Technology, hackers and the mafia? It's just another Christmas story. Two troublemakers get in over their heads and face unprecedented dangers with the help of a new ally.
Futuristic Christmas Story
North Pole City, a metropolis of silver skyscrapers encased in a giant energy dome, giving it the appearance of the world's biggest snow globe, except the dome serves the purpose of keeping the snow out. The advanced city is made inhabitable thanks to the protection of the dome and the artificial temperature controls, allowing people to walk down the street wearing as little as a tshirt and shorts, immune within the city's bubble to the cold outside.
One day, a threat came to North Pole City's main computer system, Reindeer, which controlled all the aspects vital to it. Coal was a rapidly spreading virus that threw the system into chaos and in the center of that chaos there were two young men by the names of Frosty and Rudolf.
Frosty's hair was as white as the snow outside the city and his eyes were an icy blue, full of energy and mischief. Rudolf's eyes were a warm brown, the same color as his hair, and they held the same mischief as Frosty's eyes. Those two had been best friends and partners in crime for years, but their misbehavior had slowly evolved from harmless pranks to something that would put the entire city in danger.
"Open the door!" The sirens had been passing by on their way to the heart of the city, to Reindeer, so hearing them outside wasn't unusual given the situation, yet it seemed they had stopped moving, instead surrounding the small hideout.
"Time to go, Frost," Rudolf, the more cautious of the two, shook his best friend's shoulder, pushing him out of the rapid typing trance he was in.
"I'm almost done," Frosty pleaded for time, a little more and he would have Reindeer completely under his control, he would command the entire city.
"We'll be done for if they catch us!" Rudolf urged.
"Alright, I'm coming," folding up the portable computer, Frosty followed Rudolf through their preplanned escape route, down a tunnel underground to the ruins of an old subway system, which had been since replaced with the flashier sky trains that provided a scenery for the passengers to see and were much more attractive to tourists.
The two mischief making computer geniuses rushed down the tunnels, while Frosty wondered how they had managed to track down his location so quickly. His train of thought derailed when the darkness of the tunnel previously pierced only by Rudolf's flashlight, was illuminated by bright lights.
"An ambush..." Rudolf gripped the flashlight in frustration, while glaring at the police robots ahead.
"Put down what you're holding and put your hands up!" A human officer commanded.
A well timed beep was heard from Frosty's still running computer and his eyes shone with hope, they could still get away. He opened the computer and pressed a key, grinning widely at the 100% message displayed on the screen.
"I told you to drop it!" The officer threatened with a laser gun.
"Disarm and restrain all the officers!" Frosty's command was followed by the police robots, which turned on the officers, taking them by surprise. "Reindeer has been overtaken, all public security robots now answer to us."
No two voices produce the exact sound waves so even if both Frosty and Rudolf were wearing masks to hide their identities, the voice command system would recognize them as it was ordered by the virus Coal.
The pair of trouble makers continued making their escape. They weren't seriously taking over the city this time. Certainly help would arrive from other lands soon and it would be madness to go against them now. However, this was a good test to see if eventually Coal could be developed to control Spirit, the computer system core of planet Earth.
Frosty and Rudolf held no real malice; they were just trying to test the limits of their power with a dream of taking over the world and creating a perfect society full of prosperity, where everyone would get to play as many video games as they wanted and eat cake and cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When they neared the end of the tunnel, they began to feel cold and took a detour to investigate what was happening in the surface before going out. Accessing a news website, they found North Pole City had become a disaster zone. Machines were acting chaotically as Coal mutated; absorbing code from the anti-virus programs that tried to stop it and even the energy dome protecting the city from the cold had fallen.
"Rudo..." Frosty looked at his best friend like he did when he knew he was in trouble, searching for support.
Rudolf snapped out of his shock, "shut it down!"
Frosty got to work implementing the program that would cancel the effects of Coal, attacking its very core, but the program was rejected. "It's not working!"
"Calm down Frost, we can do this. Let's access Coal's current core programming. We'll put our heads together and upgrade the anti-virus, we can do it," Rudolf reassured.
Frosty nodded and brought up the monitoring tool, a dangerous double edged sword that could more easily give away their position, but it was a risk they would have to take. "Look at it, look at how much it's changed, it's full of bugs!"
"You're smiling," Rudolf observed, "leave it to you to welcome a challenge at a time like this."
"You were right, we can do this," Frosty agreed, and the two got to work.
xoxox xox xoxox
Coal was stopped and after they covered their tracks and scrambled all the left over voice prints, Frosty and Rudolf headed out of the tunnel, it would be suspicious to stay there and their best bet to remain unnoticed was to mingle with the panicked citizens above.
