This is Episode 3 of 5 in the Spirit of Christmas series

“No. Absolutely not. There is no way you are putting me in that… thing. Why don’t you go?”

“Don’t be a baby Phin! I’d go but I have to stay behind to operate it.”, Harley paused, “Unless you want to.”

Phineas looked over the controls for the SantaCatcher 5000, his eyes passing over the hundreds of dials and knobs and levers and switches and other things that had to be pushed, poked or flipped and decided that it would be in his best interest not to attempt to operate the device. However that left him with the option of going into the thing and getting zapped to another part of who knew where.

“You have no idea what’s going to happen.”

“I do so! The blender I sent through last week and was fine.”

“Fine?”, Phineas shouted, “It came out in pieces!”

“Well, the fruit I put in it was blended wasn’t it?”

“So let me see if I understand this correctly”, interjected Faulkner, “This device essentially encodes the object at a quantum level, transmits that data and recreates it at the destination. “

Harley just stared at Faulkner with his jaw gaping open, “In a nutshell, yes.”

“Interesting.” Said Faulkner as he walked around the device rubbing his chin and muttering to himself, “This technology could help the Santas tremendously.”

Phineas, in an effort to avoid having everyone forget about his concerns, chimed in, “If I go, who is going to pilot the ship? Tell me that one.”

“I can put it on auto pilot”, replied Captain Remarkable, “It can handle most basic navigation chores. Besides, if we don’t make it back it won’t matter anyway.”

Phineas glared at the captain and flopped into a chair as he turned to look at Faulkner and Harley, “I don’t like it.”

“Honestly, neither do I”, said Faulkner, “I should be going with them.”

“You can’t, I need your help locating the Mantle.“

“Be that as it may Harley, they will need someone with them who knows how to deal with the renegade ELF team.”

“Renegades elves?”, asked Harley as he attempted to raise his bushy eyebrows.

“ELFs, yes. We believe that a renegade faction of the ELF is responsible for stealing the Mantle and kidnapping the Prime.”

“And you think we need someone to help us deal with them?”, asked the Captain. ”We’ve dealt with pirates, I think we can handle them our own.”

“I imagine you can captain, however these aren’t like any pirates you’ve ever faced. These are highly trained agents charged with protecting the world’s most valuable secret.”, retorted Faulkner with a wary smile.

“World’s most valuable secret? Isn’t that a little overboard?”

“Perhaps Captain, but imagine if no little kids got presents on Yule Morning. Without the Santas the Spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving and kindness wouldn’t exist. How do you think the world would react if they knew the truths?”, replied Faulkner.

Phineas paused for a moment, “Maybe. “

“Maybe?!”, squeaked Harley.

Faulkner watched as a minor squabble broke out between Harley and Phineas. He glanced to the captain who just smiled and shook his head. Apparently this was a usual ocurrance and he was content to let it play out. Faulkner however was in a rush, “We are getting off track. We need to rescue Santa and retrieve the Mantel.”

“Okay how about this Faulkner, you and the captain go after the santa-nappers while Harley and I attempt to locate the Mantle? How does that sound.”

“You’re just afraid of meeting up with the evil elves.”, said Harley, teasing Phineas again.

“Evil Elves?”

“Well, they are evil and they are ELFs”, said Harley, “Evil sounds better than ’renegade’. It has a nicer ring to it”

“I’m not afraid”, said Phineas with air quotes, “The captain was a member of the Knights of Orange, that makes him a better fighter than I am, and since Faulkner is the only one who knows how to deal with the bad guys it makes sense. Right Faulkner?”

“What you say does make sense.”

“How am I supposed to locate this Mantle thing without Faulkner? Stick a candy cane in the tracker? Maybe a fruitcake?”

“You were able to program it to track Santa Prime correct?” asked Faulkner

“Yes, but he’s not an inanimate object.”

“Try to locate Santa Paws. He’s tracking the Mantle. You can transport or teleport or whatever it is you do to him.”

Harley thought for a moment. It wasn’t a bad idea, and if things were as Faulkner said, it would be a better plan. However he had a feeling things weren’t going to go exactly as planned. They never seemed to. Realizing that was what made the adventures on the Daedalus so exciting, he made his decision, smiled and said, “Okay then.”

Faulkner returned carrying a couples of large bags which he placed against the back wall, “I’m leaving these for you two just in case. They are non-lethal and to be used for defense only. And Harley, no hacking.”

Harley let his face droop. He still planned to take a hard look at the contents, but wasn’t planning to let anyone know.

Faulkner quickly gave instructions on how to use each device as the Captain returned from his cabin. He was dressed in an old black uniform from his days in the Knights of Orange.

“Start calibrating the machine to locate Max while we finish the final prep.”

“Wait, how are you going to find Santa if the machine is programmed to look for Paws?” asked Harley.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you. As a Commander of the ELF I have access to a teleport.”, Faulkner said as he fastened his harness. He glanced over to the Captain who nodded to signal he was ready.

“We’ll return as soon as we get the Prime. Locate that Mantle.”

Phineas grinned knowing that the expression on Harley’s face meant he was supremely jealous of the teleport technology.

Faulkner grinned, flicked his left wrist and both he and the captain vanished.

“I so want that”, said Harley with barely contained excitement.

Phineas kept grinning.

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This story is part of an ongoing series. To read from the beginning start here: Spirit of Christmas