Splintered Memories

aka The Episode that Should have Been...

by: Machias Banshee

Computer screens and scanners filled the main den with a pale green glow. Donatello stared at the monitor, fingers typing furiously. One could tell very easily that the purple clad turtle had not properly slept for a number of weeks if not months. An old metal coffee pot sat on the floor by his chair, plugged to a wall and hissing as it brewed.

The Sound of quiet footsteps approached, but he did not turn away from his work.

"Donnie? It's four in the morning," Leonardo said, yawning, "You need to get some rest."

"Come look at this, Leo," Don said, reaching down to the coffee pot. He picked it up and poured some of the dark sludgy coffee into his mug, giving it a little warm up. Leonardo leaned on the back of Don's chair and looked at the screen.

"What is it?" He said, glancing at the list of numbers and coats on the screen with some bewilderment.

"This," Don said. He clicked a window, bringing up a silhouette onto the big overhead screen. "I've been aligning Master Splinter's data codes according to how they should be arranged."

"It looks like you found all the pieces," Leo said, amazed at the amount of his brother's progress from just a few hours ago. Thousands of new color-coded dots now covered the image.

"Not quite," Don replied, clicking on the image. The image zoomed in, showing a single unlit point inside Splinter's head. "There's only one piece left, but..."

"But what, Donnie?"

"We have to be careful. More careful than anything in our entire lives..."

Leonardo looked at his visibly exhausted and now Nervous brother. "What do you mean... What is the data?"

Don and turned to him with the utmost seriousness. "It's his memory."

Leo blinked and looked at the screen. "His memory?"

"His entire memory," Done replied, taking a sip of coffee to calm his nerves. "If this data gets damaged in any way, even just a little..."

"He could forget who we are..." Leo murmured, shuddering at the idea.

"Who'd forget what?"

The two brothers turned. Raphael walked towards them, dressed in sweatpants and a jacket. His boots were still covered in muck from the sewer tunnels.

"Where have you been?" Leo said, standing upright. He held back the impulse to scold his brother for going off in the middle of the night. The last thing they needed now was to get separated.

"Just a walk," Raph replied, "Nothin' happened. Now what're you two talkin about?"

Don sighed, picking up his coffee again.

"There's only one piece of Master Splinter that we have to find. But we have to be careful, or he's not going to know who we are or anything. It is his Entire Memory."

"His memory?" Raph said, frowning, "Then let's just go get it and bring him back once and for all."

"I'm trying, Raph," Don said, sitting back and rubbing his eyes, "It's a delicate process."

"What's all the shouting about?"

The trio turned to see Michelangelo emerging from his room, clutching his panda in one arm and rubbing his eyes sleepily. Don went to speak, only to get cut off by Leonardo.

"We're all going back to bed, Mike," Leo said, turning to the others, "We have to be rested and at the top of our game to do this tomorrow."

Don looked up at the large screen with Splinter's image, gazing down at them in his usual penetrating gaze. He half-wondered if Splinter was looking back, keeping watch over them in this troubled time. Leo put an arm around him, breaking his reverie and guiding him back to the bedrooms.

Deep within the recesses of the Internet, minute traces of input from a little used microphone travels into the dark spaces of the Foot database. Cyber Shredder listened intently, one clawed hand tapping against his data-built throne.

"If this data gets damaged in any way, even just a little..."

"Interesting," Shredder uttered to himself. "They are almost finished getting 'Daddy' back together."

He pressed a button and a window opened up, Khan's face appearing. Behind him, one could see several technicians working on the destroyed data converter from a previous episode.

"Yes, Master Shredder?"

"Khan, my defragmentation is 98% complete. I have some work for you to do while I finish here,"Shredder said. He raised his hand, a small orb of light forming in his palm."This information came through the virus we left on the turtles' computer microphone. It should prove to be helpful."

"Yes, Master Shredder."

"Find the data codes and deliver them to me. I may have an opportunity to get out of this wretched place, and deal a blow to the turtles that they will Never Forget."