They were almost out when they learned the hard way why the old subway tunnels were off limits. "Look out!" Rudolf pushed Frosty away with all his strength as the tunnel caved in, saving his friend from being crushed at the cost of becoming trapped under the rubble.
"Rudolf!" Frosty was in a panic, his best friend was dying.
xoxox xox xoxox
The brain is the most important part of the body, even if the heart stops beating, the real problem is when the brain ceases to function. With that in mind, an advanced life support system was created to keep the brain alive until the rest of the body's functions could be repaired.
Rudolf's body was crushed, but it could be healed, regeneration was possible as long as his brain was kept alive. He was freed from the debris by police robots, which Frosty hastily took over again. Once they were out of the tunnel, the robots were set to delete all traces of the event and return to the station. Frosty took off his mask and removed Rudolf's as well, playing the part of an innocent victim near an accident site from which a flying ambulance transported them to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, where Frosty currently waited to hear the news from the doctors.
"Sir," Frosty stopped his pacing and faced the nurse in the waiting room, her name tag read Vixen. "Your friend's life is out of danger."
Frosty let out the breath he had been holding, possibly since the accident occurred, but he noticed that the nurse's expression was still solemn, "what is it?"
"He was too close to death, his brain was shutting down, his condition is stable now but it is unsafe to remove the life support. Due to the head trauma he received, his brain will require a permanent life support to function." Frosty looked terrified and the nurse quickly clarified, "it's not so bad, he will be able to live a normal life, his intellect will not be affected and you won't even notice the chips and wiring in his head, all that can be seen is the programming plug, have you seen those before?"
"A glowing jewel on the forehead, that's what it looks like," Frosty responded automatically.
"Yes, and as soon as you fill in some forms you can go see- wait!" Frosty had pushed past the nurse and rushed to find Rudolf.
xoxox xox xoxox
Rudolf's body was encased in a machine that would heal his flesh and bones, regenerating limps as needed. He also wore a helmet, leaving nothing but his face visible. Miraculously; his face was perfectly serene, without a single scratch, or maybe the doctors had already finished erasing all possible scars when they installed the permanent life support, the red jewel which now glowed on his forehead.
"Frost, you look like you're about to cry," Rudolf chuckled weakly. "Chill out, I'm alive, we're going to be alright."
"What am I going to do now? How can I..." Frosty dared not ask, there was no way to make up for this.
"Let's go back in time," Rudolf replied.
"But changing history has been proven to be impossible, even if we manage to obtain the equipment, we'll just create an alternate timeline with the change. Eventually, fate itself will work to make the timelines similar enough to merge, a natural defense of the time continuum, pulling each timeline closer like gravity," Frosty voiced.
"You're stressed, I know you're stressed when you start babbling about time theories," Rudolf's smile didn't falter; he had to support Frosty as he always did. "I'm in this too; you don't have to carry the burden all alone. Let's go back to how we were before, do you remember our dream?"
"To be the best video game makers in the galaxy," Frosty recalled with fondness. Maybe if they focused on the good things, everything would somehow be okay.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was in this place of technology and eternal winter, North Pole City, where Toy Factory Inc. was established years ago and came to be known as the Earth's best video game company. Several months after the Coal incident, Frosty and Rudolf were working for the company under the direct supervision of vice-president Elf Claus, daughter of president Nicholas Claus and granddaughter of Santa Claus, the founder of Toy Factory Inc.
"Mr. Rednose, Mr. Snowman, come to my office please," Rudolf and Frosty followed the elegant Elf down the long halls lined with offices. Her long blond hair flowed behind her as she walked with confident strides, her green eyes always alert.
Whenever they were called to her office, usually to be scolded because of their regular tardiness, the two friends felt cold chills all over their bodies. There was a possibility that instead of getting a scolding, they would get arrested. The police could have uncovered their hastily hidden tracks and could be waiting in the vice-president's office to lock them up for life.
Elf entered her office and sat down behind her large redwood polished desk. Her emerald business suit stood out in the red and white decor of the office. She liked to walk around, making sure everyone was properly doing their job, before retreating to her office again, "have a seat." Rudolf and Frosty wordlessly sat down across from Elf. She chuckled suddenly, catching them off guard, "I didn't call you here to fire you so you can relax."
If they were going to keep their jobs, then it meant they would not be arrested, so Frosty and Rudolf finally relaxed, though not completely. Elf must have something in mind if she called them there.
"Christmas is fast approaching and sales are going up," Elf merrily reported. "It's the season of joy and giving and we need a publicity stunt," she was direct. "Companies all over the world are making donations to various charities, it makes good public relations, we're doing it too, but we need to be a little more original, we need to really get the message out there. Do you know what that message is?"
