A/N: First off, my most sincerest apologies that this chapter took so long to post. As soon as I moved in, the insanity of unpacking immediately took control over my life. I'm still not completely unpacked, no surprise there, but as soon as I had things semi-organized, my modem decided to blow. Then, I started work and had to find the time to go get a new modem. It's been one wild ride after another, but, finally, here is the next chapter.
Despite the long wait and period of Internet inactivity, I have continued writing on this story so, rest assured, it has not been abandoned. I'm not completely satisfied with this chapter, but it can't be action all of the time, and there is more action coming, believe me. So, until next time, please enjoy and I hope it was worth the wait.
Disclaimer: I do not own TMNT, no matter how many times I've wished for it. TMNT is property of those wonderful people at Mirage. So, please do not sue, maim or accuse me of theft! It makes me sad inside :-P
Italics: mental thought
Foreshadows of an Inevitable Pain
Kyoshi watched from a safe corner of the room as another chair went flying through the air and crashed against the adjacent wall, sending a shower of splinters spewing across the floor. He turned his head back to face his comrades before whipping his head back around to watch another chair meet the same fate as the one before it.
Ryugi swallowed nervously and stood behind Ichiro, who picked up another piece of furniture, this time a small stool, and sent it to its immediate death on the far wall with the rest of the broken wood.
"The kame ruined everything! I am tired of being dishonored by having that THING fight alongside us."
Kyoshi stood with his arms crossed and tilted his head up towards his comrades through the shadows, voice even and mellow. "If memory serves me correctly, my brother, that kame saved your life."
Ichiro immediately went rigid and turned towards Kyoshi.
Ryugi huffed and crossed his arms. "He did no such thing."
"Have you forgotten? Were it not for Leonardo, that shuriken would have killed Ichiro on impact. The kame blocked it; he saved him."
"And if it were not for the kame his brothers would not have been there and attempted to kill one of us!"
"We have had many encounters with them long before the kame joined us. What makes you so eager to believe we would not have done battle with them sooner or later anyway?"
"It matters not! Their interference and the kame's hesitation prevented us from completing our duty and retrieving the money."
"But we did retrieve the money the very next night," Kyoshi countered calmly. "The three of us. We even succeeded in teaching the Purple Dragon scum a valuable lesson of which they will not soon forget. So why is it that you are angry?"
"I am angry because—"
"Besides the obvious answer to that question," Ichiro interrupted. "I pose another one to you, my brother." He glared accusingly at Kyoshi.
Kyoshi mentally squirmed under his gaze, but managed to keep a blank face and nodded in acceptance. "Ask of me what you will."
"Tell me, Kyoshi. Why is it that you now call the kame by its name?"
He felt his breath hitch as a chill ran down his back. Kyoshi blinked and uncrossed his arms in surprise. "What?"
Ichiro hardened his glare. "Like Kisho, you have begun to call the kame by 'Leonardo.' That is his name, is it not?"
Kyoshi swallowed at the realization of the fact that he had used Leonardo's name at the beginning of the conversation. He was at a loss for words, not having any idea of how to defend himself against an accusation that was true.
"Have you too changed sides?" Ichiro continued.
"Kisho has not changed sides," Kyoshi quickly corrected. "He merely looks at Le— the kame as one of us. He has fought alongside us for almost a month now and has saved yours and Kisho's lives. I do not see how that is changing sides, my brother."
Ryugi glared. "You dare speak to us so dishonorably, Kyoshi?"
Kyoshi looked at Ryugi pleadingly. "I meant no disrespect, Ryugi. I only speak fact. The kame has done nothing that should threaten us."
Ichiro growled and clenched his fists. "The mere fact that he follows with us is dishonorable enough. The disdain I hold for our 'master' grows more and more each day that she forces us to fight with… that creature. I am tired of having my honor threatened by fighting with a former enemy. A former enemy who is also a sin against nature." Ichiro stopped and glared at the floor. "And a I shall not stand by and allow it to take place a moment longer," he softly added.
Kyoshi blinked and tilted his head at Ichiro questioningly. "My brother?"
