Naughty or Nice

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Naughty or Nice

Part 1

“Would you look at the ass on this elf!?”

Max glanced over from his work to see Anne lifting the skirt of the “Christmas Elf” he had just unboxed. Beneath her frilled green hem, jingling with tiny brass bells, he saw the elf’s shapely contours in stark detail. He was almost mesmerized by the way the red and white of her candy-striped tights stretched across the smooth, round surfaces of her cheeks.

“Uh… yep!” Max agreed, hastily forcing his attention back to prying open the next crate.

“’Yep?’ You see the plum pudding they gave Jingle here, and all you can say is, ‘Yep?!’”

“What am I supposed to say?” he grunted, prying open another corner of the human-sized wooden crate. That ass is not half as nice as yours? Even in her uniform’s drab khakis, Anne’s generous hips and bountiful backside could not be suppressed, its tantalizing swells and the precise curvature of her panty line seared into his mind’s eye.

“I dunno, maybe show some enthusiasm for just how horny this setup is going to be? Oh shit,” she gasped. “These elves are kinda stacked… and I think they even gave them nipples! C’mon Max, check this out - I know you’re a breast man!”

He felt his face flush as he glanced up again, his eyes inadvertently but inevitably finding Anne’s full, round, and perfect breasts, an enticing glimpse of pale cleavage peeking through the unbuttoned grey of her work polo. She beamed as she tested the blankly-staring elf’s chest, her apple-cheeks glowing from a wide grin. “I’m kinda busy here,” Max muttered, starting on the last corner of the crate.

“Jeez, what’s with you tonight?” she asked, moving on to explore the robotic elf’s nearly identical ‘sister’, Sprinkles.

“This just wasn’t how I planned on spending my Friday night!” The crate’s lid groaned as it came loose with a final pry.

“Somewhere you’d rather be than an empty mall with the E-Cell assistant manager and salesperson of the month for November?” Anne asked, a faint pout not entirely sarcastic in her voice.

He dropped the crowbar, startling them both as it hit the floor with a metal clang. “Sorry,” he said, meeting her dark brown eyes. “It’s not you, I just had this sprung on me last minute. Why are you stuck here, anyway? Is Troy picking you up?”

“Maybe I just want to spend some quality time with my work-husband,” she said airily, going back to prodding the elf-bot. Max felt relief when a smile returned to her pink lips. She was right, he should be enjoying a late-night hang with her. Despite seeing her regularly throughout the day, it was nice to be around her after closing. She was so much more relaxed, none of that ‘sales-mode’ she seemed to be stuck in during mall hours. At night, she’d let her dark, auburn hair fall down over her shoulders, undo the top buttons on her shirt... he shook his head, refocusing on the task at hand.

“You know what I think it is?” Max asked aloud, pushing aside the wooden lid. “It’s that last year, we had a human Santa.”

“Buddy, if you’re lamenting the displacement of the human workforce by horny robots…“ she manipulated Sprinkles’ arms until the droid was grabbing its own breasts, “…then you’re a little late to the party.”

“Yeah, yeah, I saw the new girl at the sunglasses store.” A supermodel fitted with cheekbones that had to have been machine-milled.

“The sunglasses girl is when you noticed? Not the garden store? Not Teddy Bear Palace? That artisanal olive oil place? Every barista at every Star Roast? The inform-”

“Wait, olive-oil girl is a robot?!” Max exclaimed. “But she’s always eating those sticky buns!” A second later. “Wait, is the sticky buns guy a robot?”

Anne snorted. “Of course he is. “ While adjusting the elf’s jaw into a rapturous grin, she muttered, “Still wouldn’t mind him stickying my buns, though…”

“But wait, you’re saying they built a robot that craves pastries?”

“And that sells overpriced olive oil! The latest bots do all sorts of ‘behavioral emulations’, ways to appear human so apathetic shoppers and particularly dense IT workers don’t kick up a fuss while all the flesh-and-blood staff are replaced by plastic-and-oil sales drones.”

Max sighed. “Man, I thought I had a real rapport with olive-oil girl.”

