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Pick Up After Your Reindeer

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"Why?" Jeremy muttered to himself as he walked down the hall to the control room. "Why, oh why, oh why did May choose an arctic setting for out next lair?" This was their new adopted home. The first lair had been a lovely hollowed out volcano in the Pacific, until they found out the island had been built on top of the remains of Krakatoa. That was a bad idea anyway, but then James began working on an earthquake generator, and the resulting seismic activity woke up the long-dormant volcano. Then shit blew up. A lot of shit blew up. In fact it sank the island the hollowed out volcano sat on. James, Richard, and Jeremy escaped due to the caravan airship that promptly burned in Sydney when Jeremy tried to fry chips. But beggars can't be choosers, so Evil Geniuses have to find the first available Evil Genius lair. That lair happened to be above the Arctic Circle.

Matters were not helped by James and Richard being in perpetually foul moods. Richard hated wearing hats much of the time, as they messed up his hair, and Mindy wasn't with him to keep him warm. And James simply hated the cold, period. He hated everything about it: the snow, the clothing, the boring landscape that only changed by adding more snow on top of it. Now there was something else to sour his sunny disposition.

Reindeer droppings. That fell from the sky. Considering the surrounding landscape had never allowed for the presence of reindeer, it was the only conclusion James could draw. James would nearly go nuclear if a neighbor didn't pick up after their dog at home, so naturally he'd be that way over this. And it happened every day, too, so it wasn't just some wandering herd making a stop to eat and rest. Richard and Jeremy simply shrugged off the idea; both had lived with animals and understood that sometimes, ahem, shit happens. But this was an invasion into James' orderly world, and when you're dealing with an Evil Genius, those intrusions could cause problems.

There was one morning when James happened to be outside. He heard the sound before he could see it, coming in quick succession almost as quick as machine gun fire: plop plop plop plop plop plop. James dove out of the way just in time. A line of reindeer droppings strafed the landscape. James looked up, trying to get a look at who just attempted the drive-by, and couldn't believe what he saw. Stunned, he walked back inside.

"James, you okay, mate?" Richard asked, leading him to a chair.

"What happened, Slow?" Jeremy asked.

"I was outside," James answered, his voice not quite in reality. "I heard it coming, then I saw it coming, a line of droppings. I dove behind a snowbank so it missed me, but I got a good look. It was just above me."

"What did they look like?" Richard asked.

"Like reindeer, you blithering idiot!" Jeremy grumbled.

"I couldn't believe it," James continued in shock. "There were eight of them in harness. And while I couldn't see the driver, I could hear his voice, saying Ho ho ho.

"Wait-- are you saying the perpetrator is Santa Claus?" Jeremy asked with a glow in his eyes. James nodded. Both Jeremy and Richard collapsed to the floor with laughter.

"I am irritated by your disbelief," James stated.

"Sorry, mate," Richard breathlessly replied , trying to get hold of himself. "It's just, James, Santa Claus doesn't exist. You've known that since you were a kid."

"I know what I saw," James argued. "There was a sleigh, driven by a man with a beard, being pulled by reindeer. And the reindeer opened the bomb bay doors and dropped in formation."

Jeremy listened quietly for a moment. "Well, obviously this raises three questions," he stated somberly. "First, what drugs should you be taking because you saw that? Second, what drugs were you taking in order to see that? And third, can we have some, too?" Once again both Jeremy and Richard laughed helplessly.

James crossed his arms, glaring at both men. "All right," he replied. "Come outside with me this time tomorrow and I'll show you."

The next day Richard and Jeremy were standing with James, complaining of the cold, when there was a sudden rush of wind, followed by the plop plop plop plop plop plop plop. They split, James diving for one snowbank, Richard and Jeremy for another.The strafing run had missed, but they got a very good look.

"I don't believe it!" Jeremy announced.

"They really do exist! Flying reindeer!" Richard cried.

