Disclaimer: I do not own the TMNT or Master Splinter; only Master Mao-Shi and Sarmon.

Author's Note: I finally got around to finishing chapter seven of this story. I had been meaning to do it during the summer, but since I was working so much, I was usually too tried to even try. But now with school out for the holidays, I hope to have the conclusion of this story posted soon, and I don't mean half a year from now. Hope everyone enjoys this chapter and continues to stick around for the ending. Don't forget to leave a review on the way out!

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Chapter 7-New Spirits

Leaving his body behind, Leo floated softly through Master Splinter's door. The room appeared empty at first, but the sound of the TV, a series of grunts and muffled yells from one room, squeaks and clangs from another room, and a pair of orange bandanas draped over the top of the couch revealed the lives that Leo and Splinter had left behind. 'Michelangelo,' Leo thought with a smile. Quietly, he drifted over to where his brother was slumped on the couch.

"AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Raph, Donnie, get your shells down here quick! The lair's haunted!" At the sound of their brother's voice, Don and Raph came bounding out of their rooms and ran towards the living area.

"What's going on Mikey?" asked Don in between breaths of air.

"Yeah, why the heck are you screamin' at the top of your lungs for?" Raph asked.

"Because, I just saw a ghost!" yelled Mike.

Raph and Don gave each other a skeptical look. "Are you sure it wasn't just something you saw on television?" Don asked.

"No!" screamed Mike. "I was watchin' TV, but then it got real cold, you know? I reached over for the blanket, and then, this, white orb-thingy jumped out at me! I think it even said my name or something. I ran behind the couch, but it followed me! I tried to swat it away, but my hand just went right through it! I gasped and it disappeared. I'm tellin' ya, the lair's haunted!!!!!!"

Don clasped his hands over his ears. "Ah, not so loud Mike!"

Raph was busy trying to regain hearing in one ear. "Blow a guy's ears out, why don't ya?"

"I'm sorry, but I know that our home is now officially possessed!"

Donnie sighed. "Mikey, the lair's not possessed. Nor are there any ghosts around here. You know as well as I do that they don't exist."

"Oh, yeah?" questioned Mike. He stood up from behind the couch and approached his brothers. "Well, with all the creepy stuff we've come across, I don't see how they couldn't be!"

"Because," Don retorted calmly, "Any living creature being able to, and I quote, 'come back from the dead,' unquote, is theoretically impossible. Though I do believe in souls, I don't see how spirits could still walk the earth when they don't have a body to inhabit. It's not logical and, therefore, it just doesn't seem probable."

A faint breeze of air fluttered past Raph's shoulder. A chill ran down his spine. Carefully, he turned around to see what was spooking him. And what he saw nearly made his eyes burst right out of his head. "Oh yeah, then what do you call THAT?!?!?"

"Huh?" Don turned around and followed Raph's finger. The red-banded turtle was pointing only a couple inches away from where a rich blue, slightly transparent orb could clearly be seen hovering about four feet off the ground.

"Oh man, what is that?!" Don gasped.

"Oh my gosh!" cried Mike. "It is a ghost! I was right! The lair is haunted!" He turned heel and ducked in front of the couch, hiding his head under a pillow.

Don's mind was racing. 'I don't get it. This is isn't possible,' he thought. "I'm not sure if I should believe this," he said. "Even if I'm seeing it with my own eyes."

"I don't know what that thing is Don, but we'd better get rid of it quick," stated Raph. He tilted his head back towards the couch. "I think Mikey's starting to have a heart attack over there."

"'THING'?!" The blue orb's sudden outburst startled Raph and Don, causing them to whip their heads around in Leo's direction. "Geez Raph, of all the tentative words you could have come up with to call your own brother, you choose thing?"

"Holy cow, it talks!" yelled Raph.

"And it knows our names!" squeaked Mike, who had lifted his head only a tiny bit in order to see over the couch.

"Oh, now you're calling me an 'it'?!" 'If I could change colors right now, I know I'd be beat red after that last remark,' thought Leo. He knew he shouldn't be losing his temper so easily with his brothers right now. Despite the fact that they just didn't understand what he was, he could not help but feel insulted by his brothers' comments.