“That must be why you call her as ‘olive-oil girl’,” she muttered, carefully tilting the elf’s head back.

“We’re not on a first name basis or anything, but…”

Anne rolled her eyes. “Did you buy some artisanal olive oil from her?”

“Some citrus-infused vinegar, actually,” Max said, a little defensive.

“That is the entire basis of your ‘rapport’, an if-else statement that runs flirt dot E.X.E whenever you pay a five-hundred percent markup.” She finished posing the elf who now appeared to be having a religious experience while grabbing her breasts. “Whereas our relationship will always be strictly unprofessional, and I would never have it tainted by something as tawdry as commerce.”

“You made me fix your broken phone last week!”

“Yes, but I didn’t pay you for it!” she said with prim satisfaction, moving on to pose Jingle.

Max shook his head, glancing at the paper taped to the Styrofoam lid inside the crate, warnings in bold and italics stressing the importance of immediately updating Mrs. Claus after unpacking her. “Robots everywhere… I can’t believe I didn’t notice…”

Anne sidled up next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, cheer up! Is it the existential crisis that's got you down? Or is it olive-oil girl being less Olive, and more oil?”

“You are the literal worst,” Max groaned, trying not to give her the satisfaction of a smile. “Just help me get Mrs. Claus on her feet.”

“Ooh!” Anne exclaimed excitedly, stopping Max before he could remove the inner lid. “Do you think she’s, like, a super sexy dominatrix Mrs. Claus? Because after those two elves…”

“I’m guessing the Eastbrook Mall opted for the more traditional ‘milk-and-cookies granny’.” He pulled up the lid and was a little disappointed to see he was correct. Inside was a quintessential grandmother dressed in red velvet trimmed with white fur, a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles perched on her bulbous nose.

“OK,” Anne said, only slightly deterred, “but what kind of ass is she working with?”

“Probably more prune than plum,” Max replied, the two of them lifting the inert figure out of the crate. “Plug her in, would ya?” He picked up the control tablet, ‘Mrs. Claus’ appearing in the list of devices beneath Jingle and Sprinkles as soon as Anne attached the power cord. He was surprised at the myriad options available when he selected her – among them, a particular slider caught his eye.

“Hey, Anne,” he called, his finger poised.

“Hm?” she asked, pulling her head from beneath Mrs. Claus’s dress.

“Check this out.” Max ramped the slider all the way down – in response, the machinery within Mrs. Claus hummed to life. Her skin drew tight across her as she stood up straight from her stooped posture, her shawl parting slightly from the swell of a bosom filling the blouse beneath. Her gray curls loosened into golden ringlets beneath her lacey bonnet, framing the face of a beautiful woman at least fifty years younger than the one they had unpacked.

After a moment of stunned silence, Anne stalked toward him. “Give! Me! That!” she demanded, snatching the tablet out of his hands.

“Don’t fuck with her too much,” Max cautioned. “I haven’t updated her yet, and-“

“I can’t believe this!” Anne exclaimed, her fingers flitting across the settings screen. “Who knew Mrs. Claus was so into discipline!” She guffawed, then quickly pulled the tablet away when Max tried to see what she was doing. “When I’m done!” Max stepped back, watching with growing curiosity while Anne continued to adjust settings, muttering to herself, “Some of this… definitely this… why, Mrs. Claus, I had no idea!”

“We should probably update her, though…” Max tried again.

Anne ignored him, running her finger swiftly up and down the tablet's surface. The statuesque beauty suddenly withered back to the kind-faced septuagenarian, then immediately springing into her young, gorgeous incarnation. “Naughty! Nice!” Anne repeated as the droid shrank and grew between the two extremes, machinery inside her facilitating this repeated transformation starting to whine and hiss. “Wait, are her boobs getting bigger every time I do this?” Anne muttered, going faster still.

“Anne, I can see smoke!” Max cried, snatching the tablet from her.

“But I’m not done!” she exclaimed in manic glee, snatching it back. “Just let me-“ the tablet suddenly fell from their hands, cracking sharply against the concrete floor.