James joined them. But all three were paying attention to each other and not that the sleigh had turned around and they had set up for another run: plop plop plop SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT plop plop plop! As the sleigh pulled away there was a familiar ho ho ho. Then it was gone. James, Richard, and Jeremy stared at one another in surprise and disgust. This was nearly as bad as the time their former neighbors Boris and Natasha had launched their compost heap into the hollowed out volcano; knowing exactly what was covering them now was even worse. Worst of all was the look in James' eyes, the look both Hammond and Clarkson could clearly see.

Jolly Old St. Nick had just made James May's shitlist.

***

"Jezza, what the fuck are we going to do?!" Richard asked a couple of weeks later. James had closed himself up again, drawing up plans he had no intention of letting his mates/equal partners see until he was ready to unleash them. "Now we know Santa Claus is real, and I really don't want my name on blasting him out of the sky."

Jeremy nodded in agreement. "Something tells me there's a special place reserved in hell for anyone who does that," he said. "Though this is a time when I sort of understand how pissed James is. It's taking our minions longer to shovel the daily bombing runs away, and they have to avoid the target practice themselves."

"That's assuming it hasn't snowed the night before and made land mines out of the droppings for out minions to step in," Richard frowned. "I can say with the authority of someone who used to live on a farm with various animals, reindeer shit stinks!" Both men were silent for a moment. "So how do we stop the spaniel this time?"

"Have we actually tried to contact Santa Claus? Ask him to please pick up after his pets?" Jeremy asked.

Richard arched an eyebrow. "Well, now, it's not as if you can look that up on Google, is it? And we're pretty much beans away from a full English Breakfast, according to the Evil Genius community. There's no asking them."

Jeremy sighed. "I really don't want to break out the sledgehammer yet, until we're sure a smaller hammer won't do the trick," he complained. "We do have to be careful about not setting this place on fire while disabling the thing."

"Like Slow's garden shed," Richard smirked.

"You set one garden shed on fire destroying a death ray and you never hear the end of it!" Jeremy fired back.

"We got trapped in that burning shed," Richard complained. "Good thing I had that gun to shoot that lock."

"You shot straight that day," Jeremy agreed. "One of the few things you've managed to do successfully in a straight line." Jeremy didn't see the dirty look Richard gave him for that.

From out of nowhere James appeared. He looked relaxed and happy, but both men knew this could be a facade; the important thing was to look into his eyes, that told his true state. They looked. And it worried them. "Would you like to see how we're going to deal with the jolly old menace?" He asked. Richard and Jeremy nodded. "Come see."

Walking into the lab, Clarkson and Hammond expected to find an invention of immense proportions, possibly a death ray as large as the one that got even with Boris and Natasha and convinced them to move away. "Is that it?" Richard asked, looking disappointed at the rocket launcher and RPG laying nearby.

"What do you mean 'is that it '?" James responded.

"We were expecting something....A bit different...." Jeremy stated , trying to be diplomatic. "It's a surface-to-air missle."

"Everything got blown up with the volcano," James shrugged. "My.state-of-the-art components, the parts, the tools...we've only been at this lair a few weeks. I haven't had the time to replace everything yet. And if you try to order all that shit in one go at Amazon people get suspicious and ask questions."

"So, where did you get the rocket launcher?" Richard asked.

"I have made connections," James explained, "and let's just say there were those who were happy we sorted out Boris. Turns out we weren't the only ones at the receiving end of his experimental technology. They were only too happy to help. Unlike you two pillocks, there is some acknowledgment of who the real Evil Genius is. You two are the public face and give it panache. I do the work. And, in case you're interested, that is no ordinary rocket propelled grenade. I've applied the same controls as a Tomahawk missile to it."

Jeremy's eyes narrowed. "You mean, this will follow the target?" He asked.

James nodded in smug satisfaction. "That bearded menace won't get away from me," he announced. "An RPG normally requires a straight shot. Now all that's needed is the launcher to get it going."

Richard was horrified. "You do realize who we're talking about, don't you?!" he spluttered. "It's Santa Claus, you cretin! Remember? Christmas morning? Toys under the tree? Leaving biscuits to eat?"

