*Author Note: This is a prequel/Christmas Short Story to the story: The Invasion of Allegra which is in Kindle Vella*
Watchtower XXIV, Deep Space
25 December, 2283 – 00.04
“Fahy!” Vansen whispers through the door that she had just barely cracked open.
Yawning, Fahy rolls onto his side and looks at the light that is streaming in through the crack from the bright hallway outside of his cabin. Rubbing his eyes, he asks, “Yeah?”
“Can we come in?” Vansen requests, “It’s just Boris, Fagan, and I.”
Nodding slowly, Fahy thinks about what Vansen was asking. A few beats pass and he can’t come up with any ideas. Confused, he finally says, “Yeah. Why?”
The door slides the rest of the way open, and Vansen, Fagan, and Boris slip in silently. Once they’re both in, Vansen taps on the console beside the door, and it whooshes shut. She taps in a few things on the console before she smiles and excitedly says, “It’s Christmas!”
“Christmas?” Fahy rubs his eyes tiredly, “Already?”
“Yes already!” Vansen sounds happily as she quietly claps her hands.
“She’s a little too happy about all this,” Boris chuckles.
Vansen gives Boris a playful scowl before she responds, “It’s a bit of a big deal!”
“We know,” Fagan smiles, “We all know.”
“Well, it’s a bit of a bummer since we’re not allowed to celebrate right,” Vansen sighs.
Fagan shrugs, “Doesn’t matter what’s allowed or not so long as we’ve got each other.”
Vansen smiles and nods at Fagan, “Exactly!”
“So, how are we celebrating?” Fahy asks as he swings his legs out of his bed and straightens out a few things that are in reach.
“Well…” Vansen slowly looks around before she answers, “I sort of smuggled in some gifts for all of us. I made a few things too.”
“I made a few things too,” Fagan smiles, “Been sneaking down to the maintenance area to get a chance to make things.”
“Me too,” Boris smiles. Chuckling, he adds, “Fagan and I had to hide our projects from one another.”
“D—did you get something?” Vansen asks after a few beats.
Smiling, Fahy pulls out a few small boxes. In them, there are the things that he had been slaving away at for the past few months for his team.
“I thought you’d remember!” Vansen squeals happily as she grabs the box with her name on it.
Smiling, Fahy hands out the other two boxes as he asks Vansen, “How’d you manage to smuggle in gifts?”
A twinkle in her eye, Vansen answers, “I have my ways.”
“Mysterious as always,” Fagan chuckles, “From what I heard, there were some people who owed her some favors.”
Vansen lets out a loud laugh, “That makes it sound so much easier than it was. You’ve got no idea.”
Nodding, Fahy chimes in, “I’m sure it was hard—there’s a reason why none of us were able to smuggle anything in!”
“It really was,” Vansen nods along slowly, “Well, are we ready to start opening them?”
“Let’s,” Fagan smiles, “Who first?”
“Oh, we’re taking turns?” Boris asks, his first present already halfway unwrapped.
Vansen chuckles, “Of course, we are civilized, after all!”
Smirking, Fagan says, “Well, Christmas is here to celebrate Jesus and he said whoever is first will be last so… Boris, I guess you’re up!”
“Ha, ha, very funny,” Boris lets out a very sarcastic laugh before he turns his attention back to his gift from Fahy. A few moments later and Boris is poking at the small machine that Fahy had made for him.
“It’s a little farmer!” Fahy explains as he points out the small mechanism which is working slowly, “See how it’s using that thing like a hoe on the dirt? I thought it’d remind you of home!”
Boris chuckles and smiles slightly, “It does, that’s super neat. Thanks.”
“Alright, now I’m curious!” Vansen blurts out as she rips open her gift from Fahy. Once it’s open, she examines it and smiles, “It’s a cow!”
“Just like the ones on your ranch, right?” Fahy asks, his heart in his throat as he hopes that she likes it.
Vansen looks up from the cow after a few beats and assures him, “It’s awesome, thank you, Fahy!”
“Good, I’m glad you like it,” Fahy smiles back as he lets out a very quiet sigh.
Everyone else opens their various gifts and each gift is very well received. After a long while, Fahy is holding the very last gift.
“Well, you’re finishing things off, Fahy,” Vansen notes, “Hope you like it.”
Looking at the gift, Fahy briefly wonders what Vansen was able to make and what she could have smuggled all the way out to their Watchtower. The small, wrapped box isn’t large, but Fahy had suspected that it was impossible to smuggle anything larger than that out here.
“Well, are you going to open it?” Boris asks.
Nodding slowly, Fahy proceeds to begin unwrapping the gift. When he finishes, he sees that there are two boxes.
When Fahy hesitates, Vansen speaks up again, “The one on top is what I smuggled in, the one on the bottom is the one I made.”
Letting out a long sigh, Fahy stops and says, “Thank you all for this. As much as I’d like to be back at home with my family for Christmas, you all made this Christmas something special.”
