Sanctuary: Kate, Helen Magnus, Biggie, Will, Henry
Kate Freelander strode through the corridors of the Sanctuary, whistling, hands tucked away in the pockets of her jeans. It was a quiet winter day. Will and Henry were off on some errand or another; nothing dangerous according to Magnus. Kate figured if it wasn't dangerous, it wasn't interesting either. Then, as she turned the corner a bright flash caught her eye. It was ground level and moving fast.
One of Magnus' guests, thought Kate, smiling to herself. Now she had something to do this afternoon. She moved quietly and carefully down the hallway, following the errant spark. The light flared, then went out, then lit up again, appearing further away each time. Kate maneuvered her way around furniture and along tapestried walls wondering if she could call someone for back-up. There was no indication that the whatever-it-was was dangerous. It was more fun to think it was, but she couldn't be sure.
The light started moving faster and faster and Kate found herself running to catch up. Turning a corner, a bright flash startled her, and she stumbled on the edge of a thick rug, falling heavily and hitting her head on the corner of a heavy wooden table. That was the last she knew for a while.
When Kate awoke, there was still a bright light, but this time it was swinging gently over her head. Her head, which ached furiously with a deep throbbing pain, felt like it was twice its normal size. Opening her eyes wider, she could just make out a blurred bearded face.
"Biggie?" she asked weakly.
"Lie still," came back a guttural voice, low and gentle. "I found you unconscious in the corridor. You hit your head. How do you feel?"
"Hurts," she just managed to say. "Lights...I saw lights, then..."
"Migraine?" mused the Big Guy. "Could be. I'll set up an EEG."
Kate tried to shake her head, but that was a terrible mistake. It felt like rocks were jostling around behind her eyeballs. Then she heard a noise behind her, a door opening, then heels clicking across the tile floor of the medical area. Magnus, she thought. It must be.
"What's going on?" came the lilting British voice of the head of the Sanctuary as she approached the table on which Kate lay.
"She saw lights, and her head hurts," replied Biggie. "I was just about to check..."
Magnus shook her head. Kate watched in envy. She used to be able to do that, just a little while ago.
"You've forgotten what day it is," Magnus said to the Big Guy. She removed the electrodes from Kate's temples and leaned over her. "It's just a bump," she said soothingly. "You'll be fine with some electrolyte solution and a pain reliever."
Kate slowly sat up; her head swam but her vision steadied. "Thanks." Taking a glass and a pill from Biggie, she swallowed one and gulped the other. Turning to Magnus, she asked grimly "What are those things? Friend or foe?"
"Oh, friends, definitely," replied Magnus cheerfully. "I've known them for years. They always visit around this tine." She nodded to Biggie. "I'll take Kate downstairs. Will you join us?"
The Big Guy jerked his head up and grunted assent. "I'll just clean up here."
"Don't be too long," admonished Magnus. "You don't want to miss the unveiling." She took Kate by the arm and started to gently lead her out of the laboratory.
In the central core of the Sanctuary, Will and Henry were using an anti-grav sled to maneuver a 17 foot tall Fraser fir into an upright position by the main staircase. A locking device was ready to hold the trunk, once they got the thing in place. Kate stared at the two of them from the stairs. Turning to Magnus, she asked, "That was the mission? Getting a Christmas tree?"
"Of course," replied Magnus, leaning over the banister. "A little to the left!" she called down.
Will looked up in disgust. "It's close enough!" he called back. Henry said nothing, but worked the controls to tilt the great tree leftwards.
"That's fine, perfect," Magnus said, pleased. She put her arm around Kate, guiding her gently as they descended to the ground floor. As Henry locked the trunk, Magnus circled the base, admiring the fragrant green branches. "You see," she said to Kate, "I've always loved having a tree, but the life I've lived, well, it didn't lend itself to the accumulation of traditional decorations."
"Okay," said Kate. "But what does this have to do with the little guy I was chasing?"
"Guys," replied Magnus with a knowing smile. "We're ready," she called out to Henry. He tapped once, then twice in quick succession on his tablet, and the lights in the great room dimmed. Suddenly hundreds of brilliant pinpoint white lights appeared all over the tree, flickering and dancing along the branches.
Kate's jaw dropped. "That's what I was chasing?"
"Yes," replied Magnus. "Extra-dimensional light forms." She added parenthetically, "They happen to love the taste of pine needles. Lucky, that."
"You have got to be kidding me," said Kate. "E.L.F.'s?"
"They like milk too," said Henry absently as he tidied away the sled. Kate stared at him while Will just shook his head. Magnus remained smiling, her face raised and illuminated by the twinkling lights. The others gathered close around her, admiring the magnificent sight of the lights generated by the little Abnormals winking in the dark green column of the tree.
Christmas had come to the Sanctuary.