She returns! A year (or so) after her last update! Thank God for semestral breaks! XD

Who's ready for an action-packed chapter? This one gave me a bit of a doozy of a headache while writing this but it was fun.

BTW, I'm not familiar with the streets of New York, so the only reference I have are maps from Google. Pardon the directional inaccuracies that come up.


泣き面に蜂 – A Wasp on a Crying Face


In the dead of the night, the Shellraiser went flying.

April let out a yelp as the Shellraiser landed with a harsh jerk on the New York city pavement but kept her hands firmly on the weapon control panel. Beside her, Casey shot her a quick apologetic look.

"Sorry about that, Red. The rough landing was the only way to go."

"I'm fine, Casey. We've lived through worse." Literally speaking, seeing as she and her friends had survived a near successful alien invasion—twice! —and a crazy adventure in space.

But now isn't time for reminiscing. "Where did Mikey say the meet up was again?"

"He didn't," answered Casey, eyes narrowed sharply on the road. "Just keyed in the coordinates and told me to take the tunnel leading out to Franklin street. Mind taking a look?"

April reached the navigation panel before Casey barely finished the request, and eyed the map Mikey left with the coordinates.

"We need to get on 6th avenue all the way to..." April's brows furrowed. "W 59th?"

"The street near Central Park?"

The red head caught sight of a sticky note on the console. "Hey, Mikey left a note. Meet up at Hallett Nature—"

"Shit!" Casey harshly cut in. "Hang onto something."

April quickly grabbed the edges of the navigation panel just when Casey took a sharp turn left. The tires screeched in protest but the young vigilante kept a firm grip on the wheel as he barked out. "April, get back to the weapons! We've got Foot on our tail!"

"Wh—what?" April forced her body to stop shaking while she flicked at the navigation monitor. True enough, a band of Foot soldiers were suddenly behind them, brandishing swords and—Oh Lord—huge fuma shuriken while riding on sleek black motorcycles.

"What the—? Where the hell did these guys come from?"

"A block or two back, I think. Damn things like cockroaches, coming out of nowhere," snarled Casey. "But we're not gonna let them stop us! Even if there's a bazillion of them!"

April bit her bottom lip. "…You really think we can handle this?"

Casey met her worried gaze at the rear view mirror. "The hell are you on, Red?"

"It's just that…" The girl swallowed uneasily. "Casey, it's the first time we've gone up against the Foot without the turtles or Splinter for back up. They're fighting their own battles so we can't count on them to help us out if things get dicey. I…I'd like to believe that we can do this, but…"

"…We can, April." The hardened way Casey said her name made April look up sharply. "We can beat them. There's no other option."

"But—"

The young vigilante's grip on the steering wheel tightened. "Mikey and Splinter are fighting the rest of the damn Foot because they want us to get away. They think we have what it takes to fight through whatever else coming at us even if they're not around to help. I'm not letting them down, April. Not again! No matter what it takes!"

"Casey…" April let out a breath. "No, it's not just you. We both let them down. But it's not going to happen again. We're going to lose those sons of bitches on our tail and save our brothers even if it's the last thing we do!"

Casey's jaw slackened for a second before grinning. "Never knew you could swear like that, huh, Red?"

April chuckled at him. "And my dad's never going to find out! Now keep your eyes on the road." She sat on the weapons panel with a stretch of her arms and a determined look on her face. "Let's show the Foot why no one messes with our family!"

Casey's face turned grim as he lowered his hockey mask. "Aye aye, cap'n."


The underground was alive with movement.

Footfall after footfall thundered on concrete and past winding tunnels of murky water, two prominently ahead of the rest.

All running for about half a minute, and then,

"Incoming!" Mikey yelled as he and Splinter jumped past a tripwire that Mikey then cut with a shuriken.

Almost at once, a rudimentary trap door gave way to a pile of trash overhead. The Foot turtles, Razhar and Tiger Claw were able to dice and slide their way past the huge pile, but many of the others behind them weren't as fortunate.

"For the love of—" Bradford snarled in annoyance when their forces were cut down by another half. "Next time I see Stockman, he better be working on giving these brainless bots a fucking upgrade!"

"Ignore them." Donatello snapped, sounding just as agitated. "They are dispensable. We can call for more pawns from the topside if necessary."

"Keep your heads in the game!" Leonardo barked, cutting an unfortunate Footbot in half when it came flying to his face. "The Hamatos are a stone's throw away from us! This time, they're not escaping!"

"Yeah, that's not happening if they keep triggering these shitty traps and getting harder to catch up with, Fearless!" Raphael snapped irritably.

"Raph's right." Donatello said, eyes narrowed. For the past five minutes or so, it was becoming clear that the two Hamatos were leading them into a goose chase to thin their numbers out. "We're playing into their hands. Until we somehow manage to take control of this chase, we'll remain at the losing end."

