(Since Christmas Day is often slow on the old Interwebs I decided to write up some original holiday fiction for you all to enjoy. And so here you go. All I ask in return is that if you enjoy it, tell a friend about it. And have a great holiday, no matter what you believe in!)
The night was cold and clear. One man stood alone, on a roof, looking out at the city below him. He hefted his baseball bat, festooned with red and green lights, and nudged a sack of presents with a black booted toe. Bastard Claus shook his head and realized he was wasting time.
One night a year he had to deliver presents and there he was, standing on a roof, idling away five, ten minutes. Bad form, old sport, he thought to himself and then took another swig of vodka. It was time to lift that sack, sneak into some houses and eat other people’s cookies. And deliver gifts, that was probably important as well.
Of course, after the police mix-up a few years back, Bastard Claus realized that delivering the presents himself was a bit of a problem. He was jolly, to be sure, and merry, that still held true, but what he wasn’t was subtle. A large, bearded, man in a red trench coat and floppy hat tended to get noticed while breaking into other people’s homes. Which was when he hit on the idea of hiring ninja.
Now, to be clear, these were Christmas Ninja. Their all-black outfits were dotted by shiny snowflakes and instead of swords they carried giant candy canes. Well, all right, the candy canes were made of steel and could stop a charging horse if applied right but they still looked like candy canes and that was the important bit.
Regardless, the point here is that the Christmas Ninja were much better at getting in and out of a home undetected. So Bastard Claus gave them a 30% share of all cookies found and mostly just applied himself to being management. He stood on roofs and handed the appropriate presents to the appropriate ninja and made sure the police weren’t watching.
“Now Chiyo! Now Haruka! Now Kaori and Akemi! On Naoko! On Reika! Now Youko and Teiko!” Bastard Claus shouted. Then he remembered that shouting might draw the police. He scowled and kept a keep eye out but saw nothing. Grinning to himself, he heaved presents off the roofs edge.
Brightly wrapped boxes whirled through the night air like dazzling shooting stars. Each one arced brilliantly only to be snatched out of the sky with blinding speed as the Christmas Ninja grabbed them. Vanishing into buildings like so much be-snowflaked smoke, the ninja returned quickly, climbing and leaping onto the roof near Bastard Claus, each dropping a few cookies into an open satchel the jolly overseer wore.
Another block done in mere seconds and it was time to move on. Bastard Claus hopped up onto his overpowered and yet strangely silent flying motorcycle and revved the engine. It made no noise, of course, being so strangely silent, but Bastard Claus did like the rev the engine. The Christmas Ninja all hopped into the trailer hitched to the back of the bike and they took off into the sky once more.
Only three continents left after this, they were making good time. They might even, Bastard Claus considered, finish early, although that had never, in the history of time, happened. Still, he felt it was good to have goals.
That was a goal, however, he wouldn’t meet. Not that night at least. For even as the collective festive lot zoomed through the sky at speeds that were no longer quite speeds and more akin to teleportation, there was a flash of light above them. It blinded Bastard Claus, even through the sunglasses he always wore, and he cursed, setting the bike down on the nearest roof.
The light seemed to be a shooting star, but Bastard Claus realized, if that were the case the star would be the size of Montana. That would be bad. Very bad. Still, the light descended toward them. A hum started, a specific noise that Bastard Claus felt he knew.
“Haruka,” he asked over his shoulder, knowing the ninja to be their audiophile, “is it me or is that a sixty hertz hum?”
Haruka nodded and squinted up into the night. Bastard Claus was dead on. That was a sixty hertz hum coming from the ball of light. But what did it mean.
And then they found out, as the light faded and the ship that had been causing the light came into view. The ship itself, large but not Montana-sized, hovered and opened a hatch in the front. From the hatch flew over a two dozen Anti-Christmas Killer Robots!
Bastard Claus sighed.
Years ago these same robots had tried to stop Christmas. Bastard Claus remembered them well. That was before the ninja acquisition but also well before there were more than two or three robots to deal with.
“All right, you sneaky ninja! I ain’t paying you to be pretty! We got our work cut out for us on this one! Let’s go!” Bastard Claus yelled. He was, it must be admitted, rather fond of yelling.
“You don’t pay us to fight robots, either,” Akemi pointed out.
“And even then, you only pay us in cookies,” Naoko said. The other ninja nodded their hooded heads in agreement.
“This is when you want to renegotiate contract? These damn robots will ruin Christmas for everyone. Fight and win first, complain second, what’d'ya say?”
“I’d just like more cookies, is all,” Naoko muttered, drawing her candy cane weaponry.
“Wouldn’t we all, kiddo,” Bastard Claus said, laughing. He twirled his bat in one hand, watching the robots descend.
One of the robots flew right up to Bastard Claus. It had eyes that shone yellow and skin of silver. The size and shape of a well-built human, the robot hovered on jets of fire that escaped from its feet. “Designation: Bastard Claus. We have met before. You will retreat and allow us our victory. Comply.”
“Comply my pasty white ass,” Bastard Claus said. “Last time we met I handed you your asses, literally at least once if I remember.” He turned toward the ninja, “Fun thing about robots, you can break off their asses and hand them back to the metal idiots. Come on!”
“We fail to see the humor…” the robot began.
“Which is why you’re robots. But seriously, back off and fly away home and no one has to get reduced to scrap metal. I’ll even give you each a present if you agree to leave now.”
