CHAPTER TWO


The man beast came charging at the Turtles, who leapt over him only to find themselves cornered on the other side of the room nearest to the fire escape.

He continued to charge towards April, but she narrowly managed to avoid him. Her predicament motivated Donatello to hurtle himself towards the rampaging rhino, only for him to swiftly kick him in the gut and send him careering to the floor.

Donatello got back up and went for a second attempt, only to be met with the same results as before.

Leonardo decided it was his turn, and thrust a kick knee deep into the pit of the Rhino's stomach, which seemed to briefly fell him. Leonardo approached him, but it soon became apparent the monster was biding his time, feigning a state of helplesness so as to lure Leonardo into a false sense of security so he could pull out his laser rifle and take a few shots at him. Donatello caught a glimpse of the intent and swiftly pulled Leonardo out of harm's way.

"You shell backed hacks are'nt getting out of my line of fire this time" Rocksteady yelled, charging towards Raphael and Micheangelo and firing his weapon at the same time, at one point spinning around like a twister, hoping the cyclone of lethal firepower would shower down and score an impactful hit on his enemies.

But for the Turtles, there were two constants in this battle, their reflexes, and their inquiring minds.

"This time?" Raphael asked.

"Yeah, he's acting like we've met before" said Leonardo.

Rocksteady laughed.

"Wow, the boss' latest parlor tricked worked, welcome to the real world Toitles, is this how you thought it would be?"

"This guy needs brought out of la la land" said Donatello.

"Yeah, unlike that movie, there's no Oscar nomination for how funny this clown's acting" said Michelangelo.

The Turtles encircled the Rhino, being cautious of the weapon in his hand, the raging blaze of fire surrounding them, and the helpless April.

"Keep her calm Mikey" said Leonardo.

"Hey babe, don't worry about anything, just think about something nice to eat, a favourite movie to sit down and watch"

"What'd you suggest? St. Elmo's Fire?" joked April.

Michelangelo felt an uplfiting surge of emotion at the joke, something was stirring in his soul. April could feel the same, and suddenly, in a room brimming with heat, tension and chemistry fuzed together and formed tears in one another's eyes.

"This is so weird, it's like sharing that one joke is causing me to come to pieces...almost like I've found something not long missing" said April.

"Come at me Toitles" snapped Rocksteady as he picked his prey, heading towards April and Michelangelo, his finger on the pulse of the weapon. The courageous Turtle held his ground as Rocksteady tried to smack him with the back end of the rifle, throwing a few strikes of the nun chucks he held a tight grip on into Rocksteady's legs, opening him up for attacks from the other Turtles as they poured down blow after blow on his tough hide, trying to keep him down.

Rocksteady persisted nevertheless, managing to turn his weapon on again, the Turtles immediatly scattered in all direction as he got up and blitzed the entire room with a barrage of firepower.

"Get him close to the window" Leonardo instructed. The Turtles proceeded to lure Rocksteady to the left side of the complex, closer to where he had parked his transport module. Having cornered him, they did their best to bombard him with blows from their weapons until he bizzarely began to glow a bright mix of orange and red.

"Aw no, I'm losing my grip in this mad matrix" he said.

"What is he yapping about?" asked Raphael.

"Whatever is happening, it does'nt seem to be good for him" noted Donatello.

"Then we'd best pour it on" said Leonardo, and the Turtles recommenced their attack.

Eventually, Michelangelo was able to seize the laser rifle, which Raphael promptly split in two with his sais. Without his weapon, Rocksteady was helpless as the Turtles continued the attack. Finally, his body could take no more, he slipped into unconsciousness, and to the startlement of the Turtles and April, his body dematerialized, as if he had never existed.

"This day is getting too weird" said Michelangelo.

"He acted like he knew us, said this was the real world, but things got too unreal for him it seems" said Donatello.

"Something's up guys, I've got a weird feeling this is not the end"

"Indeed it is'nt, this is now how it all began" said a cold and ominous voice calling from deep inside the transport module.

"That voice, it's the same one we heard at that company we rescued April from, the one telling the Foot Soldiers to come to the Technodrome"

"It can only be Oroku Saki...the Shredder in the flesh" said Leonardo.