Bradford let out a roar. "THEN STOP WASTING TIME AND THINK OF SOMETHING!"

"Yeesh, someone sure is pissed." Mikey winced.

"It is to be expected. We have thinned out their numbers by at least half, after all. And Bradford is not known for his patience." Splinter put in eloquently. "But he does have a point. We cannot keep giving them chase for too long."

"I know, Sensei. And I don't intend to." Mikey did the math in his head. "Safe bet that we got rid of at least 20 Foot bots chasing after us. Not bad, but I really don't think they're all my bros brought down here. Either they're planning to ambush us at some point or…"

"They have split up their forces, and are probably after April and Casey at the moment." Splinter came to the same grim conclusion.

The idea Mikey had was to lead the invading Foot as far away as possible from direction he sent April and Casey to, pick the rabble apart best he could then hightail the hell out of the sewers once there's a chance. And while the youngest terrapin had anticipated the possibility of the Foot splitting up, he also wasn't comfortable with the thought of leaving them to the Foot for an extended period, despite April and Casey progressing well in their training.

And five minutes was far too long in Mikey's opinion.

It's time we lost my bros and what's left of the Foot, he finally decided after he and Splinter took the left path in a Y-juncture where another trap lay waiting. Just one more little surprise and then we—

But before the little turtle could finalize his new plan, a larger than normal shuriken came flying past, with him barely managing to dodge it before it got stuck on the ceiling.

"What the—?"

"Michelangelo, watch out!" Before the turtle could react, Splinter's hand was on his shoulder, pulling him away from the road right before the shuriken—which Mikey only now noticed had four blinking red dots embedded on its surface circumference—exploded. The young ninja's eyes widened when the resulting explosion caused a weak section of the concrete and metal pipes to come down and blocked most of the path forward.

A detonating shuriken? That would have been beyond cool if only it wasn't being thrown at me! But Mikey didn't have time to bemoan nearly being turned into sewer pancakes when a couple of Footbots sprang at his wide-open back.

"HIYAAAH!" Good for Mikey that he was as quick as a whip, rolling away from the first two robots then sending them away with a kick while Splinter stepped forward from his side and threw another robot to the wall with the flesh of his palm. Barely a second on the concrete, the robot was jerked forward by a chain fast round its trunk.

"Sensei, this way!" Mikey hollered over his shoulder while throwing the metallic mass to the Foot's general direction. Not bothering to see if it hit the intended target, the orange masked ninja darted into the only available path left with Splinter hot on his heels.

"Are there any more traps available here, Michelangelo?" The rat ninja asked after catching up.

Mikey sharply shook his head. "All out of that here. Best we can hope for now is to make a clean getaway. The longer we stay here, the more we put April and Casey at risk." A sharp turn right. "But I'm not out of tricks just yet!"

Thumping feet were gaining on the two Hamatos but when Mikey and Splinter reached a T-intersection, the turtle took a jumping twist to face the incoming ninjas and with a quick flick of his wrist, flung three smoke bombs.

Mikey and Rahzar's eyes met—the canine ones widening in surprise—when the younger ninja flashed out the chucks with his free hand and whipped the wood and chain forward.

BOOM!

The bombs went off midair, covering the Foot with a burst of purple dust. Rahzar and Tiger Claw covered their faces and coughed in the confusion while the robots buzzed and twisted their heads around seemingly lost.

Until one of them was launched backwards off its feet to collide with the wolf mutant. Another then followed, being rapidly jerked into a half circle before slamming into another Foot bot and barely missing Tiger Claw.

"DAMN YOU, MICHELANGELO!" The smallest Hamato ninja heard his wolf mutant enemy roar. "WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU HIDING?! SHOW YOURSELF, YOU MISERABLE EXCUSE OF COWARDLY TRASH!"

Mikey was sorely tempted to shout out a baiting taunt but bit his lip down. Now was not the time to goad his enemy. Not when April and Casey could need more help.

That didn't mean he couldn't chortle in his head when he and Splinter slid past the confused Foot out of the purple smoke and into the other path of the T-juncture.

Joke's on you, suckers! The little turtle laughed to himself while he and Splinter took a right turn. Just a few more and we're gonna be home free through the—

A bright light flashed from overhead, illuminating the wider room father and youngest son just entered.

And they were not alone.

What the actual—?!

Mikey and Splinter were able to barely stop themselves from skidding into a stop. They managed to reach the storm drain as Mikey planned, and were close to the exit except for one complication.

"Well, fancy seeing you here, pipsqueak?" Raphael said with a menacing smirk from the left of his eldest brother. On his right was Donatello with his naginata loosely resting on his shoulder. Behind them, a considerable number of Foot. "Didn't expect us to figure out that you were gonna use the storm drain for your getaway?"