Mike pulled the pillow off his head. 'Now where do I recognize that voice from?' he thought. 'It sounds so familiar…like someone I know.' Then, the answer suddenly popped into his head. "Wait, I know who that ghost sounds like! It sounds just like Leo!" he yelled.

"What?!" cried Don and Raph.

"That's because it is Leo!" exclaimed the blue orb.

"But that's inconceivable!" stated Don. "Leo's meditating with Master Splinter in the other room. How could, whatever this thing is, possibly be Leo?"

Mike hopped off the couch and shuffled over to Raph and Don. He leaned in close, pulled his brothers together, and whispered. "Maybe it's some kind of hologram designed to sound like Leo and then trick us into doing something someone else wants us to do."

"Now that actually makes more sense," said Don, "though I still don't believe it."

"Sounds to me like Mike's been watchin' way too many spy movies," Raph muttered.

In spirit form, Leo's senses were ten times more acute, so it wasn't difficult for him to hear what Mikey had said. "I'm not a hologram! I'm your older brother Leonardo!"

"Whoa, it heard me!" said Mike as he pulled back. "I barely whispered that."

"I didn't know holograms could do that," said Raph.

"Normally, they can't," said Donatello. Curious, he walked over to the orb and began to observe Leonardo while walking around him.

"Careful Donnie," said Raph. "You don't know what that thing's capable of."

'Oh Raph, once all this is over, I am so going to get back at you for that one,' thought Leo. He would have liked to have said what he thought, but concluded that he could do that later.

Meanwhile, Don finished his examination. He stood up with a thoughtfully confused look on his face.

"Well, did ya find anything?" asked Raph.

"Yeah Donnie, what's the verdict?" Mike inquired from behind Raph's back.

"Uh, nothing really. I'm not so sure this is a hologram because I can't find any sort of import bay. If it were, then from the right angle, one should be able to tell where it's being broadcast from. I can't find anything to indicate that this actually is a hologram."

Leo was getting fed up. He knew he didn't have the time to spend convincing his siblings of his current state. "I already told you, I AM NOT A HOLOGRAM!" he burst out. His acutely raised tone surprised Don, causing the purple clad turtle to stumble back towards Raph and Mikey. "I'm Leo! You know, your oldest brother? The one who's always lecturing and carries swords around all the time? Why won't you guys believe me?"

The three stood silent for a moment. Then, once more, they huddled into a football timeout position. "I don't know. What do you think guys?" wondered Raph.

Donnie thought for a second. "Well, I'm not completely sure how this thing knows our names, or-"

"That's because it's a ghost!" interrupted Mikey. "And ghosts know everything!"

"Or, why it sounds like Leo, or even what it really is," finished Don.

"Wonderful, not even the great Donatello can figure out what is hovering right in the middle of our living room!" cried Raph. His face suddenly changed from an aggravated look to a more astounded one. "Wait-did I just say 'hovering'?"

"If my ears don't deceive me, you did," said Don.

"Guys, why can't you just accept the possibility that this really could be a spirit?" asked Mike. "After all, no one ever thought that aliens were real, and we've proven that belief wrong at least a dozen times."

Raphael considered his younger sibling's last statement. "You know, Mikey does have a point there," he said.

"What?! Don't tell me you're going to believe him too," Donnie cried.

"Well, he does seem to be the only one around here who's come up with an answer to explain all this weirdness. For now, I don't see anything wrong with at least humoring him-unless you can think of some sort of other magical solution."

Don sighed. He looked from his brothers' eyes, glanced once at the still hovering Leo, then stared back at Mike and Raph. Realizing that defeat was immanent, he gave in. "Oh, alright. Circumstances providing, I guess I might be willing to accept Mikey's theory. But that doesn't mean that there still isn't some coherent explanation to all this."

"Great!" exclaimed Mike. "Now that you both believe me, let's try talking to it. Maybe if we ask it real nice, it might be able to explain what it's doing here, what it wants, why it sounds like Leo, and how it knows our names."

The three broke their huddle and turned back to Leo.

By now, the blue orb had lost what was left of his patience while he was waiting for his brothers to finish their discussion about what he was. "Well, I hope you guys are finally done talking. We really need to get a move on."

