Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! This involves characters from It Came From Beneath the Sewers and Leonardo Versus Tempestra. I don't believe that Tempestra is the same one we see in Night of the Rogues, as will be shown here. This is part of my Exit the Fly verse. Baxter is human again and an ally of the Turtles. His brother Barney no longer works for Shredder.
Baxter lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling in utter, awed amazement. He still had to wonder if what had happened last night had truly been real. Maybe he had only dreamed it; that seemed more likely. But he heard movement across the hall and smiled. Vincent was truly home.
And this house was going to be home for all of them; he had been asked to stay on for always. Barney wanted him to live there, not just to visit. Visiting had been incredible enough, but this was a whole new level.
"How did such miracles happen?" Baxter said softly to the room. He sat up and walked over to the window to look out at another cloudy day. Apparently they had hit the rainy season. But that was alright. Now that Vincent was home safe, Baxter didn't mind the rain.
His apartment lease wasn't up yet. But he was thinking he would simply like to hold onto the apartment anyway, as a workshop, perhaps, or maybe a place to go between shifts at Channel 6, since sometimes he had to go back again later in the same day. He had already mostly moved into Barney's house, really, considering all the time he spent there. Barney just hadn't outright asked him to stay on before.
The Turtle-Comm beeped and he quickly answered it. "Hello, Michelangelo." He smiled.
"Hey, Baxter!" Michelangelo grinned. "How's everything today?"
"Wonderful," Baxter said. "It's still so incredible that Vincent is here, safe. And now Barney has asked me to live here with him and Vincent!"
"Oh wow." Michelangelo beamed. "That is so bodacious, Amigo! That's just how it should be!"
"I've longed for it," Baxter said. "Vincent has too. And now Barney has admitted that he has also wanted it. I've already unofficially moved in for the most part, but I haven't actually been asked to stay on before."
"Totally radical! Are you gonna do that news thing today and let everybody know Vincent and Zach are home safe?" Michelangelo asked.
"Yes," Baxter said. "I'm going to see if they can come to Channel 6 today for the noon news. This is the day I have help hosting the science segment too."
"Oh yeah. Who's gonna be on this time?" Michelangelo asked.
"Actually, two boys entered on the same card," Baxter mused. "Billy Hansen and Charlie Williams."
"Cool," Michelangelo said. "We're all gonna be at the studio too. Maybe we'll meet them!"
Baxter smiled. "We'll see you there, my friend."
After freshening up for the day, Baxter headed downstairs and found Vincent making breakfast while Barney gathered things he would need for the class that afternoon. "Good morning," he greeted.
Barney and Vincent responded in the affirmative.
"April wants to do the news story about Vincent and Zach today," Baxter reminded. "I wondered if we could plan on the noon news?"
"That's fine with me," Vincent said.
Barney nodded. "We don't have to be anywhere until afternoon."
Baxter sat down at the island. "It feels almost like a dream," he said softly. "You're home safe, Vincent, after we had to fear so much that you were gone. . . ."
"I'm sorry you both had to, Pal," Vincent said as he flipped a pancake. "I was thinking that I'd like to extend my range to reach satellites, if possible. Just in case anything like this ever happens again."
"That's a good idea," Barney said. "It can't be allowed to happen again. I'll look into it today."
"I've already looked into it," Vincent said. "I'll show you while you eat."
Baxter chuckled. Of course Vincent would have already looked.
Vincent was good at making meals, even though he naturally didn't eat any of them. That was most likely because of how precise he was about getting all the ingredients just right. Breakfast was delicious, and it was enjoyable to sit there eating it while Vincent brought up all the information about connecting with satellites. Barney took it down, all while not skipping a beat with eating.
"I learned how to multi-task years ago," he explained to Baxter when he caught his twin looking.
"I can multi-task too, although the extent of mine is usually reading emails over breakfast," Baxter said.
Vincent switched the screen back to his face. "Did you hear anything more from your father?" he wondered.
"No, we didn't," Baxter frowned.
Barney's expression darkened, but he didn't comment.
"Oh." Vincent looked awkward now. "I thought maybe he'd contact you to offer his resources in looking for me. . . ."
"Well, he didn't," Barney grunted.
Baxter looked to him in concern. "I wasn't even thinking anything about that," he said. "Were you hoping he'd contact us, Barney?"
"I wouldn't say that," Barney replied. "But I wondered if what he said was just words or if he'd show he really meant it. I didn't feel like discussing him, so I didn't bring it up."
"I'm sorry I did," Vincent said.
"It's not your fault, Vincent," Baxter said. "It's understandable that you'd hope for further reconciliation in our family, especially after our father acted like he wanted to reunite."
Barney shrugged. "I say we shouldn't depend on anything regarding either of our parents. We're a family now and that's all that matters."
"Actually . . ." Vincent was running through search results now. "It says he's out of the country on business. Unless his wife called him and mentioned it, he probably didn't even know what happened."
"Hmm." Barney didn't offer more, but Vincent noticed that the spark of anger and hurt had gone out of his eyes.
Baxter relaxed. Maybe there was still hope with their father, at least.
He jerked in surprise when one of the other articles zipping past caught his eye. "Wait, what's that one?"
Vincent paused it. "I don't think you want to read that one, Pal."
Barney glanced up at the headline. "The Life and Times of Shredder's Crazy Assistant, Baxter Stockman?" He frowned.
Baxter looked down. "It's just some idiotic tabloid," he mumbled, but it was obvious he was hurt anyway.
"You can fight back against tabloids," Barney retorted. "Let me see that, Vincent."
Vincent opened the webpage and let Barney read over the piece. "Mostly it's calling out the Sunny Dale asylum for doing nothing when Baxter was set free by Shredder," he said. "And suggesting that your parents somehow paid them off to keep things quiet."
Baxter heaved a sigh. "When I was first turned human again, I wasn't sure why I went with Shredder," he said. "Then I thought I truly had lost my mind, at least at first. The Turtles wanted to believe that and it sounded better than thinking I willingly left with that megalomaniac in my right mind, so I accepted it too."
