Chapter 12

The drums of war sounded deep in the mountain and spilled out into the jungle night like the crash of some great machine, silencing the insects and sending flocks of birds spiraling off into the darkness with inhuman screams.

"Our numbers and very existence will be surprise enough. Do not be afraid to beat the drums!" The King of the Men, Loma, stood before his army at the mouth of the great mountain fortress, surveying his troops bearing torches like so many fireflies in the dark. "Do not be afraid to yell like the men you are! Tonight the women will cower before us and the old Queen will be killed! Tonight we take back our world!"

The men, thousands of them, cried out with a roar and started off through the brush, crashing through trees and clearing a swath through the jungle.

Amidst the surge of well-muscled, angry men walked three befuddled turtles.

"This is taking the battle of the sexes, like, way too far," said Michelangelo, surveying the wash of manhood around him with distaste.

"It's incredible! But where did they come from? There must have been thousands of them hiding in that mountain! How did they do it?" Leonardo said, blinking.

"I've got my suspicions," Donatello said darkly. To this whisper, the turtles heard a strange giggle weave through the night and they looked to see Maya, and his waify gaggle of eunuchs walking along beside them. Unlike the brutishly garbed warriors, the eunuchs still wore white flowing shifts delicately weaving around their bodies, their faces veiled my gauze. In the darkness, they were indistinguishable from women.

"Hello, Maya," Don ventured, gesturing him closer.

"I heard you speaking," he said in his strange, sing-songy voice. "I wonder what you may think of all of this."

"We're not sure what to think," Leo said. "We are no friends of the women, but as warriors of honor, we do disapprove of surprise attacks of this magnitude. Don't worry, we won't interfere...but, we can't help but wonder, where did all these men come from? We were told the men died out long ago...if there was no women..."

"I have a feeling they have a few stowed away..." Don said, looking at Maya very carefully.

Maya blushed beneath his veil, and giggled softly. "The cute, purple one is most correct." He fell into step beside the turtles and lowered his veil a little. "And in the end, these men would never have survived without us eunuchs, though now, I wonder what will become of us."

"But," Mike said, confused. "How could these dudes stay alive? Any man on this planet would have been captured and sucked dry if he'd been caught."

"Exactly," Maya said. "And that is why we were created. The men needed someone who could move among the women, learn their ways, go into the margins of their villages, examine their defenses...and, ah, collect things that were needed."

"Like food?" Mike asked.

"Like women," Don said grimly.

Leo and Mike looked aghast.

"Yes," Maya sighed. "We brought all they needed. Food sometimes, raw materials, and what women we could capture."

"I don't think they would have gone willingly!" Leo said.

"No...they were taken for one purpose alone. To bear boys. They are impregnated again and again, the sons join us, the girls, ah, are put to the same uses....what few survive, live deep in the mountain never to see the light of day. "

"That's disgusting! That's slavery!" Leo said. "You ARE just as bad as the women! How could the same people become so divided? How could you both be so horrible?"

Maya glanced darkly at Leo. "For as long as our history has recorder, the men and women have been great enemies. Millennia ago the men ruled with an iron fist, the women were our toys, as they should be. Then they revolted, learned their accursed potions and their clever witchery. In their lust for immortality they almost enslaved us all. A few escaped to the mountains, and since that time, so long ago, we have waited and plotted. But we cannot live this way forever. And now the Queen has a new Life Source, we must act quickly before they are all rejuvenated."

"But, this is madness!" Donatello said, shaking his head. "You shouldn't be killing each other, but loving each other, living with each other."

Maya blinked. "Is such a thing possible? Men and women were made as opposites, and as such, their war is natural. Could it ever be different?"

"Yes," Don said. "Where we come from, the men and women live together, in families. We have wars, but they are between nations, religions, ethnicities...but the men and women are always together. Don't get me wrong, for thousands of years, women were treated as second class, just because they were physically weaker...but today, they are completely equal."

