It was a clear and crisp Christmas Eve at the North Pole. All the elves were busy with last minute preparations. Emily Elf wrote replies to Christmas letters; Erin and Cindy Elf were finishing off games to load onto Santa's sleigh; Sharon and some smaller elves made crafts and wooden toys; Carol, Anise and Sara Elf were wrapping away; and Alecia entertained the small elves, while the littlest baby elf slept in his cradle beside her.
They all nodded their heads
in time to Christmas melodies. Santa and Mrs.
Claus had their feet up by the fire, taking a brief rest while they
worried about how to deliver the gifts this year. Those
silly reindeer had gulped down several batches of Mrs. C's
delicious cookies and mincemeat tarts, and they were all
lying in the straw, groaning with tummy aches. None of Mrs. C's
medicines helped! Mrs. Claus had just finished baking another huge batch
of treats, to keep Santa going through the night, and the
air in Santa's Workshop was perfumed with seasonal aromas of cinnamon
Suddenly an eerie green light filled the room and a screeching siren drowned out the Christmas carols. The elves, Santa and Mrs. C all dropped what they were doing and rushed to the windows. Even the reindeer looked up and forgot their misery for the moment. "That ... that ... that looks like a flying saucer" spluttered Emily Elf, watching in awe as it buzzed the Village. All the lights flickered and the reindeer started jumping, leaping and bounding around in a panic.
Tig, who was visiting Rudolph from the 1000 Acres Wood, gave her highest bounce yet and banged her noggin on something hard. "Ouch!!" she exclaimed, sprawling in the snow! Well, her bounce had knocked the saucer off course, and it zig-zagged wildly before crash landing in a clearing right on top of the Snowman the elves had built that afternoon. The Elves, the Reindeer, Santa, Mrs. C and Tig all watched in amazement.
The saucer (it really was shaped like a saucer and was about 20 feet in diameter) settled on the ground, and a ramp came down from a dark opening on the side. It filled with an ugly fluorescent green light, and out marched a line of little metallic men. They were 2 feet tall and looked like miniature R2D2's except for the first one. The green light seemed to come out of the front of its head, which had eyeplates on either side. It kept swivelling around to see better, making the ugly light dance as it did! It marched right up to Cindy Elf, with the line of little bots following behind.
" Robot Menace is your end, Human. Take me to leader."
"Well, technically we're not human, you know" replied Cindy "but I guess Santa Claus is our leader - you'd better talk to him.".
The line of robots swivelled in place and marched over to Santa. "Robot Menace is your end, Entity.".
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" said Santa.
"Ho - does not compute. Ho - does not compute. Ho - does not compute." replied the bot whirling its head and its gears at the same time. "Robot Menace take over planet. Instruments sense this Headquarters and you Head Honcho."
"Hey that's a great name ..." laughed Anise Elf, "usually we just call him Big Red around here!".
"What should we call it?" mused Cindy Elf.
"How about BEB for Bug-Eyed Bot?" returned Tig.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" laughed Santa.
""Ho! Ho! Ho not compute!!" replied BEB loudly, frustration in its machine voice "Take over planet, first Christmas, then World. Nothing stop Robot Menace.".
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" roared Santa.
Mrs. C stepped in, all smiles "Poor BEB, you look like you've had a jolly, long journey to get here. Come and sit by the fire, and enjoy my egg nog and mincemeat tarts before you start invading us."
"Egg nog ... mincemeat" echoed BEB, gears whirring noisily "compute - compute - ah - fuel. Yes. Bots need fuel. Di-xenium batteries run down. Bots take fuel now."
And Mrs. Claus, wreathed in smiles, led the line of bots in to the Workshop kitchen.
Anise, Carol and Erin Elf had their heads together. "Those bots look a lot like the droids we were playing with on the computer yesterday. You know that game where you had to organize the droids with arrows and numbers in the right spots? Wonder if we could control them the same way ... hmmm ... let's make some signs ...".
Sharon and Sara's pointy ears wriggled "We'll go and help Mrs. Claus ply them with mincemeat - you never know!".
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" agreed Santa with an enigmatic grin.
Back in Mrs. C's kitchen, BEB and the little bots had finished off all the tarts and cookies and were behaving strangely. They staggered all around the workshop, knocking over piles of gifts and crashing into each other. It was a mess! Sharon and Sara Elf ran around retrieving Xmas presents and Alecia Elf was trying to get the small elves out of the bots' way. But the little ones thought this was a great game and kept dashing through the chaos. Finally BEB staggered out the door and crashed head first in the snow beside Santa's sleigh.
The other Elves had been consulting with Santa and were busy painting arrows and symbols on cardboard squares. Now they laid them out carefully in the workroom. Lo and behold, all the little bots followed the arrows and ended up organized in 2 long lines in front of the sleigh. Elves quickly loaded on the gifts. The Craft Elves' busy fingers adjusted the reindeer harness to fit the smaller bots. Santa sat down in the sleigh.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" he called loudly and the sleigh took off! Anise and Erin Elf looked at each other "That was fun, but don't we need to play - 'em - research that game some more? We'll need ideas for when they return!" "Go ahead" sighed Mrs. C, sitting by the fire, too tired even to make cookies.
In the meantime, Santa's bots were busy delivering gifts. In one home, little Johnny rubbed his eyes as he peered down the staircase, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa. And ... finally ... yes ... there was a black boot and a red leg emerging from the chimney. Johnny rubbed his eyes again in disbelief, as 2 bots flew down with a load of gifts and deposited them under the tree. Santa added a Pikachu with a Christmas hat to the top of the pile and winked at Johnny's beam of joy. "Pika - pika - pika" it called as Johnny ran down the stairs and curled up under the tree to fall asleep with his favorite Pokemon.
Finally, all the gifts were delivered and Santa flew his robot sleigh back to his Village at the North Pole. As it settled down in the snow, all the elves cheered, and BEB staggered upright, shaking off snow as it swivelled its head and the green light shone weakly.
"Must be secret weapon" he muttered "Does not compute - not compute - not compute -".
"Here, have some more cookies, I mean, fuel." said Carol Elf, reaching into the sleigh and passing around a pile of cookies left for Santa by kids all around the world.
BEB stuffed down a hundred or so cookies and staggered off to its saucer, head still swivelling. They could hear BEB's machine voice in the distance "secret weapon - not compute ...", and the saucer took off erratically. The Elves' ears perked up as they looked at the little bots and then at Santa. "Do you think we could play with them?" asked Cindy Elf.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" called Santa cheerfully, "Merry Christmas!!!".
And that was how Santa got his bots and his Elves had their best Christmas present ever! But Mrs. C and Tig had the last words as usual ...
"I always knew that 1999 would be a very special Christmas, but I didn't expect it to be quite so droid-full."
"Bot it turned out just fine" grinned Tig.