Hello All! Welcome to my second story. I am super excited about this one, which I think will be quite a bit longer than my first fic "Bad Day." I hope everyone enjoys! Make sure to let me know what you think…

Thanks to NeoMars for beta reading this chapter for me. I tinkered a bit after she was done, so any remaining errors are mine!

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Never have, never will.

Chapter 1

"Guys, turn on the TV."

Leo looked up from his book as April came bursting into the lair, her hands full of grocery bags and her cheeks flushed. She rushed over to the kitchen table where she hurriedly deposited her load, then quickly returned to the living room, glancing all around in search of the remote.

"It's beside Master Splinter's chair," Leo told her calmly, memorizing the page number he was on and closing his book. "What's up, April?"

"It's almost time for the news," April answered breathlessly. "Something's happened that I think you guys should see." She grabbed the remote, then paused, glancing around the quiet lair, apparently realizing for the first time that Leo was the only other person in the room. "Uh…where are the others?"

Leo shrugged. "Raph and Don are out inspecting the security system in the south tunnels, and Mikey's in a private session with Sensei."

"Oh," April answered, lifting the remote and punching the power button. "I guess you'll just have to fill them in, then." She quickly began flipping through the channels as she walked over to the couch and sat down next to Leo. "They've been reporting on it all morning, but they obviously have no clue how significant it is and…oh wait, here it is. Just watch for yourself."

Leo frowned slightly at April's obvious agitation, but obediently turned his attention to the TV.

A commercial for laundry soap was just ending, and the emblem for Channel 3 News flashed across the screen. A second later two well-dressed reporters appeared sitting behind a wide mahogany desk. The words "Breaking News" were boldly displayed on the screen behind them.

"Good morning," one of the reporters greeted crisply, smiling serenely into the camera, "and welcome to Channel 3 News at ten. Our news begins this hour with continued coverage of the explosion that rocked downtown New York early this morning. Our reporter Gregg Davis is at the scene now with more information… Good morning, Gregg."

The screen flashed to a field reporter standing before a police barricade. Lights of emergency vehicles flashed all around him, and behind him the damaged and scorched husk of a three story brick building could clearly be seen.

"Good morning, Jane," Gregg replied briskly, launching directly into his report. "At approximately 5:15 this morning, police and fire rescue personnel were called to the 16th block of Washington Street after receiving reports of an explosion. Upon their arrival to the scene, they found this building..." he twisted so he could point behind him at the ruins… "heavily damaged and on fire. The blaze was quickly brought under control, and police are currently investigating the cause of the explosion, which took out a portion of the south wall on the third floor. Luckily, the building was abandoned, and no injuries have been reported."

Gregg paused in his report, allowing the camera to pan in to show an up close picture of the damaged building. "In a statement released earlier this morning, Police Chief Regan said the police are currently exploring several leads and have not ruled out the possibility of foul play. This statement came after eyewitnesses apparently reported seeing several suspicious individuals leaving the building immediately before the blast. The witnesses claim the individuals appeared to be wearing incredibly life-like animal costumes, and were acting in an aggressive and threatening manner. In his statement, Chief Regan warned the public that the costumes could possibly be the signature of a newly developing gang, and urged residents in the area to keep an eye out and report any suspicious activity to police immediately. In the meantime, a reward of $500 has been offered for any information leading to an arrest."

Leo exchanged a quick glance with April, but the reporter's next words brought his attention back to the TV.

"The abandoned building, which we have learned is owned by Saki Industries, has reportedly been scheduled for demolition for over a year. Despite that, several witnesses claim they have seen an African American man in a wheelchair coming and going from this location regularly. Police are searching for the man for questioning, but have not yet been able to identify him. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline on the number listed on the bottom of your screen."

"Stockman," Leo growled, suddenly understanding why April had been so adamant they see this. It had been over six months since they had last seen or heard anything from Stockman, but Leo had always suspected the scientist was still out there somewhere, planning and scheming from the shadows. Now he knew for certain, just as he knew that Stockman was still firmly in Shredder's pocket. The cops were looking for him, but they wouldn't find him. Leo would bet his twin katanas that Saki already had him hidden away somewhere in another one of his abandoned and scheduled for demolition buildings elsewhere in town.

