By: Corky Castel
Summary: It'd been 17 years since the turtles went up against Usagi Higgins and his evil henchmen in an attempt to take back what was rightfully theirs. Now, all those years later, they find themselves battling him once more. This time, in order to save themselves and their families they must go up against their greatest foe yet…
Author's Note: I FINALLY have returned. Sorry about such the wait, folks. One thing after another happened and I FINALLY have been able to get online and onto fanfic to post this. This is my latest TMNT: Family Ties Series--DARK SHADOW!! YAAAAY! Read and enjoy. Don't forget to review, please?!
Chapter One: Prologue
Things have not been easy for us kids trying to grow up in a cramped sewer lair for the past 16 years. Dad keeps telling me to 'quit'cha bitchin', I did it widout half da stuff you've got now, an' I was grateful for da little we did 'ave." Sure he did. Believe it or not, but I did use to listen to Grandpa Splinter when he talked –especially when he gave his famous proverbs that I could usually link back to dad and his brothers. Grateful my shell! He hated it every bit as much as we do.
It's not that it's really all that terrible down here, I suppose. I mean, I was born and raised in this very same lair and since I was able to walk have had fairly free reign over the tunnels outside the lair, we can yell shout and scream 'til our throats go out without worrying about being heard; but really…put yourself in my shoes…if you were a sixteen year old dude forced to live your life hidden underground cuz your dad and uncle are too paranoid about you getting kidnapped when all you want to do is go topside, find a friend outside of your own family, and actually feel real sunshine and grass between your toes…would you be happy down here? Yeah…didn't think so. And don't think it's just me who feels this way; I'm not. Nope.
My younger brother Chris feels the same way. Of course, then again, I can understand why no one would let him go topside! That boy is trouble just waiting to happen. He's only fourteen and already is a bigger trouble maker than half the thugs on the streets above. He would be a pretty ok kid…if he didn't have such a bad attitude and short fuse. Uncle Don keeps telling dad it's his own fault…it's karma baby…the great cosmic kick in the tail…a taste of his own medicine even…Grandpa Splinter's way of looking down on him and saying, "Now you know what I had to go thru with you!" Well…actually…he wouldn't say it like that…it'd probably be more like, "Now, you see my son, the anger and aggression I tried so hard to harness. Perhaps now, you will learn the errors of your ways." Yeah, that sounds more like him.
Of course his partner-in-crime (and I use that term quite literally by the way), isn't much better. I really feel bad for Aunt Gwen and Uncle Mike. They keep questioning what they did to deserve the crap Chip puts them through all the time. He's pretty much exactly like my brother, it's really pretty creepy. Only difference is, Chip is a year older than Chris. Then again, now that I think about it…I'd have a crappy attitude too if my mother insisted on naming me after a Disney character. I do have to say that wasn't one of Aunt Gwen's greatest ideas.
His twin sister on the other hand, Tabitha, is a total 180 of him. Tabby-Cat is so bubbly she makes champagne look bad! She's constantly looking on the bright side of things, which has its moments of being good…but other times is really just seriously annoying as shell. I really think the only reason no one's killed her for being overly bright and sunny all the time is the fact that she is an absolute amazing artist. You give that girl a piece of paper and art supplies and watch out! She's got paintings and drawings of every family member plastered all over the lair. She even did an amazing mural of Grandpa Splinter training our dads on one wall of the dojo, them kickin' the shit out of evil ninja's on a second wall, and then of us kids being trained by our dads on a third wall. The fourth wall she left empty saying it's reserved for when us kids do something really important using our ninja training. Yeah…sure Tabby…like that's ever gonna happen! Us doing something important is about as likely as Dale getting into the Xtreme Sports stream.
