop. Yet I remember so much about this place. Oh why is this so hard!?

A sprightly 3 foot tall Elf, with golden skin, a pointy nose and ears, and emerald eyes, he still remembered arriving at Santa's North Pole Workshop 100 years before. There had been a large Elfin workforce then, but no new Elves since. The tasks, that Elves had traditionally performed, were now done in large subterranean robot factories. The other Elves had since died or been given early retirement. Over the transition, the massive increase in global demand for Christmas presents, had masked the trend to automation. Even the transportation of presents, to their human recipients, was largely automated these days and used mass teleportation devices, rather than the original reindeer sledges, which were really now only for marketing purposes. The manufacturing and logistical process was now controlled by an increasingly sophisticated AI. The original Santa had been dead for a century and what was left was a giant corporate machine which exploited humanities generosity for its own advantage.

Given all the empty Elf apartments, Legolas could live where he wanted. He remembered choosing a large Elfin abode, previously reserved for managerial level Elves, sharing the place briefly with one of the most senior Elves of them all, called Dobbin, the last to die bar himself. He pondered the path, that had led him to this point, where he was ready to destroy the Workshop, that had once echoed to the sounds of Elfin laughter. He knew that if he pushed the button, on the remote control in his hand, then he would vaporize the floor under a giant magnet, used for the teleportation devices, dropping the magnet onto the AI below it, instantly wiping its hard drives and crushing its processing chips. A second linked explosion would take out the Workshop Fusion Reactor, deep beneath the ice pack. He doubted they could rebuild the workshop in less that 15 years, faced with this catastrophic degradation of their infrastructure.

What would Dobbin have done?

He recalled his house mate Dobbin had written Christmas marketing literature, with a focus on improving consumers willingness to spend money, by redefining Christmas in terms of a 'spirit of generosity'. Dobbin was nearly 200 years old and an absolute genius, and had welcomed Legolas into his home as a breath of fresh air and apprentice. For a while they were the only Elves left. Dobbin had personally scripted a rough draft of the "Christmas Carol" for Charles Dickens, and even modern classics like the "Grinch". He had also worked in the mysterious science department at the workshop. Legolas had enormous respect for Dobbin and was proud of having known him. Dobbin was proof positive of just how great an Elf could be. Just days after Legolas moved into his house Dobbin disappeared entirely. Before doing so, he had managed to slip Legolas an address and some instructions, written on a piece of paper. Legolas was to go to that address, meet a human called Clare, whom he could trust, and translate a book, in her possession, from Elvish into English. He had been authorized once before to empower a chosen author, J.R.R. Tolkien, who had even named a character in the Lord of Rings after him by way of thanks.

Legolas remembered taking his next holiday from the factory in Ireland and slipping away from his secret, official Elfin cottage, besides the Atlantic coast, to go to the address Dobbin had given. There he had met Clare, a beautiful thirty year old, red haired, Irish beauty, who it turned out was also a Professor of Genetics, though it had taken every ounce of courage he possessed to say hello and find that out. Remarkably she had not been at all put out by his appearance and had apparently already had extensive discussions with Dobbin. So she was able to tell him most of the things that he did not know about Elves and the Workshop, which Dobbin had not been able to share in the monitored Workshop and which now informed the current plan of action.

This place is now evil, I have to stop these people, before it is too late.

He thought about all the things that Clare had told him and that he had read for himself, in the book Dobbin had composed, from varied sources over his long life. These recollections made him all the more angry. When Clare had first seen Dobbin she had wondered if he was an alien, or one of Ireland's fabled Leprechauns. Being a geneticist, she had run DNA tests, and to her surprise had found that Dobbin was in fact human. Further investigation revealed customization to his DNA, that had shrunk his size, raised his IQ, made him more docile and compliant to authority, changed his features, lengthened his life and worst of all rendered him sterile. The conclusion was clear. Elves were made in an advanced lab, by modifying discarded, first trimester, human fetuses, not born, like normal people. Apparently since no more Elves were being made since Santa had died, they would all die out when Legolas, being the only Elf still alive, passed away. That made him feel useless, impotent, and redundant. He felt like some kind of scribal error about to be erased from history. Apparently Elves were now surplus to requirement and being replaced by machines. A combination of humans and AI technology had now taken over their creative work. The technology in the workshop was some 300 years ahead of that generally available to the human population of the planet, but controlled by corporations who believed in what they called the "trickle down" effect. Basically all of this technology would be available to everyone one day, even so they controlled the speed at which it trickled down and their technological edge allowed them to control the planet, its wars and its profits.

