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Leonardo pulled off the manhole cover and dropped into the sewers. The journey home from the train wreck had been a long one, which seemed longer since nobody spoke. Tensions had run high, with Raph threatening to leave. Leo didn't want to bring it up again, but he felt Raph's actions had been uncalled for.
"So," Leo said as they trudged through the sewers, "I suppose I deserve an apology."
"For what?" Raph asked, still angry over them losing.
"For criticizing my plan," Leo explained. "I was right after all."
Raph grumbled. "My plan still would have worked."
"Jeez, Raph, can't you ever admit you're wrong?" Mike asked.
"I'll admit it when I am," Raph said. "How come everybody always yells at me?"
"Because you give us reason to," Leo replied.
"Oh, like you're perfect?" Raph asked. "I don't think so."
"At least I have a positive attitude," Leo said.
"Just shut up!" Raph yelled. He stopped and pointed at Leo. "I'm sick and tired of you mouthing off to me! You think you're so much better than the rest of us. Your ego's bigger than Manhattan! I've had enough of this. I'm doing what I should have done a long time ago. Goodbye!" He started walking away.
"Raph, get back here!" Mike yelled. His face was furious, an emotion you rarely saw on him. Everyone was quiet. "We're going to see Splinter," he said.
"What can he do?" Raph complained.
"It's better than nothing," Mike answered.
"Sit down," Splinter said. The Turtles obeyed, each sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor. "Now, clear your mind, and focus on the anxiety. Try to feel what it is telling you. Determine the problem."
They were quiet for a minute. Leo spoke first. "I'm worried that I'm not a good enough leader."
"I'm trapped," Mike said. "It feels like there's no way to escape."
"Good," commented Splinter. "You are discovering your fears."
"It's out of my control," Don said. "There's nothing I can do to stop them."
"I think that these anxieties have been planted there," Splinter explained. "These feelings get stronger as the bonds holding Zek weaken. However, these are also conflicts you have within yourself. You must find a way to resolve these conflicts, or you can never fight as a team."
Raph growled and stood up. He left the room and put on his trenchcoat. "Where are you going?" Splinter asked.
Raph turned. "Out."
"You need to locate your anxiety first."
Raph growled again. "I'll tell you what it is. They're laughing at me, saying I'm stupid and things like that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be leaving." He walked out of the lair. Splinter sighed and shook his head.
Raph walked along the streets of New York, grumbling to himself. He kept hearing that stupid laugh, over and over. He felt so small when he heard that laugh, and it made him angry. He had been taking that anger out on Leo, but it didn't help. Raph sighed, wondering how he was ever going to get out of this one.
Something caught his eye. It was a Minion! He was sure of it. Raph stiffened and he reached towards his sai. The figure in the black coat was hurrying somewhere. Maybe I can find out where they're base is, Raph thought as he started following behind.
They walked for a couple blocks, until the Minion turned into a dark alley. Raph suspected a trap, but followed anyway, keeping one hand near his sai. As soon as he entered the alley, something smashed into his head. He was flung against a wall.
Mike stacked the dishes from dinner next to the sink. Raph still hadn't come back yet, and soon they would have to go out and attack the Kidash Zek's base. Surely Raph wouldn't want to miss that. "Raph's been out a long time," he said.
"He can fend for himself," Don said, absorbed in his computer.
"If he doesn't want to be part of this team, then he can take his negative attitude and leave," Leo said.
"Do you really mean that?" Mike asked.
Raph walked in before Leo could answer. "Sorry I'm late," Raph said. "Did I miss anything?"
"We located their base," Don said. "It's in an abandoned apartment house on the west side of town. We were waiting for you to come back before we left."
"Well," said Raph, "I'm here."
"Let's go," Leo said.
The Turtles stood across the street from the supposedly vacant building. Don's information said otherwise. "So, how do we get in?" Mike asked.
"Let's check around back," Leo suggested. They sneaked behind the building, keeping to the shadows. They discovered a locked door. Mike took out one of his lock picks and started working on it. The others kept wary watch. "Got it," Mike whispered when he was finished. They crept inside.
If it was dark outside, it was even darker inside. The only light came through the grimy windows. They wandered around the hallways, searching the place. Leo peeked his head around a corner and instantly brought it back. "They're coming," he whispered. He opened the door to a nearby apartment and they hid inside. Footsteps came closer, and the Turtles drew their weapons. Everyone was silent as the footsteps passed the door. They breathed a sigh of relief when the footsteps kept going down the hall.
"I guess this proves they're here," Mike said.
"Now what do we do?" asked Don.
"We do nothing," Raph said.
"What?" Don asked in astonishment.
Raph plopped noisily into a chair that someone had left in the room. "Quiet," Leo whispered. "They'll hear you."
"So?" Raph said. "What do we have to fear from them?"