"His reindeer leaving shit everywhere? Dive bombing us? Circling back? The smell?" James countered. "No, I haven't forgotten. Nor have I forgotten the arse laughed at us as he rode away." There was a look in James' eyes that gave Richard pause. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to work out flight coordinates for the sleigh."

"James? " Jeremy managed to squeak. "Do you realize tomorrow is Christmas Eve?"

"Why, so it is," James smiled. He walked over to the lair-wide PA system. "Attention, minions," he announced. "It has been pointed out to me that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. In one hour, everyone will be given a leave to celebrate Christmas and Boxing Day. Enjoy your holiday. Work will resume bright and early the morning after." Richard and Jeremy could hear the dull roar of minions cheering. "Now, they don't have to witness what's going to happen," James stated to his colleagues. "And by the time they return we'll have plenty of reindeer meat in the cooler for venison steaks and roasts." James grabbed his weapon and left for a private area of the lab.

Jeremy waited until James was out of earshot. "Hammond, there are roughly 100 billion levels of Wrong to this," he said. "This idea goes so far beyond Batshit I don't even know where this ends up."

Richard nodded. "We have to grab that RPG and fuck with the coordinates," he replied. "What do you know about Tomahawk missiles?"

"Hammo, I am a Doctor of Engineering," Jeremy reminded him. "Twice."

"You are also an Orangutan with no mechanical sympathy," Richard added. Jeremy shot him a look. "So can you break the damned thing without blowing us up?"

"If nothing else I'll just bash it with a hammer,' Jeremy answered. Richard watched him walk away, thinking that they just might save Christmas at the expense of it being their last Christmas on Earth.

***
An hour later the minions cleared out completely for the Christmas break, leaving Richard, James, and Jeremy alone. The plan was simple enough: somehow distract May long enough for Clarkson to mess with the locator on the RPG; after all, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, Richard thought to himself, plenty, the most likely of which ended in a giant fireball and actually flying higher than Santa. If that was the case, Hammond concluded, they might actually get the chance to shit on the reindeer flying below them. Karmic justice achieved. The other scenario involved complete failure, James shooting Santa Claus out of the sky, and all three of them facing some kind of eternal damnation at the time of their death, which for Richard and Jeremy would be sooner rather than later, as James would likely find out and go all Bond Villain on them.

Needless to say, it was likely this three-way partnership of ransoming governments to achieve world domination was over. Especially as Richard preferred being with his wife someplace less Arctic. He was going to take the load of money he'd made and he and Mindy were going to go live happily ever after somewhere without hollowed out volcanoes or death rays or rocket launchers or reindeer with intestinal problems and excellent aim.

But first...He and the Orangutan were going to try and save Christmas.

He lay awake most of the night, waiting for the beginnings of an Earth-shattering kaboom when Jeremy completely fucked up the plan. But the kaboom didn't come, whether Jezza was successful or just couldn't carry it out Richard wasn't sure. He wouldn't find out for sure until James stepped out to shoot down the sleigh.

"Hammond, you look tired," James chided him the next morning. "Don't tell me you're actually excited about Christmas Eve?"

"More like horrified," Richard groaned, barely keeping his eyes open while the coffee was brewing. "You do realize you're killing the joy of billions of children, don't you?"

"Maybe those billions of children should put their faith and trust into someone who'd pick up after his reindeer," James answered back. "As it is, we won't have to deal with the situation much longer. I'm doing it this morning, right after breakfast."

Richard's eyes snapped fully open. "You are?"

"All the calculations have been made," James replied, his voice full of glee. "The menace is flying over in roughly one hour and fourteen minutes. So drink up, wash up, and meet me outside to see it." He started to leave, but turned back. "In my world, Hammond, there is no Santa Claus."

***

"What are we going to do?" Richard whimpered to Jeremy in his quarters. It may have been the fastest Hammond ever cleaned himself and dressed. "What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do, huh? WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GONNA DO?!"