“Fuck,” Max summarized, looking between the shattered screen and a young, busty Mrs. Claus, smoke wisping from beneath her red bonnet.

“Max…” Anne started, but was cut off by the metronomic clacking of stiletto heels.

Both her and Max turned to the fast-approaching Evangeline Eastbrook, the mall’s heiress, proprietor, manager, spokeswoman, figurehead – her position wasn’t entirely clear, but what Max did know was that she was his superior many times over, and her sudden appearance never made things easier for him.

“What is this shit?!” she demanded, gesturing at the smoldering, voluptuous blond robot and the lewdly displayed elf.

“Ms. Eastbrook, you’re looking lovely this evening!” Anne attempted. It was true, but when wasn’t it? Evangeline was always immaculately put together, a mannequin perfectly proportioned for the sheer pencil skirt suits she wore. There was never a hair out of place in her severe platinum bob, her austere makeup applied with laser-precision across a face no wrinkle or laugh line would dare besmirch.

She turned to Anne. “E-Cell is starting its new holiday promotion tomorrow.”

“Right as ever, Ms-“

“Then why are you here?”

“Just… helping…” Anne finished meekly. With an apologetic look toward Max, she turned and left, managing her departure with some dignity for the first few steps before breaking into an all-out sprint back to her store.

“And I repeat,” Evangeline stated, the weight of her full attention shifting back to Max. “What. Is. This. Shit?”

“We… I fucked up. Completely! But I promise, this will all be fixed by the time we open!” Her perfect lashes closed slightly, focusing her gaze into a drill-press that Max could feel at the exact midpoint between his eyes. “er… fixed before we open! Hours before we open!”

Finally, Evangeline relented. “Let’s hope that you do,” she said, striding over to Sprinkles and restoring the elf to a more natural pose. “And I want these two ‘elves’ plugged into my security system ASAP.”


“They’re supposedly Holdfast compatible. If so, I could use them in the off-season for patrol and incident response.” Max was having trouble imagining the spritely pair hauling off some rowdy drunk, even if they did lose the tights and bells. “And I want to know if they’re actually going to work, or if I need to send them back.”

“You can count on me,” Max said, trying not to stress over the myriad compatibility issues he was bound to face, given their security system was a few updates behind.

“I suppose we’ll see, won’t we?” Evangeline said coldly before turning away, the clack of her heels echoing in his mind long after her departure.

“Well,” Max sighed, retrieving the cracked and glitching tablet from the ground. “Time to get to work.”

Part 2

“Happy Holidays, Jingle is online!” Jingle the elf cheered to no one in particular, flinging her arms wide in untamed exuberance. She fixed Max with her twinkling hazel eyes and said, “To continue with the setup process, please accept the license agreement on your tablet, OK?”

Max glanced between the grinning bot’s radiant plastic smile and the cracked screen – of course the EULA was hidden behind streaks of broken diodes.

“Do you have a vocal setup process?” Max asked after a few blind taps on what might have been the EULA’s accept button yielded no results.

“Sure, do!” she said with a giggle. “I’ll just need the setup passphrase! You’ll find it, along with several other helpful resources, in the packet marked ‘Start Here.’”

Max sifted through the quick-start guides and colorful offers for upgrades and accessories to transform them into witches, pilgrims, ‘secret shoppers’... He eventually found the card he was looking for. “Um… Register Jingle four X seven… pumpernickel, gumdrop, Vixen.”

She gave a slight shiver, then dove into a somersault, springing up with her bells jingling inches away from him. “Now it’s time to get me hooked up to your network!” she announced, though Max wondered exactly how her programming was guiding her, and why it would have her standing at a distance that could only be described as ‘intimate’. He watched her smiling face, its faintly artificial sheen offset by a smattering of freckles, waiting for her to give some indication why she was this close. But she only stood there, eyes twinkling as they looked into his.

Telling himself he just wanted to ‘see what would happen’, he leaned down to kiss the fay-faced robot on her smiling lips. Immediately she stood on her toes to meet him with a chaste peck, but this was followed by a coy smile that seemed to promise more. “Perhaps you’d like to unwrap your present early…” she said demurely, a finger toying with the ends of her choppy pixie cut.