"Hold on, spirit ball," fussed Raph. "We're not goin' anywhere, until you've proven to us that you really are our brother."

"Yeah," piped Mike. "I mean, how do we know you're really our Leo and not just some spirit that's come to scare us?" He boldly walked right up to Leo's hovering form and spoke directly to his face. "Hmmm? Try answering that one, why don't ya?"

"Besides, with all the monsters and mayhem we've fought in the past, a floating ball kinda starts setting off some little red flags," Raph added.

Leo stared from Mike to Raph to Don. "Donatello, you don't seriously believe these two, do you?" he asked.

"Well, I usually prefer the rational justification to most of the bizarre things that occur to us, but I have to admit; this one's got me stumped. I think I'm going to go with Raph and Mikey on this one," replied Don. 'Oh no, now I'm talking to it,' the brainy reptile thought.

"I can't believe this!" Leo cried. He pulled back and started to float around the other turtles. "Why do I even have to prove myself to you three? Shouldn't my voice be enough?"

"Not always," Mikey stated nervously. Though he wanted to believe what this orb was saying, having it float continually around his head was starting to make him uneasy.

"I don't know why I'm asking this, but, what do you mean Mike?" asked Raph.

Michelangelo turned to Raphael. "Well, in a bunch of my comic books, ghosts have the ability to copy other people's voices. All they have to do is hear the person just once, and 'bingo!' they can imitate them perfectly."

Hearing his brother's timid reply threw Leonardo's tolerance off the edge. He nearly tumbled on to the floor, but was able to catch himself in time and continue floating. "Oh brother!" he yelled. "I give up! I never thought I'd actually have to do this, but if I really have to prove that I am who I say I am to my own siblings…" If breath was still an option to a spirit, Leo would have taken a very deep one right about now. "Fine! Michelangelo." Mikey perked his head up at the mention of his full name. "You have a faint scar on the underside of your right arm that you got when you first stepped foot on a skateboard when were all six. It slipped out from underneath you and you fell back and cut your arm on the corner of the table."

Mike unconsciously put his left hand underneath his right arm. Sure enough, he could still feel the scar. "I can't believe it. How'd he know that?" he wondered.

Leo turned to Raph. "Raphael, you once snuck out in the middle of the night and got into a strip club through an open window on the roof, and I had to come and drag your sorry butt all the way home." Raph's face started to turn a slight sad of scarlet as Mike and Don both turned to look at him.

"You got into a strip club?" asked Donnie.

"And you didn't invite us?" Mike whined.

"Yeah…" sighed Raph. He put his hand behind his head as he began to drift into an elongated state of euphoria. "I saw some things that night, I ain't never gonna forget."

"You and me both, dear brother," remarked Leo. He turned to Don. "And Donatello, you once thought you had invented a working time machine and went around thinking that it was ten years into the future for an entire day."

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," laughed Don. "I can still remember how funny everyone thought it was when I discovered that you guys were only teasing me. Splinter wasn't the only one angry when the truth was uncovered." He chuckled for a minute, and then paused. "Hey, wait a minute." He looked at the blue orb. "There's only one person in this world that would know all that, and that's…"

"Leo!" broke out Mikey, "I knew it was you all along!"

"Sure you did," Leo said sarcastically.

"Hey, cut me some slack here bro," Mike responded. "It's only natural for somebody to be suspicious of a glowing ball that's hovering in the middle of the floor."

"Fascinating…" said Don. He walked towards Leonardo, reanalyzing every inch of his brother's spirit. "I'm not exactly sure how you're doing this Leo, but it's amazing. I'll definitely have to compile a full investigation on this."

'It will have to wait Donnie,' Leo thought, 'We've got more important concerns on hand.' He watched as Don once more began a thorough scrutiny of his current state. "Look, it's nothing, I'm just-"

"Hold on a sec," interrupted Raph. "Despite you knowing all that, how can you really be Leo? Like Don said, our Leo is meditating in Master Splinter's room."

"Well Raph, my body may be in sensei's room, but my soul is out here."

Raph paused as his face became bright with bewilderment. "Say what?"

