Chapter twenty-one: No More Ghosts Of The Past
"Ugh, where are we now?" Mikey asked, holding his head to try and stop his head from spinning. Leo sneered as his wooden crutch hit the solid ground. They were now in the woods, back where the farmhouse resided. Leo's frustrated sigh told them all they needed to know. When suddenly he looked up, noticing a strange light in the sky.
"What?" He wondered aloud in confusion. Then he realized the light was blazing toward him! Leo darted away as quickly as his wounded body would allow, as something smashed down to where he'd been standing. When the dust had cleared, Leo stood before a giant rock with glowing blue veins.
"Woah." He breathed in awe. Hesitantly, he reached a hand out to touch it; a white glow came over him and it felt fine. But that suddenly changed when a staticky blast shocked him back, hitting the tree directly behind him; dropping him face down on the ground under it. Leo lifted his head immediately; opening one eye, then the other.
"Weird; that didn't hurt?" He realized to himself, beginning to stand up. Testing his leg, he found it didn't hurt anymore! Then took off in a series of moves, somehow powerful enough to kick right through the trunk of tree! Things were going great… when suddenly they weren't.
"And what does every superhero need?" A terrifyingly familiar voice said.
"Who's there?' Leo demanded suspiciously.
"Dire beaver!" Soon Leo was being bashed around like a ragdoll, pain and fear all he could feel at this point. A flash changed the scene again.
"Ugh, more forests?!" Mikey complained. Raph belted him across the head, when they heard a familiar grunt. Swiftly rushing through the trees and brush for a short distance, they soon found Leo on all fours; mask in hand and blade at his side. He gasped for breath as he slowly recovered from the fall. Mikey stepped forward to help him up but his hands phased right through his brother in blue. Surprised, he drew back again.
"He's not real." Donnie reminded him. "We can't touch him.. and he can't see us." Leo forced himself to get up, shakily pressing on. Coming up in the old shed, he peered around a tree at it; as The Creep disappeared into it with an unconscious April and Casey in hand. Adjusting his footing so he could see the path leading to the shed, he called out:
"Help!... Help!" Only a few moments passed before the Creep exited the shed to search for the owner of the voice. With his mask back in place, he took out a throwing star. Using one eye to aim it just right; he chucked it at the creature, successfully pinning it to the top of his head gaining its attention. Their battle began with a staggering amount of intention; Leo's struggle felt both commendable and heartbreaking to the team, as they watched him. This battle, however, morphed into his second encounter with the monster; when it returned and brought Snakeweed back to life. The Creep deciding to ambush him the moment he was alone to train, due to a brain serum that somehow enhanced his mental capacity. Yet again the scene cut out. A square of light appearing under them; to drop them into, yet another, memory. Though this one confused three of them more than the rest; everything glowed in off greens and blues. Leo groaned where he was.. suddenly he was upright again screaming.. "No!!" Then proceeded to tell himself to snap out of it, when a loud rumble drew him to turn around and look up. A giant eyeball stared down on him, and he felt a strange sense of cognitive sentience in it.
"Mutegen." Leo stated obviously, staring down at the familiar canister covered in spores.
"Taste… fear… feed…" Leo dropped to his knees; the effects of the giant mushroom's words consuming his thoughts through his own worst fear.
"It's.. in my head." He mumbled to himself.
"More… fear… stronger!" The mushroom sang.
"Fight your fear, Leo. Fight your fear." He mumbled to himself, as he sat there.
"Spread..my..spores!!" The mushroom pressed.
"Fight it!!" Leo finally exclaimed, whipping out his katana, with a loud hiyah! He began the fight; as mushroom mutants rushed in to overwhelm him. He seemed to fight for an eternity, but then he was finally slammed against the wall; hitting the ground hard. Everything went dark as they watched Leo's nightmare manifest to attack his mind.
"I can't do it.." he told himself. He rambled on about his failure, until his own blade suddenly appeared to show a flashing reminder of what Master Splinter had told him some time earlier.
"No! No, I can't give up!" Leo decided. He focused deeply and soon took on a pure white glow. "Your spores won't work on me." He declared to the monster. "I face my fear every single day!" With new found strength, he fought through until he had ultimately destroyed the spores, with an exploding eyeball and the sunlight that came from the hole it created in the ceiling. When the intense light died down, Leo lay motionless on the ground; waiting unconsciously to be found.
"This is crazy!" Raph exclaimed, as the other versions of themselves came to find their leader in blue. "We don't have time for this. We need to get out of here and find Leo's inner self, so we can fix him once and for all." April heard a whispering noise in her ears, and attempted to trace it.