Gregg was continuing his report, moving on to describe the minor damages suffered by neighboring buildings and the reactions of nearby residents. As the camera panned out to cover a view of the entire street, Leo caught a glimpse of a familiar figure lounging against a parked police cruiser. Karai looked strangely formal in a blue pant suite with her hair pulled back in a loose bun, but he still would have recognized her anywhere. Her eyes were fixed on the charred ruins of the building in front of her while a young officer stood chatting animatedly at her side, staring at her with unconcealed admiration. Leo let out a soft snort. The idiot had no idea who he was dealing with…

"So what do you suppose they're up to?" April asked, pulling his attention from the screen. "Shredder and Stockman, I mean," she clarified unnecessarily. "Something tells me they weren't playing with puppies and kittens in that building."

Leo slowly shook his head. "No," he agreed softly. "I have no idea, but whatever they were doing, it looks like it went south on them. And if Shredder thought it was important enough to send Karai to monitor the situation, then it must be pretty serious."

April looked startled. "Karai was there?"

"Yeah," Leo sighed. "Probably acting as the pretty face for Saki Industries while at the same time making sure the police don't find anything they're not supposed to."

"So what are we going to do?" April asked, muting the TV as it went to commercial.

Leo rose from the couch and walked over to the table. He began to put away groceries while mulling over what he had learned from the news report. "There's really only one thing we can do," he finally answered her. "We'll keep monitoring the news throughout the day, and then, once it's dark, the guys and I will head up to check out that building and see if we can find anything. It's a long shot, but maybe we'll get lucky. Stockman's obviously long gone, and the police will have taken anything they think is evidence, but maybe they'll have missed something that will give us a clue. It's worth checking out just to make sure."

April let out a deep sigh, causing Leo to pause sorting through the groceries to look at her questioningly.

"Just…be careful," she requested softly, leaving the couch and joining Leo at the table. "I know you guys do this type of thing all the time, but for some reason I just have a bad feeling about this."

Leo regarded her solemnly, not immediately answering. Unlike Raphael, he was not one to mock intuition, especially in someone as attentive and aware as April. Her warning sent faint tendrils of unease through his own mind, but it wasn't enough to make him change his mind about his plan. "We'll be careful April, I promise," he assured her, giving her a small smile to let her know that he was taking her seriously, and his words weren't just empty promises.

She returned his smile with a small one of her own. "I guess I'm turning into an old worry wart when it comes to you guys, but I can't seem to help it," she sighed. "You all seem to attract trouble like rotten meat attracts flies."

Leo wrinkled his beak in disgust. "Nice analogy," he grunted. "And I'm not sure what you're talking about. Things have been pretty quiet lately…so much so that Raph's beginning to go a bit stir-crazy. He hasn't had anyone to punch in at least a week, and I think it's starting to get to him."

"Well, you know what they say about the calm before the storm." April muttered, grabbing a bag of chips and putting it away in one of the cupboards.

Leo smiled at her, warmed by her concern. April carried a unique position within their family, half the time acting as the protective and overly concerned mother they had never known, and the other half like an older sister. Even though she had only been part of their lives for the last few years, Leo couldn't imagine life without her.

On impulse he reached out and hooked one arm around her shoulders, pulling her in for a brief hug. "Relax, April," he murmured. "We're just going to poke around a bit and see what we can find. We'll be fine. I'll look after the others, I promise. "

April returned his hug with a brief but fierce one of her own, murmuring into his shoulder, "I know…you always do." A moment later she pulled back, giving him a wavering smile before returning to the task of putting away groceries. Leo joined her, and together they worked on in silence.

Neither could know the horror and tragedy that awaited them before the night was over…

"The area's clear on the north side. Donnie, what do you see from your position?"

Donnie peered over the edge of the building he was currently crouched on, the roof of the burned out hulk that was their target only a few yards in front of him. He keyed up the radio, keeping a watchful eye on his surroundings as he replied. "Everything's quiet over here as well, Leo. There's a single cop car down on the street, but no one has come in or out. I can see the hole on the side of the building. It will make a good entry point if you and Raph want to make your way over here."

"We're on our way," was Leo's simple reply before the radio went silent.

Donnie glanced over his shoulder and let out a soft whistle to gain Mikey's attention. His younger brother was standing on the far side of the roof, his back turned to Donnie as he scanned the surrounding rooftops, keeping an eye out for any trouble that might come at them from behind. At Donnie's signal, he abandoned his vigil and hurried over, his steps quick and sure, yet strangely absent of his normal exuberance and wild energy. Mikey was a goofball ninety percent of the time, but when the occasion called for it, Donnie knew his little brother could be as serious and focused as Leo. And tonight, there was something about their mission that had them all just a little on edge.