Ichiro and Ryugi shared a nod with one another and Ryugi turned back to Kyoshi. "We have decided to eliminate the kame from the equation."
Kyoshi's eyes widened.
Ryugi smirked. "You have a problem with such an action, Kyoshi?"
Kyoshi swallowed and attempted to mask his surprise with a shake of his head. "No, but will Karai not be angry? If she finds out she could have us all killed."
"She will not find out. We will make it appear as if the gangs are responsible. It will be easy enough to achieve." Ryugi looked at Ichiro and turned back to Kyoshi. "You must not share this information with Kisho." When he received a questioning glance from Kyoshi, he continued. "Kisho has grown far too close to the kame. It is for his own good. If he warns the kame, Kisho could be accused of treason. I do not wish to slay him."
Kyoshi briefly glanced at the door, turned to Ryugi and silently urged him to continue.
Ryugi stared Kyoshi directly in the eye as he explained. "We will go out for one of our nightly patrols. We have been ordered to take care of another band of Purple Dragons that have refused to pay Mistress Karai. After we dispose of them, we will split up to scout the area. During this time, Ichiro and I will use the modified Triceraton blasters that we acquired from one of the Purple Dragons' shipments and slay the kame. It will appear as if the Purple Dragons did the deed based on the wound marks. Ichiro and I will then abandon the blasters near the group's base and return to our meeting point with you and Kisho. Upon arriving and realizing that the kame is not among us, we will search for him. When we find his body, he will be long past dead. No one shall ever know."
"It appears as if you have thought this through," Kyoshi answered, straight-faced and seemingly un-phased by his comrades' suggestion.
Ichiro nodded. "The plan is infallible. Can we count on you to keep Kisho away long enough for Ryugi and I to dispose of the kame?"
Kyoshi bowed his head in submission. "Yes, of course, my brother. Tell me, when is it that you plan on fulfilling your mission?"
"Next week. The Purple Dragons have their annual meeting at the south dock in Manhattan. We shall complete our task there at midnight on the 6th day."
Kyoshi bowed his head again. "As you wish, Ichiro. If you will excuse me, I have yet to complete my training session for this evening." With one final bow, he backed out of the room and closed the door.
Ichiro and Ryugi watched the door warily. Ryugi glanced at Ichiro as he stood by his side. "Do you believe he can be trusted? He and Kisho are very close."
Ichiro hesitated. "He is the youngest, and thereby holds the position of the younger brother of our clan. He looks up to us. He will not betray us."
Ryugi nodded and looked back at the door. "Never would I have dreamed things would become so complicated among us."
"All the more reason for us to eliminate the kame quickly. He has caused dissension among our group. Because of him, we are beginning to divide." Ichiro turned to face Ryugi. "We must stop such a thing from happening before it goes any further."
Ryugi nodded in agreement. "Soon our troubles will be over. Once we are done with the kame and have restored order among us, we will begin our plans against Mistress Karai."
Ichiro smiled maliciously. "The moment shall not come soon enough."
Donatello heard the voice echo through his mind. His eyes were so heavy and his head felt like it weighed at least forty pounds.
Again the voice broke through his consciousness. He groaned softly and slowly opened his eyes. He could feel something on his arm and attempted to blink away the blurred images that sleep left behind. After a few minutes of yawning and repeated blinking, he recognized the furry paw that was on his right forearm.
"Master Splinter!" Don shot up out of his chair in surprise, knocking off all the paperwork on his desk in the process. He instinctively stood up straight with wide eyes, fully alert, before confusion graced his features.
Splinter chuckled. "I am sorry, my son. I did not mean to startle you."
Don sighed in relief and relaxed, giving his master a small smile. "I'm sorry, Sensei. I…" He groaned and tilted his head back. "Ah, shell." He rubbed two hands over his face. "I fell asleep!"
"Do not worry, my son. You needed your rest. You have barely had a moment's worth of it since Leonardo's disappearance."
Don looked back at his master and smiled sadly. "I haven't seen you around much, Sensei."
"Yes, and I am sorry for that, Donatello. But I believe my efforts have finally gained the benefit of our many doubts."
