[Play by Post] Yuletide Anomaly

Time for our fame of Anomaly to begin! The set up discussion can be found here, but the game begins proper here this thread.

The Setting is a pop up Christmas Village and tree seller. It appears literally overnight and the entire business and farm is completely untraceable. The people running it, possibly don’t exist, possibly long dead. And by the morning of December 25th the whole place is gone without even pine needles left.

Our Organisation is The Helpers. An association of agents, founded and funded by parties unknown, who discreetly watch over scenes of festivity where disturbances may arise. They have been rumored to appear as bouncers, attendant elves, food cart operators, magicians’ assistants, waiters, and costumed mascots. It is said they can be, if not recognized, then perhaps vaguely indicated by their smiles, which are always held a moment too long to be reassuring.

And our Anomaly is a set of lesser-known Christmas monsters scheming to overtake Santa in hearts and minds. The Icelandic “Yule Lads” tired of fading into obscurity.

(these are just brief summaries as touchstones, more ideas and fleshing out of stuff is in the original set up thread)

Our randomly determined turn order:

  1. mundanesoul
  2. creditinthestr8world
  3. SuperBiasedMan
  4. Blackie62
  5. CulturalSnowCrash

And also, some flags of things we should not feature in the game:

  • Elections
  • Rape
  • “Onscreen” queer-bashing or racist violence

Of course all the forum’s usual rules apply, and this list may be updated further (I’ll post clearly if/when this happens)

If someone wants to anonymously flag a topic to avoid or give any other kind of feedback to the game, they can do so with this form:

Before regular turns start, we start the game by doing one of each type of “turn action”. These are the things that you do at the end of your turn in normal play. This means we collectively need to do one of each of the following actions:

  1. Introduce a Character
  2. Secure or Endanger Something
  3. Acquire or Lose Something
  4. Add a Fact About Something
  5. Anomalous Action
  6. Start a Project
  7. Team Meeting

There’s explanations for each of these on pages 4-6 of the pdf about what’s to be done for them.

So first up is @mundanesoul, take one of any of those actions listed above and write up your post about it. Feel free to ask questions either publicly or in DMs if you need clarification.

Up next will be @creditinthestr8world, if you want to think about what you might like to do for your go.

Two forward thinking notes, if everyone is happy with it, I’ll draw all the cards and just post them as the turns come up. That way I can keep track of not having duplicate cards appear, rather than the group having to co-ordinate that.

Also the game as written doesn’t have a set time where it ends. So I’m going to take a cue from when Austin ran this game for the Beastcast. So every time we’ve done a full turn, we’ll take a poll and see if the group wants to end the game after one more turn. This gives us all a wrap up turn when we can feel it’s approaching the end to tie up the loose ends.

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Start a Project: Santa is IN

At the barn near the back of the Christmas tree farm, in the dying mid-December light, two shady figures hopped out of a rusted old pickup truck the color of curdled cream. Attached to the back was a trailer stacked high with mysterious packages roughly the size of an adult human body, wrapped haphazardly in brown paper and tied with string. The shorter of the two figures slipped in the mud as he struggled to help the other hoist the first package out of the back of the trailer, dumping it with a muted thud onto the damp ground below.

“Mind yer Ps and Qs, Stubby! That’s precious cargo!” shouted Gully Gawk, angrily stamping her boot-clad foot on the wood planks of the trailer and brushing bone-pale hair out of her face.

“Ah, cool it, Gully,” Stubby replied, grunting as he lifted the package back out of the muck. “Get down here and help me, will you?”

Together, they slowly lugged the mud-caked bundle toward the barn, and Stubby used his leg to push open the already slightly ajar barn door. Inside, the two Yule Lads carefully placed the package on the straw floor of the barn just in front of the large metallic box that Meat-Hook had finished hauling in the night before. “Welp,” muttered Gully, “here goes nothing,” as she reverently pressed her hand against the surface of the artifact. Behind her, Stubby pulled a pair of shears out of a nearby toolbox and began to snip the strings on the package.

“Let’s grant some goddamned wishes,” he said with a smirk.


