Disclaimer: all-hail 80s cartoons immersed in Edwardian Imperialist mayhem...only half of this mine...


Saki's Queen

It seemed to the turtles that this was an all-too familiar scene. Shredder stood poised, katana held high, purple cape whipping over his metallic shoulders, guarding the latest odd metallic contraption his twisted ambitions had birthed. The turtles stood in a half-arc around him, weapons raised, tense and waiting for Saki to make the inevitable next move. April stood in the shadows of the hangar in the old warehouse, taping the whole affair. Frankly, she was rather bored. How many times had they played out this whole scenario? Shredder would growl out something about how they wouldn't defeat them this time, the turtles would respond with a brave challenge, Leonardo might step forward and offer a surrender, but Shredder would respond with fury, putting up a fierce, though brief fight before fleeing once again. April sighed. She almost wished something else would happen for once.

"All right, Shred-head," Leonardo began, edging forward cautiously. "I don't think you're getting out this time. We've got you surrounded, your mutants are missing, and that contraption, whatever it is, isn't on."

"Ha! I've defeated you fools alone before, and I intend to do it again," Shredder growled. April could see his dark eyes narrow and his muscles tense in the dim light, readying himself for battle.

"Dudes, I don't feel like this tonight," Mike said, beginning to twirl his nun chucks.
"I hear ya, bro," said Don. "But, alas, we never have a choice with this guy."
Raphael said nothing, his face simply setting itself with anger, allowing the rage to claim his body and feed off its strength.

For a moment, everyone paused, and April actually heard her heart pattering a bit, in the tension.

With a cry, Shredder lunged forward, simultaneously swinging his sword to the right while viscously swiping his body armor to the left, catching Mike's shoulder with the swipe. His sword clanked against Leonardo's ready blade, and while he held those two together he kicked out with a bladed leg at Don's advance. In a flash he had deflected one of Raph's sai with the same blade he had cut Mike. April was a trifle riveted by the scene. It wasn't everyday she got to film Shredder taking on all the turtles on his own. There was an odd beauty to it. When those mutant henchman were around, Shredder quickly, and perhaps wisely, retreated to fight another day. Yet, one on one, he could more than easily hold his own against the turtles. As she watched the blur of purple and silver at the center of the turtle's aggressions, she had to admire, as the turtles often did grudgingly, his finely tuned skills.

But, one on four was inevitably tiring, even for a spirited ninja master. One had to both attack and defend, deploying multiple moves at once, and it was clear, after about five minutes, that Shredder was beginning to falter. The turtles were bruised and scratched, but young and energetic, and could probably keep this up for an hour, by fighting in waves. But Shredder could get no rest from constant onslaught, and now he, too, was receiving cuts and bruises. In a double offensive, Mike and Leo were able to get close to his body and while Mike wrapped his chuks around Shredder's wrist, pulling it back, Leo came in hard at his chest. Shredder deflected the blow initially, but stumbled, and Leo got his sword in for a thrust that was a little deeper than even he initially had probably hoped. The sword sunk a few inches into Shredder's side. He groaned loudly and with a roar of rage threw off the two attacking turtles with one heave.

April was breathless. She wanted a good fight and she was certainly getting one. Even better, the turtles were winning and Shredder actually seemed cornered for once. They may actually capture him. She stepped out of the shadows and closer to the action.

Shredder stood heaving, his sword drooping in his hand until the tip clanked on the metal ground. He held his side hard, and blood could be seen oozing out between his fingers. He looked around at the turtles, his eyes a bit glassy, and seemed to be looking for a way to retreat from this losing battle.

The turtles were stepping closer to him, weapons raised. "Come on, Shredder," Leonardo coaxed. "You're beat this time...just lay your sword on the ground..."

Shredder backed up a step, and raised his blade again, although now it was shaking a bit in his weakened grip.

Don sighed. "Come on, give it up. Its not like we ENJOY kicking your ass."
"Dude," said Mike. "That, is a total lie. This is the best time I've had in months."
"Laugh, Turtles," Shredder said, his voice cracking a little. "Laugh. I don't see you finishing this fight."
"I'll finish it, gladly..." Raph hissed and stepped forward.

