Chapter 8

Donnie P.O.V

0048 Hours

"That man is a psycho. A complete and utter psycho."

Donnie pinched his eyes with a wince. He had a killer headache forming and Raph's constant sting of complaints were not helping, nor was his pacing back and forth.

"We get it Raph." Even Leo sounded tired of the hothead's behaviour, and usually, in such situations, Leo would be the one who could talk him down. Apparently not today.

"Yeah, we got it the first twenty thousand times." And now Mikey. Seriously, was Raph completely incapable of getting the hint?

"How long have we been here now? A day, a week? We've been zapped so many times I don't fucking know!"

"We've been left alone for around twelve hours." Donnie muttered, calculating the time since a bottle of water and a couple of bowls of dry rice had been pushed into their cell. At least this "psycho" wasn't going to let them starve.

"But what's the point? Shredder I can get. Hun I understand. But he's not telling us anything. He knows what we can do and he just treats us like shit. He's a monster, and complete and utter lunatic. A TOTAL BAST-"

"RAPHAEL!" Donnie flinched and grudgingly opened his eyes to watch his eldest brother awkwardly push himself up using the wall, his cracked ribs obviously still painful but at least he was still breathing. The genius knew how lucky Leo was that Mikey had been awake. They still didn't know why Mikey had been the only one not to have been drugged to the same extent or drowned, and Mikey didn't let on if he knew any reason. But in all fairness, Don didn't care, he was just glad someone had been conscious to save their brother. That was all that mattered.

"Sit down. Remember your training." Leo's voice was calm but there was clear ice beneath. He was mad. Grudgingly, the hothead obeyed, but only with a final glare at the door as if he could summon the man with a stare. Gradually the silence settled on them again and Donnie's headache came back with even more ferocity. With a sigh he leaned back, resting his head on the wall behind. Be it the fasciculation attack from earlier, the various burns on his wrists, ankles and neck or even the silence and the lack of things to keep his mind active, whatever the reason, he was suffering. He needed something to analyse, something to work on, he would take anything at this stage, even a toaster broken by Leo or a video tape Mikey had busted. Yet there was nothing in these four walls. He was losing it.

"You okay D?" Mikey's voice whispered and Donnie snapped upright, realising what he must have looked like to his brothers. He managed a grin, but a stab of pain centred in the pre-frontal cortex made him wince.

"Is it your neck?" Heck, Raph sounded worried. He must have looked bad.

"No. It's just…" Donnie waved an arm around the room, emphasising the lack of things to work on. "I need to do something but there's nothing to do…" Leo nodded, understanding the genius' need to keep his brain going. He'd lost count of the amount of times his big brother had dragged him kicking and screaming from the lab at some stupid time in the morning. Then he found something he could do to keep himself from going insane. "Let me just check your ribs, Leo. I want to make sure that there's definitely nothing broken." He heard Mikey snort at the desperation that must have been in his voice, but ignored it. "I'll then check your necks. All of you." He emphasised, getting a laugh form Leo as Donnie moved next to his eldest sibling.

"Whatever you want, Donnie."

Of course Leo's ribs hadn't moved, Donnie accepted as he went through the motions of checking the pain responses as he probed the area, Leo had been extra careful not to aggravate them and had instead been focusing on stretching out his wrists, attempting to get more movement in them – which so far had not resulted in much success. But still Donnie checked. He then moved to Leo's neck, figuring he may as well start with Leo's. Just above the collar they all still wore, the master had pressed a burning iron brand against their skin, marking them each with a symbol. They had been dragged to separate rooms again and had the metal pressed against their necks while a group of his soldiers held them down. The pain had been excruciating but through that, Donnie had been focusing on the risks for infection, especially if the collars were to remain around their necks. They had then all been thrown back in together to lick their wounds and compare marks. Apparently they all had different symbols.

Beneath Donnie's fingers, Leo's mark looked like a broken blade under the swollen red skin, the swelling and pus making it difficult to make out. But it would scar. All of their marks would. And the thought that this monster had branded them all like cattle sickened the genius to the stomach.

"Not infected." He breathed a sigh of relief then moved over to Raph.

The hothead's symbol made Donnie wince, the mark was slightly blurred showing how Raph must have struggled against his captors, but the image was just about visible beneath the swelling. It looked like one of those dehumanising muzzles that had been forced upon them too many times. The sight made Donnie sick, but at least there was still no signs of infection.

Mikey's neck was slightly more swollen, yet the marks were clean, revealing a broken chain link. The collar was just below the brand so Donnie was determined to keep an eye on it in case the contact irritated the mark. He nodded and sat back with a sigh.

"All good."

"No, not all good." Raph pointed to Don, a glare in his eye. "Aren't you forgetting someone?" Donnie looked from Leo, to Raph, and then to Mikey. He didn't skip anyone did he? His headache was making it hard to think straight. A body slid across to his side and Mikey's fingers jumped to his neck.

