Finding Who We Are

Chapter One:

Light, steady beeping filtered into Michelangelo's foggy mind, its even thrum pulling him from his lull. His consciousness tentatively felt around, taking in the sounds around him. As he shifted into alertness, he head gave a painful throb and he groaned, turning his neck as if to lean away from the affliction. A light tingling covered his body; his muscles felt numb and tired. A curious weight held his wrists and ankles in place and tinkled when he tried to move. A frown creased his lips and he pried his eyelids, which were crusted shut, open.

He was suddenly blinded by the brightness of the room he lay in. A white ceiling. White walls with no pictures. White cabinets on a far wall to his right. A sink below the cabinets surrounded by several jars that he could not see the contents of. A little silver vent in the far corner. The closest to him was a metal table with a small machine that blinked lights and beeped again. Beside it were several little sharp objects organized neatly in a row. If that wasn't disconcerting enough, he finally realized why he couldn't move his arms or legs... they were firmly strapped to the table he was on with thick metal cuffs.

Panic flooded into his heart and he started to gasp for air as he realized that his worst nightmare had become a reality. He had been captured.

Whimpering, he pulled as hard as he could at his restraints. Metal banging on metal filled the room in his violent struggle, but it didn't work. Feeling his throat thicken, Mikey tried to blink back tears when he saw the mirrored wall about a yard from his feet. Are the watching me? He wondered, staring into the reflective surface. On his dirt covered feet and his own terrified face stared back. It was a staring contest he would not win.

Michelangelo let his head drop to the metal examination table with a clang and tried to remember how he got there to begin with.

Leonardo had gotten pneumonia and secluded himself in his bedroom because he didn't want to infect their father, who was all ready unwell. Raphael was in trouble for sneaking out the night before when there had been an icy rain, which caused Leo to go after him and get sick to begin with. Donatello was trying to fix the microwave after Mikey learned that tin foil was not microwavable. And Michelangelo had been settling for a quiet night of video games.

Sometime during his struggle as Dante in 'Devil May Cry', the alarms that protected their lair from intruders began to scream. After that, his memory became fuzzy. He could recall Raphael cursing at the intruders and Donatello yelling something to him, but the words slurred and he couldn't piece together what was said.

'Oh, God...' he thought, hoping that they had somehow escaped whomever had captured him. He was gasping for breath and it hurt. His throat felt like he'd swallowed a cheese grater. As if he'd spent some time screaming. He felt weak, but he struggled to summon all the training Master Splinter had drilled into them since they were kids. Closing his eyes, he listened intently to his surroundings, trying to make out any movement. For several long minutes, he only heard his own labored breathing. It seemed to echo off of the walls and surround him. He'd never been claustrophobic, but he suddenly felt like the walls were closing in on him.

"Leo! Raph! Donny! Anyone!" He croaked, voice hoarse and sounding unlike his own. His heart went cold when he heard a cheerful humming and the light sound of shoes clicking on tile. His head swung towards the door and he gulped. The humming stopped and so did the soft footsteps. A shadow stood right outside the door. Muscles tensing, Mikey tried to suppress a terrified tremble as his capture stood only feet from him, separated by a thin door.

Slowly, the door swung open and a short, balding man walked in with a clip board in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, and a pencil balanced on his left ear. Mikey didn't move a muscle. The man resumed his humming, not looking up at him, but reading over the notes in his clip board. He shut the door and walked to the white cabinets, still not saying a word. Setting the clip board and coffee onto the counter top, he opened a few cabinets, rummaging around and pulling out several vials. He examined each and made little grunts before either pulling them out or returning them to their spot.

Mikey craned his neck, trying his best to keep an eye on him. The man seemed harmless, but if he truly was, Mikey wouldn't be strapped to a table wondering why every inch of his body was suddenly starting to tingle with dread. His neck was aching from the angle, but he didn't dare take his eyes off of the little man, who cheerfully took a sip of his coffee and pulled a pen from a front pocket on his long white coat. Mikey glanced back to the pencil on his ear, wondering what it's purpose was if he was only going to use a pen.

Once, when they were younger, Master Splinter sat his brothers and him down and explained the dangers of ever letting a human see them. He told them about crazy scientists who would love to get their hands on them and conduct experiments. Later Raph told horror stories about men who loved to cut open little turtles names Michelangelo. Mikey had had nightmares about scary men in white coats with sunken glowing red eyes, razor sharp teeth, and scissors for hands. Of course they'd only gotten scissors for hands after he watched Edward Scissor hands, but it didn't make them any less scary.

The man with his back to him, though, was nothing like the men in his dreams. He looked... normal. Couldn't have been more than 35 and didn't have a mean line on his face. Little wrinkles starting to form around his eyes seemed to imply that he laughed a lot. Of course... that could just mean he enjoyed torturing mutant turtles named Mikey… so, the terrapin stayed silent.

