Santa's expression wavered between concern and bemusement as he read. The things Hanima said put her clearly on the nice list, but the apparently leaked letter Rudolph had supposedly written at one time, made his heart sink.
"I'm going to have to look into this." Santa said gravely after reading Hanima's note.
"What is it, if you don't mind my asking?" said the ever curious Misty.
"This better not be true. It's a letter to me, supposedly from my lead reindeer, Rudolph, claiming the other reindeer had been bullying him, then it goes on to blame me for doing nothing about it, finishing up with a refusal to guide the sleigh on Christmas Eve. Somehow, the whoville reporter, Indy Mae got hold of it, sent it to Hanima, and she ranted back, and sent the whole thing to me to look at."
The furbies reacted in disbelief and dismay.
"That's all bolloxed up." said Jenny.
That stinks!" said Peekaboo.
Who would do something so underhanded?" asked Brittany.
Maybe the reporter herself." Dmitri suggested. "You know how what they don't know, they make up."
No," said Santa, "If it was any other news personality such as the consistently naughty Marilee Who, or those working at stations like CNN or Washington Post, NY Times, there would be little doubt this was all made up. But Indy's not like that. I am guessing she sent it to Mission HQ in the hopes that somebody could let me know it was out there and if I can verify or refute it. And it doesn't take a long acquaintance with Hanima to understand how she feels about rumors, trolls, and people trying to mess with things she holds dear. Well, I'm going to get to the bottomm of this right now. I don't care how many years ago this bullying took place, if it in fact, did, my whole team is on the naughty list, including Rudolph for blaming instead of coming to me with the problem. None of the elves who also help care for my team ever reported this behaviour.
"There you are," an elf suddenly appeared. "We have a problem."
"Oh dear," Santa sighed. "What's up, Emma?"
"It's almost time for the show, we're just finishing our final rehearsal, and Eponine is a no-show, and she's the whole last number. We literally can't even rehearse Cool Yule" without her.
Kitri jumped up, gasping with excitement. "Cool Yule!?" she exclaimed.
"Have you tried to contact her?" Santa asked Emma.
"She won't answer her phone, she's not in the little girls' room in the workshop complex, and the door to her house is locked. Either something's really wrong with her, or else she's done this deliberately to try teaching the rest of us a lesson. You know how she can get about being the most important in a show."
"But I know "Cool Yule" by heart!" Kitri quickly put in, "From various renditions too."
"I'll get a search going for Eponine, I have some reindeer business to straighten out as well, in the meantime, Emma, why don't you let Kitri fill in for Eponine?"
"Who?" Emma asked.
"This little gal right here." Santa indicated Kitri.
Emma looked incredulously at first Kitri, then at Santa. "A - toy? A furby no less…?"
"And what's wrong with that?" Buck challenged.
"Well, it's better than nothing, isn't it?" Kitri retorted, turning her back in a huff.
"Heh." Emma scoffed. "She's sure got personality for a toy, I'll give her that much."
"Hey, chick, we're full of personality." said Dmitri. "So I'd be careful if I was you."
"Oh, wow, devil furby." Emma smirked, probably taking note of Dmitri's horns.
"I'm not a devil." Dmitri muttered irritably.
"Oh, boy, you are asking for it!" Toby sent Emma an acid look and hopped off Santa's lap to confront her.
"Oh, what a cute little bunny!" Emma reached out to pick him up.
He bristled and cat-screamed at her, causing her to recoil and back off.
"That's enough, now settle down, all of you!" Santa raised his voice.
everyone froze for a moment, then stood, listening.
"Emma," Santa continued, "do you remember working with a furby who looked like that when you were helping Brenna work through getting dumped?"
Santa went and picked up Kitri, who squirmed instinctively and made an exclamation of surprise, then he showed the furby to Emma. "Here she is."
"Okay, cool, I remember, this model was really cute and funny, but - "
"No, I mean, this is the very one you actually worked with at that time. She's got a permanent home now, and her name is Kitri. And she is a good singer, surely you remember that from the tests you and Brenna ran on her before she could leave the workshop."
Emma looked more closely.
"Well, are you gonna give me a chance or not?" Kitri demanded.
Emma couldn't help burst out laughing.
"I guess that's a no." Kitri squirmed in Santa's grip, but he wouldn't let her turn her back on Emma a second time.
"No, hang on, don't jump to conclusions, either of you," said Santa, looking down at Emma.
"I can't believe it." said Emma. "If she's got a permanent home, what is she doing back here? What are they all doing here for that matter?"