Well, everyone except for maybe Raphael. Donnie suspected that his red-banded brother was actually hoping something might happen. But that was just Raph, and he was at least ninety percent crazy, so Donnie wasn't too surprised.

"What's up," Mikey asked as soon as he reached him.

"Raph and Leo are on their way," Donnie told him. "We're going to go in through there," he pointed toward the hole on the third floor.

Mikey nodded, reaching down to his belt for his grappling hook. "You think the floor over there will be strong enough to hold our weight?" he asked, peering over at the other building concernedly.

Donnie blinked at his brother, surprised Mikey would even think about something like that. Usually that was his job. Mikey was more of the "leap first, make sure I have a good landing second" kind of a guy.

"It shouldn't be a problem," he replied. "I was watching the news this afternoon and they kept showing cops and firefighters moving throughout the building. Obviously it's still structurally sound. I think there was more smoke damage than anything else."

"Alright, then," Mikey grunted. "Let's get this show on the road."

"As soon as the others get here we can go," Donnie replied.

"We're here," a voice said from directly behind them, and Donnie could only thank years of training for preventing him from jumping a foot in surprise. He hated it when Leo managed to sneak up on him, which was probably why his brother did it in the first place.

Sure enough, when he turned around, Leo had something very close to a smug look on his face, though he was obviously trying to hide it. Behind him, Raph was making no such attempt, grinning at them openly and twirling his sais around his fingers.

"Gees, guys…if we were the foot, you'd be missing your heads right now," he observed cockily.

"I knew you were there," Mikey replied dismissively, already twirling his grappling hook and eying the hole across the gap. "You kicked the edge of the eaves as you were coming over the side."

Raph snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Did not," he argued.

"Actually, Raph, you did," Leo stated. "I heard you as well."

"Can we just get going," Donnie interjected quickly, hoping to forestall the argument he knew was coming. At the same time he made a quick mental note to pay more attention next time they had stealth training…he couldn't afford to get sloppy.

"Alright," Leo's voice took on the no-nonsense tone that indicated he was in full-out leader mode. "As soon as we get inside we split up. Mikey and Raph take the bottom floor, and Donnie and I will take the third. We'll meet together on the second. Look for anything out of the ordinary, or anything that might give us some clue as to what Stockman was up to."

"We got it," Raph grumbled, pulling his own grappling hook from his belt.

Less than two minutes later and they were all standing inside the burned out building, the smell of wet ash filling their noses and tickling the backs of their throats. It was dark inside, with only the light drifting in from the lamp posts outside offering any kind of illumination. Still, they were used to the dim passageways of the underground sewers, and their eyes quickly adjusted enough that they could see.

Raph and Mikey split away from them, heading toward the narrow stairwell in the far corner of the room. Leo flashed a hand signal to Donnie indicating he should go left while Leo took the right. Donnie nodded his understanding, then set off.

It didn't take him long to realize that they wouldn't be finding much on this floor. The news had claimed the building was abandoned, and though they knew better, the third floor was certainly doing a good job of putting off that impression. It was mostly empty, with nothing but peeling wallpaper and a few random pieces of broken furniture. The fire seemed to have been the worst toward the south side of the building, and Donnie supposed some of the evidence they were looking for could have been burned up. Perhaps that had been the purpose of the fire all along; to get rid of evidence. Donnie somehow doubted it, though. There were definitely quieter, more subtle ways of getting rid of evidence, and as much as Stockman enjoyed the limelight, this wasn't exactly the kind of attention he would have been seeking.

Five minutes later he met up with Leo again and they silently made their way down to the second floor. Mikey and Raph were still nowhere to be seen, and Donnie hoped their absence indicated they were having better luck on the first floor then they'd had on the third.

A preliminary sweep of the second floor showed much the same as what they had encountered above, and Donnie was beginning to wonder if this all was going to turn out to be a big waste of time. After all, surely any evidence that Stockman had left would have been found and removed by the police already. The chances of them finding anything of interest were incredibly slim. Then again, if Stockman had been using this building as a secret hideout or lab, then he certainly wasn't going to just leave his stuff lying around for anyone to find…

A sudden idea struck him, and he began looking around the building with new eyes. It didn't take him long to find what he was looking for, and he let out another low whistle. Almost instantly Leo was at his side, his body tense and one hand twisted behind his back to grab the hilt of one of his swords.