"Does it really matter why?" Barney grunted. "You did it and it's over and done with."
Baxter looked up again. "But it's so troubling to think I could have fallen that far that I just didn't care. I was never like that before."
"We all decided that you had started to believe you really were crazy because that was how you were treated all the time," Barney said. "No, I don't believe you fully lost your mind for real until the cross-fusion, but I believe you were teetering on the brink by the time Shredder got you out. And I believe you went with him out of desperation to be free."
"I think so as well," Baxter admitted. "And I know I started to think that what everyone was saying really was true-that I had knowingly tried to help Shredder conquer the city with my Mousers. It was . . . easier to believe that than to keep insisting on a truth that no one would believe. Maybe I hoped that if I agreed with them, they'd let me out sooner."
"I think you're right, old pal," Vincent spoke up. "And I think that while Barney believed he was bad and made himself believe it all the more, you started believing everyone else when they said you were bad. You started to lose sight of the truth after all the cruel treatment you endured and you began to be what they said you were."
". . . I guess that sounds probable," Baxter said. "As horrible as it is to think."
"But you still didn't lose all of your humanity," Barney said. "As the Turtles have pointed out, even when you got hold of the Eye of Sarnoth and had ultimate power, you didn't go on a killing spree. You merely tied up the man you stole the helmet from. You didn't try to murder him, as Mutagen Man did with April O'Neil. And even though you had monsters fighting the Turtles, you offered to spare them. I honestly don't think you would have killed them."
"I remember Leonardo warning the other Turtles that the clay or glue or whatever it was might be deadly," Baxter mused. "But it wasn't; it was just annoying. You know, it honestly never occurred to me to make it deadly."
Vincent smiled. "Of course not."
"But that doesn't excuse all the times I helped Shredder," Baxter said. "I knew that if he had his way, the Turtles would be dead."
"You did say that maybe you thought they would really be able to beat Shredder's plans, such as those Dimension X . . . meatball monsters." Barney raised an eyebrow.
"I want to believe that was in my mind," Baxter said. "But maybe I'm only fooling myself, as I was when I started believing I was bad. Maybe I believed that so much that at least where the Turtles were concerned, I honestly didn't care. I know I was angry and hurting and felt that they were hypocrites. They were supposed to be the 'good guys,' yet they didn't help me or believe my side of the story about the Mousers. They just condemned me, believing in Shredder's circumstantial evidence. They let me down . . . and I couldn't forgive them for that."
"I don't think you should worry about it any more," Barney said. "And I know that sounds hypocritical coming from me, but tying yourself up in knots over the past doesn't help anyone. I know that firsthand."
Baxter smiled a bit. "That's true," he acknowledged. He looked to Vincent. "How old was that article?"
"It was written right after you tried to take over the city with your flies," Vincent said.
Baxter winced. "What a horrible time." He paused. "Did I see some bizarre sketch of the fly-me tearing off my clothes?"
"Yes," Barney said flatly. "Some idiot's idea of a hilarious joke-you fully embracing your insect nature, since of course insects don't wear clothes."
"Oh." Baxter groaned. "I can be relieved I never lost my humanity quite to that point. I'm afraid it might have come to that if things had gone on much longer, though. The fly had almost complete control of me at the end."
"But then you were set free, thank goodness," Vincent said.
"And I can never be thankful enough," Baxter said.
Krang was busy making calculations on one of the Technodrome's many computers while Bebop and Rocksteady were behind him, playing computer games on the transdimensional screen.
"Aww nuts," Bebop scowled. "I lost again."
"Hey, why don't we try playing something else?" Rocksteady suggested. "Like . . . Tempestra's Revenge? That's a really creepy arcade game. And they've just made a brand-new version with really pretty graphics!"
"Oh yeah?" Bebop perked up. "Let's try it. Even though Tempestra is a very creepy character."
"Did someone mention Tempestra?!" Shredder appeared in the doorway, looking apprehensive.
"Relax, Shredder," Krang grunted. "It's not the mercenary woman you recruited for your rogues' gallery. It's just some silly game."
Shredder frowned and wandered over to the transdimensional screen. "It looks just like her. And why are you letting Bebop and Rocksteady use the transdimensional screen to play ridiculous games?!"
"Maybe because it keeps them out of my hair while I'm busy," Krang retorted.
"What hair?" Shredder grunted. "You didn't even have that when you had a proper body."
Krang glowered. "Always the comedian, aren't you, Shredder."
Tempestra's cruel cackling sent Shredder jumping a mile. "If you moronic mutants are going to insist on playing that foolish game, do you have to keep the volume up?!" he burst out.
"Oh. Sorry, Boss," Rocksteady said. "But the sounds give the game atmosphere!"
"That witch is going to give me a heart attack!" Shredder snapped. "Do you know how many nightmares I've had about her coming after me demanding her payment for being part of my rogues' gallery?!"
"Why her more than any of the others?" Krang retorted, sounding bored.
"Because only she was so . . . familiar with me. . . ." Shredder tugged nervously on his cape.
Krang gave a gurgling cackle.
"Yeah, yeah, you can laugh," Shredder retorted. "She didn't pay any attention to you."
"Not until we lost the treasure," Krang returned.
"Awww! Game Over again!" Rocksteady cried in frustration. "And I almost had her that time!"
"My turn!" Bebop gleefully grabbed the controls. "I will show you how it's done."
"Fools," Tempestra sneered. "Only one opponent is good enough for me. Leonardo!"
Now everyone turned to stare. "Uh, I don't think she's supposed to say that," Bebop frowned.
Tempestra filled the screen. "All I need is one good electrical charge and I will be free to seek my revenge on that pesky Turtle!"
"Hmm." Fascinated, Krang lumbered over to the screen now. "So you have a grudge against Leonardo?"
"Yes," Tempestra snarled. "When I was free of my Video Game Dimension before, he was the one who sent me back! I will never rest until I've had my revenge on him!"
"Just what we need, someone else who worries about revenge as much as you do," Krang scowled at Shredder.
