Disclaimer: I own no mutant turtles and every devious kidnap plot I get involved in is thwarted. Life sucks.
Splinter was worried. But then, he had spent rather a long time being worried, ever since he had been exposed to a glowing ooze down in the sewers, the same day he became a father of four. His intelligence had rapidly increased along with his size and he was now smart enough to realise that he could no longer forage in the same way that he had after his Master Yoshi had been killed. Anyone who saw the oversized rat would probably scream, attempt to hurt him, and then who would look after his sons? So he had been forced to go dumpster diving in the early hours of the morning, trying to find something that wouldn't poison them in the remnants of human garbage, each time afraid that this would be the time when he would be discovered and killed, leaving his sons to die a slow and painful death through starvation. But he couldn't take them with him – they were still unsteady on their feet, noisy, little more than toddlers.
Splinter allowed himself a small smile as he hurried back to the lair. His sons were the thing that made his life worth living. Before he found them, he had been bereft, his Sensei dead, his home gone, scavenging on the street for whatever he could find. Now his life had some kind of purpose; the protection of his new family. With his increased wisdom came the knowledge that his sons, and himself, were very different to most of the surface dwellers and his experience taught him that the humans were often cruel to those who were different.
Although it was a difficult life they led, he wouldn't have changed it. Getting used to his changed body had been a difficult task but he was getting more used to it now, finding it was actually more flexible and adaptable than his rodent form. There were things he could do now that he had been unable to before his transformation, like decipher the marks on a piece of paper and derive meanings from them. He knew he had seen Master Yoshi do just that, sometimes pointing to the marks and explaining to his pet exactly what it said, but as a rat he simply hadn't been able to read. Now he could, and had used the knowledge to choose names for the children from a book on art he had found in a storm drain, the very book that had alerted him to the new skill he had acquired. He had once again begun tentatively practising ninjitsu again and hoped that he would soon be able to mimic the movements of his Master Yoshi that had been impossible as a true rat…
His smile faded. A mere rat he might have been only eighteen months previously but he had imitated Yoshi as well as his body would allow him and paid heed to his activities, such as meditation. He could sense that something was amiss, but couldn't decipher what that something was. Raising his nose into the air, he scented the tunnel cautiously. He could detect no one there and yet he couldn't rid himself of the feeling of wrongness. He had to get home to the children. Maybe then he would be rid of this concern.
Clutching the sack he had brought back with him, he hurried back through the sewers, hoping the turtles hadn't awoken. The alley where he had been foraging had given various treasures, making it a favourite spot of Splinter's to search for food. There was a general store there, and the expired food wound up in the dumpster. Sometimes there was milk or bread, sometimes sandwich meat or slowly defrosting desserts. On occasion, there had been cans of food which Splinter had struggled to open with rocks. That night there had been a veritable feast; two loaves gone slightly hard, a tin of meatballs and a packet of egg flavoured sandwich filler. A largish carton of chocolate milkshake. Tomorrow the turtles would eat well. Splinter longed for the day when he could work out a better way of finding food, or maybe risk going further afield for their supplies, but with the children so young and his mutation so recent, he didn't dare risk it. As long as there were several places nearby where he could find food for them all, he didn't see the need to be gone longer than he had to be, in spite of the niggling worry that one day he would be seen and the next time he went to the dumpster, some one would be waiting for him.
The entrance to the lair loomed ahead and Splinter scurried through, going to check on the turtles before he did anything else. They were exactly where he had left them. Leonardo and Raphael lay on the outside of the pile of tattered blankets, Michelangelo and Donatello curled in the middle. Splinter was once again struck with the reality of the situation; the turtles were only slightly smaller than the average human three year old. No one would believe that they were ordinary pets. Nor would anyone think they were ordinary humans, not with their green skin and tri-fingered hands. He couldn't let anyone discover their existence, not the way that humans treated those who weren't like others.
Stowing the food in the coldest part of the lair, Splinter snuggled down on the pile of blankets beside his sons, ensuring that they were all covered and warm. Much as he knew he couldn't let anyone find his sons, he also knew that the sewers were not the best place for growing children, no matter what their species. But for the time being, it was the best that he could do.
Dozing off, Splinter managed almost ninety minutes sleep before he awoke with a start. He sat up hurriedly, scenting the air. Some one was close. A lot of some ones. Young, male, right outside the lair – and another scent that he recognised. The last time he had been near that person, he had been scratching the skin off his face.
Flexing himself, Splinter prepared himself for attack.
The entrance of the lair was empty one moment, the next a flood of people darted through the door. Clad in black, there were too many of them for Splinter to fight off. Not that the numbers were going to stop him. He recognised the insignia on their clothes; the mark of the Foot clan. The same clan responsible for the death of his Master Yoshi. And behind all of them, the tall, imposing figure of the Hun, still bearing the scars of the last time the two had met.
