The previous three months under the literal whip of Stanta, producing toys non-stop under the summer sun, may sound hellish to an outsider, but a substantial number of elves felt a sensation of relief. After all, they had all spent centuries under similar conditions, often worse than this. The previous years of relative freedom and control now felt like some strange fever dream, and to them, Christmas was once again returning to it’s proper order. But for a second camp, those who had tasted freedom, control, and self-determination for the first time, bristled. They were the ones who created the toys, and Stanta was never intended to be more than a delivery boy, a human elevated by the elves who ought to serve at their whim, not the other way around.
This tension was clear to Stanta, even before his final encounter with Timmy several months prior, and was also why he hadn’t yet bothered to free John from his cloistered tryst with Santapig–he himself didn’t feel safe so long as there was a chance that the elves might choose to align themselves against him once more. His time as taskmaster in the workshop was not only spent ensuring production remained on schedule, of course–he was also gathering information, attempting to tip the scales in his own favor, ahead of the elves election. To begin with, a sizable majority of the elves had been furious at him, for whatever he might have done with Timmy, but he could also sense a large reservoir of nostalgia within the group, which he tapped into–maintaining a firm hand, pushing them and encouraging them, reminding them of what a proper santa could do, pulling from examples their own history, which he had culled from the library. He had made progress–the faction of elves who no longer desired to oppose him, who saw a way forward driven by cooperation and mutual understanding was growing, but on the eve of the vote, even he wasn’t sure he had done enough. He, as a non-elf, was barred from the meeting, which took place on the floor of the workshop. The elves mulled about, and fell silent, waiting for the first elf to stand on a table and announce their candidacy.
No one was surprised when Lenny was the first to clamber up onto a table, and announce to the room his desire to be elected head elf. Many had been surprised when Marty selected Timmy as his second in command, and not Lenny, who had been most eager to put Santa under his new boots. He gave his speech, urging a hardline against Stanta, and the attempt to establish the equality, if not the dominance, of the elves once more. This shocked many of them, to hear the goal stated so bluntly. No one got up on a table after he finished, and some were worried no one desired to contest him at all, but at last, a second elf climbed on a different table–Petey.
Where Lenny was thick, muscular and hairy, with a full beard and rough, hard demeanor, Petey was lean, tall, and considered to be one of the more intelligent elves on the workshop floor. He had emerged early on as a supporter of detente–and in his speech, he redoubled Lenny’s call for equality, but pushed in a different direction, towards self-sacrifice, for a new world, for the sake of Christmas itself. No one else threw their hat into the ring, and the elves began to sort themselves, gathering into two camps around each table. The votes were tallied, and to everyone’s shock, it was a perfect tie–something which was unprecedented. Rule books, bylaws, and histories were consulted, but there was no plan in place to resolve a tie. The two camps pleaded with one another, trying to flip one vote, but no elf wanted to become the true deciding factor. And so, it was decided that, for the time being, the two of them would have to serve in the position together, and Lenny and Petey, together, trapsed through the summer snow to Stanta’s home, where the man was waiting to hear the results of the elves deliberations. The rest of the elves, eyeing one another with suspicion, all returned to their own positions, and resumed their labor.
The meeting with Stanta was short, and the two head elves returned to the workshop after an hour, and the two of them made a surprisingly good team, though no elf was blind to the wary looks the two were casting one another across the room. Back in his house, smoking his pipe, Stanta deliberated the situation himself. Even he had expected Lenny to win by a substantial margin, and that he too, would need to be dealt with. But with a vote this close, the short, stocky elf was now the one thing standing between him, and a chance at peace with Petey at the helm. He went to his room, and found the love gun. He would give it a few weeks, to see how things developed, but he had a feeling Lenny would have a change of heart about Stanta very soon. Very soon indeed.