I know I'm mixing mythologies here. The ending feels rushed but I'm just going to claim it "flows easily."

Another long work day. His feet would ache if they still had flesh. The bony joints ground together and the scraping frightened the fish away in little swirling eddies around the skiff. All those people wandering on the shore got on his nerves. They could never stay away from the boat long enough for him to load the next unfortunate. Maybe they needed to fence them in like cattle.

He nearly tripped on his black robes and cursed the required uniform. "Get back! It's not my fault you didn't have correct change!" He whacked an old lady over the head with his oar and shoved her away as she groped towards him, her eyes wide and pleading. "You old bag. Bet your kids are glad you're gone. Who's next?"

And there he was at the front of the line. Again. A repeat customer. Charon saw a few of them. Mostly hero types on some kind of epic journey to rescue so-and-so from the whatever. This one just seemed to be either really accident prone or destined to spend his life in a perpetual cycle of dying.

"You again?" Charon asked as he docked his skiff on the shore and shooed away more stranded souls.

The green hero scowled. "I never been here before. Take me to the Satan or whoever is in charge."

Charon knew the spiel. They never remembered after leaving. He proposed recording a welcome and orientation speech to play to the newcomers, but his overseer thought it lacked a personal touch. "You were just here last week. And now you're back again? You're not even dead this time. Do you have... wait... You actually want to see Samael?"

He tried to board the boat, putting his meaty leg over the edge, ready to leap at him. "He took something of ours."

"Why should I? I have all these others here who are really dead. Why do you get to go first?"

"I'm more important."

Charon laughed and his grating voice scratched the surface of the waters and cast the stink of death upon the cowering crowd. He could use a lozenge. "So? You got payment?"

He'd made it across last time. Spent a while arguing about how Charon should move into the next century and accept credit. He'd asked if he had money on credit and he offered him a five dollar Wendy's giftcard. Good enough. On you get.

The naked mutant searched his pockets for a coin and pulled out a poker chip. "Good as money."

He bit it. "Not gold. And it's not minted. I can taste the difference. Sorry, pal." Good riddance. What an annoying fare.

But he persistently sat his muscular ass in his skiff and said, "Now paddle, Mr. Bones. I don't have all day."

He tapped him on the side of the head and easily pushed him overboard and back onto the bank.

Gurgle. Splutter. Splash. "What the fuck?" He floated in the water, hanging on to the edge of the boat. "Do you want me to capsize this? Your bony ass can float back to hell!"

"Just as mouthy as last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. You're on your fourth life, Thomasina."


He deflected a slight flick of the mutant's wrist to throw his weight back on-board. "The first time you mixed bleach and ammonia when you were cleaning the toilet. Can't say I ever saw a hero die from that before. Then you had an artery cut and were saved by the skin of your reptilian teeth by your brother." The hero's golden eyes narrowed until they were yellow slits. "Then you went out and got yourself killed and you were all, 'I'm dead. Yay! My life was so emo and unbearable!' Now you're here and you're alive? I think this is a record. I mean, not even Achilles made it back this many times."

The passenger shook the skiff and said, "Enough of the memory lane of my deaths! I have a job to do here!"

His eyeballs rotated in their skeletal sockets and all the lost souls wailed in agony. "Oh, shut it, you cheapskates! I'll give you a ride if you do something for me. Like bartering services."

And mutant hero's arrogance drowned in the raging quiet of the River Styx. He thought he wanted sex or something. As if.

"Depends." The floating mutant leered away from him, sending black ripples towards the shore.

"I want you to give me a foot rub."

"Oh, hell no!" He eyed the metatarsals stained with the salt of eons with disgust. If only Doctor Scholl's made a pad that could help him. He'd asked when he came through. Nothing. "You don't even have skin on those things. What am I supposed to rub?"

"Hey, I'm on my feet all day here and I want a little R&R for a change. Fine. You can go sit up there with all those people who died penniless. Go on. Git!" He threatened him with the oar again and the mutant caught the wooden paddle in his hand, but the force of the swing pushed him backwards in the boat, his feet sticking up in the air. "Okay!" he yelled while still on his back, his legs relaxing in defeat. "I'll do it. Just get me across."