Back at the front of the farm, the lights of the Christmas Village suddenly sprang to life. Candle-Stealer shifted anxiously in his Santa suit, adjusted his fake beard slightly, breathed in deep and exhaled slowly.

“You ready?” asked Doorway-Sniffer, tugging on their elf cap.

“Are you kidding? I was born for this,” said Candle-Stealer, and settled into the large, velvet chair from which he would change the world.


Outside, the children had grown anxious. The lights coming on had exacerbated their impatience, and the tinny Christmas carols roiling from the speakers outside the squat, hastily assembled building where Santa waited provided a strangely appropriate bedding for the rising crescendo of juvenile frustration.

And then, suddenly, it was time. A curious-looking elf popped their head out of the door and flipped the cardboard sign on the front to read, “Santa is IN,” waving the first family forward.

As they shuffled toward the door, an unnaturally huge smile spread across Candle-Stealer’s face.

This project will complete in three (3) turns.

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Introduce a Character: Joan McCreely, Streamer and Chronicler

Aw, hi, hey there! It’s your girl, Joan McCreely, and you are On the Road to Interesting Things with Your Girl Joan McCreely, Driving and Streaming Through Greater Kentuckiana! So…. I want to keep it positive here, but I noticed that I’ve lost a few subscribers over the last few months. You know me: I try to remember that when the road gets bumpy it still keeps on going, and I’m not going to assume the worst. Some of you might have smashed the like button with buttery fingers and unsubscribed by mistake, some of you might have been hit by that last flu epidemic and reexamined your lives, or maybe your families went through and pruned your accounts while you were delirious, and you haven’t had a chance to resubscribe? Or maybe some of you didn’t think my last apology video after I livestreamed my little sister’s eye surgery without permission was apologetic enough, or maybe the strobe lights in that video went a little too hard. I thought it was a e s t h e t i c. But who knows.

Well, I don’t judge. Maybe I’m not perfect! Maybe I care too much about providing you with Content, and maybe, sometimes, I get carried away? Maybe I’m all too human. But it’s been a hard year for me. You all are like family to me, and I like to think of myself as your older sister, showing you how to live a better life. I just hope you can appreciate that, the way I appreciate your numbers. We’re coming up the road now to this, uhh, I actually don’t know quite what this shanty is? I thought the Dinosaur Mechaseum was somewhere around here. I wanted to show you exactly what kind of tyranno-tank Bible scholars now believe Enoch would have ridden on the field of battle. But, you know, this looks festive enough. Look at these lights! Look at these darling trees! Look at these families standing in line! Look at this Content! Look at that… is that a deer skull over the entrance? It looks a little too large to be a deer… Intriguing! I always told Sharon she should appreciate surprises, and I’ll tell you the same. I’m going to pull over for a closer look.

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Acquire or Lose Something

Report 1AD5 - Internal Memo
FOR HELPER EYES ONLY
Re: Interned Foodstuffs from Oktoberfest Operations

A reminder to all agents. Objects acquired in operations are potentially highly volatile substances with potential for great disturbance and harm. They are not suitable for taking home for personal use.

And yet, there’s a significant portion of the material missing. As of this morning, 421.2kg of smoked sausage have vanished from the vault. I have confirmed with security that no one outside of the Helpers could have opened the door, so one of you has taken them. Please do not consume these as part of a holiday barbecue or other ill conceived festivity.

Return it all, and no further questions will be asked.

Finder and Keeper,
Kelley Fresno

Reply from Arthur Beech:
Uh no Kelley what I said was no one could have opened that vault door. There’s no record of anyone’s key cards being used, and there shouldn’t be any other way inside. So we’re still looking into it, but it’s probably another F class event.

-AB

That leaves these actions available:

  1. Secure or Endanger Something
  2. Add a Fact About Something
  3. Anomalous Action
  4. Team Meeting

And it’s @Blackie62 next, followed by @CulturalSnowCrash.

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Anomalous Action: Candle-Stealer gets in a side-job.

A fair skinned middle aged hand drew an opening in the curtains to view the lights that had seeped in uninvited.

