Chapter 8: Going Places
Morning came sooner than expected, and while the Holding Area was still quiet, the same was not true for the rest of Adelton's estate. Indeed, the majority of Edward's staff was busy getting everything ready for their employer's trip to South Australia.
This included prepping the household for his absence. So, of course, the last thing anyone expected in the middle of the all the ado was the arrival of Edward's offspring.
Serra and Derik Adelton, fraternal twins who were now 21 and fully legal, were finally home from the school at which they had been boarding for the past 10 years.
Upon arriving at the estate, the pair were met at the door by the old butler Devonshire. Serra, with her reddish-brown hair, was smiling as she entered, pulling her rolling suitcase behind her. Conversely, Derik –whose hair was such a deep brown it looked almost black– had a decidedly sour expression as he plunked his suitcase down on the threshold.
The girl blinked, coming to a stop as she caught sight of all the commotion. "What's going on?" she asked.
"And more importantly," snapped the girl's brother, "Where's our father?"
Devonshire cleared his throat. "He's not here presently, Master Derik. He said he would be, for a short time, in the company of Mildred Longate. I do believe he is endeavoring to persuade her to accompany him to the Exposium this year."
The twins looked at each other, briefly wide-eyed. "What?! But-! " "Didn't he know we were coming home today?" Serra looked confused.
"I-I don't know miss. When you phoned from the school last week, after your graduation, I made sure to schedule the limousine to pick you up."
Derik's expression was one of seething disbelief.
"Wow," said Serra, turning towards the hubbub, "The Exposium, I'd forgotten all about it."
A growl boiled up from Derik's throat. "NO," he snarled, "NO. He - forgot - us! For crying out loud, he's our father. It's not our job to remember his crap when we've been boarded away at school almost half our lives! I mean this is our home-coming, and he's not even here to greet us?"
Serra turned, taking hold of her brother's arm. "Come on now, mistakes do happen. Father could've gotten the dates mixed up."
"Oh, don't cover for him Serra! We know all too well what he's like." Derik looked suddenly grim, "Things were never the same after mom died."
Serra couldn't argue with that, and there was silence for a moment between them as the twins remembered the woman who had been the mother. Devonshire was standing silently by; having been a long time retainer of the Adeltons, he was well-acquainted with the sad story of the family.
"Well," began Serra, clearing her throat, "Maybe we could at least take a minute to be glad we're finally home."
Derik gave a scoffing snort. "How can we be happy to be home when our own father doesn't even care we're here? No, instead he's off trying to sweet talk his old girlfriend into taking a trip!"
Serra's eyes widened curiously as the possibility their father was looking for a new wife expanded in her mind. Eyeing the twins, Devonshire decided this was as good a time as any to speak up. "Ahem, " he began, "Would you like your bags taken up to your rooms?"
Serra gave a slight start as she snapped from her ruminations. "Oh! Why yes Devonshire," said she, bringing her suitcase 'round in front of her, "That would be lovely."
"Yeah," grumbled Derik, shoving the handle of his case towards the butler. Devonshire snapped his fingers at a nearby porter who quickly came forward, seized the luggage and started up the wide sweeping staircase.
The twins turned, heading in direction of the dining room when Serra spun back towards the old butler. "Is father taking the Yeti again this year?"
"Yes Miss Serra, but there has been a recent addition to your father's collection, and I believe he will be taking it as well. Truth be known, he is quite thrilled to have something new to show at last."
Derik's rage suddenly flared to life. "What?!" he bellowed, rounding on Devonshire, "He's got ANOTHER one of those freaks of nature?!"
The butler cringed nervously. "Yes sir. It's down in the Holding Area."
Not wanting to play into her brother's frustrations, Serra chippered: "Oh! What kind is it?"
"Er, eh…" the elderly butler stuttered on a reply, trying to recall what he'd been told.
Serra grabbed her brother's forearm. "Let's go see it!"
Derik was clearly a festering boil, seething with wrath; yet despite this, he somehow managed to accompany his sister to the elevator in complete silence. The moment the lift doors slid closed, poor Devonshire exhaled and swiftly resumed his duties.
Mikey was still sleeping when the echo of upraised voices reached his ears. At first the young turtle wasn't sure what he'd heard and only lay there, somewhat dazed, wondering what had awoken him. But as the voices became more distinct, Mikey began to understand what was drawing near.
"Mmm, who-?" he uttered, raising his half-lidded eyes towards the blacked-out Shadow Glass.
