"Uh, boss..." Bebop picked at his white and blue overalls. "Are you sure this is going to work?"
"Of course it will," Shredder replied over his shoulder, too busy trying to get his arm guards to fit under the sleeve of his Xerox shirt. No way he was going into enemy territory without his signature weapon. "Any self respecting news office under the pressure of keeping the ratings ever rising won't question the good fortune of new equipment!"
"But I thought we were suppose to, you know, uh wreck stuff up?" Rocksteady hopped on one foot, trying to shove the other back into his boot. "I thought that's what distraction meant."
Shredder heaved a sigh and gave a pleading look to the ceiling. "We first have to get into the building first, you thick-skull." He gave one last tug at the sleeves and added with biting sarcasm. "It wouldn't be much of a distraction if the Turtles stopped us on the first floor, now would it?"
"Huh, I guess that would be – whoa, whoa, whaaa!"
Shredder's head snapped up at Rocksteady's yelp in time to see the mutant lose his war with balance and go falling. Shredder's eyes went wide with horror and with a yell of his own he dove for the metal floor. It was only through his years of honed ninja skills that he was able to snatch the paper bag out from under the rhino without getting his hand mashed in the process.
"Watch where you're falling!" He peeked into the bag as he got to his feet, huffing a breath of relief when he saw that the contents were undamaged.
"Sorry, boss." Rocksteady ducked his head, deciding it was safer to finish getting his boot on before getting to his feet. "What's in that, anyway?"
"None of your business!" Shredder snapped irritably, snatching up the bag that held his cape. Better tuck his little secret surprise where it wouldn't get crushed by clumsy underlings. Slinging the messenger bag over his shoulder, he turned his attention back to said underlings. "Well, are you ready?"
"Gee, I still don't know boss, it's just a stupid machine..." Bebop hesitated, poking at the crate strapped to the handcart, then looked down at himself and smoothed out the clothes self consciously. "And are you sure I look like I belong?"
"You're a pig, Bebop," Shredder assured. "They have those in every company. You'll fit right in."
"Gee, thanks boss!"
Shredder rolled his eyes, pulled on the chain to lift up the rollaway door and shoved the two towards the handcart. "Whatever, now push that cart, we don't have all day!"
With only one near major mishap and nearly running over Shredder's foot – a record low for Bebop and Rocksteady – the two got the cart down the truck ramp that Shredder had parked right next to the Channel 6 News tower. In the ground floor lobby no one batted an eye as the three rolled up to the freight elevator.
"This is going perfect!" Shredder couldn't help muttering in satisfaction as the elevator doors opened up and he ushered Bebop and Rocksteady inside. "Now all that is left is-"
His communicator shrilled loudly, making Bebop jump in surprise, a beefy elbow catching Shredder in the ribs. Shredder wheezed, slugging the mutant in the arm in retaliation as he reached for the communicator and activated it.
"Shredder!" Krang's voice shrilled over the device. "Where is that distraction you promised me? I'm not seeing anything on TV yet!"
"Maybe you're just too busy watching Roommates on channel 25 to see if Jeremy goes out with Bonnie to switch over to 6?" Shredder grumbled, placing a hand over his ribs and glaring at Bebop. It felt like the bone was bruising already. Bebop gave a little squeak and shuffled as best as he could away from Shredder in the crowded elevator.
"There's no way Jeremy would go out with Bonnie, she wouldn't be able to stand – wait, that's besides the point, Shredder! Where is my distraction? This energy isn't going to steal itself, you know!"
"And Rome wasn't conquered in a day!" Shredder bit back. "Get off my back! I'm putting the plan in motion now."
"That's because Romans were far inferior to-"
Shredder clicked the communicator off, halting Krang's rant as the elevator gave a soft bing, signaling the arrival to their floor.
It was a short trip from the elevator hallway to the Channel 6 lobby. Shredder's heart gave an unexpected hard thump as he caught sight of the secretary sitting at the desk; for a split second her brown hair pulled up looked quite roguish. If only she didn't hide under her typical loose, ill fitting, long sleeved blouses...
What was he thinking? He scolded himself for such a slip-up, he had more important things to focus on! Besides, even though it wasn't her shift he should have expected Irma to be at the desk. She had often expressed having to fill in other coworkers shifts and it would just be like her dragon's luck to be around when he was executing a plan. Hopefully she wouldn't recognize him at all.
The best way to deal with a situation like this, Shredder knew, was confidence. And lots of words. So he marched right up to the desk and started speaking right away, not even giving her a chance to think.
"Yes, good afternoon, we're from the Xerox Inc Research and Development department and we are here to provide you, Channel 6 News, one of our most valuable customers, with a personal demonstration of our latest copy machines!"