Once more, if he had been able to, Leo would have sighed here. "It's kind of a long story…" he began.

Mikey felt a sudden rush of cold fear grip his body. If Leo was a soul, then did that mean? "Wait. Leo, you aren't…dead, are you?" he stuttered.

"Oh no Mike. I'm no where near that yet," Leo reassured him.

Mikey let off an enormous exhale of a breath he didn't know he was holding. "Whew! Thank goddess. You had me starting to worry there for a minute."

"But Leo, if you're a soul, but not dead, then how can you be…?" Donnie's voice scampered off into oblivion.

"As I said, it's a long story. But to put it bluntly…for the past few months, Master Splinter and I have been practicing astral projection."

"Astral what?" asked Raph.

"Astral projection Raph," Don repeated.

"I know what Leo said Don," Raph snapped back. "I'm just not sure what he's talking about."

"Oh it's not hard to get Raph," said Mike. "Astral projection's like when people can disconnect and separate their souls from their bodies. They can willingly allow their soul to leave their body and wander around for a period of time. Then, they can return to their bodies and go on living like nothing happened. Is that right Leo?"

Leo was impressed. "That's a pretty good explanation Mike."

"So you're telling me that this is what Leo's soul looks like?" Raph grimaced. "And that his body is sitting helpless without a life to support it?"

"Well, if you want to put it that way, then yes Raph," said Leonardo.

"I can't believe it," said Raphael. "I would have thought that your soul would have looked a little more like yourself."

"That's because you're seeing my orb form Raph," said Leo. "I've actually learned to take many other forms, but I can only do two in the real world."

"What do you mean by 'other forms'?" asked Don.

"Well, the only way I could really explain it would be to show you," said Leo. He drifted backwards. "Just watch." The blue orb swayed in the air for a few seconds, then floated upwards. The three turtles lifted their heads as they watched the spirit. Leo swayed once more. 'Ok, I can do this. I've done it a million times before. Fine, I'm lying, but I know I can do this.' He stared back at his siblings. Their avid stares amounted pressure on Leo he had not anticipated. 'But can I do it with my brothers watching?' Keeping the process of shape-shifting clear in his mind, Leo moved back towards the ground. Raph, Mike, and Don stared as a white mist began to surround the orb. Before them, it glowed bright, causing the three to cover their eyes. When they removed their hands, they were shocked to find the translucent image of their eldest brother standing before them.

"Holy canolie!" cried Mikey.

"You can say that again," said Raph.

Mike wasn't too consumed by amazement to recognize an opportunity for a joke. "Alright. Holy canolie!"

"Mike!" yelled Don and Raph. Raph turned to his younger brother and raised a fist at him.

Mike started to back off slowly. He raised his hands in defense. "Hey come on Raph. You told me to."

Raph was about to hit Mikey, when Leo stepped in between the two. "Raph, leave him alone."

Leo's sudden movement startled Raphael. He hadn't expected to see his brother move so fast and so silently too. "Whoa!" he jumped back. "How'd you do that? You moved like you didn't even touch the floor."

"That's because I'm not actually touching the floor. It's a perk I have while I'm a spirit."

"So it's true then," asked Michelangelo, "you really are a ghost?"

"No Mike, I already told you; I'm a spirit, not a ghost."

"Not that I'm fully willing to accept all this, but is there a difference?" Don wondered.

Donatello's innocent question had given Leo a chance to slow down from the excitement high he had been running on. Leo realized then that if he was going to succeed in training the others to astral project, he was going to have to be willing to answer all of their questions, no matter how many of them there were or how long they took to answer. 'I wonder if I was this inquisitive when I was first learning how to astral project; I certainly don't remember being so,' he thought. But Leo hoped that he could begin his brothers' training while he answered their questions. 'Well, I guess everybody's gotta start somewhere.' "Actually yes Don, there is a difference," he said. "A ghost is a soul whose body has died and for one reason or another has remained here on earth. A spirit (and here he indicated himself) is a soul who is simply detached from its body, which is still alive. Mikey's already explained to you what astral projection is, but I'm afraid he left out the price of it."

"Price?" Don repeated.

"What price?" Raph asked gruffly.