Speaking of Dale, he's a whole other story all of his own…well…ok maybe not a whole other story but…you know what I mean. Actually, it's pretty funny to think each of our dads got stuck with at least one kid who shadows the way they acted as kids. Dale would be what Uncle Mike has –sometimes affectionately—dubbed his 'mini me'. Dale is only 11 years old and thinks he's the greatest thing to hit skateboarding since the invention of no-slip foot grip paper (ya know…that sandpaper stuff they super glue to the top of the boards to keep the skaters feet from flying off?). Which, I guess, he is pretty good…he would probably have a chance at showing off his skills on one of those extreme sports shows but, since we can't go topside, he's forced to show off to us…which honestly, gets old very, very quickly. Nah, Dale's an ok kid though. He loves to pick on Chip though just to get him riled up, keeps calling themselves 'Chip-n-Dale's Rescue Rangers'. Heh…I don't think Chip will ever forgive Aunt Gwen for giving Dale her old tapes of that show. Dale's such a goofball though; he's really not happy if he's not pulling pranks, making us all laugh, or skateboarding of course.
'Member how I said each dad got stuck with at least one kid who was their shadow? Well in Uncle Donnie's case his shadow came in a petite thirteen year old female body named Delaney Marie. Delaney is an absolute brainiac. Don't tell Uncle Donnie but uh, she's the one who hacks into his computers and loops the surveillance cameras to show empty tunnels when us kids want to sneak out and not be seen. Laney's a fun kid to be around. She's funny, smart and has a way about her that somehow is able to get her out of most trouble…most. There was one time she greased Uncle Leo's katanas…not a good idea and let me tell ya, Uncle Leo let her know it wasn't a good idea, or very funny. Of course it wasn't funny to him! But to us kids watching him try to get a good hold on the hilts and pull them out of their sheaths, it was frickin' hilarious! Yeah, Laney's got her trouble making side, but trust me…she's no worse than Dale and a whole heap better than Chip and Chris.
Her younger brother Dean is another genius but in another area all together. Ever since he could crawl he'd been trying to make music on anything his chubby little hands could get onto. It was mostly all his mom's stuff that he got into, keyboards, guitar, flute, recorder…anything really. He used to give Dad a splitting headache by pounding wooden spoons on empty garbage cans and pots and pans. He's a pretty quiet kid though for being nine years old, especially considering his insane interest in music. He doesn't say a whole lot, but then again, given the fact that Chip, Chris, and Liz have tagged him with the nickname 'Malinda' off the show "Ghost Whisperer" (and believe me, that's the nicest thing they call him) I can understand why he doesn't say much. Apparently—and I only say that because I'm an impartial kind of guy—Dean was born with more than just an incredible ability to make music with just about anything…he was born with a gift to see into the great beyond. Kind of psychic like, I guess you could say. He can see and sense things before they happen…but since he's only nine and at least three of his cousins already think him a freak (funny huh? We should be the last bunch of people to think someone else a freak), he usually keeps his inside info to himself. I keep telling him to give me the winning lotto numbers for the big money but, I get nothing. Oh, uh…one other thing about Dean that makes him a little…uh…unusual I guess…is the fact that through whatever powers there might be above, Dean was born human. So that poor kid's got three strikes against him already. Uncle Don seems to think that the mutagen that gave them human characteristics had just enough human DNA in it to mix in with theirs therefore giving them a one-in-four chance of at least one kid being born fully human…or something like that. I usually blank out while Uncle Don's talking.