"As if something that predictable will fly over my intellect." The former purple masked turtle drawled with an exaggerated yawn. "Please, Michelangelo. Your laughable attempts at outsmarting us are so pathetic the only thing stupider than them is you thinking they could actually work."

"Damn it…" Mikey hissed to himself while he and Splinter slowly moved away from the brainwashed Hamatos inching forward. But then Mikey felt Splinter's back against his and immediately knew the things just got worse for them.

"GOT YOU, YOU SKINNY LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT!" Rahzar growled from the path behind the little turtle, with the older Hamato ninja being the only thing keeping the wolf from pouncing. Beside him was Tiger Claw with his pistols drawn, a grim look on his feline features.

"And this time," Leonardo spat while twirling his ninjato in a deadly circle. "There's nowhere else to run."


A bang came first, then a ball of trash soared.

It landed on a Foot ninja's head who lost his balance and toppled off. Another managed to dodge it, but the grease the Shellraiser let loose behind it made the ninja lose control of his motorbike before crashing into another and bringing down a good number behind them in a macabre domino effect.

April was torn between being proud over their small victory and being sickened over the fact that these Foot grunts are still human and she and Casey may have caused them major, or even life-threatening, injuries.

But the psychic didn't have time to dwell on that.

April twisted the directional controls of the Shellraiser's manhole cover launcher with a hiss. "How much farther are we, Casey?"

"Had to take a little detour, Red. Gotta shake 'em off, remember?" The vigilante hollered back with his eyes still fixed on the road. "How many more of the bastards are there?"

April did a quick count with the scope. "About ten, I think." The red head then swore. "Son of a bitch! Incoming giant shuriken!"

Casey would have heckled April for her sharp language had he not seen on the side mirrors the metal throwing stars as big as him flying their way.

"Screw everything! I'm going left. You handle what I can't dodge." Without waiting for a verbal confirmation, Casey shifted the gear stick and spun the steering wheel hard. His ears rang with the screeching of the tires as the Shellraiser drifted to the left, narrowly missing two of the fuma shuriken while April fired a couple garbage balls to deflect the other two.

The rest of the giant stars were neatly taken care off, but then the sound of metal piercing metal echoed in the truck.

April had just broken a personal record for all the swearing she was doing today. "Motherfucker—! Casey, they've got their hooks on the Shellraiser! I think they're going to grappling hook their way in!"

"Nothing much I can do about that, Red!" The other human said from behind the wheel.

The kunoichi in training huffed in exasperation. Right, of course. "Got another round of grease left?"

"Last one. Got a plan?"

"A crazy one." April fished out a bottle half full of amber liquid stoppered by a thin rag from one of the boxes before securing it to her belt. "Think you can drive us to the road near the piers down Hudson?"

"…Do I even get to have a clue on what this 'crazy plan' of yours is?"

Before the girl could answer, a sharp sound of metal ripping came echoing from either side above her head. April quickly rolled away when one Foot ninja attempted to make a drop from the human sized hole it made.

"R—RED, WHAT THE—?!"

"EYES ON THE ROAD, JONES!" April snapped at her friend while another Foot ninja jumped down from the other hole to join its peer. "Get us to near Hudson and wait for my signal for that grease!"

Without delay, the girl jumped with her tessen into action.


Well, things went south pretty fast.

Mikey didn't have the time to groan about it in the middle of a fight with Rahzar and Raphael. The two heavy weight fighters didn't even spare a second before charging at him, splitting him away from Splinter who was left to handle Leonardo, Donatello and Tiger Claw.

The young ninja was not worried about whether his father will be able to handle himself. Splinter was a Jounin rank, the only one who can stand up to the Shredder in a one-on-one fight, so skill wise, the rat ninja can definitely hold out on his own even against multiple opponents.

The problem was that his opponents were Leonardo and Donatello. Leo and Donnie.

Mikey grit his teeth. Another fail on his part. How could he had let the situation escalate to this? The little turtle could clearly remember how horrifying it had been for him to see what the Foot had done to Leo, Raph and Donnie. If the thought of having to fight against his brothers tore at his very soul, how much more would it be for their father?

Sensei was strong, but hadn't he been through enough?

I can't let this get any worse. Mikey's eyes narrowed coldly. "I don't have time for this, Rahzar. Get out of my way!"

"Oooh, the itsy bitsy turtle trying to grow a backbone, eh? Soooo scary." The wolf mutant crowed, clicking his claws together.

"For a fucking baby!" Raphael added with a sneer as he threw a gauntleted punch at the smaller turtle who dodged with a strafe to the right. Rahzar followed with a pounce but Mikey was fast enough to slide past the outstretched claws and deliver a flip kick to the black furred mutant's back.

"Why you little—!" Raphael was back with his gauntlets, slicing and punching furiously in a bid to hit Mikey, but to poor, wasted effect. It didn't matter that Rahzar recovered immediately to join the attack or that some Foot ninjas and bots came in to help, none of them were fast enough to land anything.

