Shinra Inc. And Christmas

by: Jason Tandro

Author's Note: As my inclusion of a Christmas Story every year on this site should indicate, even the cynical hack that I am can't help but succumb to the Christmas Spirit. I believe that despite all the crap that's happened to it; insane Black Friday shoppers, commercialization, and jerks on both sides of the "politically correct" argument, I think that you really can't ruin Christmas; or at least that's been the case with me. Once you get past all the minor stuff, that's really all it is. What's important is the big things. Being with those that matter most to you and whether you're Christian or not, enjoying the season for what it is.

I am aware, of course, that I've done two other episodes that include Christmas (Shinra Claus from my Christmas Special from like 2008 or something, and Shinra Inc. And The Wedding), but I really feel like I can tell a very detailed Christmas story and I've always wanted to give the season the proper Shinra Inc. And treatment.

That being said, here's my Holiday Offering for this year.

==Shinra Inc. And==

Once again, the board room was packed. Once again, the good people at Shinra Inc. had a dilemma to discuss.

"Okay," said Rufus, shrugging his shoulders. "Well it's the holidays, and I want this company to have a fresh new look for the season. Do we have any ideas, people?"

Scarlet's hand shot up first. Rufus couldn't tell if it was just her sycophantic nature getting the better of her, or if she was just excited about Christmas.

"We could decorate the lobby with a Christmas Tree. We could have Materia orbs be ornaments to show how much Shinra is helping the local economy," Scarlet said.

Rufus nodded. The Materia market was thriving, and Shinra had a lot to do with it. Even though some people refused to purchase Shinra manufactured Materia orbs—choosing instead to go with local vendors—Shinra had purchased every local vendor in Midgar so all the money was going back to them.

Hojo's hand went up after hers. "I could create some mutant elves that go around giving gifts."

"Wait, wait, wait!" Reeve insisted, holding up his hand. "We've had this discussion before."

"Um, yes," Rufus nodded. "Christmas comes every year, Reeve."

"No, I mean specifically, we've said these exact words before. Like four years ago."

Rufus rubbed his chin. "Prove it."

Reeve sighed. "Okay, before I interrupted you were about to say 'Do you remember the last time you tried to create a mutant?'"

Rufus glance around somewhat guiltily. "Nu uh."

"And then Hojo would have played for time and we would have discussed his mutant snowmen," Reeve explained.

[Author's Note: See Shinra Claus]

"Sudden ESP," Hojo smiled darkly. "That injection I gave you is already taking effect."

"I'm not psychic, this has happened before," Reeve explained. Then he stopped. "Wait, what injection?"

"Nothing, nothing," Hojo shrugged.

"Can we wrap this up? I have a lot of shopping to get to," Cissnei said.

"It's December 23rd. You're going to brave the shopping district in this chaos?" Reno asked.

"I don't have much of a choice do I?" Cissnei groaned.

"We'll drink to your memory," Rude said, pouring himself and Reno a shot of gin.

"You'll drink to the sun rising," Cissnei rolled her eyes.

"Tseng and I bought our presents before Thanksgiving. We didn't get the sale price, but we don't have to worry about fighting to crowd," Elena smiled.

"Besides, many studies show you don't really save that much from those sales anyways," Tseng offered.

"Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Preachy," Cissnei grunted. "Any more parables to tell the kiddies?"

Tseng and Elena ignored this.

"So am I going to be able to make my mutant elves?" Hojo asked.

"You already have them," Reeve groaned. "We've done this before."

"Oh right. I should go make sure they aren't off destroying anything," Hojo said, leaving the room.

"I should get going too. Mayor Domino wants me to help him prepare for the Christmas Eve Parade," Reeve said.

"Wait, he wants you there?" Rufus asked as Reeve stood up. "Why not me?"

"He didn't give specifics, except to say that he thinks you would embarrass him," Reeve explained.

"This isn't fair. I'm the president of the company, why does Domino think I'd embarrass him?" Rufus asked.

"You've never been good at public speaking, Rufus. Remember your speech during the Junon disaster?"

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And Accountability]

"But how badly can I ruin Christmas?" Rufus asked.

"We're sure you're up to the task," Reeve explained. "Sorry, Rufus."

Reeve left and shut the door behind him.

"I can't believe those guys. I am the Spirit of Christmas!" Rufus insisted.

"We're doing the yearly rate hike, I trust?" Palmer asked.

"Of course." Rufus nodded.

"Spirit of Christmas?" Scarlet asked.

"We're still a business," Rufus said.

"Ah, that'll be nice," Reno smirked. "We can send out little Christmas Cards. 'Merry Christmas from your Mako Provider. Now pay us or we'll shut you off and you can freeze your jingle bells off."

"You make me sound like a grinch," Rufus folded his arms.

"You're a great boss, but you're not much of a humanitarian," Rude said. "Also you're not that great a boss."