Max cleared his throat and took a step back, reminding himself that he still needed this job, and getting intimate with the Christmas Elf bot when he had a looming deadline was probably not the best use of his time. “Please connect to network E-M underscore-”

“Sorry?” she said, wearing a confused expression.

“Um… can we resume setup? Y’know, connecting you to our network?”

“Of c-course!” she stammered, her head ticking before her cheery smile returned. “Let’s c-continue with my s-setup!”

“It’s network E-M underscore H-F, and I’ve got the security image… here.” He thumbed through the authenticator on his work phone, showed her the swirling security image. She stared at it, her eyes flashing briefly.

“This is a Holdfast enabled security network. Would you like me to enable my integrated security functionality?”

Max dared to hope it might be just this easy. “Yes, please do.”

She shifted her weight slightly, her face taking on an alarmed expression. “Uh-oh! It looks like you’re not on the latest version! You’ll have to update your Holdfast Security Software before we can continue!”

“Uh… admin override?” he tried.

“Sorry, I don’t know what you mean!”

Max was certain he couldn’t get the network software upgraded in the hours remaining, given that he had been running into strange errors whenever had he attempted over the past week. A wild thought occurred to him, and he approached the elf again, putting his arms around her waist.

“But if you’d like to take a break from the setup process,” she whispered.

“Please try connecting again,” Max said, and she adopted a confused expression before responding with a hesitant, “O-OK!” Max immediately kissed her fully on the lips, feeling an electric shudder course through the bot. When he finally broke from her, she wore a distant, glazed expression.

“C-connectionnnn… up-updaaaate…re-re-re-re-re-re-”

“Try connecting again for me?”

After a long pause, she gave him a vacant smile. “Connection es-st-stablished!”

Max gave a fist pump, daring to hope he might actually sort this out. “Can you configure the other elf?”

“Of course!” Jingle pranced over to the other elf, taking hold of both of her hands. A moment later, Sprinkles’s eyes flew open, her face mirroring her partner’s sugary smile. “Sprinkles is on-line!”

Hoping to carry the momentum, Max said, “OK, now activate Mrs. Claus!”

“You got it!” “Right away!” The two elves skipped over to the busty and broken Mrs. Claus, each taking one of her hands. Jingles looked at the other elf and frowned. “Uh-oh! It looks like Mrs. Claus might need some T.L.C!”

“But don’t worry!” Sprinkles continued. “We can take care of the return process and have her back her, lickity-split!”

“No, no!” Max exclaimed, running up to them. “I need her tonight!”

“Thanks to our fast and easy return process, we can have a replacement shipped within hours, with a guaranteed arrival time of two business days!” Jingle and Sprinkles were already maneuvering Mrs. Claus back into her box, although her youthful and curvaceous transformation was making the fit into the granny-mold packaging difficult. “And if you’ve been watching the calendar as closely as we have, you’ll know that still leaves plenty of time for holiday fun!” Sprinkles gave him a wink that he could only interpret as deliberately antagonizing.

“Before we order the replacement, can you just… let me try to fix her first?”

“I’m sorry, but that would violate her warranty!” Sprinkles said with effusive holiday cheer.

As he considered how kissing might be used to alter their directives once more, Max decided to take a slightly more practical route. “Um… hey, can the two of you do a quick patrol of the mall? Before we handle her return?”

“Of course we can!” Jingle said without hesitation, taking Sprinkles’s hand. “C’mon, Sprinkles!”

Max watched the two elves go skipping off, having his doubts about their off-season utility as guards. “That’s Evangeline’s problem…” Turning back to the awkwardly sprawled Mrs. Claus, half-stuffed into her packaging, Max walked over and tried powering her on with a prolonged press on the back of her neck. He heard a troubling buzzing sound emanating from inside her, culminating in a sharp electric pop! Immediately regretting his decision, Max was about to power her off again when her eyes fluttered open. She stared outward vacantly for several seconds before Max asked, “Mrs. Claus? Are you online?”