Don blinked. "Master Splinter?"
"Although I have not identified the exact source of our problems, I have learned a few things. Gather your brothers and meet me in my room."
"Um, well, Mikey is topside looking for clues."
"No I'm not." Mikey poked his head through the door. "I've been back for over an hour, bro, just didn't wanna wake you."
Don blinked at Mikey and chuckled softly, then turned back to Splinter and gave him a small bow. "Yes, Sensei."
With a brief nod, Splinter left Don's lab and retreated to his room to wait for his sons.
Don looked at Mikey as their father disappeared. "You should have woken me up," he mumbled as he headed for the door.
Mikey shook his head. "Nah, you looked almost as tired as Raph was." He followed his brother out and paused at Raph's door. "You didn't wake him up?"
Don stopped at Raph's door and raised his left eye ridge at Mikey.
Mikey nodded. "He said just a nap. He wanted you to wake him up."
"I've been asleep, remember?" Don sighed. "And I know I should have, but I've never seen Raph that worn down. He's not much of a napper; he usually wakes up within the first hour. If he didn't wake up at all, then chances are he really needed the rest."
Mikey nodded. "Guess you've got a point. Well, I'm gonna go back and sit with Master Splinter."
"You don't want to help me wake him? Usually you jump at the opportunity."
"I do a lot of cuckoo things but I'm not crazy, Don. Like you've said, I've woken Raph up before… a lot, and I'm just... not in the mood today!" He said with a grin. Before Don had a chance to retaliate, his younger brother turned and ran towards Splinter's room. "Word of advice! Keep at least a ten-foot distance and I'd suggest poking him with your bo! He lashes out!"
Don stared after Mikey. "Thanks… for the advice." Don chuckled softly and shook his head. With a deep breath, he peeked into Raph's room.
"Hey, Raph?" When he didn't receive an answer, he carefully stepped into the dark room and left the door cracked to allow some light in. "Raph?"
Raph groaned and turned over in his hammock.
Don sighed and stepped beside the hammock. "You really would punch me wouldn't you? Hmmm." He nervously glanced at the sai that his brother kept next to the hammock. Quietly, he pushed them far from Raph's reach. Then, taking Mikey's advice, he stood a good distance away from his sleeping brother, took out his bo staff and gently prodded his brother's arm with it.
Raph swiped at it, rolled over again onto his plastron and buried his head in his arms.
"Come on, Raph." He gently poked him again. Upon receiving no response, he sighed. "Geez, you're worse than Mikey." He poked him in the side with his bo staff, more roughly this time and yelped when Raph snatched the bo staff, jerked it from his hands and threw it across the room.
Don put his fists on his hips and glared at Raph. "I just made that one after my other one got sliced in half and it's already catching abuse." He sighed and decided a different approach. In a panicked voice, he screamed. "Raph! Mikey crashed the shell cycle!"
Raph's eyelids flew open and he jumped out of his hammock. "What?! I'll throttle him! Where is he?!"
Don held his hands up and backed away. "Whoa, calm down, Raph. Mikey's fine."
"What about the shell cycle?! Is she banged up?! Can you fix her?! Gah, I'LL—"
Don chuckled and quickly attempted to swallow his amusement. "The shell cycle's fine."
Raph blinked in confusion and looked around. "Huh? But you… wait a minute…"
"Sorry, you've got to admit that you're a heavy sleeper."
Raph let out a long sigh. "DON'T ever do that again." Don smiled sadly in response. With another deep breath, Raph looked up at his brother. "What time is it?"
"You know… I don't even know to be honest. I nodded off at my desk."
"Have I been asleep all day?"
"Don," Raph stretched and groaned. "I told ya ta wake me up."
"I know." He half smiled. "But aren't you glad I didn't?"
Raph blinked and hesitated. After staring at his brother for the entirety of two minutes, he half smiled and grunted. "Heh, yeah. I feel a lot betta now. So, what's up?"
"Master Splinter wants to talk with us."
"He came out of meditation?" When Don nodded, Raph immediately bolted from his spot and ran out the door. "Why didn't ya say so?"