"Easy on the gin, Rude," Reno said.

"But you said-"

"Yeah, but I know where the line is," Reno insisted.

Rufus turned his back on the table. "You think I could stand to be a bit nicer, huh?"

"It might be why you weren't invited to the Parade," Elena offered.

Rufus turned to Elena. "You two! Lovebirds. Can you make me... nice?"

"You want us to teach you basic human decency in one night?" Elena asked.

"Come on. You're the only hope I have!" Rufus pleaded.

Heidegger, who'd been silent up til now, slapped his hand on the table in disbelief. "You can't be nice to people? Come on, Rufus. It's not hard. Here. Say something nice about Scarlet."

"Something nice. Okay," Rufus folded his arms. "I really appreciate what you do for the company."

"You see, that wasn't hard was-"

"I'm not done Elena," Rufus continued. "You really work hard for us. I mean how do you squeeze your girls into a dress like that."

It was Scarlet's turn to roll her eyes. "You're talking to my breasts? Why am I viewed as such a sex object to you people? I have a PhD in Engineering for God's sake. I've developed almost every weapon we use!"

"Okay, okay, calm down," Tseng said, standing up. "Rufus, try me. Say something nice about me."

Rufus looked Tseng up and down. "Look, I know I got drunk that one night, but I don't swing that way."

"Yeah, he needs all the help he can get," Tseng sighed, sitting back down.

"So you'll help me?" Rufus asked.

"I guess so," Elena sighed.

== December 23, 7:00 PM==

Cissnei, Reno and Rude arrived at the Wall Market shopping plaza.

"So," Reno said, looking out over the chaos that awaited those foolish enough to enter the pit of human decadence that was Wall Market. "This is the personal hell you've selected. I've seen worse."

"You guys don't have to come with me," Cissnei groaned.

"Relax. We're your entourage. Now that Elena is married, we need a cool girl to hang out with to make us look cooler by comparison," Rude explained.

"I'm flattered," Cissnei grunted. She sighed and slowly began to tie a bandana around her head.

"What's that?" Reno asked.

"Never mind that now. Boys, do you know what a stereotype is?" Cissnei asked.

"It's those things that police use to identify criminals," Rude explained.

Cissnei shook her head. "It's a long-held belief about a certain subculture of people on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or gender. Whether or not the opinion is negative or even positive, such as, for instance, all people from Wutai are good at math, but bad at driving cars, they are all horribly wrong things."

"What's with the lecture?" Rude asked.

"Well, whether or not it is politically correct to say so or not, there are a few- no a very few stereotype's that happen to be right generally speaking and certainly do not apply to every person within that subculture," Cissnei continued.

"You lost me at politically correct," Reno said. "Can you break it down to the details for me?"

"I'm just saying that one stereotype about women is that we tend to go a little... crazy when it comes to sales or shopping. Now, I consider myself a Turk first and a woman second-"

"I have the opposite opinion," Reno offered.

"But I am still a woman, and there are certain things that, while I am not proud of them, come with that . I just don't want you to think less of me based on what you might see me do here today."

Cissnei straightened her tie, dusted some of the fresh falling powder off of her lapel and cleared her throat.

"Okay," she said, taking a deep breath and leaning down into a sprinting position. "OUT OF MY WAY YOU BITCHES!"

== December 23, 7:15 PM==

Scarlet was working on the 64th Floor, coordinating the Christmas decorating.

"Come on guys, we've got thirty more floors to do. Chop chop!" Scarlet said, clapping her hands together.

Hojo walked over to Scarlet, holding a clipboard.

"Scarlet," he said, his eyes darting around the gymnasium decorations. "I was hoping I could borrow you."

"Hojo," Scarlet sighed. "I'm sorry, but I'm kind of in the middle of something here."

"Oh, well, you see, I was just working on a mutation for the Christmas Parade-"

"What?!" Scarlet asked. "Hojo. You aren't exactly filled with the spirit of the season. More like, the spirit of mass destruction."

"I know!" Hojo groaned. "To be perfectly honest, I find the whole Christmas season a tad ludicrous. I keep hearing about some guy who died for my sins and that he's the reason for the season. Well I've got news for you, the planet's 18 degree Axial tilt and elliptical orbit around the sun is the reason for the season, now if you ask me to come to your re-enactment of the Nativity one more time, I'll shove your Baby Jesus figurine in a beaker of acid!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down Hojo," Scarlet sighed, patting him on the back.

"As I say, it's not something that men of science generally care for. Well that's not true, most of them are either for the spirit or indifferent to at least. But that's why I need your help. I have such an incompatibility with this season, but you are... well quite frankly you could be Misses Claus herself."

"That's sweet of you to say Hojo," Scarlet smiled. "Oh, okay, what the hell. My guys know what to do. Let me help you with your monstrosity."