Frosty and Rudolf looked at each other confused, "peace and love?" Rudolf reluctantly offered.
"No! Buy, buy, buy!" Elf corrected vigorously, "peace and love is just a sales pitch, the goal is to increase our revenues, this is not a donation it's a marketing investment. Here's the plan, we'll have the charities advertise a free game and people will help more to get it attracting the attention of the media. The charities will keep a list of those who helped, specifically their username in our network, so those who don't already have an account will have to make one. Those on the list will be granted access to a special download of the free game. The charities will be advertising us for free to attract more volunteers and donors. That's not all; the free game will be a short prequel to our newest masterpiece Fantasy Fantasy VII and everyone will want it. It will come packed with items that can be transferred only to Fantasy Fantasy VII's special edition Fantasy Fantasy VII: Advent Christmas, so even those who already have Fantasy Fantasy VII will want to buy that new edition too. Brilliant isn't it?"
Rudolf and Frosty nodded in agreement, fearing what may happen if they didn't.
"I want you two to work on the prequel and have it ready by Christmas eve at the latest, since the download must be on our website on Christmas day. If you need anything, Comet will fetch it for you; you don't need to leave this building for any reason. When Comet's shift is over Dasher will take over as your assistant, then Dancer. You'll have assistance twenty-four seven and they're trust worthy so you can send them to bring you things from your homes if need be."
Rudolf and Frosty stared at Elf wide eyed and open mouthed. She was ambitious, but to ask them to finish a game worthy of being linked to Fantasy Fantasy VII, their greatest masterpiece, on such short notice was too much. Furthermore, working twenty-four hours a day? "What about food and sleep?" Frosty pouted.
"There's food in the cafeteria and you can sleep on the couches in the lobby if absolutely necessary. I'm not allowing you to be lazy, I'll be watching you; don't forget there are cameras all over this building. Get to work and don't slack off!"
Elf was so imposing that Frosty and Rudolf could only say, "yes, ma'am," and rush out of her office.
xoxox xox xoxox
Several hours passed and one shift ended, giving way to another. Elf was still in her office, reading documents, testing programs and going over spread sheets with a small window containing a security video in the corner of her screen. With a feeling of deja vu, she watched Frosty and Rudolf working at their desks, which were right next to each other. She couldn't shake the bad feeling she had and decided to speak to them in person, just to make sure they were okay.
When Elf arrived where Frosty and Rudolf should have been, she saw the desks were empty. The security video must have been hacked to loop over the same images. "When I find those two..."
xoxox xox xoxox
"Rudolf Rednose, get in the car!" Elf had found him in front of the police station.
Rudolf shook his head in worry, "I can't, there's an emergency; I can't tell you about it now."
"I know, get in," Elf urged.
Puzzled about just how much Elf knew about the situation, Rudolf got in the car and she drove away full speed.
"Getting the police involved is a bad idea given your past," Elf warned, briefly glancing at Rudolf's shocked expression, before turning her attention back to the road. "I tried to protect you two, I really did; I told you not to leave the building."
"Just how much do you know?" Rudolf inquired.
"Everything," Elf revealed, "I've known about the Coal incident for some time now. You and Frosty weren't able to cover your tracks completely and the authorities found out, or rather the investigators assigned to the case found out and they told me about it. I told them to keep it quiet."
"Just who are you? What kind of connections do you have?" Rudolf was still in shock.
"Plenty," Elf decided not to go into details at the moment and instead addressed the more pressing matter. "Coal caught the attention of the wrong people. Those who control technology, control everything. This planet has long since lost the ability to function without machines to keep it together. You could say the Earth is on permanent life support and that support is Spirit. Imagine the devastation that one could cause by wilding the forces of nature and summoning disasters at will, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes..."
"But Spirit is in the core, can it truly be accessed?" Rudolf had always held on to that doubt.
"As a way to update Sprit's functions without having to make the long journey to the core in case of emergency, the mainframe was given a highly encrypted wireless system, this is a secret. Of course the system is extremely difficult to hack, but so was Reindeer and you two troublemakers did it. For a signal powerful enough to reach Spirit you would need a strong system and one that isn't out in the open where others could get to it. You're a smart boy; can you put the pieces together?"
"North Star, Toy Factory's gaming satellite, was that just a cover up?" Rudolf realized.
"The time isn't right yet, I was going to ask you two to join me, but something else happened. The mafia knows about North Star, but the hardware alone isn't enough, they need you and Frosty to make the software. I manipulated the information they got, I couldn't hide both your identities back then, so I did the next best thing."