It was that Christmas village. In the black winter night its brutish decorations were like catching a lighthouse straight in the eyes.

Even the house most garishly festooned for the holidays in their mild suburban cul-de-sac in the hills was easily outshined by the glowing display of “festive cheer” blinding them from the town below.

They, the person attached to the middle aged hands, needed to make a reminder to call the homeowner’s associations the next day. The middle aged hands panned the room for a pen and paper. They found them, disregarding the potential of a note written on their phone, and set about to making a reminder.

Then the power went out.

In an instant the brightly lit rooms turned dark as the black heart relatively unimportant to this story but in the same associated body as the hands.

Hands that for a moment panicked, as was appropriate to the situation, before in order: flicking several light switches, waiting impatiently on the off chance the power turned back on itself, going to the rarely seen breaker box to flip them futilely, waiting again, recalling the last time the power went out around the holiday season and wondering if this would again lead to the governor being recalled, all before finally going into a proper state for the power being.

With the heater out they lazily went to gather a blanket. They draped an old veteran of countless campaigns against a chill and went on to see about the emergency candles.

Opening the appropriated they discovered they were in fact absent.

A power outage and the strange absence of candles, it was certainly a peculiarity.

Not one they could act on though. It was the early night and they couldn’t think and/or couldn’t be bothered to figure out where they could buy candles as this hour.

They resigned themselves to linger in the dark. Perhaps they’d go to bed early.

But then they noticed that light still seeped through their curtains.

Looking out, it appeared every neighbor’s home was also blacked out but to their surprise, overwhelming the last lights of the sleeping town, the damned Christmas village was still shining through the night like the goddamn Star of Bethlehem.

The thing about the governor is based on my own experiences with California’s period of rolling blackout that eventually got governor Gray Davis exposed of corruption and recalled. My personal sub-objective of this game is this game is to, before new years, have the notion of recalling the governor of wherever this is being seriously considered.

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Secure or Endanger Something: operation Green Santa

As of hours 00:05 local time of December 13th ▉▉▉▉ operation GREEN SANTA was green lit by director of helpers Hilda Henchman and the tactical team manager Heather Holly.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN AUTOMATED TRANSLATION OF THEIR MEETING, happened over encrypted channels. Automatic redacting has also been applied.

HH joined the meeting

HH: do you know that in Europe many countries believe that this is the shortest night of the year? It’s not, of course. Winter solstice is the shortest night of the year for the northern hemisphere, and that’s not happening for another 7 or 8 days but still… they tell their kids that this is the shortest night. In some country they even have their own version of ▉▉▉▉▉ bringing gifts to kids tonight…

HH: hello to you as well.

HH: hello. Good evening. Or morning. I don’t know where you are now.

HH: I’m in ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ so, same time as you.

HH. Good night then. Have you reviewed the proposal?

HH: I have. I have concerns.

HH: You always do.

HH: Are we going to get ourselves in another mess like ▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉ thing with this operation?

HH: We are always operating at the lowest possible risk, Hilda. But we cannot eliminate the risk.

HH: I understand that. I know that. But what you are suggesting here is a significant divergence from protocol: we observe, we document and ONLY when necessary intervene. What you are suggesting is direct confrontation with AD2412.

HH: Oh, com on. Hardly.

HH: [clicking noise] [pause] I read: operation Green ▉▉▉▉▉. Establishing a ▉▉▉▉▉ stall, staffed with Helpers, within view of AD2412. What you are omitting here, Heather, is COMPETING. A COMPETING ▉▉▉▉▉ stall.

HH: If the intel we got from ▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ are correct, we are operating under an extremely tight window here. ▉▉ days, maybe even less. Four people VOLUNTEERED for this operation. These are the same team that pulled off ▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ last year.

HH: Oh. Benjamin’s going to run this?

HH: I see you did not read the whole proposal, director. Benjamin ▉▉▉, Delany ▉▉▉▉▉, Kip ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ and ▉▉▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ are gonna staff the stall. 8 to 4. Then we are going to close the stall and proceed with regular surveillance. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a small business trying to make few bucks and parents happy.

