A holiday tale for all the good boys and girls of the Galactic Commonwealth of Systems.
Lucas Winters 7,345 words
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Tiny Tim could hardly contain his excitement as he stared outside, up at the nightly Martian horizon. Or at least as much of the horizon he could see from the inside of the lowest level of the domed Colony Twelve. From the window, he could see the dimly lit metal streets, dotted with rows of little houses, decorated with beautiful arrays of red and green. If he tilted his head, he could also make out a little bit of the ten-story tree in the central square. Barely anyone was out this time of night, especially on this holiday for obvious reasons. He sometimes wished he could live on the terraformed part of the little red planet, but his family didn't have much in the way of Galactic Commonwealth Units to be able to afford such a luxury. Being able to play in the real snow, and feeling it crunch under his boots, and building snowmen with it was one of many of his fun little aspirations. He looked beyond the colony's clear dome, to search the starry sky for movement, until suddenly a voice behind him caught his attention.
Little Tim swiveled his head, and then his small frame to greet a tall, slim woman with flowing black hair, that contrasted his brown. She had on a sleek white and black medical suit, with a crest on the breast that had a picture of Mars on it in its insignia.
"Mom?" Tim started to flash a smile that missed a tooth. "What are you doing here? I thought you had to work." he said as he scooted from the window and onto the side of the bed.
"I do, kid." she said.
Tim's mother, Mary, walked over to meet him, placing a hand on his head. But instead of his mother's warmth and pressure on him, he felt nothing, as her hand passed right through him, like a ghost.
"Oh...you're on hologram." Tim sighed. He should have known from the ethereal glow around her, lighting up his dark room.
"Sorry, Timmy." Mary said as she imitated sitting next to him on the bed.
"It's okay. How's work?"
"A little stressful, but it's usual on the holidays. Thankfully, the hospital is letting me take a break." Mary gave a warm smile. "But you should be in bed by now. It's almost ten."
"I know, but I can't sleep! I can't wait for Santa to come!"
"He won't come if you're awake, you know. You have to be sleeping."
"Hmm..." Mary hummed. "Maybe a bedtime story would help!"
"Okay!" Tim nodded. The boy then started to climb around on the bed, and bury himself in his sheets and blankets, their warmth and weight against the crisp cool of the air relaxing him a bit.
"So, what story do you want to hear, kid?"
"Um...I don't know."
Mary rolled her eyes up in thought.
"Let's see...It is Christmas after all...how about the story of how Christmas almost died?"
"Ooh! Tell me that one!" Tim said, laying his head on the pillow and staring at his mother, giving her his full attention.
"Alright then..." Mary smiled.
It was Christmas Eve all across the Commonwealth, and Santa was preparing to depart from his orbital station, nestled deep in the center of the galaxy, the North Pole...
"Ho, ho, ho!" Santa Claus bellowed in his deep, commanding voice, calling the Elves working in the North Pole's docking bay to attention. The green jumpsuit-clad Elves all smiled, some wiggling their pointed ears, as they looked up at their jolly leader.
"It's almost time to ship off, everyone. There's a lot of good little kids out there waiting for their gifts this year, and it's our duty to spread Christmas cheer to the galaxy!" Santa said. "Sugarplum, is the Naughty-and-Nice List uploaded to the Silver Bell's database?" Santa asked an Elf down below.
"Yes, sir!" the small Elf replied.
"Gingerbread, has the ship been calibrated?" Santa asked another Elf.
"Yes!" she beamed. "You're all fueled up, and everything is ready for the Bell to take flight!"
"Wonderful! Yuletide, have all the gifts been loaded up?"
"Yes, Mr. Claus! I've checked and double checked to make sure."
"Good! Jingle, am I missing anything?"
"Well...." the Elf stumbled.
Santa looked down at him, with a questioning look.
"Well, what is it? Go on!"
"I've...I've picked up some disturbing energy readings around the Aether System..." Jingle said, pushing up his glasses.
"Energy readings? What kind, boy?"
"I don't know, sir, I've never seen anything like it. I'm not sure where it's from or why it's there...but..."
Suddenly, Jingle was cut off from giving his report, by an overhead voice on the station's intercom.
"Attention. Departure is scheduled in ten minutes. Please clear the docking bay, and have a merry Christmas."
"Oh! Looks like whatever it is, I'll have to handle it out there. Thank you Jingle, and everyone here as well! Let's move out!"