"I don't know what it is." Came the verdict. So that's what they were on about, himself. Of course they worry, and despite himself, Donnie found a smile creep up on his face. "It's all weird symbols. Like the stuff you get up on your laptop when you speak science." The youngest continued, "But it's not infected. Your neck's too long for the collar to rub against it." He elbowed Donnie gently in the ribs, his eyes glinting at his joke, but Donnie could see the light in his brother's eyes was not as bright as usual. Already this man had darkened Mikey's charm. Donnie hated him for doing that to his little brother, once they escaped, there would be no mercy.

He shook his head to clear these dark thoughts. So he had been branded with either an equation or a word in a different language – possibly Greek if Mikey recognised some characters from his work. In all honesty, he probably wouldn't want to find out what it meant.

"So now we're good?" He asked, slightly more venom in his voice than intended, but he knew his brothers understood his grouchiness.

"We're good." Leo confirmed, allowing the room to fall back into silence.

Donnie was just closing his eyes to catch a few winks of sleep when he heard the door swing open. He pretended he was asleep.

"What do you want now?" There was Leo's leader voice.

There was a sound of a boot hitting shell and at the stifled scream that followed, Donnie's eyes flew open. That man had just kicked Leo in the ribs, probably knowing full well that they were cracked. As one, he and his brothers stood to move in front of their wounded brother, but suddenly the chains around their ankles tightened, the chains withdrawing back into the wall – stopping them short of the man.

"Such loyalty." The man's mouth twisted into a smile, "But does it deserve it? Surely it is this mutant's incompetence as leader which brought you all into my grasp?" Donnie saw Leo flinch, but no one said a word. They all knew Leo's insecurities about his roll on the team, knew how he would beat himself up for idiotic things, so they wouldn't rise to the bait. "Nothing to say, freaks? Don't you want to tell me how you would follow this worthless piece of trash into hell, don't you want to support it, give it comfort?" Now the voice was mocking. Mikey's face was stone, a faint tremor of his lower lip telling Donnie of how much the harsh words hurt him while Raph looked ready to explode. Leo, on the other hand, was staring back at the Master with a level expression, a slight glare but there seemed to be a look of triumph at the failure to react. The man tried something else. "Let's see if its loyalty is reciprocated."

In a fluid movement, the man closed a hand around Leo's throat – his thumb pressing against the raw brand making the leader wince – and forced him to his feet, facing the others as his hands were held behind his back. Donnie waited, hoping the man would bring his brother close enough for them to jump this monster, yet there was no such luck. He stopped just out of reach, Leo's face within inches of their collective hands but unable to free himself without being choked.

"Choose."

"Excuse me?" The eldest's eyes registered a hint of panic. He knew exactly what was meant.

"Choose one worthless specimen to join me for a few hours. Show me that leader mind frame and pick the most worthless creature to sacrifice."

"Myself." Donnie noticed how there was no pause between the question and Leo's answer. He had already decide long before the question had even been asked. How could this man call Leo a bad leader when he was so willing to sacrifice himself?

The man laughed.

"I knew you'd say that. 100 volts please." Without warning, electricity sped down the chain attached to their ankles and jumped through their bodies. Donnie barely contained a scream but dropped to his knees, Mikey bracing himself against the wall to his left and Raph grunted but remained standing to his right.

"STOP!" Leo's voice was board lining on desperate. "Don't hurt them!" At least one of them wasn't being shocked, Donnie found himself thinking with mild optimism as he began to taste blood.

"Choose and their suffering will end."

There was a silence as the shocks continued. Dots danced in his vision, but Donnie squinted over to his brother and with a jolt, he realised Leo was looking straight at him.

"Donnie." The word was barely above a whisper. It was as if it actually hurt Leo to make the choice. In all fairness, it probably did.

The electricity stopped and the youngest three began gasping for air as the pain receded, but for the second youngest, his heart continued to beat fast.

Leo chose him. He was ordered to pick the "most worthless" of them… Did Leo really think so little of him? Was he actually meaningless? He tried to meet his brother's eyes to seek a reason, some logical explanation, but his brother's eyes remained down on the ground. Leo wouldn't look at him.

"Take it." The man demanded, and some soldiers rushed in to slip the chains and muzzle onto his shaking form before he regained enough sense to react, not that he would have if he could.

Leo thought he was useless…

He had chosen him…

Without a word, he was led out of the cell, followed by the Master.

But as he looked back over his shoulder, he saw his eldest brother look up slightly, now he wasn't under the watchful gaze of the man, and he winked. Then the door was shut and any further clues were blocked.

But it was enough.

Donnie breathed a sigh of relief. There was a reason.

Leo had a plan.

There was still hope.

All I got time for, folks. Just saw Infinity War so my emotions are a bit shot. If you haven't seen it, go. Just wow. Honestly wow.

Anyways:

Here's the questions:

- Why pick Donnie?

- What's Leo's plan?

- What's the significance of the brands?

- Will they escape?

- What awaits Donnie? Here's the clue, it will be based on a messed up novel by a man writing under a fictional name. Initals L.R. The novel has been banned in several countries (apparently) and is based on Freudian theories. If you know the book I'm on about, don't panic, it's not that sort of messed up, just my usual play-with-the-reader messed up! :)

Tell me your thoughts and thank you to all of you lovely people who have reviewed.

Till next time,

LL99 Out.