Disclaimer: Tragically, they ain't mine. (Sniffles)
AN: Rated PG-13 for a smattering of gore and bad language. Nothing too severe.
The soldering iron slipped from his fingers for the third time that evening and Donatello sighed, finally admitting defeat. He was going the burn down the lair if he kept this up.
As the utensil powered down with the soft hiss of cooling metal he removed his goggles and rubbed at his aching eyes. Peeking through fingers made clumsy with weariness he glanced at the digital clock inset at the corner of his workbench. He blinked his sandpaper lids once and groaned. 2 a.m. How could it be 2 a.m.?
Better get yourself to bed, Donnie-boy, or you're gonna be completely worthless in the morning.
Reluctantly conceding that his conscience had a very good point he stood and stretched, grimacing as his joints popped and creaked in protest. Shutting off the light and plunging his room into darkness, Donatello removed his belt, mask and pads. Dropping them carelessly to the floor, knowing but not caring that he'd merely doomed himself to trip over them once he awoke, he staggered wearily towards his bed… only to stop and stare at its shadowy form with the same trepidation one might usually reserve for a rabid alligator.
He displayed a rare burst of temper by clenching his fists and sending a muttered curse flying into the darkness. It shouldn't be like this.
Sleep is essential for maintaining health in both mind and body, he told himself sternly, and there is nothing to fear from dreams. They are merely your subconscious' way of processing information.
Yes, but dreams usually manifest themselves as a series of symbolic or nonsensical images, another voice quietly proclaimed. And this isn't merely a dream.
It's a memory.
"Shut up," he growled audibly. Shaking his head and feeling like a schizophrenic for actually arguing with himself, he defiantly threw back the tattered blanket and crawled into bed.
Lying on his plastron with his head buried in his forearms, he wrestled his legs under the blanket. His shoulder muscles began to tense as sleep frayed the edges of his waking mind, but he closed his eyes firmly and forced himself to relax. There would be no dreams tonight. Not again.
A final sigh hissed through his teeth as unconsciousness picked him up in surprisingly gentle talons and carried him away.
Donatello glanced over his shoulder at his wildly cavorting brother and gave him a look of disbelief. "Just where do you come up with this stuff, Mikey?"
Michelangelo was grinning widely as his feet touched down on the rain-slicked rooftop, cheerfully exuberant after executing a perfect 360 spin which sent him sailing gracefully from the lip of one rooftop to another. Picking up speed he drew himself abreast with his quiet brother and responded, "TV, a' course. Some surfer dude kept yellin' it while performin' some righteous stunts on his board." Spying a small slanted metal roof that probably protected an air-conditioning unit, he leapt to the top and slid down the wet metal in a decent approximation of a surfer's pose. "It was, like, totally awesome, dude!"
As his feet once again touched concrete a hand lanced out of the gloom under the tin roof and grabbed the trailing tails of his orange mask. He yelped and spun around, fists raised in automatic defense as Donatello stopped as well, only to immediately relax when a gravelly voice reached his ears:
"Learn some new material fast, Mikey, 'fore I'm forced ta staple yer lips shut."
The youngest turtle grinned happily at what was, for Raphael, a cordial greeting. "Hey, bro! Where ya been?"
"Around," he hissed in reply, stalking out of the overhanging shadows. "I got bored runnin' in circles wit' you three idiots, so I found my own fun."
Noticing the split and bloody knuckles that marred Raphael's hands, Mikey's grin faltered. "Who?"
"Just a couple a kids tryin' ta hold up a convenience store." He grinned toothily, apparently not feeling the spreading purple bruise that splashed across one cheek like wine. "Needless ta say, they got a little more than they bargained fer."
Seeing the look his two younger brothers exchanged, he scowled and threw his hands in the air in frustration. "For Chrissakes! I didn't kill 'em, okay? They'll have a few extra scars but they'll live. Okay!"
"All right, all right," Donatello said, making conciliatory motions with his hands. "Let's just get moving again. Leo's bound to be a mile ahead of us by now."