Maya frowned. "Impossible. We are too different. One is hard and one is soft. One is strong, the other weak...."

"Geez," Mike shook his head. "You peeps have a lot of growing up to do."

"So what's going to happen tonight? Are they going to slaughter them all?" Leo asked.

"Some. Those in power; the Queen, her court, the warriors, the accursed Priestess. The others will again be subdued under our power, as nature intended. Most importantly, the Life Sources must be killed."

"The whoozit?" asked Mike.

"The Life Sources. Those men captured and drained by the women, the ones who give them immortality..."

"Wait," Don said, confused. "I thought they were dead. I thought the women drained them until they died..."

Maya laughed. "That would be better. No, for the women to sustain their youth, those men who have been drained must remain alive, if only barely. Deep in the Palace, beneath the earth, is a terrible place, where they are kept alive. Once they are dead, all of them, the women will wilt and turn to dust before our very eyes!"


"Something's happening..." Raph said, listening. He stood at one of the great windows in his and April's chambers, trying to peer into the courtyard, but he could see very little in the dark.

"Maybe it's the guys..." April suggested.

Raph turned to look at her and reply, but like so many other times in the last day, his words got caught in her throat. She just looked so young, and so beautiful. April was a hot chick before, no doubt about it. But whatever happened with Shred-head, whatever she had taken from him, had smoothed her face, made her skin creamy again, brightened her eyes; she absolutely glowed.

April saw his awe-filled stare and scowled. "Dammit Raph, stoppit!"

Raphael grinned weakly. "Sorry, April. Geez, I just keep thinking...Shred-head was always good for nothing...but now he finally did something amazing!"

April spun from where she was examining herself in the mirror again and bore down on Raph angrily. "Shit, Raph! Don't say that! I took a little life from Saki to heal my leg, not to get young! Jeez, no wonder the women on this planet went nuts and started sucking the life out of all the men to stay young! You men act as if it's the greatest thing in the world! Like women can't age, like we've got to stay young to be worth something! I'm the same April, same woman; I've just had some of my wear and tear erased, honest wear and tear. But if we women aren't allowed to live to stay attractive, then, then..." April stopped her speech and sat down on the bed, her eyes watering.

Raph felt genuinely admonished. "Geez, April. I'm sorry. I've...I've never thought about it that way. I guess guys ARE assholes, aren't they?"

April looked up through teary eyes and smiled weakly, but gasped suddenly.

A huge explosion rocked the Palace. Light filled the window and a large crack zigzagged up the wall. Marble dust drifted to the ground around April and Raph as they dived to the floor. The guards at the door bolted from the room, locking the door behind them.

"Is this the turtles?" April asked weakly, brushing marble dust off her.

"No way!" Raph said, sitting up. "This isn't our style! They would have sneaked in, tried to cause the least damage possible. This place is under attack for real!"

"But by who?"

"It doesn't matter. April, the guards are gone. Look, there's some sort of ventilation duct over there in the floor, we can get into it, crawl out of here somehow." He bent over it, and lifted the grate, gesturing her in.

"OK..," April said. "But...we've got to try to get Shredder out. I know where he is. I know what you think...but after I've taken...taken some of his life, I feel that we owe this to him."

Raphael tried to suppress the rage that stirred in his stomach as April said this. He tried to suppress all the questions he wanted to ask her, all the wrath he felt that she would care at all about that worthless, evil, bastard. But...he quieted his wrath, seeing the determination in her eyes. "Fine," he said angrily. "But only because I know he'll try something, and when he does, April, this time I'm taking him out."

April gazed at Raph, trying to find the right words to diffuse her friend's rage, to try to explain about the oath she had made, to explain about the strange intimacy that had tentatively, and inexplicably, been born between her and Saki. Instead, she just nodded, and disappeared into the duct, hoping that her womanly wiles could control both of the most passionate, angry men in her life. With luck, she could keep them from killing each other.