"Raph, have you gone crazy?" Mike said. "Don't you remember the things we've seen them do the past few days?"
"No, I haven't," Raph answered. "It's just that we have no reason to fear them anymore."
"Care to explain?" Don asked.
"Sure," Raph said. "The fact is, those were not Minions."
"How do you know?" Leo asked.
"Because," Raph said, "I've already gotten rid of all of them."
The Turtles stared at Raph in surprise. "You what?" Don asked.
"I've already beaten them," Raph said. "By myself. While I was out today, I followed one of them to their lair. I surprised them and defeated them all."
"How could you do that?" Mike asked. "Together we couldn't win against them. How could you do it all alone?"
"Because I was alone," Raph explained. "Those other times I was held back by you guys. By myself, I was able to unleash my potential and clobber them."
"Are you saying that we're bad?" Leo asked.
"Are you saying you're not?" Raph shot back.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Mike asked angrily.
"I'll tell you what it means," Raph said. He stood up and walked in front of Mike. "It means you're pathetic, Mike. You are the least talented person in this group. Those Drekkane would pick you apart in seconds. And there's no way to hide from them. They can sniff you out. When they find your scent, they follow you. They hunt you down and trap you in a corner, where there's no chance of escape."
"Stop it!" Mike shouted. It looked like the criticism was getting to him.
"Leave him alone," Don ordered.
"Sure," Raph said. He walked in front of Don. "I'll talk about you instead. You think you're so smart, that you know everything. But your science smarts won't help you. They can do things you can't explain, things you can combat. Who knows what they're capable of? They could be invisible and standing behind you right now. There's no way for you to know. It's out of your control."
"Raph, that's enough!" Leo shouted, forgetting about trying to keep quiet.
"I've saved the best for last," Raph said, and stared Leo in the eyes. "You're the worst leader the world has ever seen. Sure, you have the disadvantage of having a bad group, but you make it ten times worse. You have a million flaws."
"I won't let this continue!" Leo interrupted.
"Fine," Raph said. He started walking towards the door. "I'll just leave then."
"Raph, you can't do this!" Mike pleaded.
"I'll do a lot better on my own," Raph said. "I'm going and that's final. You'll get no more help from me." As the other Turtles watched in shock, Raph walked out the door and slammed it behind him.
Don rushed to the door and ran out. "Wait a minute, Raph," Don shouted down the hall.
"Why?" Raph asked.
"Can I ask you one question?" Don asked.
Raph sighed. "I suppose."
"Where was the Minion base?"
"Why should I tell you? It doesn't matter." Raph turned and started walking away.
"So this place is just some deserted building which has no relation to the Kidash Zek?" Don asked.
"As far as I know," Raph answered.
"Then how come my program detected that the Drekkane entered New York in this building?"
Raph looked confused. "What program?"
"The one that detects thermal signatures," Don explained.
Raph thought for a moment, then laughed. "Well, you know, that program is a piece of junk. It's probably the most buggy computer program on the planet."
Leo walked up next to Don. "That's strange," Leo said, "because yesterday you seemed so confident that it would find their base."
"Uh-oh," Raph said.
"Uh-oh?" Mike said questioningly. Now all of them were staring at Raph, who was starting to back away.
"Do you feel okay?" Leo asked.
"I feel fine, inferior," Raph said with an evil grin. Then, before their eyes, Raph changed. His skin changed from green to white. His shell disappeared, and a long black coat replaced it. In a matter of seconds, Raph was gone and a man was standing in his place.
"Where'd you come from?" Mike asked.
The man just smiled as they were knocked unconscious by the Minions that had sneaked up behind them.
Charles Henderson admired himself in the mirror. It was an ancient family heirloom, one that had been handed down from generation to generation. Now it hung in the family room of his new mansion. Turning away from the glass, he looked out the window to gaze at the night sky.
It was nice out in the country, or at least as close as you could get to it on the East Coast. When he had suggested the idea of moving closer to the business headquarters in New York City, his wife had jumped on the idea. They had built this mansion to be their new home, and he had to admit his wife had done a wonderful job designing the whole place. Of course, she always did a wonderful job. Now she was taking Robert and Sheila to visit relatives in Florida, and he was alone in the house except for his maid, Isabelle.
The doorbell sounded. "I'll get it, Isabelle," he shouted, and went to answer the door. He opened it to find his friend standing outside. "Hello, Henry! It's good to see you. Come in."
They walked into the family room. Charles called to Isabelle to fetch some refreshments, while Henry was busy studying the mirror. "A fine piece of work, isn't it?" Charles asked him.
"Very," Henry replied. Isabelle brought in a tray with some homemade lemonade on it, then left to continue whatever she had been doing. Both men sat down in the luxurious chairs and sipped their lemonade.
"Isabelle makes the best lemonade, doesn't she?" Charles commented.
"Yes," Henry answered.