The little orange was a literal blur of fists, parries, twirling nunchuks and all-around unpredictability. A heavy nunchuk butt hit Raphael in the cheek, winding him enough for Mikey to sweep him to a fall then kick him further away before the smallest terrapin sidestepped Rahzar's claws once more and, wrapping a chain round the wolf's outstretched arm, sharply tugged the mutant close enough for Mikey to throw him to the far wall.

I need to get Sensei and me out of here! The terrapin thought as he absently flicked a couple of Foot bots aside in his rush to reach his teacher. Currently, Splinter was, as expected, handling his three opponents quite well. The rat was expertly slipping and sliding through the weapons and footwork being sent his way while delivering whacks with his cane on the three ninjas' weak spots.

But at the hint of pain and guilt in Splinter face at the sight of Donatello doubling over, having taken a hard blow to the plastron, which nearly left him open for Tiger Claw's sword strike, Mikey flinched and made a mad dash forward.

"Sensei!"

Yet while Rahzar and Raphael did not have much on speed, they certainly had more than Mikey on endurance. And unfortunately for Mikey, just when he was a few feet away from Splinter, Rahzar made a comeback.

"You've gotta be—!" Mikey barely managed to dodge the bigger mutant making a jump on him, turning his back on Splinter's fight to face him again. "Why the hell won't you just stay down, you bad dog?!"

Rahzar snarled. "How many times do I have to say it? I'm a fucking—ARGH!"

Mikey's eyes widened when he saw Splinter land a kick straight at Rahzar's massive jaw before gracefully landing next to him.

"Do not waste time teaching old dogs new tricks, my son." Splinter said smoothly. "They never learn."

The freckled turtle's smile was glowing. "Sensei!"

"Oh no you don't. You're not getting away this time, Splinter!" Leonardo and Donatello were immediately in front of Mikey and Splinter, eyes practically smoldering with rage.

"Master Shredder has ordered us to have your heads on pikes!" Donatello thrust his naginata at their direction threateningly. "Even if we have to destroy the rest of you in the process!"

"It's finally come to this, Sensei." Raphael finished with a mocking drawl. "You and your spineless brat aren't getting away from us this time!"

Mikey and Splinter backed away from the three brainwashed turtles, with the former acutely aware of the large storm drain dangerously close behind them.

Wasn't this the same storm drain where he and his brothers defeated the squirrelanoids? Had it been that long ago when he nearly died if it weren't for his brothers saving him in the last minute from those monsters?

"I've got you, Mikey." Baby blue eyes shut in heart clenching pain at the memories. "We all do."

"Indeed it has, my sons. But will you truly let it end this way?" Splinter's voice cut through Mikey's musings of the past. "Leonardo, Rapahel, Donatello. I know you are still in there. I know you are still fighting. Do not let the Shredder's machinations win!"

"Spare me, old rat." Leonardo snapped. "Your rhetoric won't get you anywhere. Master Shredder has shown us the one true path! We will not fall for your pathetic lies or your weak-willed ideologies again."

"Instead you take this path of recklessness and loss of reason." Splinter countered. "Have the Shredder's ways clouded even your most basic instincts and common sense? Do you truly believe that you three together are strong enough to defeat me?"

"We're not the same foolish turtles playing pretend ninjas that you made us anymore, Splinter." Donatello answered scathingly. "And we are more than happy to show you how far different we are now."

Mikey gulped at the predatory stances his brothers have assumed.

"I have to at least try, Michelangelo." Splinter said softly. "This confrontation has been long coming. Perhaps, this is what I should have done from the very beginning…"

"Sensei, what are you—?"

"DIE, SPLINTER!" With a clang of his ninjato, Leonardo led the charge as the three other turtles went in for the kill.

Mikey made a move to counter, but felt his father's arm block his path. The rat ninja's eyes burned with a faraway look of challenge. "It is time we end this, Saki."

And before the youngest turtle could blink, Splinter struck.

His arms like darting vipers and his body a gliding breeze, Splinter weaved through Raphael's punch, grabbed the bulky turtle by the neck and attacking arm, then spun him into a throw at Donatello's direction. Donatello was able to dodge Raphael flying his way and bring his naginata down but Splinter blocked the pole with one hand, grabbed it to pull Donatello forward and, with lightning speed, struck him in the plastron then batted him away with his own naginata, just in time for Leonardo to dive in.

Mikey spun his chuks in agitation as he watched Splinter and Leonardo fight, one that was surprisingly taking longer than he had expected. Splinter had taken care of Raphael and Donatello in a span of ten seconds, but this fight with Leonardo had already gone to twenty-ish, with the oldest turtle swinging his blades with lethal precision while Splinter merely ducked and weave through them.

Which doesn't make sense, because Mikey knew that Splinter can easily pry past Leonardo's aggressive attacks the same way he did for Raphael and Donatello.