"First of all, you're going to get a grip," Jeremy told him. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time Richard had gotten into a fit of hysteria and Jeremy had had to be the voice of reason and constraint; Richard's first time handling one of James' death rays brought about such a fit, and both of them nearly lost it when they discovered James was trying to learn how to split atoms in his garden shed. "Deep breaths, Hammond. In and out. You forget I was going to change the coordinates on the RPG."

"And did you do that?"

There was a pause. "I think so."

"You THINK so?!?"

"Shhh! Relax, Hammond. Think good thoughts. Porsches...motorbikes....Wales. Yes, I think so. I downloaded the instructions from the internet and I followed them. We'll just have to wait and see if it works." Jeremy glanced down at his watch. "One thing's for sure, we won't have to wait long. The flyover is supposed to happen in 10 minutes."

"What coordinates did you change it to?" Richard asked as they walked down the hall.

Jeremy shrugged and kept walking.. "I took a guess," he answered simply .

Richard's dark eyes flew open wide.. "What do you mean, you guessed?"

"Hey, this isn't the time for me to do my calculations by hammer," Jeremy fired back, "and if you thought you'd be a fucking genius at this you should have volunteered. All we can do is hope we're not in for an eternity of coal in out stockings. Or reindeer eggs."

***

They met James outside, shivering either with cold or excitement, nobody knew for sure. "Lovely day," Hammond stated sarcastically. "Couldn't we have met and done this someplace warmer, like the Caribbean? Or Ibiza?"

"Italy would have been better," Jeremy interjected. "At least we could drive around in Ferraris or Lambos."

James shook his head. "Quit nitpicking, will you?" He grumbled. "You'll be warm enough when fiery debris starts crashing down."

"Along with flaming bits of red suit and reindeer legs," Jeremy added. Richard couldn't help but chuckle at the dark image that presented.

"He's coming back from a practice run," James reported. "He should be low enough to get a real good shot." From a distance the sound of sleigh bells could be heard. "He's here," James announced. Sudden terror gripped Clarkson and Hammond: they weren't quite sure where the grenade was now going to go, nor did they want to be the targets of a fly-by shitting yet again. So they simply ran and hid behind a snowbank.

James couldn't be too concerned about his two partners in crime. He picked up the rocket launcher with the rocket already loaded and secured it on his shoulder.

The sleigh bells came closer. It came into view.

Richard and Jeremy held their breath.

James smiled in grim satisfaction.

He fired.

The rocket propelled grenade flew out of the launcher into the sky. And as James watched it flew in a straight line for a glorious second, then circled back and found its new target: the lair. There was a tremendous, Earth-shattering kaboom that knocked everyone off their feet. Then, as James sat up, trying to figure out what the hell just happened, came plop plop plop plop SPLAT SPLAT plop plop plop. As Santa and the reindeer flew out of sight, a voice floated down: Suck it, you spanner! followed by Ho ho ho. Then it was gone.

Richard and Jeremy came out from the snowbank and couldn't help but laugh. "Hammo, did the grenade blow up the lair?" Jeremy asked gleefully.

Richard looked at the flames of their now-destroyed lair. "Why, yes it did," he answered calmly.

"And is our colleague now covered in reindeer shit?" Jeremy asked.

"Why, yes he is," Richard answered in the same tone.

"And...did Santa Claus tell him to suck it, call him a spanner, then laugh at him?"

"Why, yes he did." They doubled over in laughter.

James glared at them. "You pillocks!" he yelled at them. "What did you do to my grenade? WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY LAIR?!"

Richard shrugged. "Made it warmer?" He offered.

"Gave us an excuse to get a lair in a better location," Jeremy told him. "I'm still up for Italy. Come on, I know where there's a hot spring. You can wash off there." With that, they set off.

"Maybe we can find rooms at the local inn and celebrate Christmas in style," Richard suggested. "By the way, James...has anyone told you lately that you smell like reindeer shit?"

"Shut up, Hammond," James grumbled as Jeremy laughed. They continued down the road. "I can't believe all that just happened."

"That's what you get for trying to blast Jolly Old St. Nick out of the sky," Jeremy stated as they walked over the hill. "Karmic justice. And on that bombshell..."

The End