Santa grabbed the railing, and leaped over it, landing with thunder on the lower level of the docking bay with his black boots. Running a hand down his long, cloudy white beard, he stared at his ship in front of him. His pride and joy. The Silver Bell, a Sleigh model starship, the size of two houses. It's bright red paint matched Santa's fluffy suit, hat, and even his blushing cheeks, yet contrasted its own name. Santa smiled at the ship as he started toward it. The doors opened with a hiss, and Santa stepped inside. The interior lit up with a dazzling prism of lights in many colors, mainly red and green, as Santa made his way to the cockpit. Waiting for him behind the large glass window peering out at the docking bay wall, was the metal console dotted with many buttons and levers. And behind that console, the big man's chair. Red velvet seats and armrests matching his suit and accentuated with gold trim. Santa plopped himself down on it, rubbing his white-gloved hands on the velvet and smiling.
"Showtime." Santa said, as he pounded a fist into his hand, cracking his knuckles, before pressing a button on the console.
The Silver Bell started to hum to life as it levitated up off the docking bay floor. Before the ship and Santa, the wall of the station started to open. A slight blue shimmer of forcefield kept the vacuum of space away from the Elves. Santa eased on a lever, making the rockets underneath push the Silver Bell forward, past the forcefield and into the stars. Santa pushed the lever more once the Bell was fully out of the station, bringing it up to full speed.
"How are we looking, Gingerbread?" Santa asked, after pressing another button on the console, opening up the ship's communications channel.
"Everything on our end is greener than a Christmas tree, sir!" she replied.
"Alright. First stop is Aether System!" Santa said.
Santa piloted the ship by typing on the console and pressing their buttons. The Silver Bell shifted and twisted, navigating itself towards the Aether System, the system home to Earth, the birthplace of the Earthling race and Santa's original home, Mars, and seven other beautiful planets, great and small. Santa pushed the Bell into Earth's orbit, speeding over the Americas, and Santa started to speak.
He slowed down the ship's speed a bit, pressed a few buttons, and from underneath the Silver Bell, an army of small spherical drones started to take flight. Each drone would then fly down into the chimney of each house, seek out the resident's Christmas tree and hover under it, while dropping microscopic boxes around the underside. Once it was done, the drone beamed a ray of light at each of them, and the boxes started to grow to their full size. They did the same to the stockings hung over the chimney with care, dropping presents and candies inside and growing them until the stockings were full to bursting. The drones also made sure to collect the milk and cookies placed in the rooms, to deliver to Santa so that he can snack on them during his long night of traversing the galaxy. Once they were done, the drones would return, refilling themselves with more presents from the storage room that held the large red bag full of shrunken presents. Santa continued to fly over the continent, delivering gifts to the good, sleeping children of Earth. Once it was done, it was onto Africa, then Europe, then Asia, until the entire world was gifted. Then, onto Mars. First, the terraformed territories, then the colonies. Then, Jupiter, Saturn, down to Pluto.
"Alright, that takes care of this system." Santa said. "Jingle, how are we looking out here?" he asked over the comm.
"All clear, sir!" Jingle said.
"Are those energy readings from before, gone?"
"It's still there, just dimmed down a bit, sir...it was probably just a radiation storm messing with the scanners."
"Mr. Claus, sir, you're being messaged by another frequency on the comm." Gingerbread interrupted.
"Another frequency? Who?" Santa asked.
"I'm not sure who, sir...No one's supposed to be able to access this channel. D-do you want me to patch them through?"
"Hmm..." Santa hummed as he stroked his beard. "Very well. Put them through."
Suddenly, through the comms, a deep, gravelly voice sounded through the Silver Bell.
"Hope you're havin' a merry Christmas, big man." the voice said, coated in a thick British accent. "Because it's about to get a lot more fun."
"Who is this?" Santa asked.
"You can call me Snowman. First name...Abominable."
"What a very unique name, boy." Santa smiled. But deep down, he still kept his suspicions close to the vest. "Why are you calling?"
"Because I want what you have on that pretty little ship of yours." Snowman said. "And tonight, I'm gettin' it."
Santa smirked. He was after the presents, of course.
"I'm afraid you can't have that, Snowman. These presents are for nice people only. And trying to steal them? Well, that would be very naughty of you."
"I'm aware, big man." Snowman replied. "But, I feel it's time for a change, don't you think? Those 'nice' people have had it easy for far too long. It's time for the naughty boys to get what they deserve for a change."
"Oh, trust me, young man." Santa stood his ground. "You try and take these presents from me, and you will get what you deserve."
"Is that right, big man?" Snowman asked. "Then I guess, seeing as you won't hand 'em over all nice-like, I'll just have to kill you."
