[A sci-fi/fantasy short story for @QueenAqua#7419]
A young engineer hunched over some electronics. She inspected tech that seemed ancient but at the same time highly advanced. It was completely out of place in this dusty room in a desolate city on an abandoned planet. It appeared that whatever civilisation once ruled here, was no more. But that was what lured her to this place. The sensors on her ship lead her to this exact spot. They had found a high occurrence of a certain alloy she was searching for and no sign of life that would disturb their excavation.
Tessa was accompanied by several drones that seemed to scan their surroundings for a plethora of data. Once the atmosphere analysis had completed with a positive result, she took her helmet off. The air was more than breathable and apparently there weren’t any toxins in it.
Tessa sported a long mane of brown, curly hair bound to two buns. Her face seemed like porcelain which highlighted her cold biotechnological eyes even more. It didn’t seem like she just looked at objects. It felt more like scanning, stripping every layer and seeing what’s behind.
The stuff she analysed was more advanced than it had any right to be for its age. While deep in thought, one of her drones gave off a signal. She looked up and saw through her enhanced vision a digital overlay of what the drone wanted to relay to her. Under the desert sand, that had spilled into this room, laid something dormant; something humanoid, or at least half of it.
She commanded one of her bigger drones, which she called Hubert, to unearth the object. It didn’t take long until the metal hooks of the flying saucer met buddying steel. With as much care as possible, the treasure was lifted out of the sand and laid back on top of it. The view answered some questions and let some new ones run free in her mind.
It was clearly the top half of an android, possibly modelled after its former masters but with its legs missing. Doing an analysis of the used resources for this advanced machine made her double check the results. If the readings were right, this thing was older than the planet it was on. And older than any android ever built. Dumbfounded, Tessa swished the plethora of virtual data out of her view and inspected the technology herself.
It was a robot, alright. From what she saw, probably a custom made unit. All the intricate embellishments and ornaments shouted it out to every viewer, leading Tessa to the deduction that the android was never meant to blend in. Slung around the robot were some almost completely destroyed red fabrics. Probably the remnants of what once was a uniform.
After processing what she just found, Tessa tried to get some data out of this thing. But no form of data port or other interface lead her in. It seemed that she had to fully activate it to unfold whatever was stored inside of it.
The young engineer spent the better part of the day working on this advanced tech. She had no idea what she was exactly doing but since it could not get any deader, she kept on trying. It was a peculiar view. An engineer working on her patient, laid on a bed of sand, surrounded by several drones which kept an eye on the operation as well as the environment.
For the final step of the plan, Tessa’s biggest drone had dragged one of the power banks from her ship near the bot. It hummed in a constant, self-asserting way, telling the world it was ready to provide its talents in an hour of need.
Once Tessa was ready, she plugged cables leading to the robot into the bank and gave the command for charging. The androids power core whirled up and made a sound like a microwave being overcharged while tumbling in a dryer. Suddenly, the eyes of the android lit up in a vermillion red. Swiftly, it lifted itself up from the ground and a mechanical voice sounded: “I HAVE BEEN REACTIVATED. PROCEEDING WITH ELIMINATION OF ALL LIFE.”
Tessa fell over backwards in shock and pulled her laser gun from her hip. The robots eyes suddenly went a clear, pale yellow and it lifted its arms into the air placatingly, making it fall back into the sand again: “A jest! I jest! I swear.”
She lowered her gun ever so slightly and inspected the activated android with great suspicion. “State your name and purpose, jester,” she replied as coldly as possible while she felt her heartbeat in her throat.
“Why? Don’t you recognize me, child? It’s me, Santa Claus!” sounded the bot in a joyfulness that turned the desertic, desolate area around it almost into a Winter Wonderland.
Tessa took some seconds to reconfirm in her mind what she just heard. Still, her answer stayed the same: “What?”
“Father Christmas. Babbo Natale. Der Weihnachtsmann. Papa Noël. I am known by many names but my message stays the same: Merry Christmas!”
