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 The Excalibur's recreation officer lay flat on his back and up to his waist in machinery in Rec Room 1. He hummed festively to himself as he worked as quickly as he could to get the food replicators ready for Christmas. He paid it no mind when the the computer started playing Christmas carols for no apparent reason; he just chalked it up to someone getting in the Christmas spirit. The music was just loud enough to hide the faint rustling of garland that streamed from a point about five feet off the center of the floor and festooned itself around the the top of the rec room walls and criss-crossed the ceiling. It crescendoed long enough to hide the soft scraping noise as one of the tables uprooted itself, scuttled several feet over, and rebolted itself to the floor. The caroling diminuendoed, but it was still loud enough to mask the whispering as the tabletop Christmas tree floated over to the spot abandoned by the table and grew to six times its former size. The rec officer didn't hear the almost inaudible pops as Christmas ornaments gushed from the same mid-air spot and whirled around the ceiling to hang themselves from the garland and find their places in the tree. He didn't even hear the flapping of the gold and silver angel tree-topper as it swirled into being and flew to alight on the tree's summit.

It wasn't until he heard a loud crack that he pulled himself out of the wall and sat up. His jaw dropped as he looked around. He slowly got to his feet and made his way to the wall intercom.

"Rec room to bridge," he said as he pressed the button.

"Stevens here. Merry Christmas!"

The rec officer looked at the clock and saw that it, was indeed Christmas Day, if only barely. 00:02.

"McCain here, Lieutenant, and Merry Christmas to you, too. Someone's decorated down here, sir."

"Yes, I've seen it. Very nice."

"No, sir, you don't understand." McCain paused as he wondered if what he was seeing was really there. "I mean, someone in the last five minutes came in here and decorated the hell out of this place."

There was a long silence on the intercom. "Be right there," the lieutenant said and cut off the intercom.

McCain stood in the center of the room and turned slowly in place, growing more and more amazed by the second until the door swooshed open.

"Now, what do you...mean..." Stevens's voice trailed off as he saw what McCain was talking about.

"What the hell?"

"I don't know, sir. I was reprogramming the food replicators for Christmas, getting it ready fot the goose and the pudding and everything. I wasn't in there even five minutes. I heard a noise, came out, and..." He waved a hand at the room around them.

"Know what I think, Chief?"

"What?"

"I think my dad lied to me. There really is a Santa Claus."

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