"You hid one of us," Rudolf concluded, "why me?"
"I tossed a coin."
"I haven't really met either of you back you then and there was no time to lose. Either way, if I had to choose today I would probably do the same thing, leave it to luck. The point is I have a pretty good idea what your emergency is."
Rudolf confirmed it, "Frosty is missing. When Frosty just stood there on the game we were playing online, I knew something was wrong. We live right next to each other so I went to see what happened. Whoever got him was really sneaky and fast. I found a note," he took it out of his pocket, "the star and planet shall be ours, that's all it says."
"I know who has Frosty; it has to be the mafia boss Grinch. I was playing messenger between his gang and the ones that infiltrated the authorities. Of course I was planning to keep you two to myself, but I'm pretty sure they must have figured that out by now," Elf confessed.
"Are you some kind of mafia lord, I mean lady?" It made sense to Rudolf in a way; Elf always had a certain intimidating atmosphere to her.
"Don't be silly, I'm Elf Claus, daughter of Nicholas Claus and granddaughter of Santa Claus. I come from a respectable family; I'm sweet, kindhearted and gentle." Elf's voice suddenly changed from sugary sweet to scary and intimidating, "blow my cover and you die."
"Yes, ma'am, I mean, no ma'am, I won't tell anyone!" Rudolf sighed stressfully, "to think the mafia was after us... and you, did you get tired of playing princess?"
"You could say that," Elf nodded, "but I'm not a bad person, I just want to make the world a more fun place, a place were machines do all the boring work and humans have all the time in their lives to have fun and be artistic and innovative, to make and play games all the time and worship their queen."
Before Rudolf could comment on that last part, his cell phone rang with the melody of a text message. "A message from an unknown email address?" Rudolf curiously read it, "'Hey Ru, sorry about leaving you stranded in the middle of that dungeon back then...' Frost!" Rudolf was relieved to know his friend was alive, "is that all he can to say after being kidnapped? Here comes another one, it says 'I told them I couldn't focus with people watching me so they locked me up and left me alone with the computer. I'm being held captive in the Jingle Bells Inc. warehouse by the mafia, I think their boss was called Grinch and is working for the owner of Jingle Bells. They said they would kill me if I didn't take over the North Star for them.'"
"That dirty Scrooge," Elf made a sharp turn and accelerated. Scrooge was the president of Jingle Bells, a rival company of Toy Factory. "He must have bribed Grinch into working for him!"
"What are we going to do? What should I tell Frosty?" Rudolf urged.
"Tell him that if he does anything to North Star, he's dead! Other than that, tell him to send Coal's code into Jingle Bells' mainframe, he should be able to manage that," Elf ordered as she picked up her own cell phone.
"If Jingle Bells' network goes crazy now, they'll blame it on Frosty and hurt him," Rudolf worried.
"I said the code, not the virus," Elf clarified. "Now shut up, I'm calling the police chief."
Rudolf caught on and silently nodded, sending a message back to Frosty.
xoxox xox xoxox
The mafia wasn't expecting company and the few left to guard the warehouse were surprised by the police and captured with relative ease. Frosty, who played the part of an innocent hostage, was freed. Accusing evidence was found at Jingle Bells' network, linking them to the Coal incident. Jingle Bells was ruined, but Elf knew Scrooge would use his connections and bribery to get out of this and Grinch was still out there. Both would probably conclude that it was Elf who ruined their plans and would hold a grudge, but she would be ready.
With their names cleared, Rudolf and Frosty returned to Toy Factory to finish the Fantasy Fantasy VII prequel: Christmas Crisis. Sure the assignment was Elf's way to keep them safe, but she had decided that in exchange for her assistance in clearing their names, making Scrooge take the blame, they had to finish the game on time.
With a lot of effort, sugar and caffeine, Frosty and Rudolf were about to finish the game and Toy Factory's publicity stunt was a great success. The two programmers each conveniently acquired an apartment in Elf's top security penthouse. In the least friendly side of the city, it was known they were under her protection and the mafia knew to be cautious of Elf despite her seemingly innocent appearance.
The days passed just like before from the perspective of the employees of Toy Factory, they didn't know the truth behind Frosty's kidnapping and subsequent rescue. "Mr. Snowman, Mr. Rednose, come to my office please."
Though they still got chills walking to Elf's office, now it was more about excitement than fear. Elf, Frosty and Rudolf entered the office and the door was closed and locked. Elf sat at her redwood polished desk as she always did and Frosty and Rudolf sat across from her. This time, they were not being scolded for their constant tardiness; the three friends were plotting to take over the world.
This was inspired in part by Final Fantasy VII.
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