Her eyes narrowed, fixing him with a contemptuous glare. “Someone has been a very naughty boy!”

Max chuckled. “You don’t know the half of <urk!>” Mrs. Claus’s hand shot out, gripping his throat as she extracted herself from her packaging.

“And someone needs to be taught some respect!” she continued, drawing herself up on her feet. Max immediately regretted letting Anne have the tablet at all, certain that this combination of a haughty and imposing Mrs. Claus was entirely her doing.

“Power off!” Max wheezed, clutching at her grip. Dozens of protocols and safety features have intervened before her hand exerted even the slightest pressure on his neck, but clearly there were a number of things not quite right with this bot.

“Every year, children around the world conduct themselves with d-dig-dignity and obedience,” she continued, ignoring his command as a slight electric stutter marred her speech.

“S-stop choking me!”

She dropped him to the ground, planting a black leather boot upon his chest and forcing him on his back when he tried to sit up. “And here you are, flaunting their example by reveling in wickedness and perversity!”

“Mrs. Claus, help!” Max tried, hoping to trigger the aid protocol that was present in almost every ‘bot.

“I intend to!” she said in a discomforting whisper, leaning forward with her golden ringlets spilling over her shoulders, her large bust gently shifting beneath a blouse whose straining buttons were poised to be sent flying at any moment. “And that begins with the fun-fun-fundamentallllsszzz-“ her blue eyes crossed, a whisp of smoke drifting from her scowling lips, and Mrs. Claus froze. Max quickly tried to push her boot off his chest, but this only succeeded in destabilizing the bot. With a squeal from her protesting servos, Mrs. Claus collapsed on top of him, her chest smothering his face.

Under most other circumstances, Max would be delighted to be buried in such an ample bosom, silicon or no – but even ignoring the job he needed to do, this bot was proving to be far too unstable for comfort. Pushing her juddering form to one side, he scrambled on all fours for her packaging to find her administrator pass-phrase, only to feel a hand grab him by the ankle.

“Wheerrrrrre d-do you think you’re g-g-going?” she asked, pulling him effortlessly across the polished mall flooring before sitting heavily upon his back.

“Oof! Mrs. Claus, you need to power down, you’re dangerously malfunctioning and-“ Max’s cut his desperate plea short when he heard another voice sounding even more frustrated than his own.

“You’re not listening, I work here!”

Glancing behind him past the blonde bot perched upon his back, he saw Anne being dragged toward the display by Jingle and Sprinkles, the elf ‘sisters’ smiling pleasantly despite Anne’s protests.

“What are you two doing?!” Max exclaimed. “Let her go!”

The two bots immediately complied, though Sprinkles began, “This unit is running compromised software and presents a severity one threat to-“

“Yes, I’ll update you as soon as I can!” Max interrupted, watching as Anne’s own panic-stricken face gave way to wide-eyed amazement at his current predicament.

“So, uh, Max. How’s the setup going?”

Delivering a quick swat to Max’s backside, Mrs. Claus responded, “Max has been a very naughty b-boy!”

“He has, hasn’t he?” Anne said with a smirk. “If only someone could teach him some discipline.”

Mrs. Claus gave an arch laugh that quickly became corrupted with static.

“What the fuck, Anne!?” Max gasped. “This is… she’s…here, there’s an admin passphrase in her box, just read it to her and get her the fuck off of me.”

“Now, when you say, ‘in her box’,” Anne recoiled at the look Max gave her and stepped over to Mrs. Claus’s packaging, rummaging through it while the buxom blonde produced another series of sparks from her absently staring head. “OK!” Anne announced, pulling out a stiff piece of card stock. “Listen up Mrs. Claus X twenty-three… `Candy-Cane, Tinsel, Donner, Dew-Drop.’”

Mrs. Claus shuddered, giving off more sparks. “W-would you like to begin the setup process?” she asked calmly.

Anne chewed her lip for a moment, ignoring the initially incredulous and then desperate shakes of Max’s head. “Mmm… how about first you punish that very naughty boy you’re sitting on.”

“Oh my god, Anne!” Max gasped, trying to wriggle out beneath the Mrs. Claus-bot while she quickly pinned him to the floor.