"You can try, Snowman. I've survived far worse than-"
"Sir!" Jingle said. "Plasma torpedoes are heading your way!"
"What!?" Santa asked.
Santa looked on the console's radar, and suddenly, two blips apparead on it, but it was far too late for him to do anything, and the Silver Bell was struck, almost throwing Santa from his seat, and making the Bell's alarms trigger.
Snowman started to chuckle. Santa looked out of the window to see a large ship reveal itself. All white against the black vacuum.
"You like my cloaking tech?" Snowman asked over the comm. "Like hidin' a snowman in a blizzard!"
Santa grabbed onto the console's controls to pilot the Bell away from the scene. Flicking his eyes between the radar and the window, Santa tried to put some distance between himself and Snowman, to no avail.
"That's right!" Snowman taunted. "Run, little rabbit, run!"
Santa swerved around asteroids trying to get away, but a final torpedo hitting the Silver Bell's left rocket sent Santa spinning and careening out of control.
"Critical damage to the Bell!" Superplum yelled.
"Mr. Claus!" Jingle called out.
"Don't worry about me, Jingle! The rest of you as well! I'll find a way out of this..." Santa said to comfort his Elves. "Snowman, you want these presents? Go get them!"
With his last act, Santa pressed a button on the console, and the sack of presents was shot out of the storage room, into space.
"No!" Snowman said.
Snowman turned away from his pursuit of the Silver Bell to go after the gift bag, leaving Santa to spin and fall down, plunging into the orbit of a nearby mass of white rock. Santa could hear the Elves at the North Pole screaming and panicking, until the comms were knocked out. Santa clung to the arms of his chair as hard as he could, until the knuckles in his fingers burned. He struggled against the centrifugal force of the fall to operate the controls, and try to minimize the damage of the inevitable landing. The Silver Bell came closer to the surface until finally, it smashed against the ground with a massive crunch, throwing Santa from his chair and making him hit his head on the console. Santa's vision faded to black, and the alarm of the Silver Bell dimmed into nothing along with it. Santa's final thought was on the poor children who would go without toys and games and candies this year, and every year after, because of his failure.
"Wow, Mom this story is so cool!" Tim cheered.
Mary sighed in regret, as it seemed her story only served to make her son ever more hyper than before.
"What happens to Santa Claus, Mom? Is he okay?" Tim asked, with wide-eyed wonder all over his face.
"I'm getting to that, little one." Mary smiled.
On a small dwarf planet just outside of the systems in Quadrant One, there lived a tiny little village in the snow. And in that tiny village lived a young boy who was different than the others...
"Rudolph, you're all grown up now." John said. "You are...despite appearances, a man."
His father's comment made Rudolph look down at the floor of their small wooden cabin. Everyone always picked on the poor boy because of his lack of height, his waifish frame, and his lack of large antlers that would have made him appear more manly like the other bucks in the village. Sporting a pair of small nubs on his head, he may as well have been born a doe. But what most stood out was his nose. Glowing red at all times, sometimes into a full on radiating flare. No one in the village knows why, not even his father. Some say it was because he played in nuclear waste as a fawn. All of the other Reindeer laughed at him, called him names, and wouldn't even let poor Rudolph play in any Reindeer Games. His father knew this, but was never any help, and sometimes even blamed Rudolph for it, saying he should just 'buck up' and 'try to be normal for a change'..
"Since you're a buck, I think it's time for you to take up the family business."
"Do I have to?" Rudolph asked.
"Of course you do! You're never gonna learn how to be a man if you don't get out there and work, Rudolph." John spat. "Just look at you! You wonder why people pick on you, but you never even try to be a normal buck! Always making excuses like, 'Oh, no one likes me because of my nose or I'm not strong enough!'. You have to grow up sometime."
"I understand, Father..." Rudolph nodded, almost on the verge of tears but managing to hold it in for now.
"You better." John said. "Now get out there and work."