Leo stopped him with a raised hand and for a moment the two brothers glared at each other. Leo tried again. "Shredder, there's no need to be dramatic...just surrender, there's no need, er," he glanced warily at Shredder's blood that ran thick down his blade, "to FINISH it, per say."

"Ha!" Shredder barked, pulling himself up, and gathering himself together again. "Fight or let me leave!"

He began to advance but was halted by a cry. Raph, unable to restrain his hand for another moment, lurched forward and hurled his sai with violence at Shredder. Before Shredder could defend himself, one lodged deep in his shoulder. He managed to deflect the other, and as the turtles closed in, it lodged itself in the great, metal contraption that had loomed over the entire battle. With a whoosh and a blast of air it roared to life, panels illuminated, and then, with a sound amounting to thunder-crack in one's own heart, it emitted a flash of horrible brightness that swept over Shredder, the turtles, and April.

Then it went dark and again the warehouse was silent. In fact, it was empty. The only signs of battle were some blood and half a splintered bo lying on the ground. April's camera lay on its side, silently filming the darkness.


II.
April was first aware of warmth, and the smell of grass and leaves. A hot and heavy smell, like being in a tropical conservatory in the summer, where the air is so steamy it lays upon you like a blanket.

"April?"

She opened her eyes and saw a dark silhouette in the bright sunlight. She sat up and found herself lying in lush foliage beneath a drooping green canopy where here and there fierce sunlight punched through the trees. "Where are we, Mikey?"

"Not a clue, chica." he said, smirking a little.

The other turtles were standing nearby, apparently having gotten their senses back much quicker. She hoisted herself up, brushing the leaves off her jumpsuit and approached them.

"Good to see you're ok," Leo said, looking relieved.

"Fine. And you all?"

"Great," said Raph irritably, smacking a mosquito.

"Hey," April said. "Where's Shredder?"

They pointed to the ground, and there, sunk into the leaves, lay Shredder on his back, apparently unconscious. The wound in his side was still oozing blood, and the sai still stuck up and out from his shoulder where it lodged deeply.

"Jesus, Raph." she said. "That was quite a hit."

"That's what I was just saying," Leo said, crossing his arms. "That wasn't just a good hit, it was a hit to kill."

"Bullshit," Raph muttered. "I knew he'd deflect it."

"You didn't know..." Leo stepped forward, but Don stepped between them.

"Hello?" Don said impatiently. "Standing in tropical jungle here. Anybody else a little curious about it? I know I AM."

Leo and Raph stepped apart, although Raph crossed his arms and stepped away from the group. Don continued, "That blast obviously transported us somewhere..."

"Are we in Brazil, or what?" Mike asked.

"Hardly," Don said, gesturing at the trees. "I've never seen any plant-life like this on earth..."

"What do you mean by that?" Leo asked, now looking a little alarmed.

"Well," Don said. "When we were fighting, I was stealing glances at Shed-head's latest science project. I guessed it to be some sort of dimensional-portal generator, and by the looks of things, it appears I was correct." He whipped out his dimensional positioning device he had picked up in one of their extra-dimensional adventures. "Well, I'm certainly right that we're no longer in our universe. But...this place doesn't seem to be charted."

"That's freaking great," Raph said. "How the hell are we supposed to get home?!" He punctuated his remark by giving Shredder's prone figure a slight kick. Leo started to say something but Don held up his hand. "It's actually not that bad...while I can't exactly pinpoint our location, its clear here that the portal is still open..."

"Open?" Mike said looking around. "Where?"

"Not here," Don sighed. "One effect of the blast was not only to move us dimensionally, but geographically. Its...let me see..." He began to walk toward a grove of trees that seemed to border a clearing, as intense light shone behind them. The group followed him, April in a daze, as he pressed through the trees. They emerged, not in a clearing, but on the edge of a grand and dizzyingly high plateau that looked off across jungle-choked valleys and hills that undulated at least twenty miles into the distance where they terminated in a dark, fantastically high mountains. The group gasped and Don sighed. "Well, its about eighteen miles, that way," and he pointed toward the dark mountains across the vast low valleys.

"You've got to be joking." Raph murmured, but he didn't sound angry any more.

"Dudes!" Mike said, "Look at that!" To what, for them, would be the West at a distance of about six miles, a grand, white city arose from the jungle, culminated by an impossibly tall, thin tower that rose high into the sky.