Outside the Palace, the turtles watched with apprehension as the battle reached its peak. The outer walls of the fortress were easily breached, and men by the hundreds were pouring into the courtyards, swords drawn and crying out wildly. Screams of surprise and shock issued from the Palace. The tide of the battle had quickly turned, and the men were quickly turning it into a massacre.

Leo shook his head sadly where they crouched in the brush. "This is a slaughter. Those women are amazing warriors, some of the best fighters I've ever seen. But, they could never have prepared for this. Imagine, being attacked by an enemy you never even knew existed! Most of the women have never even seen a man before!"

"What are we going to do?" Mike asked in a small voice, feeling hopeless.

"Well, top of the agenda is April and Raph. The men will leave him alone, but she could be caught up in all of this...She is, after all, a woman." Leo said.

All of the turtles bristled with anger at the thought of April being cut down by one of these out of control men.

"Right," Don said, twirling his bo. "What's the plan."

"We go in and get them out. And...Shredder too, if we can."

"Agreed." Don said quietly. Mike nodded too, and they all decided not say anymore on the topic.

"But...Lord, so many horrible things are happening tonight and there is no way we can stop it all. But as warriors sworn to protect, we must do what we can. There are many innocents we can try to help...those men, the ones in the dungeon. We should try to protect them if we can." Leo said. The turtles mulled this over. In many ways, it was suicide, but they had to do what good they could in this horrible struggle.

"And...those poor women...the ones still enslaved back at the mountain...they will be left unguarded during this war," Leo shook his head. "Mike, you've got to go back. You must try to release them. If we survive this, my brother, we shall meet at the place where the portal was supposed to be."

Mike nodded, trying to strengthen his heart with the task before him.

Leo was silent for a moment. Half of him just wanted to get Raph and April out and get the hell out of there, screw them all and this messed up planet...

"Leo," Don said, sensing his brother's struggle. "This is the right thing to do. What can we do in such a horrible struggle? So much evil has been done here. There is so much blood on both sides, that no one can be seen as good and evil. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that even back on Earth, no side is ever truly good and no side is completely evil. History repaints things that way, but all people have committed awful acts to remain in power. In a world so marred by hatred, what can one person do? As honorable ninja, we must save those most victimized, those most helpless. You are making the right decision. Splinter would be proud."

Leo looked steadily at his brother. "Thank you, Donatello. I think Splinter would be even more proud of you."

Mike stood. "I'm ready. I'll see both of you soon. Good luck, dudes!" They all clasped hands briefly in the dark, then Mike disappeared.

As the two turtles watched their brother disappear in the jungle, they each knew that it may be the last time they ever see him. Then they grasped their weapons and stealthily crept toward the Palace, even as cries of death and slaughter cut through the air. Sobbing and screaming could be heard, weaving like the very smoke in the air, as the awful fires of war danced across the jungle with demonic glee.


"I'm pretty sure he's right here," April whispered.

Raph bit his lip and tried not to explode in anger. They had been crawling through the ventilation duct beneath the marble floors of the Palace for the better part of thirty minutes, listening to the sounds of battle rage above them. At one point, they had come to a grate filled with moonlight, a way out built into the high ramifications of the rear of the Palace. Through the slats of metal they could see the dark jungle beckoning with sanctuary. Raphael had desperately tried to convince April to escape right then and there, but she refused.

Now they crouched beneath yet another grate. April peered upwards. She could see the intricately painted ceiling that was so familiar from her night with Saki. "This is it. I wouldn't forget that ceiling."

"OK, April," Raph said, biting his lip. "But I'm telling you, if even lifts a finger against us, he's history."

April gazed at Raphael, but said nothing.

Slowly, Raphael lifted the grate and peeked his domed head through the hole. "There's still a guard at the door," he whispered. "I guess even with this attack, they could still spare one to guard their precious Shredder."

Picking up a piece of debris that had fallen on the floor, he tossed it to the corner of the room. As the guard stepped over to investigate, he quickly hopped through the hole and came up behind her, knocking her out with a well-placed thump to the back of the head. Picking up her sword and bow, he came back over to April who stood by the hole staring toward the back of the room. He turned to see what she was looking at and saw an extraordinary sight.

