It was the night before the contest and all through the ship, all the creatures were stirring, because of a mouse.
The crew of the Atalanta Empress never expected to revisit the planet they virtually destroyed with their inadvertent deposit of perpetually pregnant rodents, fertisrats – but here they are.
In the first government-sanctioned killing contest, the Atalanta Empress crew are favorites to win. The cash prize might keep their ship afloat for another heavily mortgaged month.
However, these aren’t the same fertisrats they’ve killed en confetti-flying masse. They’ve evolved, and this new challenge stems from a deeply disturbing cosmic force.
Clearly, everything is fine.
The first in a series of non-canonical asides, Winter Wonderland Extinguishment is a short story filled with confetti, entrails, and a premature ice age – just like holidays with the family.