Anne smirked. “Hey, you started this when you sent the elves after me…”

“That wasn’t on purpose!”

She shrugged. “It also wasn’t as funny.”

Mrs. Claus leaned in close, whispering, “This will go much better for you if you j-just accept your punishment…”

“Alright, Anne,” Max muttered, craning his neck to see the two stock-still elf-bots. “Jingle! Sprinkles! Whatever Mrs. Claus does to me, I want you to do to Anne!”

Anne looked confused for a moment right before the elves pounced on her, knocking her to the mall floor and then sitting across her back in tandem.

“Touché,” muttered Anne, looking across the vinyl floor at her similarly compromised co-worker.

“Balls in your court,” Max remarked, patiently waiting for her to end this. But when she only grinned at him, Max was forced to admit he had grossly underestimated what she was willing to tolerate.

Part 3

“What are you waiting for?!” Anne asked the shuddering Mrs. Claus. In response, the buxom bot sat upright with a whir, raised a hand, and brought it swiftly down upon Max’s backside in a sharp swat across his trousers. While Max recoiled from the strike, the elf-bots did as he had instructed and mirrored the motion, a pair of slaps across Anne’s larger posterior. Anne only grinned and said, “Mrs. Claus, I think Max’s pants are getting in the way of proper punishment.”

“Anne, what the fuck!? This looks bad enough as it is – but if Evangeline finds us with… stop that!” Mrs. Claus dutifully began to work at his button and zipper, her stiff mechanical fingers overpowering his own attempts to remain fully clothed until she tore his khakis free with a sharp tug. Across from him, it seemed Anne was actually helping the elves, wriggling her hips as they both drew her own khakis across her wide curves – and he couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of her black panties, their elastic biting into the plush expanse of an ass that fully lived up to his embarrassingly frequent imaginings.

A sudden slap across his boxers stunned him from his reverie, and the two elves spanking Anne stunned him back into it. He felt confused, aroused, and incredibly frustrated at this predicament, calling out, “Anne! What is it you’re trying to do here?!”

She flashed a knowing grin, biting her lip when the elves swatted her rump once more in response to Mrs. Claus’s continued punishment. “Can’t you just enjoy the moment?” Seeing his forlorn expression, she sighed, and said, “You know, all you’d have to do is spank her right back.”

“Wha? How?!” In what was meant to be a demonstration of futility, he attempted moving his arms to reach Mrs. Claus’s butt where it sat upon his waist, only to discover he actually could. Abandoning his complaint of the impossibility of it, he instead argued the practicality: “And what exactly is that supposed to accomplish!?”

“Just give it a go!”

Not expecting much, Max contorted his arm and blindly delivered as solid a swat on Mrs. Claus’s curvaceous rump as he could. Beneath her woolen coat, he felt the give of her plastic backside, followed by the bot sitting bolt upright. There was a looping buzzing sound, every time ending in a sharp electric snap. “What’s happening?” Max asked.

“In simple terms,” Anne explained, “you attempted to reverse her role from dom to sub, but it looks like she’s having some trouble switching gears. In fact, she seems to be locked in a feedback loop that’s only going to end when her CPU overheats to the point of igniting her inadequately shielded cranial battery pack.”

“She’s going to explode because I touched her butt!?”

“To be fair, you spanked that ass! And to even fair-er, she was not in a good state when this whole thing kicked off.”

“When you made her tackle me!” Max said, writhing out from beneath the bot as she sank on her haunches, her head twitching, smoke beginning to leak from her mouth and ears. “Mrs. Claus, shut down! Power off! Emergency shut down!” he tried, almost tripping over his pants as he scrambled to her packaging and frantically flipped through the minimal ‘quick-start’ guide for some clue on how to power her off.

“Just sit back and watch the show!” Anne suggested, still pinned by the two elves with her own khakis around her thighs.

“If Mrs. Claus literally explodes, I’m fucking done here!” Max ran over to the smoldering bot, putting his fingers beneath her chin and at her temples, pressing firmly for several seconds. He only felt her becoming warmer to the touch as one of her eyes squinted at him. “N-naught-t-tyyyy b-b-boyyyy!”