Raphael had rarely seen Shredder without his helmet or armor. A few times in battle they had managed to knock his helmet off, and then, his face twisted with rage, Saki always managed to look like a sadistic maniac, bared teeth, glinting eyes. Besides, the heat of battle never gave Raph a good chance to appraise his opponent.

Well, the view offered right now was more of Oroku Saki than Raph ever wanted to see. He lay sprawled on a bed of white linen, all dark skin and muscles, shiny with oils. He appeared to be sleeping, and with his face relaxed, he seemed much younger than Raph had ever thought. Plus, he was absolutely nude.

Raph glanced back at April and found her turned away from the unseemly figure on the bed. "Raph," she whispered. "Could you go cover him up or something?" She was blushing fiercely.

"What," he said coolly. "I thought this was old hat for you by now."

She turned to glare at him, her new youthful beauty hitting him like a slap. "What kind of person do you think I am?"

"I don't know!" Raph said, all the anger he was suppressing finally surfacing. "I'm not sure who you are! As far as I know you've been banging old Shred-head here!"

April took one step over to Raph and slapped him hard. "How dare you?"

Raph took a step back, slightly abashed but still angry. "Sorry April...but what am I supposed to think? It almost sounds like you care about him more than, than us..."

"Oh Raph," April actually smiled and walked to him. She reached up, but instead of slapping him, this time she laid her hands gently on his smooth, green cheeks. "Raph...I love you guys more than my own family. I think you know that. I've only been asking you be who you are back on Earth. The good guys. Ones who protect everyone one from evil...even Shredder."

Her gaze was so gentle, and her words so familiar, that Raph immediately melted. "Geez April...ok, ok...let's see what we can do with old Can-head."

As she turned away again, Raph headed over to the bed. He tried to avert his eyes as well. There was a little too much of his enemy on display, even for his tastes. He stood at the side of the bed, looking at Shredder's sleeping face. So many awful things this man had done, so many evil plots, so many ploys for power...but, in sleep, he looked completely innocent, even boyish, his dark hair swept over his forehead. There was something distasteful about seeing his arch enemy so helpless, so vulnerable. Raph stood a moment thinking, but the sounds of battle outside quickened him to action.

Raph reached over to the sheets, and began to draw them over Saki's thighs, when the leg suddenly whipped out and caught him in a viscous side kick to the head.

Raph went down, but jumped up quickly in fighting stance, "You sneaky mother f..." he cursed. He stopped when he saw that Saki was still chained to the bed and groggy, his eyes open but barely focusing. "Stay away from me..." he slurred.

Raph sighed and lowered his arms.

"What's going on?" April asked, still unwilling to turn around.

"Sleeping Beauty has awakened," Raph muttered, approaching the bed. "It's ok. He's decent now."

April turned and approached the bed. Saki sat up, rapidly gaining composure.

"Looks like they haven't been able to give him any potion due to the attack," April observed.

"Ya think?" Raph crossed his arms. "Your move, Princess."

"Saki," April said, gently approaching the bed. "We're here to help get you out."

It was amazing how she could almost see the lucidity returning to Shredder's face, the grogginess slipping away, replaced by a cold kind of knowing, and with the knowing came a memory, a memory of what had happened in the Palace.

Saki closed his eyes, shaking his head. "You all betrayed me...I...I gave my oath. But you horrid turtles betrayed me..."

"It was a mistake," April soothed.

Raph rolled his eyes. "Move it or loose it, Can-head. We're giving you five seconds to get it together or we're leaving your sorry ass to be chick-food."