“Oh, you can’t go and say that before you open your present!” Vansen laughs, “And besides, we haven’t even finished the party! Things are just getting started.”
Smiling slightly, Fahy presses his point, “All the same, you guys are the best. I hope we can keep doing this when this is all over—”
“You mean when we’re not in the middle of a deathly cold vacuum that could kill us and that the only thing keeping us alive is this little tin can?” Boris cuts in.
Fahy chuckles, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“I don’t know if I’d like to stick around with you weirdos if I don’t have to,” Boris says sarcastically.
Vansen elbows Boris and then looks around. Smiling, she lets her head lull to the side slightly and she sighs, “I’d like that. You all are something else, and I think my family would love you all too.”
“Mine too,” Fagan chirps.
“Same here,” Fahy smiles, “Let’s just hope that we can get home sooner rather than later so we don’t have to spend another Christmas way out here.”
“And so I don’t have to go through so many hoops trying to get you all gifts!” Vansen adds with a laugh, “I mean, you guys are great and all, but sheesh!”
“And so I can just buy you guys your gifts,” Boris teases. Holding up a hand, he points out a few burns, “You have no idea how much of a struggle it was to make all your things.”
Fahy laughs and nods, “I think it would all be a lot easier back home. A lot less people to try and sneak things by that way too.”
Shaking her head, Vansen scoffs, “You guys don’t even understand how much of a struggle it was to make it through all the trainings and whatnot they forced me through to become an officer. If I stuck to the rules like I’m supposed to, we’d all be stuck in the brig for this.”
“And we’d be dead not long after that,” Fahy adds the grim caveat that they all knew was the truth.
“And we’d be dead,” Vansen echoes in agreement.
“Well, open your thing already, Fahy!” Boris urges, “I’m ready for our Christmas dinner!”
“Christmas dinner?” Fahy asks, his ears perking up.
“Oh, unwrap it already!” Vansen laughs, “Stop getting distracted.”
Chuckling, Fahy shrugs, admitting defeat at long last. He was, in fact, stalling and he knew it.
Turning his attention back to the present, he gently unwraps the bottom box.
“It’s a miner!” Vansen tells him, “I know it’s just a figurine and can’t move like yours do, but—”
“It’s awesome,” Fahy cuts Vansen off, “I love it.”
Fahy is slowly turning the piece over in his hand as he admires Vansen’s work. Sure enough, the figurine is a very well done miner and they are in the middle of swinging a pickaxe. Fahy knew full well that Vansen likely spent just as long as he did, if not longer, making this present. He also knew that she must have spent a lot of time coming up with something that would be the perfect gift for someone like him who spent so much of his life belowground working the various mines around his home on Allegra.
“The second gift—the one I smuggled in—is the other part to this one,” Vansen explains, “Go on, open it!”
Nodding obediently, Fahy opens up the next gift and is greeted by the sight of a chunk of iron pyrite.
“It’s fool’s gold!” Vansen pipes up.
Chuckling, Fahy rolls the piece of metal between his fingers as he recalls the story that Vansen had likely used as inspiration for this gift. That story, as Fahy had told it, had taken place maybe ten years before. Fahy had been working an abandoned part of one of the mines he worked in an effort to find something worthwhile to make a name for himself and hopefully breathe some new life into his town’s mine which had been struggling as the ore dried up. As he had been digging, he found some iron pyrite and was convinced it was gold. After running through town and making a complete fool of himself, Fahy had been informed that his discovery was nothing more than fool’s gold and that he was the fool.
“Just like your story,” Vansen continues, confirming Fahy’s suspicion.
Smiling, Fahy looks up at Vansen and says, “Thanks, Vansen, this is great.”
Vansen takes the two gifts from Fahy and then puts them together so that the miner figure is preparing to strike the lump of fool’s gold instead of empty space. Handing it back, she smiles and nods, “I’m glad you like it.”
“Well, with that out of thee way, that means it’s time for some chow!” Boris announces as he sets his presents aside and pulls out his bag.
“I guess it is,” Vansen nods as she pulls her own bag out and starts laying out small bags of food, “I had to pull some strings for these too.”
Smiling, Fahy takes a bag that Vansen hands him and he does his best to help finish laying out their little Christmas meal.
When the meal is all set up, Vansen looks out the window behind Fahy and sighs, “Despite everything else, we sure have a lot to be thankful for too. I mean, just look at that view.”
Turning, Fahy sees that they are looking over the whole of the Milky Way.
“Yeah, that’s a view alright,” Boris nods, “Makes me think about how small everything is in the grand scheme of things.”
“Come on, guys, let’s eat,” Vansen says after a few moments.
Turning back to Vansen, Fahy smiles and nods in agreement, “Let’s.”
“Prayers first,” Vansen reminds everyone as she stretches out her hands.
Taking Vansen’s hand, Fahy nods, “Prayers first.”
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