Of course, Dean's not the only fully human kid in our clan. Elizabeth and her younger brother's are full blooded human…but then again, they were all also born to two full humans. Oysh gabora though! Liz is a major trip, I tell ya. She's just…creepy. And not in a cool way…if creepy can be cool. She's sixteen years old and there's nothin' sweet about that girl. She's like…a clone of my dad gone horribly wrong! She hates the sewers more than any of us, which is understandable, she spent the first six full years and four half years of her life above ground and then when her mom married Uncle Leo she and her brothers got forced to live down here with us 'weird-o's'. Yeah, like she's not as weird as the rest of us. Ya know, there's a good reason why the kids in her high school call her Wednesday Adams. She's like the ultimate goth/ emo/ punk girl…I honestly think she could give ol' Wednesday a run for her money. She's constantly dressed in black clothes, has a long black trench coat (which in this day and age in New York City she's lucky she's never been shot or arrested for suspected terrorism against the US or suspected Unibomber or something like that), big bulky pair of biker boots with all sorts of silver buckles—which quite frankly I don't think they're needed for anything other than to weigh them down even more than they already are—and her hair is jet black…I'm talking dead of night-Reaper's cloak-'Quoth the Raven, Never more' kind of black. And she for some reason didn't seem to appreciate my suggestion of getting blonde highlights put in. Oh, and did I mention she wears these bracelets and chokers with spikes sticking out of them? Yeah, she's a creepy one…seriously. Creepy enough to make me sleep with my bo-staff under my bed just incase she decides to go Lizzie Borden on us in the middle of the night and tries to attack me with her sais. Oh my God…I just now put two-and-two together…Liz is named after Lizzie Borden! Now she's even creepier!
We're all seriously lucky that Henry and George turned out about as normal as the rest of us. The second pair of twins in our family, they're a lot like Chip and Tabby…uh, well, except for the whole gender thing and neither of them have a bad attitude, they aren't the greatest artists…heh, well, you know what I mean. They're about as different as night and day I guess is what I'm saying. Henry's the oldest of the two…I think. Well, doesn't really matter they're both eleven anyways. But how we got so lucky as to have another goody-goody-know-it-all-two-shoes I'll never know. I really wouldn't be a bit surprised if he graduates high school before he turns seventeen. That boy is seriously good at just about everything he tries (just don't ask him to sing…the boy's a horrible singer) which makes the majority of us want to pummel him with nunchakus most of the time.
And actually, I feel bad for George. He's got a psycho older sister probably making trouble with every teacher she comes in contact with which will probably carry down to when he gets into those grades so they're going to be waiting for him to go all Chucky Doll Killer on them and if they don't think that then they're all going to think he's just as smart as Henry is. The poor kid's gotta try to shine through two rather intimidating shadows. Which I know is really hard for him to do since he's pretty shy and quiet himself. He's a loner ya know. Not creepy loner like Lizzie Borden Reborn is…but that kid that probably sits by himself at lunch cuz he's too shy to make friends and has kids making up stupid rumors like he's a social misfit who's secretly writing down the names of every teacher and student to piss him off so he can bring a gun to school and shoot them all down. Yeah right…please…he doesn't even like doing katas and practicing. He's a total pacifist. I have to spar against him from time to time and I gotta tell ya, there's not a fighting bone in his body. Sure, maybe if his life or the lives of one of us were in danger he'd step up and do some serious damage but…he's not nearly odd and recluse enough to go serial killer on anyone.
Then there's little baby Mitsu who is the cutest little girl to run through this lair. Long black hair in Shirley Temple curls, big bright brown eyes, heart of gold, a smile that could light up the entire state of New Jersey, a laugh that could bring about the birth of thousands of fairies…all that and more wrapped up in the body of a little five year old. She seriously loves anything and everyone and even when she's sick doesn't complain. She's like a mini-Tabby only not quite. I have seen her upset a couple of times…like the time she tried to take Liz's doll Molly. She didn't like the fact that Liz snatched the doll from her, shoved her out of her room, and then slammed her little fingers in the door. But if I were her, I wouldn't have been happy either. I mean…for some of us fingers are hard to come by! In her case, she's only got three on both hands and if those are taken off she's screwed. She's really a cutie though…she looks just like Uncle Leo except with hair. That girl was born full turtle…well, except for the hair bit of course. Even though it's hard to tell at her age, I have the feeling that she's going to be Uncle Leo's mini-me. Fate can't like him that much that he wouldn't get stuck with a shadow. I mean come on, that girl sticks to him like glue and worships the very ground he walks on. If she doesn't turn out like him at least even the slightest bit…I don't think any of us will be very happy.