"Holy Shit." Raph said.

Mike swallowed. "Who do you suppose lives there?"

Don snapped his DPD closed. "If our past experiences have taught us nothing, at least it has taught us to avoid locals at all costs."

"Amen to that." Leo said.

Behind them, in the trees, they heard a rustle and groan, making them all jump.

Mike sighed. "What do we do with Shred-head? I mean, its his fault we're here. Can't we just leave him?"

Leo glared at his brothers. "Afraid not. And no thanks to Raph, we've got to fix him up first before we can move him." Leo headed back into the trees.

"Me?" Raph said, following. "YOU stabbed him!"

Don and Mike smiled weakly at April. "You do'n ok?" Don asked.

"Sure." April said. "Most fun I've had in ages."

III.
April watched in a kind of curiosity that she tried to disguise as Don attended to Shredder. Raph had yanked all his body armor off roughly and tossed them over the edge of the cliff. Now he was patting down his legs and extracting all kinds of small weapons from the folds in the clothes. "Jesus," Raph said, extracting another kind of small butter-fly knife from Shredder's trousers. "Does he have a whole freaking arsenal up his skirt?"

Don was finishing wrapping the wound on Saki's shoulder, having tightly bound and washed the wound in his side. "Well, its not great," Don said, reaching for some rope and rolling Shredder onto his side. "But it'll have to do to for the going on with." He pulled Shredder's hands behind his back and bound them tightly. Shredder moaned quietly and then lay still. They all stood around him, April hanging back a little.

"Well," Leo said. "We can't carry him."

Suddenly Raph reached down and yanked Saki's steel helmet off, letting his head thud on the turf. April peered closely at the face she only got to see once in a great while, and even then it was usually contorted with rage or passion. He looked so much younger, especially with the purple bruises on his smooth skin. With his face relaxed, he looked asleep, and the way his dark hair swept over his brow was almost handsome. April had to tell herself that was a BIG almost.

Raph grunted, leaned over and banged his sai on the helmet loudly in Saki's ear. "Wake up, ass hole! Wake up!" The clanking was ear-shattering and hundreds of birds shot up from the brush. Shredder's eyes fluttered and the turtles tensed. His eyes lazily roved around at brush level, and then, like a flash, he sat up.

Before the turtles could even move to restrain him, he groaned and fell back down again. "Where am I? What have you done?" he growled breathlessly from the ground.

"What did WE do to you?" Raph yelled.

Leo sighed. "Look, your contraption went off and we've been zapped here to this dimension. There's a portal open, but we've got to walk to it. Can you walk?"

Shredder slowly sat up again, this time looking around at the trees, his dark eyes traveling with contempt over the turtle's faces and then onto April's, where it lingered a moment, without expression. "I demand you untie me."

"Not a chance." Leo said.

"My wound," he said, as if he couldn't bare to mention it. "Is being pulled."

His eyes were watering a little, but he set his face in determination. "Forget it," Leo said and then moving forward Don and him hoisted Shredder to his feet, where he shakily stood, swaying a little. April took a step back. He really towered over the turtles when she was up this close. His chest heaved as he took a breath in of pain. "I demand that you..."

"Shut the fuck up, tin-head," Raph stepped forward. "I'm ready to bury one of these in your neck this time..." He put a sai up to Shredder's throat.

"Boys," Leo said. "Quit it. Saki, you're coming with us, tied up, and quiet. Raph, leave him alone. But, Saki, if you misbehave, I'll stop telling Raph to step down. Now, let's go. Eighteen miles in a jungle is a long way."

Don started off through the trees, his DPD in his hand. Mike pushed Shredder forward, and with a turtle on each side and one behind, he silently began to limp. April walked next to Mike, stealing a glance every one in a while at Shredder's face. Normally, it was turned toward the ground, a deep frown on his lips, eyes transfixed and she imagined he was plotting a way to escape. Once, though, when she glanced over, he looked right up at her, and his expression was completely opaque. She held his eyes for a moment, getting a slight thrill about holding the gaze of such a dangerous criminal, then glanced away, feeling her cheek burn.

They continued to walk into the tawny darkness, the sunset slicing across the hill and bathing the eerie white city in pink light some miles to the west. Moving cautiously in the falling dark, the two humans and four turtles disappeared in the brush.