Donatello tried desperately to control his own breathing and heart-rate as he ran, but it was a losing battle. The guns behind them still didn't lend them the option of stopping, but the fiery pain in the back of his leg was also making it more difficult for him to keep going at their current pace. The purple-masked turtle had followed Raphael blindly back into the brush several minutes prior, without a clue if they were even traveling in the correct direction anymore.

Leonardo hadn't even so much as stirred from the grip that Donatello was carrying him in yet. At the time that they'd taken off, protecting their brother and their own shells had been their driving thought. But with passing minutes had come further anxiety, and Donatello found himself wondering where the others were, or if they'd managed to reassemble safely. He couldn't answer either question, so it seemed futile to focus on it right then.

Donatello needed all the concentration he could muster to keep sight of Raphael running ahead of him in the semi-darkness with the other man, and the fight to keep what was becoming a shaky balance over the rough terrain was distracting him. All the while he was also listening, straining to pick up any sounds behind or around them. He didn't want to overreact to them - it could just as easily be Michelangelo or one of the others tracking them down, as it could be one of the gun-toting men. He simply felt the need to be prepared for anything at this point.

Leonardo's worthless radio shifted on Donny's belt along with his jaunty step, and he cursed the mortar round that had knocked it out. Things hadn't gone exactly according to the plan. That is to say that running blindly through the trees with God knows how much fire power behind them hadn't been on anyone's agenda for that early morning mission.

As Donatello crashed through another set of over-hanging limbs, he heard the sound of faint whistling overhead, which only took half a beat to click with the turtle again. "GUYS, DOWN!" He shouted as he lunged to the earth himself, covering his oldest brother's prone body with his own.

The mortar shell exploded somewhere in the middle of the space that separated him from the other two. When the purple-masked turtle looked back up through the clearing smoke, he was both irritated and relieved to see his red-masked brother standing over him and Leonardo.

"Didn't you hear me yelling at you?" Donatello demanded, as he struggled upright with the most difficulty yet, a fact that didn't escape Raphael.

"You are hurt!" His brother said accusingly.

"I'll make it!" Donatello shot back through gritted teeth, taking a second to swipe once more at a blood trail that was nearly running into his eye. "We've got to keep going. Where's your guy Raph?"

"I told 'im to stay put. Donny, I can handle Leo for you. Why don't you just concentrate on getting yourself around?"

"I told you, I'm alright," the purple-masked turtle insisted, reaching for his blue-masked brother on the ground. "Somebody's got to have their hands free to fight Raph!"

Raphael shook his head at his stubborn younger brother, but his appraising glance seemed satisfied that Donatello was capable of continuing. "You've gotta speak up if you need help Donny."

"I will Raph. Now can we get moving again before they catch up with us?"

Donatello shifted Leonardo into a more secure grasp, and mentally prepared himself for the knifing pain of the shrapnel that was embedded in his leg. Then he intentionally cleared all thought of pain from his mind as he fell into step behind Raphael, continuing to feed off the pure adrenaline that was racing through him. Donatello stayed close to the red-masked turtle as he led the way to where he'd left their companion, but he wasn't prepared for the mighty swear that escaped his older brother.

Donatello was about to chide him for the unnecessary noise, when he saw the source of Raphael's sudden consternation. The human was lying face-down in the small clearing, at a disturbingly unnatural angle. Neither turtle hesitated any longer, both rushing to get to his side. Donatello was slightly behind Raphael, and had to take a couple more seconds to put Leonardo down before he could join the red-masked turtle, who was already carefully shifting the man onto his back.

"Easy Raph, watch his head!" Donatello proclaimed, as he shot to his feet so fast that his left leg almost gave out on him entirely.

Raphael was bent over the man anxiously, so that Donatello couldn't even get a good look at him. "Give me some space Raph, you have to let me see him!"

"I knew he got shot Donny, I knew he was hurt! He said he could keep going, he was talking like it was okay!"

The red-masked turtle still hadn't moved, and Donatello was losing patience. "Raph, let me in there! Where was he..." The turtle trailed off slowly when he saw the location of the two rounds the man had taken.

He probed the make-shift wrap on his side to find it completely soaked through, as if he'd been bleeding out the entire time they'd been running. More disconcerting than that discovery was the lack of rising in his chest, indicating that he wasn't breathing.

