By the Blunderbuss

Okay, not exactly the most in-depth fic you'll find here. Hell, it's only one scene. I just felt in a festive mood and decided to put my thoughts into words. Imagine how the game could have gone if Cloud and co. had seen this board meeting when they infiltrated the HQ...

President Shinra banged his fist loudly on the table in front of him.

"Be quiet, everyone!" he shouted over the noise of the others chattering loudly. "The 51st weekly meeting of the Board of Directors will come to order! Can we get started, please? Schedules are tight, you know!"

Gradually, the others succumbed to silence.

"Thank you." The President leaned forward and picked up the agenda he'd written out earlier. "As I need not remind you, it is only a matter of hours now before we must begin the Project. Thus, I have to go through the usual formalities to make sure none of you have forgotten anything."

"Gyo ho ho!" Heidegger boomed. "You know we're all set! I'll not have anything messed up in my division! Everything's going to schedule, sir!"

"Indeed? You've got the food collection sacks all ready?"

"All taken care of," Scarlet reassured him. "Not as though we'll need too many of them, though. Not with him to plough through the mince pies."

"One must be prepared," the President replied calmly. "We cannot be seen to leave any behind, and it is within possibility that Heidegger will flag towards the end."

Heidegger patted his stomach. "I'll do my best for the company, don't you worry, sir!" he chortled. "It takes more than a few mince pies to stop me!"

"Very good. How is the sled holding up?"

"The preliminary tests were promising," Hojo explained, in his usual quiet, almost inaudible voice. "It withstood pressures of marginally under ten megabaubles per square inch before buckling took place, and the final streamlining of the chassis should be completed by now. It's nowhere near as good as the previous model, but..." He sighed. "One must make do. Such a tragic loss, the Nibelheim incident. Thirty years' work went into that sled."

"What about the speed tests?" Shinra asked, unconcerned. The Nibelheim incident was in the past. Besides, they'd given up on trying to do the whole world in one night since then. Merely doing Midgar was enough of a hassle.

"It was going at Mach seventeen earlier!" Palmer piped up proudly, "but that was before we loaded it up with old Beardy over there. I don't know how fast it'll go with him. If only we had more funding we could -"

"Shut up. How long will it take to cover the whole city?"

"We have calculated an estimate of approximately ten point three seven hours," Hojo put in. "At that rate, it will be practically impossible to do it within the... usual specifications."

"You mean we'll have to deliver some while it's still light," the President paraphrased wearily.

"Not necessarily. I have already given orders for the daylights to be dimmed three hours early throughout the lower plate. If we do the houses there first, it should give us ample time to do the upper plate during the actual night."

"Hojo, sometimes you astound me." The President gave him a nod of recognition. "So what about the presents? Heidegger, that was your job."

"Gyo ho ho! I've got my Elves loading the sled up right this minute," Heidegger replied. "Tseng told me they should be finished in a couple of hours."

"And they'll be standing by throughout the night to do the refills?"

"They're uniformed, saturated with coffee and ready to go, sir!" Heidegger laughed, then elbowed the President cheerily in the ribs. "You should see the new girl in that green get-up, sir," he muttered conspiratorially. "Let's say that she makes a real good pixie, you know what I'm saying?"

"I can hazard a guess." The President tore his gaze away from Heidegger's suggestive leer and scanned down the agenda. That hadn't taken nearly as long as he'd expected. The execs had certainly got their act together since last year's fiasco.

"Well, as far as I can see, you've got everything sorted," he conceded, quite surprised. "All I can say is that I'm sorry I tore you away from your work. Let's get back on with things, shall we?"

"No problem!"



The President watched them as they walked out. No, wait a sec... something wasn't quite right...



"You know the uniform, don't you? Red and white coat, bobble hat, belt, black boots. You've done a good job of powdering your beard, by the way."


Shinra sighed. "Heidegger, you've forgotten your hat."