"What is it?" he asked softly, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Does something about this room look off to you?" Donnie replied, staring at the far wall intently.

Leo let out a low grunt, pausing a moment to look around before replying. "No, not really." His hand dropped from his weapon and he gave Donnie a searching look. "Why? What are you thinking?"

"The dimensions are all wrong," Donnie answered immediately. It doesn't take up the whole width of the building, and yet there are no hallways or doorways that would indicate rooms beyond. But there has to be something in that space. It's much too big to be just a crawl space or a dead area."

"So… secret room?" Leo asked, eying the far wall critically.

Donnie shrugged. "Only one way to find out…"

They moved forward together, each starting at a different end of the wall, running their hands up and down the smooth surface in search of anything that might indicate a hidden doorway. They were only a few seconds into their search when Raphael and Mikey joined them.

"Any particular reason you're feeling up that poor wall?" Raph commented dryly as he walked into the room.

"Donnie thinks there may be a hidden room behind it," Leo answered simply, never pausing in his slow search.

"We found nothing on the first floor," Mikey reported. "Well, unless you count a lot of empty boxes and dead mice."

"Same story up above," Donnie reported, then grunted as his searching fingers brushed across a sudden rough spot on the wall. He prodded at the area with his fingers, squinting in the dim light in an effort to see what it was he had found. A moment later he felt the wall shift beneath his hands, and he pressed harder, feeling a flash of triumph as a whole section gave way beneath his touch, swinging inwards and to one side to reveal a gap about the shape and size of a doorway. "Found it," he called.

Donnie started forward, only to be brought to a sudden halt by Leo's hand on his shoulder. He glanced toward his brother in surprise, but Leo merely put a single finger to his lips to indicate silence, then reached back and soundlessly unsheathed one of his swords. Donnie hesitated, then nodded, reaching over his own shoulder and pulling his bo free from its holder. He highly doubted that anyone would still be hiding out in the secret room, but still, it was better to be safe than sorry. Leo's tendency toward over-caution had saved their shells on more than one occasion, so Donnie wasn't about to argue.

He slowly crept forward, his staff clutched before him, the darkness growing as the meager light from behind him faded away. He paused, causing Leo to bump lightly into the back of his shell. It would be stupid to blindly stumble ahead into the unknown. The total lack of light was enough to tell him the room in front of him had no windows, which meant it would be safe to use his flashlight.

"Donnie?" Leo's voice was questioning.

"Hold on," Donnie whispered back, quickly pulling his backpack from his shoulder and fishing around in it until he found his flashlight. Taking a deep breath, he flipped it on, its narrow beam cutting through the inky darkness in front of him. He knew if anyone was in the room the flashlight would act like a beacon, leading them straight to him, but there was no point in continuing on blindly.

He made a quick scan of the room with his flashlight, then repeated the sweep, only this time slower. The room in front of them was definitely a lab of some sort, complete with a metal exam table and other research paraphernalia. Truthfully, it looked a lot like Donnie's own lab at home, but for one glaring exception that was impossible to miss. Behind him he heard Leo let out a small sigh, and he knew his brother had seen it too.

"Definitely not puppies and kittens," Leo murmured softly.

Donnie had no idea what his brother was talking about, but he didn't bother to ask, all his attention focused on the five giant cages that lined the walls of the lab. The cages ran from floor to ceiling, each roughly seven feet wide by eight feet deep. All of them were empty, the doors standing open, some of them looking bent and twisted, hanging loosely from their hinges.

"Uhh, we going to be moving forward anytime soon, Donnie, or should I just go ahead and take a nap?" Raph's disgruntled voice sounded from the passageway behind him.

Donnie did another quick scan of the room, this time looking for any surveillance cameras or other kinds of security. Fining none, he stepped the rest of the way into the room, allowing his brothers to enter behind him. Now that he knew the room was empty, he replaced his staff back in its holder on his shell.

Raph let out a low whistle as he entered the room and caught sight of the cages. "I wonder what Stockman was keeping in those," he exclaimed quietly.

"Nothing good," Leo replied with certainty, re-sheathing his own weapon. "Okay, let's take a look around. Mikey, stand guard at the door…I don't want to get caught unaware if someone comes."