Unless Sensei is… Mikey's eyes widened. He's looking for a bigger opening. This isn't just about beating Leo. He's looking for the right time.

Earlier, he said he had to try. I thought he was talking about getting through my bros with words but…could he actually be referring to…?

There was a loud slap.

Splinter had managed to disarm Leonardo with a hit to the wrists. Leonardo stumbled back, obviously winded, but before he could recover, the Hamato jounin delivered a blow to the chest. "RIN!"

Oh God, he is! Mikey was as tense as a taut string now. Sensei is really going to do it! The Hamato no joukakuji-in! The healing hands that once saved Karai!

It wasn't as if the idea hadn't occurred to Mikey at all. In fact, it had been suggested several times by Rockwell and Leatherhead that Splinter join the fight to see if using the Hamato no joukakuji-in can break Shredder's control as it had in the past.

Splinter would later explain to his sons that the Hamato no joukakuji-in was in its purest form, a cleansing mantra, handed down from their feudal Japan Shinto ancestors meant to purify the ninja from within, improve focus and strengthen their connections to the Spiritual world. The uses of the joukakuji-in gradually expanded as it was passed further on, however, which came to include healing.

And while the orange terrapin had seen the point of it, the idea was eventually scrapped, reasoning back then that it might not work as well as before because of the changes made to the brainworms. And Mikey wasn't about to risk his father's life (or add further emotional baggage to him) for a plan that had less than absolute chance of it working.

Not only had Splinter agreed with Mikey's logic at the time, but had praised it even, commending Mikey's vigilance over not being too complacent and acting proactively rather than reactively for once.

But now it had come to this, Splinter putting himself at risk for their family, putting the joukakuji-in to its ultimate test through Leonardo, who received another open palm strike to his plastron.

"Pyo!" Strike. "To!" Another. "Sha!" Again. "Kai!"

On went Splinter's barrage of hits, with the ninja master switching targets between areas at the front chest and those at the sides of the torso. The rat man's hands looked as if they were glowing, which grew brighter with each strike as the attacks increased in speed.

"Jin! Retsu!" Two strikes to the side. "Zai!" One more to the left front plastron. "ZEN!"

Mikey watched with bated breath, body ready to jump at any moment's notice, when Splinter delivered the last blow to the side of Leonardo's head so strongly that it made the ninja fly back with a choked cry.

From their crumpled forms on the ground, Raphael and Donatello screamed in unison. "LEO!"

The oldest turtle was pushed three feet away from Splinter, landing on his side with his ninjato strewn next to him, and for a long second, there was nothing but silence.

And silence.

And.


Time to put April's training with the Hamatos to a field test.

The girl sidestepped the first ninja's clumsy attempt to bring its sword down her head before delivering a roundhouse kick to his trunk, sending the man to the other side of the truck. Barely a second in, the other ninja came rushing with his sword, which April blocked with her tessen before she jumped and sent a two feet kick square on the ninja's chest.

"Tessenjutsu, or the art of wielding the war fan, is a Japanese martial arts style with a long, rich history and much versatility." Splinter's lecture from what felt like ages ago came hurtling back to her memory. "Though not a part of the Juuhakkei, it is a useful skill to have in your repertoire, as many opponents, especially in our time, often underestimate the war fan as a weapon. Something they always come to regret."

The man stumbled but April did not let up, slamming her war fan several times against his stomach, chest, face and, after a step to his back, a hard jab on his neck.

"Folded, the tessen can be as lethal as any other club or blunt weapon. When used with the right amount of force to strike the right places, you can easily disable an opponent caught unaware. Coupled by its light and compact structure, with enough practice, you'll be able to maneuver and strike with your tessen like a snake would with its lethal fangs."

In the middle of her closest opponent crumbling in pain over her attack, April caught the other ninja from the corner of her eye reaching for his pouch. Flipping her fan open, the girl waved the metal weapon around to deflect the shuriken the Foot sent her way. Some managed to slip past her defenses, as a few stings on her arms and legs were kind enough to let her know, but she was able to stave off the worst of the attack.

Thank God for her throwing weapons parrying training with Mikey and Casey!

"But in addition, the tessen also doubles as a defensive weapon. A tessenjutsu master with a good tessen will be able to deflect shuriken and kunai thrown their way and even stave off blows from melee weapons then maneuver their way into a chance to strike."

With a roar, April jumped (adding a hard kick on the previously fallen ninja's head) and slashed her tessen at the remaining ninja. She heard the sound of grappling hooks attaching to the Shellraiser again but she held her mind together. Her focus razor sharp on her enemy, she closed her tessen again and struck in furious frenzy at the ninja who parried her blows with a sword.

The Foot ducked to April's last strike before he curved into a side sweeping arc. The red head kunoichi barely managed to block the ninja's strike when the man elbowed her in the gut sending her to the Shellraisher's wall.