Scarlet and Hojo walked up the stairs to his laboratory, where the main culture tank was currently playing host to something that looked rather like a large Yeti, except it was not moving, and did not appear to be fully alive.

"Uh, huh. No mutant snowmen this year?" Scarlet asked.

"The problem is they melt in the spring. I understand that they say the spirit of Christmas is supposed to stay with us forever. And no emotion stays with you longer than fear," Hojo smirked. He then rubbed his head and groaned. "You see, even I know that's not right. Help me!"

"Well what are you doing right now?" Scarlet asked.

"Well there isn't too much we can do to alter the form of the beast, but I haven't spliced in any genetic traits. With it, we can control his emotions, thought processes and overall intelligence level," Hojo explained.

"Hmm. Well Christmas is mostly about love."

== December 23, 7:23 PM==

"HEY!" Cissnei shouted. "I saw that TV first! I will cut you!"

== December 23, 7:24 PM==

"So I think this creature should be very loving," Scarlet said. "And happy too."

"Well... I have neither of those genetic traits on file," Hojo said.


"Well they don't make terribly effective monsters. I created a monster who loved once," Hojo shuddered. "Now he's the head of that eco-terrorist organization."

"Ah," Scarlet said. "Well shoot those are kind of important traits for Christmas."

"Hmm... well I could concoct a 'love' gene, by splicing together jealousy, fear, lust and possessiveness. It's basically the same thing," Hojo said.

Scarlet folded her arms.

Hojo cleared his throat.

"Yeah I need your help."

"Yeah, you need my help."

== December 23, 7:30 PM==

Palmer and Heidegger sat at their usual spot in the bar just outside of Wall Market.

"You know if we never tore down the Sector 7 support pillar, this bar would never even exist," Heidegger chuckled.

The bar was, rather appropriately, named the Heads Up Bar, though must people just called it the HUB for short. Time was the two had a reservation at the Goblins Bar in Sector 8, but repeated attempts to start unwarranted musical numbers resulted in a permanent banning for these two.

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And Alcohol]

"So, do you know what you're getting for Christmas?" Heidegger asked.

"Drunk!" Palmer chuckled. Clearly he was well on his way already.

"I mean in terms of actual material goods?" Heidegger asked.

"Well shoot, I don't know," Palmer groaned. "You're the only one who really bothers to get me anything."

"And I get you the same bottle every year, so I suppose you are correct, sir!" Heidegger smiled.

"I gotta ask. Are you two... you know? Because I mean, I know the name can be a little confusing, but you might be more comfortable at the Tail Spin down the road," The bartender said.

"Shame on you!" Palmer spat. "We're not gay, this man is like my brother, but if we were it wouldn't be any of your business!"

"Jeez, I meant no offense, buddy," the bartender groaned.

"Why do we always get that?" Palmer asked. "We're two, large, older gentlemen enjoying the fine art of getting wasted and you youngsters always assume something sexual. Thinking with the loins, I tell you, that's the trouble with the youth of today."

"Oh, because your generation was so tolerant of the LGBT community," the bartender grunted. "I've seen those old educational films. How to Avoid Catching The Gay."

"My goodness he's right," Heidegger grunted. "For too long our generation has ostracized that group of people. We'll get right on correcting that evil, after another drink."

"Right. One Spit-tini coming up," The bartender shrugged.

The bartender walked off and Palmer sighed.

"You know, Heidegger, you are like a brother to me though," Palmer said.

"You're drunk, my friend," Heidegger chuckled.

"No, I mean that. Nobody else in this company even really liked me. But then we discovered our shared interest in the supposed 'evil' of alcohol. Without it, you and I may not have discovered how much we have in common," Palmer said.

"How much do we have in common aside from the alcohol?" Heidegger asked.

"Not much. Really I think it's just about that and our waist size. But still, I value your friendship all the same," Palmer said, raising his glass.

"Well, you are a fun person to have around, moreso than most of the people I've met," Heidegger smirked, raising his own and tapping it gently. "To friendship!"


The two drank.

"Heidegger, I really am gay, you know," Palmer said. "Well to be fair, I swing both ways."

"You've told us before," Heidegger nodded. "You're still my friend. Even though I don't know of a swing that could support either of us."

[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And The Gay]

Palmer smiled and patted Heidegger on the back.

"Well I suppose it doesn't matter, as old as I am," Palmer sighed. "I'll be spending the last couple decades of my life alone."

Heidegger stood up and slammed his hands on the table. "Not if I have anything to say about it."

"What are you talking about?" Palmer asked.

"Don't get any ideas, I'm as straight as my drinks. But you're my friend, and I will not have you be upset on Christmas!" Heidegger said. "Get your coat. We're going to this Tail Spin!"

== December 23, 8:00 PM==

"Okay, repeat after me," Elena said, her hair in a mess from two hours worth of attempting to coach Rufus. "The palms in Kalm sway calmly in the balm."