"Ah man," Mikey grumbled at his assignment. "Why don't I ever get to have any fun?"

"Because it's a lab," Raph replied briskly, "and you and labs don't mix very well. Why do you think Donnie's banned you from his?"

Mikey's muttered response was lost to Donnie as he moved away across the room, having spotted a set of gray filing cabinets. As soon as he reached them he placed his flashlight on the floor, the beam facing up toward the ceiling so as to provide at least a little light for his brothers. He pulled open the top drawer, disappointed to find it empty. The rest were likewise empty, except for the last. When he opened that one, he found several thick manila files stuffed inside.

"Jackpot," he muttered. He reached in and began pulling the files out, stuffing them into his backpack. He was tempted to open one up and just start reading here and now, but he refrained. Once he was safely back at the lair he would have all the time he needed to thoroughly peruse the files at his leisure.

Once he had gotten all the files safely stashed away in his bag, he turned and grabbed the light, sweeping it around the room in search of his brothers. Raph was over by one of the cages, examining the thick metal bars and peering into its dark interior. Leo was across the room, down on one knee as he reached for something back behind a large cabinet. Donnie could see that the front of the cabinet had been smashed open, and whatever contents it had once held were now gone. For some reason, that made him feel uneasy.

Leo suddenly straightened, pulling his arm back out from behind the cabinet. Donnie could see that his brother held a thick metal cylinder in his hand, a dim red light blinking dully from its top.

Curious, Donnie headed toward his brother, but Mikey's sudden whisper stopped him dead in his tracks.

"Guys… someone's coming."

For a split second they all stood frozen, and then as one they made a beeline for the doorway. Donnie saw Leo slip the cylinder into his belt, then motion toward him to turn off the flash light. Donnie quickly complied, and the room was plunged into darkness.

"Hurry." Mikey's voice drifted softly through the darkness. Donnie used the sound to guide him back to the door, arriving at the same time as Leo and Raph. They squeezed back through the opening, Leo bringing up the rear. Donnie heard a slight scraping sound and knew his brother was pulling the false wall closed behind them.

Now that they were back out in the main room, they were able to see better, the lights from the street lamps outside filtering in through the windows. Donnie immediately made out the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, and the dim glow of a flashlight beam danced across the walls.

Donnie felt Leo's hand close around his arm, and he glanced toward his brother. Leo quickly pointed up, then away, signifying it was time to go. Donnie nodded his understanding, feeling disappointed. He would have liked to have gotten a better look at the lab. He supposed they could always try to come back later if they needed to, but he highly doubted Shredder would risk leaving any evidence sitting around unattended for too long. He would likely send his Foot to come and clean the place out sooner rather than later. Donnie could only hope that the files he had managed to grab would give them enough information to figure out what Stockman had been up to.

Moving silently as shadows, they made their way back up to the third floor, easily skirting the slightly spooked looking cop who was patrolling the damaged building. They left as silently as they had come, swinging across to the adjoining building, and then freeing their grappling hooks with practiced flicks of their wrists.

Now that they were out of the building, Donnie turned to ask Leo about the cylinder he had found, but before he could say anything he saw his brother suddenly stiffen, his gaze locked on the heavy shadows on the far end of the roof.

"Heads up, guys," Leo said quietly. "We've got company."

Donnie turned smoothly, his staff in his hands before he was even consciously aware of it, his body sinking into a fighting stance. Beside him his brothers mirrored his movements, the low hiss of Leo's kantanas leaving their sheaths the only sound in the suddenly still night.

For a heartbeat nothing happened, then suddenly the shadows on the far side of the roof shifted and several Foot soldiers stepped into view. A moment later even more appeared on the left, and then the right side of the roof, forming a loose half circle around them.

Donnie let out a low sigh, tightening his grip on his staff. It looked like Shredder's clean-up crew had arrived, just as he had suspected they would.

Sometime he hated being right all the time.

It was about time!

Raphael had been craving a good fight for a while now, and it looked like he was finally going to get his wish. An eager smile curled up the corners of his mouth as he set his sais spinning around his fingers, his gaze sweeping over the ring of Foot soldiers surrounding them. "Howdy fellas," he called out boldly. "Glad you could make it to the party."

"You should not be here." Karai stepped from the shadows on the far side of the roof. Her stance was relaxed, her sword still sheathed at her side, but she still radiated an air of danger.