Ow, shit! Before April could catch her breath, another ninja came crashing into the scene with a pair of escrima sticks held high. She quickly rolled to the side to avoid the strike at the same time the Shellraiser shifted sharply to the right.

"Thanks, Casey!" She called out to her friend then struck at the ninja's knees while she was still low to the ground. The man buckled, giving April a second to sock its jaw with her fan before her enemy from earlier came charging back with its sword and another buddy.

The kunoichi quickly opened her fan to deflect the sword strike before curving to the man's side and snapping the fan closed again, hit him on the neck then ducking at a split second to avoid the newest Foot to join the party's attempt to club her head with a short sword. She ducked then, bracing her hands to the floor, did a quick sweep, making the man topple to the ground.

But just as she got back to her feet, the blasted ninja who just can't stay down made a lunge for her, and the girl tripped on the other Foot ninja she just felled in an attempt to dodge. The ninja raised his sword again, but was knocked along with April to the other side when the Shellraiser made another sharp turn.

And before the man could reach for his weapon, the red head sprang to her feet and stomped on his outstretched hand hard to break bones before delivering a series of hard kicks on his abdomen then to his head.

Holy shit, I'm fucking exhausted! April dry heaved over the panel, not caring how many bodies she stepped on along the way. Was it only just a handful of ninjas that she managed to beat? It already felt like a bloody army! How can the turtles stand to fight much more than this and not look the least bit winded?

Gee, I don't know, years of experience over you, maybe? Piped a sarcastic quip in her head.

"Almost there, April!" Casey hollered from the driver seat, cutting through her tired musings. "I take a left on 54th and the pier's straight ahead from there. Now can you let me in on the plan?"

A look on the navigator console told her that the Foot ninjas Casey had lost earlier with his crazy driving are making a comeback from the different side streets around W54th and will most likely catch up to them along the way to the pier.

Exactly where she wanted them to be.

"We lead them to the pier, Casey. The way they're driving, they'll be able to catch up to us halfway through the docks."

"And then?"

"And then…"

The image of Casey's eyes bugged out from the rearview mirror was absolutely comical, even in the situation they were in. "…ARE YOU SERIOUS, APRIL?!"

"I did tell you it was crazy!"

"Crazy? MORE LIKE BATSHIT OUT OF YOUR FRICKING MIND INSANE!" But Casey still made that turn down 54th to head straight for the pier anyway.

April's eyebrows twitched. "Well the Foot are right behind us now. Do you have any other plan then?"

The way Casey audibly slammed his foot against the gas pedal was enough of an answer, leaving April with a victorious smirk even as she stumbled to drag the Foot ninjas she took care of to exit.

A drove of motorbikes came hurtling after the Shellraiser even as the battered vehicle streamed its way to the mostly empty docks. For a while, it looked like it was going to drive its way to the ocean, and it looked like the Foot didn't care enough to turn back if that were the case.

But just when the front line of bikes were about to shoot their hooks, three bodies went flying from the Shellraiser's wide open doors, followed by shout.

"NOW, CASEY!"

The young vigilante turned the steering wheel like he never turned a thing before his whole life, making the Shellraiser tilt dangerously to the side to the point of near tipping. And as if things weren't hard enough, from somewhere below the old train car, a burst of grease came spilling in a wide arc, following the vehicle's dangerous turn and creating a curve of slippery mess.

The front most Foot cyclists didn't have the time to hit the brakes before the sudden grease caused them to lose control of their bikes. And whoever didn't get caught by surprise by the grease trap certainly weren't expecting the Shellraiser to come blaring at their faces.

It was a morbid show of motorcycle riders tumbling either trying to get out of the Shellraiser's way or haphazardly toppling because of the grease as the two teens plowed their way through the remaining resistance as it had been April's plan all along.

But unfortunately for the Foot, the red head's plan had one last kicker.

The girl had one hand bracing herself on the open back door of the Shellraiser, the other clutching a bottle with its cotton stopper alight.

April's eyes hardened into one more cold glare. "Game over, assholes."

Her Molotov flew high.


"YOU SON OF A BITCH!"

NO!

Not giving himself the time to scream, Mikey propelled himself like an orange bullet, slamming into his father's torso and sending them both to the ground before the ninjato blades could hit them both.

"LEO!" Donatello gasped out as he struggled to his feet while Leonardo wobbled dangerously with one sword stabbed to the ground, the other raised by a shaking arm towards the two Hamatos. Raphael, on the other hand, had recovered faster and was now standing in front of the oldest turtle with a beast like snarl on his features.

"Leo, bro, you still OK?" The bulky turtle said without taking his eyes off the shocked Mikey and the ashen looking Splinter.

