I own none of the turtles or any of their associated characters, because- let me tall ya; if I did I'd give the characters a lot of in-depth info and more character development, as well make the plot a lot more complicated! LoL? So anyway, just to give you a head's up and avoid any confusion, this story is based on the Newtoon and not the movies. Enjoy.
I watched her dreamily from where I worked, where she sat under the cherry tree with that pretty smile.
I followed her thin fingers with my eyes alone, while they expertly weaved those poppy flowers into a violet-pink colored crown.
After I was done with my task, patching a rug with a thick needle and long fastened threads, I rolled it and tied it securely, before I leaned forth on my crossed legs a little, I watched her while she worked and looking so at peace.
I admit when father first brought her home I was uneasy and a bit nervous, because I've never been this close to a girl before. Sure I've lived on the streets for a while after my parents died during the bombing, the destruction and explosion that took their life along many innocent others, and I've met with many homeless children within various ages, boys and girls, throughout the streets while begging the more fortunate people for food, or to help us in some form.
But I had never come across someone like her character and at the same age I was.
Even my- somewhat adopted brother shared my unease and uncertainties, when father told us she was moving in to live with us.
We really weren't all that sure on how to act around her, because we've lived most of our childhood in the streets and fighting for our own benefit, a battle of survival in the harsh environment we shared with many others. We worked hard to provide ourselves with food and shelter, and yet we have rarely come across any girls who could do the same.
A while later after living on the streets, he came into our life and took us in, gave us a home and fed us, and slowly because more than just someone we were deeply indebted to. He became our teacher and taught us the arts of ninjutsu, and gradually became more and more of a father figure. It came to no surprise to us that he would shelter another homeless and orphaned child under his wing, but we never expected it to be a girl.
Tang Shen, she said her name was, and I believe she wasn't just an average girl.
With her deep, warm and friendly nature, my brother and I naturally found ourselves drawn to her. With her brown eyes, her long and rich black hair and that delicate smile, I don't know how to describe it all, but it makes me feel so peaceful every time I see her smile. Weather it's a natural reaction or because having her there affects me somehow, I'll never understand. There is just something magical and heartfelt about her presence, it makes my heart race and my mind would often blank, like- almost as if she charmed me with some sort of spell without even trying.
It had been a few years since Shen had moved in to live with us, and I admit I found her company and presence very enjoyable. Mashimi and I figured our feelings towards her would remain the love of brothers towards a little sister, little did we think it would bloom into something more.
Mashimi and I were around sixteen years of age back then, while Shen was about a year younger. Although her mind had shown the maturity of her mind, it almost surpassed Mashimi and I's knowledge.
I couldn't help the way I felt, there is just something about her that called out to me, that beamed at me with such an inviting smile. It might have been all in my head as nothing more than wishful thinking, but a part of me refused to believe it was a fantasy, especially when she looked at me and we would gaze into each others eyes.
That part assured me that my feelings are real, and she felt the same as well.
As if sensing my longing gaze, she glanced from over the crown of reddish-violet flowers in her hand and sweetly grinned at me, she raised the fragrant accessory and a star-like sparkle shone in her eyes.
I grinned back and nodded, admiring her beauty as well as her skill. I may never have the courage to admit my true feeling to her right now, but I will when I feel the time is right.
She lowered her hands and continued working on the crown a little more; a pleasant smile grew wider on her pale pink lips. Once done she pushed up to her feet and glanced towards the entrance of our home, as if expecting someone to arrive. At first, I wondered if she had senses something, because I felt that she had a better sixth sense than the rest of us, which helps her predict things, but only sometimes.
As expected, father walked in with pride and dignity shone on his features, and she happily walked up to greet him, to welcome him on a safe journey home, before she presented him with the flowery crown.
Father smiled and groomed his short beard, before he chuckled and praised her skill and beauty.
