24.358.Organization Santa–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 358
“Organization Santa–Part 3”

After school, La-Iin trudged toward the recess area. She watched the crowd of students as they left school, San-Kyung among them, and glanced over her shoulder to see the students who had decided to come with her.
Fer-Shi was the only pleasant face. Zae-Mia’s confident expression had her feeling that they might be successful. But seeing the others only made her stifle a growl.
Once they reached the recess area, La-Iin sat down. The others followed suit.
“What is the plan?” Shuera-Kaizima asked.
“I’ll get to it,” she snapped.
“She just asked,” Zae-Mia said.
“You’ve gotta be patient with her,” Fer-Shi whispered. La-Iin’s mouth twitched slightly. In this situation she was definitely grateful for Fer-Shi.
“What I need is proof that Zae-Mia’s theory is correct. If we just see one Santa, that’s not any proof. We need proof that there’s a whole organization of Santas out there!”
“Bu’ how?” Yefu-Shenhao asked. “Even if we find a Santa, how’re we gonna find out if he’s part of an organization?”
“We’ll look for reporting back. Or a team mate!” La-Iin shrieked. The students around her stiffened and began to glance around each other worriedly.
“Can you explain more clearly, La-Iin?” Fer-Shi asked politely. La-Iin nodded.
“Okay. What we’re going to do is find proof that there is a Santa organization. Our goal is not to find proof that Santa exists on his own. If we find just that, we failed. We’re looking for proof of an organization.”
“Are we doing this separately, or all together in a group?” Zae-Mia asked.
“We have to separate. We’ll cover more ground that way.”
“Are we doing this at home, or are we going somewhere?” Shan-Zetsu asked.
“We’re going somewhere,” La-Iin said mildly. Fer-Shi could see she was trying her best to hide her agitation. “If we stay at home, we might fall asleep, and we won’t cover much ground. No, we should meet at Malicerie, discuss strategy, and move out on the streets of Bledger!”
Memories of Halloween night replayed in her mind. She couldn’t hide a sigh, remembering that San-Kyung wasn’t coming along with them. She tried to keep her gaze focused on Fer-Shi so she wouldn’t have to meet the eyes of the people who were coming with her.
“What are we going to do to keep in touch?” Fei-Zhust asked. “What should we do if one of us does find evidence of a Santa organization?”
La-Iin’s expression went blank.
“I think Sanyaow-san’s younger brothers have those…what are those called? The, talky….”
“Walkie-talkies?” Ilhe-Anra said.
“I always thought that name sounded so stupid,” Fei-Zhust mumbled to herself.
“Yes, that! Sanyaow-san has five younger brothers, too. It’s not enough for everyone, but….”
“We could split into five groups,” Fer-Shi said. “What do you think, La-Iin?”
“Maybe, if you can get these walkie-talkies,” La-Iin said. “Okay, we’ll meet at Malicerie tomorrow after school. Bring the walkie-talkies if possible otherwise we’ll figure out something else. I have an….ally who could probably help us out. He could probably get us walkie-talkies.” She added to herself, “If he knows what they are….”
She stared at the group once more. “Tomorrow, at Malicerie. We meet up there, and then we move to the streets. If you don’t want to participate, then drop out now!”
None of the students said anything in objection. La-Iin rolled her eyes.
“Fine. Then that’s how it will go.”

***

“For our new students, and those who forgot last year, today is the last day of school until next year. You might have been able to tell that from the fact that we only had three classes today. Either way, enjoy your time off from school, all. Spend the holidays and the new year with family, and just have a good time. But don’t let all you’ve learned fall out your brain. Thank you all for a good year at Malicerie. I look forward to seeing you in the next one.”
As the students dispersed, some began to wish each other a happy holiday, while others chatted excitedly about spending holidays with each other. Many students noticed that San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina left the classroom almost immediately and fairly quietly, without their normal chatter.
The younger students, save for Ai-Reia, head out the classroom almost immediately as well and went for the recess area, though none of the older students noticed where they had gone. Led by La-Iin, they stopped underneath the monkey bars. La-Iin laid down five walkie-talkies on the ground.
“You only got five?” Zae-Mia asked. “You sounded like you could get that friend of yours to get you a lot more.”
“I…” La-Iin slapped her forehead. She rolled her eyes and scoffed. Some of the other students giggled at the silly display.
“So we can still break into teams?” Yefu-Shenhao said.
“I guess…” La-Iin groaned. “You can make your own teams, but I’m going with Fer-Shi and Zae-Mia.”
Zae-Mia blinked at her. “I’m surprised. You don’t seem very pleased about working with us. I was sure you were only going to ask Sanhuun to go with you.”
“You’re the whole reason this started. You know best, so I want you there if you find something.”
“What a high honor,” Zae-Mia said, somewhat shyly.
“If we’re splittin’ into teams, I wanna go with Kokohara,” Yefu-Shenhao said.
“Doshite?” Shuera-Kaizima asked. Yefu-Shenhao stared at her blankly. “Er…why?”
“I just wanna. Dunno why,” she said.
La-Iin handed Yefu-Shenhao one of the walkie-talkies.
“I’d like to go with Konkaeho,” Fei-Zhust said.
“Because why?” Ilhe-Anra asked.
“You seem funny. And perhaps perceptive.”
Ilhe-Anra gave a nod. “I think I’m pretty funny too.”
Fer-Shi handed them one of the walkie-talkies.
“Then I guess it’s you and me, Gyurkang…” Rini-Futo said.
“I don’t mind, but how come I can’t go with Fer-Shi?” Shan-Zetsu asked.
“Because you can’t,” La-Iin hissed, tossing a walkie-talkie their way. “Now, that’s everyone…”
“Hey, Cahongyun, we still have one more walkie-talkie,” Zae-Mia said. La-Iin’s eyes widened. “I could go separately if you want to distribute them all.”
“No, we’ll just not use this one,” La-Iin said bitterly. She then looked up at the sky. Already it was starting to get slightly dark. ‘This is too early,’ she thought to herself. ‘Were we out that long or is the world just crazy?’
“So what is to happen next?” Shuera-Kaizima asked.
“For now we should stay low. Then, when Malicerie is closed up, we’ll start there and then keep going all around Bledger.”
The others nodded. They stayed close by Malicerie but left the recess area, most of them instead opting to stay among the trees surrounding their school.