Charles put down his glass. "So, tell me what brings you here tonight."
"Important matters," Henry said. "But first, could you open the window? The room feels a bit stuffy."
"Of course," Charles said. He walked to the window, and started to open it. He didn't see Henry creep up behind and smash the tray over his head. He fell unconscious to the floor.
"What was that?" Isabelle called from another room.
Henry shapeshifted into Charles. "Nothing," he called in Charles's voice. When he was certain the maid wasn't coming, he walked in front of the mirror. He grabbed it and carried the fourth Relic out of the house.
Leo groaned and shook his head to try to clear it. The last thing he remembered was going to an abandoned apartment building and Raph changing into someone else. Had it been a dream?
One look around him proved it hadn't. He saw his three brothers tied up next to him. Raph had his back turned to them. Their weapons were gone. They were lying in the corner of a large room that was lit by an eerie blue light. He searched the room and saw several Minions walking around. They were wearing robes instead of their traditional black outfits. At the front of the room was an outline of a doorway drawn on the wall. Many candelabras were spread around the room, each candle burning blue.
He heard groans as his brothers came to. "Where are we?" Mike asked groggily. The guard standing next to them didn't answer.
The man that had been Raph walked over to them. "Ah, you are awake," he said.
"Who and what are you?" Don asked.
"I am Chalang," the man said. "You may have realized this already, but I am a shapeshifter. I can assume any humanoid shape at will."
"You were pretending to be Raph," Leo said.
"Correct," Chalang said. "You would have been completely fooled if I hadn't made that error. I've been a few hundred years out of practice."
"What's going on?" Mike asked.
"So many questions," Chalang said. "Watch and learn, inferior." He left them and talked to a person with a red mark on his robe. The conversation could barely be heard.
"You grace us with your presence," the man in the robe said with his head bowed.
"But I would still be trapped if it hadn't been for you," Chalang said.
"We are always willing to serve."
"Are you ready to bring the Mirror to Navand?"
"Of course! The moment is finally at hand when the great Zek will be released from his prison and made free to rule the world." The man gestured towards the Turtles. "What should we do with the animal-people?"
"Bring them along. They might make a good sacrifice to Zek."
The Lower Servant motioned to two Minions. They walked over the grab the Turtles.
At that moment, Raph suddenly broke free from his ropes. He punched the Minions and quickly freed his brothers. "How'd you do that?" Mike asked.
"I chewed through the ropes," Raph answered.
"Yeah," Raph said. "It tasted terrible."
The Turtles, now free from their ropes, turned to face the Minions. Don ran towards where their weapons were stacked. "Here," he said as he tossed them to his brothers.
Raph grabbed his sais and turned to face a Minion. He said a word, and wind started pushing Raph back. Not this again, Raph thought. Deciding not to let the same thing happen as last time, he dug his sais into the floor. The Minion watched with surprise as Raph pulled himself along. The wind was relentless, but Raph held on to his sais. Finally, he reached the Minion and tripped him. He fell to the floor, and the wind stopped. Raph turned to face someone else.
Mike was swinging his nunchakus when he saw two Drekkane approaching him. Fear gripped him as they forced him into a corner. The creatures stalked closer as Mike was trying frantically to think of something. Their dark eyes stared at him, which gave him an idea. He threw one of his nunchakus at the Drekkane's eye. The monster shrieked and backed off, clutching its eye. Mike did the same thing to the other one, then went to fight somebody else.
Don gripped his bo as he faced a Minion. The man spoke a word and Don's vision turned to red. Not again, Don thought. Someone kicked him and he fell to the floor. He cleared his head and tried to think of something. Another kick came, and he swung his bo in the direction it had come from. He heard a thump as someone hit the ground. His vision returned to normal as the Minion lost his concentration. Don blocked someone else's kick, and went to keep fighting.
Leonardo ducked as a fireball flew over his head. He turned in the direction of the shot and blocked another one with his swords. The Minion was about to fire another one when Raph hit him from behind. "I was going to get rid of him," Leo said. Raph just shrugged.
"Enough!" Chalang shouted. The Lower Servant spoke several words and suddenly the Turtles were encased in ice. Only their heads were uncovered. Raph swore and tried to break free, but it was no use.
"That's better," Chalang said. He turned toward the door drawn on the wall. "Let's prepare to leave."
The Lower Servant gave Chalang a mirror. Chalang nodded, and the Lower Servant turned towards the door. Everyone in the room was silent as he said several strange words. The outline glowed, and the space inside the doorway turned black. The Turtles watched in surprise as Chalang stepped right through it. The rest of the Minions walked through it as well, and the Turtles were helpless as they too were carried into the black void.
to be continued…
|Part III<--||Back to Ninja Turtles||-->Part V|
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all related characters are the property of someone else. This is a work of fanfiction and no copyright infringement was intended. The Kidash Zek are my own creation.