Like many large
companies, NPI's main complex is a blend
of the old and the new. Halter's aging
Doll factory is in sharp contrast to the
modern recycling building. This suggests
that corporate dollars (Santeans
in NPI's world) may be focused on more recent
business initiatives, while the manufacturing
activities have to continue "making
do" in many cases with existing equipment,
fixing things only when they break down.
The merits or risks of this strategy
make a good topic for the Companion pages.
is so important to the company's success,
NPI maintains a private airport and a fleet
of cargo jets. Cargo planes are fitted
with a few seats, to accommodate a few passengers,
should the need arise (as indeed it did
for Santa and Roxy).
The Central Stables
A day's train ride north
from the main complex brings you to the
Central Stables, where several hundred magic
reindeer are managed by a sizable number
of "deer elves." Activities
include the usual stable and pasturing tasks.
But these elves are also responsible
for training new fliers, and they oversee
quiet a few stand-in human "santa's"
Because flight training
carries with it no small number of pretty
significant mishaps, abundant padded suits
of the kind Tracer wore (to the amusement
of others) are kept on hand, and the work
wagons used as "sleighs" are made
as flimsy as can be deemed safe. The wagons
are designed to absorb the impact of hard
landings, breaking up around the occupant.
It usually works.
The Near Zone and the Edge
Farther out from the
Central Stables, the landscape becomes wilder
and harsher. The Near Zone is a fringe
area just beyond the Central Stables' flight
training area, while the Edge, as its name
implies, is as far out as any fliers will