The REAL Cheese Monkey (LOL!), Jessiy Landroz (Yes, Mikey should!), Somellamafreak (Yes, L.H. was raised by the Utroms but they accidently left him behind at the end of "Secret Origins"), Buslady (WHO came up with the NAME of my "villain"-- we fooled around with the spelling!-- Many thanks, B.L.!), Lunar-ninja (who pointed out that I blew Shredder's Utrom name by a vowel-- sigh-- LOL! I remember at Mikey's how everyone kept coming up with their own way of spelling it! Ch'rell, not "Ch'rall"-- anyway, I've fixed it so there!), Doll Girl (thanks!), Donny's Girl (also thanks!), Darktiger2 (and more thanks!), Dory's human replica (ditto more thanks!), Goblin Cat KC (ditto ditto thanks!), Splinter (many many ditto thanks!), Doppleganger33 (sincere ditto!). Hope I didn't miss anyone!
Oh, yeah, TMNT, Casey, April, Splinter, and everyone else in this story are owned by Mirage Publishing the lucky dogs! I've added this part since posting the story because I felt that I needed to thank people!
Raph: Now, before we decide to go charging up to the garage, Don and I go check his computer, to see if the cameras have picked up anything that'll help us.
"Everything here looks normal," he says, as they scan the various activities that have been recorded since they left. "No intruders, no fighting-- just Master Splinter leaving the Lair by the front door-- Casey and April heading to the garage in the elevator. Too bad I can't get sound with this set up-- they look like they're in a hurry, but not like they're in danger."
"What about the one by the perimeter?" Raph asks. "I know that when we looked earlier, we didn't see nothing, but... I mean, an alarm must of went off, since Splinter left the place."
Don: Sure enough, we saw something-- something that happened about the time we left.
"Is that an--?" Don gasps.
"That's an Utrom!" Raph shouts at the same time.
And they watch as a scrawny looking Utrom, without the usual hover car that they ride around in, much less an exoskeleton, slowly and with great difficulty tries to work the wires loose-- and freezes as it hears something. Then they see Master Splinter enter the picture. Then the picture is suddenly dark, as if the camera has been destroyed.
"This is not good," Don needlessly says, as he and Raph head out the front door at top speed.
Raph: So, instead of the garage, we head out to where this took place, and sure enough, we find footprints-- human, Utrom,-- and crocodile.
"Leatherhead must have caught our little visitor," Don suggests, looking at the tracks-- and the damage. "I'm guessing that the little fellow wasn't alone, judging from the wreckage." His perimeter beacon is smashed, as is his camera, and the walls appear to be freshly cracked. The floor is a jumbled mess of footprints of all types-- now Raph makes out one or two prints that can only belong to Master Splinter.
"That's good news, then-- it means Sensei is still mobile," Don breathes a sigh of relief.
"Man, if that Utrom had help, why didn't they just take out the entire warning system the first time?" Raph wonders, as they try to follow the trail left by Splinter, Leatherhead and whomever else was either with them, chasing them, or being chased by them.
Don: The tracks led us first through Leatherhead's place, then back the long way to the Lair-- and gave out. We had no way of knowing which way they went-- back into the Lair, out of the sewers by one of the other tunnels, or vanished into thin air.
"Well, the only place left to look is the garage," Don says, as they prepare to enter their home and make their way to the elevator.
But suddenly Raph grins, and holds Don back. They make eye contact, and Don is able to tell that Raph has found something. Wordlessly he does what Raph wants.
"Yeah, Don, let's go up to the garage," Raph is trying to sound normal, but Don can hear the excitement in his voice.
Raph acts as if he's going to let Don through the door first-- then suddenly jumps backwards towards a dark corner, and Don is treated to a bunch of yells, sounds of punching, and a few curse words.
Raph emerges from the shadows holding a scrawny Utrom-- the same one they'd seen on the tape!
"Let go of me!" it keeps squeaking, trying to bite Raph as it twisted desperately in Raph's hands, though it must have hurt it's tentacles. "Let me go! How dare you put your unworthy hands on me!"
"Shaddup or I'll smack you into the wall," Raph says calmly, trying not to laugh.
"What are you doing here?" Don questions the little thing, but he responds with a lot of curses and insults.