"Karai," Leo greeted coolly, his swords held at the ready.

"What is it with you turtles and always sticking your noses where they don't belong," Karai growled, irritated. "Didn't that rat father of yours teach you how to mind your own business?"

"This city is our business," Leo replied firmly. "When one of Shredder's lackeys blows up a building, you'd better believe we're going to get involved."

Karai let out a harsh snort that wasn't at all ladylike. "You do like to play the hero, don't you, Leonardo."

"Enough talk," Raph broke in, shaking his head in annoyance. Whenever Karai and Leo faced off, it was suddenly as though the rest of them no longer existed. They would stand and throw words at each other all night long if he didn't intervene. It was a crazy dance he had witnessed one too many times, and wasn't really in the mood for tonight. He knew his older brother had some complicated, screwed-up feelings toward Karai, but that didn't change the fact that she was their enemy. Given the chance she wouldn't hesitate to kill them, because that was what the Shredder had commanded her to do. Maybe she would regret it later, maybe not, Raph didn't really care. His job was to make sure she never got the chance.

"Fine," Karai hissed, her sword leaving its sheath in one fluid motion. "Have it your way…Foot, attack!"

Now this was more like it! Raph felt his adrenaline sing within his veins as he prepared to meet the oncoming rush. Maybe it was the warrior blood that Splinter said ran through all of their veins, or maybe he was just crazy like Donnie claimed, but he never felt more alive than when he was facing death. It was like a kind of high for him, and he reveled in the sudden rush of blood through his veins and the coiled tension in his muscles. Training in the dojo was fine, but it couldn't compare to the real deal…a chance to put into practice all he had learned and to test his skills.

To his right, Mikey let out a high pitched war cry, leaping forward at the ninjas closing in from that side, his nunchucks a mad whirl about his head and shoulders. On his left, Donnie was twirling his bo in front of him, the staff letting out a low hum as it picked up speed, soon spinning so fast as to be nearly invisible. And of course, Leo was heading straight for Karai, his face a mask of determination. This left Raph to deal with the Foot coming at them from the front, something he was more than ready to do.

He met the first two ninjas with a high sweeping kick that sent them both stumbling backwards in an attempt to avoid the blow. Before they could recover and regain their balance, he descended on them with a flurry of slashes and punches. The hilt of his sai smashed into the side of the first ninja's head, sending him crashing to the ground, while a lightening quick series of punches soon sent the second one down on top of his companion. They were immediately replaced by three more, and Raph met them with a grin, taunting them forward with a flick of his sai and a curl of his fingers.

Anyone who watched Raph in battle would probably believe that he was a mindless fighter, throwing himself at his enemies without care or regard. And yet while there was a sort of recklessness to his fighting style, there was also an intense focus, not just on the opponents in front of him, but also on the battle in general. Even in the thick of a fight he always had a basic idea where each of his brothers were and how they were fairing. All it would take was the smallest grunt or gasp of pain, and he would be by their side in an instant, ready to defend.

Mikey was the easiest of his brothers to keep track of, mostly because he was the loudest. If he wasn't letting out random war cries, then he was taunting his enemies with insults and critiques on their fighting style. Donnie, on the other hand, fought quietly, and so Raph had learned to recognize the telltale thump of his brother's staff against his opponents' bodies as a way of locating him. Leo was usually pretty easy to find as well by the ring of his blades, but if that failed, Raph could always look for where their enemies were the most numerous or strongest, and his big brother would inevitably be there.

Tonight, Raphael wasn't feeling overly concerned. They were certainly outnumbered, but the odds against them weren't any worse than they had faced many times before and still come out on top. The soldiers of the Foot were fairly decent fighters by general standards, but they were nowhere near the level of the turtles in terms of skill and technique. The sheer number of them made up for some of the gap, but not enough. Raph downed one after the other with barely a pause in between, the wild grin never leaving his face.

Somewhere behind him the persistent ring of steel on steel told him Leo's dual with Karai was still going strong. Karai was different from the Foot. She had been raised in the art of ninjitsu the same as them, and was much more skilled than the soldiers she led. Still, he wasn't overly concerned, confident that his brother could best her.

"Coming at you, Raph," Mikey's voice suddenly called out, and Raph immediately spun, ducking low as a body sailed through the space he had just been to crash into a group of ninjas who had been trying to sneak up on him from the side.