"THE HELL I'M NOT!" Leonardo snapped harshly, his voice so gravelly and angry it sounded otherworldly, almost monstrous. Mikey swallowed in terror at the confirmation of the fact—not only had the Hamato no Joukakuji-in not worked; for some reason, it made shit a whole lot worse.

"THAT—THAT FUCKING RAT DID SOMETHING TO ME AND IT'S KILLING MY HEAD!" That turtle who shoved Raphael out of the way nowhere looked like his oldest brother anymore. Gnashing teeth that shone like fangs, muscles taut they could burst out of the hard, green skin, and molten white glare so heated it could exude smoke in red… "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY, RAPH! I'M GONNA CUT THAT PIECE OF SHIT INTO PIECES MYSELF FOR THIS!"

…Akuma.

The word came without conscious effort, for it was all that could really fit him, all three of them to be exact, when it looked like whatever it is that possessed Leonardo seemed to give darkening strength to Raphael and Donatello as well.

Oh my God, what has he done to you? Mikey was dangerously close to bursting into sobs as the three brainwashed turtles came marching in renewed united front at him and his father. How could Oroku Saki do this to you?

To be so far beyond my reach that not even Sensei's trump card can save you…

"MICHELANGELO!"

Mikey was sent to the side when Splinter intercepted Leonardo's strike, and at once the rat was in front of him taking care of the three raging turtles.

"Sensei—"

"GO!" Splinter shouted in between strikes, his fur visibly bristled and his eyes hard with a myriad of emotions that all cut at Mikey's core. "I do not know how, but apparently Saki was able to make the brainworms not only resistant to the Joukakuji-in but also amplify their negative effects! The way things are—" The rat was able to push Raphael and Leonardo off momentarily before coming to stand off between him and Donatello. "Their strikes—they are stronger now. I cannot tell—how much longer—"

It can't be. It should not be possible! Are they actually—? The youngest turtle was shocked to stillness for the second time today. Are they actually beating Sensei?!

It was supposed to be an impossibility! Even with the four of them together, it should have taken at least ten more years of training before they can be anywhere near Splinter's equal. But yet the horrifying truth was coming undone before Mikey's eyes—the three turtles in a possessed frenzy, wearing their indomitable father down slowly but steadily.

Was it because of the brainworms, as Splinter said? Of the jounin rat using the Hamato no Joukakuji-in? A combination of both?

Why the hell am I not moving—?!

BANG! BANG!

"GAH!"

It took the worst possible thing to snap Mikey back to focus too late, in time for him to register Splinter crumpling into a heap from two shots to his chest.

A few feet away, with its deadly aim, a laser gun on the steel grip on the slowly rising, stone faced Tiger Claw.

No. No! NO!

"SENSEI!" It was the worst sound Mikey had ever heard himself make, a horrid mix of an angry scream and a howl of grief, as he willed his legs to move the fastest they had ever had.

A harsh whip of orange wind, he knocked Splinter out of the way of Donatello's naginata, not feeling how the blade nicked at his exposed ankle at the last second, pushing himself and his father in the only exit left of them, spiraling to the dark unknown of the storm drain.

"DAMN YOU, MICHELANGELO!" But of course they won't let them have this last chance for a dignified exit, not when the Foot was this close to their final victory, to hammering the last nail in the coffin.

And as Mikey's body was pivoted by the force of their jump, his baby blue eyes faced up just in time to see the descent of three shuriken from above.

All with blinking red dots...


The Shredder sat on his majestic throne, glass of red wine on hand, brooding.

It had been past three hours since his Foot armada had left to purge the Hamato nuisance once and for all. No word of their progress so far, but instead of the usual impatient ire, the armored ninja found himself possessed by a certain eerie calm that even he found strange.

Odd, but not exactly unwelcome. If anything, it made Saki almost optimistic that this strange change meant he was due to receive good news.

Not a minute later, the idea would become reality.

The double doors leading to his throne creaked open, and in trudged the remnants of the Foot forces he had sent to weed out the Hamato nuisance for good. It was significantly fewer than when they first set out, but Saki was not bothered. The ninjas who mattered—the turtles, Bradford, Tiger Claw—were accounted for, after all.

The troops bent on one knee before the steps to his ebony throne as the Foot's master descended. "You have returned, turtles. What news do you have for me?"

"The best kind, Master Shredder, for all of us." Leonardo intoned respectfully, his hands propping up an offering from his back with his head still bowed.

A finely carved jade staff.

It seemed like a lifetime before Shredder lifted his hand to take Hamato Yoshi's staff from Leonardo's hands, some part of him somewhat still hesitant to believe that this was not just another fantasy his vengeance filled mind concocted.

Yet the cool wood and stone on his hand felt very real, and the world remained dark and steady as it was.

At last. At long, long last!

"Hamato Yoshi is dead," Tiger Claw announced in cold monotone. "The Hamato family, is no more."

And for the first time in years, Oroku Saki's body was racked by full-blown laughter.


