At reading the message, Bez let out a loud laugh. "Wow!" She exclaimed. "Talk about going out with a bang!"
Those who could, applauded and laughed.
When the fire-worked message fully vanished, it was as though a huge burden had been lifted. There was an almost audible sigh of relief. More and more of Miranda's former minions were coming to their senses.
Some, however, seemed genuinely enraged at their master's demise.
One began clawing frantically through the snow for an orb he would never find, mumbling something about revenge.
Another attempted to wrestle Bez's Burner from her, and consequently got shot in the knee for his troubles.
The heroes surveyed the battlefield. Despite the relative briefness of the battle, it had done considerable damage to the group and the surrounding area. However, it was still too dark to do much, so the group agreed to rest first, and repair the next day.
Sleeping quarters were assigned for the minions who had come to their senses, and cells and guards for those who still followed Miranda.
The group made their way back to their base, where most collapsed on couches and chairs. They had all taken a beating, and Matrix and Capri had their hands full healing their various wounds.
Thande was badly burned from the fire and smoke cloud, and took a fair bit of patching up. He seemed reluctant to receive so much attention, and kept looking around at the others.
Once Matrix had done all he could, he moved on to Criter.
Criter had spent most of the battle defending the elves, and so, had taken a serious beating. His entire torso and arms were etched with small cuts and several deep gashes. One cut slashed over his right eye. Matrix delicately mended it, and insisted Criter wear a medicinal eye patch until he was sure the eye was healed. Criter also had some deep bruises, a cracked femur, and a dislocated shoulder, which Matrix mended as well as he could. He insisted Criter take it easy, and then moved on to Dingy.
Dingy, miraculously, was practically untouched. A few light scrapes and sprained ankle were all that ailed the elf. He had already curled up on the couch, and was fast asleep.
Sigma had made it through most of the battle without serious injury, but had taken a nasty orb blast toward the end. It left her scraped up in general, in particular on her left side. Several welts, bruises, and gashes covered her. The blast had scraped the left side of her face raw, and, much to Matrix's dismay, had nearly severed her left ear clean off. Matrix thoroughly healed the wound, paying particular attention to fixing her ear, half-seriously admonished Sigma to be more careful, and continued on his way.
Matrix himself was a sight to see. He was covered with shards of shrapnel and dotted with pockmarks from acid. He insisted on treating the others before repairing himself, despite Capri's fretting.
Bez had kept her head during the battle, and even seemed to have enjoyed herself. Now that it was over, now that the wounded were being cared for, Bez seemed far more on edge, even panicky. The newly healed Thande took her over to the sun-room, where the sight of such extensive use of Matrix's Regenerator wouldn't affect her. Any wound Bez had was small enough to be mended with the use of a small but thorough medical kit she always kept on her person.
Ameh had been stabbed in a hamstring by a minion that had caused her to fall during the battle. Then someone else stepped on her arm, breaking it. She had some shrapnel wounds too.
Elsa and Pippi had to be treated for multiple bites from the unknown leach type creatures that had come from one of the orbs. They were open wounds that required treatment to ward off infection. Elsa needed an artery fixed that was bleeding out due to her removing a blood-sucker that had attached at a critical place on her wrist.
Diane had a nasty gash down one side of her face when an orb hit and sliced her open. She had numerous smaller cuts and bruises on her arms and upper body, and cracked ribs and some internal bleeding. She also had some minor burns.
Carma had suffered a nasty orb blast that shot a poisonous spike through a shoulder, causing her unbearable pain and nausea. She was extremely agitated and vomiting by the time she was taken in from the battle to be seen to.
Nutcracker's shotgun wound to the shoulder was seen to, along with various gashes, a spike lodged in the back of one calf, and a blood-collector's head in his back. He had managed to pull the creature right apart, trying to remove it during the battle, tearing it in two. He had several more open wounds from those creatures, but only the one in his back needed the foreign object removed.
Indy wasn't hurt too badly compared with many others, but she shook uncontrollably and seemed dazed. Her cuts and bruises were seen to, and she was given a warmed blanket and a hot drink.
Gretel's face was bloody and swelling up because she'd taken several hits to the head. One broke her nose. She also suffered acid burns mostly on one side of her and was still in combat mode by the time Matrix could get to her. This made it difficult at first to get her to listen and cooperate with the treatment. She was given a tranquilizer and some painkillers and then she settled down and her injuries were treated.
Keller and Shaw were the last to be healed, by their own request.
Shaw still looked haggard, and upon close examination, Matrix found a bizarre spear-headed creature embedded between his shoulder blades. It seemed to be of the same ilk as the leech creatures.
When Matrix tried to remove it, it pulsed and embedded itself further into Shaw's back, causing him to yelp in pain.
Matrix took a firm grasp of the thing and yanked it out.
It was a repulsive creature, swollen to bursting with Shaw's blood. It was apparent that it was a blood collector, and had Miranda won the battle, she likely would have collected it, and any others, to gorge herself on their contents.
Matrix squashed the squealing creature, which caused its payload of Shaw's blood to spurt out.
The sight made Shaw go paler than he already was.
Matrix insisted he head straight to bed, and after healing some minor cuts and a cracked rib or two, sent Shaw on his way.