"Come out and tango" said Michelangelo

From out of the shadows stepped forth Shredder, but his sights were not set on his amphibian adversaries.

Not this time.

He caught sight of April, leaped over the other Turtles, grabbed her, and then, with one swift jump, smashed through the window on the left side of the building, the other Turtles jumping out after him.

"Come on, after that creep" said Leonardo.

"Try all you might, this time I hold your world in the palm of my hand" cackled Shredder, April putting up a valiant struggle, but unable to release herself from his grip.

"It's like sleep deprivation is'nt it?" Donatello said as the Turtles pushed their way through the streets of New York, now bustling with the activities of merciless Foot Soldiers covering for Shredder as he managed to give the Turtles the slip.

"What is?" Leonardo replied.

"What we're experiancing. Not knowing if it's a dream or not" Donatello continued, taking out two of the Soldiers with swift kicks and thrusts of his Bo Staff.

"I can feel my face getting hit, would'nt you call that a reality slap?" Raphael remarked as he took a physical beating from a well timed Foot's fist.

"Not to mention reality gave me a real kicking just now" Michelangelo added as he found himself pinned down by his shell and beaten down by a huddled crowd of Foot before being bailed out by his brothers.

"But think about it, in a state of deleriousness, you're not quite sure what is happening, scenarios play out in your head insisting you act a certain way. I read about this kind of thing happening in magazines" Donatello continued as he picked Michelangelo up.

"Oh yeah? Was it between the pages about Elvis and a couple of grey aliens having dinner with JFK?" Raphael said.

"No, it was in proper scientific journals" Donatello added.

He looked around, almost desperatly searching for a sample to explain his theory.

Then, almost to his convieniace, as if he willed the example into existence, he found something. Two unopened bottles. He picked them both up and read the labels.

"Look" he said.

"It's Ketchup" Leonardo said.

"No, it's Catsup" Donatello replied.

"No, Ketchup. It says it on the label right there" Raphael pointed.

"No, it reads Catsup, look again"

"Are you feeling alright Don?" Leonardo asked.

"I'm more than alright, I'm putting the pieces back together" Donatello replied.

"I'm not following" Leonardo continued

"Yeah, and I'm normally not the following type to begin with"

"Hey, I follow anything to do with food, you got any unopened Pizza boxes on this street corner to go with that Ketchup?"

"You say tomato, I say tomatoe, reality is what we make of it. The more you put your soul and energy into what you accept what's in front of you, the more chance there is of the world conforming to your expectations. You see Catsup where I see Ketchup because you're given a choice. Literal in this case, but I'm talking on a metaphysical level"

The Foot Soldiers swarmed over the Turtles through the streets, distracting them from fully grasping Donatello's theory and drawing them back into open conflict.

After dealing with more of the hoardes, the Turtles pushed forward, eager to keep up with where April was being taken.

They reached a derelict part of town, where a broken and beaten taxi cab overlooked a power plant with the words ''KEEP OUT'' graffited over it. A manhole cover beside it suddenly opened and more Foot Soldiers poured out, eager to menace.

Raphael took the manhole cover and tossed it like a Frisbee, decapitating several of the soldiers in a row as they filed out.

"If you're saying we have a choice of which reality to take, then surely what we want would manifest immediatly" Raphael said.

"Unless it only works if we fight our way through the scenario, becoming more aware of it's trappings...we're like the Rubix Cube puzzle that fights back" Leonardo replied.

"So we have to put up a struggle? I could do with a mental and physical workout" said Raphael.

"You're dead Shell Brain" came a heckle from atop a nearby rooftop as a mass of a mutant leaped down and descended on the Turtles armed with a lazer.

"Walloping warthog, look at the size of him" said Michelangelo as Bebop made his prescense felt.

Michelangelo suddenly grabbed his head as a numbing pain coursed through him.

"Mikey, what's wrong?" said Leonardo.

"I've got a mondo migrane dude, like something is trying to dig out some memory I've never had"

"It must be the current reality trying to edit out something important...remember how you were reacting to something with April earlier, something you couldn't place" said Donatello, "Think Mikey, think back to what that felt, that's doubtlessly what this paradigm is trying to shift...think to how it happened. Think back...to how it all began"