"Hey!" Don quickly ran after his brother. He failed to notice, however, when Raph suddenly slid to a stop and ended up plowing right into him. Raph grunted when he smacked into the floor, Don landing square on top of him.
"Geez, Donnie," he coughed.
"Sorry!" Don quickly hopped off his brother and offered him a hand up.
Raph accepted the help and, once standing, rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "Ain't I the one who's supposed ta be apologizin'?" Don tilted his head in confusion and Raph looked away, cheeks flushing slightly in embarrassment. "You know I don't do the whole 'apologizing' thing very well but... I'm sorry. What I said the other day... after the warehouse fiasco... and with the way I've been actin' toward ya... well, I've been way outta line. You didn't deserve any of that and... well, if it would have been me, after I thought about it, I woulda done the same thing, you know? So... I'm sorry." When Raph didn't receive an answer, he looked back at Don, a hint of annoyance lacing his voice. "Yo, Don. This ain't exactly easy for me. I'm tryin' to apologi—"
"I know," Don smiled. "Thanks. And don't worry about it. We're all on edge."
Raph allowed the smallest of smiles to grace his features before he coughed and shifted his feet uncomfortably. "Well, we should get to Sensei."
Don nodded and the two continued on their way. Mikey looked up from his place in front of Splinter as Raph and Don walked up, his concentration directed solely on Raph. The two stared at one another for a moment, Mikey's gaze nothing but apologetic and Raph's stern as usual. After a few moments, Raph nodded and Mikey smiled, content with the unspoken acceptance of his unheard apology to his brother. Without another moment's hesitation, Raph sat beside Mikey and Don sat next to Raph. From then on out, they gave their master their full attention.
Splinter watched each of them and smiled sadly. "I must first ask your forgiveness, my sons, for my presence has been needed here and I rarely gave it through your time of need."
All three turtles smiled sadly at their master and nodded their heads. Mikey grinned and gave his father a thumbs up. "It's ok, Sensei." He winked. "You've had a lot on your mind."
Don nodded. "We support each other no matter what. That's what you taught us to do, Sensei."
"That includes you, Master Splinter," Raph added.
Splinter chuckled at his sons' reassurances and nodded. "Thank you, my sons. Now, to the matter at hand. As you are well aware, I have been in constant meditation in the hopes of coming across anything that may be of use to us. I believe I may have discovered something."
Each turtle leaned forward in earnest. They had been waiting what seemed like a lifetime for a break like this.
Splinter continued. "As you are also aware, I have not been able to establish contact with Leonardo. However, I have discovered why. Your brother has not fallen down the wrong path. He is indeed, as Donatello has suggested, being controlled. By whom or what, I cannot make certain, but it feels familiar."
The three brothers looked at one another and back at Splinter. Raphael voiced the question that all of them were silently asking. "Familiar?"
"Yes. It is not by any device of this world, however. Something that is powerful enough to block his mind has made an attempt to erase all memory of us and convince him that we are the enemy. He actually does believe that his allegiance is to Karai. His mind has been thwarted to believe that we are his true enemy, and that he must destroy us." Splinter hesitated. "And, as long as his mind believes that, he will stop at nothing until he does just that."
The turtles' eyes widened. Mikey bit his lip nervously. "But, I thought Leo had that whole 'mind-body' thing going on. I mean, he's good at that stuff. How come he can't break free? We've all learned how to do stuff like that."
Splinter sighed sadly. "Yes, you are right, my son. However, your brother is being influenced by a source far more powerful than we are used to dealing with."
Don frowned. "But I thought you said it was familiar?"
"It is, yes. I feel as if we have encountered such an enemy before, but for some reason, the actual source eludes me. I believe it may possibly be more than one being controlling him. Perhaps they are all working together in order to increase their abilities. When I encountered the block to Leonardo's mind, it was, by far, the strongest sense of sorcery that I have ever encountered. It will be nearly impossible to break it. Even someone such as myself would have great difficulty breaking such a bond, if I could at all."
The brothers froze.
"B-but!" Mikey stuttered. "If… if you don't even think you can do it, how is Leo?!"
