Oh, shell.

He couldn't get away. The cop was practically on top of him, and he wasn't hidden very well and he was going to be discovered and they were all going to end up in Bishop's lab as turtle sushi. Breathe. Breathe. Not too loud, he'll hear you—oh, shell!

"Hey, are you all right?"

This is it. He'd never wanted to hurt a cop, but what choice did he have? He tightened his grip on his weapon and thought furiously. If I take this one out, the others will be all over me as soon as they notice. So I've got to do this quietly.

"Oh, it's you. Hey, I've got a question for you. Were you guys at that rumble down in the Bronx last week?" He froze. "Because we know it's not your usual territory, but Carter swears he saw you, and he won't shut up about it, so if you could tell me we can settle this once and for all holy mackerel, that's a lot of blood."

He relaxed, marginally. It was a lot of blood, and the cop wasn't calling for backup or even acting very scared. Maybe turtle sushi would not be on the menu tonight.

"How… do you know…?" Crap. He could barely breathe through the cracked ribs, and he winced. The cop had taken off his jacket and was placing it over him.

"How do we know about you guys? Oh, come on. You're secretive and mysterious, but enough thugs left tied up gabbling about little green men and what all is bound to make a pattern. And plenty of us in the force have seen you, or your handiwork at least. You're legends! How are you injured?"

He decided to just go with it. He was fuzzy-headed from loss of blood as it was, and the guy didn't seem interested in turning him in. Maybe Turtle Luck didn't last forever.

"Broken… ribs. Stab wound… shoulder… Weren't at… the Bronx…"

The cop laughed and checked his shoulder, taking out a handkerchief and pressing it into the wound gently.

"That's great! Carter could use a little piece of humble pie. Hey, I have another question. There's all kinds of pools about you going around, but my favorite is the one that got started by some of the office ladies. They just call it, 'What do they wear under that shell?'" The cop leered at him playfully and tightened the coat around him, keeping the kerchief in place. "By the way, do the others know where you are? Are they coming?"

"Yeah… called them… What's… under the… shell?"

The cop moved back into the light with the force of the resulting belly laugh, and he could see the name on the badge: North.

"Oh, come on, you know. Like that question, what do you wear under your kilt? It's obvious you guys are all male, but the ladies are curious."

He rolled his eyes.

"Gonna… stay… curious…"

Another belly laugh.

"Well then, what about answering one of mine? How old are you?"

What the shell. Couldn't hurt to tell him that.


North's face sobered and he swore lightly.

"Are all of you that young?"


North shook his head slowly.

"My daughter's sixteen. I can't imagine letting her run around these streets like you guys do. Hey—" He looked up sharply, like something had just occurred to him. "Is it just you four? Are you all alone?"

"Our… father… Trained us…"

North got a dark look in his eyes.

"I'd have words for him, if I ever met him."

He didn't say anything to that. That was something too complicated to explain with busted ribs. He looked up. "My… brothers… they're here…"

North looked up and around, and he smiled, knowing that the man wouldn't be able to see them. North looked back down.

"All right. Just remember, not all of us are on your side, but… lots of us are. Let me know you're okay, will you? Geez, you're just a kid. I'm gonna worry now."

"Don't… worry… Be… happy…"

North laughed again, and stood up.

"You can keep the jacket, but I'll need my badge and the stuff in my pockets."

He let North take his things, and then let the policeman give him one last stern look before leaving the alley. Once North was gone, his brothers leapt down and he relaxed, knowing everything would be okay.

North laughed so hard his secretary poked her head in to his office to see what was the matter. He waved her off, not wanting to show her the piece of sketch paper he had just found on his desk depicting a turtle-man wearing a kilt. He laughed and laughed, and felt immensely better.