"I think we're on the right track." She told them simply. "Somehow.. I sense that we're getting closer just by being in here. I think we need to follow these memories wherever they take us, in order to find Leo's inner self."
"Then I guess we better keep moving." Raph sighed reluctantly. Suddenly the ground began to shake and the team stumbled about to stay standing; until finally the ground cracked and crumbled out from under them. Donnie screamed, as he began to fall head first into the darkness noticing another shape down below them. And when they hit it; it was like diving into a pool or ocean of water. Donnie opened his eyes underwater, and turned himself around just enough to come face to face with a seemingly unconscious Leonardo; nearly scaring him out of his own shell!
At first he just floated there lifelessly; but after a moment they were relieved when his eyes slowly blinked open, and began to desperately swim for the surface above. Bursting through the surface into the fresh air with a horrible gasp, he rolled himself up onto the scaffolding. His breaths remained a bit heavy, as his lungs began to slowly recover; his body steaming in the cool air. The heat of battle had been pounding through him in adrenaline rush after adrenaline rush; and now in the calm he hoped that it was over. But unfortunately for him, it wasn't; as he stood up to face Shredder and his 'mutant goons', as they often called them, as they stood at street level above him.
"Now, you may finished him." Shredder decided, cuing them in to attack. They slammed Leo to the ground in one hit; repeatedly kicking and punching him. Suddenly Leo grabbed the tubes on Fishface's back and sent him tumbling away. Leaping up onto Rahzar's back, he held onto the double mutated dog as he stumbled about to get him off. Flying way up, he landed on a pipe above them(sticking out of the wall), and used it to to flip himself down on Rahzar landing an enormous kick to send him back as well. Leo let out an earth-shattering yell, as he rolled himself into a double-legged kick up at Tiger Claw; raggedly standing to his feet as soon as the tiger mutant hit the ground. But in a single blast of lightning, a shadow cast itself over his shoulder. And the only thing he saw when he turned was a brief flash of Shredder's face as he swung down to finish the fight. Shredder's blow took him out immediately and Leo fell back motionless to the ground; completely unconscious by the time he hit the ground.
As was to be expected, multiple emotions burst to life within the spectators' hearts. Even Splinter took on a solemn and painful expression.
"That can't be how it happened!!" Mikey cried.
"It probably is.." Donnie sighed hurtfully. "Leo has always had a pretty good memory." The scene began to white out as the evil mutants leapt out of the hole in the ground; carrying Leo with them to continue the memory further without them. They all paced around, waiting for something to happen; when suddenly the scene changed darkening into a place all too familiar even despite the vibe of recency.
"The old auto shop.." April breathed gravely. And Karai felt a chilling sensation come over her, just by being here. Leo's grunts of a struggle sounded; muffled by the walls, as they heard them echo through the vents in the floor and ceiling.
"Come on!" April cried, taking off down the residential hallway in a dead sprint; the team not far behind.
Somehow phasing through the wall, they stopped to find Leo struggling against the restraints; strapped to a table sitting upright so he was practically standing up. Chaplin eerily drew closer, unsheathing the needle in his hand. Leo only struggled more; and jumped at the stick as it pierced through his, already tender, arm. Leo's eyes went white, as he looked to be resisting the strange substance's influence. But after a short while he stopped, going silent with his head and body hanging relaxed.
"Is it done?" Kai asked, seeming to appear from nowhere.
"Yes sir." Chaplin returned brightly. "He should be completely seduced, but you may want to test that out to be sure." Kai silently thought on this, then gave a single nod of approval without even uttering a word. Chaplin turned to his other two men and one of them pressed a button to release the restraints; and Leo hit the ground on his knees, sitting there quietly for a few moments with his head hung as before. Suddenly he launched himself up toward Kai, whipping out his blade and attacking. Kai instinctively engaged, but when Leo became to violent for him, he demanded:
"Stop! That's enough!" Yet Leo continued unimpeded. Finally he landed an elbow strike to Leo's head, and he fell back against the upright table out once more. "This is unacceptable!" Kai announced roughly, turning a shoulder to the sprawled turtle; anger igniting in the team's hearts once again.
"Yes, sir.. I-I'll keep trying." Chaplin stuttered in disappointment.
"You better." Kai threatened icily.
Then the young scientist waved his assistants to put Leo back in the restraints again, as this memory whited out as well...
Everyone stepped out of this memory, as if it were a room in which they had entered normally; but then they froze when they saw what lay waiting for them. A swirling ball of energy surged above them, only seeming to get lighter and faster(but only a slight bit at a time). April felt her temple as the whisper returned once more.