Finally, the man turned and looked at him. Their eyes met and both males froze. Michelangelo tried to ignore his panicked heart pattering frantically inside his plastron and after several painfully long minutes, the man seemed to finally realize what he was seeing and gasped, visibly jumping and spilling coffee all over his white coat. Quickly setting the mug down, he found paper towels and wiped it up, but his eyes didn't leave Mikey's.

"Oh drat! And I just got this thing cleaned, too," He huffed, but didn't spend too much time worrying about the stain as he continued to stare wide eyed back at Mikey, who gulped again, wishing he could pull back into his shell. Any jokes he would have had when not strapped to a table in an evil white room and under the gaze of a mad scientist melted on his tongue.

The scientist's eyes grew wide and a smile spread across his face. He was practically jumping up and down with excitement. Mikey didn't say anything. He didn't want to know what made mad scientists happy. He just wanted to go home. He tugged feebly on his chains, but they still held him down firmly. No escaping, then.

"You're awake!" The man in white, and now brown, too, exclaimed, rushing to grab his clip board and scribble wildly.

"Amazing," He muttered to himself, staring at Mikey with hungry eyes that were the size of saucers. Mikey shifted nervously and cleared his throat, much to the shock of the man, who stopped writing instantly to stare expectantly at him.

Mikey's eye ridges raised and he spoke uncertainly in that unfamiliar scratchy voice," Hey, Mr. Um… Docter-dude. Any chance you could, you know, unlock these?"

He jiggled his wrist restraints lightly, smiling hopefully at the man, though his heart sank to his stomach at the look he was given in response. A look of shock and greed. He could almost see the dollar signs in his eyes.

The clip board and pen clattered to the ground and Mikey wish he'd just kept his mouth shut because if he thought the scientist looked like a hungry wolf before, then he looked like a starved dragon who'd just set eyes on a fat goat now. The man licked his thin, chapped lips and rubbed his trembling hands together.

"My God!" He exclaimed, bushy brows rising high, wrinkling his forehead," You speak! I never expected such intelligence from a mutation! This is just incredible! I must get Dr. White right away!"

"No! Wait!" Mikey protested, but the man ignored his protests as if he hadn't said anything at all.

Gathering his clip board and pen, the little man scurried from the room, door slamming behind him. Silence again rang around Mikey as the man's hurried footsteps vanished. Why did he have to open his big mouth? Now the man was going to bring him more white... more white couldn't be a good thing...

By the time he heard footsteps returning, Mikey had begun to feel drowsy. However, the sharper clicking of shoes on tile heading towards his door made a feeling of impending doom settle like a rock in his stomach and he was suddenly wide awake, waiting nervously for the door to open. The pace wasn't running, but it was rushed and purposeful. Like before, the steps paused at the door and Mikey held his breath as the door opened. He suddenly wished the smaller, balding man had returned instead.

Dr. White was in his mid-fifties, though, aside from his thick head of gray hair, it didn't show. His face was youthful and arrogant. He had a straight nose and a square jaw. His full lips sat in a permanent frown and heavy eyebrows hung low over his eyes. His eyes were so dark and cold that as they passed over him, he quaked. He wished his brothers would appear form no where like they had in the past to save him at the last second, but as the tall man neared him, his hopes sank.

Danger hung around this man's broad shoulders like a snake poised to strike, even as he smiled in a way that Mikey supposed was meant to be warm, but it chilled him through his shell. The man did not speak to him right away, but opened a drawer to pull out a pair of powdered gloves. He snapped them on, then turned to face Mikey, still smiling that cold smile.

"Er... hey?" Mikey tried, laughing nervously. Dr. White's smile widened, reminding the frightened turtle of the wicked Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. He almost expected the smile to keep curving right up to the man's ears. This man was more like the scissor-handed men from his nightmares...

"You're finally ready," He said, waving a white, gloved finger at the mirror on the wall. Two people dressed in green with masks over their faces entered the room moments later. They stood beside each other, their eyes emotionless and blank, waiting for the doctor's orders.

"Wheel the turtle into the new lab," He ordered. The people in green separated, each taking a side of Mikey's table and wheeling him out the door. Maybe the white room wasn't so bad. He had a feeling that wherever they were taking him was far worse.

"H-hey, look dude," Mikey attempted to twist his head around to see Dr. White, but only caught glimpses of his elbow around the person pushing by his head," I don't know what's going on, but we could uh... work something out. We're both men, right? L-let's t-talk..."