She crowned him by placing the flowery ring over his sakkat, and they shared a small smile and laugh. He then murmured something to her and glanced my way, so I knew he would address something to me. I pushed off the porch as Shen bowed to father with respect, spared me a knowing grin and then hurried off around the house, probably towards the kitchen to prepare some tea.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and greeted father as he entered our home, quietly I followed him in to rightfully discard his hat and robe on the racks. I have been meaning to talk to him all day, but never mustered up the courage to do so till now. Thankfully, when Shen had told me father left early in the morning to do some errands in town, I was occupied with her while Mashimi had to go gather some wood from the forest.
I spent the early morning with Shen, since I've finished most of my chores early. All I needed now was to address my problem to father, but the problem is that I did not know how or where to begin, it just sounded too farfetched to be real, considering it revolves over a dream, and perhaps they were nothing but figments of my imaginations, that I was just thinking too much of it.
"So, what is on your mind, my son?" father spoke kindly and eyed me with a knowing but concerned smile, "You look restless, is there something you wish to discuss with me?" he encouraged gently.
I felt a tingle as warmth invaded my cheeks and nodded, confirming that I do have something to say. Father is so skilled in sensing other people's chi and current emotions, I feel that it might take me ages to master such a skill. He knows when we're having trouble expressing ourselves, either it be from shyness or merely unease, so I thanked God for giving me the strength to get this matter off my chest.
I bowed with respect, "Yes, father, I- I have been having these… strange dreams lately," I admitted, unsure how to start.
He hummed in thought, and then gestured for me to follow him to his chamber. Once inside the secluded safety of his privet chamber, we settled on the tatami mats and by the time we got comfortable, Shen arrived with the tea. She sent me a sweet smile while she poured father and I cups of finely brewed green tea, and then bowed once more before she wordlessly left.
I fidgeted nervously where I sat with my legs buckled under me, my fists balled tight and pressed to my knees. I stared at the cup before me and my eyes widened as I noticed something in my hot beverage.
There was the tiniest green straw standing vertically on the surface of my drink.
I felt great pressure ease off my tense muscles, for it was a sign of good luck.
Encouraged to voice my concerns by the sight of that sign, I glanced at father almost timidly and bowed slightly as to request permission to speak. He quietly picked up his cup and nodded curtly, waiting patiently to hear what I had to say.
"So, what is this dream you have been having, Yoshi?" he asked gently, while he nursed the cup in his hands.
"Well, it's a bit- crazy, father. I'm not sure how to start it." I let out a small wry breath.
"Well the beginning is a good place to start, no?" he smiled, almost teasing.
I smiled back and tried to compose my thoughts, to remember how the dream started. "Usually, the dream repeats itself every time I see it." I began quietly, cleared my thoughts to describe the dream the best I could, "It starts in a tunnel. Long, dark and twisting around like a dragon's labyrinth, but disturbingly I find myself breezing through every nook and cranny, swiftly passing by every twist and turn without faltering once, almost as if I already knew them by heart." I paused to glance at him.
He subtly, almost as if not interested in this dream at all, took a sip from his tea.
But I knew he was listening; he was just being casual so I braved on and continued. "I saw strange figures dancing in the shadows, but didn't quite make them out. Then at the end of the tunnel there would always be a burst of light, very bright and sometimes, I could swear it felt hot." I paused again and recalled the imaginary feel of hot gusts of wind glowing against my flesh, "I weren't afraid or alarmed, it felt- natural. It was almost as if I've lived there all my life." I murmured, a strange feeling tingled in the back of my mind, but for the life of me, I couldn't describe it,
He furrowed slightly but said nothing; he merely nodded and encouraged me to continue.
"Some other times the second I step out of the tunnels and into the light, I find myself in a battle." I said again, picked up my cup and merely stared at my reflection, before my gaze would fix on the tiny stem floating on the surface of my drink. It remained in its vertical state, it signaled that I still had good luck by my side so far, "There is this man in silver armor standing before me, black shadows dancing behind in with fiery red eyes."
Father's body and spine straightened up and his eyes widened a bit, "A man in silver armor, you say?" he said so very casually, but a gut feeling told me he knew more than he let on.
Father always knew more than he let on.