"I don't want someone else to eliminate any of the Turtles!" Shredder whined. "That privilege belongs to me by ninja law!"
Tempestra started to smirk. "You're always in need of energy, are you not?"
"Yes," Krang said slowly.
"Well, if you release me, I can gather it for you!" Tempestra insisted. "All the nuclear energy you could ever want! In return, all I ask is that I be allowed to take revenge on Leonardo. Your pathetic friend may have the other three Turtles."
"Hmm. Nuclear energy." Krang pondered on this. "I have to admit that's appealing. But I've already had countless schemes fail because of my pathetic 'friend's' lust for revenge. You would have to agree to bring us the energy before you do anything else."
"You can't trust her, Krang!" Shredder said in disbelief. "She's a bunch of pixels!"
"Who knows," Krang smirked. "Maybe she'd be more reliable than flesh and bone!" He cackled.
Tempestra sneered. "I will do as you wish."
"Oh, this is preposterous!" Shredder boomed. "How will we even get her out of there?!"
"And if she comes out, don't that mean we can't play no more?" Rocksteady whined.
"There is an electrical storm on its way," Tempestra said. "Harness its power and it will be enough to release me!"
"Yet not enough to release the Technodrome," Shredder muttered.
Krang smiled. "We will do as you say, Tempestra. But if you don't follow through with your end of the bargain, back you go! And Bebop and Rocksteady will be allowed to play your game all night!"
"You won't be disappointed, Krang," Tempestra smiled.
"I don't get it," Rocksteady said. "How come there's two Tempestras anyway?"
"Eh, the one Shredder recruited is the real person who served as the inspiration for the game or something like that," Krang said with a disinterested wave of a tentacle.
"But she acted alive in there," Bebop said. "And she said somethin' about a Video Game Dimension."
"Maybe creating the game brought her into existence on some video game plane," Krang said. "Who cares?! I just want to see if she's any good."
"I can't imagine that any version of that witch would help us," Shredder growled.
"Actually, she did pretty good in your rogues' gallery," Krang said. "I'm sure this video game version is even more powerful, since video game characters are always ridiculously overpowered."
"That's what worries me," Shredder said. "What if she decides to turn against us after she has what she wants?"
"Then you, Bebop, and Rocksteady will shadow her around and make sure she doesn't," Krang said.
"Aww, but we don't wanna go out in the rain," Rocksteady complained.
"Silence!" Shredder boomed. "You morons will do as I say! Now, the storm is almost upon us. Tell the Foot Soldiers to be ready to harness the electricity."
"Alright already," Bebop humphed as he stalked out of the main control room.
Baxter was in fairly good spirits as he drove to Channel 6. But when he got there and found Irma waiting with the two children who had won that week, he suddenly felt his stomach drop. I don't believe it, he thought to himself. How can I stop thinking about my past when it keeps coming back to bite me?
"Dr. Stockman, this is Billy Hansen and Charlie Williams," Irma announced, laying a hand on each boy's shoulder as she introduced them.
"H-Hello," Baxter stammered. He had only seen them briefly, but he hadn't forgotten the two children who had managed to get hold of the first fragment of the Eye of Sarnoth at the carnival. Surely, though, they wouldn't remember him. He only remembered because of his fear that Shredder would harm them.
"Hi there, Dr. Stockman," Charlie smiled-or was it smirked. He held out a confident hand.
Baxter slowly shook it. "Congratulations on winning this week's contest," he said. "I . . . I'm looking forward to hosting Real Science with you two today."
"So are we," said Billy. He also held out his hand.
Baxter also shook his hand. Why was it, he wondered, that he felt so uneasy about their smiles?
"Um . . . maybe you'd like to give them the tour of the station?" Irma prompted.
Baxter snapped to. "Oh. Of course."
"We'd love to see it," Charlie said, still with that unsettling smile.
Apparently it wasn't just in his imagination; Irma looked a little worried too. "I'll be back at my office if you need anything," she said with a touch of uneasiness.
"I'm sure we'll be fine," Baxter said.
The kids waited until she was gone to start talking again. "You've done really well for yourself, Doctor," Charlie said smoothly.
"Yeah," Billy added. "From Shredder's assistant to a scientific consultant on national TV."
Baxter flushed. "There have been a lot of kind people in the city willing to give me a second chance." He started to walk and the boys came alongside, placing him in the middle.
Should I mention anything about the carnival if they don't? he wondered. Maybe they've just heard about me on the news. Maybe they don't remember when we met.
"There sure are," Billy said. "And you must have done a lot to earn it."
"I try," Baxter said.
"And we heard you lost your computer," Charlie said.
Baxter stopped walking. "My friend," he corrected. "My brother."
"How can a computer be either one?" Billy retorted.
"He's a very special computer," Baxter said. "And truthfully, he's home safe. He came back last night with the missing boy Zach. There's going to be a piece on the noon news about them. You'll probably have the chance to meet him, and my twin Barney."
"Gee, I hope we'll be able to tell you two apart," said Charlie.
Baxter frowned. He couldn't prove it, but the boy sounded awfully mocking in his tone. "It should be perfectly easy," he said. He was aware that a slight edge was creeping into his voice, but at the moment he didn't try to stop it.
"Well, we know he's always ranting about people thinking he's you," Billy said.
"He was," Baxter said. "He hasn't done that in a while. But people also haven't mixed us up in a while. They're finally starting to see Barney as his own person. If you're genuinely concerned, however, Barney's hair is longer than mine. And it's red instead of brown."
"That should be easy enough to remember," Charlie said.
Baxter sighed to himself as he opened the door to a studio and allowed the boys to go in first. He shouldn't have started to get snippy, he supposed. After all, he knew that not everyone in the city liked him. It would be ridiculous to think they would. And what if the boys really did remember the carnival? They would see him as a thief. Still, he had to wonder why they would even enter the contest if they had something against him.
Maybe they wanted fame that badly.
Well, he would try to put up with them. It was just for a few hours; would it really be so terrible?
Michelangelo yawned as he slumped back into the couch. "What time is it, Dudes?"
