Ayla and the Grinch (A Christmas Story) is the sixth Phase story by Diane Castle, following Ayla and the Networks, and followed by Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy. It describes the events during Ayla's Christmas vacation, from December 22, 2006 to January 6, 2007. It was originally posted on December 7, 2008.
The first few days are fairly normal—if you happen to be a millionaire mutant kid spending the holidays with your middle-class relatives, that is. Ayla goes to California, settles in, makes the owners of several bookstores very happy, and purchases expensive Christmas gifts for the family. Like cars. Including a Bentley for Gracie. Although money is not everything: some of the gifts he receives touch him very deeply. Meanwhile, the greater L.A. area is obsessing over a serial killer nicknamed the "Headhunter." Not that Ayla intends to have anything to do with this.
Things slide clear out of "normal" on the 28th, though. Ayla has an interview with Child Services; that means dressing fully "nice" girly-girl, that is, in a dress, with heels and a hairdo. After the meeting, they are window shopping to cool off when the MCO drops in full force on the neighborhood. Gracie decides that the best way to hide Ayla is in plain sight, signing him up as a contestant for the "Miss Teen Santa Monica" pageant. Which means makeup. And waxing. And a duct-tape tuck. And a long blonde wig.
Worse, Ayla finds out that the Headhunter is in there with them—and it's a Tier 3 demon called BKCRMWDJVG. And it magically sealed the exits. Ayla fights a desperate delaying action while Gracie and Janet call the MCO and the West Coast League. Phase is under a serious disadvantage and has to use whatever scrap of magical knowledge he has—which is limited to basic stuff like salt circles and cold iron. And religious symbols, which, with the help of the faith of two strongly religious contestants, weaken the demon enough to break the magical barrier—allowing the potential victims to escape and the help to come in.
Unfortunately, the MCO troopers' minds are easy prey for the demon's control, and they turn back on Ayla—undoing the work he did in the process. So Ayla has to fight it again, getting seriously hurt in the process. But finally the cavalry arrives, in the form of the West Coast League, bringing Professor Lachesis and Planeswalker along for extra magical help, and they banish the demon. Hollywood does some on-the-spot Healing, probably saving Phase's life.
But that would not be the end of Ayla's troubles. A team of medics move Ayla—not to an ambulance, but to a MCO van that takes him to a MCO jail cell instead of an hospital. Instead of treating him, they are more interested in assigning the blame to him, and put Ayla through several interrogations. This shows Ayla a side of the MCO he was never before willing to admit existed: the one that hates mutants. Finally, Phase regenerates enough on his own that he's able to use his powers to snoop a bit and finds out the only reason he's not being "disappeared" to a place called "Roswell" is because he's a Goodkind, and the MCO relies heavily on Goodkind funding.
After a day and half of this, Ayla is released back to Gracie and Janet's care. They mention that the MCO didn't even want to admit they knew who Phase was, much less having him in custody. Apparently it took Paul putting on pressure from on high to get him released.
The next few days are dedicated mostly to recovering—and an ass-chewing by Lieutenant Merrill of the Santa Monica PD for super-heroing without a license. And having nightmares.
On January 1st, a few members of the West Coast League (Sunscreen, Hollywood, Valley Girl, Beach Bunny, Doctor Arcturus and Chaney) drop by for a visit. Phase tells them his version of the events, getting some telepathic psychiatric help from Dr. Arcturus and a long Healing session from Hollywood. They tell him the demon was summoned by three (now deceased) dark mages called Converso, Svipdag and Quimbanda, working for Nimbus of the Syndicate—but they screwed up and the demon escaped.
On the 2nd, he goes watch the rescheduled pageant, and then takes steps to ensure Rachel and Christie, the two girls who were instrumental in containing BKCRMWDJVG, get full college scholarships and good psychiatric help.
On the 5th, Ayla sets off back to school. The MCO goons at the airport make a point of harassing him long enough to make him miss the flight. Which disturbes his plans less than expected, because he had backup reservations in other flights. On the Chicago connection, he has a slightly more civil interview with two other MCO agents, but this time Phase takes control of the interview.
- ↑ I'm leaving this unlinked until we get more info