Don held his hands out pleadingly. "There's got to be a way to break it! You helped me back on the Triceraton ship! There's got to be something!"
Raph clenched his fists. "I'll rip Karai apart with my bare hands! There's gotta be a way to break it!"
Each of the turtles fell quiet at their father's commanding tone and looked down. Splinter sighed and spoke in a more soothing voice. "My sons. Try to remain calm. I said 'nearly impossible,' not 'impossible.' We will devise a way to get your brother back, of that, I can assure you. As you say, there must be a way. It will be difficult, but remember that nothing is truly impossible."
Don stared at the floor thoughtfully and looked back up. "He… did try and protect me." After he had acquired everyone's confused and surprised stares, he continued. "Back at the warehouses. When the Purple Dragons started shooting, he jumped on top of me and shielded me with his own body. He looked surprised that he did it, but he didn't move until that Elite got trapped in that burning building."
Splinter perked his ears up at this new information. "Did anything else occur, Donatello?"
Don bit his lip and tried to remember. "He… he had a weird, blank look on his face when… when Mikey almost got his head whacked open."
Mikey winced. "Thanks for the visual, braniac."
Don ignored Mikey and continued. "For some reason, he almost looked like he was going to try and save him, but his face just went totally blank. Then… wait, before that… before that he had his katana at my neck. Then I… I cried… and he stopped."
Raph and Mikey looked at each other, seemingly uplifted by Donatello's experience while Splinter watched Donatello carefully. After a moment's silence, he spoke again.
"It appears that his mind may be stronger than we thought. If all of this happened, if he was able to recognize you for even the briefest of moments, there is more hope than we thought. The trick now will be determining what the best course of action is in order to trigger those memories. Upon reaching a certain point, I believe your brother is capable of breaking free of this control, though it will be very difficult. We still must be cautious around him. Keep in mind that he may still attack any one of us, and we must be prepared to handle such an event if it arises."
Raph mulled everything over and looked at Splinter questioningly. "So, whadda we do now, Sensei?"
"Donatello, am I accurate in saying that you have copies of Foot Headquarters?"
Don blinked at Splinter. "Huh? Copies? Oh! Yes, Sensei. I have detailed blueprints of the entire building. A little more research… a lot more research and I might be able to configure which room Leo's in. Even if that's not a possibility, I'll at least be able to tell which floor he's on and we can move from there."
"If we do in fact enter the building, is there a certain method we should go about in order to get back out?"
Don shook his head sadly. "I don't know enough about the building yet, Sensei. I mean, there are plenty of entry and exit points, but the problem is we don't know how well equipped the Foot are. If we make a detailed plan to get out through one exit, and the Foot expect it, might as well just call us turtles flambé."
"With a side order of rat," Mikey added, holding a knowledgeable finger in the air. The action earned him a smack in the head from his brother. "Ow, Raph!"
Splinter nodded and stood up. "Very well. We will continue to search for entryways and exits through the building. Perhaps we can concoct one general plan that will assist us in getting out. Donatello, if you have the need for any assistance, do not hesitate to inform your brothers or myself. As for the rest of us, while Donatello is developing his plans, the three of us will continue to assist him in any way we can. Aside from that, use your heads and think hard about any method possible in order to jar your brother's memory, whether it is a childhood memory or even some type of memorabilia that is special to him that he would recognize. Donatello has proven that it is possible. Now we must take it one step further and devise a way to make the change in his personality permanent once again."
Raph, Don and Mikey all stood and bowed to their master. Donatello immediately ran back to his lab with Raph and Mikey hot on his heels. Splinter watched his sons go with a small smile and closed the door after they were gone. With a heavy sigh, he returned to his meditation mat and lit the candles surrounding it. He closed his eyes in concentration and exhaled slowly. Danger is coming. I do not know the cause of it, but I can sense it. Something we do not expect. A dark deed will soon be carried out that will be irreversible. Time is running out. It will happen soon. My sons, please take caution. Something is terribly wrong, and I fear this is one matter which we may not be able to prevent from happening. An unavoidable tragedy perhaps. It will soon come to pass. Now it is in fate's hands.