What are you, the FBI?" Kitri sniped, running out of patience.
"There's no time to get into that now," said Santa, "You are out one soloist who was supposed to do "Cool Yule". Someone else has stepped up to the plate. So you have a decision to make."
"Then let's hear a sample." said Emma.
Let's hear the magic word first." Kitri flung back.
Emma scoffed, then at a withering look from Kitri and a frown from Santa, finally said, "Please."
"Very well, give the lady a sample, Kitri." Santa released the furby, who jumped down and approached Emma.
"From Coney Island to the Sunset Strip,
Somebody's gonna make a happy trip, tonight,
While the moon is bright!"
She ended the phrase off with a graceful hop-twirl.
"Keep going, and can you do some moves while you're singing?" asked Emma, who was clearly starting to be impressed.
"He's gonna have a bag of crazy toys," Kitri flashed her eyes crazily at Emma at the end of that phrase, then continued singing and busting a move.
"To give the groanies of the girls and boys, So dig,
Santa comes on big!"
There was an agonizing pause as Emma seemed to be considering.
"Well?" asked Kitri.
Finally, Emma allowed herself to smile brightly as she looked down at Kitri. "You're hired!" She exclaimed with a pleased chuckle.
"Way to go, Kitri!" Toby exulted.
The others whooped, cheered and congratulated as they thronged around Emma, threatening to maul Kitri, who was laughing hysterically with excitement.
Finally, Santa cut in. "All right, break it up, now, Emma and Kitri have got to get their show on the road. The rest of you, come with me, maybe you can help me out with my difficulties."
So Santa, Carma, and most of the furbies went to the reindeer stable, keeping a look out for Eponine on the way, and Emma headed back to the theater with a happily chattering, laughing, singing Kitri doing acrobatics behind her all the way.
Emma stepped up to the mic. "May I have your attention, please?"
The room quieted.
"Good news. Our show will go on as planned, with the last number in tact."
"Where's Eponine?" someone was heard asking.
"Santa is searching for eponine, but I have found a replacement. Everyone, I want you to meet our soloist for this evening," and she turned to Kitri and whispered, "What's your name again?"
Kitri hopped up on the mic stand, positioning herself so she could talk into the microphone. "My name is Kitri Fussby, and it's an honour to be here tonight."
The other elves reacted with a mixture of disbelief and "Aww, isn't she cute?"
"So, we've gone through everything but "Cool Yule", said Emma, "Let's run through it and work out any kinks that might come up." And she looked at Kitri again, "I should warn you beforehand, there's no time to change the written program, so Eponine's name's still on it, yours isn't."
"No problem, you could always make a small announcement mentioning that at the beginning of the show or during intermission or something. Just so they don't look at me and go "Hmh, funny looking' Eponine."
Emma burst out laughing. "Okay then! Let's go!"
The song started.
All the reindeer happily greeted Santa when he came around to the stable, but they were very curious about the tiny little balls of fluff that accompanied him. A couple of them came up to Carma and nuzzled her as well, having remembered her from past visits.
"So," said Santa, "Is it true that you never let Rudolph play any games with you back when you were all fawns?"
The reindeer froze, and their tails drooped. A few heads went down and couldn't look at Santa.
"How about calling him names about his glowing nose?"
Several nodded sheepishly.
"But he called us names too." said Dasher. "I got anything that rhymes, basher, Crasher, Smasher, Trasher, you name it."
"and I got called Stupid." said Cupid.
"Lucky me," said Comet, "I got called Vomit."
"Wow, charming." said Polly.
"Ugh." said Jet, "I'd rather have Kitri and Toby tickle the tar out of me any day."
"But we were all guilty of that," said Comet, looking at Santa, then back down at her feet, "And poor as this excuse is, some of the bigger reindeer said we shouldn't let Rudolph in to the games because they were too rough and he was so small he'd get hurt."
"Hurt during kickball?" asked Santa.
"Ever tried playing kickball with reindeer? We're good at kicking, and that means when you play kickball with us, you might get it in the face." said Prancer, kicking one leg out to illustrate his point.
"So, Rudolph, I got it from the Ocean Elf, who got it from Indy Mae Who, that you wrote me a letter, blaming me for it all. I just never saw it until now."
"Indy Mae?" Rudolph was astonished.
"Wasn't she one of those nice people who came to help stop that rotten stinking vampire from killing everyone out here?" asked Cupid.
Correct." said Santa.
I don't remember writing you a letter. She's got to be mistaken. Maybe she got it from a bad source." said Rudolph.
