TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:

"RAPHAEL COUNTS 'EM ALL"

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

NOTE: This story takes place after "Turtles Forever" and is Book Three of a Ten-Book Series. The first two are: "So Long, No Thanks For All The Fish" And "My Seer, My Secretary".

DISCLAIMER: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are trademarked by Nickelodeon, characters from the 80s cartoon are properties of Fred Wolf. All original characters are mine.


CHAPTER ONE

Leonardo stayed calm as the sweat dripped down his forehead. His eyes were tightly shut, and all his hearing could focus on was the clattering of a nearby fan blowing a soft breeze into his face. He was seated on a small wooden chair situated in the centre of the Turtle's sewer lair beneath New York. Observing him was his sensei, Splinter

"Concentrate Leonardo" Splinter advised as he saw Leonardo strain himself.

"Do not fixate yourself on the exact detail of memory, simply project the moment and the lesson attached to it"

Leonardo complied, "I see Master" he said, "I see the moment...it is a day of winter, where the sun should be at it's peak, but evil forces had greatly reduced it in size, the city was frozen, bridges were filled with snow...caving in under the weight"

"Have you pinpointed the moment yet Leonardo?" Splinter asked. Leonardo concentrated harder, "Yes Sensei", he said, "the bridge is the moment...it bulked, it collapsed, cutting people off from exiting the city, I was shocked at the damage done"

"And in that moment, what lesson did you learn?" Splinter asked of his student.

"I..realized I had spent so much time worrying about myself, that I didn't have time for other people's worries...I realized I had been a fool to doubt myself when so many other things were in doubt, someone had to make a difference, I opted to go back to my brothers and lead them against this thereat. We succeeded, the sun was restored, the threat of early winter had passed... I was...myself again"

"Splendid Leonardo, let this memory define your sense of purpose for many more years to come" Splinter said, offering his congratulations. Leonardo bowed and walked away, as he did so, he bumped into Donatello

"Your turn", he said

"Gee Master, are you really going to do this with all of us?" Donatello asked, "We've had plenty of adventures over the years, lots of moments have defined us, why should one memory mean the most when we have a whole catalogue to choose from?"

"Memories are a gap between action and awareness Donatello" Splinter explained, "One specific journey is what makes us take all our later steps with a clearer understanding of what to do when we reach them.

The lesson learned from that one special moment ties the separate days and years into one complete picture of a life lived, and lived matching the highest of expectation"

Donatello sighed and sat down, "Fine" he said, "I just don't see the point of being content with one life lesson over the thousands we've picked up on"

"If you feel this is a challenge for you Donatello, you have my permission to express it as creatively as you can, perhaps you will teach me to think differently" Splinter said, offering Donatello an opportunity to make his case. Donatello thought hard, the wheels in his head turning, forming ideas, forming solutions. Finally, he hit one

"I have it Master" he said, ecstatic.

"Good", Splinter said, "But it must wait, for right now I have your time, and you must spend it with your moment"

"Trust me Master, after this exercise, you may need to re-evaluate me, I believe I'm going to have a moment or two" Donatello quipped

As Donatello began his exercise, Leonardo returned to the living area of the lair, where Michelangelo was chatting to April on the Turtle-Com, a laptop computer nested on his legs, and Raphael was flicking through tv channels

"Anything interesting going on guys?" Leonardo asked

"Splinter really got us up early for these "memory jogs", the marathons of my favourite show haven't even started" Raphael said, annoyed, "Just this annoying P.B.S special about Bakers"

"What's up with Mike?" Leonardo asked

"Oh he's discovered the "joy" of writing online fan fiction, and like 90.99% of the planet's population, he's failing miserably at it" Raphael replied, "April loaned him a laptop to work on and she's been his beta-reader. If you ask me, she's got her work cut out for her"

"Mike, it's not "cosy", it's "cozy", I know it looks wrong on the spell-checker, but that's exactly how it's pronounced" April said over the Turtle-Com, "And I don't think Ace Duck would step in dinosaur excrement, this IS a children's cartoon you're writing about, don't try to make it all about gross toilet humour, also "prescience" is actually "presence"

"Gee, I didn't think writing came with so many requirements...can't we write whatever we want so long as it makes you peachy?" Michelangelo asked

"That's the easiest thing in the world to do Mike, but that's why writers don't do it, they have an obligation to an impressionable audience, not just keen minds, not just experienced minds, but young minds as well" April explained. "Don't worry, you're doing fine, I'll drop by the lair this afternoon and we can polish your story up together"

"What are you going to be doing this morning April?" Leonardo asked, commandeering the Turtle-Com

"Oh, just doing a Channel Six special on the Bakers' Dozen Summit that's taking place downtown" April revealed, "Leading baker Brad Dallas has a major announcement to make regarding a new top-secret recipe he's been working on in conjunction with some of the world's most brilliant bakers, he claims it's going to change how the world thinks about not just food, but everything"

"Food for thought, I like the notion" Raphael said.

"Ok Raph, you're up for a bit of memory jogging" Donatello said, having completed his exercise. Raphael was less than impressed

"Oh come on Don, can't it wait 'till after the season premiere of my favourite show?" he said

"You're a Mutant Turtle, the days of being slow on these things should be left to your infancy" Donatello added, pointing in the direction from whence he came, "Now get to stepping"

Reluctantly, Raphael got up and, in a sulk, marched over to Splinter and the inevitable mental taxation that awaited him

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Meanwhile, from their Technodrome base situated on the far side of the moon, dark forces conspired to misbehave. Shredder, Krang, Rocksteady and Bebop were huddled together around the vast monitor in the central control room, watching the PBS special on Baker Brad Dallas.

"I don't understand your fascination with this man Krang" Shredder complained, "I know our catering budget is a tad low and all our fridges are empty, but we need to think more about getting the Technodrome fully operational, not making sure our stomachs are completely full"

"Maybe if your nose did a little sniffing, you'll find our situation lines up perfectly well with what these bakers are offering in their ovens" Krang replied, and brought up photographs of Dallas and his fellow bakers.

"These are not just ordinary bakers" Krang said, "They are, in secret, some of the most brilliant scientific minds ever assembled. Hiding behind this simple disguise they have been perfecting a formula that heightens the concentration levels and gives the person who takes it a greater understanding of how the most overcomplicated things work and how the greatest of problems can be easily and quickly solved. With such a formula in our possession, we will be able to broaden our own minds and work out how to unlock the full potential of the Technodrome"

"So what do you want us to do? Go down there armed with mittens?" Shredder asked

"Secure the formula" Krang ordered, "Either capture someone who knows it, or take the very bake that contains it and bring it back here"

"Oh, I'd love to get my licks in on that" Bebop said, letting out a huge snort.

"Yeah, can we have a little taste boss, please?" Rocksteady pleaded.

"I have to admit, it's a most appetising plan Krang, but we all know it's doomed to fail so long as the Turtles are about" Shredder pointed out

"Must you be such a pessimist?" Krang replied. "Should the Turtles interfere, they will find us more than prepared. Rocksteady, fetch the pulse

Rocksteady complied and soon brought back a small grey triangle

"Yes Krang, and what hole do you think this shape goes through?" Shredder asked sarcastically

"Do not underestimate the sheer magnitude of what this small shape can provide" Krang replied, "This is will ensure the Turtles will be reduced to nothing more than a very distant memory"