"Oh dear..." came Tusdin's voice. The next sound the occupants of the Holding Area heard was that of the door opening.
"What, here?" asked an angry voice, now very near, "It's in here?"
"Yes." replied another voice; it was the Chief Handler's, and he sounded perturbed.
Michelangelo leaned up, now more curious as to what was going on. It startled him to see the layers of the Shadow Glass suddenly fading back; of course, what the sudden clarity revealed was even more of a curiosity.
Mikey blinked, his eyes locking instantly on a young man and woman standing just outside the glass. The girl was smiling, but the boy had the look of absolute hate and disgust in his eyes.
Greatly was the young ninja unnerved by this look, yet also transfixed by it; he didn't understand: who was this guy and why was he aiming such a venomous glare at him?
Mike managed to shift his eyes towards the girl as she stepped up to the glass. "Aw," hummed Serra, "It's kinda cute."
"Puh!" scoffed Derik, "I can't even tell what it is."
Michelangelo frowned at the insult. 'What a stupid jerk,' he thought, and turned about, facing his carapace towards the duo.
"Ohh," remarked Serra, "I think you hurt his feelings."
"So what?" grumbled the young Adelton, "He shouldn't even BE here. I mean seriously, dad is spending ALL his time and money on all these freaks, and I'm sick of it! By the time he kicks the bucket, we won't have a cent left to our names!"
The girl gave an exasperated sigh; she was growing tired of having to constantly diffuse the ticking time-bomb that was her brother. "I think you're being just a bit dramatic." she remarked.
"You know I'm not," growled Derik, "You know he cares more for these things than he does for us."
Serra looked ready to rebut, but she slowly exhaled instead; her eyes became downcast, and an awful silence ensued. Mikey felt the sudden emptiness, and, forgetting his umbrage, decided to shift back in the direction of the twins.
He looked at them standing forlorn and angry, and wondered, not for the last time, what kind of man Edward Adelton really was. 'He's seriously got his own kids thinking he doesn't love them?' Mike swallowed.
Out of the blue, Waldorf Bauer stepped into the hallway between the Holding Rooms and cleared his throat. "Uh, your father is here. He'd like to see you. He's waiting upstairs."
Derek glanced at Bauer icily. "Is that right?"
Serra tried to smile. "Come on," she said, stepping up to her brother, "It'll be all right."
But Derik's arms were folded and he gave a scoffing snort; Serra winged, and took his arm, turning him towards the door. "Look, I know father hasn't always been there for us. But," they walked passed Waldorf, "We're finally backand I'd like for us to at least make an effort to feel at home before we go and alienate ourselves again. Alright?"
"Fine." grumbled Derik. He paused suddenly and shot an ugly glare back at Michelangelo. This surprised his sister somewhat and she had to give him an aggressive pat on the back to get him to move forward again; both he and his sister passed from the room, their conversation fading from ear shot.
'Sheesh,' thought Mikey, 'What did I ever do to that guy?' Waldorf glanced at the turtle, and the turtle at him. "So," Mikey pointed, "Those're Adelton's kids?"
"Yes," affirmed the Chief Handler, "Unfortunately, I'm not well-acquainted with my employer's children, and I don't know exactly how to interact with them."
Mikey looked towards to doorway in thoughtful consideration. "The way they talk about 'im," he said after a moment, "Their dad I mean… It's, kind of sad."
"Yes." answered Bauer, "I wasn't here when Mr. Adelton's wife died. From what I've been told, he didn't take it well."
"That's understandable." mumbled Mikey, wondering briefly —as he did at times— what it would be like to have a mother in the first place; but then, to lose her?
"Yes. Anyway," continued Waldorf, "I heard from Devonshire, the old family butler, that Mr. Adelton didn't feel like he could do right by his children, considering the state he was in. In other words, he didn't want them to have to deal with him in that condition, and so packed them off to a boarding school upstate."
Mikey looked surprised, and a little put off. "But, that's not how you deal with stuff like that. When someone you love dies, you should bring your family members closer around you, not push them away!"
Waldorf blinked, and from the complexity of his expression Mikey couldn't tell if the man agreed with what he'd said, or not. The young turtle felt suddenly nervous and slightly embarrassed, and didn't know why. "Well," he said quickly, "It just doesn't seem like something anyone should deal with on their own, that's all..."
"Yes, well," said Bauer, clearing his throat, "They're here now, and all grown up apparently. I just hope they don't rock the boat more than is necessary. I happen to like my job."
