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UP, UP AND AWAY....?

Back in his office, B.Z. is just finishing up the final details on his awesome Christmas II project. Scanning the results of the day's latest ill-gotten gains from the candy canes, our villain is suddenly startled by a loudspeaker's crackle: "OK, we know you're up there. Now come on down with your hands held high!"

Opening the office window, he swiftly looks down at the scene below him: Grizzard and Towzer, already in handcuffs, are being restrained by several of New York's Finest! Recognizing B.Z.'s shady reputation, they have indeed responded to Corny's earlier by-phone summons, the better to nip in the bud a potential national disaster --- to say nothing of a major global incident!

Frantically, the defeated B.Z. searches the room, looking for some way to escape those dirty cops. Then, he smiles to himself, having hit upon a brainstorm. He thinks.

As the plain-clothes detectives and uniformed officers move in, B.Z. seizes several of the glowing puce candy canes --- and eats them in a single gulp. Waiting a few seconds more, he watches the cops bust down the office door. "Hold it!" one detective shouts as the others draw their pistols. But B.Z. chortles gleefully, certain he's a step ahead of them. He leaps from the windowsill. At first, it appears the cops are too late to stop his fall ---

But what's this??? B.Z. is dangling in midair now, no doubt boosted by the magic of the candy canes. Higher and higher he floats, to the amazement of the stunned NYPD crew.... and then, unexpectedly, B.Z. is lifted even higher than that, ultimately disappearing, perhaps forever, into the far reaches of space. The arresting detective's reaction says it all:

"What the ---"

THE CHASE IS ON!

The wind whistles wildly as Patch and Joe zoom high over the sprawling suburbs of Greater New York --- the onetime Chief Stablehand determined to make it back to North Pole Headquarters with his powerful batch of candy canes. He jerks the Patchmobile's steering wheel sharp to the left, then to the right, like some overzealous teenage hot-rodder! Joe, for his part, is enjoying it big time!

Behind them, Santa would rather that the craft and its occupants would just simply slow down just a notch or two. While the six deer are just a bit exhausted, they nevertheless keep up the pursuit. "Can't they go any faster?" shouts Corny, as the Patchmobile pulls away yet again.

"They usually get a year's rest!" the Knight of Christmas reminds her. "They're doing their best! Fly, boys!" Up ahead, he can track the Patchmobile's trail..... that puce glow is getting hotter every second now. And in the Patchmobile's trunk, where (again) no one can see what may happen next, the candy canes pitch around with a vengeance as Patch puts his pedal to the mettle at Joe's encoric urging. But there's a stress crack opening in the car's already weakening framework, which suddenly reveals layers of unprotected wiring. One further dive later, the wires are ruthlessly torn to shreds!

Only Santa and Corny can witness this dangerous turn of events! "Come on, boys! That's Patch in there!" he commands his mighty deer. "If you love him like he loves you, give it all ya got!"

And indeed they do.... but it might still be too little, too late, for the pyrotechnics in progress in the Patchmobile's posterior are having their own effect on the car's continued strength! Result: now, Patch and Joe begin to realize that indeed something is frighteningly wrong. "Something's happening! Patch!" shouts Joe. By now Santa's sleigh has made it behind the Patchmobile, but neither pair of occupants can see the other!

"Do something!" Corny screams yet again. And then, Santa comes up with the one --- perhaps the ONLY brainstorm that might yet save his friends. "The SuperDuper Looper!" he decides. "It's the only way! C'mon, Donner! You can do it, boy. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!"

And indeed, Donner and Blitzen duck down obediently as they pull the sleigh downwards, beginning that all-too-crucial loop-the-loop. Suddenly, up they climb again, rapidly reaching that often fatal point where normally, Donner's nerve usually fails him.

No! I can't fail! Donner suddenly thinks. I love you, Patch! I won't let you go! Thus determined, Donner makes the supreme effort of the aeon! On he climbs, higher.... higher..... never looking down but fixing himself steadily on the Patchmobile.

And even as he does, Patch jams the brake to frantically avoid colliding with the sleigh. In that same moment, the Patchmobile --- candy canes and all --- EXPLODES!!! Its oversized toy parts hurtle away in every direction, and Patch and Joe themselves are hurtled right along with them. But down swoops Santa's powerful sleigh like a frantic rollercoaster --- until, at the last possible second, the plummeting twosome land in the very back of the sleigh!

Triumphant, Santa laughs his mightiest, most jolly laugh of all, as Joe and Corny embrace tenderly. "Oh, my boys --- I've seen some reindeer in my time," Patch laughs happily, "but you're the best! THE BEST!"

"WE DID IT! WE DID IT!" chortles our hero, that one and only Knight of Christmas. "Well done, Donner!" concurs Cornelia. Joe, of course, sums it up best: "Way to go, Donner!" And thus, the journey back to the Top of the World proceeds without further incident. (Whew!!!)

EPILOGUE: REDEMPTION

And so, our friends return to North Pole Headquarters, exhausted but triumphant. Patch, naturally, reunites with his three best friends in the whole world, Boog, Honka and Vout --- and even reconciles with ol' backward-thinking Puffy, too! The four chortle in laughter as Patch merrily recounts the awesome aerial display perpetrated by the mighty Donner.....

As for Joe, well..... he figures that maybe spending a little bit more time with Santa might be a cool kind of thing. Besides, he and Anya are the neatest humans around, and they don't really have their own kids, so.... Yep, Joe figures it might be cool to stick around. Then again..... "What about Corny?" he finally asks.

At this point, the ladies join Joe and Santa. "Can I stay --- just till next Christmas? Please?" Cornelia asks.

"Yeah, and you could give her a lift home next year," suggests Joe. For he realizes that Corny, being related to her stepuncle --- who is, after all, a very rich man --- has everything she could ever want. Except, of course, love and friendship.

Hastily, Santa Claus considers the added expectations and responsibilities that would go with having two children here at North Pole Headquarters. "Well, Dooley?" he smiles.

And Dooley, faithful old codger that he is, simply shrugs his shoulders, muttering mockingly: "As if I don't have enough to do! Now, I'm going to have to be a schoolteacher!"

"School?!" chorus the two kids, their faces falling. Laughter from each and all. Well, life with ol' Professor Dooley might not be all that bad, really..... Nonetheless, the bottom line is simply that all is back to normal at North Pole Headquarters. For Elves, for humans, for all the children of the world..... and, of course, for Santa Claus.

And the legend continues. Roll credits.

THE END

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