The lobby was largely empty and quiet, except the bustling elevators and the typing receptionist. The elderly Japanese man gazed thoughtfully at the Channel Three logo emblazon on the wall above the receptionist's desk. She looked up at him and smiled pleasantly. "Can I help you?"
"Yes," he answered. "I need to see a Ms. April O'Neil."
"Do you have an appointment?"
The man paused, "No, I do not. But it is a most urgent matter that I need to discuss with her."
The receptionist frowned. Why did she have to be the one to turn away these people? "If you don't have an appointment you can make one, but I can't let you walk right into her office."
"I understand." The man sighed. He had to talk to this reporter. She helped stop Oroku Saki and she knew about William Baker's death. "Is it possible that you could ask Ms. O'Neil if she will speak with me?" The receptionist frowned. His idea was probably against her rules for her job. "If she will not, I will make an appointment."
She sighed, why couldn't he leave it alone? "She's not here yet. Otherwise, I'd let you talk to her and have you two work it out. I don't need this right before I get off." The doors swung open and April stormed into the building. The receptionist brightened, "April! This man wants to talk to you!"
He trotted up to a confused April. "I can see you are in a hurry, but my story is important. It is about Hamato Yoshi."
The name stopped April. She stared at the elderly Japanese man, scrutinizing his face for lies. She thought she had reported long enough to be able to read anyone's face, but his was expressionless. "Who are you?"
"I am called Clin-san." He bowed to her. "Do you wish to hear my information?"
April watched him cautiously and pointed to the elevator. "I have some people waiting for me." For better or worse, she would make another one of her impulsive decisions. "Come up with me."
Clin-san waited until the elevator doors shut. "How do you know about Hamato Yoshi?"
"I know about him from some friends."
"These Turtle creatures you report about?" He questioned. April remained silent. "You American reporters must protect your sources, I understand. I represent the Foot Clan dojo of Japan."
"The Foot Clan! The Foot Clan was disbanded after the first Shredder died!"
"The Foot Clan of Japan," Clin-san repeated. "The Hamato family has controlled the Foot Clan dojo for generations. Under their guidance, we became respected among the martial art dojos. Forty years ago, a young woman named Tang Shen--who was promised to Oroku Saki--eloped with the Master's only son, Yoshi. The Master disinherited Yoshi and passed the leadership to Oroku Saki to compensate for his loss. Yoshi and Shen left for America and had a son. Knowing that Saki would not let then be, they left the boy with a family where he would be safe. Saki killed them but did not find their son. When the Master neared his death, he realized what Saki had turned the Foot Clan into. Saki brought the members loyal to him to America to escape the Master's wrath. Your friends defeated Saki and related the story to you."
"What they knew of it," April admitted. "But why are you here? And what about this new Shredder?"
"The Master renamed Yoshi as his heir and sent me to America to find him before he died. Once here, I discovered what Saki had done and followed the son to New York City but lost him. Oroku Nagi, Saki's younger brother, has also followed me. If Yoshi has no descendents or they cannot be found, he will inherit leadership of the Foot Clan. This must not happen; Nagi is just as evil as Saki."
"I got the feeling that he's taken on his brother's other name. So that means he's behind the Hi-Tech Robberies. What is he doing with all that stuff?"
Clin-san spread his hands, "I do not know, but it is nothing good."
"That explains a lot about what's going on." April threw her mind into gear. Saki, or the first Shredder, killed Hamato Yoshi for revenge and survival. But Yoshi had a son, a son old enough to have children. Splinter was a lot older than she had suspected. The new Shredder, Oroku Nagi, had to kill Yoshi's son and possible grandchildren to secure his leadership of the Foot Clan. Am I still in the twentieth century? Suddenly, a cold intuition formed. "What was Yoshi's son name? His adopted name?"
"James Baker." Clin-san told her as the elevator doors slid open.
"I was afraid of that. Have you heard about the murdered cop?"
"Yes. He was investigating the Hi-Tech Robberies. Nagi would not tolerate that."
"I think Nagi decided to kill two birds with one stone! His name was William Baker and his father was James Baker. The Shredder, Nagi, is trying to kill his sister and brother too."