Greedy selfish robber barons, nonetheless if I destroy these labs I will destroy the possibility of any more Elves being made.

He had discussed that one with Clare. She had pointed out that, since he was human, then it would not be an extinction event, if there were no new elves, as in fact she was his genetic sister. Indeed the book contained the formulas for creating Elves. Yet then she pointed out various facts about Elves which had embarrassed Legolas into silence about that possibility.

"Elves have no private parts, and they are all male. So they cannot breed naturally."

Legolas had never been more embarrassed than at that moment and he still smarted with the pain of that discovery. It made him angry to belong to a mutilated, sterile race, fabricated in a lab to meet the requirements of the Workshop, long life to maximize the value extracted from training and experience, small fingers for precision, pointy ears that he could drape tape on when wrapping presents. He was made to make and wrap presents and for an era of distribution that had been far more labor intensive, but which was now gone forever. So even his design was now surplus to the requirements of the workshop. He had looked at Clare suddenly realizing she had curves and was attractive in a way that no Elf ever could be. She could have babies and she had a future, he did not.

Clare had always been nice to him yet it was hard to be the object of someones compassion, a harmless friend to be pitied. He felt small in her presence. As he translated Dobbin's book for her he recognized many of the key concepts which he had used already in the Workshop and with which he could massively bless the wider world. He reassured himself that he would not destroy these technologies with the workshop. The fusion reactor and teleportation devices alone would end the current global environmental crisis, by removing fossil fuels for energy and transportation. That was reassuring and so Legolas steeled himself to push the button.

I wonder if I will survive the explosion.

He had not given much thought to that, the nature of an Elf, was after all, to serve rather than think selfishly. He considered this action to be an act of service, even so he wanted to see Clare again and to spend time talking with her about the book and the technologies in it. He wanted to taste her cooking, walk in a forest again, look into her sparkling green eyes and smell her hair. If he died he would lose all that. He started to make his way to a transportation pod, from which he could detonate the explosion, as he sped away to Ireland.

My life does not amount to much, maybe this is its pivotal moment and real justification.

He thought back to discussions, with Clare, on the secret identity of Santa. It had been a surprise to find that Leonardo Da Vinci's unknown, genius, atheist, brother Sergio had been the source of the Santa movement. Unlike his brother who had painted and invented in the mainstream and interacted with other scientists, Sergio had designed in the shadows and had been especially interested in the structure of life itself. He had invented the science of genetics, four centuries before Mendel's work and writings. He had managed to prolong his own life, by centuries, with what he had learnt, only dying a hundred years before. He had then applied it to building a business empire. He later originated the Santa Claus concept as a way of making money out of Christmas, renaming himself to cement the idea in his employees around the world. He used the workshop at the North pole to build his global network and as the research center for his hidden empire and so it predated the Santa Claus project as had its Elfin workforce, though their design had changed with requirements. When he had died, his corporations had had to reinvent their business processes and there had been a century of wars, as power executives competed to take his place. Santa was dead and with him, in time, would die the Elfin race.

Should I love or loathe Santa da Vinci? Without him I would not exist, but he is also the cause of all my pain.

Clare had convinced him that he should share, like Leonardo had done, the knowledge in the book, the formulas and concepts there. She had a plan to "democratize" Sergio's research, for the benefit of all mankind, she would need him for that. This technology was good news for the poor and sharing it echoed the true message of Christmas. Of a child born in stable, who received gifts from the wise men of the world and who would in time humble kings, rich men and the powerful elites. A child who offered hope to the poor and the oppressed, for redemption and eternal life.

"I wonder if God will forgive me for this. No there is nothing to forgive, I do His will."

Decision time, his whole designed nature screamed against the decision, but he knew it to be the right thing to do, and now, speeding away from the workshop, he pushed the button.

There was a massive explosion behind him, the magnet fell, the AI died and then the Fusion reactor exploded. The shock wave accelerated the pod, as the blast wave hit him from behind pushing him on to Ireland, to Clare and a new world.

1973 Words
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