"The palms in Kalm sway calmly in the... what the hell is a 'balm'?" Rufus asked.

"I couldn't think of another word that rhymed. I'm just trying to get your enunciation better so that you at least sound nice when you horribly screw up tomorrow," Scarlet sighed.

"Wow, you have some faith in me," Rufus replied.

"Well we've been at this since 5:45, and you still insist on making references to personal appearance, horribly inappropriate jokes and my personal favorite, your delightful rant about how damn fine it is to be absurdly wealthy," Tseng explained.

"So I just plain don't have the capacity for niceness?" Rufus asked.

"It doesn't seem so. Nothing I've tried is working," Elena rubbed her hair.

"So you're giving up on me?" Rufus cried.

"Sorry, Rufus. We're not miracle workers," Tseng grunted.

"Fine, screw you guys," Rufus cursed, storming towards the door. "And by the way, you jerks, a better sentence would have been 'the psalms of Kalm echo calmly through the palms.' Psalms, you fool, like religious songs. Like CHRISTMAS SONGS!"

Rufus slammed the door.

"Damn, that would have been better," Elena shrugged.

== December 23, 8:15 PM==

"Oh my god!" Cissnei cursed, slamming her fist against the wall of one of the stands. "What do you mean you are out of myPhones?! How do you run out!?"

"Cissnei, Cissnei, calm down, sweety," Reno said, putting his arms around her and pulling her away from the startled shopkeeper.

"You ruined Christmas, you jerk! YOU! It's YOUR FAULT!" She screamed.

"Cissnei! Calm down already!" Reno shouted.

Cissnei shook her head, and punched the opposite wall, just beside Rude. "Damn it, you don't understand. I haven't bought gifts for anybody yet. This was going to be it."

"Why did you wait so long?" Rude asked.

"Do you want some of this?" Cissnei asked, raising her fist.

"Easy, easy, Cissnei," Reno said.

The wind whipped up through the narrow street, and the falling snow was intensifying. The sun was already long gone, but even in the street lights it was clear that the snow was building up around them.\

"When did all this happen?" Cissnei said, pulling her foot out of an ankle deep snow-bank.

"Have you been paying attention to the news? They're calling for a Blizzard tonight, which normally wouldn't affect the slums, except for the fact that the Sector 7 Plate covering the slums was torn down a few years ago," Reno said.

"Oh great," Cissnei grunted. "Come on, we'd better get to a train."

"Train's not running," Rude said.

"What?!" Reno and Cissnei asked together.

"Just got an alert on my phone. They're telling everybody to seek shelter immediately. The main cell of the storm is gonna hit at about 9:00," Rude said.

"Where can we go?" Cissnei asked.

"Hmm... everybody here is probably going to fill up the local stores. Our best bet is to try one of the bars on the outskirts," Rude said.

"Does it have to be a bar?"

"If we're getting snowed in, it does," Reno insisted.

The three Turks ran down the street towards the outskirts.

"And you called my Weather App stupid," Rude grinned.

"It is stupid! Except for... you know, when you need it," Reno replied.

== December 23, 8:30 PM==

"So, this is a gay bar then?" Heidegger said, looking around the lively crowd.

"It's much cleaner than the HUB," Palmer noticed. "And they aren't stingy with the cock-" Heidegger coughed up his drink. "-tails." Palmer rolled his eyes. "It seems like a nice home for the LGBT community."

"Aren't there more letter now? Isn't like LGBTAQ or like that?" Heidegger asked.

"Oh, probably, but frankly I don't care, it's already a mouthful. Give it a decade and it will be LGBTEFGHIJKLMNOP." Palmer laughed.

A middle-aged man wearing a santa hat approached the two. "Oh jeez. And I thought I looked good in this hat." He offered it to Palmer. "Take it! Come on, if there's a time of the year to be proud of your rotund figure, it is definitely Christmas!"

Palmer chuckled. "Very well then!" Palmer put on the Santa hat and turned to Heidegger. "How do I look?"

"Like a drunk fat guy," Heidegger quipped. "But I wouldn't have you any other way!"

"Is he with you?" The man asked.

"As a friend and wingman. Trust me, he's even better once you get to know him. All this can be yours and more," Heidegger said.

"Well, here's my number. Maybe after this blizzard, gimme a call!" The man said, handing Palmer a note and patting his shoulder. He then walked back towards the dance floor.

"My goodness, what was that?" Palmer asked.

"I believe you were just hit on," Heidegger said. "You may also feel a funny tickling feeling around your middle. Don't worry, it's all perfectly natural."

"Well, my. That never happens to me," Palmer laughed. "I guess I'm not as old as I think."

"Hey, don't get ahead of yourself. You are old. But hell, some folks are into that I suppose," Heidegger smirked.

The door burst open and Reno, Rude and Cissnei crawled inside, pushing their legs through the now shin-high snow.

