From the Journal of April O'Neil

From the Journal of April O'Neil:

October 20, 1990

Today I am free. For at least one week I was the prisoner of the local mercenaries. I am in the heart of the South American Rain forests. I came here to report on the murder of international ecological activist Chico Mendes, and in the process I was captured by four locals who got off on murdering innocent people. There's no doubt I would have met that same fate had my loyal friends not arrived when they did. The Ninja Turtles --Donatello, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo-- appeared from the bushes as the guards slept. With the help of a new ally Jagwar, the team defeated my kidnappers, and we fled deep into the forest. Tonight we dined on Jangala fruit, and we sleep in the ruins of Jagwar's pyramid temple. With my freedom comes exhaustion, and now I must sleep.

October 21, 1990

It was like being in someone else's body... The river, the trees, the birds, the animals -- such a harmony of movement, of everything nourishing everything else -- it was life itself. After turning my kidnappers over to what passes for the authorities down here, I rejoined the Turtles and our new friend. Jagwar, who was now guiding us on a river journey. At each new bend, monkeys shrieked and scampered at our approach, and exotic birds flew past in a kaleidoscope of flashing colors.

October 22, 1990

Today we begin our journey home. Jagwar has agreed to help us find our way to the northern shores of Brazil. We follow the Purus and Amazon Rivers. But when the underbrush becomes so thick that not even Leonardo's katanas can cut through it, we are forced to build a raft. It is difficult because we are traveling in the opposite direction that the rivers flow, and it takes the strength of all six of us to move on. Jagwar is the most interesting person I have met in a long time. He appears to be mutant -- like the Turtles -- however, he is a product of the purest things in nature. The Turtles have been to the farthest reaches of the universe, and yet this fellow has never even set foot in smallest of towns. His name suggests his character. He is a man borne of the Jaguar Spirit with the purpose of fighting the nobelist of wars -- the war against the depletion of our world's most crucial resources. Jagwar has taught us to live off the land. He treats the wild earth as a kind of flesh... living off it in such a way so as not to wound it. One day we actually ate locusts and honey; another, we ate fish stew with Brazil nuts, avocados and wild mint. He made me a necklace from the skeleton of the fish he used. At night we slept peacefully along the river's edge or shared stories and thoughts beneath the stars of the southern constellations.

October 23, 1990

Last night I slept more soundly than I have all month. This morning we drank bromeliad tea flavored by the coconut shells from which we drank. The Turtles are loving this excursion. At first, they felt contempt for another being (a flying cow's head from what I understand!) for leaving them stranded in the middle of the most rural part of the world. But as Michaelangelo pointed out, they would have never found me nor learned exactly how much attention the natural world needs. Michaelangelo misses home for the most part. He misses his pizza, cereal, television, and of course Splinter. The rest of the Turtles miss Splinter dearly as well. Leonardo meditates as much as possible, and keeps busy by helping Jagwar and Raphael with the hunting and gathering. Raphael loves the return to nature. It strikes me as odd, however, that he still dons the outfit that he wore in the wrestling competitions of Dimension X. Fashioned of some alien material, this costume envelopes Raph's entire body in utter darkness. He looks like a shadow in broad daylight. Maybe it helps to keep him cool, or actually lowers his body temperature in the sweltering heat of the forests. I'm not sure if Donatello misses Splinter or his computer more. One thing is true, though. When the goons that had me sawed his bo in two, Don was wrecked. The staff was a gift from Splinter, and Donatello felt that his only tie to his distant master had been severed. He tries desperately to find a wood worthy of fashioning a staff specifically for combat.