"We're getting close." She told the group. "Come on! We have to get up to that giant ball of energy."
"You mean go towards the freaky deathtrap?" Mikey repeated nervously.
"Get a grip, man." Raph quipped, after slapping his brother in the head once more.
"Let's go!" Karai decided, then they began to leap their way up.
Finally reaching the top they helped pulled one another up, so they all stood on the top of the invisible peak; which they now could look down from to where they had begun. Turning around, the ledge they stood on slope up slightly and there stood the ball of energy. Squinting to see better, April noticed a strange shape standing in the center of it; and began an approach to get a better look.
Forcing herself against the invisible wind, she reached a hand out to touch the light which bathed her in a bright beam; as she parted her way through the surging whirlwind, now all around her. Shielding her head, she pressed on; finally coming up to a familiar figure that she didn't need to see clearly to recognize.
"Leo!! You have to stop this! It's tearing your mind apart!!" She called out to him, as Leo clutched his head to block out the torment that constantly plagued him; which failed to no avail.
"I don't know how!!" Leo cried back; feeling the weight of it all nearly crushing him a the energy swirled faster. "I can't control it anymore!! Not while he's here!"
"He?" At first she thought it might be a recreation of Kai; but then as she focused she could feel a dark presence lurking somewhere nearby, one that was not of Kai. Instead it felt more familiar than that… like, years-of-knowing, old. But her mind couldn't quite place it. Her train of thought, however, was suddenly halted when she sensed the presence coming right behind her. Dropping to a deep lunge, the dark Leo plunged over her with his sword stabbing out; intended to take her out. But instead he soared over her and Leo looked up and instinctively caught the blade with his own and suddenly a dark abyss changed the scene around them. The only sound that remained now was Leo's soft, tiring grunts; and the rattle of their blades as Leo's hands shook from trying to hold back his darkened double.
"You have to fight him." April told him, somehow appearing right behind him through the darkness from seemingly nowhere. "He's everything against who you really are… Everything you're afraid of… you can't let it destroy the you that makes you a great leader… and a good friend." She laid a hand on his shoulder. And somehow he felt more strength than he'd had just moments ago. "You.. are.. a great… leader…" She told him; emphasizing every word as powerfully as she could manage. Leo's eyes went white; and he found the strength to throw his evil twin off of him, sending him tumbling back a ways. The double adjusted landing on his feet, then charged at him again. Leo adjusted his stance and pulled out his other blade; ready to receive his sprinting foe. The two went at it fiercely, each blow more deadly than the last. Each attack more violent than the last, they're battle becoming more and more about destroying one another; though the real Leo never lost his sense of form and quality of movement in his tactics. The sloppier version of himself mindlessly stabbed and Leo countered thoughtfully with that of his own. Closing his eyes he waited, listening for the wisp! he moved accordingly; as though he were blindfolded managing to stab both katanas to his right nabbing the double directly in the center of the torso. He looked up toward it through the corner of his eye, as it's emotionless expression gazed down at the blades impaling him; glaring determinedly at it.
"Never will you haunt my dreams." He snarled at it. Then turning to face it, he yanked his blades out the sides of the dark turtle's body bursting it into a bright light!…
Suddenly the ball of energy, swirled substantially faster and the team had to shield their eyes from it; fearing it was going to explode and destroy them.
"*grunt* what's going on?!" Raph cried struggling to stay standing, then suddenly the ball burst in an explosion that spread out across the dark land; bathing it in colors that defined themselves as buildings, making up their home of New York City. A figure of light faded away, and Leo was revealed to have been behind it(facing toward them), and dropped to his knees with a gasp of relief. April knelt down to place a hand on his shell and shoulder as the rest of the group drew closer; which she looked up at when hearing their approach.
"What the heck happened?" Raph questioned, gesturing to Leo; who clutched his blades, which were stabbed into the ground and hunching slightly over them. Silence was the answer, as he exchanged looks with April, who silently shrugged in a meaning of finality.
"My demon has finally been defeated." Leo's voice said, as he awkwardly stood up again; looking up at them seriously.
"What are you talking about?" Raph returned, raising an eyebrow.
"Ever since Kai's experiments on me, I guess I've just been.. at war.. with myself." Leo admitted sheepishly.
"A manifestation of his evil self has been attacking his mind." April explained, standing up herself. "He's been fighting it ever since."
"I would have said something, but I wasn't sure how you could help me." Leo explained. Sighing, he dropped his gaze with his shoulders. "Or if there was even a way to help me." His gaze only lifted, when a warm presence set a hand on his shoulder.