"I'm right here, Don," came a calm voice from behind them, causing the three to snap their heads around in surprise. Leonardo was crouched on the railing with his hands resting on his bent knees, bathed in moonlight and seemingly unaware of the sixty-foot drop that yawned directly beyond his shell.
"I could hear you guys talking from three rooftops over," Leo said. He favored them all with an admonishing glance, only to stop when he took in Raphael's disheveled and bleeding state. His voice lost some of its steely edge as he asked, "You okay?"
"'Course I am," Raphael groused.
"Good." Leonardo dropped off the railing and padded silently over to them before crossing his arms and glaring outright at Raphael. "Now why did you go running off on your own without telling any of us?"
"'Cause it was none a yer business, that's why!" he exploded. "And there ain't no point chasin' yer bony ass 'round th' whole damn city! It's a waste a time!"
"We're here because Master Splinter wants us to improve our speed and agility during post rainfall conditions," their blue-masked leader replied, keeping his voice steady with an effort, "not so you can let out aggressions by battering defenseless idiots."
"Defenseless!" Raphael sputtered. "They had baseball bats an' switchblades, Le-o! I wouldn't call that defenseless!"
Leonardo sighed and shook his head, distressed at his brother's lack of understanding. Glancing knowingly at the bloodstains still adorning his sais (and at the single unnoticed human hair curled around one finger like bizarre jewelry), he gave Raphael a look that spoke volumes: They might as well have been.
The memory of terror etching itself across the faces of those young punks, quickly disarmed and pummeled by a shadow they could barely touch, flashed across Raphael's consciousness and for a moment he felt guilt stir like a leviathan in the deep. Furious and not a little alarmed he forced the emotion back under a seemingly bottomless ocean of eternal anger, drowning it thoroughly before the regret could reach his eyes.
More shaken by this near-slip than he would ever admit, he brought his face just inches away from his brother's own, eyes so full of fiery rage that by all rights Leonardo should have burst into flame. "Well, screw this little family outing," he hissed. "And screw you, Fearless. I'm outta-"
His angry tirade was effectively silenced by a scream wafting up from the city streets below; a high, hopeless wail that sounded so desperate and forlorn Donatello felt a shiver lance up his spine. Glancing away from the direction of the fading scream long enough to shoot Leo a final withering glare, Raphael spun on his heel and launched himself off the roof, plunging two stories before landing cat-like on the fire escape below. The metal construct didn't even creak as the turtle descended to street level at a speed that seemed akin to magic.
Leonardo found himself fuming silently, one arm still outstretched to prevent their hotheaded brother from departing. He exchanged glances with a shrugging Donatello and a grinning Mikey before sighing explosively and growling, "Let's go."
They discovered the source of the scream nearly a quarter of a mile away, in the back alley of an abandoned warehouse. Raphael was already slinking along the roof of the building when his brothers finally caught up with him, hugging the shadows and visible only to those specially trained to see such things.
The trio followed his path up the fire escape without preamble, moving silently until they came abreast of their wayward sibling. Pausing only long enough to favor the unrepentant turtle with a narrow-eyed glare promising a long lecture to come, Leonardo crouched down and peeked over the concrete rim. His other brothers followed suit and Donatello's eyes widened at the sight that greeted them.
At least a dozen armed figures were advancing towards a single individual that was steadily shuffling backwards in a state of perpetual retreat, like a rabbit cornered by a wolf pack. And pack hunters they did appear to be; walking forward with the easy rolling swagger of carnivores that know their prey cannot escape.
The hunted in this case was a woman, her slightly plump form wrapped in the remnants of what used to be a fine business suit. Judging by her ruined hosiery and the sad state of her bruised and tattered feet, she had been running barefoot for some time, her heels either kicked off or lost at some point during her headlong flight. Apparently sheer terror had allowed her to run swiftly enough to stay ahead of them; that is, until she'd made a critical error by running into an alley with no exit.
The woman had not cried out since her scream split the night mere minutes ago, but that didn't mean her fear had abated. Instead her breath rasped in a throat made hoarse by terror and exertion, one hand sweeping behind her in a desperate attempt not to run into anything.