HH: [10 seconds of silence]. Okay then. I approve.

HH: Thank you Hilda. Have a good night.

HH. ▉▉▉ ▉▉▉.

I’m assuming that @mundanesoul project is an anomaly project and NOT a helpers project. I fairly certain it is but I’m writing this just in case I fundamentally misunderstood and can adjust the post if needed. Also, I’m endangering someone more than endangering something here. Is it okay? The rules are somewhat vague here.

3 Likes

I also took that to be an Anomaly project, yes. Mundanesoul can confirm just in case. In general it could be helpful for us to just clarify with spoiler text in a more direct way what our moves mean.
I like your post @CulturalSnowCrash, but I’m not 100% clear on who is being endangered. I definitely think it’s valid to endanger a person though. The move is all about assets, and people are still assets to a group like the Helpers.

To clarify my move, the Helpers lost some of the smoked sausage from their past Oktoberfest operation.

Next up is @mundanesoul and then @creditinthestr8world to finish up the pregame prep with these two actions:

  1. Add a Fact About Something
  2. Team Meeting

About team meetings. I think the best way to handle that is, the initial player will post the opening remark. Then everyone else makes a short post in response. To save time, people can reply in any order. We still reply once each, until everyone has responded and we move on.

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In my mind, I’m endangering the four Helpers but putting them in a situation they would not regularly be. We established that the Helpers are generally observers and in this case the four are going into direct competition with the Santa operated by the Yule Lads with a Santa stall (the automatic redaction might have been too strict above).

If we want to lean in more, I can adjust the post by endangering something bigger, like an actual artifact controlled by the Helpers.

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No that makes sense as is then. :+1: It is what I thought, was just thrown off when you said “someone”, I thought you might have meant a single person.

Yep, I definitely meant it as an Anomaly project, so good call on that. I’m hoping to make time today for my post - I’ll be back ASAP! Really like how this is evolving so far.

2 Likes

Add a Fact about Something: The Worst Kind of Alchemy

Stubby gleefully tore apart the brown paper of the first package to reveal too many sausages, tossing a few into the air like a small child playing in a leaf pile. Nearby, Gully Gawk slid her fingernails into a nearly-invisible crease in the side of the artifact and quickly pried open a small hatch in the side of the large metallic box. “The first request ought to come through any minute now,” she said, moving to open a similar hatch on the other side of the box.

Stubby sighed and begrudgingly hauled an armful of sausage over to the machine.


Back in the Christmas Village, Candle-Stealer had a little red-haired girl in his lap and had been staring at her with an odd grin plastered across his face for an amount of time that was quickly becoming awkward. The elf nudged him. “Ahem…ho ho ho!” Candle Stealer said. “Merry Christmas!”

“Hi Santa,” the girl replied tentatively.

“And what would you like for Christmas this year, little one?” said Candle-Stealer.

“I want a Pretty Polly Slaughter Playground Set!” the girl said, becoming more comfortable as Santa continued to recite his usual script.

“Now now, Polly, remember Santa’s first rule: You must say–”

“I wish! I wish for a Pretty Polly Slaughter Playground Set!”

“And so you shall have it,” Candle-Stealer said, his unsettling grin returning.


Back in the barn, the artifact suddenly lit up, and a loud DING! issued from somewhere deep inside it. Stubby immediately began to stuff sausage into the opening in the machine. Meat-Hook popped his head into the barn just as a strange toy emerged from the other side of the artifact. It looked like a child’s playground sized for action figures, except that all of the equipment was covered in blood and gore. At the center of the playground stood a sleek action figure in a track suit wielding a sword and a cell phone.

“And that, my friends,” grumbled Meathook, “is the worst kind of alchemy. Hand it over.”

3 Likes

Team Meeting (1)

Interim Supervisor Hwang Hyun-mi’s voice remained cool and level, but her fingers clutched and tapped arrhythmically against her thermos.