"Hey, sorry to spoil the fun, but it's a blizzard out there. Do you mind if we take shelter here?" Cissnei asked the bartender.

"Oh sure thing!" The bartender said. "How bad is it?"

"Pretty bad. They're saying the worst is gonna hit in about half an hour," Rude said. "But don't worry, my five-day forecast says things will look much better tomorrow around 6 AM."

"Yes, I get it, your weather app is cool," Reno grunted.

Most of the men began to rush out the door heading back to their homes. The few that remained, which consisted of the bartender, the Turks, Palmer, Heidegger and one or two people too drunk to move, gathered around the fireplace.

"So, how was your shopping kids?" Palmer asked.

"Miserable," Cisseni shiverred, patting herself off. "Everything that I wanted to buy for presents was sold out."

"Did you say sold out?" the bartender said. "You couldn't find anything?"

"No," Cissnei groaned. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

She put her head in her hands.

The bartender walked over to the door and locked it. He then took a precautionary look around the bar.

"What if I told you I know where you can get anything you need," he said.

"What are you talking about?" Cissnei asked.

"Have you ever heard of the Red Market?"

== December 23, 8:45 PM==

"Okay, I think that should do the trick," Scarlet sighed, wiping sweat off her brow. "Now granted, genetic engineering and weapons engineering are different processes, but I think the theory here should work for creating a holly-jolly Yeti."

"Some of these calculations seem a tad complex," Hojo said. "And I dream in advanced calculus."

"Woman's touch, deary," Scarlet said. "You wanted a mathematical formula for love, there it is."

"There are nine hundred variables," Hojo said.

"Oh no, there's way more than that, but I had to simplify," Scarlet said. "We would have been here til next Christmas. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to helping the staff decorate."

Scarlet walked down to the floor below Hojo's Lab and saw a tangled mess of lights creating a spiders web that covered almost the entire floor.

"What the heck happened here?!" Scarlet gasped.

One segment of lights started to move, and one of the decorators slowly stood up. "We looked everywhere for you. We couldn't find you. We didn't know what to do next and kind of... panicked."

"Oh for crying out loud, this mess will take forever to clean up!" Scarlet whined. "Untangle yourself and help me get these wires sorted."

Suddenly the lights began to flicker and within a moment they were completely gone.

"Damn it!" Scarlet cried.

"Oh thank goodness, I've gone blind," the decorator said. "Now I won't have to look at the mess I created anymore."

Scarlet fumbled her way up to Hojo's Lab, where emergency lighting was casting the entire floor in a crimson glow.

"Hojo, just in case you hadn't noticed, we've lost power and my decorating team made a disaster of Floor 66 through 64," Scarlet groaned.

"I've got my own problems at the moment," Hojo cursed. "You leave for three minutes while I input these calculations of yours and the machine has gone haywire."

"Your computer doesn't have a battery backup?" Scarlet asked.

"The system fail-safe is to terminate the specimen. But I disabled that years ago. Come to think of it, it was rather reckless on my part," Hojo said.

"So did your Yeti get the instructions or not?" Scarlet asked.

"Well most of it. About 95 percent, I'd say," Hojo said. "He should function perfectly fine when he wakes up in the morning, but I'll have a team of soldiers waiting just to be safe."

"Oh this is going to be so exciting," Scarlet whined.

== December 23, 9:00 PM ==

Rufus had returned to his room in the Shinra Tower. The emergency lighting flickered on and he sighed.

"Well, another Christmas where I'm the bad guy," Rufus cursed. "Stupid Reeve with his stupid... niceness."

Rufus rubbed his eyes, as he lay in his bed. He then rolled over and looked out the small window above his bed at the terrible snowfall that was covering the city. He punched his fist against the window.

He looked out onto the distant twinkling lights of Christmas decorations, all the tacky and poorly assembled Christmas Trees, every gaudy arrangement of plastic and wire rolled together in an almost alchemical process to create Christmas.

And all of these lights powered by the Mako that was a delivered by his company. The company he wasn't going to get the opportunity to represent in the Christmas Parade.

"Those selfish dumb jerks, with their great Christmas gall,
If I can't have Christmas, it won't happen at all!" Rufus shouted.

He then stopped, and touched his hands to his lips.

"Did I threaten in rhyme? Boy that isn't like me,
I've never so much as looked at poetry.
Damn it!"

Rufus tapped his foot.

"Okay, that's enough, I'm not going to rhyme.
I think I will just go to bed-"

"Dinner time!" Scarlet called from outside his door.

Rufus bellowed in frustration.

== December 23, 9:15 PM==

The basement of the Tail Spin was, in fact, home to the secret underground Christmas Gift emporium known as the Red Market. A vast collection of the most valuable and desired Christmas presents existed in practically limitless supply here, and yet their prices were exorbitant.

"3,000 gil for a myPhone?" Cissnei asked. "But the thing is selling brand new for 500!"