"The price that anyone conducting astral projection must be fully aware of and be prepared to pay if worst comes to worst."

"I don't know what you're talking about Leo, but I don't like the sound of it," Mike said cautiously.

This time, it was Raphael who was loosing his patience. "Leo, what's this all about, huh?"

Leonardo turned towards Raph. "I'm talking about death Raphael. About our bodies dying while our souls are separated from them."

"You're kidding, right? You mean that can actually happen?" asked Mikey.

Leo nodded. "I'm afraid so. The body can only live without its soul for so long. You see, the soul is what gives the body life; it's what gives the body the willingness to sustain itself, to live until it is too old and withered to do so anymore. During astral projection, all of the body's systems are put on stand-by and the body drifts into a suspended state."

"I knew it!" sparked Don. Leo, Raph, and Mike looked at him. "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Please, do continue."

Mused, Leo carried on. "Well, if the soul is gone for too long, the body, having no other reason to hold on to life, will pass away, and the spirit, if it does return, will be unable to reenter it. Without a body to support it, the soul then either crosses over to the next world or the soul remains on earth; thus, giving birth to a ghost."

"How long does a spirit have to be disconnected until its body dies?" Don asked.

"I'm not sure. I think it's mostly an individual thing: how strong the body is at maintaining life without its soul, which I would guess has a great deal to do with how much practice the person has had with astral projection. I have a feeling that the age of the body has an influence as well, especially since souls are timeless and posses no real age-only the knowledge and intuitive that they have gained while existing. Bodies and souls are born at the same time, but souls can never die, just move on some other place."

With a tentative swallow, Mike asked, "How long have you been gone from your body Leo?"

"Since eleven o'clock this morning."

"That was over nine hours ago!" Raph cried. "You mean to tell us that your lifeless body has been sitting in Master Splinter's room all this time?"

"It wasn't just my body Raph. Sensei has been leaving with me as well."

Donatello was getting slightly flustered. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. So both your souls are separated from your bodies right now?"

"Yes Donnie; that's correct."

"But neither of you are dead?"

"Not yet."

Don thought for a moment. "Astounding, and yet, highly perplexing at the same time."

"Look, I didn't come back to try to scare or confuse you guys," said Leo.

"You didn't? Then what did you come back for?" Raph asked.

"Yeah, and you said that Master Splinter went with you when you astral projected. If that's true, then where is he now?" wondered Mike.

"That's why I've come back. Master Splinter's in trouble and he needs our help."

Don, Raph, and Mikey perked right up. Anytime the words "peril," "danger," or "trouble" were combined with a name of one of their friends or family members, they knew that the time for action was soon at hand. In the turtle's world, nobody messed with their family.

"What?! Master Splinter's in trouble?!" yelled Mike.

"Tell me where they are Leo and I'll murder 'em!" growled Raph.

"Whoa! Calm down guys!" Leo had to shout over his brothers' raised voices.

"Calm down?! But Leo, you said Master Splinter is in danger. Shouldn't we do something?" Don asked. The purple-clad turtle had to contain his own amount of adrenaline beginning to rush through his system.

"We will guys, we will. But this time, we aren't going to be able to use our earthly weapons. No, in order to help Master Splinter I have to train you guys to use spiritual weapons."

Leo's brothers did a double-take between themselves. "Spiritual weapons?" Raph repeated brusquely.

"No earthly weapons?" It was clear Mike was as puzzled as Raphael.

Don sighed. "Something tells me we're going to be in for another crazy adventure, right Leo?"

"You guessed it."

"So what is it this time?" Raph requested.

"Well, once I had learned to fully accomplish astral projection, sensei began bringing me to the spirit world: a place where souls of both the departed and the still living can interact with one another. There, I met Master Mao-Shi, an old friend of Splinter's and a powerful spirit who in life was once a great martial arts practitioner. Yet, even in the spirit world, Mao-Shi has kept his vast knowledge of combat skills, though he has refined them for usage in the spiritual arts. Over time, he and Master Splinter have been training me how to fight as a spirit."

Michelangelo interrupted Leo. "Whoa, you mean, you can still fight even though you're like a ghost?!"