"It's five minutes since the last time you asked," Donatello retorted, peeking out of the lab.
"Why so jumpy today, Michelangelo?" Raphael asked. "Vince and Zach are home safe, Baxter's at work with some more kids . . ."
"I kinda like hanging out at the station and seeing what the kids are like," Michelangelo said. "Maybe I'll head on over now. The rest of you guys can catch up when it's time for the noon news!"
Leonardo was looking at the television screen with folded arms. "There's something familiar about those kids Baxter's with today," he said. "I know I've seen them somewhere before!"
"They've been showing the ads with them all morning," Raphael shrugged.
"That's not it," Leonardo objected in frustration. "Michelangelo, if you do go over there, why don't you ask April about them?"
"Okay, Fearless Leader," Michelangelo shrugged. He hopped off the couch. "And I think I will. Scope you dudes later!"
"Bye, Michelangelo," Donatello called.
It was moments after Michelangelo left that Leonardo's Turtle-Comm went off. He quickly answered it. "Hey, April," he said in surprise. "What's going on?"
"I don't know," April frowned. "Those kids who won Baxter's contest this week are here and they're acting kind of strange."
"Strange how?" Leonardo demanded. "They seemed familiar to me, but I couldn't place them!"
"They're the kids who found the first fragment of the Eye of Sarnoth at that carnival!" April moaned. "I have the feeling they remember Baxter. They're not doing anything really nasty, but they're not always speaking to him in the nicest voices."
"How is Baxter handling it?" Leonardo asked.
"He's trying to be nice, but he doesn't always succeed," April said. "I can't blame him. I don't have a lot of patience for bratty kids."
"Well, if they remember him and Shredder running off with that fragment, I guess you can't really blame them," Raphael said in the background. He stretched out on the couch.
"Maybe not, but what are they doing here?!" April exclaimed.
"Search me," Raphael shrugged.
"Michelangelo is on his way over right now," Leonardo said, "but it doesn't sound too serious. I'm sure everything will be fine."
"Yeah, you're probably right," April relented. "I guess I just feel kind of bad for Baxter, especially when he's been under so much stress lately."
"At least this came after Vincent returned and not before," Leonardo said.
"True," April said. A loud crash echoed in the background. "Oh no! Did Vernon knock over the tripod again?!" She sighed. "I'd better go. See you later today!"
"Bye, April." Leonardo hung up.
"Boy oh boy, we never get a break, do we?" Raphael commented.
"Nor does Baxter," Leonardo said.
"True. But if there's any problem here, it sounds like it's just more consequences of his past," Raphael shrugged. "Or hey, maybe the kids are just brats."
"Anything is possible," Leonardo conceded. "But even if you're not so worried about Baxter having to deal with them, just remember that we'll be seeing them when we go over."
Raphael cringed. "Point taken."
Bebop and Rocksteady stood by, their eyes round and filled with fear as Krang adjusted the controls and pulled the switch. Electricity shot into the monitor where Tempestra had taken up residence. As it exploded, she appeared in the Technodrome next to it. Bebop and Rocksteady screamed.
"Excellent!" Tempestra sneered. "You've done it, Krang."
"Of course," said Krang. "Now, don't forget our bargain. You're to bring us our energy first!"
Tempestra cackled. "You must be joking. Now that I'm free, I will take on Leonardo and none of you pathetics fools can stop me! If I win, perhaps then I'll bring you the energy you seek!"
"That traitorous vermin!" Shredder cried. "I knew she couldn't be trusted! Now what have you unleashed, Krang?!"
Krang gave Tempestra a cold look. "I'll make her stick to our agreement." He started to pull a lever.
She responded by blasting him across the room. He crashed into the wall and hit the floor, all robot limbs and his tentacles waving wildly. "Someone get me up!" he yelled.
Shredder jumped forward now, his spikes bared. "You will do as we command!" he snarled.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that your costume is perfect for conducting electricity?" Lightning bolts shot out from Tempestra's fingertips and into Shredder's body. He screamed in pain as the power coursed through him, amplified by the metal he was wearing.
"Hey!" Rocksteady snapped. "You can't treat the boss like that!"
"I shall treat anyone however I like!" Tempestra used a fierce gust of wind to blow Bebop and Rocksteady right out of the room. Then, sneering, she spun herself a whirlwind and teleported out of the Technodrome altogether. "Now to seek my revenge!"
"And this is the studio where we'll be filming later today." Baxter always saved that studio for last on his tours. The boys had seemed alternately interested and bored by the trip. At the moment, they were both watching him with folded arms. Baxter's nerves were fairly stretched.
"When will that be?" Billy asked.
"We film the segments live for the evening news," Baxter said. "Usually we like to have several run-throughs first."
"Sounds good," said Billy.
"You haven't talked much about yourselves," Baxter said slowly. "What types of science are your favorites?"
"Oh, we like pretty much all kinds," Charlie said. "And science-fiction too."
"I prefer science-fact," Baxter said.
"Yeah, but these days, it's pretty hard to tell which is which," said Billy. "Especially after what happened to you."
Baxter frowned, his hands going to his hips. "Now look here," he snapped. "I've put up with a lot from you two in the last hour. I certainly don't contest that you have reason to dislike me. But why on Earth did you enter this contest knowing that you would be hosting a broadcast with me?!"
They gave him a cool look that didn't seem at all innocent. "We just wanted to be on TV," Charlie said.
"Yeah," Billy added. "Even if we had to be with you to get there."
"Well." Baxter didn't look pleased, but he also wasn't surprised. "We'll just have to tolerate each other until it's over, then, won't we?"
"We'll tolerate you," Charlie said. "But can you tolerate us?"
Baxter glowered at him. "I'm starting to wonder."
A flicker of guilt went through Billy's eyes. But then it was gone and he was smirking again.
Without warning the glass shattered in the outside windows and a bizarre blue-skinned woman floated into the room. "Good morning," she sneered.
The kids shrieked. "Who are you?!" Charlie demanded.
