Disclaimer: Splinter, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Casey and April belong to Mirage Studios. Venus, Quease and Dragon Lord belong to Saban Entertainment. I do not own the rights to them, however I own these writings and any other original characters. Rated PG-13 for mild swearing, sexual situations and character death. Set in the Next Mutation/movie series when the turtles are 23 years of age. Be warned that Splinter may be portrayed in a different perspective.

The Fall of the Clan

Chapter One: Pride.

He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.Benjamin Franklin.

Callused green knuckles turned a whiter colour as the leader's hands tensed and tightened around the hilt of the single katana. Leo's brown eyes lingered on Venus' open palm, knowing that she was about to perform her signature finishing move; the Chidori technique. He watched in awe as Venus lowered her right arm, as though it was dead weight, before supporting her wrist with her left hand. Leo breathed out in preparation as he observed the chi visibly build up and pool in her palm; her stiff fingers bent in a claw shaped position as they housed the glowing blue ball of energy.

Venus had spent many years trying to perfect this technique. It wasted a lot of chi energy and if a Shinobi was ill prepared, their life could be at stake because of the high demands on their body. Leonardo first observed this particular move two years ago, and even then Venus could only manage to summon enough strength to perform it once. She could now deliver the technique twice; the maximum, as Leo had once heard from Venus herself, was five. Venus, although already powerful, still had not reached her peak, and that very thought scared the boys to no end.

Kneeling on some tattered and worn out padded mats, the other turtles and their ninjitsu master sat at one end of the room. The sparring match held in front of them had managed to capture their attention, even though they all knew the outcome of the battle. Leonardo was now the only one who was a decent match against Venus, and even then on most occasions the battle would seem one-sided in the female's favour. This time Leo had put up a good fight, though everyone now knew that the match was going to finish in less than three moves. Splinter let out a reluctant sigh as he realised that despite his efforts and long endeavors to train his adopted sons, it still fell short of the independent female's talents. In his eyes, it simply wasn't right.

Leonardo shifted his right foot slightly forwards, wondering who was going to make the next move. Feeling gutsy, Venus finally decided to not waste anymore time and started to rush towards her sparring partner, with her right arm stiffly trailing behind. When Venus was in range, Leo desperately tried to hit the female's leading left shoulder with the hilt of his weapon, yet he was simply too slow to complete his move. The match ended when Venus heavily swung around her right arm and hit Leo's plastron with the ball of chi energy she had built up, causing the male turtle to collapse to the ground and slide backwards on his shell a few feet.

With a nod of recognition from Splinter, Don, Raph and Mike stood up and positioned themselves in a line, formally waiting for the training session to end. Venus and Leo joined them when they felt they were ready. With a wise and all-knowing smile, Splinter looked over his students and began to inform them on how they could improve. "Michelangelo," the rat begun. "You need to maintain your focus. Always keep your eyes on your opponent. Raphael, try to keep your guard up. Donatello, you need to be more aggressive. If you see an opening in your enemy's defenses, you must not be afraid to utilise that opportunity. Leonardo, try not to be so reliant on your katana." Splinter's eyes scanned over to where Venus was standing, and while she expected to get some feedback as well, the ninjitsu master chose to say nothing. "That is all. You are dismissed," Splinter concluded.

After a small bow of the head, the turtles left the dojo one by one, all except for Venus. Splinter stared at her while she stood in silence, as though she thought he was going to speak first. "Is there anything I can improve on?" Venus timidly asked when Splinter didn't take the bait.

"You are a fine warrior, and yet you still have many things to accomplish," Splinter stated, not directly answering her question.

"Like what?" Venus questioned, getting confused.

"Leonardo once asked me the same thing," Splinter said with a small smile. The rat did a subtle nod of the head, gesturing Venus to follow him to his room. They walked together in silence; Venus had no idea what information she was about to hear from the wise, old mutant. When they reached the train carriage that doubled as Splinter's private quarters, Venus timidly sat down on the floor in the traditional kneeling position, not wanting to disrespect the ninjitsu master. Splinter didn't seem to take any notice of her, and started to rummage around his room. His wrinkled hands picked up an ornate book, which he then started to flick through.