"I told you Mike, I'm not a ghost," Leo gritted. "But yes, there are actually a number of techniques one can learn. In reality, they aren't that different from the things we've learned over the years; they just rely more on ones inner energy and the result is more than what one might expect."

"Yeah, yeah, I'll sure all that's just great," Raph snapped. "But what's all this got to do with Master Splinter? You said he was in trouble."

"And he is. It was on one of our trips to the spirit world that Master Splinter was kidnapped-(Leo checked himself) rat napped by a malevolent spirit named Sarmon." Leo knew trying to explain that Splinter was actually taken by a giant cloud might sound too abnormal, even for him and his brothers, so he settled on a simpler account. "Master Shi wasn't with us at the time. I tried to stop him, but he grabbed sensei and managed to knock me out. When I came to, Mao-Shi was able to find me and told me about Sarmon once I explained to him what had happened. According to Mao-Shi, in life, Sarmon was a criminal who had tried to defy death by resorting to dark magic. He succeeded, but at his own personal cost. At the moment of his death, he read aloud a spell which he believed would grant him immortality. But, he mispronounced some words, and his soul ended up being trapped in the spirit world, never able to leave, never able to move on to the next life. But before he died, Sarmon had studied other spells, which, once he became a spirit, gave him immense powers, one of which is the ability to torment other souls in the spirit world. Master Shi said that Sarmon derives all of his pleasure now from the torture he commits upon others."

"And now this wackbag's got his mitts on Master Splinter?" asked Raph.

"Yes."

"But I'll bet sensei is really powerful himself right? So couldn't he find a way to save himself?" wondered Mike.

"And what about this Master Mao-Shi?" Donnie added. "You said he was quite powerful as well Leo. I'm sure he could handle Sarmon."

"I'm afraid it's not that simple. Master Shi wouldn't have sent me here to train you guys in astral projection if he didn't think that the two of us could take on Sarmon or that Splinter could handle himself."

Mike, Don, and Raph gasped. "WHAT!?"

Leo felt like rolling his eyes, if he actually had any physical ones at the moment. "Have you guys forgotten everything I've been saying to you?" Leo scanned his brothers, looking from one pair of eyes to the next. 'Obviously so,' he thought. "I have to teach you three how to astral project," he said bluntly.

"Whoa, astral project? You mean like you're doing Leo?" Mike asked.

"Yes Mike, exactly like what I'm doing."

"You can't be serious Leo," said Raph.

"I am Raph. Why would I kid about something like this?"

"But Leo, astral projection just seems so…illogical. It defies the laws of natural science." It was obvious that Don was as skeptical as Raph.

"Perhaps the known laws of science Donnie, but not the laws of the unnatural. Master Splinter once told me when I was first learning that to astral project, that one must 'open their mind to the possibilities of anything and shut out the opportunities of nothing.' In a way, that's how you take the first step towards astral projection, and it's what you guys are going to have to do now if we want any chance of saving sensei."

"But how Leo?" Mike whined. "We don't know how to astral project."

"You don't, but I do. That's why I'm here: to train you in the art of astral projection so we can travel to the spirit realm where Master Splinter is being held. There, Master Mao-Shi will aid me in teaching you how to fight as a spirit. From there, we will journey to where Sarmon is keeping sensei and get him back."

"Uh, Leo, as amazing as all that sounds, I still don't really know what you're talking about," the orange-banned turtle stated.

"Look, we don't have a whole lot of time. I've already wasted way too much filling you guys in as it is. For now, just trust me on this. You will learn everything you need to know as soon as we get to the spirit world and you meet Master Shi. I promise."

Mike, Raph, and Don looked at one another. They shared a tone of silent discussion before Donatello spoke up. "Well Leo, we do trust you."

"Yeah," Mikey agreed.

"Again I ask, what're we gonna do?" added Raph.

"First, I'm going to have to ask you guys to have patience with me, as I will attempt to have with you. But due to the seriousness of the situation, I'm going to have to rush this training a bit."

"That's okay Leo, we understand," said Mike. "Right Don? Right Raph?"

The two older turtles agreed.

