Weakest Link (TMNT)
Karai stood before the doorway to her father’s chambers. This wasn’t going to be easy. Ever since they arrived in New York, her father had shown nothing but dedication to his vendetta against his old enemy, Hamato Yoshi. A little too much dedication, as far as she was concerned. She understood his pain. Hamato Yoshi (or Splinter, as he was calling himself these days), had killed her mother when she was an infant, destroying their family forever. Her father never forgot that day and he wouldn’t let her forget it either, no matter how much she wished he would leave the past in the past. Killing Splinter would not bring her mother back, but the Shredder didn’t care. To him, loose ends were unacceptable. If destroying Splinter and his army of mutant turtles would bring her father back to her, so be it. All she had to do was get him to listen for a few minutes.
Taking a deep breath, Karai stepped into the chamber of her father, Oroku Saki; the infamous Shredder.
Shredder had his back to her, no doubt staring out at the city below them. He always did this when he was thinking. Even though his eyes were not upon her, Karai still knelt down before him, bowing her head. “Permission to speak, father,” Karai asked.
“Granted,” was Shredder’s reply. Even keeping his voice at such a mild tone sent shivers down the kunoichi’s spine.
Releasing the breath she had been holding, Karai continued. “Father, I have been thinking about your...our vendetta against Hamato Yoshi and I believe I have come up with a solution.”
To her surprise, Shredder chuckled. “Have you now? Tell me, Karai. What ‘brilliant’ plan have you concocted that I could not?”
Karai clenched her fists. She hated it when her father spoke to her as if she were an ignorant child. At least when he was upset with her, he spoke to her as an equal. Maybe that was why she risked talking back to him, even if it frightened her at times. Still, this was not about her pride; it was about ending this stupid plot for revenge and getting things back to normal.
Karai stood before her father before continuing. “Well, as you know, I have faced the ninja turtles on numerous occasions...”
“And letting them escape you each time,” Shredder added.
“Yes...but only because I was curious about them.”
“I’m not asking you to observe them, Karai!” Shredder raised his voice, startling her. “You have been given golden opportunities to do away with Yoshi’s clan and instead, you let them slip through your fingers. If you had attacked when the time was right, we would have found Splinter by now.”
“But that’s my point!” said Karai, hoping to calm her father down. “Every time we’ve attacked them head on, we’ve lost. Do you know why? It’s because the Turtles are not just ninjas; they’re brothers! They’re family. They protect one another because they rely on one another for strength and support. Look at your men. Do you honestly think that Xever and Bradford would defend each other in battle against the enemy?”
“Xever and Bradford are nothing more than pawns to me,” said Shredder, descending the stairs as he approached his daughter. “Even without them, I still have plenty of Foot ninjas at my disposal.”
“You’re missing the big picture here, father. The answer doesn’t lie in increasing our numbers; it’s in diminishing theirs.”
Shredder stopped pacing around Karai and looked to her, his scarred eyes holding a bit of interest in her words.
Before going any further, Karai pulled out a small chain from her belt and presented it before her father. “The Turtles, father, are like a chain. Each link is as strong and sturdy as the next, but only when they’re connected.” As if to demonstrate her point, she pulled each end of the chain, making the links grow taunt. “If we were to take one just one link, the chain would loose it’s strength and be easier to destroy.”
Shredder brought a hand to his mask and studied the chain, imagining those hideous green faces replacing each link. “And you believe one of those turtles is the weakest link?”
“Your idea shows merit, Karai. I am impressed. However, as I stated before, you have been given chances to destroy one of the turtles, including their leader, Leonardo.”
Karai looked down at the chain in her hands. He just had to bring up Leo, didn’t he? “I know, father, but I wasn’t talking about taking out any of the turtles...not yet. What I meant was if we could somehow manipulate one of them and get him to join the Foot, then maybe...”
Karai cried out in alarm at Shredder’s outburst, causing her to fall backwards on the floor. He towered over her, unsheathing his wrist-blades. “You DARE suggest forming an alliance with the enemy? Those infidels who serve the man who killed your mother?”
Karai quickly maneuvered herself into a kneeling position, frantic to get her father to remain calm. “Father! Father, please, let me finish! That’s not what I meant! Of course I don’t want an alliance with Yoshi’s clan, but think about it. The reason we haven’t been able to defeat the Turtles before is because of their unity. Against the Foot, of course they wouldn’t hesitate attacking. We’re the enemy and they hate us! But if one of them were on our side, they would hesitate! They would never lift a finger fighting their own brother, not to the death. All we have to do is find the one Turtle who is the easiest to manipulate and get him to fight for us, then the other three wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“And what makes you think the traitorous brother will maintain his loyalty to the Foot?” challenged Shredder. “What if he has a change of heart at the last minute?”
“By that point, it’ll be too late,” said Karai. “By the time he starts to feel any regrets, the other three will be dead at his feet...and he will be dead at yours. And then once Hamato Yoshi realizes his precious clan has been destroyed, he’ll have no choice but to come out of hiding and face you to get his revenge. Then you can finally be done with your vendetta...and we can go home.”
Shredder was quiet for several minutes, replaying his daughter’s plan in his head. Karai held her breath, praying that her idea would gain his acceptance. Even though his entire face was covered in metal, she could tell by his eyes that a dark smile was curling his lips. He bent down and picked up the chain she was holding before. “I have taught you well, Karai. Perhaps you’re right; brute force is not enough to destroy these...Turtles. The only way to be rid of them is to attack from the inside.”
He slowly slipped one of his blades through a link in the chain. He then pulled his arm back, severing one of the metal loops apart from the others. The remaining chain clattered to the floor before Karai. She noticed how clean the cut was on the metal.
“You are dismissed,” said Shredder, returning to his throne a top the stairs. “You are to observe these turtles and decide which one is the weakest of the four. Once we know who, then we can proceed.”
Karai bowed. “Hai, father.”
As she was about to leave, Shredder said, “Oh, and Karai?”
She turned to face him. “Yes, father?”
“You may be my daughter, but you are still a member of the Foot clan and I expect nothing but the best from my ninjas. Do not disappoint me.”
Karai felt the back of her neck begin to perspire. Still, she bowed again. “I will not, father. You have my word.”