A low chuckle from one of her shadowy aggressors tore a low whimper from her throat and seemed, strangely, to loosen the paralytic grip on her tongue. "P-please, stop this!" she said. "You have my car and m-my purse. I haven't seen your f-f-faces, so I can't identify you t-to the police. Just leave me alone!"
This last sentence squeezed from her throat like a scream and the man closest to her threw back his head and laughed. "Sorry, sweetheart, but we can't do that. We have plans for you."
Unpleasant sniggers of agreement from behind the speaker caused her to gasp and stumble over a bit of broken concrete, landing on her rear and exposing a long length of leg. The momentum of her fall caused her to throw her head back briefly, the moonlight bathing her upper torso, and Donatello found himself looking into the pleasant, high-cheekboned face of a young woman. Her eyes were wide and startlingly blue above a mouth that seemed far more suited to laughter and mischievous grins than to the grimace of terror distorting it now.
Twisting her body around she pushed herself to her feet, a tangled waterfall of russet hair slipping across one shoulder and hiding her hands from view. She kept her body canted to one side as she straightened again, looking for all the world like she was cringing submissively, yet the turtles were surprised to see a sizable chunk of concrete gripped tightly in one hand. So the rabbit had teeth after all.
This unexpected development seemed to have an impact on Leonardo's plan of attack. One of his tri-fingered hands lifted and patted the air before pointing at the woman. After a slight pause he patted air again and, pointing at the street lamp illuminating the alley's entrance, drew a finger across his throat. This simplistic form of sign language translated into an easily understood order: Wait until the woman acts… then move into position. Once I take out the light… attack.
Not knowing that help was only about eighteen vertical feet away, the woman didn't need to fake the fine trembling that vibrated her bones as the spokesman twirled his knife with a flourish and began to advance. "Just be a good girl," he whispered in an almost comforting fashion. His free hand reached out to stroke her hair.
She howled like a maddened animal at the touch of his callused fingers and reacted with instincts she didn't know she had. Twisting away from him with surprising agility she pivoted her body around, arm held straight from the shoulder, and smashed the bit of concrete into the side of his face with all the force of a swung Morningstar.
Michelangelo had to bite back a cheer as the unfortunate crook's cheekbone shattered like a china plate, a fine spray of red erupting from his split lips. Every eye in the alley was on him as his knees buckled and he silently toppled sideways. Not one thought to look up as the moonlight was briefly blocked by four flitting shadows.
During this moment of eerie silence the woman pawed frantically at the body in front of her, hands scrabbling until she found the hilt of his knife. Gripping it firmly she began to back away, hoping against hope that her show of gumption would sway those remaining to just take what they'd won and let her be.
Apparently this was a foolish hope, for a collective growl suddenly rose up from the assembled thugs and the barrel of a gun glinted coldly in the night. "Not smart, bitch," the gun wielder growled, aiming the weapon with an experienced hand. "Not smart at all."
Her arms were rising in a futile effort to shield her face when a bright flash of metal suddenly sang from the darkness and buried itself neatly in the gunman's hand. The gun spun away from his grasp as he clutched at his nearly severed fingers, bellowing like a castrated bull.
The gun hadn't even touched the ground when another miniature comet whirled over their heads and shattered the street lamp above them, raining sparks and plunging the alley intoshadow-shrouded darkness. For one breathless moment all was silent except for the pitiful whimpers of the injured man…
And then there was a whisper of movement behind them, and the screaming really began.
A.N. (and supplication): Yay, first part completed! I only have about three more pages to type on the final part, soI should have the rest posted in another week or so. College workload permitting, of course.
And since this is my first TMNT fic, dear readers, any help you can offer would be much appreciated. I believe my grammar and syntax adequate, but I'm a little concerned about the boys' characterizations. Are they accurate? How about the descriptive paragraphs? Are they satisfactory?
Any constructive criticism y'all might have would be very helpful to me. And if y'all happen to throw a little praise in with it, well… that'll be gravy. (Grins)