"Well, you are good at it." chuckled Michelangelo, rubbing the back of his neck.
Waldorf nodded towards the turtle politely. "Thank you… I'll be back with your breakfast." He headed for the door. "Today's going to be an extra busy day since it's Departure Day. We're leaving tonight!"
Mike sat up straight with a jerk. "Tonight? Oh man…"
Throughout the course of the day, Michelangelo found out just how right Waldorf was. Indeed, for the young ninja, the craziness of Departure Day started just after he'd finished breakfast. Apparently something was off with the measurements for his crate, and he had to do a refitting.
The procedure had been annoying to begin with, and nothing about that had changed the second time around. Seeing how tired and irritated Mikey had become with the whole process, Waldorf took the first available opportunity to whisk him away from the designers and out into the open air.
Mikey sucked in a gulp of air as he stepped out into the sunlight. "Ah man, I didn't know how much more of that I could take." he puffed out a breath with a slight chuckle.
"Well, always glad to help." said Waldorf, "I could tell all that measuring was starting to get to you."
"Ch, no kidding." The turtle turned, closing his eyes as he took in another deep breath through his nose. "Man, it smells nice around here."
"Heh, yes, there're a lot of nice smelling things growing on the grounds. But I'm pretty sure that particular scent is from the Lebanon cedars over yonder."
Mikey looked towards the small forest, and realized, for the first time, how unusual the trees looked. Their branches were quite thick, yet the foliage growing from them spread out horizontally, making the cedars look like they were made in tiers.
"Anyway," began the Chief Handler, "I didn't bring you out here just for a break."
Mike turned, looking more alert than he had the moment before. He saw Bauer had drawn his smartphone out of one of his pockets, and was using a stylus to tap its screen. "Okay," said Waldorf, with a large grin, "What would you like to bring for snacks on the trip?"
Mikey's eyes became alight with wonder-on-excitement. "Snacks? You mean like goodies? Sweet treats? Candy?!"
Bauer blinked, startled by the sudden enthusiasm. "Well, yes. Is that what you want?" he asked.
"DUDE, you have NO idea!"
The next 15 minutes was something of a wild give-and-take as Mikey did an exposition on everything he'd ever liked, and Waldorf worked out the list of the things he could realistically get in the current time limit.
Michelangelo made a face when he found out he wouldn't be allowed to pick the contents of his own meals. "I'm sorry," said Waldorf, "But Mr. Adelton wants you to have a balanced diet. And the meals you eat from now on will be based on whatever you're deficient in. "
"Deficient?" quizzed Mike, his brow furrowed. 'What I'm deficient in is PIZZA.' he thought to himself, 'It's been three days!'
"Yes," the Handler went on to explain, "We're all deficient in one thing or another. Minerals, basic nutrients and what not. So, until the results of your blood tests come back with everything in check, you will have to eat a prescribed diet."
"Doesn't sound fun." grumbled Mike, folding his arms.
"Diets never are." replied the handler, understandingly, "But at least the snacks make up for it a bit."
After this little tête–à–tête, Waldorf had Mikey take a walk, saying it would be his last opportunity to stretch his legs for a while, considering it'd take 14 hours of flight time to reach their destination.
So, Mike meandered, his head full of thoughts. He wondered what his family was doing, wondered what Australia would be like, wondered…
In truth, Michelangelo wasn't sure how he was supposed to feel about the situation. Should he be angry? Probably. Should he be scared? Possibly. But all he really felt was confused, and even a bit depressed.
What was he supposed to do amid this trial? Was there anything he could do?
Mikey touched the collar around his neck. "Prob'ly not." he mumbled, looking towards the distant fence with casual reproach; he wondered briefly how far he could get before the collar would stop him.
He sighed out through his nose; would it even be worth trying? His heart told him 'yes' — his head told him 'no.' He frowned in his ambivalence.
Not trying to escape seemed like a betrayal, to both himself and his family. But what would the consequences be if his escape attempt failed? Would they no longer allow him to go outside?
The thought gave Mikey chills; how horrible that would be! To be a true prisoner, trapped within the belly of Adelton's mansion where the warmth of the sun and the smell of the open air would no longer reach him.
"No, no, no..!" moaned the young turtle, looking suddenly ill. Then and there Mike made his decision: he would not try to escape until he was sure he would succeed.