The hideous mutant massaged his toe bones as he slowly paddled and groaned loudly. "Oh, that feels great. Get up in there more..."

"Fucking pervert. You done yet? Paddle faster. I'm on an important mission here."

Charon leaned back and said, "You're better company than Orpheus at least. What a chump. Whined the whole time about some girlfriend of his. And do you know how the slob died?" He waited for a response as the mutant growled ignorance and apathy in a single tone. "He was torn apart by adoring fans."

The mutant hero sighed in boredom.

"Hey, your brother was all over my stories. I had to kick him out of the boat."

"My brother?" That brought him back to life. He sat up and reached for the weapons on his waist. "You seen him? How is he?"

"Dead." Charon yawned and steered a little left towards the main gate. "Pretentious and talked the whole time about how he'd failed his clan and brothers and father and society and stuff."

"Quit fucking around with me! He's here?"

"I could really use a meatball hoagie. You ever had one?"

The green hero didn't answer and spent the rest of the boat ride hunched over, brooding. Charon hummed "Row Row Row Your Boat." After a while, Charon asked, "So how are you going to get past the guard?"

"Fight." He held up his steel weapons.

Charon shrugged. At least he could have a few minutes amusement watching him get killed.

As the shadowy gates of Hades loomed into the horizon, the passenger sat up, his foot sliding down from the edge of the boat where he'd been reclining. "That's the gate? What's that black thing in front of it?"

"The guard."

"What?" He nearly capsized the skiff as he scurried to the other end of the skiff to get a better look. "That looks like a... dog... with three fucking heads! Why didn't you say anything?"

The boat thumped into the black sands of the shore and Charon knocked the live body out into the shallow waters with his canoe oar. "You never asked. You were all up in my grill about how your task was important so I figured you could handle it. See you. Have fun."

Charon paddled back across the river, listening to the hungry growls of Cerberus, son of Typhon and Echidna. The three headed-hound with a mane of serpents and a snake for a tail and a green mutant hero for lunch. Lucky bastard.

Raph limped over the gate as the drooling beast barked after him and the ground shook with the bass. Blood ran down his gory knuckles as he pushed all his weight into the gate and heard it latch shut just as the dog's body slammed into it. "Yeah, that's right, bitch!" he yelled at the middle dog's head as its red eyes glared at him, lips curled back at the prey just out of reach.

Now to find Leo.

Raph had left home, determined to get to the land of the dead. Just a simple matter of bribing a voodoo priestess to send him on a psychic journey using astral projection. The usual stuff. Master Splinter spent his days trying to reach Leo through meditation, but it wasn't working. Raph knew it hadn't even though he never said a word. The empty look in his eyes said so much.

Meddling with the dead is the pastime of the weak, his father had warned. That was fine. They didn't need to know. And if Satan wanted a life in exchange, then he could take his. All he did was stab helpful brothers and try to get himself killed for no reason anyway.

Then he hesitated. What was wrong with him? Why was he determined to only see the miserable side to everything? Mikey was already talking about how Leo was in a better place and happier than any of them. Already found a way to make it a good thing. "You know, Leo was always more in tune with the spiritual side of existence. I bet he's where he belongs now. And he's watching out for us, you know."

He wasn't where he belonged. He belonged at home with them.

Hell didn't look so bad. If that's what it was. A brown expanse of sand spread out before him in rolling dunes that met an orange sky. No depth to it. He wanted to hide from the pressing sepia stillness. Find something with life in it.

No palace. He'd expected a huge obsidian castle with leering gargoyles surrounding the turrets. There was just a black throne in the middle of the sand and a young man sitting on it with a glowingly beautiful face. Raph wanted to go the other way and avoid him, but his instincts told him that he had found the man in charge.

"Welcome," the young man said, with shrewd and narrowed eyes. "You come looking for someone."