"Yes." I confirmed, though then a feel of dread told me I wasn't thinking too much of the dream, something about it was a forewarning of sorts. "In this battle, there are many people scattered about, bleeding and crying words, words I can't hear." I moved a hand to press a finger behind my ear, the memory was fresh and I could imagine those images playing in the back of my mind.
"Strangely there is never a background and everything is bathed in white, there are black lumps of- something, and the white background is stained in splotches and smears of red." I described the dream from memory. I've had this dream more than once, so it's easy for me to recall what happens, even though some bits and pieces are added or go missing every time I get that dream.
Father sent me a slightly uneasy stare before he took a sip from his drink, "Is that all?" he questioned, and I knew he expected more.
"No, there is more." I shook my head.
The next part was too farfetched, I squirmed a little, "What happens next is that after I defeat this armored foe and chopped his head, he arose once more as if unaffected by my blow." I shuddered slightly and wondered if the fiend I fought was even human, "That's when I move around more freely in the light, but then I feel heavy and unable to move, as if there were invisible restraints keeping me shackled to the floor, and- I don't know," I gave an agitated sigh, and then glanced at the cup, the stem was still there.
"In the light I get to see myself better, and that's when I looked at my hands, my hands were- green, with only three fingers." I somewhat complained, confused by the images I saw in my dreams over and over, "I'm not human in those dreams, but for some reason I'm not disturbed by that fact, it's almost as if I was never human to begin with."
Father closed his eyes for a moment, but I detected the tiniest movement on his lips. I think he was praying. After a moment he opened his eyes to look at me with a kind smile, took another rather long sip from his drink, and then gave a small sigh.
"My son, I believe what you saw was a warning." He admitted reluctantly, a slight frown knit his thin white brows, "The one in the silver armor is an enemy I know of." He confessed, but he seemed a bit irked, "Hopefully he will not find you, nor will you have to fight him. He is deadly and dangerous. One must be very prepared before crossing paths with him." He warned.
I frowned, I have to know who this beast I fight in my dreams is to prepare myself for him, "Who is he?"
"We call him, The Shredder." He said in a serious tone, and for some strange reason, the tone of father's voice caused a prickle to tingle across the back of my neck, it felt like cold fingers pressed against warm skin.
"Yoshi, do you remember that story about the Dragon Five I told you and your siblings?" he asked softly, and at my confirming nod he continued, "It is true. Those people are called the Ninja Tribunal. I know that this is ahead of time, and I should not tell you this just yet, but perhaps those dreams are a warning that there is not much time left." He explained.
That night, he told me of the tribunal, and it was a tale worth a thousand words.
Later that night I lay awake in bed, mind raced with multiple thoughts.
Father had told me so much, and yet after all he had said I felt that I knew so little.
With my hands clasped behind my head where I lay in bed that night, I regarded Mashimi where he peacefully slept in the futon a short distance besides me for a moment, unsure if I should share my dreams and tell him of what father had told me.
Somehow, I felt that it wasn't a good idea to tell him about these dreams.
A gut feeling assured me it wasn't a good idea. Mashimi was impulsive, this might cause him to get reckless beckoning for a fight and go look for this man they call The Shredder. I knew that we hadn't yet perfected our ninjutsu, and therefore seeking out trouble will only be our downfall, especially if the Sherdder is as powerful as father claimed him to be.
If all four of the tribunal had to go through so much to defeat him, then how could two rookie teenagers even dream to go against him? So I decided to withhold information, because I knew better than to give Mashimi's eagerness for fighting any fodder.
Somehow I wondered if that decision meant anything, because that night after the dream reoccurred, there was a new part after I beheaded the Shredder. It was a strange, to say the least, for I came face to face with a being I could only describe as something like a kappa.
He wasn't an evil spirit, on the contrary he reminded me of myself, calm, gentle, but he was sad and there was a flame in his soul that lounged for something, that he dearly needed help looking for something, something I could not understand or did not acknowledge. And yet- still, it was a very strange dream for I felt like I knew this creature, that I had met him before, because there was something between us that felt so- familiar.