Of course, that meant his mission now was to do a great deal of intelligence gathering, a task he usually left to his older brothers. Mikey shook his head; he had to rely solely on his own talents now, and draw upon everything he'd ever learned.
He would start by learning the lay of the land, which included finding out in which direction New York lay; then, if he could find a way to disconnect whatever was powering the collar, the only remaining obstacle would be the GEID chip beneath his skin, for it would track him wherever he went.
'If I can somehow stay just one step ahead of them,' concluded the orange-masked turtle, 'Then I should be able to make it home in time for Donnie to take this stupid thing out before they find us!'
Mike paused, briefly wondering if the last stage of his plan would put his family at risk; would those sent after him try to capture them all? He touched the back of his neck.
Mikey turned with a sigh. "Guess I'll worry about that when I have to." he muttered, "It's not like I'm even close to getting out of here. At least… not yet."
He cleared his throat, and continued his wanderings. After a while, as the sun leaned towards late afternoon, Michelangelo realized he could hear the creek bubbling somewhere nearby, and started towards it.
As he came to the water he was surprised to see Tusdin approaching from the opposite direction. "There you are!" said the yeti, "I was wondering where you'd gotten to! I've been looking for you."
Mike looked surprised, and suddenly suspicious. "Why?"
Tusdin smiled, and explained to the young turtle that Waldorf wanted to see him, and that he had volunteered to retrieve him, knowing how Mikey had previously reacted to being summoned by his collar.
The ninja swallowed, realizing the winter sasquatch had come seeking him purely out of consideration for his feelings; specifically, his strained nerves where the device strapped around his neck was concerned. In truth, the collar did make Mikey uneasy — in more ways than one.
"Oh, okay," he said, "Eh, thanks." They both started back towards the manor as Tusdin began explaining the reason for the Chief Handler's summons; the fact was, they were very close to leaving. But not only that.
To Mikey's chagrin, he learned both he and Tusdin would have to visit the clinic and good Dr. Goodfellow again. Indeed, quite soon after meeting up with Waldorf Bauer, Mikey found himself standing in the clinic frowning at the dark-skinned doctor herself.
"Do we really have to do this?" he asked, looking suddenly uncomfortable as Goodfellow took the yeti's arm.
"Afraid so," responded Tusdin, as a needle was pushed into his hairy arm; he flinched ever so slightly, "It's a very long flight, and sleeping most of the way will spare us the insufferable boredom."
Mike gave a sudden bounce as he brought his hands together as fists. "Boredom?!" he yelped, "Dude!" he looked between the yeti and Waldorf, "Just gimme a Walkman with some decent tunes and a stack of manga, and I promise you I won't be bored!"
The humans blinked at this pronouncement, but Tusdin looked severely confused. "Man-guh?"
Mikey's shoulders sagged. "It's black-and-white comics from Japan man."
"You read comics?" quizzed Waldorf, curiously.
"Dude Wally, of course!" spouted the turtle, happily, "Manga, comics–! It's the stuff of life!"
There was silence for a moment as the group took in this interesting new information. "Well," said Bauer, clearing his throat, "As much as I'd like to accommodate you Michelangelo, the truth is there really isn't any time left to get you such things. We're getting ready to leave and will be putting you on the plane as soon as we're through here."
Mikey felt himself shrinking back. His expression was almost painful as he looked 'round at the trio of faces; why didn't any of them understand how unfamiliar this whole situation was to him?
"Come along now old chap," urged Tusdin, helpfully, "You're in good hands here. It's just a sedative, there's nothing to worry about."
Michelangelo felt his innards tightening; his reluctance wasn't just about getting another shot — it was about everything. He had already been kidnapped at the behest of these people, and now they were whisking him away to a far distant land about which he knew so little.
The young turtle felt defeat coming over him like an enemy's embrace; there was no way out. He hung his head. "Fine." he found himself saying.
On that note, Dr. Goodfellow turned to the side, snapping up another syringe bottle. She pushed the shaft of the needle through its rubber cap and drew back the plunger, filling the barrel with a measure of colorless liquid.
Mikey raised his head as she stepped towards him; he automatically recoiled but felt Waldorf come up behind him, not to hold him in place but rather to give him something to brace himself against.
When Mike took his eyes from Waldorf's reassuring gaze, he looked on Jane nervously. Seeing this, the doctor lowered her needle for a moment.
"Listen," said she, "I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot yesterday Michelangelo. It wasn't my intention to give you any kind of reason to be wary of me." The lady vet looked genuinely upset, which startled Mikey as much as it confused him.