"My name is Tempestra," she smiled. "And you shall be my hostages until Leonardo comes to challenge me."
"What is this?" Billy frowned. "Some kind of movie gag?"
"This is for real, children," Tempestra replied. With one swoop of her hand, a blast of wind knocked over all the cameras and tore a boom loose from the ceiling.
"I think she means it!" Charlie cried.
"Get behind me," Baxter ordered the children. "Don't argue!"
Charlie looked like he might. But when Billy dove behind Baxter, Charlie followed suit.
Tempestra looked amused. "What are you going to do, little man? Fight me off all by yourself?"
"That would be impossible," Baxter admitted. "But you won't harm these children!"
"You can't protect them!" Tempestra mocked. "I could kill you with one blast!"
Baxter trembled with fear. The kids exchanged a despairing look.
"He's gonna break," Charlie whispered. "We'll have to fend for ourselves."
Billy hesitated. "He acts like he means what he says. . . ."
"Oh, you can't trust a guy like him," Charlie objected. "Anyone who'd steal from kids is lower than low."
Baxter could clearly hear them, of course, but he chose not to comment. There were more pressing matters. "I'll hold her off," he said. "Find April O'Neil and tell her to get the Turtles. We need help!"
The boys stared at him. "You can't hold her off," Billy retorted. "You saw what she just did!"
"He's right," Tempestra said. "You don't stand a chance against me!"
Baxter drew a deep breath. "I have to give them a chance regardless. Boys, no matter what you think of me, obey me this one time. Go find April O'Neil!"
Electricity was starting to spark in Tempestra's hands. The boys weren't about to stick around and see what would happen next.
"Okay!" Charlie said. "We're going!" He grabbed Billy's wrist. "Let's get out of here before he changes his mind!"
They could hear Tempestra cackling with cruel glee as they fled into the hall. "Calling the Turtles is exactly what I want," she said. "But if you won't allow me to harm those children to show Leonardo I mean business, I'll just have to harm you!"
Baxter cried out in pain and there was a horrible crash. The boys jumped.
"H-Hey," Billy quavered. "He didn't double-cross us. She hurt him. . . ."
"Oh, he's probably just scratched or something," Charlie said. "Or maybe he tripped over the boom. You know he's really clumsy. Somebody like that can't take the least little bit of pain."
"Maybe. . . ." But Billy looked over his shoulder, not convinced.
April appeared around the corner. "Boys, what's going on?" she frowned. "Why aren't you with Dr. Stockman?"
"Some weather witch lady broke through the window!" Billy exclaimed.
April wasn't impressed. "Boys . . ."
"It's true!" Charlie insisted. "She said her name's Tempestra. You know, like in the video games."
"Yeah! She looks just like the video game character!" Billy added. "Dr. Stockman made us leave and said to get you to call the Turtles! She's mad at Leonardo!"
April's eyes widened. Now she believed them; they wouldn't be able to make up something so precise that she knew could agree with the facts. "I'll call him right now." She grabbed her compact. "Is Dr. Stockman still in there with her?!"
"She's hurting him!" Billy wailed.
"We don't know that," Charlie said.
"She said she was going to and then we heard him scream," Billy insisted. He looked away, blinking back tears. "We shouldn't have come here. . . ."
"It wasn't your fault," April said.
"It was," Billy said. "We . . ."
Charlie jabbed him in the ribs. "Shut up!"
April was curious, but she half-turned away to focus on talking to Leonardo. Billy looked to Charlie and ran back to the studio without another word. All was quiet now, eerily so. He peered around the doorway.
"We're not supposed to go back in there!" Charlie hissed at him.
"I don't see that weather witch now," Billy whispered. "At least, not inside. She's outside, just kind of hovering in the sky and yelling about where Leonardo is."
"What about Dr. Stockman?" Charlie asked.
"He's in there," Billy said. "He's just laying on the floor. . . ." He ran into the room and knelt beside the lifeless man. "Dr. Stockman!" He shook Baxter on his shoulder. "Dr. Stockman, wake up! Please . . ."
Charlie followed him in and stood over them. "H-Hey," he trembled, finally looking shaken himself. "You don't think he's . . . dead, do you?"
"No, he's not dead," Billy insisted. "But he's not waking up. . . ." He bit his lip.
"He really stayed to face off against her," Charlie said softly.
"Maybe . . . we were wrong about him," Billy said. He looked crushed. "We're not still gonna do what we came here to do, are we?"
"No way! We can't now!" Charlie retorted.
"What's that, boys?" April frowned as she came to the doorway. A gasp of horror left her lips. "Baxter!" She rushed in and over to him. "What happened?!"
"We don't know!" Billy said. "We just found him here like this."
"Is he gonna be okay?!" Charlie demanded.
"I hope so," April said. "But what were you talking about just now? It didn't sound like you meant whether to do the science segment."
The kids exchanged a guilt-filled look. "We didn't enter that contest because we wanted to host a science segment with Dr. Stockman," Charlie said.
Billy gave a woeful nod. "We wanted to blast him on the air."
April shot them a sharp glare. "Why?" She turned back to Baxter, examining him for injuries.
"Because he helped that Shredder guy steal our jewel thing that you were gonna buy," Billy said, blinking back tears. "We wanted to tell everyone that he's a hypocrite who hates kids. But . . ." He sniffled and looked away as his throat constricted.
"Aw, don't go crying about it," Charlie scolded. But now his voice sounded strange.
"But he got hurt trying to protect us," Billy sobbed. "Dr. Stockman, please wake up!"
At last the pleas were rewarded. Baxter blinked rapidly as his eyes fluttered open. He groaned, looking over at April.
"Baxter, are you alright?!" April cried.
"I . . . think so. . . ." Baxter grimaced as he started to ease himself up. "Ow. . . ." He sank against the wall and looked to the boys, who shrank back in shame.
"What happened?!" April demanded.
"I don't remember exactly," Baxter admitted. "She threw me into the wall. She may have shocked me. . . ."
The kids backed up more. "We'll go," Billy said softly.