John stomped away to his room, and Rudolph started to leak tears from his little brown eyes as he walked off to his own room to put on his clothes. A brown coat and pants over a black jumpsuit. A pair of dark boots. And gloves and a long scarf to protect his skin from the cold. Finally, he grabbed a large duffle bag and slung it over his shoulder. Wrapping the scarf around his face to shamefully hide his glowing button nose, he started out into the village. He peeked his head out to make sure no one was watching, and started out when the coast was clear. Weaving his way through the other bucks and does of the village dotted with wooden cabins, head down so he doesn't attract too much attention, he started out into the wilderness as the snow crunched under his boots. Rudolph's job was simple. Scavenging the downed ships that landed on their small, uncharted dwarf planet for something good. Cargo, tech, weapons, the works. With the seemingly neverending war going on between the Galactic Commonwealth of Systems and the Alliance of Nova, there was plenty of scavenge to be found. Rudolph trekked deep into the wilderness, through the dense forest, occasionally consulting the map from his bag. When his legs became weary, he rested under trees, or in caves, and had a small snack. And his legs got weary quite often, giving him lots of downtime. The clock struck early afternoon as he walked down a forest path, when Rudolph's sensitive nose came upon the scent of smoke nearby. It wasn't the usual scent of burning wood however. It had a strange smell of ozone and metal. Rudolph ran over to it, off the beaten path, and came upon a ship crashed on the ground in between the broken trees. It was the size of at least five cabins put together, and painted cherry red. At least the parts of the ship that weren't burned or scratched. Rudolph stared in awe of it, and then smiled. A whole ship like this, still a little bit intact and probably full of good salvage. If he brought this back with him, the villagers and his father would have to finally accept him as one of their own, right? At least that's what Rudolph thought. He ran up to the ship to examine it further. It looked like it had been in a huge battle, and one of its twin rockets was heavily damaged, shooting out small sparks. He noticed the cracked glass of the cockpit, and climbed onto the ship and up to it. The window was tinted from the outside, making it impossible to see within. He then went a little bit further up, and saw the escape hatch at the very top of the ship.
"Hmm..." Rudolph hummed.
Rudolph reached into his bag, searching for the right tool to use. He pulled out a long, thin crowbar. With all his might, he shoved it into the side of the hatch, and leaned on it to try and pry it open, like popping off a bottle cap. Shifting all of his weight on it, Rudolph managed to crack the hatch open, making him stumble a bit as it opened. He lifted the door of it, grabbed his bag, and leaped down into the ship's cockpit. He was entranced at the sight of the beautiful, velvet, throne-like chair sitting behind the control console. It was trimmed with gold. Rudolph got even more giddy at the thought of the pretty penny it would fetch with the village, to the point where his nose started to blink as his smile touched his ears. He bounced toward it, vaulting over the console to get a closer look. He dropped his bag on the side of it, and decided to take a seat. For a few seconds, he was too enraptured by the softness of the velvet, that he almost missed the large man laying on the floor before him. When he saw the figure, he gasped and his eyes grew like plates. Rudolph dived from the chair to his side. He managed to roll him over onto his back, to get a better look at him. He wore a red suit, with a fluffy white trim, over his hefty frame, a pointed hat designed in the same way, white gloves and black boots. Rudolph looked at his face, covered with a long, white beard. His blushing cheeks matched the outside of the ship. His most noticeable feature to Rudolph was that he lacked antlers. He reached under his beard to his neck to feel for a pulse. Dim and slow, but it was there all the same. This man was still alive. Rudolph shook his shoulder.
"Hey, mister..." he said.
Rudolph then had an idea. He went to get his bag and then back to the man's side, grabbed a bottle of water from it, and started pouring it on his face. The man started to stir, coughing, and then sputtering, and Rudolph pulled the bottle away, screwing the cap back on. The man sat up with a start, but then groaned and grabbed his head.
"Wh...where am I? And why am I wet?" his deep voice rumbled, as he rubbed his face on his sleeve..
"Are you okay?" Rudolph asked.
"Yes, I'm quite fine." he said.
The man then looked at Rudolph, and then was caught staring deep into Rudolph's face.
"What?" Rudolph asked, until he realized what he was staring at and covered his nose with his scarf. His cheeks started to warm in embarrassment underneath it.
"I do apologize for staring." the man said as he started to stand. "I've never seen anyone with a glowing nose before."
"It's weird isn't it?"
"No, no! I like it!" he smiled. "I think it's very unique!"
"R-really?" Rudolph asked. He started to smile under his scarf, still blushing.
"I also like those horns on your head! Who are you, boy?"
Rudolph dropped his scarf as he stood, and gave the man a smile.
"Ho, ho, ho!" the man laughed. "Nice to meet you, Rudolph!"
"So, who are you?"
"I am Santa Claus! You may have heard of me!" Santa said with a wink.
"You haven't?" Santa asked. "I give gifts to all of the children of the Commonwealth every year!"
"That's nice of you. But I still don't know you."
"Hmm..." Santa stroked his beard. "We must be on an uncharted planet."
"Come on, Rudolph!" Santa walked back to the throne and sat down on it, patting his leg with his gloved hand. "Have a seat in my lap and tell me all about who you are!"
