A Simple Survey:Volume1 File12
File 12: A Santa Claus Trained as a Gentleman Thief
Santa Claus existed.
And he was quite nearby.
“Here’s your chasu-men! Oh, are you Santa Claus by any chance? Your outfit is all red.”
And yet this was a Chinese restaurant with the floor sticky with oil!!
“(Shh! You can’t do that, old lady! There’s a rule saying any children who learn Santa’s identity don’t get any presents! So don’t go around saying that!!)”
I frantically looked around, but it was lunchtime on a weekday, so there were no kids in the restaurant. All the good kids were in school. The only other customers were a pair of well-built foreigners.
“This is a bath poster.”
“Uh…Why are you taking it into the bathroom?”
“Hey! Don’t ask that! You’re insensitive!!”
They were speaking English, but from what I could gather of that exchange, they had not heard what we were saying over here.
The old lady looked puzzled.
“Why do you have a rule like that?”
“I didn’t make the rule, so I don’t know. After all, there are over a million Santas across the world. Now, time to eat.”
“Well, having dreams is a good thing, so keep up the good work.”
Just as the old lady left with a smile, my cell phone began to vibrate. While slurping up the noodles, I used my left hand to check the email.
(…Shit, I had a feeling it would end up like this.)
After finishing the chashu-men, I left the Chinese restaurant. A pure red sports car was stopped out front. Needless to say, that was Santa Claus’s theme color. Well, I couldn’t deny that a certain famous carbonated beverage had had a hand in that. But leaving that aside…
“Rightia, Leftail. …Why do we have a two-seater when there’s three of us?”
“Reindeer are viewed of as two to a group, so it can’t be helped.”
“And Santa is seen as sitting in the back, so it can’t be helped.”
“Keep this up, and I’ll stick a bit in your mouth and whip you.”
The two people speaking brazenly were both beautiful girls with long blonde hair. They were not twins. All modern reindeer were like that. They wore light brown fur coats and thick collars with small bells attached. Overall those partners of mine looked like their outfits had cost more than my own as Santa.
As I had no other choice, I crammed myself into the small luggage space.
“I read the email. I take it Shindou Mimi-chan’s parents refused.”
“Yes, but it wasn’t for religious reasons.”
“More accurately, the mother wanted to cooperate, but the father got really angry for some reason.”
I clicked my tongue.
“So it’s 2 against 1 if you count Mimi-chan. Continue.”
Rightia practically jumped up from the passenger seat in joy at the sulky way I said that.
“Now we’re talking! If the dad hates Santa, then Mimi-chan must have had a rough time of it when no present was delivered year after year. We need to give her something worth waking up to!!”
In contrast, Leftail tapped her index finger in irritation on the steering wheel and voiced her concerns.
“But, Santa. This is the home of the president of Peach Software, a multinational corporation. The industrial espionage countermeasures are probably some of the best in the country. How are we supposed to sneak in?”
Basically, Santa Claus went to the houses of all children who wanted a visit.
However, there were some houses that were difficult to deliver presents to for various reasons.
We were called in for those cases.
Those cases called for a Santa Claus trained as a gentleman thief.
“Rightia, did you get the blueprint of the mansion?” I asked, but the reindeer operating a tablet computer with her index finger shook her head.
“The data had been deleted from the construction company’s system.”
“Try their advertising firm. If I’m not mistaken, footage of that mansion being constructed was used in a TV ad. Only a dozen or so seconds was used, but it covered weeks of time. The ad let you see the mansion being built as if it was being fast forwarded.”
“I see. …Oh, here it is. It looks like I can get a diagram from this footage.”
“Good, good. Leftail, how did the investigation go?”
“Mimi-chan wants one of those stuffed bears that moves based on an AI. She wrote it in one of the Christmas cards to Santa Claus that are sent from around the world to the Vatican. I have already purchased it.”
“Okay. That just leaves their security.”
Peach Software did not leave its security to some external security company. Instead, the group had bought up an entire security company and had them protect the secrets of the multinational corporation using a unique routine. Naturally, they were very well trained. As the company was left in charge of some military software, they had to deal with foreign spies disguised as industrial spies on occasion. I had heard that the guards had more than handled them.
In other words, a standard Santa Claus could not handle this.
There was a good reason that Mimi-chan had never before been delivered a present.
“I can dig up the locations of cameras and sensors using the diagram of the mansion, but I won’t be able to ‘see’ where the flesh-and-blood guards patrol. I doubt that data will be easily stolen either.”
We would be taking on an opponent of that caliber without practice.
It would certainly not be fun.
“This is dangerous. If it turns into a straight fight, there is nothing the three of us can do.”
Despite what she was saying, Rightia seemed to be enjoying herself very much.
I calmly replied to the mini-skirt reindeer to bring back her self control.
“I have never heard of a Santa Claus charging in through the front door. We sneak in during the dead of night.”
“If the mother wants to cooperate, how about we try contacting her?”
“Do you really think that old man will let that happen? He’s always boasting about the overwhelming market share his internet browser and smartphone have. In fact, he made that tablet you’re using. Don’t you think he would intercept any contact we tried to make?”
“That’s it!” I snapped my fingers. “Let’s contact the mama knowing that the old man will intercept it. If we give them a false infiltration route, the guards will focus in that direction.”
“Then why don’t we send a card announcing what we’re going to do? Or rather, 50 or even 100 of them. Even if he knows most of them are false, he’ll have to post a certain level of security at all of them. That will leave fewer guards where we need to go.”
“If we’re gonna use a bluff, why don’t we make it as flashy as possible? Something like firing the present through a window using a small rocket. That way they would have to keep an eye on things away from the mansion as well.”
Those were the kinds of methods a Santa Claus would use to find a way in.
We were thought of as the representative of miracles, but what we actually did was rather down-to-earth.
“Okay, three more days…”
“Hee hee hee. This will be cutting it pretty close, won’t it?”
“I’d say this isn’t as bad as when we snuck into the residence of the president from that EU nation.”
“That isn’t what I meant.”
“Unless that front comes in, this won’t be a White Christmas.”
Our target was an impregnable mansion.
Protecting it was a private unit of security guards that caused even military intelligence departments to pale. The difficulty level of this job was about as high as it got and it was entirely possible we could be killed.
But we might as well just do it.
It wasn’t Santa Claus’s job to calculate out the risks and returns. We would merely make a visit in the darkness of the night to deliver presents to the children who wished for them.
The voices of children returning home could be heard along a twilit street.
“What did you ask Santa for?”
“Games! That new 3D system!!”
“I asked for a baseball uniform!!”
“Wait. Are we really supposed to tell people before the presents are delivered?”
With the contents of their backpacks making clunking noises, the children ran along the wide road, cheering at all the decorative lights.
One girl among them was left behind.
As she stood still, she looked up into the cloudy sky.
“I wonder if he’ll actually come this year…”
(We will make sure of it.)
The Santa Claus and reindeer that passed by her on the street swore that in their hearts.
As long as children made those clumsy requests…
As long as they desired to meet Christmas morning with a smile…
A real Santa Claus deployed from Norway would break through any form of security and sneak into that mansion.
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