"Uh," Irma blinked in surprise. Good, his tactic was working already. "Copy machine demonstration? I, uh, don't see any of that on the visitor list..."
"What?" Shredder poured as much indignation into the English word as he could. He reached back and snatched the clipboard out of Rocksteady's hands, flipping the pages and pretending to look at something - and not to laugh at the poor drawing of Krang trying to lift weights. "It says right here on my schedule... you mean our secretary didn't even call?"
"Some people can forget so easily," Irma remarked. "Too bad too, it could have made a great addition to our Technology on the Move clip."
For a split second Shredder thought he would have to execute the final stage of his plan right then and there. But to his relief he caught sight of someone walking down the hall and raised his voice.
"This was a surprise demonstration, we haven't allowed any press release on this wonderful, brand new model that we were going to donate to Chanel 6 afterwards. But since you don't have an opening, we'll just head over to Chanel 9 and-"
He didn't have to go any further. Company Chief Burne Thompson had stopped halfway through Shredder's speech and at the words "donate" he hurried over. Mentioning Chanel 6's competition hadn't hurt either, Shredder could tell.
"Irma, what have I said about turning important guest away!" Burne all but shouted.
"But there's nothing on the guest list, Mr. Burne, and-"
"And nothing! This is perfect for that new focus on technology spot!" Burne interrupted, gesturing wildly. "Go get Vernon and his camera crew, go. Go, go! What am I paying you for?"
"That's not what you said about those clowns last week," Irma muttered under her breath as she reluctantly stacked some papers and got up. "And I had to be the one to kick them out."
With Burne shouting and pushing, they had Shredder setup in the conference room, machine unpacked and plugged in. With all the confusion, mostly from Burne's conflicting orders, no one noticed Bebop and Rocksteady slip away, off to cause havoc. Despite the fact that this was all for cover, Shredder couldn't help but feel a streak of satisfaction at the camera being set up. Once again he would be on TV, one way or another.
And his peers had told him his skin was too dark to ever be on television or have a chance to be famous.
Twenty minutes later he had the large copy machine hooked into the News Channel's computer network and ready to operate. After giving a basic rundown of how to operate it, emphasizing the need to be smart in order to properly operate such a new piece of technology, a he asked for a volunteer.
Predictably, Vernon stepped up without hesitation.
"Fifteen copies of my awards," Vernon ordered the machine while Shredder took a step back. "And make it snappy."
The paper in tray seemed to reach out and snag Vernon's tie, yanking it in. With a squawk, Vernon did a faceplant onto the scanning plate of the copy machine, the cover falling on top of him. The machine dutifully started scanning and spat out copies of Vernon's scrunched face.
"Oh, dear me," Shredder tried, he really did. But even he could hear glee under the false sympathy. Yet if it took longer than usual for Shredder to stop the machine and assist Vernon out of his predicament, no one watching said anything.
"I thought you said you were an intelligent man." Shredder remarked, still unable to keep his voice even as he helped the man straighten up. "You see, it takes someone with a good brain and excellent class to be able to work this highly sophisticated machine."
"What, why that's just-" Vernon stammered, trying to straighten out his shirt and tie. There was a dark streak on his previously crisp tie, no doubt from the printer toner. "I highly doubt you'll find anyone better than me. I got my degree at Cambridge University, I'll have you know!"
"Hrmph, did you now?" This time Shredder didn't bother trying to keep the sharp bite of his words away. "We'll just see, won't we? You!"
Shredder flung out his arm and pointed at the crowd. Irma looked around until she realized that everyone was looking at her. She blinked, and pointed to herself. "What, me?"
"Yes, you, the cute secretary."
I so did not say that. Shredder was aghast at the words that fell out of his mouth. Of course I didn't mean it, I'm merely playing my part.
But he didn't have time or place to process those thoughts. Forcing himself to focus on the plan again, he gestured impatiently when Irma still didn't move. "Come on, come on, no need to dawdle. Isn't the newsroom all about moving quickly?"
"Yes, well, some of us never learn the speed limits." She said dryly, glancing over at Vernon as she stepped up. "Now, what do I do?"
"Just put your hand on this plate, like so," Shredder took her left wrist and moved her hand onto the blue metal panel. "Now you give it a voice command and the Sophisticated Onboard Network chip will do all the work for you."
"Uhh," Irma nibbled on her lip for a moment before saying, "Ten copies of my work schedule."
The machine chirp and hummed as gears and rollers started spinning. A minute later paper disappeared from the in tray and perfect copies of Irma's monthly schedule appeared on the other end.
