Duck and Cover

By Kali Gargoyle

***

Part 1

***

The sewers of New York City hold many secrets. Life stirs in the dark shadows and murky waters, life the likes of which we never see in daylight above ground.

"Come on, Donatello! I'm gonna miss my show!"

This particular group is generally referred to as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They turned the dirty tunnels of the city's sewer system into a relatively comfortable home, complete with a kitchen, running water, bathroom facilities, separate bedrooms, a large dojo/training area, and cable. Or at least they will have cable as soon as Michaelangelo stops pestering Donatello.

"Your show? Get real, Michaelangelo, we aren't wasting the first day we get cable watching some dumb kiddie show!"

Add Raphael to the list of disturbances as well.

"But Raphael," Mike whined. "I haven't seen Ace Duck since it got syndicated!"

Donatello looked up from hooking up the wires to the back of the TV. He glared at his arguing brothers. "Both of you can it or I'll throw this box out right now!"

Raphael and Michaelangelo both stopped in mid-fight over the remote control. Raphael was holding it over his head while Mike tried to jump for it. They both stared at Donatello with mild fear in their eyes.

Don just grumbled as he went back to attaching the last cables. Yeah, thought that would keep you quiet.

"There we go," Don finally said as he plugged in the TV.

"All right!" Mike made a final grab for the remote, catching Raphael by surprise. Raph fell back onto the couch and could only watch in frustration as Mike aimed the remote at the television.

"Hey, Michaelangelo, wait, there's a loose-"

BOOM! Sizzle...

Mike stared at the TV, which was now smoking. Donatello stumbled out from the cloud of smoke, coughing and waving his hand to clear the air. Parts of his skin and shell were tinted black.

"-wire."

Mike gave an apologetic smile. "Sorry"

Raphael rested his elbow on the arm of the couch and rested his chin on the palm. "Well, look on the bright side, Donatello, it wasn't you who blew it up this time."

"Like..." Mike started cautiously. "You can fix it, right?"

Don sighed, taking visual inventory of the obvious damage to the TV set and his brother's hopeful expression. "Yeah, but it's going to take a day or two."

Mike pouted, his big brown eyes watering. "But- but- but I'll miss my show!"

Don unplugged the TV. "Not my problem. I've got things I wanted to watch, too, you know. Raph, come help me take this into my lab."

Michaelangelo watched sadly as Don and Raph lifted the broken television and left the room with it. He even waved goodbye to it, mentally promising to come visit it.

"What's wrong, Michaelangelo?"

Mike turned to see Leo returning from his morning run. "The TV broke."

"How'd that happen?"

Mike just gave an exaggerated shrug.

***

"April! April, get in here!"

April O'Neil sighed to herself and pushed a lock of red hair back behind her ear as she headed towards her boss's office. She hated the stories they always gave her this time of year. Hopefully it would be better than last year's snowman building contest.

"Yes, Mr. Thompson?" she asked in a fake singsong voice with an equally fake smile.

Burne Thompson waved a manila folder over his head. "I need you to go down and cover the filming of that Ace Duck special."

April felt another migraine forming. "A kids show? Come on..."

"That's your assignment!" He tossed the folder across the desk and April had to nearly jump to catch it before it hit the floor and scattered its contents across the carpeting. Burne then leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk. "Unless you'd rather go without your holiday bonus this year."

April clenched her fingers around the stiff paper folder and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her to vent some of her frustration. "I shouldn't be reduced to reporting children's television!"

Irma didn't even look up from filing her nails "Look on the bright side, at least you don't have Vernon's assignment. He's reporting on the holiday shopping rush. Bet he's been trampled three times by now."

The two women shared quick laugh before April went off to collect her news crew.

***

Far away from the city of New York, where ice and snow stretched as far as the eye could see, sits a large, round fortress. On top, sits an eye, which keeps watch over the frozen plains, as if there was something to watch. Inside, advanced alien technology lined every wall and corridor. And the living inhabitants were just as strange as their surroundings.

"Blast it all!" A large robot-type being was standing in front of the control panel for an inter-dimensional portal, which was currently being used as a big screen TV. In the belly of the robot sat a brain-like creature named Krang. He used his tentacles to press various buttons on the panel, effectively changing the channel.

"Christmas programming! All I can get in Christmas programming!"

The doors to the room opened and in walked two mutants, a rhino and a warthog, Rocksteady and Bebop, respectively. They took one look at the big portal television and ran over.

"Ooh, I love this program," Rocksteady said. "My favorite part is when all the toys get broken."

"Yeah," Bebop agreed. "But den someone comes to save dem all. I hate dat part."

They whined and groaned when Krang changed the channel. "Hey, we was watching that!"