Gads knows just cuz I'm the oldest and was first to get my bandana doesn't mean I'm the leader. No thanks, I'd rather play flunky. But of course, that's not the way things work and for some strange reason my cousins all look to me for advice and guidance. What do I look like? A freakin' guidance counselor? Ok, yeah, so I sometimes know what I'm talking about and Uncle Leo has been trying since day one to mold me into his mini-minion but…it's a title I'm not to thrilled at one day receiving.
Ugh, speaking of the Oh-Fearless-One…he and Aunt Su got married a few years back. Actually, come to think of it, it was more than a few years. George and Henry were about five when they finally tied the knot. It took 'em long enough. I guess after Uncle Leo saved her life, Aunt Su and her kids moved back up top for awhile splitting time between there and here until Liz was ten and they moved down here pretty much full-time. Aunt Su still has their home topside for business reasons…and so that if Dean or the other three human kids want a friend to stay over they have someplace to go that's safe and not a sewer. Heaven forbid should we give our location away. And actually, come to think of it, Aunt Gwen has an apartment topside too so if she needs to put a real address on something and not just a Post Office Box number she can. I think they may also have that put down on Dean's school records also so it doesn't seem suspicious that Dean would live with Henry and George. I really don't know.
For the most part, the rest of the adults in this mixed up bunch are all pretty much the same as they've ever been. I heard once it's harder for adults to change than it is for kids…and if that's the case boy are they right! Uncle Don still messes around with gadgets and gizmos when he's not acting as senior tech advisor for some business. Aunt Julie still performs at clubs every now and then, even lets Dean sit in with her from time to time…and yes…she's still very much blind. Dad I think has actually changed…at least a little. Having The Terror Triplets of NYC around must have knocked some sense into him and made him mellow out a little. Either that or old age is finally startin' to catch up to the old man. Heh…don't let him find out I said that…he can and probably would kick my shell to kingdom come. Mom is a full time English teacher topside at Liz's high school and yet still finds time and energy to tutor all of us stuck down here. Uncle Mike seems to have mellowed out some too. Don't get me wrong, he still acts like a kid, but more like my age now instead of like a seven or eight year old. And Aunt Gwen is by far my favorite of the aunts. She's awesome. Me and her get along great and believe it or not, I actually enjoy helping her out in her greenhouse or with some stuff up in Green T Floral.
Yeah, I know I said we weren't allowed topside…that's only partly true. The younger kids…younger than me, Liz, and the older twins…they're the ones not allowed topside. And actually, me and the older twins are only allowed topside to patrol with our dads or to help Aunt Gwen in the shop…and we have to stay hidden in the back green room if we want to do that. Needless to say, Tabby and Chip usually opt out of doing that so…oh well, their loss. But even though I'm allowed up there, I'm not allowed to really go outside or anything unless it's to help Aunt Su and Aunt Jules deliver some flowers someplace.
Really, I guess I don't mind my life that much. It could be worse, right? Yeah I know…it could be better too. But hey, at least dad and the others allow us older kids time to get to be outside and get fresh air and to get to know the city. Granted, yes, it's pitch black when we go out and we have to stick to the rooftops, but at least in those few hours of training and 'patrolling' we get to know freedom. Of course, I know the real reason Uncle Leo still makes dad and the other two go out with him at night…even us older kids sometimes. He still feels guilty that he wasn't able to get Uncle Mike to the place Aunt Gwen was being held in time and those douche-crickets Higgins and Markus nearly killed her and took their first daughter Naomi. He promised Uncle Mike and Aunt Gwen that he would find her no matter how long it took him. And being a turtle of honor, he sticks to his word no matter what the cost. And you better believe it that he means he will find her…maybe not now, maybe not even two or three years from now…but he will find her. Sure, he doesn't admit to that being the reason behind their sometimes-nightly-mostly-weekly training missions, but I know that's what it is.