“It is imperative that we send additional assets to investigate the AD2412 disturbances on the outskirts of C▉▉▉ City. Not only may these events encourage the children on site to prod at the tapestry of received truths, they may run afoul of the ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉, more commonly known as the Yule Cat. This is to say nothing of the threat of the pillars inside M▉▉▉▉▉▉ Cave. Should they be excavated by anomalous actors, what seems like a spat between ‘Yulefolk’ could become something more concerning. Transmissions from our away team broke off almost an hour ago, and it’s unlikely, Manager Holly, that they were merely carried away by their entrepreneurial spirit, however strong candle sales may have been. In my opinion, this case is approaching UV-8. With your Helpers unaccounted for, Manager Holly, how well can we trust our less often employed Echo R▉▉▉▉ assets, and who among you will join them to observe?”

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The record shows Ragna Blakesdottir, sitting in the back of the room and vaping. It is noted that she exhales a cloud of light brown winter spice.

“The Yule Cat is more bark than bite, so to speak. The Yule Lads, they are clowns. Clowns that break things when they play, but still just clowns. Let me go, I will break the clowns.”

See attached to the report a photo of Ragna's expression. Editors cannot decide whether to classify it is a grimace or smirk.

Just as a reminder, @mundanesoul, @Blackie62 and
@CulturalSnowCrash you can all take their turns as part of the team meeting in any order you want. After everyone’s gone @creditinthestr8world can wrap it up to end the action.

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Director Henchman is observing the meeting from a remote location, her camera is turned off. On the massive screen in the meeting room, decorated with blinking festive lights, only her avatar (a picture of her golden retriever, ▉▉▉▉▉) is visible. It looks ominous and yet reassuring.

She unmutes her microphone and speaks for the first and the last time in the meeting.

«Not even 48 hours have elapsed and the budget for this operation has already skyrocketed», she says. «We are always operating with uncertain conditions and facing massive threats but I joined the meeting to remind everyone that the resources at our disposal are not limitless.»

«Hwang, I have zero trust in Echo R▉▉▉▉ but I doubt we can spare more than one more person on assistance. I need to join a meeting with the other directors now but I will suggest this before leaving: either you or Heather should become operative for this one and supervise Echo R▉▉▉▉ directly».

[pause]

«I trust your decision on this, of course».

And then, the beautiful golden retriever disappears from the screen.

I’m starting to think we’ll need a wiki for this :sweat_smile:. I’m traveling tomorrow but I could at least kick off a shared Google docs. I’m already struggling to remember all the characters!

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The Percy twins exchanged one of those glances in which they seemed to be communing telepathically. “It seems to us,” began Lamont, and Shara continued, “that you’re all forgetting something.”

Lamont: “After the ▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ operation wrapped last year…”

Shara: “Helper ▉▉▉▉ was instructed to remain in the field and observe.”

Lamont: “Considering Helper ▉▉▉▉’s relative proximity to this anomaly…”

Shara: “There’s a fair chance they’ve already quietly involved themselves.”

Lamont: “Naturally, protocol dictates that Helpers must always request authorization from HQ before beginning an operation…”

Shara: “But we’re all aware of ▉▉▉▉’s track record when it comes to protocol. Don’t forget what happened in ▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉▉▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉.”

Interim Supervisor Hwang cracked a smile that could snap bone. “Are you suggesting that we’ve already got an asset in play, friends?”

In unison, the twins replied, “Perhaps.”

1 Like

Blackie62 told me that he’s had to drop out of the game, so now it’s @creditinthestr8world’s turn to wrap up the team meeting with concluding words before we move onto the first turn of the main game. :+1:

Also I’m working on a doc to make a simple list of characters, terms and events. I’ll DM around the link so we can all see and edit it. It will hopefully help keep our stories straight.

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Team Meeting (conclusion)

Interim Supervisor Hwang knows her thermos is empty, but she takes a long sip as punctuation. She overplays the gesture, realizes she’s overplayed it, and sets the thermos down. Below the table, her leg starts juddering. “If you believe that Helper ▉▉▉▉ may already be involved, then it’s all the more important to have a strong, reliable presence in the field; there are already too many chaotic elements in play, too many cooks at work on this broth. And when there are too many cooks, as the saying goes, there must be chefs sufficient to supervise their stirring.”