I wanted to help him, but I didn't know what needed to be done.
In that particular dream he just vanished, and he never recurred in any other dream again.
Whatever it is he needed, I do hope to figure out what the dream was all about, if it would be of any help to him.
Yet fortunately, as the days afterwards wore by, I strived to perfect my ninjutsu, bumped into and then got recruited by the Utrom. Months later, I struggled with how my feelings regarding Tang Shen had developed, and then my confession, where she admitted her equal feelings to me.
Soon, followed by Mashimi's resentment and jealousy, and then the conflict between us that was later the cause of Shen's fateful death. The indescribable betrayal of a brother I once trusted, and the murder of someone we both loved and treasured, stabbed me more than I cared to vanquish, anger and rage that burned inside of me as I defeated the sinner who took my loved one away from me.
And then the actual meeting of the Shredder, escaping his castle, fleeing Japan and moving out to New York…
In the end, I never knew what the dream meant…
I guess a part of me really wished to know.
Did that kappa ever find what he was looking for?
The Ancient One:
It had been so many years, since I had last taken a student under my wing.
Between Splinter's surprise return many years ago, I don't think I have had any reminders of the children I had lost to fate.
From Shen's terrible fate as a victim of Mashimi's jealousy, who later lost his life to had once considered him a trusty brother, and later Yoshi's fall under the hands of the Shredder, I felt like such a failure and so miserably alone after the loss of my children. True we were not blood related, either to each other or to me, but I considered them my children regardless.
Shen's gentle soul and beauty, she did not deserve such a death. Yoshi's strong sense of justice and courage, he should not had left his emotions rule his mind. Mashimi's strength and willfulness to overcome the impossible, he was the first to fall by letting his instinct rule him, causing the downfall of his kin.
Each one of them had traits that were what I loved best about them, and I had hoped that nothing would ever come between them from the outside world, little did I think the flame would burn from within, instead of from without.
Sadly, with Yoshi's vengeance against Mashimi complete, he had left to New York to seek a new life, heart broken and trust shattered. He had left in hope to start a new page with Shen's favorite little companion, Splinter; a reminder of what he had done. He worked as a guardian for so long, serving the Utrom and helping keep the planet safe, until the Shredder had found him and took his life away. Only weeks later did I received the shocking news through the Tribunal, and the loss of my last child remaining tore my heart.
I guess it is the reason I have taken so little interest in caring for myself or my home, after they had left me behind.
The respectable shrine where many mighty warriors come to seek wisdom and guidance, is now nothing but a shambled old ghost castle with an 'old fart' living within the depth of its bellies. The wise and graceful master, is nothing now but a pathetic excuse of a plump little midget. True I can still fight, but to an extent, for I had neglected myself and my needs for a long time.
Wallowing into my despair and sorrow brought me nothing; I had to pull myself together before I had lost myself completely.
Years passed and I remained in that pathetic state, slowly getting over the pain and pushing myself to live through every passing day. I kept asking myself, where had I gone wrong for my children to meet such tragic fates? Could there have been a way for me to grant them a better alternate choice? To avoid that remorseful ending?
Well, I was still struggling for a reason to keep on living, until Splinter returned in his new state, surprisingly with his survival and the uplifting news of grandchildren upon Yoshi's demise.
That is when I met him.
His spirit, his fighting and honor-bound soul, had somehow manifested in the small being I saw, hiding shyly behind his father. Leonardo and his brothers were much too young to had possibly remembered meeting me, but I knew him, I recognized Yoshi's spirit and passion in the depth of his soul. A part of me said it was absurd, how could my son's spirit seek home in this little being?
That was until I laid eyes on Leonardo, how he instantly looked after his siblings by fending off the one, later recognized as Raphael, who liked to pick on the others for some reason or another. Although they were no more than hatchlings, barely more than a year old or so, he was so possessive, it reminded me of Yoshi a little too much; it was- nostalgic.
Only after I had gotten to know them better, had I instantly realized what Yoshi had dreamt of.
