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.

[Thursday, 22 December, 2259 | Silent Night; Silent Assassin]

As Santa’s sleigh hovers outside Gigget’s apartment’s balcony, Virginia notices how still the City below seems. Neon lights flicker from red to green to red again, but it feels eerily silent.

“This doesn’t feel right,” she says.

Santa nods. “Looks like he’s here; I’m picking up a heat signature inside the apartment.” He waves his right hand, guiding the sleigh’s cannon towards the window. As he clenches his fist, the sleigh launches pellets at the window, shattering it.

Santa scoops his elf into his arm and leaps from the sleigh and into the apartment. The apartment is pitch black.

“He must be in bed,” Santa whispers. “Lights on,” he commands the apartment’s AI interface.

Overhead lights flood the apartment. Santa silently gestures to Virginia, beckoning her towards the bedroom. The pair tiptoe to the door. Santa gestures with his fingers. One. Two. On three, he lifts his mighty boot to the door and kicks it in.

As the door smashes open, the pair leap inside and scan their surroundings. The room is immaculately presented, but cold. It appears to be empty, aside from a bed that looks as though it hasn’t been slept in and a bedside table.

“Where is he?” Virginia asks.

“According to my heat scan, he should be right here,” Santa says. “I’ll check the ensuite, but if you see Gigget, let me know.”

Virginia watches as Santa disappears into the ensuite, then continues to look around the bedroom. As she looks, she can’t help but escape the feeling that somebody’s watching her. She hears a rustle behind her and spins around. She doesn’t see anybody, but sees a shuriken materialise from thin air, hurtling directly at her head.

The elf leaps out of the way of the oncoming shuriken. She manages to avoid the star hitting her between the eyes, but not fast enough to avoid it completely. The shuriken collides with her shoulder, burying itself inside her flesh.

“Santa!” Virginia yells.

“Did you see him?” Santa bursts back into the bedroom to find Virginia collapsed on the floor. He rushes to her aid and sees the shuriken embedded in her flesh. “Damn it, it’s a shinobi.”

Santa kneels down in front of Virginia. “Count to three, kid, and I’ll get rid of it.

“One… two… argh!”

Santa yanks the shruriken from Virginia’s shoulder. Listening intently, he hears footsteps approaching from behind. Santa turns back and releases the shuriken. It sails through the air, before making a dinging sound before it collapses to the floor.

Seeing where the shuriken fell to the floor, Santa assesses the invisible assassin’s location. He lunges forward. As his hands wrap around each other, they crackle with electricity. He swings his hands, connecting them with this silent foe’s jaw.

Electricity courses through the shinobi’s face, knocking out his chameleon circuit. The shinobi is revealed, dressed head to toe in black. More concerning than the shinobi’s all-black attire is the katana he draws. The shinobi rushes toward Santa, slashing wildly with his weapon. Santa lifts his forearm to block the attack, but it slices through his skin. A trickle of blood forms around the scratch.

“Santa, you’re barely bleeding!”

“The joys of cyborg DNA, kid,” Santa fires back.

The shinobi unleashes a flurry of slashes in Santa’s direction, and he blocks each one with his forearms, each attack slicing into his skin. The shinobi pauses, and his katana begins humming. The weapon lights up, washing Santa in its glow. And the shinobi attacks once more.

Once again, Santa lifts his right forearm to block the attack. But with the katana powered up, this last attack slices through it, removing it from the rest of his body.

“Santa!” an exasperated Virginia cries out.

Virginia reaches for her holster. It’s locked, but she looks at Santa, willing him to say whatever magic word unlocks it. He looks back at Virginia and shakes his head.

“But it’s an emergency,” she says.

“Don’t worry, kid, I’ve got this.”

Santa reaches to the ground and picks up his severed forearm. He lunges toward the shinobi, swinging his disembodied arm wildly, each swipe slapping the shinobi across the face. Santa continues forth, beating him with the severed arm.

In one fell swoop, the shinobi lunges at Santa. His katana slides deep inside Santa’s belly, and through his back. Santa fights for breath as the shinobi looks into his eyes.

“Please, Santa. I can help.”

“As I said, kid… don’t worry,” Santa says. “I’ve got… the fucker… just… where I… want him.”

Santa lunges forward, headbutting the shinobi’s nose, busting it open like a dropped egg. As blood spatters across Santa’s face, the shinobi stumbles back, releasing his grip from the katana. Santa grabs the hilt and pulls it from the stomach. He grins and slashes the katana across the shinobi’s forehead.

The shinobi’s scalp slides from his head and bounces against the floor as grey matter oozes out.

“Told you… I had… him,” he says to Virginia.

“We need to get you out of here,” she says, before rushing to his side.

“Me? Forget about your shoulder, kid?”

Ignoring Santa, Virginia takes his good arm and lifts it around her unperforated shoulder. Taking his weight, as he uses the katana for additional support, the child leads him to the window, where the sleigh waits for them about ten metres away.

“The authorities are twenty-seven seconds away,” the apartment’s AI warns.

“Can you make the jump?” Virginia asks. “We don’t have long.”

“Of course I can,” Santa says.

Gripping Virginia with the remaining strength he has, Santa leaps towards the sleigh, barely landing in it. He taps his ear.

“Morse?” he says, sending a transmission. “I need you and Krack to get me a whereabouts on Gigget. The arsehole knew we were here for him.”

“No.” Virginia’s voice is full of worry. “We need to get you back, get you some help.”

Santa shakes his head. “Not until the job’s done, kid.”

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