"Fine. Then let's get started." Turning around, Leo walked over to the turtles' meditation mat. (Although since he was still in spirit form, Leo never really "walked," he hovered. However, due to a lack of a better term, the benefit of doubt can be given.) Leo knelt into a sitting position. "First, we meditate," he began. Following Leonardo's lead, Don, Raph, and Mike sat down on the mat and relaxed into the familiar pose for meditation. Naturally, they slowed their breathing and steadied their minds. All was quiet in the lair except for four reptiles' inhales and exhales. Cautiously, yet in control, Leo interrupted the silence. "Now, to astral project, one not only has to separate their soul from their body but their mind has to leave as well. Without the mind, the soul has nothing to guide it. You must focus. Image looking at yourself as an outsider, a third party. Keep this vision in your head; let it consume you. As you see others, let that be how you see yourself. Slowly, let separation that hold of you. As you would let go of someone's hand-that's the sense you need to indulge. Disconnect the consciousness of physical being so you may allow your spiritual being to become its own entity, completely independent from its earthly home. Only through this achievement of total sovereignty can your spirit attain absolute freedom."

Mike cracked an eye open. "Geez, it sounds like you're dying or something."

"It's not dying Mikey," Leonardo responded. "When death comes, there is no control over it. The spirit has no choice but to leave because its body can no longer support it. Astral projection differs in that you have to force the soul to leave the body where it naturally does not want to."

"I sure do hope our bodies don't die when we astral project."

"Don't worry, they won't."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because I told you they won't and mine didn't when I achieved astral projection for the first time."

Raph retorted. "Yeah, but Leo, we ain't you. You may have just have gotten lucky that first time."

"I'm not even sure this is really going to work," Don added.

Leo tried to reassure his brothers. "It can and has worked. You just have to focus on doing as I say."

"I'm still not completely convinced," replied the purple clad turtle.

Leo groaned. He realized that unless he found a way to boost his siblings' concentration and motivation, their training was in danger of ceasing altogether. For the time being, their spirits remained firmly planted on earth. Leo knew that time was running short and that progress was going to have to be made soon or the turtles may never see their beloved master again. On top of that, Leo was finding it increasingly difficult to resist the growing temptation to return to his own body, which still sat empty in Splinter's room.

"Please guys, you have to trust me. I know all of you can do this. Believe me; it gets easier once you've done it the first time. You have to try, not just for me, but for Master Splinter. If I can't get you guys to astral project, then Master Mao-Shi and I won't have any help when we have to fight Sarmon."

Donnie, Mikey, and Raph once again looked at one another in skepticism, all sharing the same thought. And for a second time, it was Donatello who expressed it. "Alright Leo, we'll try."

"Thank you. Now, let's try it again. Concentrate and focus on separation and release. Allow your breath to slow and become internal as you put your body into a deep sleep. Slow your heart rate and work to shift your mind's controls from your body to your inner most being." For nearly an hour they sat, their labored breathing mixing with the drips of the liquids falling through the piping in the walls and the quenched splashing of the pool in the center of their home. And then, Leo's calm voice arose. "As you relax more and more, allow your consciousness to settle at your center, the very pit of your stomach, as far inside you as you can go. See yourself as pure thought, muse over that, feel it. Then, once you have a grasp on it, set it free; let it flow like a river, uplifting itself into the air and out into the world. This will be the feeling of leaving your body." Slowly, Leo surveyed his brothers. Though he didn't know what it looked like to actually see someone astral project, (Leo always had his eyes closed when he and Splinter left their bodies) he had a decent idea of what to expect. He watched the three closely. As time passed, Leo sensed their spiritual energy becoming more and more active, their souls disconnecting from their bodies.