“Alright ...," Tessa slowly confirmed and the cogs in her head started to spin. Naturally, she had heard the tales while travelling between different civilisations. They varied a bit from place to place but the core elements where always the same. A magical entity distributing gifts to good people and nastier stuff to bad ones. The reason why this particular android identified as this very being eluded here.
She lowered her gun completely: “Alright, sure. Let’s go with that. So, you are Santa and you have been lying here because …?”
“That is a phenomenal question, my dear. If my memory serves right, there was a huge unpleasant explosion before I took an extended nap here. But I feel well rested now and I bet it’s high time for me to continue my mission," it lifted itself up and looked at its missing lower body, “oh, jolly.”
“Yeah, about that. You are definitely going to spook some younglings if you drag yourself over to them.”
The bot pondered for a few seconds and then looked at Tessa again. “Would you be a heart and bring me to my workshop? It’s the only place where I can properly fix myself.”
“I don’t chauffeur people around," Tessa crossed her arms and still couldn’t believe the conversation she had. But her eyes opened wide after she fully realised what it had said. “Your workshop?”
“Yes, all my tools and helpers are there. It’s not going to take long, I promise. I know some short-cuts to get there.”
‘If this workshop is only half as advanced as this android, I am going to have a field trip with those treasures,’ Tessa thought and smiled widely. “Okay, I am going to make an exception and get you there. Just no funny business, alright?”
“I swear or my name is not S…” - ”Santa Claus, I get it. Okay, don’t worry about this big claw grabbing you. Hubert has a very considerate grip.”
Tessa’s ship was far from being the newest generation but it held its ground and all the necessary systems were perfectly maintained by herself.
She sat on the left side of the cockpit while her new copilot was held in place by several safety belts on his own seat. He was plugged into the ship computer, accompanied by security precautions and a stern verbal warning from Tessa.
After she had powered the main systems up, she looked at her new companion: “So, where are we headed?”
“The North Pole, of course!" he proclaimed excitedly and beamed up some information of the route. The data was jumbled in the beginning. Lines of text appearing as strange squiggles and symbols. But Santa managed to accommodate the language of this ship and translated his input accordingly. With its rusty skin, tattered clothes and the safety belts, the bot looked like a Christmas present gone wrong.
“The North Pole?" Tessa repeated and checked the destination marker. Apparently, he wasn’t lying. “This is Earth. The so called Cradle of Humankind," Tessa blinked several times before continuing, “We are headed for an abandoned planet, ravaged by an ice age so cold that almost no life form currently resides on it and that the confederate deemed fit for population in about, oh, I don’t know, another thousand years?”
“Well, that’s a bit crass. It’s quite lovely there.”
Tessa shook her head with a smirk when her smile suddenly turned upside down as she fully realised the destination: “That’s too far away. It would take weeks to get there with this ship!”
“Too far away doesn’t exist when you have to deliver presents to all of the galaxy," Santa whistled and rearranged some calculations. It looked like the map folded in on itself, connecting jump-points that were physically impossible to exist. Once it was done, the flight was estimated to take 5.3 seconds.
Tessa stared at the hologram blankly.
“This is nonsense.” She disconnected the cables leading from her ship to the foreign android and turned the copilot seat to face her. “Have you just hacked my ship? How did you manage to bypass all the filters?”
“I have done nothing harmful to your ship. I wouldn’t dare, pinky promise.”
“How were you able to make my ship believe that a route like that is possible?”
“This route is possible. I have done it countless times.”
Tessa leaned back, looking up at the ceiling and exhaling loudly, her fingers trembling from the nonsensical answers she received.
“Oh dear, have I put you in distress?" Santa asked worriedly, “Let me cheer you up~”
The engineer slowly looked down again, her face frozen as carols started to sound out of every speaker of the ship. First silently but continuously growing in intensity.
“Let me show you some good, old Christmas miracles!" Santa proclaimed and turned the copilot seat effortlessly to face the front window.
Tessa tried to stand up to get her gun but was immediately pressed back into her seat by a force that felt like the ship just crashed through several planets. A plethora of colours filled her vision and were followed by an all encompassing blackness and silence.