“Merry Christmas!” Sharai called out as he left the Malicerie building. The Principal locked it and walked off behind him.
The sky above was dark and there was a chill in the air that the students could feel quite well even through warm clothes; La-Iin, Zae-Mia, Fei-Zhust and Rini-Futo in particular felt that the cold was going from their wings down to their spines, and it made them shudder.
But once Sharai and the Principal were out of sight, they head for the building. They met up all together only once, then started to scour around in their groups.
“Don’ see anything yet,” Yefu-Shenhao said. “Hope we can fin’ somethin’ before it gets too late.”
“Me too,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “I feel cold even with my fur. I wonder how bad is the cold for you…”
Yefu-Shenhao snorted. “Don’t ask. Ya wouldn’t wanna know. But still. I wanna get home ‘fore it’s too late….they’re gonna be worryin’ ’bout me, my family.”
“Mine too,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “I hope In-Dei tells them I am okay. I should have asked him to.”
Elsewhere, Fei-Zhust and Ilhe-Anra scoured the side of the building.
“Nothing yet,” Fei-Zhust said to herself.
“Do you think when we see Santa we can ask him for a present right there on the spot? Do you think he’d give it to us if we asked kindly, or do you think he’d get mad that we’re trying to find him?”
“I don’t know,” Fei-Zhust said quietly. Ilhe-Anra’s lack of whispering made her slightly nervous. She felt on-edge, as if any moment now they would spot a Santa and miss him or her family or a member of Malicerie faculty would show up. Her nose and wings were stark cold and she couldn’t help but feel slightly dejected.
“Do you want my scarf, Auedarna?” Ilhe-Anra asked.
“Really?”
“Yes, really. I like the cold lots. I love extreme weather best. The middleground doesn’t cut it for me.”
“Well, if you say so…” Fei-Zhust took the scarf from Ilhe-Anra. “Thank you, Konkaeho.”
Rini-Futo and Shan-Zetsu scoured the back of the school, checking around all the fixtures.
“Do you think anybody but us knows what we’re doing?” Shan-Zetsu asked. He was very talkative, Rini-Futo had noticed. Had he been Mr. Chensu, she might have given up trying to talk to him by now, but Shan-Zetsu didn’t make her nearly as nervous.
“I hope not,” she said quietly.
“Do you think we’ll find a Santa? Or the Santa?”
“Maybe. I hope so. Then my wings being so cold won’t be for nothing…”
“Your wings are cold?”
“Mm-hm,” she said, flapping them to see if that would help. “It’s alright. It happens to most avians.”
“I hope they make something someday so your wings won’t be cold,” Shan-Zetsu said, a note of concern in his tone.
“Thank you,” Rini-Futo said. “I think the other avians would like that too.”
“Well, I think even if we don’t find him, I’ll still have fun anyway.”
“Really? Why?”
“I dunno, I just like that you’re not getting sick of me. Lots of people just tell me to go away after I keep asking them questions. You didn’t do that, so thank you lots!”
Rini-Futo smiled to herself. “No, thank you for saying that, Gyurkang.” ‘I wonder if this is how Mr. Chensu feels when someone takes an interest in history….’