Keller was a solid mass of deep bruises. Matrix healed what he could, and surveyed his patients, making an touch-ups he deemed necessary.
"Sure hope every last one of those - creatures - has been exterminated." said Capri with a shudder.
"I was able to kill a lot of them out there," said Nutcracker, "as did Diane from what I saw, but if there are any more lying in wait at her base'?"
"If there were, they are no more, I blew that place to kingdom-Come." Capri replied.
"There might still be some out on the battle scene." said Indy.
""Without fresh blood, they should've died off by now…I hope." said Capri with another shudder.
Once everyone was healed up, they settled down for the night. Most of them slept well into the next morning, exhausted from the night's battle.
Criter was awakened by the peppery smell of Bez's cooking, and found the house was buzzing with activity. He headed down the hall toward the kitchen.
He rubbed his eyes sleepily. "What did I miss?" He asked Bez, leaning against the doorway and rubbing his still sore shoulder.
"Well, quite a lot." Bez began, adding a hefty pinch of an unknown spice to her concoction. "Get this: we were all so busy with this Miranda business that none of us remembered one very important thing."
"Tomorrow is Christmas Eve."
Criter started. "Christmas Eve?"
"Yeah! Everyone else is out helping with things. Santa and Jessica had to head out pretty early. I said I'd stay back until all the sleepy-heads woke up, and then we'll help repair building damage."
Criter nodded. "Who else is here?"
Bez paused thoughtfully. "Dingy, Thande, and, hrm, maybe Indy, somewhere. I dunno. People come in and out a lot."
Criter nodded. "All right. I'll go get Dingy so we can set out."
After a quick breakfast, Bez, Thande, Criter, and Dingy headed out to help repair buildings ravaged by last night's battle.
Capri went to the workshops to find out if any more toys needed to be made. She couldn't help laughing when she heard "When Will You Die" being played. Apparently the elves were just as relieved as anyone at the end of Miranda's reign of terror.
"So, what was it like, being dead for a couple of days?" the foreman greeted her with a grin.
Capri grinned back with a chuckle.
"Welcome back, and congrats and loads of thanks to all of you for what you did." he said.
"And you as well, you're no slouch out on that battle field."
He smiled broadly. Well, now that the easy part is over and done with,"
Capri flashed him a bemused grin.
"It's back to work. We've fallen a little behind and now it is serious crunch time."
"Well, that's what I'm here about." said Capri. "Do you know which and how many of which items still need to be made before the big night?"
"Not off hand, but that all gets entered into the stats file as it happens. Each time an item is finished and given the okay, the ones in charge of checking them out, log them in as done, and then we subtract it from the total of items still needing to be finished.
"I suppose you do this for each type of item?"
the foreman nodded.
"Can you show me the stats?"
"Certainly," he said, giving Capri a puzzled look, "though I can't imagine why anyone would want to look at a file that's nothing but stats."
He and Capri made their way to the main computer that had a large screen on it.
Various items were listed along with their corresponding numbers.
"Hmmm," Capri looked at it, then at an elf who was working on a video game assembly near by. "What's that?" she asked.
"It's Venus Raiders, all the rage this year," the foreman explained, "You have to get your character on some mission on the planet Venus, without him getting killed by its volcanos, and other hazards along the way.
"Hmmm. Could I try one out?" Capri asked as she glanced at the stats file again.
The foreman went and found one that had been finished, and gave it to Capri.
"Thank you. Now, stand back."
"Stand back?" Why?"
He was answered soon enough.
Capri held the video game and looked at it with a concentrated frown.
And then, it reproduced in the same way the battle orbs had. It did so until the right number of games had been reached.
"There's that stack done, I'm afraid you'll still have to wrap 'em all since they're all gonna be personalized, and that's something I can't do."
"Holy mackerel!" the foreman exclaimed. He wasn't the only one astonished. Other elves had similar wide-eyed reactions.
"Next, how about that?" Capri gestured toward a doll that talked and giggled. She was allowed to check that out, and did the same thing with it as she had with the video game.
"Hang on just a moment, I'm going to get us some more help." said Capri. She took out her cell.
Ameh started awake and fumbled for her phone. "Hello?"
"Hey - did I get you up?"
"Ah, don't worry about it, I had to get up and get the phone anyway." Ameh said groggily, with a grin that couldn't be seen over the phone.
"Sorry about that. It's just that - how are you at mass-production of objects via magic?"
"Haven't tried it, but if it can be done with one or a few, I don't see a problem. Why?"
"Santa's workshop has been put behind schedule because of everything that's gone on here and - "
"Say no more, I'm on my way."
When Capri hung up, she turned to the foreman. "It'll go a bit quicker with some friends helping.
Ameh got herself dressed and ready to go. On the way, she decided to check to see if Diane or Carma could help as well.
Going through every kind of item the elves were trying to make, took some time, as did the reproduction, but it was much much faster than if the elves had been stuck with the task at this late stage.Capri, Ameh, Diane and Carma took over the task of mass-production in groupings, etc. Ameh taking care of the electronics, Carma, the dolls, action figures and plush toys, Capri, the the rest of the toys. They split the task similarly for the items which were not toys, including gifts that were going out to adults.
Teddy The Elf
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