…See why I said writing this one gave me a doozy?

(Is anyone still reading this in 2019?)

I forgot to mention this in the previous chapter so I'm saying it now: there was someone who pointed it out (in a fanfic, a review or a forum post? I forget) a glaring plot hole—or wasted opportunity, take your pick—regarding that episode with the brainworms. Shredder managed to brainwash Raph, so why didn't he use Raph to find the Lair's secret location instead of waiting for the turtles to come for them?

The argument makes sense although I can think of other reasons why Shredder didn't do it. Karai being his priority, for one. Still, I do agree that it is a wasted opportunity, which then became the inspiration for this part of the fic. Any thoughts on this?

Another action-packed chapter then a bit of a lull period before the earthquake! Yes, earthquake. Consider yourselves warned and myself prepared.

Everything's going to get darker from here.


Chuchi's Cultural Corner:

-Fuma Shuriken (風魔手裏剣): Large, collapsible four-point shuriken resembling windmills, they can be as tall as three feet and as wide as an average person's arm span. Like the ninjato, there's not a lot of strong evidence that they existed in real life. Though they are named after the Fuma Kotaro of the Fuma ninja clan, who was said to be its inventor.

And like the ninjato, we'll just pretend they existed all along in this TMNT universe.

-Tessenjutsu (鉄扇術): Literally iron fan technique, a school of martial arts style teaching the way of attack and defense using war (they're not always made of iron) fans. Pretty handy weapon and skill to have when you're in places where you're not allowed to bring in weapons, because you can sneak a tessen in and just claim it's just a typical fan. That's was how it was in the old Japan days.

And indeed, tessenjutsu is not part of the Juuhakkei. Research showed that it was more commonly associated with samurai and warriors, though I highly doubt shinobi didn't learn this also. Think of the sneaky possibilities! :D

-Hamato no Joukakuji-in (濱戸の浄化九字): Literally meaning Purifying Nine Hand Seals of the Hamatos. It's based on the Kuji-in, or the nine seals/gates/chakras, a spiritual concept that is Buddhist in origin. It has its uses primarily in meditation that can improve spirituality and self-development, though it is believed to have uses in healing as well, particularly in the eastern medicine practice of Reiki (energy healing).

Splinter did use this mudra to rid Karai of the brainworms back in Season 3, aptly named Healing Hands. I just gave it a more Japanese-based name. Because Splinter's Japanese? And the technique is from Japan? Duh? :P

-Nakitsura ni hachi (泣き面に蜂):Misfortune rarely comes in alone aka one bad thing after another. Probably one of the things that prompted the creation of Murphy's Law.


Guest Review Replies: (Realize I haven't done this in a while.)

CathU 500: I already knew he was listening lol. Good job on the chapter

It was predictable and has been done a lot, but I wouldn't have Mikey find out any other way. My intent for that chapter was to go against the fanon thing that Leo, Raph and Donnie can and will kick Mikey off the team once they've had enough of him. I find some of the fanfics with this plot device make the older three too insensitive bordering to being malicious on purpose. Though I do feel vindicated (and smug) when the three turtles scramble like blind men to fix their mistake when they realize how much they take for granted what Mikey brings to the table.

I'm glad you liked the chapter!

HufflepuffGirl16: This is a really good story, you should definitely continue it. I hope that Mikey and the Mutanimals can help his brothers with the brainworms:)

Aww thanks! Yes I hope so too. Fun as it is to write the Dark!Turtles and Angsty!Mikey, I miss the Hamato ninjas together again. Obviously, that will take a while but hang in there with Mikey! Seriously, this story is like a roller coaster driven by a scatterbrain. Keep your seatbelts on. Wear a helmet. Rosebud is the sled. This castle is in unacceptable condition. Ice, Ice, Baby. Pay no attention to the bird behind the curtain. 😊

Eve: I love this story and hope you can finish it soon! You are an incredible writer!
I hopw you can finish this story soon! I know life can get crazy but i love this story and cant wait for the conclusion!

"Aww thanks so much! Don't worry, even if real life is getting crazier by the day for me, I'm driven to finish this fic. Having reviewers and readers like you guys really help in keeping my inspiration for this alive. Especially now that we're already at the halfway mark!

Guest(s): Update please

Guest: Oh, wow! This is incredible! I absolutely love this! Please, even if it takes a while (though know we are eager for more anyway lol), don't abandon the story. Please continue! This is an amazing story.

Thanks! I'm really glad you guys are enjoying the fic. Yes it could (will) take a while, but I'm definitely not abandoning ship. I love Mikey and my readers too much!

Though I did realize that I just left you guys with a cliffhanger. How mad will you be if it takes me a while again to update?

*sees pitchforks, torches, machetes and…ohmilordie, is that a chainsaw?!*

Err, please leave a review if you liked it?

...OK, BYE!