Indeed, the turtle's statement of hatred the day before had left Jane more unsettled than one might've expected. "I don't want to be your enemy." she continued, "I'm here to help you, all of you." She looked at Tusdin before shifting her eyes back to Mikey. "Your health is important to me, and I don't want you to be afraid when all I'm here to do is ensure you're well and strong. …Okay?"
Michelangelo stared into the woman's face with scrutiny, trying to gauge her sincerity. When he didn't say anything, Dr. Jane finally gave a slight nod and raised the needle towards his shoulder.
Waldorf felt Mikey back into him again, and watched the turtle avert his gaze as Goodfellow made the injection; the turtle cringed.
"It's just a sedative," explained Jane, pulling the needle free, "You'll start to feel real sleepy in a few minutes."
Mike turned aside, rubbing the now sore spot between his neck and shoulder. All at once Tudsin loosed a hollow howl, having opened his toothy maw in the biggest yawn Mikey had ever seen; apparently the sedative was already taking effect in the yeti's system.
"Well, now that that's over with– come along you two." Waldorf gave Mike's shoulder a pat, tipping his head toward Goodfellow in a brief nod of acknowledgment.
Another handler, who had been standing by the doors, came up to the sleepy yeti and guided him from the room. The Chief Handler wasn't far behind, ushering Mikey ahead of him.
As they walked to the Loading Bay, Michelangelo was moodily silent, and from the expression on his face it was apparent he wasn't interested in making conversation. So the jaunt to the crates happened mostly without remark, except for the brief passing of information between the assistant handler and the Chief which transpired in hushed tones, befitting the air of gloom.
When the group reached the Bay, Mike neither spoke nor raised his eyes from the floor. Instead, when brought to his crate, he simply ducked down and seated himself within.
Waldorf found this behavior a tad unsettling and knelt a moment to look in on the turtle. Mikey was sitting with arms folded, his gaze directed to the back of his padded box.
Realizing the mutant would not be solaced in this situation, Waldorf nodded grimly to himself and closed the door, a beep issuing from the electronic lock.
Mikey sighed, only to have that sigh turn into a yawn. He tried to fend it off, but it quickly returned; he was already feeling sleepy. 'Stupid shot.' he thought grumpily, and shifted to the side. He peered out through the plexiglass portion of his crate. His and Tusdin's crates were being rolled outside where a large truck was waiting.
'And here I wanted to go home,' thought Michelangelo, 'When the truth is I couldn't be going farther away.' He leaned back against the corner of his crate in thought, understanding he still had a lot of question marks where Australia was concerned. What was it going to be like?
If everything he'd been told about the Exposium was true, then there would be a lot of other creatures like him there, a throng of mutants — rarities and oddities alike.
Still, as exciting as that was, Michelangelo realized it made him feel just a tad less unique. Maybe he and his family weren't so different after all..?
Mike gave his head a disgruntled shake, and let his eyes slide closed. "This is so messed up…" he mumbled. A moment later he turned over, and settled down against the thick padding.
Already he could feel the rumble of the truck engine as the vehicle, now laden with its live-cargo, proceeded to the airport. To Mikey, in his currently drowsy state of mind, the vibration from the road felt strangely relaxing; indeed, by the time they had pulled out onto the tarmac where Adelton and his jet awaited, both the turtle and the yeti were soundly asleep.
The voices of the ground crew did not disturb them, nor even the swaying of their crates as a forklift loaded them into the belly of plane. No indeed, for in their slumber they were aware only of their dreamscapes, and the sounds they did hear folded seamlessly into the events of their dreams, so that even the growl of the jet's turbines couldn't rouse them.
Soon the jet was taxiing down the runway, rising steadily into the air and into the night, bearing its passengers forward on the first leg of the long journey to the land down under.
RoseD.: Hey guys, so life's been keeping me busy lately. My dad and I recently moved...again. I got a job, so that's exciting. But I was sick for a whole week, which was irritating. And all the while I've been trying to be creative in between. I have two other TMNT stories I'm writing (or not writing depending on how you look at it) plus several comics — all of which you can find on DeviantArt.
So, thanks for stopping by to read the latest Chapter of 'FoH' — I hope it was entertaining. ^_^ Mikey is now well on his way, and once he reaches Australia, I can safely say: things are going to get a bit strange. So you won't want to miss that! Cheers everyone, and God Bless!