He roared in evil laughter as Khan downloaded the information, showing the same color-coded image of Splinter that was last seen on Don's computer.

-Opening Credits-

After some well-needed rest, the four brothers gathered around the Converter as Don prepared the settings. Mike kept busy, running his skateboard all around the lair, buzzing past Raphael and Leonardo every so often, much to their chagrin.

"Okay, it's ready for us go to," Don said, studying the screen. "WE all have to be very vigilant on this."

"All of us? But who's gonna make sure we don't get stuck on the other side?" Raph said, giving the converter a wary look.

"Don't worry," Don smiled faintly, "I called for backup."

"Did somebody say 'backup'?"

The brothers turned, seeing the hunched form of their good crocodilian ally.

"Leatherhead!"They exclaimed. Leatherhead smiled as he walked towards them.

"Hello friends," He said, shaking hands with Leo. "It has been a long time since we last met."

"Too long," Leo said with a nod.

"Donatello explained what had happened with Master Splinter," Leatherhead said, looking up at the screens. "I wish you all a safe and successful journey in this endeavor. I understand this must be very hard on all of you."

"Donatello's done a fantastic job of regrouping Master Splinter's data bits," Leo said, almost proudly. "We should have our father back in no time."

"Too bad you can come with us, LH!" Mike started, "We could use you to bash and crash through the piles of spam and junk."

LH chuckled, shaking his head. "I do not think so, Michelangelo. I have had a control of my anger for a very long time now. I am much more helpful on this side."

"Besides, if there's anything that needs a good bashing, it's Mike," Raph said, thumbing over at Mike.

"Hey!" Mike shouted, giving his brother a scowl. Mike jumped onto his skateboard and tried to buzz past Raphael, only to have Raph stick his foot out and send Mike flying. The red-clad turtle laughed as Mike got to his feet, rubbing his head and glaring.

"Guys, enough... let's be serious," Leo scolded.

"Okay, we're ready to go," Don said. He handed the controls to LH and followed the others onto the data converter. The machine glowed as the boys were transfigured into electronic code.

The turtles stumbled as they became used to their digital forms, now dressed in their cyber armor.

"Okay, I mapped out a few potential places for the date," Donatello began, looking at the console on his arm plate. "I found traces of Master Splinter's data signature near a major search engine."

"A search engine?" Raph questioned, "Sounds busy."

"Very busy. There's going to be Tons of information to go through," Don explained, "so we'll have to stay very focused if we're going to find Splinter's last data bit."

The screen on Don's gauntlet flashed, and a small blip appeared, moving at a steady clip.

"There. It seems to be stuck on a channel," Don said. "We'll have to hurry and capture it."

The cyber-cycles suddenly materialized in front of them, and the turtles mounted them quickly, racing down the corridor to the precious data.

In the center of a crossroads, the single data bit can be seen, spinning slowly with a slight brown glow. The boys come to a stop and dismount their vehicles.

"Sweet! Now we can go back home and put Sensei back to his old furry self again," Mike said, jumping off his bike.

"We have to take this very carefully, Mike," Don reminded them, looking suddenly very serious.

"Yes... you cannot dare risk any harm coming to your darling Rat master."

The boys turned, seeing Shredder in all of his cyber glory.

"The Shredder?" Mike cried.

"How? I thought we cooked him at the City power-grid!" Raph said, pulling out his sai.

"Fools," Shredder spat, "You think you could get rid of me so easily? I am not merely something you can cut and paste!"

"I have to get to that data," Don said, looking at their precious cargo anxiously. They were so close!

"Mike, Raph and I will keep the Shredder busy," Leo said, brandishing his swords. "You do what you have to, Donnie."

Leo lead the brothers into battle with the Shredder, as Don sprinted towards the data bit. This last piece, and they'd never have to go into the cyberworld. No more Internet battles, no more matter to code changes. It could all be normal again...

Shredder managed to thwart many of the boys' attacks, and turned to see Don closing in on the data.

"Don't think I'm letting you get away THAT easily.." he sneered. He suddenly raised his arms, red and black lightning flying from his fingers and towards the purple-clad turtle and the delicate data bit.