Shredder's eyes shot open, and the intensity of the glare betrayed his full awareness of what had happened. He sat up, straining his chiseled muscles against the golden chains, eyeing Raph with rage. "You! You gave me to that awful Queen! Always yabbering on about doing good! I came back as a matter of honor and you betray me!," He turned his gaze to April. "And you! You made me an oath! And then you come traipsing in with that disgusting Priestess to suck the life out of me..." His angry diatribe trailed off as he took in April's new, youthful face. His mouth opened with confusion as her beauty left him speechless. "Your face, Miss O'Neil..."

April blushed fiercely and was about to sidestep the issue when she realized there was something different about Shredder himself. Barely noticeable, imbedded in the folds of his thick, black hair, was a streak of gray.

Instinctively, under the now familiar curtain of his gaze, she reached out and brushed his hair where the gray marred the rich black. "I gave this to you," she whispered. "I stole this from you."

Saki didn't move. He continued to gaze at her rejuvenated face with fascination. Finally, he spoke, "And I gave this to you." His eyes never wavered from her face. "It seems but a small trade to make."

Raph was listening to this exchange with growing incredulity. "You've got to be joking!!!! April, you said I was being sexist when I said you look pretty! Holy shit! I think I'm going to puke! And I know I'm going to be sorry if we don't get out of here soon!" Another explosion rocked the Palace, and both Saki and April snapped to attention. "Look, Can-head, we're here to don't want it? No problem! But if you want to go, you better be as good as a kitten."

Saki looked down at himself and flushed slightly, becoming petulant. "I need clothes."

Raph finally found a reason to smirk. "Sorry...we'll make a toga for you. Now, about these chains." Raph reluctantly grasped Saki's wrist and with both of them struggling together they snapped the chain. Saki got to his knees, and using both of his arms, he snapped the other free.

April turned away again, as most of the bedding had slipped away from Saki's dark, muscled body. He knelt shakily on the bed and began arranging the sheet in a kind of crude toga. But, as he tried to climb out of the bed, he fell to the floor.

Raphael rolled his eyes, but secretly April was pleased. If Saki was weak, he'd pose less of a threat, and Raph's innate instinct to help the helpless would come out.

Shredder weakly pushed himself off the floor, his face twisting in anger. "Those accursed women with their accursed potions..."

As he struggled, another loud explosion sounded outside the window, exploding the window and showering them with a splash of glass, slicing them with numerous tiny cuts.

"Holy shit!" Raph said, losing his patience and reaching down to haul the swooning Saki to his feet. Saki angrily allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, but he still leaned heavily on Raphael. "We have got to get out of here now!" Raph ordered, dragging Shredder toward the vent.

"I do not need your help...turtle," Shredder gasped as he was pulled to the hole.

"Whatever, Chrome-dome," Raph said, smirking a little. Despite the strange circumstances, it seemed to please Raph a little to have Saki at his mercy, to actually be helping him. "Come along nicely," Raph said, helping the protesting Shredder into the hole.

April watched them disappear before she followed. She breathed a sigh of relief. Deep down, despite his rage, Raph was as moral as the rest, and as long as Shredder was at a disadvantage and pouting, Raph would behave accordingly. All she could hope is that somehow what few males were left in this dimension would behave themselves until they got out of this Godforsaken world...



What do you think, folks? I read each review carefully, and consider everything good (and bad, you know who you are!) that everyone says. This story has spiraled out of control, but oh well. I can't help but pursue my feminist agenda. Cards on the table? I couldn't help but see a metaphor developing as I wrote. Instead of the ethnic, racial, and national problems we have today, I realized a basic animosity existed between the sexes on this planet. Just as sometimes today I wonder how one person can deal with all the awful things happening in our world, I wondered how the turtles would deal with a situation where there are no clear-cut goodies and baddies, a world much like our own. Plus, I had to deal with integrating April and Saki's bizarre relationship with the turtles. It will be rocky at best. In the next chapter, the war will come to a head...the story is unfolding before me, but as always, as I type away, the story does what it wants...hope you hang in there for the next exciting chapters. As always, I appreciate any little thought you have!

Best Wishes, Arendt.

P.S. if anyone can guess why I chose this pseudonym, I'd love to hear the theory!