"I told you to shaddup!" Raph says, smacking the Utrom into the wall a few times like he's swinging a bag of something gooey.
"We will crush you for your treatment of us!" the Utrom gasps between blows, and Don joins Raph in laughing. Then they enter the Lair, and Don grabs his duffle bag, dumping the contents hastily from it, so Raph can put their prisoner inside. By now his complaints and threats are hardly audible.
"Now, let's scope out the garage," Raph says, and they enter the elevator.
In the garage it's dark. The Battle Shell is there-- yet something is odd.
Don signals Raph, and motions to his tracker. Someone is inside the vehicle.
They get close, nod, and enter the vehicle, ready for trouble.
They find Casey, Splinter, April and Leatherhead waiting.
And someone else-- a Guardian!
"Everyone okay?" Raph asks, refraining from his first impulse to be angry.
"Yes, my son-- and well done," Splinter says. "But do not mistake this. It was not a trick. We were visited by an enemy-- though not in the Lair. It was farther out, near the perimeter alarm that has been thrice damaged."
"Yeah, we saw what had happened," Raph says, still calm, though he so desperately wants to shout out in anger as well as in joy. "We saw on the tape an Utrom messing with the alarm. I guess that explains why you're here." And he looks at the Guardian.
Splinter gestures towards the unexpected guest.
"Yes. Fortunately, this Guardian was also following these enemies, and they have been captured, thanks to the timely intervention of Leatherhead, and returned to the Utrom home world."
"Maybe not all of them," Raph smiles, as Don unceremoniously dumps his bag in front of the Guardian.
"You will all pay for your treatment of the great Ch'rell!" His voice sounded like a badly done cartoon character. "I, his loyal follower Jr'Kof, swear vengeance on all of the enemies of the great One! How dare any of you think that you will escape the doom that is yours!"
He glares menacingly at the assembled group-- who promptly burst out into the loudest laughter possible. April and Casey are leaning against each other, Don and Raph are nearly doubled over, and even Splinter has a few laugh tears running down his face.
The Guardian, too, smiles as he listens with the rest of them to the vain threats of this squeaky-voiced being. Then, before it can escape, he roughly grabs it and shoves it back into Don's bag, zipping it up tightly.
"We came up here so the Guardians could rendezvous before they return to the Utrom home world," Splinter continues his brief story, as if they have not interrupted with a captive Utrom. "I am sorry if we frightened you, but I did not think it safe to leave a note."
"No problem, Sensei," Raph says, "though it did surprise us that you left Leo alone."
"He was well-guarded-- one of the Guardians kept watch, and I imagine left as soon as you three returned-- and I knew you would leave someone responsible with him."
"Uh, Sensei, you do realize we left Mikey with him, right?" Don asks.
"Michelangelo will take care of Leonardo."
"So, are we gonna hear more about this?" Raph wants to know.
"Yes, I will gladly explain everything. But first, would it be an imposition if I were to first visit with Leonardo?" the Guardian asks politely.
"We would be most honored, noble Guardian," Splinter bows.
Mike: Back in the lair, Leo woke up long enough to have a chat with the Guardian. We had decided to meet in Leo's room to tell the story so he wouldn't feel left out, but Leo actually fell asleep before they really got started.
Don: And then got mad at us because he missed the story. Like we had anything to do with it...
Raph: Well, be fair Don-- it was probably 1/3 of our fault that he was so messed up.
Mikey: Yeah, Don it was probably... HEY!
"We have been monitoring the activities of this small group on the Utrom homeworld," the Guardian explains, as they all sit on the floor in Leo's room. "Ever since the exile of the Shredder, a small but vocal group of followers have been making themselves known. The leaders didn't feel that they were much of a real threat, but we were keeping an eye on them anyway. Then, we discovered that a few of the more-- shall we say, 'enthusiastic but not quite bright' members," and here he nudged the dufflebag with a booted foot, "had managed to get hold of a transmat machine, and made their way to here with some vague plan for revenge. And they brought one exoskeleton for the five of them. And no hover cars."
Mikey: Hey! I get it! Jr'kof! Man, I wish--
Don and Raph: Mikey!
Raph looks like he's about to burst out laughing.
"This is what my vision was about? The Five Stooges?"