"NO! Donnie, Look out!" The brothers cried.

Donatello turned just in time to see a bolt strike him, sending him flying. The lightning surrounded the data bit, tearing it from a solid piece into four pieces. The four watched in horror as Shredder flung the pieces onto the crossroads, each one going breakneck speeds in opposite directions. They turned towards the Shredder again, only to watch him vanish, his laughter echoing.

"Oh no..." Donatello said, his heart sinking as he dropped to his knees, "How are we going to find them now?"

-Commercial Break-

The turtles watched in horror as their father's fragments went out in four different directions. Shredder's laughter rang through their ears as he disappeared.

"I hate computers!" Raphael growled, balling his fists and pounding the ground.

"We've got to split up, or we'll never find them again, "Don said, jumping onto his cyber-cycle.

"We'll regroup here and get Sensei back together, Leo said, trying to reassure them.

The others quickly mounted their cycles and went after their own pieces.

Michelangelo chased the fragment into a game site – a veritable gamer Valhalla. Flashing lights and gameplay videos lit both sides of the strip as Mike raced by.

"Oh dude!" he uttered, mouth nearly watering, "The newest Halo Wars Trailer! And achievement codes for Helix!"

He slowed as he got caught up in all of the eye candy, and the fragment started to pull out of sight. Mike looked ahead and gave a shriek when he was unable to see the fragment.

"Where'd it go?" He said, looking around frantically. "Ah shell, I can't see it.."

He then saw the fragment disappear among a writhing, growing mass of forum threads. Mike came to a screeching halt and leapt off his bike. He worked his way through the mass of the vine-like data, images and conversations wrapping around his arms and legs, trying to slow him down.

"Gotta... keep going..." He grunted, pushing past the hanging threads.

"You gotta push up down down left right left trigger to find..."

"Why doesn't Lionsgate ..."

"Can you imagine a resident evil crossover with pokemon-"

"Come see my trans-gender fan-art of..."

Words and sounds surrounded Mike as he pushed towards the tiny piece of his father's memory.

I can't let these things stop me, he thought. No more distractions... I can't let everyone down. I've distracted myself too much – wasting time and getting on everyone's nerves to boot. This will take care of everything, and we can be together again.

He reached skyward from the pile, fingers inching towards the floating fragment... just out of reach.

"Come on... oh, wait!"

Mike grabbed a thread and quickly tied it into a lasso. He swung it over his head and threw it towards the fragment.

"Yeehaw!" he said victoriously as he reined in the glowing fragment. He tucked it into his belt and activated his cycle. He looks at the thread and tucks it into his belt as well.

"This could come in handy. Alright guys, the cavalry's comin!"

He spun his tires and headed back towards the others...

Raphael flew down the information highway, right on the heels of the patriarchal particulate.

"Come on," Raph grumbled, pulling back on the throttle, "This can't keep going forever.."

The bike flew towards what looked like a giant facility, covered in shield symbols. The fragment went into the massive database, disappearing down what looked like a hall of screens, countless images of different computer viruses displayed with stats and information.

"What the shell is this place?" Raphael said to himself, looking around.

When he looked back to the front, the fragment suddenly stopped right in front of him at a large window, and he slammed on his brakes to avoid colliding with it. The bike fishtailed, throwing him off and crashing through the window.

"Ugh..." Raph picked himself up off the ground and glanced around. The window was smashed, the cycle was in rough shape, and the fragment was nowhere to be seen.

"Great... how the heck do I find it now?"

A hiss catches Raph's attention, and he turns. From the smashed window, a nasty-looking bug emerges, claws snapping and mandibles open wide. Raph backs up, grabbing his sai.

"Aw shell..."

-Commercial break! -

Raphael found himself cornered by two large computer virus beasts. He flourished his sai and stood on defensive.

"I don't need to deal with this garbage... I need to find Sensei's fragment!"