"Thanks, Mike," Raph called over his shoulder, even as he dropped down on one hand and swept his body around in an arc, taking the legs out from under two more ninjas rushing for him. He regained his feet an instant later and looked around for his next opponent. Only a few Foot soldiers still remained standing, and they had all retreated to the edges of the roof, seemingly suddenly reluctant to attack.

Raph shook his head. 'Cowards,' he thought disgustedly.

Ignoring them for the moment, he turned and observed the fierce battle still raging between Leo and Karai. The two were engaged in a quick and graceful dance, swords moving so fast they were almost a blur as they slashed, parried, and weaved their way across the rooftop. It was an impressive show, and Raph found himself mesmerized in spite of himself. He had only fought Karai once, and she had very nearly taken his arm off. He still bore the scar. She was a formidable adversary, quick and light on her feet, and a lot stronger than she appeared. Yet Leo was every bit as quick, despite his bigger size, and met her strike for strike. Neither one of them were giving an inch, and Raph could see the concentration etched on both their faces.

"Too bad we don't have any popcorn," Mikey commented, coming up to stand at Raph's shoulder and observing the fight alongside him. "Do you care to make a bet whether the rest of these guys are going to stay and play, or run home to momma?"

"Uhh, I wouldn't speak too soon, Mikey," Donnie observed, coming up to stand on Raph's other side. "I'm guessing they're just holding back until their reinforcements arrive."

Raph tore his gaze from the battle to arch an eye ridge at his purple-banded brother. "What reinforcements?" he asked with a frown.

"Those reinforcements," Donnie replied succinctly, pointing his staff north. Raph looked where his brother was indicating, his heart speeding up in his chest as he saw a small army of Foot sweeping across the rooftops in their direction. They were still a distance away, but closing in fast, and Raph could see several of Shredder's Elites leading the charge.

"Uhh, Leo?" Mikey called out hesitantly. "I don't want to ruin your concentration or anything, bro, but we've got some Funny Hats heading this way, and they brought back-up. Lots of back-up."

Leo grunted his acknowledgement, never pausing in his deadly dance with Karai. "I don't suppose you guys would leave now if I told you to?" he growled, sweeping one sword up to block a strike aimed at his throat.


Raph grinned at the triple echo of the word. Really, it was a stupid question on his brother's part.

"Thought so," Leo grunted resignedly. He suddenly pivoted to one side, sweeping Karai's sword out wide before striking out with a side kick, his foot landing in the center of Karai's chest, sending her careening back across the roof, her sword flying from her hand. Instead of moving in to finish her, Leo turned and bounded across the roof to where Raph and the others stood. "Time to go, guys," he called out, sounding slightly winded.

Raph hesitated, hating the thought of running from any fight. But the arrival of the Elites definitely changed things, shifting the odds in favor of their enemies. It just wasn't worth the risk, as much as it galled him to retreat.

He turned and followed his brothers to the edge of the roof, leaping down and catching himself on the nearby fire-escape. Above him he could hear Karai screaming at the remaining Foot soldiers to go after them. She really shouldn't have bothered…they stood absolutely no chance of catching them.

Landing lightly in the alleyway, he took off after his brothers, thinking that all in all, the night hadn't turned out half bad.

On a rooftop less than a quarter of a mile away, five shadows crouched low against a stone balustrade, glowing red eyes fixed on the street below. They had witnessed the battle on the rooftop, and now they watched as the four turtles easily evaded their pursuers and dropped down into a manhole, disappearing into the sewers below.

"They are like us, Alpha," came a growled comment, the voice harsh and rough as it broke through the stillness of the night.

"Indeed." Came the quiet response. "We must find out more about who they are and where they came from. Follow them, Viz. Take Two-Toes with you. Learn what you can, but stay back and make sure you are not seen."

"Yes, Alpha."

Two of the shadows immediately straightened from their crouch, their massive forms blending into the darkness of the night as they jumped from the edge of the roof and began making their way down toward the alleyway below, moving with lethal power and grace. Once they reached the ground, a gray furred muzzle lifted high into the air, sniffing the breeze experimentally until it found the scent it was looking for. Then it took off toward the mouth of the alley, its companion hot on its heels, the soft click of claws against the hard ground the only sound breaking the silence of the night.


Well, what do you think? Let me know if I should keep going...