[Sunday, 11 December, 2259 | Christmas Comes Early]
“Shit,” is all Virginia can muster as the boy squeals with delight. Santa is lost for words.
“What did you get me, Santa? A Gogh Pad? UnReality Lenses? A GameChip? I’ve been good all year, with only one minor infraction. Just ask Nanny!”
“Can you shut him up?” Santa has found his words again. “Not like that!” he adds as Virginia reaches for the holster. “Shit, he’s just a kid.”
Virginia leans down to the boy and raises an index finger to her lips. “Me and Santa, we’re on a reconnaissance mission.” Virginia doesn’t know what ‘reconnaissance’ means, but she’s heard the other elves talk about it, and it sounds very important. “So you need to be very quiet, okay?”
The boy nods his head solemnly.
Seeing the clock tick past 12:00am, Virginia continues. “It’s past midnight; I’m guessing you shouldn’t be up at this hour. If you’re extra quiet, Santa will forget all about it on Christmas Eve, okay?”
Once again, the boy motions to nod before being interrupted by a voice coming from the living room’s entrance. “Benjin! What’s going on here?”
The man, aged about forty and dressed in nothing but a silk night robe, enters. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Santa Claus, dumbass.”
“Security, identify the interlopers,” the man—Benjin Crick, Sr.—demands.
“I cannot identify them, Mr. Crick,” the apartment’s AI answers.
“Call the authorities,” Crick demands. He extends an index finger each at Virginia and Santa. Each finger is hollowed, revealing the bore of his pistol fingers. “If they get here too late, I was forced to defend myself, wasn’t I, Benjin?”
The boy nods as Virginia yanks him towards her, instinctively using him as a shield.
“Drop him, or Santa dies, kid.”
“Do it,” Santa dares.
Crick fires his finger directly between Santa’s eyes. The bullet hits its target and bounces off the cyborg’s outer shell. Santa seizes his opportunity and launches himself toward Crick, slamming his fist against the father’s jaw, knocking him to the ground.
“Benjin Crick, Sr.,” Santa says. “Enforcer for YutopiCorp, harassing people in the slums for money in exchange for not reporting their petty crimes to the authorities. Little do most of them know that the City lets them keep their existence, if only to target them and prove a point when they need a good news story about being tough on crime.
“It’s Christmas, and we’re just visiting to see if you would like to make a charitable donation.”
“Fuck you,” Crick says as he picks himself up off the floor. “Officers will be flooding this apartment in no time.”
Santa taps his ear. “They’re four minutes away. Think you’ll survive that long?”
Santa balls his right fist and throws his entire mass behind it to slam it into Crick’s stomach. Electricity crackles through his hand and through Crick’s abdomen.
“Dad!” Benjin, Jr. cries.
Santa slams his fist into Crick’s stomach a second time, then a third.
“Santa, what are you doing?”
Virginia struggles at the sight and looks down at Benjin. “I told you, Benjin, it’s reconnaissance.” She really needs to look up the definition of that word.
Santa grabs Crick by the throat and unleashes a jolt of electricity. As he gurgles, Santa drops him to the floor. Santa takes a card from his pocket. As his target struggles to breathe, Santa places Crick’s thumb on the card.
“Authorisation granted,” the card says. “Transferring twelve million, three hundred and fifty-seven credits.”
“That’s… that’s… everything…” Crick says.
“And your donation is very much appreciated, dipshit,” Santa says. “Elf, get to the sleigh. We’ve got a minute until the officers get here.”
The pair rush towards the window and Santa grabs Virginia and leaps through it. “Merry Christmas,” he calls back, before the sleigh disappears from view.