Rudolph gave a quizzical look.
"I...I'm fine standing, thanks." Rudolph said. "I don't know the name of the planet we're on, but we just call it Misfit Island. There's a village a long ways east, and that's where I live. Me and...and all of the other Reindeer."
Santa seemed to pick up on Rudolph's despondent sigh at the mention of his clan.
"Where do you live, Santa?"
"I have a station in the center of the galaxy. The North Pole! Me and all of my workers." Santa smiled. "If you'd like...I could take you there."
"How are you gonna do that with your ship busted?"
"Well, I assumed since you were a scavenger, that you could help me fix it."
"Y-you know I'm a scavenger? How?"
"Why else would you be out here, a long way from your village, investigating this downed starship?" Santa asked with a chuckle.
"I could have just been out hiking." Rudolph smiled as well.
"Hiking, while you just happened to have tools to break that escape hatch up here?"
Santa stood from his throne.
"Well then, I guess we have no time to waste!" Santa said as he walked to Rudolph, grabbing the boy's hands with his gloved ones. "Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won't you fix my ship tonight?"
Rudolph looked into Santa's cerulean eyes, feeling the warmth of his hands. A warmth that spoke to him, had an air of kindness that Rudolph had never experienced before.
"S-sure." Rudolph said. "But...can I have something in exchange?"
"Anything you like, boy!"
"If I fix your ship..." Rudolph started to ask. "Will you take me to your home? It's just, I've never been off-world before."
"Why, of course, Rudolph!" Santa beamed. "Me and my Silver Bell will take you anywhere you want to go!"
"Silver Bell...is that the name of this ship?" Rudolph smiled.
"Yes, yes, I know the name can be...misleading." Santa said with a nervous smile.
"I like it." Rudolph reassured him.
"Ho, ho, ho! Why thank you!" Santa laughed.
Rudolph slid his hands from Santa's and walked to the console, and Santa followed him.
"From what I saw outside, one of your rockets is busted, but we should run a diagnostic check for anything else." Rudolph said, pressed some buttons on the console. The console started to light up, as well as the window in front of them, which displayed the ship's silhouette. There were some red spots on the picture, matching up with the damage spots on the ship, including the left rocket. "Just as I thought. Not much to fix except the rocket and a few scrapes here and there. What happened, if you don't mind me asking?"
Santa's smile started to drop as he remembered what happened.
"I...I was attacked."
"Attacked? By who?" Rudolph asked, turning to Santa..
"Someone named Abominable Snowman." Santa sighed.
"Why would he do that?" Rudolph gave Santa a look of deep concern, trying to figure out why anyone would want to hurt such a nice man.
"He was after my presents. He may have them already too."
"Oh no..." Rudolph's eyes slowly looked down.
"Don't worry, dear boy!" Santa smiled as he placed a hand on Rudolph's shoulder. "They'll be useless to him anyway!"
"Useless?" Rudolph asked. "What do you mean?"
"Yeah, Mom." Tim asked, as he rose his little head from off the pillow.. "What did Santa mean?"
"Well, you see, Santa always has an ace up his sleeve..."
In the space between the Aether and Trappist Systems, the Abominable Snowman's ship, The Blizzard, had claimed its prize, pulling in a large bag made of red fabric that was drifting among the stars...
"Finally!" Snowman said, as he watched his ship's tractor beam pulled in the red bag.
Snowman grinned a devious smile as he stood from his seat in The Blizzard's cockpit. Hustling down to the Blizzard's cargo hold, he would finally, for the first time, have his Christmas gift. Snowman watched, rubbing his hands, as the tractor beam reeled in its catch from the floor below. The cherry red sack floated up into the ship and the floor closed beneath it, and the tractor beam disabled itself. Snowman wasted no time diving at it, pawing at the tightly wrapped top. He was so close. So close to having all of the gifts in the galaxy. Snowman tugged the rope keeping the bag's entrance wound shut. He pulled and clawed at it with all of his strength. But nothing happened. It wouldn't give no matter what. Snowman glared and growled at the bag. Growing impatient, he reached at his hip, and pulled from the holster he wore, a long, white glowing blade. Snowman grabbed the top of the bag, and started to saw at the rope with the sharp edge, until suddenly, a violent volt of electric current shot through the bag, and up through the blade, and into him, flinging him back into the wall.
"What the...bloody hell?" Snowman said as he stood, shaking the tingling voltage from his body.