"That is what we're here to discuss. I'm not happy with you eight, but since this piece of writing is supposedly from only Rudolph's point of view, I'd like a few moments with him on our own."
Santa moved out into the snow and beckoned for Rudolph to follow.
Once they were out of earshot of the others, Santa began. "Here it is, with Hanima's rant back. Though it is possible whoever put it out there added some - " Santa cleared his throat disapprovingly, "embellishments."
When Santa began to read it, he watched Rudolph's reaction closely, and noted the reindeer's sudden nervousness, indicating he now recalled it.
Santa read Rudolph's letter from beginning to end, but did not read Hanima's comments out loud to Rudolph.Then he led Rudolph back inside the stable with the furbies and the other reindeer. Then, he chose to read or paraphrase certain comments from the Ocean Elf which were directed to or about the other reindeers' behaviour.
There was a collective shudder from the reindeer when Santa got to the part where Hanima suggested they be eaten.
Finally, Santa reached the end of it, and said, "I am deeply disappointed. The Ocean Elf is right about one thing, I didn't know about this. If I had, all of you would've been on the naughty list that year. Because you got away then, you won't now. I'm retiring you all from sleigh duty this Christmas Eve."
"What? But what about the children?" asked Rudolph. "I thought you were doing this for them."
Hey, don't pull that crap!" Sundown suddenly flared up.
"All right, Sundown, cool it." Santa said, then turned his attention back to the reindeer. "I have a new team this year.".
"where are they?" asked Vixen.
"You're looking at them." Santa indicated the various furbies.
"What? Us!?" Sybil exclaimed.
Everyone, including the furbies expressed shock.
"Oh, Kitri's gonna flip when she finds out." Sundown laughed, Then suddenly turned serious. "Are you sure. We're a lot smaller, maybe we can't get the job done."
"You'll do just fine with a little extra magic." said Santa. "And Sundown, I'll have to get Carma to quickly whizz you home when Jessica gets back, to explain."
"Whew, that was my next concern." said Sundown, "She would worry if we were nowhere around when she gets back from her party."
"well, isn't that a fine fix." Rudolph muttered.
"Let's face it, we deserve it." Comet replied. "And for what it's worth, I really am sorry for going along with the rest."
""Well, maybe you can help us out with something else," said Santa. "We've got a missing elf, and we need to find her."
"Who's missing?" asked Rudolph.
"Eponine." came the reply.
Rudolph choked. "Uh - Eponine?" He recoiled. "Do you mind if I not join in?"
"Because I might be the one to find her. She was really mean about my nose. She nearly suffocated me with sand once because she wanted to see if the sand would stop me from shining."
There came a collective outburst of growls and groans from the furbies.
"Oh, I remember that." Dancer said. "Vixen and I were there and we had to attack eponine to get her to leave you alone."
"Oh gosh!" Floyd said in disgust, "Wherever she is, I say we just let her be."
"as dislikable as she can be," said Santa, "She is still one of our elves, so it's our responsibility to find her, and then decide from there how to deal with her. I remember when she was attacked by a couple of you, but she couldn't tell me which of you had done it, and wouldn't admit to provoking it. I didn't believe she hadn't done something. It's not like any of you to just attack someone for no reason."
"Well, count me out too." said Floyd.
"And me." said Polly.
"Okay then, Rudolph, Floyd, and Polly, you get a break. Anyone else not coming? Keep in mind, you furbies should be at the theater when the show starts anyway, so there isn't much time."
"I'll go look for Eponine," Comet volunteered.
"How about the rest of you reindeer?" Santa asked.
The other seven agreed.
Santa turned them all loose, and instructed them to cover about a mile's worth in each direction, so that was two reindeer per direction. He paired them off, Dancer with Prancer were to go north, Vixen and Blitzen, west, Comet and Cupid, south, Dasher and Donner, East.
Santa took the furbies inside and to the theater to watch the show.
Outside, wandering among some trees, trying to stay hidden, Eponine checked the time. She sighed, wishing she had at least taken a tablet or smart phone along to pass the time playing games. Had it really only been half an hour? It felt as if it had been three, and she was starting to get bored out of her skull.
Eponine's plan was to stay away until the show was somewhere close to over, then creep back and spy on the disaster. She hoped to gloat at the other elves being flustered, or at least awkward in having to deal with the embarrassment of having to cut a number at the last moment because they couldn't locate their soloist.