One of the digital pathogens reared up and charged, screeching loudly. Raph leapt up and avoided the mouth by mere inches, kicking the creature off to the side. The second leapt at him and clung to his shell, trying to flail at the back of his head.

"AH!" Raphael reached up, stabbing the bug on either side and throwing it over his head. The giant bugs collided, landing in a heap before disintegrating.

"I hate bugs", Raphael shuddered, wiping his shoulders off before putting his sai away. "Real bugs, alien bugs...and Cyber bugs. Ugh... It's a good thing this is for Master Splinter."

A gleam catches Raph's eye, causing him to turn. He could see Splinter's data, the fragment sitting precariously on the edge of a stack of small blue shields.

"Finally..."

He carefully dismantled the pile until the fragment is in his reach... As he picked up the fragment, a tiny virus, kinda like a daddy-long legs clung to it.

"Ah! Sonuva..." He tried to wipe the critter off, only to get hissed at. He grimaced, looking at the bug.

"Alright, ya lil bastard.. stay there."

"You better appreciate this, Sensei," he groaned, putting it into his belt. He mounted his cycle and high-tailed it out of the facility...

Leonardo pursued the runaway fragment towards what looked like a large flock of birds. Only the 'birds' were actually light blue orbs with short phrases, one popping up after another, bubbles of phrases appearing and disappearing. Just past some of the bubbles, he could see the fragment.

"There it is," he said, glancing upward. "What is this place.."

It was an effort to get through the clouds of orbs. One bubbles popped up before him -

'Anyone see the new ep of-'

Before he could finish, he found himself surrounded by dozens of bubbles full of replies – 'loved it', 'hated it', and 'that show is for losers...' Trying to keep up with the bubbles was impossible. Every time he thought he was closer to the fragment, a cloud of bubbles would get in the way. Like walking through a funhouse cage of plastic balls.

"This is ridiculous..." he growled, taking out his sword. He sliced his way through the bubbles, watching them break and fall to the ground with satisfying 'chirps'.

"Finally," he exhaled, putting his swords away. He finally saw what he was looking for. He picked up the fragment carefully, sensing a little bit of his father's spirit within. He turned, looking at the shards of orbs on the ground.

"All the technology in the world..." he said to himself. He paused for a moment and picked up a split bubble, putting it into his belt. "Maybe this will be of use.."

He put away the orb and the fragment, before getting onto his own cycle and returning to the others..

Don chased the final fragment all the way to Shredder's Mainframe 'hideout'. He forged forward, determined to return his father's fragment and bring them back to the real world where he belonged.

"I have to do this.. I'm the only one who can do this." He told himself. He moved further in, deeper into the black recesses, the fragment just out of his reach.

"It was my fault he was fragmented in the first place. I shouldn't have left him behind.." His expression twisted with guilt as he reached for the fragment.

"Isn't it a pity.."

Shredder suddenly appeared before Don, catching the fragment in one claw.

"Give it back, Shredder!" Donnie growled, pulling out his bo.

"Forget it, shellback," Shredder sneered, looking at the fragment in his hand. "After years of trying, I finally rid myself of your wretched master. Perhaps a personality change would be... beneficial. It would be the ultimate revenge to take over the rat's body as my own..."

Don pushed back a feeling of panic as Shredder cackled evilly.

"That'll never happen! We just won't use that fragment, we'll do whatever it takes!"

"Well then, if it is not so important... then all I'd have to do is squeeze..."

~ Commercial Break! ~

Don's eyes widened as shredder started to crush the fragment in his claw. The shard flickered and sparked under the pressure.

"NO!"

"Squeeze this, Shredhead!"

Don turned, seeing Mike, Leo and Raph, all with their fragments and weapons at ready. Raph took out his sai and threw it at Shredder's hand.

"NO!" Shredder roared, the fragment flying from his hand. Donatello took a desperate flying leap, just catching the fragment in his fingertips.

"I got you, Sensei.." he breathed in relief, getting to his feet and regrouping with his brothers.

Shredder turned to the turtles, optics flaring.

"You may have the rat's fragments," he growled, "but YOU will not get out in one PIECE!"