"A rat," said Hun in a menacing tone. "I hate rats."
"The marks I left on your face are but a small retribution for your dishonourable actions when you faced my Master Yoshi!" Splinter had previously spoken the human language only to the turtles and his voice was harsh but perfectly understandable. He could sense the shock of the Foot soldiers, evident in their rigid stances. But Hun showed no shock at the talking rat, merely narrowed his eyes as it sank in just who was stood before him.
Splinter stood his ground, waiting for the order to attack, hearing a stirring behind him. He didn't dare turn around to check on the turtles, but he silently willed them to go on sleeping, not to wake up and draw attention to themselves. A talking rat was a novelty, something for the Foot clan and their dishonourable master to marvel over for a time, but four mutant turtles too young to fight back – that would be disastrous.
"Foot ninja! Take it down!"
Immediately the Foot leapt into action, attacking Splinter in number. The rat had long studied the moves of his Master Yoshi and was able to fight back, felling the first wave of ninjas with kicks and punches. But he knew it was only a matter of time. They were too numerous and he was not yet used to the changes his body had made, still wanting to give in to his rodent instincts and revert to biting and scratching. He struggled against the urge, knowing that to do so would end the fight sooner. He was determined to give these misguided fools a taste of what it meant to serve the Foot; pain and humiliation.
No sooner had he disabled the first attack then he was set upon again, three Foot soldiers running straight at him while a further two struck behind him. He managed to fell two of those attacking in front before one of the ninja to his rear managed to kick his legs from under him. Before he could recover himself, Hun advanced and picked Splinter up by his neck, making it almost impossible for the rat to catch a breath, let alone fight back.
"The Master will be most interested in this find," he said maliciously. "Stupid rat, too primitive to realise the food it found was bugged…"
A tiny green figure bolted from the pile of blankets in the corner and ran over to Hun. Before any of the Foot ninja could wrap their brains around what they were seeing, the turtle had sank its teeth into Hun's ankle.
Grimacing, Hun reached down and grabbed the turtle by the shell, lifting and examining him by turning him around, while all the time the mutant struggled to lay a punch on the man.
"It's a freak haven down here!" Hun gazed in frank wonder at the turtle. "The rat we were expecting, but this!"
"Waff! Man got Waff!"
Hun glanced over to the pile of blankets, astonishment growing as three more turtles bounced out of the corner and attempted to attack him. Tiny fists beat at his legs and one of them jumped up, trying to get hold of the first turtle and the rat, an ineffectual attempt at a rescue.
"Get them all," ordered Hun. "We must show these freaks to the Master."
Splinter's eyes widened. The thing he had always been most afraid of had come to pass. "My sons – run! Get away!"
"Not so fast!" One of the Foot ninja grabbed an escaping turtle as it ran past him, gaining a glancing kick to the abdomen as he picked it up.
"Help me with these two," said another, pinning the remaining turtles to the floor, unable to pick one up without releasing his grip on the other.
"Let's get them back to headquarters," said Hun, before returning his attention to Splinter. "Your 'sons'? Sorry to break up the happy freak family."
At the mercy of the Hun, Splinter didn't respond. He could think of no way out of their current predicament. And he knew that with the turtles in his control, there was no reason for the Shredder to keep him alive.
Oruku Saki observed the room on one of the security cameras, curious but not shocked. He had seen too much in his many years to be startled by any life form he came across. But this was a first on this planet; mutant creatures living in the sewers, four of them too young to fend for themselves. It was these four he was keeping an eye on.
In their windowless room, the four turtles were reacting in different ways to their sudden change in circumstances. Raphael was beating his fists against the door, demanding to be let out. Leonardo was sitting in a corner, a thoughtful frown on his face. Michelangelo was fighting back tears, occasionally asking plaintively for Splinter. And Donatello seemed to be in mild shock, wandering the room and examining the walls, almost like he was searching for a hidden exit. Of course, Saki had no idea of their names or their origins. But he was going to find out.
Tapping his fingers against the monitor, Saki considered his options. He could terrorise the answers out of them, but that didn't seem like the best course of action. Creatures such as these could be useful to him in the future and to make them fear him now would only hamper any future attempts to garner their loyalty. He could manipulate anyone given enough time and leverage but right now it wasn't a strange man that they needed to see. They needed some one else to open up to, some one they would be more likely to trust than the leader of the clan that had torn them away from their Sensei.
The answer came to him and he allowed himself a self-satisfied smirk, telling one of the Foot soldiers to summon his adopted daughter.