His voice wavered and squeaked as he was pushed into a dim room that was full of large, unrecognizable equipment. If he survived this, he knew he'd never be able to look at Donny's room the same again. The little bit of light gave an eery blue-ish glow to the room. There were machines in every corner, shining ominously, but the most frightening was directly above where Mikey was left. As Dr. White waved the people in green out, he observed the large bulb positioned over him. Three metal prongs protruded from beneath and curved to the front like fangs. And a metal shell housed it all.

He was so absorbed in trying to figure out what horrible thing this bulb machine did, that he didn't notice the needle in Dr. White's hands until he was tapping the glass tube and pushing the air bubbles out. He produced a disinfecting cloth and cleaned a spot on Mikey's arm. Mikey figured he was hoping for too much when he tried to tell himself that maybe the doctor was going to inject himself with the strange swirling yellow liquid.

Mikey's eyes trained on the needle glinting in the light and he started to pull at his restraints again in a panic. He hated needles! Especially the kind mystery yellow swirley stuff in it!

He winced when the needle was unceremoniously jabbed into his arm without so much as a warning.

Dr. White smiled as he pulled the needle away and set it on a nearby metal work table. He rolled it closer and ignored the turtle, who tensed up and fought the restraints once again. It was useless. He would never break free. The metal links holding the turtle down were ones he had specially made just for this turtle. He knew once it woke up, it would try to escape. And it's arms were thick masses of muscle. Regular restraints would have never held it down.

He chuckled as the turtle cursed at him. He ignored the angry animal and continued to fiddle with tiny white, harmless looking paper circles. They had tiny computers in them that would attach to the turtle when the adhesive was pulled and placed on the green skin. He hummed a cheerful tune as he prepped them for application.

The turtle had slept for several days, never even moving a muscle. He had been starting to wonder if it was having an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer they'd shot him with and was falling into a coma. He was about to give up and have it euthanized. Lucky for him, the turtle finally awoke. He'd been itching to try out his new invention. It had strange effects on regular animals, but he was convinced that it would work on humans. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to test on a human. So what better than a human-like animal? It had some of the desired effects on Chimpanzees, but he wanted something even more human.

Michelangelo glared at the man who was off in his own world. He wanted to know what the hell the man had just put into him, because the second the needle entered his skin, a strange tingling erupted into his arm and had quickly spread through the rest of his body. He felt like thousands of tiny bugs were crawling around under his skin. He didn't find it nearly as cool as he'd found the scarabs in The Mummy. His stomach twisted and bile rose in his throat at the thought of microscopic scarabs eating his flesh from the inside out.

He shook violently, vibrating the table. This was how he was going to die? Microscopic scarabs? Alone in a science lab surrounded by white? Somehow, he'd always pictured something more heroic. Like throwing himself in front of a bullet for a beautiful woman. Like in the movies. White gloved hands moved towards his face and he used the only defense he could think of. He tried to bite the man.

Dr. White's eyes narrowed and he pulled back, then barked to the shadows where the balding man from before emerged, eyes wide.

"Restrain him!" Dr. White demanded.

Mikey looked pleadingly to the balding man, but he kept his head low as he pulled a leather belt from underneath the table and strapped it around Mikey's throat. Mikey twisted his head back and forth, tears stinging his eyes. He felt cold fingers press against each side of his forehead, followed by his neck, several spots on his arms and legs, and his plastron.

"Flip the switch," He heard the icy voice of Dr. White say and it was the last thing he registered before the world swirled around him and an excruciating pain burned through his entire body. He tried to scream, but he couldn't hear anything except a loud ringing in his ears. He wasn't sure how long this continued before he blacked out entirely.

"What do you mean you lost Mikey?" Leonardo couldn't believe what his brothers were telling him. He stared from Raphael, who stared in shame at the ground, to Donatello, who at least met his older brother's eyes, but looked a little worse for wear. Both turtles felt horrible for letting their baby brother slip away during the mysterious attack. Leo had been unconscious for the last couple days, almost losing his battle against Pneumonia with Donny's lab in ruins. He'd finally woken, but they wished he hadn't. Better for him to have remained blissfully unaware.

"Do you know where they took him?" Leo asked, his eyes still shifting from one brother to they next. They both shook their heads. Raph looked as though he barely had control of himself. His hands were clenched into fists, face twisted with worry, and his entire body tense. Leo had never seen him so upset. He turned to Donny expectantly, figuring he wasn't getting much from Raph.

The blue banded turtle sighed and shook his head again," I'm sorry Leo. We don't know anything about the people who took him and until I get my computers up and running again, which could take some time, I won't have any way to attempt to track him. Even when I do get them up, our only hope, unless we stumble upon some miracle, will be that his shell cell is still in working order. It's a long shot, but if it hasn't been damaged, I'll be able to track him that way."

Leonardo clenched his teeth, but then nodded. There truly was nothing more they could do.