Except for the last copy, that is. It came out with hearts printed all over it and bold letters saying "vacation time."
"Well, uh, that is unusual." Shredder was puzzled at the development himself. Sure he had programmed it to make Irma's commands priority and do the opposite of Vernon's. But he didn't think the AI chip was capable of making independent decisions. That was the risk of using equipment you swiped from your enemies.
Shredder made a grab for the heart imprinted page but Irma beat him to it, commenting as she looked if over. "Wow, this seems a little much for a copy machine to do, I mean look Chief Burne, it even shows that I'm overdue for vacation time."
"I'm sure there's just some mess up in those stupid computer machines," Burne quickly corrected Irma before turning his attention to Shredder with what was suppose to be a murderous glare. Shredder barely raised an eyebrow as Burne continued, his voice sharp. "What do you have to say for this big mistake, I thought Xerox was all about quality and customer service!"
Bebop, Rocksteady, you two mutant mammals better hurry up! I can't stay this nice for too much longer! Shredder pleaded in his head, gritting his teeth and refraining - for the moment, only the moment and only because Irma was right there - from showing Burne how little he cared what the news channel Chief thought.
"We certainly have a few wrinkles to smooth out. One thing for certain, this S.O.N. knows a good mind when it sees it."
Shredder gestured widely and there was a sharp tearing sound as the sleeves of his blue dress shirt gave way, long lines appearing in the fabric and revealing his metal bracers and their jagged edges.
Okay, so maybe wearing them hadn't been the best idea he had this week.
He was about to try and smooth things over with a cover story when there was a gasp and he turned to see April standing in the doorway. She pointed a finger at him and shouted. "Shredder!"
"Miss O'Neil," Shredder replied coolly, shifting the messenger bag on his shoulder and pulled the rest of the shirt off with another sharp rip of fabric.
Irma took several steps away from him, eyes wide as she glanced over him. "Wait, you're the Shredder? That Shredder? Oh boy."
"I knew Bebop and Rocksteady couldn't be here unsupervised!" April exclaimed but before she could say anything more Bebop and Rocksteady tumbled into the room right beside her, tripping over each other in their haste. Newsroom workers and assistants screamed and yelled in surprise, scattering out the side doors. April grabbed Irma, pulling her to the side while snatching a camera out of the hands of a fleeing Vernon who was out the door before he realized she had taken it.
"Boss! Your plan worked!" Surprise and alarm was in Bebop's voice as he paused, resting a hand against the wall and panting.
"Yeah, too well!" Rocksteady looked around fearfully. "The Turtles are here!"
"That was the whole point, you imbeciles!" Shredder pulled out his cape from the messenger bag, fastening the purple cloth to his shoulders with a snap of motion. "Do you always have to be so slow? I was running out of things to say!"
"Shredder!" For the second time his name was shouted and there was Leonardo, sword held out and pointed at you. Next to him, Raphael twirled a sai as he said, "Your little demonstration is starting to run over time."
"Funny, I was just about to demonstrate the automatic stapler feature." Shredder placed a hand on the command plate and shouted, "Stapler attack!"
With a whine of electronics, a tray opened up in the middle of the machine and several staplers started launching staples into the room. With a yell Leonardo and Michelangelo tackled April and Irma, pulling them behind some chairs.
With a flick of his wrist, Shredder dropped two smoke bombs at his feet that billowed out and filled the room completely with gray haze. Coughing slightly - he knew he shouldn't have left his face mask behind! - he grabbed Bebop and Rocksteady and dragged them out of the doorway.
They left the smoke behind once they cleared the room and his two henchmen needed no encouragement to go bolting down the hallway towards the elevator at full speed. Shredder quickly followed after them, glancing at the secretary desk as he sped by it. Wait, wasn't there something he had planned to do...
Blast, he'd almost forgotten! He skidded to a halt and backpedaled several steps to reach Irma's secretary desk. A quick glance towards the conference room showed smoke still billowing out of it and the enthusiastic shouts of teenage ninjas.
He had time.
Quickly, but carefully lest he crush the petals or thorns, he dipped his hand into the messenger bag and pulled out a single rose. Yellow, the color of cheerfulness. Next to it he placed a bar of sea salt chocolate - Irma always said she liked sweets - and a card before bolting down the hallway after Bebop and Rocksteady.
The card been an after thought, a cheerful painting of some New York street. When the florist offered to write a sweet, cheerful note on the blank card - after hearing his cover story that his writing was terrible - he'd taken her up on the offer without a second thought. Running out of time, he hadn't bothered to check the note.
Only later, too late, did he realize that he really should have taken the time to read it.