"We used to own a Polaroid camera," Splinter started on a tangent, making Venus even more confused on why she had been called to his room. "I have many photographs of my sons in their early years. Unfortunately the camera broke before I could complete this family photo album," Splinter said while he tenderly looked over the plastic sleeved pages. With an inquisitive grin on her face, Venus stared at the photos as well when Splinter gave her permission to stand once again. She watched as Splinter slowly turned its pages, looking at pictures of the boys when they were four, five, then six years of age, each growing more distinctive features as they reached their maturity. Being almost a witness to their past, Venus felt honoured and touched that Splinter would share these precious memories with her, as though she was a part of the family, even though she joined the team later on in their lives.

"This is Leonardo, training as always," Splinter pointed and explained a particular photograph. "He'd practice the same move all day until he felt he had perfected the technique. Though he never practiced for himself, rather he fought for the safety of his brothers. However, it is his path to be a warrior even though he values his family more than anything else," Splinter said before looking directly at Venus, as though she was supposed to gain some meaning out of his words. There was a short silence between the two.

"I… I'm sorry, but I don't understand-"

"-Leonardo is a very fine, young man," Splinter interrupted, though this time he wasn't as subtle. Immediately Venus understood what he was hinting at. At one time in his life, Splinter had lived in Japan, and thus he had naturally inherited some of the cultures and customs of the country. When a woman had reached a certain age, or had climbed to particular point on the career ladder, they were usually hinted by their bosses or superiors to settle down and start a family of their own, after being set up with a suitable partner. It was a Japanese custom commonly known as 'shoulder tapping', and was a tradition that Splinter had obviously picked up during those years he had lived there. It became clear to Venus that Splinter thought that she had finally hit the glass ceiling in regards to her training, and her life as a Shinobi warrior.

"But I want to fight," Venus started to protest, indicating to him that she had caught on to his true intentions.

"Raising a family can bring many joys," Splinter said while he gently slid his fingers over the opened page of the photo album. He acted as though he never heard Venus' protest.

"I don't want to settle down yet! I've only just reached a point in my life where I feel like I can greatly benefit the team," Venus argued. Splinter sighed after hearing her voice.

"Venus, you and my sons are now twenty-three years of age. Now is the time to evaluate what future you want to have. Unlike myself, you are very fortunate in that you have four partners to choose from. My sons are very capable of protecting themselves, but you are the only one who can continue the existence of our family," Splinter lectured with a calm tone of voice.

"But I can help them in battle!" Venus continued to argue.

"Yet there are other ways to benefit the clan."

"This isn't fair! This is America," Venus pointed out.

"And these are my sons, my clan, and this is my home," Splinter countered, clearly putting Venus in her place.

"How come the boys are still allowed to fight, but I'm not?"

"A battle is no place for a lady," Splinter said, though this time there was a hint of annoyance. They remained silent for a few moments while Venus acknowledged his sexist comment that truly signified how Splinter honestly felt about her current lifestyle. Knowing that there was nothing she could say to change the rat's prejudiced perspectives, Venus quickly stormed out of the room.

Dragon Lord impatiently rapped his long, powerful armoured claws against the armrest of his throne while he waited for a report from one of his servants. He stared dead straight down the elaborate corridor, wondering when Dr Quease would finish the invention he had been promising for weeks. Dragon Lord's forked tongued flicked forward and licked his scaly snout, finding the thoughts of devouring the flesh of his enemies simply irresistible.

His heart skipped a beat out of excitement when he spotted his Lieutenant suddenly enter the corridor with a small piece of equipment in his hands. Not wanting to look impatient in front of his inferiors, Dragon Lord waited until the purple-hooded dragon delivered a respectful bow before asking his first question. "Is it finished?" Dragon Lord's voiced boomed and echoed around the room.

"Yes, your Majesty," the Lieutenant replied. After receiving a glare from Dragon Lord, the lowly dragon finally got the hint that he wanted to inspect the new merchandise developed by the scientist living upstairs. With only a little flinch of hesitation, the Lieutenant carefully approached his master and handed him the device, before hurriedly stepping away once again. The object wasn't bigger than the palm of his hand, but Dragon Lord knew that it was designed to contain a powerful punch. His fingers caressed the metallic barrel and large square cartridge that could be clipped onto a Rank member's shoulder armour.