Ironically, it was Donatello that was the first to attain full separation. His body fell into a slight limp as its normally light green hue lost some its shine, turning a darker tint. Leo watched as Donnie's soul rose cautiously above his body. By all respects, it was exactly like Leo's soul-a fist-sized orb-except that Donatello's was a watered, almost lilac, purple. Leo smiled with the knowledge that at least one of his brothers would get to feel the full satisfaction of such a triumph just as he had so many months ago. The oldest turtle also figured it was because he knew he had succeeded in granting some help for Mao-Shi and himself. Leo felt a sense of pride: Don's simple accomplishment meant that he had thrived in becoming an astral projection teacher. Yet, no more than a few seconds later, did Raphael's soul appear beside Donnie's. Leo took note that Raph's soul was also identical to his and his brother's, with the exception that it was colored in a faint blood red. A few more seconds strode by as the two spirits wavered in the air above their bodies. Silent as early morning dew, Leo turned his attention to his last brother. Michelangelo had yet to astral project-he had been the one Leo was sure would not be able to muster the amount of true concentration needed to astral project. But, curiously yet obviously, Mikey's sunrise orange spirit floated into the air, joining his siblings amongst the placid atmosphere of their underground abode. 'Wonderful,' thought Leo. 'Just the fact that they've gotten this far is a surprise; I certainly wasn't expecting it. If I can now get them to the spirit world, then we might just have a chance. Once there, I'll have help with their training.' Leo uncovered an agonizing thought in his mind. 'But first, we have to get there…' He paused. 'Well, where there's a will, there's a way and we definitely have as much will as anyone else.'

Up until now, the three newly cast souls had been utterly silent, merely dangling above their bodies' heads. Leo was just beginning to worry that something might have gone wrong, when the spirits suddenly gained a rather lively exposition, springing from a bout of silence to one of pure exhilaration and revelation.

"Wow, I can't believe it!" Mike exclaimed. "I'm actually a ghost! And I'm not dead!" Leo winced at Mike's repetitive though unintentional misunderstanding. "This is so cool!" Michelangelo's soul took off on a joy flight around the lair.

"Neither can I," agreed Don. Unknowingly, he recounted his earlier words. "I don't understand. How is this possible?"

"Does it matter Donnie?" Raph asked. "I mean, we are already doin' it, aren't we?"

"Well yes, but-"

"Sometimes, the only way to accomplish things is simply to do them," Leonardo said, "not to try and decipher them first. If you spend too much time attempting to discover how something is possible, you may miss your chance to experience it at all."

Donnie mused over his brother's insight. "Perhaps, but once all this is over and done with, I'd like to spend more time examining astral projection." He floated in front of his body. "I have nothing against the practice, but I'm not wholly comfortable with the idea that my body is still somehow alive without "me" in it."

"The feeling is mutual," said Leo. "Believe me."

"Make that triple," Raphael added.

"Wahoo!" Three souls gazed up at Mikey, who had completely disregarded any idea of how astral projection was obtainable and was thoroughly enjoying himself. The orange orb was spiraling around columns, twisting in the air, and coasting back and forth from room to room.

"Looks like Mikey's basking in his newfound freedom," quirked Raph.

"Perhaps a bit too much," said Leo.

Donatello looked at him. "What do you mean by that?"

Before Leo could answer, Mikey swooped in to a sudden halt before his brothers. "Man, you guys should try this. I've never felt so alive! Well…sorta."

"Maybe later Mikey," said Leo, "but right now we have more important things to concentrate on. Don't any of you forget why I had you astral project in the first place: to help Master Splinter. And the only way to do that is for you guys to pay close attention to me." At the mention of their father's name, the three immediately became serious.

"What do we have to do again Leo?" asked Mike.

"Now that we are spirits, we must journey to the spirit world and find Master Shi. He is going to show us how to defeat Sarmon and rescue sensei. But to get there is a difficult path filled with horrors and unknowns beyond what most came even imagine. You guys are going to have to stick as close to me as you can. It will be very easy for us to become separated, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to find you should anyone get lost."

"You just show us the way Leo and we'll follow you," said Raph.

Donnie and Mikey nodded.

"Good, then we'd better not spend anymore time around here." Standing up, Leo focused his energies upon his center and reverted back into a misty blue orb.

"Whoa," cooed Leo's brothers.

"Are we gonna learn how to do that?" Mike asked.

"Hopefully so," Leo replied. "Now stay together; keep your attention focused only on me and everything will be fine." He started to float towards the ceiling. "Oh, and try to keep up."

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Author's Note: That's all for now! Come back soon to learn if the turtles make it to the spirit realm. And what perils will they uncover when they go face to face with Sarmon? Are they already too late to save Master Splinter? You'll just have to wait and see… GOD BLESS!