Karai entered the monitor room five minutes later, her often sullen face brightening slightly as she saw Saki. He had saved her from a life on the streets of Japan as a much smaller child and now she was nine years old she looked upon the head of the Foot clan as a father figure. He had begun teaching her ninjitsu and was gratified to discover she had a natural aptitude for it. In years to come she would be trusted to lead one of the branches of the Foot, the organisation spreading all over the world, New York being only the latest in a long line of places to host the shadowy group.
"Master Saki." Karai bowed her head to show her respect and Saki returned the gesture.
"Karai. I have need of your services." He indicated to the screen where the turtles were displayed. He noticed how Karai looked startled as she saw what he was looking at. "These – turtles – have come to our attention of late. They were in the care of an enemy and we have rescued them. However, they are very upset. Our enemy is the only parent they have ever known and although what we have done is for the best, I do not know how to explain that to them. I believe they would be more willing to speak to some one closer to their own age than they would to me right now."
Watching the screen, Karai nodded. She wasn't blind to the ways of the Foot clan, but she knew that their enemies were powerful, ruthless, willing to bring them down no matter what. Her heart went out to the tiny green creatures who looked so lost. She could remember all too well what it was like to be left without ones parents', not knowing what was going to happen next. So she listened to Saki and took in his instructions, planning what she was going to say to the creatures and how she would talk them around to their side.
Raphael finally wore himself out, letting his arms drop to his sides and throwing himself onto the ground beside his brothers. He didn't like this place, the room was too bright, the walls were too close, he wanted to go home, a sentiment being echoed by his brothers.
"Where Sp'inta?" asked Michelangelo for the fourth time in five minutes.
"Him gone," replied Donatello, prodding the wall carefully. The construction of the room they were currently in was very different to that of the sewers and he found it quite interesting, although he didn't have the words to articulate that.
"Bad man took Sp'inta," added Leonardo sadly.
"Want out," muttered Raphael.
The door opened, causing all four turtles to scoot to the furthest corner and stare at the person who had entered. They had known that the people who took Splinter were 'men' because of the pictures their Sensei had shown them in discarded magazines that he had brought back to the lair with him, often making up stories based upon the pictures. But that night was the first time they had ever seen one, let alone several dozen. The figure at the door wasn't a man, but another type of human, one that Splinter had called a 'girl'. A pouting, nervous girl, not very much older than they were.
"Um…hello." The girl closed the door behind her and regarded them curiously. They stared back, not sure whether or not to be afraid of her.
The girl cleared her throat, obviously unnerved by their lack of response. "My name's Karai. What are your names?"
"Go 'way!" shouted Raphael.
"Uh…" Karai hesitated. "You're all safe here now. My Sensei rescued you from the nasty rat man."
"Want Sp'inta," said Michelangelo, his eyes filling with tears.
"Splinter was a bad person," said Karai seriously. "He was keeping you prisoner in the nasty dark sewer! That wasn't nice, was it?"
"Want Sp'inta," repeated Mikey, the tears trickling slowly down his cheeks. Leo patted his brother on the shell, like he had seen Splinter do when one of them cried.
"You can stay here with us instead," continued Karai, pretending not to notice the crying turtle. "It's nice and there's always food. And Master Saki is a good man. He takes real good care of me, he'll take good care of you too."
"Don't wanna stay!" Raph glared at Karai angrily. "We want Sp'inta!"
Karai shook her head and looked at the floor. "I'm sorry, but…Splinter's dead. You'll have to stay with us. There's no one else left to look after you."
The turtles looked blank at this news and Karai sighed. "That means he's gone away and he won't ever come back."
"Him not come back?" Donatello looked agitated. "But him has to!"
"It's alright," said Karai. "You can stay here with us. We'll be friends."
The four turtles gave her mutinous glares, eyes narrowed, making Karai sigh again. "You don't have a lot of choice in this. You're going to live here with Master Saki. It's much better than living in a cold dark sewer with the rat man."
"Stay here 'til Sp'inta come back?" asked Leo.
"Yes," replied Karai, giving up on the idea of explaining the concept of death to a toddler. She sat down opposite the turtles, giving them her best smile. "What are your names? We have to know your names if you're going to live here."
The four exchanged glances and eventually Leo answered. "Me Leonardo," he enunciated carefully. "This Don'tello. This Waphael. This Mike'angelo."
In the monitor room, Saki watched Karai elicit the information out of them and laughed softly. The rat had named them after artists? That was surprisingly intelligent for vermin. But let them keep the names. He had to call them something after all. And he guessed that in a month or so they would stop asking for their father. In a year they would have forgotten all about him. By the time they were old enough to require any information about their origins, they should have forgotten that they had ever been anywhere except Foot headquarters and that would make his life a lot easier. He had been right. Following the mutant rat that one of the Foot soldiers had seen several weeks previously had been a smart move on his part.
All he had to do was gain their trust and loyalty and they would be his for life.