"No," Donatello said softly under his breath, searching the man further with his hands to convince himself that part of the human was still alive. The further probing only revealed the complete lack of a heart-beat as well.

He furiously pumped the human's chest, unwilling to accept that the man could already be too far gone for his efforts to do any good. Raphael struggled to apply stronger pressure to bleeding around the CPR his brother was performing. Every minute that passed left Donatello more desperate, as he received no response from the man beneath him on the ground.

Donatello felt a tense hand on his shoulder, jarring him away from the life-saving activity he was still committed to.

"Donny, something's closing in on us," the red-masked turtle stated flatly, as both sai leaped to his grasp. "We're not gonna be able to stay here."

Donatello didn't respond, acting as if he hadn't even heard him to begin with. All he could do was stare at his friend who already looked much more dead than alive - and there probably wasn't a darn thing he could do about it.


Everything seemed to be happening in fast-forward to the orange-masked turtle. One minute he'd been running along behind the young woman, doing his best to shield her from the gunfire. In the next they'd been forced to face limited options, and none seemed very desirable. Her own reaction to the choices had caused Michelangelo to make the decision quickly on his own, and take the type of action that he wished he'd had just a little bit of time to actually think over first.

The fall itself was the only period that seemed to slow time down, as the turtle mentally prayed that neither of them would be killed or hurt badly upon impact. The water in this stage should have been sufficient enough to cushion their landing, but they had no guarantee of missing rocks or any other obstacle that could break something vital.

The power of the river alone was enough to take his breath away, even before it dragged him back underwater. His knee jerk reaction was to continue holding it, instinctively forcing a calm center over the panic that rose inside of him. He could hold his breath for a pretty long time if he needed to, but the same didn't apply to the young woman who'd made the trip with him, and that thought instantly sent him into overdrive.

The turtle clawed fiercely against the current, before remembering the correct way to do it. He immediately relaxed and stopped trying to travel in a line directly for the surface, instead straightening out his back beneath him to provide buoyancy. The move helped him to reach the surface with about a quarter of the trouble that it had been giving him to begin with.

Michelangelo drew air back into his chest with a short gasp, only able to linger on the surface of the river for a few seconds before being swept against debris that almost took an eye out. The turtle ducked back under to avoid another rough collision and then surfaced again, his vision still somewhat blurry from the first beating.

He blinked several times to try and clear his eyes, waiting for them to sharpen back into focus. At the same time, a note of panic was beginning to sound louder in his ears than the rushing water around him. Desperation to catch sight of his charge grew in intensity. The fleeting fear that he'd gotten her killed after all made his heart beat faster, and he widened his eyes forcibly to take in a better view of the portion of river ahead of him.

Michelangelo couldn't help choking as he was nearly swamped again, water finding its way accidently back into his lungs. He forced his head above the torrent once more, scanning the murky water that was almost impossible to read from the surface, let alone from beneath it. He tried to relax every muscle in his body to avoid fighting the current and tiring himself out too quickly, but he would be coming very close to throwing caution to the wind if he didn't catch some sight of her soon.

He was on the verge of outright despair when he finally saw her, or her head at least, breaking the water a couple of yards ahead of him. He gave up riding the strong current on his back and intentionally dove underneath the surface again, kicking his legs to propel him forward faster. The risk of hardly being able to see what was in front of him barely resonated in his mind, so great was his urgency to get to her.

The turtle's own weight and drive melded with the already forceful water to increase his speed, and in his haste he was flung quite unintentionally into a jutting rock. He turned his head at the last instant so that he managed not to take the blow squarely, succeeding in only side-swiping his jaw in a motion that still felt like getting slugged in the face.

Michelangelo was aware of the fact that he still needed to hold his breath, as well as the idea that someone else was still in danger, but his limbs were not immediately responding to the muddied thoughts that weren't cutting through the fog of his mind. Arms were the first thing to attempt motion in the water again, each limb feeling heavier than it should have when he tried to use it.

The water that entered his lungs was a partial wake-up call to his brain, and dazed blue eyes were alive once more. Again he struggled for the surface, gasping harder as he expelled water from his lungs a second time.

I have to find her. I have to find her!

Michelangelo scanned rapidly over the surface area of the water that he could see, before taking the plunge to speed up his course once more.