The Aurora Borealis hovers over the small town of Iglaak, Alaska, on Christmas Eve. Police sergeant Yuka Mongoyak is driving her drunken brother Jack into town. He asks her to turn off the Christmas music playing on the radio, and she says that Captain Lane Pendleton has ordered that the police radios play Christmas music on Christmas Eve. Jack complains that the whites have been shoving their lives on their people for decades. Yuka reminds him that Lane always pardons one prisoner in a holding cell on Christmas Eve, and it's been a slow year so Jack is it. Jack complains that Yuka is a sellout and wonders how she can stand working for Lane. Yuka admits that it's tough and apologizes for dragging Jack in but says that he'll get some turkey at the party and pie if he's lucky.
When they arrive at the station, Yuka and Jack see a bright light in the sky. He suggests that it's for Yuka and they go inside. Lane calls everyone around at the Christmas party, and the lights go out briefly. As Yuka and Jack come in, Lane hands out presents. She takes Jack to the holding cells and puts him in one. Yuka says that she'll come back and get Jack later, and once she leaves Jack half-seriously tries to reach the keys on a nearby hook.
Yuka joins the party and after the lights flicker again, Lane gives a speech about his ancestors arriving to tame what became Alaska. He speaks dismissively of the Inuit natives, and then talks about how he supports the local Air Force listening station nearby. Lane says that Jesus wants them to be kind to strangers and visitors, and talks about how he's kind to strangers and pardons one of them. He has Yuka fetch him "the stranger", and Yuka goes to the holding cells. The lights are out and Yuka hears Jack snoring, and turns on her flashlight. She hears someone in the next cell, draws her gun, and shines the flashlight in the cell. A man in a suit and hat is sitting in the locked cell, and says that he wants to be pardoned just like she will want to.
Lane leaves the party and goes to the holding cells to see what is taking Yuka so long. Yuka says that someone is in there, and the man tells them that he came for the party. He claims that he flew over the North Pole and there's no workshop there, and then says that he's an "extreme traveler" and goes to out-of-the-way locations. He's even had his name legally changed to "A. Traveler". Traveler says that he came to Iglaak to be pardoned by Lane on Christmas Eve, and Lane is amused that people have heard of him. He asks if Traveler could record it and put it on his YouTube channel, and Traveler takes out a high-tech glossy phone and says that he'd be glad to. Yuka examines the device and asks what kind of phone it is, and Traveler says that it's a Russian design. He tells Lane that the Russians know all about him, and Lane tells Yuka to let Traveler out so they can pardon him. Yuka figures that Traveler is lying and says that they should check it out, and Lane tells her to check it out while he releases Traveler. Once Lane leaves, Yuka asks Traveler for his ID and he hands over his California driver's license. She checks it out, hands it back, and lets him out.
Yuka, Lane, and Traveler go back to the main room where the others are celebrating. The captain introduces Traveler, saying that he's a real stranger and he's going to pardon him. Traveler shakes hands with everyone and takes video of himself and the others. He introduces Lane, and Yuka tells Trooper Arch Houghton to find out how Traveler got in the cell, and Houghton notes that a set of keys went missing a year ago. Yuka does a computer database check on Traveler and confirms that there's no record of him.
Lane pardons Traveler and everyone but Yuka applauds. Traveler says that he rode the Trans-Siberian Railway there and people told him that they admired Lane. Meanwhile, Yuka calls the base to discover if anyone is AWOL from the base or if any reports have been issued on suspicious individuals. Her checks come back negative, and she finds no warrants issued on him. As Yuka gets some food for Jack, Traveler comes over and figures that she doesn't believe him. He suggests that she open up the present that he brought for her with what she wants most, and Yuka says that she doesn't believe in Christmas. Smiling, Traveler shrugs off her comments and says that Christmas is about believing whatever they believe.
Yuka goes to Jack's cell with the food, and he asks when they're going to pardon him. Before she goes, Yuka asks her brother what she would want for Christmas. Jack says that she doesn't know who she is anymore, and that now she's doing things "their" way.
Traveler is singing karaoke at the party and has everyone join in. Yuka motions Lane over to an office and says that there are no prior on Traveler. Lane figures that there wouldn't be, and Yuka asks if they're going to release Jack. Lane agrees and Yuka goes to get her brother.