"Hey, if you don't like our prices, you're free to shop elsewhere," the bartender smirked. "Sorry, but we have to make a profit here."

"More like we have to make the gross capitol of a small country in profit," Reno scoffed.

"Hey, our prices are non-negotiable. Now do you wanna shop or do you want I should kick you out of the entire bar?" The bartender insisted.

"Listen, buddy, I don't think you're being a very reasonable business man," Reno said.

"Reno, don't worry about it. I've got the money, it's just a bit more than I expected-" Cissnei said.

"No, can that. Where's the fireball that you were not an hour ago. You would have gutted any of the shopkeepers out there who tried to quote you that kind of a price," Reno said. He then turned to the bartender. "Listen up buddy. We're Turks. You just revealed an illegal operation to an arm of Shinra's law enforcement."

"Hey, he's right," Cissnei said, beaming. "I could put you behind bars. So maybe you wanna make me a more reasonable offer."

"Take it easy, you should have said you were with the government from the start. You guys pay MSRP here," the bartender said. "One myPhone for 500 gil."

"That's better," Cissnei grinned.

== December 24, 9:00 AM==

Rufus awoke to a city almost completely covered in snow. Fortunately the hard-workers of MDOT (Midgar Department of Transportation), had already cleared most of the main roads on the upper Plate level of the city, and was still working on clearing the few sectors of the slums that had been affected.

"So today is the day of the Christmas Parade,
well I certainly hope that it isn't delayed," Rufus groaned. "Okay, you know what. ORANGE. If you're turning me into some Christmas villain, I'll just end every sentence with ORANGE!"

Rufus put on his jacket and walked out of his room. The chaos of decorations had been cleaned up and now the floors looked very professionally festive, as opposed to an elaborate Yuletide booby trap.

"The staff has done it all in one night. The power's even come back on," Scarlet sighed as she walked down the hall towards him. "You coming to the Christmas Parade."

"Oh I'm coming alright, orange. In fact I think I'll be lighting the way, orange," Rufus said.

"Uh, did you hit your head?" Scarlet asked. "I mean I know my name is a color and all, but it's Scarlet, not Orange."

"No, I've been stuck saying nothing but rhyme,
if I don't end with orange, I'll do it all the time," Rufus bellowed. "Ugh! You see Scarlet, orange?"

"You've been forced to rhyme, huh?" Scarlet asked. "That does seem to happen around this time of year. When did rhyming become synonymous with Christmas?"

"I don't know, orange. Probably all those stupid kids stories, orange." Rufus said.

"Those stories aren't stupid, they're great for the season,
I don't understand why you hate them without reason," Scarlet gasped. "Oh no, it's contagious, orange!"

"Really?!" Rufus asked.

"No, you're insane, Rufus," Scarlet sighed.

==December 24, 9:30 AM==

"Jeez, what a night that was," Palmer sighed. "Sleeping on shag carpeting is terrible for my trick knee, you know."

The group was gathering up their belongings while Rude was attempting to open the bar to the Tail Spin.

"Well, at least I made a killing on my Christmas Shopping," Cissnei smiled. "Thanks for reminding me how to be a hardass, Reno."

She pulled him into a tight hug and then picked up her bags.

"Uh guys," Rude said. "We're not going anywhere"

"What do you mean?!" Cissnei cried.

"Must have been the snow plows pushing all the snow up against the door," Rude said.

"What are we going to do?" Heidegger asked.

"Well for one thing, those guys aren't getting a tip this year," Rude said.

"Hey, Rude, that's nice and all, but I don't suppose your weather app has anything useful to say about being stuck in the snow?" Cissnei asked.

"Well, we have no food, and it will be about a week before the snow melts. I don't have any cell service either, thanks to the metal plates around here," Rude asked. "But I do have an app that can help us."

Rude fiddled with his phone for a moment. He then cleared his throat.

"Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come-"

"Stop it!" Reno shouted. "Saying the Lord's Prayer on Christmas Eve. What's wrong with you?!"

== December 24, 9:45 AM==

Reeve, Mayor Domino, Tseng, Elena, Scarlet and Hojo were standing at the large podium at the edge of Sector 8 that would serve as the start of the Parade route. They were getting the last few floats and displays prepared as the parade would take place at noon.

"So, Hojo, I understand that you and Scarlet created a creature for us for the parade?" Reeve asked.

"Ah yes," Hojo said. "It's being brought down here now. I couldn't have done it without Scarlet's help. It's called the Abominable-"

"Ahem," Scarlet coughed.

"Oh, right, the Lovable Yeti," Hojo said.

"Uh huh," Reeve nodded. He then glance over to Scarlet. "Scarlet?"

"It's really fine, Reeve," Scarlet said. "I oversaw the completion of this monster. It's only capable of love and goodwill."

"95 percent of love and goodwill," Hojo mumbled.

"Shut it, Hojo," Scarlet snapped.