“Is that the saying, Hyun-mi?”

“Ragna, you and I will travel to C▉▉▉ City immediately. I understand the esteemed Director Henchman’s concerns about expenditure, but too much is at stake here to cut coupons or clip corners. Upon arrival, we will liaise with our point person for the Echo R▉▉▉▉ affiliates in the giftshop-cum-cafeteria of the Dinosaur Mechaseum. I believe you are already familiar with Mx. Garza’s work.”

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And so the first turn begins.

(all cards images will be from www.TrustedTarot.com)

What faults in the teams equipment impede research?
or
What does the team do to avoid overworking themselves?

________________________________________________

DAILY STALL ROSTER

  • 00:00 - 04:00: Benjamin and Kip
  • 04:00 - 08:00: Kip
  • 08:00 - 12:00: Kip and Delany
  • 12:00 - 16:00: ▉▉▉▉▉
  • 16:00 - 20:00: No-one will man the stall during these hours. Do not approach.
  • 20:00 - 24:00: ▉▉▉▉▉ and ▉▉▉▉▉

Do not contravene these times.
Do not swap shifts.
Do not approach the stall outside of your shift, even as a customer.
Do not backtalk to customers.
Do have fun!!

________________________________________________

mundanesoul’s project “Santa is IN” goes down from 3 turns to 2.

________________________________________________

And for my action I will start a new project for the Helpers.

HELPERS.
THIS IS DIRECTOR HH.
HERE ARE YOUR CURRENT ORDERS.
START YOUR OPERATION BY SEARCHING FOR PERSONS, PLACES AND THINGS WITH FESTIVE MAGICAL RESIDUE.
DO NOT EXTRACT, ONLY OBSERVE.
DO *NOT* GET TAINTED WITH RESIDUE YOURSELVES.

Project “Detect the Residue” will take 4 weeks.

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Now it is @CulturalSnowCrash’s turn, after which it’ll be @mundanesoul again.

Something mundane is revealed to be another aspect of the Anomaly. How was this discovered and how does it make the situation more perilous?

After which, you can either hold a team meeting, start a new project or enact an anamolous action.

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Something mundane is revealed to be another aspect of the Anomaly. How was this discovered and how does it make the situation more perilous? (1/2)

Operative Ragna Blakesdottir and Interim Supervisor Hwang Hyun-mi arrive by train to C▉▉▉ City at 17:33. In the Helpers’ Slack, in the #op-greensanta channel, Blakesdottir has made clear her disdain for the chosen transportation method with selected gifs from the Norwegian slow TV show depicting the 8 hours train ride from Bergen to Oslo despite the train ride from the Helpers HQ in ▉▉▉▉▉▉ ▉▉▉▉ to C▉▉▉ City being only 2 hours and 55 minutes.

The station is small, just 6 tracks, and filled with people. Some are waiting for trains, some are waiting for people and some, remarks Blakesdottis, «are waiting to be woken up from their slumber». It’s unclear what the remark refers to.

Ignoring her, Hyun-mi, stops as close to the Christmas tree at the centre of the station hall as possible, out of the way of the busy travellers. She is fiddling with her phone to find “Helpers approved” lodging and restaurant, filtering from “Lowest to highest price” with a severe and annoyed frown on her face. When she raises her eyes to check on Blakesdottir she sees her standing still in front of a red post-box.

At first sight it looks like a normal post box, but something is clearly off. The colour, Hyun-mi notices, is not the approved US Postal Service one, most of text on it seems to be in another language and… above the box there is a cardboard sign holing up just with duct tape. It reads “MAIL YOUR LETTERS TO SANTA HERE”.

In the small station, several similar boxes are visible. Hand written letters are overflowing out of them.

«’fuckers» Ragna mutters under her breath.

Hyun-mi closes the Helpers travel-app and dials Heather Holly.

Pretty self explanatory but: the Yule lads are collecting wishes outside of the stall, potentially scaling up the reach of the Anomaly outbreak to the whole city — possibly even further, if we consider the letters mailed by children traveling.

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