"We can't risk these getting damaged," Don said to them, "Anything happens, and Splinter could lose his memories.."

"Don't worry," Leo said, smirking. "We have something to keep the Shredder busy."

Don looked at him questioningly. Mike pulled out the fast growing 'thread' from his belt and threw it towards the shredder. It quickly grew, writhing and tangling his feet.

"What is this?" Shredder cursed, trying to break free.

"Gotta love a good forum game," Mike grinned.

"Information is power, they say, "Leo agreed. He pulled the broken speech bubble from his belt. He rejoined the two pieces and lobbed it towards Shredder. The sudden cloud of replies quickly filled the area around him, blocking his view.

"You'd better appreciate this," Raph muttered. He pulled the fragment from his belt, complete with the nasty little viral bug. He ripped the bug off the fragment and chucked it, doing his own version of the icky 'I touched it!' dance.

The ensuing assault of span and viruses started to bog down the system, causing an overload. The turtles bolted from the dark mainframe, just avoiding a shower of zaps and fragments.

The boys came to a stop at a safe distance, looking very relieved. Don dropped to his knees, hugging the fragment in his hands.

"Good job, guys," Leo said, patting Don's shoulder. "We're almost done."

"Now let's get Splinter and get OUT of here," Raph replied, looking at the fragment in his own hand.

Don nodded, getting to his feet and putting one hand to his ear.

"Leatherhead, do you copy?"

"Loud and clear, Donatello," LH's voice beeped back.

"Good. Bring up the drive holding Sensei's data codes."

A cube appeared before them, morphing into a silhouette of Splinter. Still, in the center of the head, was the small gap. Don turned to the others, looking nervous.

"Ready?" Don asked, holding out his fragment.

"Ready," Leo nodded, holding out his own piece.

"Bout damn time," Raph said.

"Does this mean we have curfew again?" Mike asked, only to get smacked by Raph. "OW! Okay, Okay.."

The boys faced each other, joining the four fragments together. The fragments glowed brightly, engulfing them in bright light. One could almost see a little bit of each boys' energy to into Splinter's figure, slowly filling in with color.

"Please come back, Father.." Don silently pleaded.

"It's working!" Mike exclaimed.

A fully formed Splinter appeared where the silhouette had been. He groaned, dropping to his knees, only to be encircled by his boys' arms.

"My sons.." He smiled weakly, reaching his arms out and embracing them.

"Welcome back, Sensei," Leo said, smiling for the first time in a long time.

"Glad to see you in one piece again," Raph said, giving Splinter a typical one-armed 'man hug'. Maybe a loving noogie.

"Hi Sensei! Got tired of the vacation from us, huh?" Mike grinned.

"I look very forward to going home," Splinter chuckled.

Splinter then turned to his quietest son. Donatello looked on the verge of tears – of joy or sadness, he could not tell.

"My son," Splinter smiled, pulling Don into a hug. Donatello hugged Splinter tightly, laying his head on his shoulder, almost burying his face.

"Sensei," Don whispered, "I'm so sorry.."

"Sorry?" Splinter asked, looking down at his son in surprise. "Donatello, it was your skills that have brought me back."

"But, it was my fault that-"

"Iie," Splinter said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "there is no fault. Or blame. Or guilt."

Splinter wiped the boys eyes gently. "You worked so hard and sacrificed so much to bring me back. How can I not be proud..."

"Thank you, Father," Don said, hugging his father again.

Leo reluctantly interrupted the tender moment, clearing his throat.

"We still have to bring you back to the other side, Sensei."

"Yes, Leonardo," Splinter said, looking down at Don. "Go back and prepare for my return. I can wait a few more minutes..."

"You kiddin? We can't get outta here fast enough," Raph spoke up.

"Hey! Last one there's a rotten-" Mike just stopped himself, catching a look from Splinter. "Uh, nothing..."

Don reluctantly got to his feet, exchanging smiles with Splinter as the four boys vanished.

~ Ending Credits~

This is where we would continue with the Series Finale "Wedding Bells and Bytes"