October 24, 1990

Today Jagwar told us to think of our journey as a pilgrimage to the shrine of the wilderness. We met some fellow pilgrims. At first we thought the Coipacus were going to be a malevolent tribe. On the contrary, the natives -- lead by a woman called Paleocha -- were quite welcoming. I had time to inspect Paleocha as we rowed to the shores near their village. She is an incredible woman. Old is the wrong word to describe her age, and I fear ancient may cause some confusion. She must be over a hundred years old, and yet she has a full head of jet black hair. Her skin is dark complected and bears the signs of old age. And although the lack of proper dental care has caused her to lose most of her teeth, Paleocha's crystal blue eyes remain as young as her spirit. Her fellow tribesman engage in light hearted conversation to which she offers her own insight. She brings her point across in the form of a joke, and all revel in delight. So independent is she, that no one is appointed to help her from the canoe. She begins leading us to the village. Because the Coipacus speak in the native Forest Language, Jagwar must translate her words to us. She tells us that she wishes for us to be her guests at dinner this evening. Here she will tell us of the Coipacu current events. Jagwar says it is fortunate for us that the majority of our clan is "tortuga" or turtle. He says that the Coipacu believe that the world is an island borne on the back of a great turtle. In Paleocha's eyes, we are messengers sent from the great one. The journey from the shore to the village is tiresome, and now I offer a hand to Paleocha as she becomes tired. The Coipacus live in the deepest part of the rain forest. Here the geography is rich with ancient hollowed out mountains known as tepuis. Donatello says they are sandstone mesas formed by the movement of plate tectonics, which consequently set South America adrift from Africa. After passing through a long dark cave, we enter the inside of the Tepui. We receive a shock. Donatello is the first to notice them -- the DINOSAURS! Plesiosaurs the size of cows bask in the sunlight. It is amazing to know that no one has ever messed with this place, making it a safe haven for small plant eaters such as these. Sunset came early to the this hidden world of the tepui. Upon reaching the coipacu village, Paleocha had us sit around a central fire. The entire village turned out to greet the visitors. Like something out of National Geographic, the natives wore nothing but loin cloths, and in the case of the women, no upper garments. Only Paleocha, who sat upon a scaffold at the head of the fire, wore a gown of woven monkey hair. This is from where she told us of Coipacu current events. Jagwar acted as a translator. Several months ago a "lobo" or wolf that had the appearance of a man, began to haunt the tribe. So, they offered it food insuring their safety. We even caught a glimpse of the creature as he appeared for his supper. It disappeared in an instant... a silent blur of darkness within the darkness. Paleocha continued to tell us about how men with "boom-deads" (guns) had come a few days ago. She paused as we received our dinner, and she had a young woman lead us in a prayer to the turtle gods. It was a surprise to learn that this young woman was Paleocha's daughter, but she explained that the blessing of child bearing comes women of all ages in the Amazon that are as healthy as she. A few minutes later, Paleocha resumed the topic of the pirate-miners, and gave us directions to the distant tepui that they raze. Tonight we sleep in the village, as we will begin our long journey early in the morning.

October 25, 1990

Just as sunset came early to the tepui, sunrise was a bit late finding the secret land. And so, we set off early in the morning with the night sky still upon us. The lobo of last night had come for a purpose, yet he disappeared in an instant. And soon, we too, were gone... watched over by the moon's one good eye. Trudging through the forest was hard enough during the day, but at night, the task was much more arduous. Before long, we spotted a glow in the distance. We made our way closer. What we saw next... is forever burned into my mind. There were acres and acres of slaves: young men in bondage stripping the tepui of its treasure at gunpoint. One of the many things that Chico Mendes stood against, and here it was in all its terror. Jagwar wept. Somehow, we were caught off guard and, had it not been for Leo's great leadership and Mike's nunchuck, we would probably be working those mines at this very moment. We managed to help free the slaves with teamwork and, surprisingly, the help of the wolf-man Dreadmon -- a new friend. We hiked all day and returned to the Coipacu village by dusk. The men were reunited with their wives and children, Dreadmon formally introduced himself to the tribe and thanked Paleocha for the food she had supplied him, and Paleocha thanked us all for helping her tribe in a way no others could. She even rewarded Donatello's valor with a brand new staff. Well, actually, the staff is as old as the tepui itself, but Donatello was grateful nonetheless. What a place!

(April's Journal submitted by Michael E. Perez aka Quartermane)