"You saved our lives," Charlie added. "We're so sorry. . . ."
"Wait," Baxter said. "I heard what you said, both of you. And I don't blame you for your feelings."
They stared at him. "You don't?" Billy said.
"Of course not," Baxter insisted. He rubbed the back of his neck. "How else would that unpleasant incident have looked?"
"How was it really?" Charlie frowned.
Baxter sighed. "The fragment was in our possession, actually. It was my fault it ended up at the carnival. I was horrified when I saw the two of you had found it. I was afraid Shredder wouldn't be above harming either of you. When I had the chance to quickly grab it as it sailed through the air, I took the opportunity to do it and prayed that Shredder would leave you alone."
"And if he hadn't?" Charlie asked.
"I want to believe I would have pleaded on your behalf," Baxter said. "I was submissive and a coward. Sometimes I still am," he mumbled. "But I wouldn't have wanted children harmed."
"You could have told us that thing belonged to you," Charlie said.
"Shredder wasn't about to take the time. And I felt the most important thing was to get him away from you as quickly as possible." Baxter started to struggle to his feet and stumbled. He grabbed the wall.
"Baxter, are you sure you're alright?!" April moaned.
"Yes," Baxter insisted. "I'm just a little dizzy. . . ."
The kids came back over to him. "So you were willing to have us hate you to keep us safe?" Billy said softly.
"I felt that was better than the alternative," Baxter said. "Anyway, I doubted I'd ever see either of you again."
Billy looked sorrowful. "We thought you were something awful. We were gonna try to ruin your reputation on national television, and instead you tried to protect us all along!"
"It's alright," Baxter said firmly. "No real harm was done."
"But if we hadn't been here, you wouldn't have got hurt trying to protect us," Charlie said.
"Then I might have gotten hurt trying to protect another child," Baxter said. "A child would have been in the studio today even if the two of you hadn't won this time."
"I guess that makes sense," Billy said. He hugged Baxter around the waist. "But we're still really sorry, Dr. Stockman."
Charlie nodded and hugged him as well. "We never should have just kept insisting you were bad. We just wanted to believe it."
Baxter looked stunned that their attitude had changed so completely. April smiled at him. "You did just save their lives by taking on a weather witch all by yourself."
"That's true," Baxter said slowly. He laid his hands on their shoulders. "Boys, I don't blame you for what you thought about me. That doesn't matter. What matters is keeping you safe and finding a way to defeat that woman."
"She was ranting about taking revenge on Leonardo," April said. "He beat her last time; hopefully he'll have some ideas now!"
Baxter looked towards the broken window, where Tempestra continued to rant about her revenge. "I certainly hope so."
Michelangelo was stunned when he received Leonardo's call about Tempestra at large and horrified to hear that Baxter had been hurt. He was almost at the building by then, and as it came into view he found the woman suspended in the air next to the building, making an already imminent storm grow worse. The clouds grew thick and darkened almost to black. The wind howled. In the distance, thunder boomed.
"Hey!" Michelangelo called up at her. "You know, you are one rude dudette!"
She glared down at him. "You're not Leonardo! I will only engage Leonardo in battle! Until he comes, this entire building is under lockdown!"
"Oh, he's coming," Michelangelo snapped. "But April said you hurt a very good amigo of ours. What'd you do that for?! Baxter never did anything to you!"
"Baxter? You mean that pathetic little man who was trying to protect the children?" Tempestra sneered. "I hurt him for no real reason other than to show Leonardo I can! And because he was too easy a target."
"Bogus!" Michelangelo shot back. "I'm gonna call him on my Turtle-Comm right now. And if he doesn't answer and say he's okay, you're gonna be in mondo trouble with me!"
"Do whatever you like, Turtle," Tempestra retorted. "You can't reach me from down there!" She fired a lightning bolt in his direction.
Michelangelo leaped out of the way. "Come on, Tempestra," he taunted. "Hit me with your best shot!"
A flurry of lightning bolts and a blast of snow ensued. Michelangelo had easily dodged the former, but the latter was a surprise. He yelped and slipped as the white mountain buried him.
"Michelangelo!" came a panicked voice from the Channel 6 building.
The Turtle struggled to dig his way out of the snow. "Baxter?" He squinted, peering up at the broken window. Baxter was indeed leaning out of it, horrified to see his friend in trouble. But Michelangelo just broke into a grin as he clawed the rest of the way to solid ground. "Baxter, you're okay!"
"And you won't be if you keep challenging her," Baxter retorted. "Wait for the others!"
The Turtle Van pulled up at that moment. "We're here," Leonardo proclaimed as he got out. "Tempestra, your quarrel is with me. You shouldn't have gone after anyone else!" He drew his katanas.
"But of course, if you quarrel with Leonardo, you quarrel with all of us," Raphael smirked, jumping out with sais bared.
"Now it's back to the world of video games for you," Donatello added. He gripped his bo.
"Oh, but you don't dare do anything to me," Tempestra sneered. "I can and will have the entire Channel 6 building carried off by a cyclone!" She brought up her hands as if to summon it forth.
"Sorry, Tempestra," Leonardo snapped. "You're not going to give us your Wizard of Oz impression today. I'll face you one-on-one, just as you want. Name the place."
"Why not fight right here?" Tempestra smirked.
She didn't notice the Cadillac driving up and parking behind her. "Yes, why not fight here?" came Vincent's soft voice as he exited.
Tempestra spun around, her eyes glinting in surprise and delight. "A computer," she mused. "A most powerful computer." To everyone's shock, she floated down to the ground and stood in front of Vincent, who took a step back and almost bumped into Barney.
"What are you doing?" Vincent both looked and sounded tense and confused.
Tempestra smiled at him in a sultry way and touched the bottom of the laptop as though touching a man's chin. "You and I aren't like everyone else here," she purred. "We would make an excellent team. Surely you would rather be with your own kind than these . . . organic creatures."
Vincent scowled and brushed her hand away. "They're more my own kind than you are."
The woman's eyes flashed with rage. "Tempestra doesn't offer allegiance lightly. You dare turn her down?!"