"We thought it was because they must know something about the crimes," Clin-san paused. "This is much worse. You must help me protect these children, Ms. O'Neil."
"I'll try," April ushered him into her office. A large battleship of a black woman stood to her feet. April grabbed her hand. "Hello, I'm April O'Neil. How can I help you?"
"I'm Madison Pat," her eyes kept flickering back to Clin-san who stood unobtrusively near the door. April took care not to introduce them. "I'm Allison and Zackery Baker's social worker. And this is Mr. William and Mrs. Sara Baker, their grandparents." April shook their hands and sat behind her desk. "It seems that since Officer Baker's death, Allison and Zackery have... well... have hidden themselves away. The department is hoping that if the children knew their grandparents were here they would come forward."
"I see, an emotional plea." April shook her red hair out of her face. "Tell them how much you love them, how worried you are, the usual missing person's family's replies."
"I don't think that will work in this case, Ms. O'Neil," Ms. Pat answered. "Allison is extremely logical and cynical for a girl her age. Honesty is always the best policy with her."
"Even if you're lying for her own good?"
"Especially if you're lying for her own good. She always knows."
Sara Baker started weeping uncontrollably. She was a sparse woman with red-rimmed eyes looking like the modern grandmother, probably worried out of her mind. But if she cared so much, why didn't she take in the kids after their parents died? "Those poor babies. I knew we should have taken them in; I knew it!"
Her husband, lean and hardy from the farming life, patted her hand comfortingly. "You know she wouldn't let us, Sara. She never forgave Amanda for marrying our boy, so she had to take it out on the kids."
April decided it was best to ignore this drama. "Do you want the social department mentioned at all?"
The very idea shocked Ms. Pat. "No! Of course not!" She calmed quickly. "Allison has a history of running away. It took us a whole year to find her the last time. We don't want her to purposely leave with Zackery."
"Would she run away with her brother?" April asked curiously.
"If she thought he was in any danger, she would," Ms. Pat assured the reporter.
That made sense with what Zack told me about his sister. "This is going to have to be handled delicately." April hit her intercom switch. "Chris? Could you take Ms. Pat and work on the Baker couple interview?"
A cheery, male voice sounded over the intercom. "No problem, April."
April herded the confused Ms. Pat to the door. "There's Chris." Chris waved from his cubicle desk. "Please work with him to make sure there's nothing upsetting in the interview questions." She pushed her out before she could protest. "Now we can talk."
Will Baker looked at her, confused. "I'm afraid we don't understand. Are you going to get some juicy tidbits for your story?"
"No, it's just I'm not sure what the legal implications are. I don't want to be arrested for kidnapping. I know where Zack is."
"Thank heavens!" Sara exclaimed. "Is he all right? Has anyone tried to hurt him?"
"What about Allie?" Will asked concerned. She was always his favorite, with her father's attitude and her mother's looks.
"Zack's safe--for now. I don't know where Allie is. But the same men who killed Billy want to kill them. I must know, was James adopted?" The couple stared at each other. "His birth certificate is four years off. Please trust me, I can't help Allie and Zack if I don't know the truth."
Will sighed, "James was and he knew it. If he and Amanda had lived longer, Allie and Zack might have known by now too. A Japanese couple left him with us. They stopped and did farm work for us."
"They were deathly afraid of something," Sara commented. "They always thought someone was coming after them to kill them. That's why they left James with us."
"Thank you for your honesty. I hope it'll help them." April hurried out of her office and Clin-san followed her. "My friends are trying to stop the Shredder and they could use your help."
"I will do what is in my power," Clin-san vowed.
April grabbed a mini-cam as Pennington stepped off the elevator. "April, where are you going? What about the Baker couple?"
"Let Chris handle the interview; he needs the practice. I've got a bigger story."
"Nothing's bigger than that cop murder! I've given you too much rein, April. If you don't do that interview, I'll fire you!"
April glared at him. "That's low, Charles. Two kids' lives are at stake and you're going to fire me? Besides, you know I deliver." The elevator doors slid shut.
"April!" Pennington shouted in frustration. "You better be right," he sighed, resigning himself to the inevitable.