Mostly I stayed in contact with Splinter through meditation, but due to the distance between us he could not use the portals to visit me. Back then, he was new to it and had gone through the Nexus the first time but only to find me, needing to inform me of his new life. We could only connect once every few months, more so because those four kumquats were very active and kept him busy. We could only connect more efficiently when they're sleeping, and when he is in a deep meditate state, where we could talk about the events of the day and how things needed to be done.
I was a father for two boys and a girl, but I had not raised them since a too young age. Mashimi and Yoshi were at least nine when I took them in, and Shen was at least seven, while Leonardo and his kin were babies, by the literal meaning of the word. I could only help Splinter as much as I could, and I knew bringing the children to Japan would have probably been too much for them.
For one thing, my home was not in the state to keep four active children safe.
Located atop a mountain with lots of crumbling walls, neglected chambers and rusty door and window hinges, as well as the unreliable bridges connected to the watch towers, aside the labyrinth hidden under the shrine itself. Although the four at their current age would have a grand time exploring, especially Michelangelo, there were many deadly things within the twists and turns of his home, and I did not want them hurt.
And as I watch him now, overcoming his anger and battling the beast of who he is, to acknowledge the rage that had driven him so far away from his family, I realized as more time passed between us, he was so much like Yoshi, so much like the son I had lost, it was bittersweet in a heart warming way. Splinter had done well raising his boy, and I will do my best to help him where it is needed.
"Ancient one?" his voice husky yet rasp, spoke through the gasps of his breath. He eyed my seriously, awaiting today's lesson, and I smiled in memory of Yoshi's eagerness to learn new techniques when younger.
From where he stood with a rod connecting too pails of water, balanced steadily over his shoulders, he stood atop the pillar on one foot. He had been standing there for a good hour now, and I knew his patience was thinning out, but I did not excuse him or tell him to stop. Sometimes to be strict is the best ay to discipline a hardheaded student, for pride and wrath should not mix, or else they will bring nothing but the wielder's downfall.
Yoshi's wrath and pride was his downfall, just as envy and lust were Mashimi's.
But this warrior was struggling to suppress and tame his anger, he continued to stand there, awaiting me to signal the end of the lesson. Little does he know scowling at me would earn him what he desires.
His face twisted into an irritated sneer when I did not answer, and I caught the faint mutter under his breath, before he drew in a deep breath and wobbled a bit in his stance, trying to keep himself balanced. The strong gusts of wind blowing around were enough to knock him off the pole, if he so lost focus, and as much as it appears to aggravate him even more, I knew he needed this lesson drilled firmly in his mind.
The more he got angry at the situation the faster he will fall, and I know he has too much pride to let that happen.
I might have relented to Yoshi's angry whims, and allowed him to seek vengeance to who was once a brother for what he had lost, but I will not let Leonardo go through the same mistake, for his brothers should never lose their kin to something like that.
I will have to make him see that vengeance is a never ending cycle, and anger is a harmful flame, and both mixed together are a powerful and deadly weapon. He needs to understand, that latching on to what hurts us is not the way to overcome the pain, he needs to accept what had happened and learn from it, not regret that could have and should have, for they bring you nothing but self resentment and despair.
I learned that the hard way through my years of living alone, mourning the loss of my children and sinking into my regrets.
Also, I realized the hardest thing to do is to simply accept it for what it truly is, and move on.
Leonardo, however, puts it upon himself to protect his family, he believes that it is his entire fault they could have scarified themselves to stop the Shredder, and then later find out that he could have found an alternative, a way to escape which would then make his choice, his agreement to the plan, be for naught. He thinks that if it had not been for the Utrom coming in to save them in the last second, he would have been the cause of his family's demise, and to him, there was no greater sin or burden than to be the cause of your family's death.
For one, I will train him and make sure he realizes that those repentant thoughts will not aid him in battle. He must understand that there are things that can not be changed, and change is something to follow, not try to overcome.
I have lost three children already and I do not plan on losing another.
Again, we may not be related by blood, but he is my grandson.
That is the only reason I need to do my best, to help him defeat the beast within.