The lights go out and everyone blames the base. Mayor Matheson points out that Iglaak exists because of the base, and when one woman, Rita Colchack, tells him to stop complaining, Matheson snaps at him. Houghton yells at Matheson to get if fixed, and Lane says that the power will eventually come back on. The power comes back and everyone agrees that Lane should pardon Jack. Traveler says that he shouldn't pardon him, noting that they're missing some tools from the snowmobile shed and they're in the trunk of Jack's car. Yuka insists that Jack has never stolen anything in his life, and Lane has Trooper Ida Lupino check the trunk. He asks Traveler how he knew about the tools, and Lane suggests that Traveler stole them himself and put them there. Traveler says that he knows things about Iglaak and the partygoers, and rattles off some of their secrets. The partygoers start arguing, and Rita attacks Matheson's wife Dotty.
Lane finally says that the party and orders everyone out. The lights go out again, and when they go up Yuka and Lane confront Traveler. Lane demands to know how Traveler got in the cell and knows all of the secrets, and he calls Ida on the radio and confirms that there were no tools in Jack's trunk. Traveler says that Colchack and Matheson have hated each other since Colchack tried to feel up Dotty ten years ago. Lane wonders if Traveler is a Russian spy, and Traveler says that he's a federal agent and Iglaak has widespread corruption that could affect the U.S. government. The lights flicker and Lane says that Traveler is going back into the cell until they can check his ID with the Bureau in Anchorage.
The two officers take Traveler to holding and put him in the cell, and Jack asks for his pie. Traveler tells Yuka that they'll work together once Lane is removed and Yuka replaces him. Lane releases Jack, who says that he's too drunk to drive and wants pie. Back in the office, Yuka calls the Anchorage Bureau office and confirms that Traveler isn't an agent. Yuka and Lane go back to check on Traveler, and Lane sees a tentacle coming out of Traveler's head before he covers it with his hat. Traveler tells them to get their guns off of him, and Jack says that he saw what Lane saw. Traveler asks Yuka what she believes, and says that what Lane is claiming is insane.
Lane tells Traveler to take off his hat, and Traveler says that he's been nothing but nice to them so Lane should consider the irreversible remorse if he continues addressing him rudely. Traveler removes his hat and there's no antenna. He says that he knows things about Lane, and says that there's a connection point nearby in a camouflaged shed that links the town's power grid to the base. If an invader took out the shed then it would take out the power at the base. He tells Lane that the classified information is the most lucrative type, and then tells Yuka that Lane sold the information to the Russians. Traveler says that no one in Iglaak can make any money or impact, and Lane draws his gun. The prisoner keeps talking, saying that Lane gave up, and that he's from the National Reconnaissance Office and he knows that Russian soldiers are preparing to blow up the shed. Lane tells Yuka that Traveler is lying, and Traveler says that he's going to warn the Americans or the Russians. Lane tells Yuka to keep Traveler there and leaves.
Traveler tells Yuka that now they can talk, and he's just proving that Lane doesn't care about the land or the people. The cell door opens on its own and Traveler tells Yuka that his gift is that soon she'll be giving the orders.
Lane drives to the shed.
Traveler tells Yuka not to be afraid of him, and says that the two of them are a lot alike and they'll get the job done. He promises to put in a good word for her with his superiors. Yuka calls Lane, summoning him back to the station, but gets no response. Traveler says that "their" intelligence indicated that humans would be vulnerable to attack somewhere in the vicinity of Iglaak on Christmas Eve, so Lane needed to lead them to the power source so that they could remove it. He suggests that Yuka let Lane go because subconsciously she thought she'd get his job. Traveler says that she won't have to worry about Lane or Christmas again, advances on Yuka, and says that she knows what he was. He casually knocks the gun away and says that it's too late, and Yuka tells him that it's not too late.
Yuka runs outside, telling Lane over the radio not to go to the shed. She drives off, trying to raise the other troopers, but gets no response. Lane hears her on the radio but ignores her.
Jack asks Traveler to let him out, and Traveler releases him.
Yuka drives into Iglaak and sees the townspeople attacking each other. She calls over Houghton, who says that he saw Lane heading out on the highway. He returns to the fighting, and Yuka drives out on the highway. She catches up to Lane, who accelerates and Yuka drives after him. Lane pulls over next to the shed and gets out, and Yuka pulls up next to his car. She grabs her shotgun, gets out, and tells Lane to move away from the shed. Lane tells her to put the gun down because Traveler lied about the Russian invasion, and Yuka puts him under arrest. She figures that he came to tip off his Russian contacts.
Jack tells Traveler that it might be better with his people running things. Traveler transforms and Jack walks away.
Lane figures that Yuka is getting his job because that's what Traveler told her, and says that it's only a lie if they choose to believe it. The two of them look up as alien spacecraft arrive, hovering over Iglaak.
In the station's main room, Jack cuts himself a piece of pie. He goes back to his cell and eats, and the alien Traveler eats some as well.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 19, 2019