Snowman started to get cross now. Reaching on the opposite side of the holster, he grabbed for his pistol, letting off a round of laser at Santa's bag. Before the shot could hit, the bag glowed and deflected the shot. Snowman stood there, bewildered, until he scowled at the bag in front of him, and shot a few more times. Still, no damage to the bag. Snowman growled, annoyed as he threw his pistol at it. The forcefield deflected that as well.
"Oh, come on!" Snowman screamed into the air.
Meanwhile, on Misfit Island
"So the bag is only tailored to open when it interacts with your genome?" Rudolph asked, as he walked with Santa. "And, its security system attacks anyone that tries to open it that's not you?"
"That's right!" Santa said.
"That's amazing." Rudolph smiled.
"It's a little something my Elves put together. Oh, my poor Elves." Santa sighed. "They must be scared to death for me...Snowman might even come after them! Oh, this is the worst Christmas ever...and it just might get worse."
Rudolph noticed Santa's worries on his bearded face, and reached out a hand to his.
"It's going to be okay. We're gonna fix this...together!"
"Thank you, Rudolph." Santa smiled down at the boy.
The two of them got to the side of the Silver Bell, where Santa knocked against it. Out of the metal of the ship popped a small red orb. Santa gave a small wink to Rudolph, making the boy blush, as he pressed his thumb into it, making it glow. Santa threw it to the side, and Rudolph watched as the orb started to transform before his eyes into a long, and of course cherry red, vehicle. It had the look of a large, sleek, red wasp with black wheels and motors under it. Santa walked over to it, rubbing his hand on the nose of it.
"Now then..." he started. "This village of yours. A half day's trip east, you said?"
Rudolph nodded, still stunned by not only the vehicle, but the tech that allowed it to be so easily concealed. He had never seen anything like it, but it was still so...awesome, Rudolph thought.
"We can make that in minutes." Santa chuckled.
Santa hopped on it, looked at Rudolph, and nodded his head.
"There is room for one more, you know!"
Rudolph wasted no time, scrambling onto the space behind Santa. Santa pressed a button on the vehicle's console, and out from it popped a couple of small orbs, that once again transformed into large, round, red helmets.
"Safety first!" Santa said, as he grabbed them, and handed one to Rudolph.
Rudolph watched carefully, as Santa placed the helmet over his head, strapping it under his chin, so that he could do the same.
"Ready?" Satan asked as he peered back at Rudolph.
Rudolph wrapped his little arms as far they would go around Santa, which wasn't that far at all. He nodded at Santa, who then grabbed the handlebars of the vehicle. With a twist of them, the vehicle sprung to life, before another twist sent it tearing off on its wheels from the clearing that held the ship. Wind whipped at Rudolph like nothing he'd ever experienced before. The speed of the trees, and grass, and caves going by in a blur made Rudolph smile. It was...fun, he thought. So fun just feeling the speed and wind, and warmth of another person. Rudolph clutched Santa's coat tight, and laid his head on his towering back, just to feel his warmth even more. It felt safe, like he knew that Santa would always be there for him. His nose started to glow along with his round cheeks.
"So, what did Snowman do since he couldn't get the presents?" Tim asked with a yawn.
"Well, Snowman wouldn't be one to give up so easily, when he had what he wanted in his grasp..." Mary started.
Snowman's Blizzard scanned the space between systems, searching for a sign of the only person who could open the bag...
Snowman's eyes glared deep at the console of his ship. He had been able to track down Santa Claus before. He could do it again. Retracing his Blizzard's steps as it flew through the stars, he knew that Santa would be here somewhere their fight had taken place. And from the ship's tracking of the encrypted wavelength Santa used, he was getting close.
"Where are you, you big red jerk..." Snowman growled at himself.
The wavelength tracker pinged near a small dwarf planet. Snowman raised an eyebrow and took the Blizzard closer to its orbit, making it ping even faster. Snowman smiled devious at the console.
Back On Misfit Island, In Rudolph's Village
The motorcycle sped into the village square, past the roaming bucks and does around, swerving on its side and stopping abruptly. As the villagers gathered around the strange vehicle, they watched the two of the people dismounting it. Santa was a strange sight to them, being a big red man with no antlers. Not like Rudolph, who was recognized immediately. As the helmet was taken off his head, his glowing nose gave him away. He was so caught up in the situation that he almost forgot to hide himself. Almost. The villagers all stared and gave their usual ugly glances, and Rudolph hurried to pull up his scarf. But it was too late, and the catcalls of insults made his brown eyes tear up. Santa placed a hand on his shoulder, making him look up into his blue eyes. His smile, warm and reassuring, made his heart soften a bit, and made him gather the courage to stand firm.