"I don't care," Krang replied in his I-am-amused-by-your-pain tone. He flipped through several more channels, each one showing similar snow-covered scenes with reindeer and fat men in red suits. Finally he just pressed another button and called out, "Saki!"

A few minutes later, The Shredder marched into the room, his cloak rippling behind him, and his blades shining in an intimidating fashion. "What do you want now, Krang?"

"I want you to get rid of Christmas."

Shredder just raised an eyebrow at the pink blob staring back at him. Bebop and Rocksteady gasped.

"Youse can't get rid a Christmas!"

"Yeah, it's my favorite holiday," Rocksteady whined, laying his ears down. "I used to throw my coal at the other kids and steal their toys."

Bebop sighed. "Those were da days."

"Shut up, you idiots!" Krang snapped at them. "Saki, I want you to destroy Christmas. I'm tired of all the carols and nauseating, redundant programming."

"And how, exactly, am I supposed to destroy a holiday?" Shredder asked, waving around his bladed arms menacingly.

"You're the evil ninja master, you figure it out." Shredder glared at the back of Krang's android body as he turned away.

"And this is April O'Neil, of Channel Six news, reporting on what will hopefully become a staple for our holiday season." The camera zoomed back to show Miss O'Neil standing on a city street, which looked like it had been temporarily transformed into a TV studio. "We're here on the set of the Ace Duck Holiday Special, where they are about to start filming their final scenes." She turned to the man beside her, a tall, thin man with a beret and a crooked mustache. "I'm here with the director of the show, Mr. Fausner. Mr. Fausner, can you tell me why you're shooting so late for a holiday release, and why you've decided to film here, and not in your usual studio?"

The director straightened his ascot and cleared his throat. "Well, we had some scheduling problems," he told her with a light French accent. "The network wanted thirteen more episodes this season than we usually do. And-"

"There!" Krang suddenly said, turning back to Shredder. The android body pointed back at the screen. "Go there and ruin their filming. And then go to the station that airs it and destroy it!"

Shredder rolled his eyes. "I should be trying to take over the world! This is so... so... so trivial!"

"Go!" Krang shouted. "And take these two portal potatoes with you." Bebop and Rocksteady had taken up seats mere inches away from the giant TV screen, watching as they showed short clips from the upcoming special.

"Bebop! Rocksteady! Come with me! And I'm taking some Foot soldiers," he called over his shoulder. After leaving the room he growled to himself. "Destroying Christmas, how cliché."

"Yeah, but we never done dat before, boss," Bebop snorted.

"Hey, Bebop, I wonder if we get to kidnap Santa."

***

"And, we're clear!"

April lowered her microphone and gave a sigh of relief. "Glad that's over with."

"Psst, April."

April quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching, but everyone was busy either packing up to leave, or continuing to film. She slipped around the back of the news van and saw the Turtle van parked in the alleyway. Two bundled up figures stood nearby, two of the Turtles. April wished she had thought to grab a coat, as it was staring to get rather cold. "Hey guys."

Michaelangelo was jumping from one foot to the other, looking like a kid in a candy store. Leo gave him a disapproving glance before speaking to April. "Thanks for calling us for this, April. Michaelangelo's been bummed all morning ever since the TV broke. This really cheered him up."

"I get to meet Ace Duck!" Mike hooted, pumping his arms up over his head.

"Calm down, Michaelangelo!" Leo hissed.

April giggled at Mike's enthusiasm. "Glad to do it. Come on, there's a spot over here where we'll be out of the way and not noticed while they're filming. But you have to be quiet, Michaelangelo."

Mike nodded furiously. "Quiet, oh, yeah, I can be quiet. Quiet as a mouse, as a ninja, even."

"Just be quiet."

"And- Action!" they heard the director call.

Mike's eyes got big, and he nearly exploded with excitement when Ace Duck, in all his feathered glory, ran into the shot and struck an action pose. "Stop, evil doers!"

Two actors dressed in dark clothing and ski masks froze a few yards away. They dropped the bags they were holding and pulled out prop guns. They starting "firing" at Ace Duck, who expertly dodged all the "bullets".

Leo allowed himself a smile. He'd never seen Mike this happy before. He looked back towards the other people, checking to see if they'd caught anyone's attention, but everyone was focused on Ace Duck and the robbers.

"Uh oh." Leo's smile faded as he caught sight of a dark-haired boy running onto the set towards the scene being filmed. Another movement caught Leo's trained eye and he looked up. One of the lighting fixtures was swaying, like it was about to fall.

"Watch out!" Leo leapt forward and ran to the kid, snatching him up in his arms just as the last bolt on the light gave way and the heavy fixture fell, shattering into a thousand pieces.