Anne rolled her eyes. “So you lose your job at a place that has fired ninety percent of its human staff only a few months before they figure out how to shitcan the remaining ten?”

“IF that happens, that’s two months where I can still make rent!” Max leaped back from Mrs. Claus at the sudden eruption of sparks. There was a fizzling sound, and Mrs. Claus’s head shot from side to side, strands of her synthetic her blonde hair wilting from the heat. “Naught-t-t-tyyy not-not-not niiiiice not naughty not naught nice not-“ she squealed in an increasingly high-pitched tone. With a final chastising look at Max and a clear pronouncement of “Naughty!”, her head went up in an almost festive explosion of tinsel and flame.

Max uncoiled from his defensive crouch, staring at the smoke and sparks still pouring from the jagged remnants of the robotic Mrs. Claus’s neck, when he heard a voice shriek, “What in the name of God is happening here?!” The rapid clacking of Evangeline’s approach sent Max’s already frazzled nerves into a state of sheer panic. Even Anne appeared flustered, hastily working at her phone.

Knowing this was an entirely lost cause, that there was nothing he could say or do that would change the outcome, Max sheepishly pulled up his ripped pants and said, “Ms. Eastbrook, there is an explanation...”

“For why Mrs. Claus’s head just exploded? For why those two elves are straddling Miss Keyes’s pelvis? Perhaps there is even a very good reason why her trousers are currently around her knees?”

“Elves on a pelvis,” Anne muttered to herself, still working at her phone.

“Is there something you wish to to add, Miss Keyes?” Evangeline snapped.

Something seemed to have changed in Anne, her attention entirely focused on her phone as her thumbs worked furiously at the screen. “Actually, yeah,” she said, working up the courage. “Max, I wanted to give this to you as a Christmas present, and I know it’s only November, but…”

“Enough!” Evangeline shouted. “I want both of you t-to.” She had a sudden nervous tick, cleared her throat, and began again. “I want b-b-both of of yooouuuu-“ Her words came at a slow drawl, her face locking into a sneer. Max didn’t know what to think - Was she having an aneurysm?!

“Unit compromised!” Jingles and Sprinkles both exclaimed, leaping up from Anne to rush toward Evangeline.

“What are you – get off of me!” Evangeline suddenly came to, trying to push the elf-bots away as they took her by either arm. “Max! Get control of these things!”

“Stop! Jingle, Sprinkles, let her go!” Max shouted, darkly amazed that the situation was still somehow getting worse for him and Anne. “Anne, are you controlling them?!”

“Not even a little!” Anne said, making no attempt to hide the delight in her voice.

“Sorry, but this unit must be powered down,” Jingle said, struggling to maintain her hold on Evangeline.

“And quarantined from the network!” Sprinkles added.

“Then power down!” Max commanded, rushing to aid his very-soon-to-be-ex boss.

“Unable to comply!” they both squealed in unison. “I am engaged in an active severity one security incident!”

“Max!” Evangeline hissed, her face contorted into a level of fury he had never before witnessed. “Get these two bots under control NOW!“

“Right! Uh…” resorting to the only thing that had worked before, Max swallowed and grabbed each of the elves by their surprisingly soft backsides, delivering a firm squeeze with both hands. Jingle and Sprinkles abruptly stopped grappling with Evangeline, jolting upright with an expression somewhere between, “Holiday Cheer” and “Unexpected Groping Exception.”

“Jingle? Sprinkles?” Max said, giving the springy material in each hand a vigorous massage, feeling their skin-tight leggings slipping across their smooth artificial skin. “Prepare to transfer administrative rights to Evangeline Eastbrook. Ms. Eastbrook, could you identify?”

“Yes, I’m Evangeline Eastbrook!” she barked, finally able to pull her arms free, beads of sweat forming on her formerly implacable brow.

“Initiate rights transfer now,” Max said, hoping this would work and that whatever madness was infecting them, they wouldn’t be able to take direct action against their admin. He drew back his hands and gave them each a spank for good measure.