"Will it be more powerful than our current laser weapons?" Dragon Lord demanded an answer.

"Yes, your Majesty," the Lieutenant swiftly replied. Dragon Lord gave his follower a look, and the dragon took the improved laser gun out of his grip.

"Tell Quease that he is to make one for each soldier in our Rank army," Dragon Lord ordered.

"Yes, your Majesty."

"We will then search the sewers tunnel by tunnel until we find the turtles," Dragon Lord said, relaying his extensive plan to his subordinate. "We cannot lose this time," he added. Dragon Lord knew that using sheer firepower wasn't honourable, but then again, he simply wanted to win.

"Hi April. It's Raph. How have you been?" Raphael spoke quietly into the phone. He hated holding conversations out in the living room mainly because the rest of his family could listen in. Today, however, was different, in that everybody was preoccupied with something else.

"Venus, open the door. What's wrong?" Leonardo knocked and begged outside Venus' train carriage. The boys were curious as to what Splinter had said to her earlier, since she hadn't come out of her room once they had concluded their chat. Although he didn't know what was going on, Leo was still concerned about the angry yet saddened expression he briefly saw on Venus' face when she stormed away from Splinter's company.

"Give it up Leo. If she doesn't want to talk, then she doesn't want to talk," Donatello reasoned from his seat at the dining table.

"We're out of food," Mike reported as he hurriedly opened and closed all the kitchen cabinets.

"Yeah… I'm fine," Raphael continued to speak into the phone, secretly wishing his brothers would shut up so he could hear April on the other end.

"Then we'll have to go shopping," Donatello said while he flicked through a nearby newspaper.

"Well I don't have any money," Mike explained.

"We're really low on cash, guys," Leonardo said, turning his attention away from Venus' bedroom door for a few seconds. It didn't take long for his focus to return to his original task. "Venus, c'mon. I just want to talk," Leo spoke to the closed door.

"April, I can't hear you," Raph said while he glowered at his brothers. They all jumped in shock when Venus sharply slid open her door. A moment of silence passed through the lair, mainly out of the shock that Venus had actually responded.

"Did Splinter send you?" Venus asked quickly, as though she was interrogating Leo.

"Send me?" Leonardo replied with confusion.

"Did Splinter tell you to talk to me?" Venus rephrased her question. Leo's eye-ridges furrowed.

"No," he answered, still confused as to what happened between the female turtle and his master. For a split second Leonardo thought that Venus was going to let him in, but the girl abruptly changed her mind and slid the door shut once again. "What happened with Splinter?" Leo demanded to know, trying to get his voice heard on the other side of the steel door.

"Guys, can you shut up for a sec?" Raphael yelled at his family, fed up with the background noise. Leo, Mike and Don looked at him, finally acknowledging his presence. "Yeah, go on April," Raphael continued on his conversation when the lair was quiet.

"Food run?" Mike whispered to Donatello. The purple-wearing turtle put down his newspaper and nodded in agreement. "You coming Leo?" Mike asked quietly. Leo simply shook his head and pointed to Venus' door, signaling that he wanted to try and find out what had happened. Not wanting to disturb Raphael on the phone, Mike and Don silently put on their trench coats and fedoras before leaving the lair in search of some food.

"I feel really guilty," Donatello admitted as he walked through the sewer tunnels towards the lair. The turtle grunted in effort as he tried to reposition the bundle of packaged foods he held in his arms.

"Well that's what happens when you put your groceries down for just a few seconds," Michelangelo said with a delightful smile. "After all the times we've put our lives in danger, surely people should pay us back once in a while," Mike explained, but mainly he was just trying to reason with his own conscience.