"No, my son," Splinter says. "Do not dismiss that vision so lightly. I believe that this is merely a coincidental incident. We will discuss your vision later. I am still amazed, noble Guardian, that these five, as inept as they are, managed to find their way to us."
"Unfortunately, their being here may have been my fault," Leatherhead explains, shamefaced. "I was trying once again to contact the Utrom homeworld, and I believe that my signal acted as a landing beacon for them."
"But where have they been hiding all this time?" Don asks, and Leatherhead sighs.
"As I said, this may have been my fault. I was so happy to see Utroms that I had extended them my hospitality. But I had no idea what they were planning. Usually they were helping me with my work on my own transmat. Once I noticed that the one with the exoskeleton had went out into the tunnels, and I went to find him, concerned that he might become lost. I'd found him halfway down the tunnel between my place and yours, but I still didn't know they had planned anything."
"That is not your fault, Leatherhead," Splinter comforts him. "None of it is your fault, my friend."
"Actually, you have helped us greatly," the Guardian addresses the large mutated Crocodile. "This incident has given the council the proof they need to deal legally with this group.
"Way to go, L.H.!" Mikey cheers, causing Leo to stir in his sleep-- but he settles back, snoring softly.
"And, my friend," the Guardian smiles warmly, reaching into his long coat, "Mr. Mortu has felt great guilt in leaving you behind-- purely unintentional, he hopes you understand. He says that if we are to find you, to bring you with us. If, that is, you wish to go."
And withdrawing his hand, he gives to Leatherhead a small device.
"And if you are not prepared to come with us now, this is something that will help you, should you choose to come to the Utrom home world at a later date," he says, and everyone watches as Leatherhead sheds...
Raph: Don't you DARE say it, Mikey!
Mikey: But dude...
Don: We mean it, Michelangelo!
... tears of joy at this most perfect of gifts.
"So, what's it gonna be, L.H.?" Casey asks. "Are you leaving now, or do we have time to plan a farewell party?"
"Or are you staying?" April says, leaning in to hug the big reptile.
"I-- I do not know," he sniffled. "I must think a little longer-- forgive me." And he bows to the Guardian, who returns the bow.
"Well, I must return with this one," he says, rising, and everyone rises to bid him farewell.
Raph: So we all say good-bye, and the Guardian and his prisoner leave.
Don: With my duffle bag-- darn it!
Mikey: And we all live happily ever after!
Don and Raph: Mikey!
Mikey: Uh, well, that is...
Splinter looks at Raphael.
"My son, you have done well," he says. "You have all done well."
"Thanks, Sensei," they all say, bowing. Then April shoos them out of Leo's room.
Don: Over the next few days Leo does as he's told, and his recovery is what it should be.
Raph: Mikey learns how to put the equipment away correctly, and doesn't skip checking each and every perimeter alarm twice over.
Mike: Don puts more effort into keeping the weapons in order, and makes notes on possible scenarios for the future. He discusses them regularly with Sensei and Leo.
Don: Raph willingly does the inventory and the inspections of the various tunnels when needed-- but he is not eager to take up the projection lesson.
"I understand, my son," Splinter says kindly. "It is not necessary for you to do so. But it would not hurt you to meditate a little more. You seem calmer these past few days."
"Because Mikey hasn't pushed my buttons yet," he grins.
Don: With us helping out more, Leo finds more time to study some of the things that have always interested him, but he never seemed able to fit into his day.
"Hey, Leo, how about a game of 'Follow the Leader' topside? I'll let you be 'leader'," Raph grins, and Leo puts down his book on "Bushido and the Way of the Warrior." He looks at Casey and April.
"What do you think?" he asks.
"Well-- I don't see why not," April says to Casey.
"Just don't overdo it," Casey warns, as he and April prepare to go out with Mike and Don for ice cream.
"Sweet! I am so ready to go out!"
"Raph, don't be too hard on him!" April warns.
"Are you kidding? If he thinks I'm holding back, he'll just do something even more strenuous on purpose," Raph wisely tells them.
Mike: Leo has learned that he is not indispensable.
Raph: Strange to say, it doesn't bother him. He rather enjoyed some of his time in bed.
"But I'd rather not do that again any time soon," he tells Raph, as they race across the room toward the door and his first training run since his injury.
And as he is running, he fails to see yet another one of Mikey's toys lying on the floor...