The first thing Captain Remarkable noticed when the world came back into focus was white. The second thing he noticed was the distinct absence of cold. No bitter ‘wrap your arms and shiver’ kind of cold that one would associate with so much whiteness, not even a noticeable change from the temp on the Daedalus.
“Where are we?” the captain asked looking around.
“North Pole,” replied Faulkner.
“The toy factory. Why isn’t it cold?”
“You’re assuming it is in a cold climate area?”
“Well yea, it’s called the North Pole isn’t it?”
“It’s not called that because of it’s location Captain but merely for historical purposes”
“Okay, so why come here?”
“Because I don’t know anything about the location they are keeping the Prime so I want to be as prepared as possible.“
“And by that you mean?”
“I mean that I need to grab some gear and weapons and locate where they are keeping him. The plan is that we will teleport in and extract him with minimal muss and fuss. Now excuse me a moment while I check in and gather some things.”
The first thing Captain Remarkable noticed when the world came back into focus was white. The second thing he noticed was the distinct absence of cold. Again. “And where might we be now?”
“Somewhere I certainly didn’t expect to be, although when I think about it, it does make perfect sense.”
“What… oh my,” said the Captain as he took in the vista before him. Everywhere there were people. People pushing carriages filled with children (screaming and otherwise), people carrying bags full of shiny packages with colorful bows. People going up and down moving stairs and people going in and out of various little shops. And everything was inside. That was the bit that took the Captain most by surprise, the fact that all these people and boxes and bags and shops were all completely enclosed in a building that appeared to be many, many times the size of his ship.
It was, needless to say, a little intimidating. Even for the Captain.
“Welcome Captain, to the Mall,”
“What is this place?”
“Well, it’s called a mall. Basically it’s exactly what it looks like, a but(but?) of stores and people under one roof. Think of it as a market indoors.”
“But it’s so… big.”
“Thankfully it’s the same size on the inside as it is the outside.”
“Nothing, inside joke. Okay, explanation time. Remember how I mentioned that there were multiple ‘Santas’? Keep that in mind, I’ll come back to it. The first thing you need to know is that we are in a different dimension.
Anyway, see the crowd gathering on the far side of the open area? That is where they are keeping the Prime.”
“What, out in the open like that?”
“It’s a perfect cover really. Here the people consider him the giving of gifts to good little boys and girls and go on an annual pilgrimage taking their children to sit on his lap and relay to him what they want as gifts.”
“Seriously? Kind of takes the fun and surprise out of it a bit doesn’t it?”
“The people here have commercialized the holiday to the point of hi-jacking several of the holidays that typically come before Christmas. They don’t care about what it means of what kind of psychological damage it does to anyone. They just want stuff. It’s got really bad in recent years here so we tend to avoid this dimension if we can.”
“You said to remember about multiple Santas.”
“Right. Well, we typically have a Santa for each dimension or plane. In some cases multiples is there are worlds that require it. However, this is the first time a Santa, Prime or otherwise has been to this dimension in many generations. The reason is because they have co-opted the Santa image. Remember I mentioned that this was the perfect place to hide and being a perfect cover earlier? That’s because this world is filled with malls like this one. Hundreds of thousands of them. And every single one has a Santa. Not an official Santa, just someone dressed up as what they have come to believe Santa looks like. You’ll notice that they the Prime has a white beard and a red suit now.”
Captain Remarkable stood staring at the gathering crowd trying to get a glimpse of the Prime, “So how do we do that with all these people around?”
“It certainly makes it more difficult, but not impossible. And I’m sorry, but I need you to serve as a distraction while I make a grab for the Prime. It’s risky but we don’t have much time, they will figure out we are here soon but they don’t know about you yet. It might be enough.”
“Okay then,”the Captain said as he took the gun looking thing from Faulkner, “let’s go get us a Santa.”
Faulkner smiled, “That is a Garland Gun. If they get too close just point and shoot. It will fire silvery ropes to entangle them, but know this; the minute you fire it they will know we are after the Prime. You have to time it properly or they will be able to circle back and stop me.”
“I understand,” replied the Captain.
“And pardon me for saying so Captain, but a few minutes ago you looked like you were about to pass out, now you seem like this is a normal everyday thing for you. I know I’m not that good of a storyteller, so what gives?”
“When I thought this giant Mall thing existed on a planet in which I’ve been just about everyone, it unnerved me. How could this exist and I not know about it?
However, when you explained that it was a different, what did you call it, dimension? Right, when you explained that it began to sound like something Harley would say, and after having him as a crew member and sharing in his adventures for all these years, I can deal with things I don’t understand.”
Faulkner barked a laugh, “Fair enough. Okay, let’s go.”