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.

[Monday, 12 December, 2259 | A Time For Giving]

“Morning, V!” Krack sits on the couch, watching a cartoon on the holoscreen. He’s a lanky thirty-year-old with a bald head that reveals his only visible cybernetic enhancements, metal rivets embedded in the back of his skull. Virginia doesn’t know what they’re for, nor would Santa let Krack explain it.

“How’re you feeling?” Morse, about the same age as Krack, sits next to him. He’s shaggy, and his body is covered in nanotech tattoos. Like his boyfriend, Morse isn’t allowed to enlighten the girl about the purpose of these.

“I feel like shit,” Virginia says. “What are you two doing here?”

“Santa had to head out and asked us to look after you,” Morse says. “And yeah, that adrenaline from a couple of nights back’s worn off.”

“Why did he do that?”

“What, leave?” Krack asks.

“No, why did he attack Crick?”

“The man’s on his Naughty List, you know that,” Morse says.

“Yeah, but in front of his kid?”

“Hey, V, remember, you went to shoot the kid.”

“I was scared!”

“Which is why Santa will only let you pull your weapon if it’s necessary, kiddo,” Krack says. “Look, each year, Santa makes his Naughty List. Then he hunts those people down and takes donations from them.”

“For charity?”

“Yeah,” Morse says. “He takes their money—which they’ve earned by being arseholes—and donates it to the slums. Not just this sector, but throughout the entire City. He transfers it to all the Magistrates to give those hardest hit.

“The slums are full of people who want to live outside the system. Like me and Krack, like Santa. But there are just as many people living in the slums because YutopiCorp fucked them over. A few extra credits will help them get by, y’know?

And sure, he hurts most of them. One, it teaches them a lesson, and two, it gives them that little extra inspiration to make their charitable donation.”

“How long’s his list?” Virginia asks. “How many more people are we doing this to?”

Krack swipes his hand in front of the holoscreen. The image changes to the list. The first name on the list, Benjin Crick, is marked as red. Virginia reads the remaining names on the list and studies their photos. They all look like ordinary people. People she’d see on the streets, the type of people her father would invite to dinner parties. Ordinary, upstanding citizens. Grownups. Boring. Against each name is a biography listing a ton of details that she doesn’t understand. Arms dealing. Pharmaceuticals. Embezzlement.

The last name on the list strikes Virginia as odd. There’s no photo of the person, and the only name listed is ‘The Recruiter.’ Where the bio should be is a single, unfamiliar word. ‘Redacted.’

“Who’s that last one?” Virginia asks.

“Uh… we don’t know yet. We’re working on identifying them.” Morse says. From his tone, Virginia doesn’t know if she should believe him.

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