[Friday, 23 December, 2259 | Christmas Lights]
Santa grips the steering wheel and edges his foot to the accelerator, but pulls back. Three officer aircars descend in front of him, blocking the exit.
“Halt,” comes a voice over the sleigh’s transmission unit. “You are under arrest for break and enter, for the murder of a YutopiCorp shinobi, for piloting an unregistered vehicle, and for using scrambling technology to hide your identity. Identify yourselves.”
“I’m Santa Claus, fucko.”
“Identify yourself, or we will shoot your vehicle from the sky.”
“Can you shoot them first?” Virginia asks.
“I could get one, maybe two shots out. But by the time I switch the cannons to something that packs a little more punch than these pellets, they’ll have already opened. Not really wanting them to light us up like Christmas lights.”
Santa taps his ear. “Damn it,” he says, before looking back at Virginia. “They have another four aircars coming our way. We’re going to have to outrun them.”
“Can we do that?” Virginia asks.
“Watch and learn, kid.” Santa looks back at the cards hovering in front of them. “Sleigh, disable engines for two seconds.”
The sleigh’s engine falls silent. The lights go black, including the headlights. Santa grips the wheel in anticipation as it plummets to the ground below.
Five metres from the ground, the engines kick back in and the sleigh’s lights turn back on. Santa slams his foot on the accelerator and increases velocity. Determined not to let the offenders escape, the officer’s vehicles dive down and pursue the sleigh.
“What have you got?” Santa asks Morse. “Okay, that’s not too far from here.”
The sleigh climbs upwards, twisting and turning to avoid incoming fire from the officers.
“We’re not going to make it.” Virginia is the most scared she has been throughout her ten long years. Everything she felt when locked up in the re-education camp, the death she saw, the torture from Ms. Nagal, pales in comparison.
“Sure we are, kid. Have a little faith in the magic of Christmas, okay?”
The sleigh speeds further into the air. It approaches the skylane, ducks and weaves between the vehicles and keeps climbing above it. After a couple of minutes playing an air-bound game of chicken, the fire fades.
“We’ve outrun them, kid,” Santa says. “Now we just need to find Gigget’s aircar. A silver Yutopi Hermes.”
The sleigh speeds through the air, as both Santa and Virginia scour the skylane for the vehicle.
“There!” Virginia says, pointing out the vehicle.
“Sleigh, set to autopilot. Tail the Hermes,” Santa instructs.
The sleigh speeds into the skylane, squeezing itself between the Hermes and the car behind it. It accelerates until it’s a metre behind Gigget’s vehicle. Realising he’s being chased, Gigget swerves upwards, with the sleigh in pursuit.
“Sleigh, engage EMP. Target City-registered vehicles. Open canopy.”
As the sleigh’s cannons whir, the canopy slides open. “Virginia, wait here.”
“Don’t do this, Santa,” Virginia pleads. Let him go; don’t get yourself hurt. Or worse.”
“Remember what I said about Christmas magic, kid.”
Santa grabs the katana with his good hand and leaps from the sleigh. He slams the katana into the Hermes’ boot and swivels himself around, crashing through its back window. Snatching the katana from the boot, Santa clambers across the backseat.
Gigget looks behind. “What the actual fuck, man?”
In the periphery, Santa catches bolts of electricity firing. They have company; the officers are on their tail. He sees one car plummet to the ground, then another. He pushes himself to the front of the car.
“Sorry, I don’t have time to ask nicely for your donation.” Santa swings the katana, slicing off Giggett’s hand.
As Gigget screams in agony as blood spurts across the front of the car, Santa reaches across and grabs the severed hand from the steering wheel. Gigget has lost control of the vehicle, which plummets towards the ground below. With Gigget’s hand in his, Santa clambers to the back window. The sleigh isn’t close enough for him to reach, having been slowed by opening fire on the officers.
Santa taps his ear. “Sleigh, override command. Pick me up.”
As the sleigh approaches, Santa leaps through the air. The sleigh speeds towards him, scooping him up.
“How many officers has it taken down?” he asks Virginia.
“Okay, just one left. Told you to believe in the magic of Christmas.”
The officer’s car approaches the sleigh. Santa drops the hand, and reaches into his boot, pulling out a gun. Aiming at the windscreen, he unloads the weapon, and watches as it falls. Taking a breath, he slumps on the couch, then retrieves the card from a pocket. He picks up Gigget’s hand and presses the thumb against the card.
“Authorisation granted,” the card says. “Transferring twenty-three million, one hundred and twelve thousand, four hundred and sixty-three credits.”Santa grins. “Now we can go home, kid.”