"Over there in that cabin." Rudolph pointed to the right. "That's where they keep the ship parts."
"Good lad." Santa nodded as he walked off.
Rudolph went to follow, but a voice called out to him.
"Rudolph!" John, his father, yelled in his deep, booming voice.
"I'll catch up." Rudolph sighed.
Santa gave a concerned look, but went on ahead, as Rudolph turned to his father.
"What is the meaning of this?" John asked, glaring down at his son. "I ask you to work and you bring outsiders to our village?"
"You wanted me to be a scavenger. I scavenged and found him."
"What did you say to me?"
Rudolph stood his ground, planting his feet in the snow beneath, and shooting a glare right back at his father.
"Leaving?" John chuckled. "And where are you gonna go? How will you survive?"
"The outsider will take care of me." Rudolph scoffed. "Not like anyone here."
"All anyone here ever does is make fun of me! The outsider...Santa, was the only person to not make me feel like a freak. To like me..."
John's glare started to soften, as Rudolph turned to address the crowd.
"No one here ever wanted me...so I'm leaving to be with someone who does!"
Suddenly, a gust of wind tore through the village square. Rudolph and the villagers looked up at the sky, as amongst the blue above, a shimmering glow appeared. And behind that glow, a large white spaceship emerged. Its slow descent near the snowy village ground made the other bucks and does run away and hide. Rudolph however, was the only one to stand his ground, entranced by the sight. From beneath the ship, another glow appeared, an opaque blue. Only this time, it held a person who descended onto the ground beneath. Tall like a tree, with a white furry coat covering his body. His hair was white too, slicked back behind his scowling, scarred face. Rudolph also noticed that in one of his white gloved hands, he held a large red sack, slung over his shoulder. Santa's sack. It was Snowman, Rudolph deduced. Snowman traipsed his way to stand before Rudolph. With his other hand, he pulled out a long blade from the holster on his hip, glowing pure white, and pointed it at Rudolph.
"You seen a man come through here? Big guy, red coat?" he sneered with a crooked smile that showed his sharp teeth.
"I'm right here!" Santa called out.
Rudolph looked to his side, to see Santa barreling up at Snowman with inhuman speed. As they collided, Santa held his own blade, glowing red, and had a jetpack attached to his back, presumably from the storage cabin. Snowman parried his attack, and stood his ground as Santa pushed against him.
"Why Santa, so glad I could run into you." Snowman teased, as he pushed and broke their parry. "I can't get this bloody bag to open for the life of me! Mind giving me a hand?"
"Sure. Hand it over to me, and I'll see what I can do." Santa's jetpack took off again at Snowman, who parried once more and sidestepped.
Snowman clicked the heels of his white, metallic boots together, activating small rockets of their own beneath them, and making him float. Snowman chuckled in his throat as he looked at Santa. And then to Rudolph. With a sudden burst, Snowman flew over to Rudolph, snatching him up with his arm that held Santa's sack, and then holding his blade to the boy's throat.
"Rudolph!" Santa said, as he revved up his jetpack.
"Ah, ah, ah! You make one move, I slit your little friend's throat."
"Let him go." Santa said with a glare.
"Tell me how to open the bag!"
The air turned a deathly crisp as Santa and Snowman had their standoff. Santa looked at Rudolph, seeing his face twisted in anger, struggling with all his might against Snowman's grasp to no avail. He sighed a puff of white into the air in defeat. He couldn't have Rudolph's blood on his hands.
"It...it only opens with my genome. So take me instead."
"Don't do this!" Rudolph said.
"It's okay, Rudolph." Santa gave a weak smile.
Snowman cackled as he threw Rudolph aside, making him tumble to the ground next to the motorcycle. Rudolph looked up to see Snowman click his heels to deactivate his boots and walk over to Santa.
"No..." Rudolph whispered.
Santa was going to fail his mission that he promised to help with and it was all his fault. All the children of the Galactic Commonwealth would go without their gifts because of him. His brown eyes started to water again, slightly blurring the sight of Santa placing a hand upon the red sack. Snowman watched as it's golden ties unraveled and opened into a brilliant array of shimmering light.
"Yes! Finally!" Snowman said before cackling maniacally.
Rudolph felt helpless just like Santa. That was, until he saw one of the red motorcycle helmets on the ground next to him. He remembered the impressive technology used to conceal it with shrinking. If it can grow, Rudolph thought, then it could shrink right back down again. He grabbed it off the ground, noticing the circular indentation on the top that looked like a button, and smiled. He scrambled to his feet, running up to Snowman's back as he laughed, and interrupted him by jumping up and slamming the helmet down on his head.