"You, orange!" Shouted a voice from the top of the stairs near the Shinra Tower.

"Who's an orange?" Elena asked.

"It's Rufus," Scarlet sighed.

"Rufus is an orange?" Elena asked

"No, the person who said orange is Rufus."

"Well then who did Rufus call an orange?"


"But he said 'You, orange!'"


Rufus walked down the stairs from the central Shinra Tower towards the podium, his hand still outstretched and pointing at Reeve.

"You, Reeve have been taking my promotion a little too seriously, orange. I'm going to remind you who is the boss of not just Shinra, but this entire town, orange!" Rufus insisted.

"Why do you keep saying orange?" Reeve asked.

"I got the rhyming bug, orange. If I don't say orange at the end of each sentence I speak in rhymes, orange," Rufus said.

Reeve rolled his eyes. "Uh, right. Well I'll schedule a Seuss-ectomy for the 26th. In the meantime, I have a Christmas Parade to run."

"For this to make sense, I guess I'll have to rhyme,
if you keep me out, this thing won't start on time!" Rufus shouted.

"What are you talking about?" Reeve asked, folding his arms.

"If I can't be in this, then I've no other course,
I'll shut off Mako, and convince you with force!" Rufus explained.

"I don't know which is more annoying, the rhyming, or the 'orange'," Tseng commented, folding his arms.

"So if I understand you, you're saying if we don't let you on the Parade, you'll shut off the city's power supply?" Reeve asked.

"That's right, orange!" Rufus said.

"Spirit of Christmas, indeed, Rufus," Reeve said. "If you want to wreck everybody's Christmas just to get on some silly parade, then go ahead."

"You will rue the day, Reeve, orange."

== December 24 11:45 AM==

"So, how long before we resort to cannibalism?" Reno asked.

"We're almost out of mixed nuts and pretzels," Rude said.

"You two could stop inhaling them for one," Cissnei suggested. "Even tweedle-fat and tweedle-fatter have more self-restraint than you."

Reno looked over at the two unconscious forms of Palmer and Heidegger. "They're not restrained, they're drunk."

"Still, they've got the right idea," Cissnei sighed. "This Christmas sucks. I finally am able to buy the presents that I was shopping for all night, but now I'm probably gonna die in this crummy bar."

"Hey!" The bartender cried. "Words can hurt."

Cissnei sighed. "You know what? I need to be positive. After all. We've got a fire, alcohol, we're here together. I mean shoot, it's not like the power went out or anything."

Suddenly there was a split second flicker, followed by the complete darkening of the florescent lights. The chugging of the electric boiler died as well.

"You know, while you were saying that sentence, did you feel Irony's loving hand on your shoulder?" Reno quipped.

== December 24, 12:00 PM==

Rufus stood on top of the Shinra Tower, looking down at the sudden cessation of all the lights in the city. All of it done by his hand.

"When they all look around, I know just what they'll do,
they'll stop and then they'll start to cry 'boo-hoo'!" Rufus laughed.

But suddenly, the sound of a marching band swelled up and echoed through the city. Brass, woodwinds and booming drums carried the melody of Good Christian Men Rejoice up into the air , reverberating off of each falling flake of snow, warming the air with its melody.

As Rufus looked down at Sector 8, he saw the parade begin its route around the city, traveling first into Sector 1.

"It came without lights. It came without heat,
And I thought my revenge was pretty damn sweet!" Rufus groaned.

"Well if Christmas beat this without even a pause,
then what I'll have to do," Rufus picked up his shotgun and cocked it. "is kill Santa Claus."

== December 24, 12:45 PM==

The Parade had reached the end of Sector 6, and as the Sector 7 Plate had never been repaired in all these years, it made a U-turn around one of the buildings and began making its journey back through all the Sectors.

"You know even with Rufus making a fuss, this Parade still turned out quite well," Domino said to Reeve.

"He's just a big kid," Reeve said. "He'll realize he's not lost anything big, the power will be back on tonight and then we'll all have a Merry Christmas."

Reeve looked back to the actor they'd gotten to play the role of Santa Claus. "How you holding up back there, Mr. Claus?"

"Just fine, Reeve!" He called back.

"We're almost back on the Parade route, so game faces everybody!" Reeve said.

As Reeve looked back towards the route, a loud thud was heard on the back of Santa's Sleigh.

"Ho ho holy crap!" Santa shouted, looking behind him.

Rufus stood in the back of the sleigh with his shotgun.

"All I wanted was a Christmas, orange!" Rufus shouted.

"Hold on!" Santa said, his hands shaking. "I probably have an orange in this bag somewhere."

"Not like... it's just... shut up Santa, orange!" Rufus shouted.

"Rufus, have you gone mad?!" Reeve shouted. "You're going to kill somebody just to get a spot on a Christmas Parade?!"

Rufus looked at Santa, down at his shotgun and then to all the people of the Parade around him.