Raph struck an arrogant posture. He wasn't leaving without Leo, even if he had to fight Satan to do it. "I'm here for my brother."

"Which brother. You have 283 brothers and all have passed before you."

"Look! I'm not here to play games with the devil..."

The young king laughed at him and the sound was lost in nothing. "I'm not the devil. I am Samael. The angel of death. So you are here for the adopted brother Leonardo of the Hamato clan?"

"Yeah, princess. Give him back or I'll stick this through your pretty eyesocket." He held up a sai and twirled it around on his palm by the point.

Samael scoffed and rolled his glowing blue eyes. "How could you kill me? I'm not alive. Did you bring nothing but your physical strength?"

What? Did Satan think he was stupid? "I know who you are. You're a demon and an angel at the same time and you're married to Lilith. I can read, you know." He tried to ignoring the roaring silence and the instinct to run back to the gate and scream for Charon to come back and paddle him away. This was too important. Just ignore it. Walk it off. "I'm not here to talk about you. I'm here for Leo."

A little smile. Almost flirty. "Why should I? There's nothing you can do to make me. Go ahead and hit me..."

Raph had the sai in his stomach before he finished the sentence. And then watched as it slid harmlessly though his torso. The sai exploded back out, throwing Raph back a step, his toes digging into the hot sand. No blood. No damage. Just a smirk. "I was wondering though. Would you be willing to make a deal with the devil? Or with the devil's prince of demons as is this case?"

"Anything. Whatever. As long you don't fuck me over. Take me and give him back."

Samael sneered his pearly mouth as he looked Raph up and down. "You are not equal to him. He was a warrior and..."

"So am I!" He curled up his fists and hoped he didn't look like a pouting child.

"He was a gentle spirit as well. You are just... an animal... no subtly." He sat back down in his throne. "But I could give you a task to prove yourself deserving. I want Lilith dead."

"Lilith dead? Done." He turned around to leave, the fight already forming in his head.

Samael clicked his tongue. "Don't you want to find out how to kill her?"

"Sharp thing through the skull should... oh, fuck. She's like you, isn't she?" He stopped and his shoulders sagged a little.

A little chuckle from Samael. "Not quite. But there is a prophesy that she can be killed. I'd like you to do it."

Raph turned around and shrugged. "So what's the prophesy?"

Samael smiled and looked around himself, at the sandy dunes. "Maybe you should have read more before you came down here to see me and demand for things that are not yours. I will only tell you that in order to kill Lilith, you must go through another first."

"Who? You?"

Samael looked back at him and his eyes seemed darker and more hollow than he remembered. "I will only tell you the name. Blindragon."

"Blindragon. Got it. Bye." He turned around again, hoping Don wasn't too offended by being recently stabbed to help him with research.

And then Samael was standing in front of him, arms crossed. "Where are you going? I cannot permit you to leave."

"Is Blindragon here then?" He tried to ignore the creepy unease at Samael's presence. His too perfect skin. The light eminating from his core.

"No. He is currently in New York City, close to your home, looking for the demon Lilith. You will stay here."

Raph felt like stamping his foot and screaming. "How do I kill something all the way from here? And I don't even know what the damn thing is!"

"You found a way here and I commend you on that. If you can find your way here, then you can find a way to destroy this spirit from here. I have confidence in you. Isn't that what you want? For others to have more faith in you?" He put a hand on Raph's shoulder as if he were an old buddy. A frigid jolt shot through him and he jerked away. "You think you can leave here? You may have gotten past Cerberus, but you can't leave here now."

Raph moved his legs. His brain commanded his legs to move, but nothing happened. Feet rooted in the sand. "Ugh! Motherfucker! Let go of me!"

"I'm not holding you. Physically at least. I'm curious to see how you will accomplish this." He sat back in the throne, lazily dangling his legs over the arm. "You have all of Hades to explore."

"Fuck you!" He stomped off and slid clumsily down a sand dune as he stomped away. He would find a way.