"There is always a way to destroy your inner demons…" Splinter told him mindfully. "But you can never go wrong with asking for help, even if it seems like no one can help you."
"I know.." Leo said, dropping his gaze for a moment once again. "I should've tried to sooner."
"There is no need for regret now, my son." Splinter went on. "The problem as been dealt with.. and now you are finally free from the darkness that has plagued your mind for far too long. Let us take comfort in the fact that what has happened, is no longer an issue to concern ourselves with."
"And now that everything's ok again… we need to go." April spoke up finally. "We shouldn't spend anymore time in here than we have to."
"We'll see you on the other side, bro." Raph told Leo glancing back at his brother in blue. They clasped hands and brought it into a hug, before letting their hands slide apart again. "April, lead us out of here." Raph finished, looking to the red-headed girl. April focused herself and a white glow rose up from her blinding everyone from view; emerging, then, into darkness...
A steamy hiss sounded; releasing their minds from the krrangy headpieces and everyone but Leo sat up groggily.
"Awh, man." Raph groaned lightly. "That.. was interesting."
"Woah.. did we just see what I thought we saw?" Mikey breathed putting his hands to his head in amazement.
"Dude, we just entered Leo's brain!" Casey realized, the unfathomable truth hitting him like a brick wall.
"I know… it wasn't anything like we thought it would be." April agreed thoughtfully. "But I'm glad that we finally got to the root of his problem. Maybe now he'll be able to recover from his whole ordeal... and finally start to really feel better." Everyone turned when another hissing sound shattered the brief silence. The machinery retracted away from Leo, as he peacefully slept where he was.
"Um.. is he ok?" Casey wondered looking at him awkwardly.
"He's fine." April confirmed, hearing the peacefulness of the turtle's mind in her own. "He's just finally getting the peaceful rest he hasn't been getting lately."
"So..I.. guess we can go home now right?" Mikey hinted to the group unsurely, glancing around at them.
"I think we should give him a minute." Raph decided, and everyone had to agree.
Blades clashed, attacks were thrown. Leo and Raph sparred like their lives were not at stake. The battle remained a constant speed; flowing in and out of every movement seamlessly. It soon ended with Leo disarming Raph's sai, by wrenching them out away from his hands and landing a kick to his chest that scattered the turtle in red backwards on the floor; holding his sword over him triumphantly.
"Ya-me!" Splinter called out. And Leo stepped back obediently to let his brother up. "Well done, Leonardo." The old rat smiled. "You have come a long way since your last struggle with your injuries. I am proud of you, my son."
"Yeah,.. way to go, Leo." Raph agreed genuinely, rubbing a hand to his neck at his humble defeat.
"You looked so much better this time." April beamed proudly.
"Dude! That was awesome!" Mikey squeaked, throwing him a high three; which Leo caught onto swiftly. "It's great to see you back, bro."
"I'm just glad I am back." Leo replied simply.
"We all are." Karai put in, as she entered the dojo; earning their attention.
"Karai!" Leo gasped, a smile appearing in his face, as he left the group to stand before her.
"I know I can't take back what I've done." She said, dropping her gaze away from him and holding her left elbow with her other hand. "But I hope I can someday make it up to you."
"You already have." Leo returned, a warm smile on his face. "You just being here is enough for me, and how you've been here for me this entire time is all that matters." Karai gave him a slight smile in return, and they hesitantly stepped forward into a friendly hug.
"So who's up for some celebratory any size, sausage, anchovy and jelly bean pizza!!" Mikey sang, hopping around the group in a childish manner; as they all filed out of the dojo.
"Only if there's anything other than those toppings on it." April smirked, as they all headed into the kitchen; for Mikey to begin his work of immense passion.
Hey guys! How's it going?! So this is it! The final chapter. Man! I was wondering if this would ever come; but here it is. And, boy, I can't believe how far this story has come since I started it!! Could you believe that this story started from a snippet of Karai kidnapping Leo, and the thought in mind of what might happen because of it? Well that's exactly what happened here!! Thank you all soo much for stopping by to read my story and to those of you who enjoyed it! I hope to write more TMNT in the future, but I'm not sure when.
Also I would like to make you aware that I am now on WattPad, under the name Venus DeMilo(my full username was too long to work on the site). I will likely only be posting original work on it, which I started officially with the intro of a fantasy style book as a trial run, before I write anything to publish on it further. So I could totally use some insight and feedback on it if you are interested(and have the time of course, cause life is crazy!)!!
Anyway, though, enjoy this final chapter, and I hope to see you guys again soon. Thx!!!