"Still feel bad though," Don said as he continued to walk. Mike grunted in reply as he tried to get a better grip on his own armful of goods. "Crap!" Mike yelped as he accidentally dropped a packet of frozen fries. "Can you help me, Don?" Mike asked. Donatello rolled his eyes and turned around so that Mike would see that he simply didn't have any spare hands. With a sigh, Mike slowly bent down in an attempt to pick up the packet without losing his current load. "Crap!" Mike repeated when he failed miserably. Donatello groaned when he saw the various food packets strewn along the concrete floor.

"What was that?" Don asked suddenly when he thought he saw someone move in and out of the shadows behind Michelangelo.

"What was-"

"-Shhh…" Don hushed his brother as he silently put down his armful of food on the ground in a neat pile. Taking out his bo, he swiftly moved to stand beside Mike. "There's someone following us," he whispered into his bother's ear. Michelangelo immediately took out his tonfas, and the two turtles stood completely still for the next couple of minutes, ready for any ambush they might have walked right into. A rustling sound was heard, causing Mike to quickly scan the ground.

"Where's the peas?" Mike whispered his question after noticing that one of his packets of food was missing. The rustling sound continued.

"Who's there?" Donatello suddenly called out, causing Mike to jump in shock because of the sudden increase in noise volume. The rustling noise abruptly stopped.

"Good one!" Mike whispered sarcastically, thinking Don's last move was foolish.

"If they were an enemy, they would have attacked us by now," Donatello whispered his reasoning. Both quite nervous, they slowly headed to where they thought they had heard the rustling sound before it had stopped. There was definitely someone hiding in the dark corner of the two conjoining tunnels.

"Who are you?" a feminine voice nervously demanded.

"My name's Donatello. This is my brother Michelangelo," Don introduced as he and Mike continued to move forwards towards the source of the voice.

"Don't come any closer!" It wasn't a threat, but rather a beg for mercy.

"It's okay. We won't hurt you," Mike said as he continued to advance. Feeling more and more confined, the stranger decided to make a dash past the two turtles. Michelangelo grabbed onto her furry arm as a reflex reaction, causing the female to scratch his bicep with her spare hand out of defense. In pain, Mike accidentally released his grip and threw the girl to the ground before instantly covering his wound. The mutant female watched in fear as Mike hissed in pain.

"You alright?" Don quickly asked, keeping his guard up.

"I didn't mean it! Please don't hurt me!" the girl begged when she realised that the turtles could really harm her, especially when she noticed the weapons they were holding. Knowing that he was only scaring the girl, Mike ignored the blood flowing down his arm in order to stand in a less threatening pose. Donatello cautiously put away his bo in order to achieve the same calming persona.

During their long silence, the two turtles look over the stranger, now that they could see her in the light. The bag of peas that had gone missing were now on her furry lap; a gaping hole in the packet allowed a few peas to tumble out and onto the ground. Donatello rubbed his chin as he studied her furry form. She looked similar to Splinter, yet she had different facial dimensions, causing Don to be uncertain as to whether she was mutant rat or mouse. Whatever her species was, it was easy to see that the girl didn't have much body fat, causing the turtles to suspect that she had followed them out of sheer starvation. Her fur was long and horribly matted and tangled with dirt and sewer grime, obviously from scavenging for food around the filthy tunnels.

"You hungry?" Don asked, trying to make conversation. The girl nodded without thinking, before looking down at the bag of peas in her lap out of hunger.

"What's your name?" Mike asked, getting eye contact again.

"Eve," the girl responded quietly, not really knowing whether she should be scared of the two turtles or not.

"We've got a place to stay, where it's warm and safe. You can come with us if you want," Donatello invited. Eve looked at them suspiciously for a few long moments.

"Really?" she asked with an unsure tone.

"Really. You'd be more than welcome. There's plenty of space for everyone," Donatello said.

"We have some food there as well," Mike added. Eve's eyes widened in excitement and joy after hearing those words.

"Are you sure that's okay?" Eve asked, not wanting to be a nuisance.

"Yeah, it's fine," Donatello assured her. Eve finally let out a smile in relief while Michelangelo helped her off the ground with his good hand. "C'mon. Just follow us. It's not too far from here," Donatello explained. After spending a few minutes collecting their packets of food off the floor, Mike and Don continued their way home, only this time they had some extra company.

To be continued…