Vincent crossed his arms over his chest, electricity sparking from each fingertip. "I dare."
"Very well!" Tempestra took to the skies once again. "Then this means war on you as well as on Leonardo!"
"Don't you know?" Vincent sneered. "You declared war on me when you hurt Baxter." And he blasted up at her.
Tempestra wasn't expecting the sudden attack right at that moment. She slammed into the Channel 6 building, taking out another window as she soared into an office. Vernon's familiar yelp came from inside. Ignoring him, Tempestra got up and ran back outside into the air . . . only to be drenched by April and Baxter emptying a water cooler on her from above.
"Oh! Foolish humans!" she snarled, brushing her dripping wet hair out of her eyes. "You will pay dearly for that!"
With all of the distractions from human and computer, she hadn't even realized the Turtles had quietly slipped away. But they had used the opportunity to run inside and take the elevator to the roof. Suddenly they burst upon it, Leonardo in the lead.
"Her power should be getting low by now," he told them. "She'll be too weak to resist being pulled back into this computer circuit board, just like before." He held it up.
Michelangelo frowned in confusion. "Like, I still don't get how she got free in the first place, because yeah, you trapped her in that thing!"
"I don't get it either," Leonardo frowned. "Maybe the storm had something to do with it. It was lightning pretty heavily over in the High Falls area."
Raphael's eyes glinted. "And that means Shredder and Krang!"
"Exactly. My guess is that they found a way to set her free from another copy of the game," Leonardo said. "They might be using her as a distraction while they collect energy for the Technodrome!"
"You'd think they'd get tired of the same old plot over and over again," Raphael snarked.
Lightning flashed back and forth down below. As the Turtles came closer to look, they found Tempestra locked in a fierce electric battle with Vincent.
"All it would take to stop you for good would be a heavy downpour," she sneered.
Fear flickered in Vincent's eyes. He trembled, his concentration momentarily dropped.
Fury flashed in Barney's eyes. "You wouldn't harm the most powerful computer," he said. "Don't you have some loyalty to machines?"
"Yes," Tempestra said. Without warning she swooped down, barreling towards Vincent's screen. "Especially if they can help me!"
Vincent threw up the force field, knocking her backwards when she hit it. "You're not going to enter my systems," he said coldly.
"She must be low on power if she's trying that!" Leonardo exclaimed. He flung the circuit board like a ninja star, sending it swirling towards her.
To his horror, she blasted it away. "That tired old trick won't work on me a second time!" she cried. She got up and flew back up to the roof. "You tried to sneak up on me, Leonardo. Now you will fight me!"
Leonardo glowered at her. "Alright, Tempestra. Give it your best shot." He held up both katanas.
"Dude, what are you doing?!" Michelangelo exclaimed.
"She's given me no choice," Leonardo said. "I'll have to fight her."
Tempestra shot electricity at Leonardo in the next moment, which he deflected with his katanas and sent back at her. The other Turtles scattered, observing the battle and looking for a good spot to jump in.
"We don't want to risk hurting anyone in the building," Donatello said. "She would probably harm someone as retaliation if we interfered."
"So what are we supposed to do?!" Raphael said in frustration. "Just let Leonardo get creamed?!" Across the roof, Leonardo was blown back against the satellite dish by a gust of wind.
"She's gotta be almost out of power now," Michelangelo said. "She was running low when she tried to hack into Vincent!"
The door to the roof flew open and was nearly torn off by the force of the wind. April and the Stockman brothers were standing there, shielding themselves from the deadly bluster.
"We brought this," Barney said, holding up the circuit board. "Try it again."
"Gnarly!" Michelangelo grabbed it from him and threw it at Tempestra's back while she was engaged in crafting the beginning of a whirlwind to cart Leonardo off. At the same time, Vincent blasted to add the necessary electric charge.
Tempestra shrieked as the circuit board hit her and caught her unawares. "NOOO!" A flash of light and then she was gone, pulled back inside. The whirlwind sputtered and died.
Leonardo sighed in relief and picked up the circuit board. "Thanks, guys. Let's hope this time she doesn't find a way out again."
"Like, I still don't get how she got out," Michelangelo frowned. "That thing's been with us the whole time! Shredder and Krang didn't have it! Or anyone else, either!"
"I remember Tempestra talking about being pulled into our dimension," Leonardo mused. "That made it sound like her world was a dimension too. Maybe the circuit board is just a portal leading there."
"But that must mean that an accident with any Tempestra video game could bring her out again," Donatello realized.
"It means we're going to have to be on the alert," Leonardo said. "Hopefully this won't be able to easily happen again."
"That doesn't mean it won't happen," Raphael said.
Thunder boomed overhead and everyone jumped.
"Right now we'd better get inside," Baxter said. "It's almost time for the noon news. More importantly, it's going to rain." He stepped aside and gently ushered Vincent back into the building.
Everyone else looked at each other and smiled as they followed.
"Are you really okay, Baxter?" Vincent asked when they were inside. "April said you'd been hurt, but at the time she didn't know the details."
"I'm fine," Baxter smiled. "I was just a little shaken-up."
"It was bad enough that he was unconscious and those kids were practically in tears," April retorted.
Barney grabbed Baxter by the arm and forcibly turned him around, studying him with narrowed, searching eyes.
"Barney . . ." Baxter laid a hand on Barney's shoulder. "I'm really alright."
"You'd better be," Barney growled.
"What about those kids?" Raphael said. "Did they shape up?"
"You could say that," April said. "They actually came here wanting to badmouth Baxter on national TV!" She scowled. "But when he was hurt protecting them, they changed their tune."
"Good to hear," Leonardo said. "Then, even though they lost their way, they got back on track."
They arrived back at the right floor and stepped out of the stairwell.
"Hi, guys!" Zach grinned. He was waiting for them with his family and Irma.
"Zach," Leonardo smiled.
"Microdude!" Michelangelo chirped.
"It's good to see you again," Vincent said.
Zach beamed. "We saw all of you fighting some weird lady when we were driving here," he said. "I wish I could have helped out! What was going on?!"