She had been mad that Emma was picked to oversee the production instead of her. Then she was mad that various numbers that had originally been considered were dropped because they all had female solos, and Eponine had wanted to do all of them. She, Emma, and others had argued bitterly in the very beginning stages of putting the show together, and finally they reached the compromise where Eponine would be the only soloist, but only for one song, "Cool Yule. She was satisfied that the song would feature her singing alone, with no backup singers, through the whole number. But that, in her mind, was no excuse for cutting the other numbers where she could've soloed in various sections.
So now she was determined to quietly teach them a thing or two, and this was the best way to go about it and avoid the naughty list…Or so she thought.
Eponine continued wandering around, and eventually she started feeling cold.
She eventually came upon the ice playground, and since no one was there now, she figured it was safe to play on the equipment. No one would see her, everyone was inside, making last minute preparations for Santa's big trip, or fussing about with the show.
She soon forgot about the time as she played on the ice monkey bars, the slide, swings, and ice tunnels.
She didn't know that Vixen was watching her from the other end of the park.
Vixen, having seen Eponine, went to find Blitzen, so the two of them could head back and let Santa, or at least Rudolph know. He would be better at getting Santa's attention by blinking his nose in through a window.
The show went off without a hitch, and Kitri came through with flying colors to round it off.
Unlike Eponine, Kitri's singing of "Cool Yule" was done naturally, with a great deal of enthusiasm, but without being overdone. Kitri had nothing to prove, she was just revelling in the moment, getting to sing one of her most favourite Christmas songs, on stage, with a wonderful band backing her, and Santa plus all of her friends except Jessica and Holly were in the audience.
Kitri was on cloud nine up there. During the section where she was to dance instead of sing, she put her excited energy to good use and really made use of the stage space. Rolling, spinning, hopping, whirling, leaping, diving, ducking in and out of stage props,
her eyes lit up, her mohawk was even glittery, thanks to Emma's touching it up, she was a sight under the stage lights.
Even with all that moving about, Kitri didn't lose her place in the song. She made her way back just in time to resume singing into the mic once again, and really belted the song out with the band backing her energetically.
When the song ended on a wonderful dissonant rousing chord from the band on the last word "Cool!" the audience erupted into thunderous applause, whoops and whistles.
"Way to go, Kitri!" Floyd hollered.
Kitri moved away from the microphone so it wouldn't be as likely to pick up her fit of laughter. She didn't know how or if she was ever going to come back down to regular life after this.
Emma came up and took the mic. "Let's hear it for Kitri!"
More applause, and a standing ovation followed.
Emma moved the mic close to Kitri and mouthed, "Say something.
All Kitri could manage was a choked up "Thank you, and Merry Christmas!"
"Oh, you were awesome!" said Emma proudly, patting Kitri on the top of the head.
"Takes one to know one," Kitri said, smiling up at the elf.
Emma grinned. "You even got an ovation, they want another song from you!"
"Seriously? This is unbelievable!" Kitri said giddily.
"No fooling. Emma then spoke into the mic. "Would you like another song from Kitri?"
The room was filled with a deafening roar as people yelled for more and continued applauding.
"See?" said Emma, grinning.
"I haven't anything prepared, neither does the band, right?"
"So sing on your own. Just do another favourite of yours."
Soon a chant had broken out, and was now starting to be recognizable. They were chanting for Kitri.
Emma beamed. "Hear that? They love you! Now sing your heart out!"
Kitri found herself at the mic once again, and Emma had quickly retreated somewhere.
She shook her head to clear it, and then sang a little ditty as a kind of warm-up.
The audience fell quiet.
Then Kitri began to sing.
"Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o'er the plains.
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their glorious strains."
She sang the refrain on her own, but upon ending it, she quickly encouraged everyone to come in with her on the next Gloria refrain.
And this was what the unfortunate Eponine observed from just behind the door upon returning.
She stood, gawking behind the door, unable to figure out just who they had up there, not only replacing her, but singing the wrong song.
When the song was finished, there was more applause and cheering for Kitri, who did the best bowing motion a furby possibly can, twirled once more, said "Thank you so much, merry Christmas everyone! Over to you Emma." Then, she looked to Emma, and moved off from the microphone.
"Thank you, Kitri!" Emma said, to which there was more applause, and then Emma continued, "Thank you everyone for coming tonight, enjoy the refreshments and have a merry Christmas!"
While everyone got up and started milling about the refreshments, Eponine stole in among them, hoping to remain lost in the crowd while she got a program.
For a time, it worked.
A Celebration For A Furby And A Lesson For An Elf
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