La-Iin, Fer-Shi, and Zae-Mia scoured the front of the school. There didn’t seem to be anything there.
“Wow, it’s….really cold,” Zae-Mia said.
“I noticed,” La-Iin said, her tone deadpan.
“You don’t need to be mean,” she sighed.
“…”
“La-Iin can be pretty irritable,” Fer-Shi said. “There’s someone she really wanted to come, but he couldn’t come….”
“Molshei, let me guess?” Zae-Mia said.
“How did you–”
“It’s really obvious, Cahongyun,” Zae-Mia said. “Especially after you just kissed him out of nowhere last week…still, what kind of six-year-old has a crush on a fifteen-year-old? Or anyone, really? I wasn’t thinking about that kind of stuff when I was six. I’m not even really thinking about it now. My siblings love love, but it’s so gross.”
“I agree!” Fer-Shi chirped.
“You would never understand,” La-Iin hissed. “And I’m almost seven!”
“So what? You’re still six, so you’re six.”
“She likes to do that when she’s almost a new age,” Fer-Shi said.
“Stop saying so much about me, Fer-Shi,” La-Iin said. “Zae-Mia, if you were me, you’d understand why San-Kyung is appea–”
“Hey, Cahongyun, you there? Anyone there!? Think me and Kokohara just spotted a Santa!”
“What!?” La-Iin shrieked. Zae-Mia took the walkie-talkie from La-Iin, oblivious to her glare.
“Tell us what you saw!”
“He was wearin’ a red suit an’ he had a Warlock with ‘im! Agh, he’s comin’ yer way!”
All three girls turned around. Hooves clopped against the ground as a man wearing a red suit ran off, followed closely by a Warlock. They were running fast, but the remainder of the team was closing in quickly, particularly Yefu-Shenhao and Shuera-Kaizima, who almost seemed to have all the energy in the world.
“What now!?” Zae-Mia shrieked.
“We find out the truth,” La-Iin said simply. As she did, the men passed them by.
“Shit!” La-Iin exclaimed. She started to fly after the men, followed closely by the group, who began to squeal in delight and call out as if in the midst of battle. The men continued quickly.
Fei-Zhust and Rini-Futo took to the skies behind her. La-Iin bit into her arm and sucked her blood. Her body began the transformation as she picked up speed and began to close in on the men.
“Help me out here!” The man in the red suit called out to the Warlock.
“I can’t focus with all these kids behind me!” He spat back. “You’re gonna haveta wait!”
La-Iin let out a screech and bowled into the man in the red suit. He toppled over and the rest of the children dashed to his side right away.
La-Iin gave a cackle of delight, but she quickly noticed a small pocketbook lying on the sidewalk nearby the red-suit man. She picked it up and opened it.
Before she could say anything, the group of students were blown away by a strong gust of wind. As they were, the Warlock man started to mumble under his breath, and before the students could reach them once again, the duo disappeared. La-Iin tried to slam into the air, but there was nothing there.
“Was that a Santa!?” Rini-Futo called out.
“Ya find any proof?” Yefu-Shenhao said.
La-Iin pulled out the small pocketbook. Inside was a picture of the man, still dressed in the red suit. Underneath it read, No. 496, Shenta Ae-Kul.
“…”
“Is this proof? Or isn’t it?” Zae-Mia said.
“It’s prolly all we’re gonna get,” Yefu-Shenhao huffed.
“Should we keep looking!?” Shan-Zetsu asked.
“No, this is enough,” La-Iin said. “And I don’t know what kind of power that was. They might not even be in Bledger anymore if it’s a really powerful power. I’d have to ask my ally.”
“…so it’s just gonna end here?” Yefu-Shenhao sighed. “No resolution? Darn…”
“Well…” La-Iin opened up the pocketbook once again. The others crowded around it. She was pointing to a small card that read, Christmas Toys for a Child Org.: Dedicated to Decent Christmases.
“You were right, Melongie!” Fer-Shi squealed.
“I was?” Zae-Mia seemed surprised herself.
“This is all the proof I need.” La-Iin said. “If anyone asks where you were, come up with an excuse yourself. Fer-Shi, you can say you were with me.”
“Okay!” She said with a nod.
“I just needed this,” La-Iin said quietly to herself. “This is over. Go back home now.”
The students chattered among each other, but did not start to disperse. La-Iin walked back up to Fer-Shi.
“Happy Christmas,” she said. Fer-Shi smiled. “Happy Christmas!”

—–
That night, many families were happy to be reunited with their children after quite a few hours. Their excuses didn’t matter much to the happy parents and siblings who had just wanted them home.
For La-Iin, Mit-Sun’s worried yelling was nothing compared to having the pocketbook.
‘Now I can plan for this,’ she thought to herself. ‘The world will be even sooner in my grasp.’
She glanced out her window at Sale-Dessu’s house. ‘And maybe he’ll be more important to the future than just telling me things after all.’

“I hope those kids didn’t grab my pocketbook,” Ae-Kul muttered to himself. “Please tell me I just dropped it in the bag…”
“Something wrong, Ae-Kul? You can relax now, your job’s done for the night.”
“I’m fine!” He shrieked. The man behind him blinked in confusion.

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