Shorts smartworld

The Naughty List

Where young Virginia becomes one of Santa's elves, and assists him in seeking "charitable donations" from those on his Naughty List.

[Saturday, 10 December, 2259 | A Magic Sleigh Ride]

Virginia curses the lack of Nanny chip. She knows it’s late; later than she’s usually up. She’d ask Santa what the time is, but he doesn’t seem to be in the mood for chitchat. Instead, he’s busying himself with his list.

After some time—without a Nanny chip, Virginia couldn’t say how much time—the holoscreens vanish and Santa approaches the girl, arm outstretched. “Take this,” he says. “Consider it an early Christmas present.”

Virginia’s face lights up like a TreeX with the ‘Blind Me Lights’ skin. “An elf uniform? Thanks!” This makes it official: she is officially one of Santa’s elves. “Not even Krack and Morse have elf uniforms!”

“They just refuse to wear theirs.”

Gripping the uniform, Virginia looks it up and down, inspecting it closely. It’s a bright luminescent green, naturally; a one piece outfit constructed by nanites to cover her entire body, topped off with gauntlets, pixie boots with the backs sharpened into daggers, and topped off with a festive cap. The piece de resistance is a holster containing a pistol.

“Don’t get too excited, kid. The weapon’s for emergencies only, and the holster will only unlock on my command,” Santa says. “Put the outfit on before we fly out. The nanites will act as body armour, and the hat’s configured to scramble signals. You’re still a missing person, and we don’t want the City’s surveillance picking you up.”


“Looking good,” Santa says as Virginia the elf returns. He leads his charge into the bunker’s garage.

Upon entering the room, Virginia’s mouth drops open. Before her very eyes is a sleigh. Bright red to match Santa’s uniform, with a couch at the back for them to sit on, and a steering wheel she would very much like to use, but correctly assumes it’s for Santa’s use only. The bottom of the sleigh is held above the ground by blades, and it includes a cannon on each side.

“Well, shit,” Virginia says. “This. Is. Awesome.”

“I thought you’d appreciate it.”

“Wait,” Virginia says as she clambers onto the sleigh next to Santa. “How will you get us into the skylane without the officers pinging us?”

“Magic,” Santa smiles. “Courtesy of Krack generating a registration for this baby. Even better, it’s an emergency vehicle. We won’t need to worry about traffic.”

As the pair take their seats, the bunker’s roof slides open and the sleigh hums. Slowly, it rises from the ground and a canopy slides above its occupants. Well above the slums, the sleigh launches into the air.

Virginia grins as she sees the Sector Chicago skyline. It reminds the youngster of her childhood, which seems so long ago. Neon lights illuminate the sky, highlighting YutopiCorp and its sub-companies, its offices, advertisements for the latest and greatest tech, and blasting Santa’s image for the world to see.

As the sleigh increases its speed, the neon lights fade into a mass bokeh. The sleigh weaves through the traffic and above the skylane, and is soon deep within the Sector. Santa begins the descent and pilots it between buildings, before soon reaching his destination. The sleigh hovers ten metres away from a window.

“Sleigh, engage pellets,” he grunts.

Virginia hears a clank as the cannons shuffle through ammunition, before clattering into place.

“Sleigh, open canopy,” he says.

As the cold night air blasts the pair’s faces, Santa waves his right hand, controlling the cannons as he aims them. He clenches his fist, and each cannon shoots a pellet at a window, shattering it instantly. As shards of glass crash to the ground a hundred metres below, Santa lifts Virginia onto his back.

“Hold on, kid,” he says.

Santa and his elf leap from the sleigh, the propulsion from his cybernetic legs carrying the duo through the apartment’s window.

As they land, Santa lifts his index finger to his mouth, signalling his sidekick to be quiet.

“Santa!” comes a child’s voice. “You’re two weeks early!”

Virginia swivels around to see who the voice belongs to. It’s a little boy, aged about five, grinning from ear to ear and looking as though he is about to wet himself with excitement.

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