He sighed. "No, I guess not, orange. I just don't know why you wanted so badly to keep me out of the damn parade, orange."

"Rufus, we discussed this," Reeve sighed.

"Uh guys," Santa said. "I don't think Hojo's Yeti likes Rufus holding that shotgun."

The two men looked back and saw the Yeti start to snarl and stamp its feet.

"Abandon Sleigh!" Domino shouted.

The four jumped off of the sleigh as the Yeti knocked it over. Rufus landed hard in the snowbank, but it was nothing to Santa who hit a curb disturbingly hard, and was knocked unconscious. The Yeti swung around towards Rufus who leaped around him, rolling and almost falling over the edge of the fallen sector plate.

The Yeti turned and looked at him with fierce, insane rage.

"Rufus!" Reeve shouted.

The Yeti charged and Rufus jumped to the side, and the wild beast fell over the edge.

== December 24, 1:00 PM==

"W-well, we're g-gonna die," Reno said, teeth chattering as their fire began to die.

"N-not e-even d-d-drunk," Rude quivered.

"Hey, c-come on guys. I-if we k-keep this fire going," Cissnei said. "At l-least we've still g-got a roof over our h-h-heads."

Suddenly there was a massive crash from above as the Yeti fell through the roof.

"Huh," Cissnei remarked, folding her arms. "T-that's a n-new one."

"I h-have, cell phone s-s-service again," Rude said.

"D-d-do me a f-favor Cissnei. C-c-complain that we d-d-don't have a m-m-million gil," Reno requested.

==December 24, 1:15 PM==

"Rufus, I'm sorry," Reeve said. "I didn't realize how much this meant to you."

"Oh, I'm sure I'm just overreacting," Rufus sighed.

"Well obviously," Reeve nodded. "That goes without saying."

"Hmm, our Santa appears to be quite conked out," Domino said. He then looked at Reeve and back at Rufus.

"Hmm. Rufus, I think I've a fair compromise," Domino said.

==December 24, 1:45 PM==

The Parade arrived back at Sector 8 almost on schedule. The Turks, Palmer and Heidegger were in the crowd, albeit they had taken time to stand as close to the warming fires as possible.

"Well, at least we got out in time to see the last bit of the Parade," Cissnei said.

"Hey, here it comes!" Heidegger called, pointing towards the end of the street.

The previous Santa was laying down in the back, covered in a blanket, and a very familiar face had taken on his coat and hat.

"Is that, Rufus?" Scarlet asked to Hojo, standing on the podium.

"Forget Rufus, where's my Yeti?" Hojo demanded.

"Dead," Tseng said. "It fell off the edge of Sector 6."

"What?" Hojo cried, looking heartbroken. "But I went through the trouble of creating love just so that the poor miserable creation could exist!"

"Sorry, Hojo," Elena said, patting his back.

Palmer was distracted looking at the man in the back of the sleigh.

"Heidegger, do you know who that man is?" Palmer asked.

"No," Heidegger said.

"He's the man who asked me out last night at the bar," Palmer laughed.

Heidegger laughed. "So he really did like the Santa hat."

The Sleigh stopped in front of the podium and Rufus stepped out of it. Along with Reeve and Domino he walked up the stairs to the podium. Rufus looked over to Reeve, who nodded. Rufus walked over to the microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys," Rufus began.
"I've learned that Christmas is not just 'bout the toys.

It's about being with those who make you feel happy,
without people who love you, Christmas is just crappy,

And while yes it is true that I cut off the power,
I sure learned a lot in the past half an hour,

So if you'll forgive me for not being that bright,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good light!"

With the press of a button on his phone, all the power in the city came back on. Everywhere the sparkling and twinkling of lights shone through every street, and the hum of dozens of generators and heating systems kicked on.

"And now to all you a bid a Happy Holiday Season,
And um, something or the other-" Rufus stopped. "Oh thank goodness, I'm cured! It's a Christmas Miracle!"

Hojo walked over to the edge of the Sector.

"Hmm," he sighed. "Oh? Hey! Look down here!"

Scarlet and Tseng rushed over to him, and a great deal of the crowd began moving over as well. The Yeti had climbed up the side of the Sector and was now standing at the edge of the platform.

"He looks lucid to me," Tseng said.

The Yeti's face was contorted into what vaguely resembled a smile.

"I knew it! Monsters bounce!" Hojo laughed. "Well I've got my Christmas present!"

"I've got the rest of yours!" Cissnei called out throwing a package to Scarlet.

"Awesome! The new myPhone! How'd you know?" Scarlet smiled.

Heidegger handed Palmer a bottle. "We've got ours!"

"And ours," Rude and Reno said together, pulling out shotglasses.

Tseng and Elena kissed, and Rufus pulled Reeve into a bear hug. The two men then bent down and shouted into the microphone.

"Merry Christmas from Shinra Inc!"