"We'll tell you all about it," Leonardo smiled. "But right now we'd better get ready to go on the air."
The rest of the day went well for everyone. The noon news was a hit and the afternoon was filled with people calling and writing and posting about how happy they were that the missing ones had been recovered alive and well. Many also expressed amazement at how alive and aware Vincent sounded. Billy and Charlie were quite taken with him, and along the way, they also struck up a conversation with Zach.
"They all seem to like science-fiction," Baxter mused.
"Gnarly!" Michelangelo chirped. "Maybe Zach's finally found some more human amigos to hang out with."
"That would be great," Leonardo smiled. "But you know, I think we'd better start trying to find out if anything has happened at any power or energy plants in town. Shredder and Krang really might have decided to pull another robbery while Tempestra distracted us."
"I've already been looking," Donatello said. "I haven't found any record of any thefts yet. . . ."
"Like, what if the people are all tied up or something and they haven't been able to report it yet?" Michelangelo suggested.
"That's possible too," Donatello agreed.
"Aww man! There's so many plants in town, there's no way we can visit every one of them!" Raphael bemoaned.
"Well, we can hope that they didn't get enough energy, even if they got some," Michelangelo said. "After all, they hardly ever get enough!"
"Occasionally they do," Leonardo said in concern. "We should never let down our guard when it comes to our enemies."
"Uh oh," Donatello cringed. "A new report just came in. A plant was robbed and energy was stolen. But I don't know if it's enough to power the Technodrome. . . ."
Raphael looked to Barney. "With all the time you spent there, didn't Krang ever tell you how much they needed to get out of the ocean?"
"Yes, he did, especially since energy science is one of my specialties," Barney said. He looked at the figures Donatello was staring at concerning the stolen energy supply. "That wouldn't be enough to get out of the ocean. But it might be enough to get out of a mud hole."
Everyone exchanged stricken looks. "Mondo disaster, dudes," Michelangelo proclaimed.
"Maybe I should call Billy Jim Bob and find out if he can see whether the Technodrome is on the move," Leonardo worried.
"You have his number?" Raphael raised an eyebrow.
"I do, actually," Leonardo smiled. "He said that if we were ever in town again, he was ready and able to help us if he could."
"It's nice to know we have people we can call on when we need them," Donatello commented.
"Hopefully you'll find out that the Technodrome is right where it's been." Baxter glanced at the clock. "Oh my goodness. And we need to review what we're going to do for the Real Science segment tonight."
Michelangelo gave him a thumbs-up. "You go ahead and take care of that, Baxter Dude," he said. "We'll let you know what we find out about the Technodrome."
Baxter smiled at him. "Thank you, Michelangelo." He hurried over to the boys.
"And this has been Real Science, live with Billy Hansen . . ."
"Charlie Williams, and Baxter Stockman. Who is totally brave and . . ."
Baxter stared in amazement at his young co-hosts as they high-fived and the segment ended. "You've certainly changed your minds about me," he commented.
"We never should have wanted to do such an awful thing to you without really knowing everything," Billy said.
Charlie nodded. "We heard that interview you did with Miss O'Neil and stuff, but we were still mad about the fragment and we didn't let it change our minds."
"And there's people who wouldn't let anything change their minds at all, so I am very moved and impressed," Baxter said. "Thank you for giving me a chance."
"If we'd really given you a chance, it wouldn't have taken you getting hurt protecting us to make us like you," Charlie said.
"What you heard in the interview was just words," Baxter said. "You needed actions and proof."
"Well, you're great, and we'll make sure everyone knows it!" Billy vowed.
Baxter watched after them in awe as they left with their families. Michelangelo came up beside him. "That was totally bodacious, Bud!" he proclaimed.
Baxter smiled. "I'm very happy they changed their minds about me. They didn't have to."
"I think most good people would change their minds," Michelangelo said. "So what're you gonna do now?"
"Go home, I suppose," Baxter mused. "Oh . . . I have two homes now." He shook his head in amazement. "I'm planning to keep the apartment, but now Barney's house is truly my house as well. He and Vincent are still at the university right now. I'm going to get a few things for dinner and then go over and make it so it will be ready when they come back."
"That's a gnarly idea," Michelangelo chirped. "You know I'm all for making food! If you'd like some company . . ."
"I would," Baxter said. "Thank you, my friend." He started, suddenly remembering. "Did you learn anything about the Technodrome?"
"So far it hasn't moved," Michelangelo smiled. "I'd say this was another bust!"
Baxter chuckled. "Let's hope so."
Krang cackled as night fell and the stolen fuel pumped its way into the Technodrome. "You've done well, Shredder," he smirked.
"Better than that Tempestra, wouldn't you say?" Shredder sneered as he stood by.
"Well . . . let's just say that at least you made an effort," Krang grunted. "But we'd better not tip over again!" His eyes gleamed. "The power is rising . . . it's almost to 100%! It's going to make it! It's going to make it!" He rubbed his tentacles together like hands.
"Oh boy!" Rocksteady exclaimed. "We're finally gonna get out of here!"
"No more listening to people yelling for the aliens to come out," Bebop grinned.
"Or being woke up in the middle of the night by morons banging on the Technodrome," Shredder said.
Without warning an alarm went off and the power began rapidly draining. Krang stared, his eyes widening in bewildered horror. "What's going on?!" he wailed. "Where's our precious power going?! What happened?!"
Shredder immediately pulled a lever and shut off the power drain. "It looks like a leak just sprung somewhere in the system," he snarled. "There must have been so much fuel passing through the hose that it broke!"
"Bummer. Now we'll have to fix that before we can go," Bebop frowned.
"Yeah, and we'll have to find it first," Rocksteady added.
"And now we'll need to get more energy to have enough!" Krang screeched.
Outside, several townspeople banged on the hull. "Hey, aliens! Come on out tonight and join our Spring hoedown! We won't call the government on you!"
Shredder cast his gaze to the ceiling. "Why?" he whined. "Just tell me that. Why?!"