“What is this present you speak of? Can it compare to the lives of every man, woman and child within range of our sensors?”
“I got some old Furbies left over from a few years back…” Bastard Claus thought for a moment, “Oh, I’m pretty sure I have a kick-ass Lego set or ten you would like. Yeah?”
“We have no need for Lego. Prepare to die.”
“No need for Lego? Well, you’re going down now, bucko, I can tell you that!” Bastard Claus tensed his shoulders and drew back with the bat in both hands. A mighty swing and one robot head suddenly found itself detached from a robot body as it flew through the air.
And like that, the battle was joined. Ninja leapt through the night to club and toss and flip and beat on robots who dodged and flew like graceful birds. The robots punched and grabbed and flung ninja that they could snag. Chaos reigned over the streets below.
Bastard Claus straightened his sunglasses a fraction of an inch, hefted his bat and leapt into the fray. Twelve Swings of Christmas later and five robots fell in pieces to the ground. Which is when the robots decided that may it was time for lasers. Yellow bolts of light lanced from their eyes blasting holes in buildings and singeing at least two ninja.
“Throwing snowflakes!” Youko yelled. The other Christmas Ninja agreed, ripping a few of the shiny snowflakes off their outfits. The night turned into a cacophony of yellow lasers and silver snowflakes for a few seconds. Truly the battle was joined.
And yet the over/under on the fight wasn’t looking too great for Bastard Claus and the Christmas Ninja. Still, they fought on.
A red and green lit baseball bat flew through the air, embedding itself inside a robot skull. “Hey, Teiko, grab that for me, willya?” Bastard Claus asked as he punched another robot in the face. Teiko leapt, leapfrogging over a surprised robot and grabbed the handle of the bat, yanking it free and throwing it back to Bastard Claus. “My thanks!”
Then he had an idea. “Regroup near the bike!” Bastard Claus shouted. Collectively they fell back and huddled near the bike. The robots, far too many of them remaining, started to draw near. They felt they had their enemy trapped and so started to make a speech.
“Once we have eliminated all of the human fleshy ones from this area, we can continue, until one tenth of the population is eliminated. We have learned, with time, to despise the way you all toss around the word decimate and thus will show you how it is done. Along the way we will ruin this silly Christmas for all of you, ending the holiday once and for all!”
“Well,” Bastard Claus said to his ninja. “I wondered when we would get a speech out of them. I don’t know about you guys but it makes me want to break them a little bit more, if that’s possible.”
“But Bastard Claus,” Akemi said, “look!”
“Well, crap.” Bastard Claus said, looking where Akemi pointed. More robots were coming out of their ship. Too many robots, in fact. “Wait a second,” he said suddenly, “someone wake Akabana!”
The other ninja groaned. Akabana was their compatriot, it was true, but he also tended to be useless. Most Christmas runs he slept in the trailer, under the presents. The other ninja didn’t let him play their breaking and entering games. He was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a drunk. Even his ninja facemask barely hid his red nose from sight. A bottle of sake hung at his belt at all times, and he liked it that way just fine. The other ninja weren’t even sure why Bastard Claus hired Akabana in the first place.
But Bastard Claus knew. He was also glad to have never needed to show why until now. “Stop your grumbling and wake the lad up! You always wondered why he came along, and now I’ll show you!”
Digging through presents, they dragged Akabana out onto the roof and nudged him awake. “Buh? We’re done already? Really?” he asked, looking around.
“No, slacker,” Bastard Claus said, “we’re under attack by killer robots who want to end Christmas!”
“And, uhhh, decimate humanity,” Kaori said.
“That too. So come on, it’s time.” Bastard Claus offered Akabana a hand up. “Akabana with your nose so bright, won’t you lead my charge against evil robots tonight?”
Akabana nodded, cracking his neck from side to side. The other ninja looked on, skeptical. Bastard Claus saw their raised eyebrows and laughed, even as the robots drew closer. “You guys ain’t seen nothing yet. Akabana here may have a bit of a sake problem, sure, but he’s also the best fighter I’ve ever seen. Show them lad!”
And with that Akabana leapt into the air with such grace and speed that the other ninja swore, years later, that he turned into a hawk in flight. Seeing the ability of their compatriot in action spurred the other ninja on and they all rejoined the battle! Ninja fought robot in endless combat. Bastard Claus, too, met robot laser with red and green lit baseball bat and the tide turned quickly, thanks to Akabana’s battle prowess.
Later, standing on the roof, amidst robot rubble, Bastard Claus smiled at his ninja helpers. “You’ve all done well. We’ve saved Christmas, and a tenth of the population of Earth all at the same time. Well done, indeed!”
The ninja smiled, not that you could tell because they were ninja and wore full face masks.
“But!” Bastard Claus said quite loudly, “we still have presents to deliver and less time than ever to do it in!” Some of the ninja groaned a bit at that but hey all hopped back onto the trailer while Bastard Claus started up the bike, and flew off into the night. It would take extra speed and a bit more looking out for the cops, what with Bastard Claus’ penchant for yelling, not to mention the fact that they had left a huge amount of dismantled robot body parts all over one town – but still.
And as the silent flying bike rose into the sky, Bastard Claus hefted his baseball bat over a shoulder, steering with his free hand, and looking down over the city through his sunglasses, yelled, “And a Merry Christmas to all, except maybe those stupid robots and their lasers, and to all a good night!”