Rudolph pressed the button on the top of the helmet, and it compressed itself on Snowman's skull making the man scream. Santa smiled in awe at Rudolph's ingenious plan, snatching his bag back and closing it before running with Rudolph the motorcycle.
"Ho, ho, ho! Good job, Rudolph!" Santa praised.
Snowman struggled against the helmet, popping it off his head before it could crush his head fully.
Santa quickly tossed another one of his red orbs at Rudolph.
"Take this and get back to the Bell. I'll be right behind you!"
Santa took off on his jetpack, and Snowman followed on his hovering boots, leaving Rudolph to hop on the motorcycle. He did just like he saw Santa, twisted the handles forward. It lurched forward untamed, making him twist it back again and stop. Rudolph's heart raced, but he took a deep breath and calmed himself. Then he gently twisted the handle to ride a bit smoother. He took off on the vehicle down the path he had travelled before. Out from the village that he was leaving behind for good into the rocky forest. As he bumped and rode over the dirt, the rocks, the tree roots, Santa crossed swords with Snowman in the sky above. Soon, he arrived at the forest clearing that held the downed Silver Bell. He hopped off the motorcycle, and grabbed the orb, pressing the top. Out from it spilled a gaggle of scavenged rocket parts. A hydrogen pump, a radiation scrubber, and more. Rudolph gathered them up and scrambled up into the Silver Bell's rocket, going right to work. Pulling out the greasy, broken parts and shoving in the new ones. Once it was done, he heard a noise from the top of the Bell. He climbed up through the rocket, and onto the Bell's roof. Santa and Snowman had landed on it, still locked in their swashbuckling showdown, parrying and swinging wildly. Rudolph watched from the sidelines, when suddenly Snowman pulled a dirty move. He spat in Santa's face, and took the mere second of Santa's distraction to kick him down by his chest. Snowman stood with a foot on Santa's chest.
"Christmas is over, fat man!" Snowman growled.
Rudolph's heart stopped, watching as Snowman raised his blade. His legs went on autopilot as he found himself running towards them. He had to save Santa. He couldn't let his only way out, his only friend, his everything die. Time slowed to a crawl as Rudolph ran. As the tears built up in his eyes, something else built up as well underneath them. The growing blush of something embarrassing. His nose beamed bright, making him squint his eyes until he could hardly see what happened next. Rudolph with his nose so bright, fired a beam at Snowman's right. The red beam hit Snowman and bounced him clear off the Bell onto the ground beneath. Santa stood to his feet as Rudolph went to his side. Together they walked to the edge of the Bell's roof.
"Ho, ho, ho." Santa said in triumph as he looked over at Snowman's lifeless form.
"Is...is it over?" Rudolph asked.
Santa held Rudolph by his hip, leading him away from the sight.
"Not yet, my boy. We still have work to do!"
Santa and Rudolph went into the Bell by it's top hatch. Santa took his seat at his throne behind the console.
"I believe I made you a promise. To take you off-world to my home in return for fixing my Silver Bell." Santa smiled at Rudolph, patting a hand on his lap. "The offer still stands."
Rudolph blushed for a moment, before smiling back. He went over to Santa, taking his place in his lap, and wrapping his arms around him and resting his head on his shoulder. Santa activated the console, and the Silver Bell took flight with a rumble. Rudolph watched in Santa's safe grasp as the sky he longed to be on the other side of changed from blue to black dotted with dazzling lights of stars and nebulas. He sighed, finally free. Finally loved. Santa put Misfit Island in the rearview, continuing his mission. From Trappist System, to Vixia System, Barmuse System, and even the prison planet Barrelus X. From all the quadrants and all the sectors, good little children in the galaxy would get their gifts as they slept in their beds, eagerly awaiting the morning.
"And with Christmas saved, Santa and Rudolph returned to the North Pole and lived happily ever after." Mary said.
Her holographic form looked to her side to see young Tim gently snoozing away, finally put to bed. Now, he could properly await Santa's arrival. And Mary knew he was going to like the gifts he was going to get. Aside from a few toys and games here and there, there was also something special. Due to a well-earned job upgrade, her family was finally going to be able to move to the terraformed Martian territories. Just the mere thought of Timothy finally playing in the snow like he always wanted made her proud. She stood and bent down over him to place the ghost of a kiss on his little head.
"Goodnight, son." she smiled, before dissipating into the dark of Tim's room.