“Transferred!” chirped Jingle, beaming like a maniac.

“T-transferrred!” Sprinkles voiced a half-second later. She suddenly turned to her partner and said, “Error – unit is under the control of a compromised A.I”

“Error!” Jingle responded, reminding Max of a petulant child as she repeated her companion’s line verbatim. “Unit is under the control of a-ack!” Her voice was cut short when Sprinkles lunged at her, and the two Elf robots immediately became locked in a wrestling match amid the high-pitched squeals of their vocalizations and their servos.

“I am fucking done with this shit!” Evangeline said, stepping around the two grappling bots to confront Max.

Shrinking from her approach, he pointed behind her and said, “If you don’t do something, they’re gonna tear each other to bits!” At that very moment, he saw Jingle rip open Sprinkle’s blouse, presumably trying to gain access to her core access panel.

“GOOD!” Evangeline roared. “Because THAT would be an easy warranty case to make! Whereas I don’t know HOW I’m going to explain what the two of you have done to Mrs. Claus.”

“Max introduced a conflict in her directive-“

“Anne, SHUT UP!”

“jus sayin’…”

Behind Evangeline, Jingle tossed aside the shredded remnants of Sprinkles’s top, exposing her candy-cane striped bra, while Sprinkles has managed to remove the same undergarment from her partner, Jingle’s pert plastic breasts bouncing wildly in the melee.

“Can we just get this over with,” Max asked, tearing his attention away from the robotic-Christmas-elf fight to the death. “I’m fired, right?”

“Obviously!” Evangeline paused, brushing the sweat from her forehead. “What’s more, you’ll be facing felony charges for what you’ve done here!”

Max flinched. “Wh-what felonies?!”

“Mmmmm,” Anne piped up, still lying on the ground, focused on her phone. “I’ll show you the list.”

“Anne, would you please start taking this seriously?” Max hissed.

“Neutra-tralize-lized!” Jingle announced, her fist now embedded in the chest of her counterpart, Sprinkles staring at the opening into her electronic inner workings with the same enthusiasm that she had exhibited since being powered on. Her bright eyes became crossed, smoke wafting from her smiling pink lips, as she squeaked, “Ha-happy me-merry en-en-enjoy hol-hol-holidayyyyy sea-sea-seasonnnnnn-!” Jingle tore her arm free, wrenching the core and most of its housing from the bot’s cavity. Sprinkles wavered for a few seconds before tipping forward, hitting the flooring hard with a plastic crunch. Jingle stood, twitching and topless, her tattered green dress falling away to leave her in nothing but her torn candy-stripe leggings and her jingling elf-shoes.

Evangeline seemed annoyed that she was still operational, but also seemed incredibly fatigued by the entire ordeal. “Elf-bot!” she demanded, loosening a button on her blouse while fanning herself with her free hand. “Take these two idiots to loss prevention.” She faced Max while the topless robotic elf took his arm, and said, “You both can wait there until the police arrive.”

“Mmmm,” Anne piped up again, still on her phone. “Not happening.”

“And why is th-that?” Evangeline stammered, hardly able to contain her fury, and frustrated even further when Jingle seemed to grind to a halt.

“Merry Christmas, Max!” Anne announced, tapping her phone. Max heard the mall powering up as shutters opened, store lights flicked on, and a banal holiday instrumental filled the air.

“What are you doing?” Max asked.

“Activating a virus in every bot – well, almost every bot – in the mall.”

Max glanced around nervously as various sales droids emerged from supply closets and storage rooms in a strange processional – dozens of beautiful sales droids vacantly opening up their respective shops. “What virus?” he asked.

“For that, I’ll turn to Miss Eastbrook’s to help explain. Or rather, demonstrate.” Max slowly turned from Anne to Evangeline, the ever-impeccably-dressed administrator undoing a second button on her blouse, frantically fanning herself, no longer following their conversation.

“Miss Eastbrook is… she’s a…?”

Above Evangeline’s tanned cleavage, a vent suddenly sprang open, and Max heard a number of fans wining in desperation.

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