Operation: Shell Shocked
April slowly came to, her head still fuzzy after fainting. As she pushed herself up, Casey’s hand met her back.
“Easy there.” he told her softly. “Just take it slow.”
“Casey…?” she muttered, holding her head. “What-?”
“Let’s not focus on that right now.” he interjected. “Just drink this.”
He handed her a warm mug of what smelled like tea. She sipped it, allowing the warmness to sooth her. As she began to regain her senses, she realized a few things. One, she wasn’t in her apartment. Two, she wasn’t in Casey’s apartment either. Three, wherever she was reeked of mildew and stale water.
“Um, Casey?” She questioned, “Where are we?”
Casey gulped, rubbing the back of his head.
“Yeah… How much do you remember?” He asked.
April shrugged, taking another sip of her tea.
“I remember you scaring me, then you mentioned an attack on the pizzeria… and then-”
She froze mid-sip, suddenly remember just what is was that caused her to faint. She set her cup down, meeting Casey’s eye.
“Then I saw four… large… monsters…”
“Hey, watch the ‘M’-word!” Raph called out indignantly.
April squeaked, backing into the cushions of the couch she was sitting on as the turtles emerged from the shadows.
“Raph, calm down.” Leo told his brother. “We’ve already made her faint once, let’s try not to do it again.”
“Hey, she’s the one that used the M-word.” Raph argued, gesturing to April. “I think I’m entitled to be offended by it.”
April looked at the turtles, trying to rationalize what she was seeing. Part of her had hoped that she had just been dreaming, but here they were again.
“This- This can’t be real.” she muttered. “You- you can’t be real.”
Donny stepped forward.
“We are just as real as you and your friend are.” he replied.
“Besides, if we weren’t real, then why are you in our living room?” Mikey questioned.
April blinked, then looked around. She was in some sort of make-shift living quarters, a house that seemed to be built into the sewers. Thinking on that, it explained the mildew smell.
“Who are you?” She asked, hugging onto a couch pillow.
Mikey stepped forward, a grin on his face.
“I’m glad you asked. How’s about I do the introductions?”
“Mikey-” Raph tried before being cut off by Donny.
“Let him.” the purple turtle said. “He’s been wanting a chance to do this for years.”
Raph sighed and Mikey cleared his throat.
“Over here in the blue, we’ve got Leonardo. He’s our fearless leader rocking the Dual Katanas.”
Leo brandished his swords with a bit of flair before sliding them back into their sheathes.
“On my right in the purple is Donatello. He’s a tactical genius who is, technically, a genius. Guy can make any piece of technology out of scraps from the dump.”
Donny gave a bow, leaning against his staff.
“The hothead in the red is Raphael. He’s a big cuddly teddy bear.”
“Mikey, I swear-”
“If big cuddly teddy bears were incredibly violent wrecking machines.” Mikey hastily added. “And finally, there’s me. Michelangelo, sporting my signature orange. I’m the resident fun machine and butt kicking master of the nunchuks.”
In an air of showmanship, he pulled out his weapons, spinning them around in true Bruce Lee fashion.
“Yeesh, where’s your off switch?” Raph questioned.
April took a deep breath, attempting to process this new information. Luckily, Casey sat down next to her to try and help.
“I don’t understand.” April expressed turning to Casey. “How do you know these guys Casey?”
“I told you.” Casey explained. “These are Hisako’s brothers.”
“Her brothers?” April questioned. “These things are her brothers? There’s no way Hisako could be related to those turtles. She a normal human.”
At that moment, Splinter walked over.
“In the wise words of Phaedrus, ‘Things are not always what they seem’.” he told her.
April squealed, scrambling away and clinging to Casey. The teen immediately tried to calm his girlfriend.
“Whoa there.” He told her. “Calm down. That’s just Hisako’s father, Master Splinter.”
April’s eyes were wide as she began hyperventilating again.
“Her brothers… are turtles… and her father… is a rat… Is there anything else I should know about?”
That’s when Leatherhead walked into the room with a tray of tea. April’s eyes locked on him, her jaw dropping as she slowly turned to Casey.
“Her boyfriend is a crocodile.” Casey added with a shrug.
“Yeah, and you two are human nerds.” Raph interjected. “Now that we’ve got that out of the way-”
Before he could finish, April sagged in Casey’s grasp, passing out again. He laid her back down on the couch before looking up at the turtles.
“Any of you got any smelling salts?”
Electricity flickered throughout the lab. The scientists were attempting to revive Hisako through the use of electric voltage. Unfortunately this was doing little more than waste electricity. She was still essentially brain dead.
“Still not working?!” one of the scientists exclaimed. “There’s gotta be some way to wake her up.”
“Raise the voltage.” another scientist suggested.
“We can’t,” a third one interjected. “If we do, we risk losing her.”
“Dr. Stockman is not going to accept this.” the first scientist declared.
“I’m not going to accept what?”
The three scientist turned around to see Stockman standing behind them.
“Dr. Stockman!” the second scientist practically cried out.
“Status report.” Stockman demanded. “Now!”
The first scientist stepped forward.
“We’ve attempted electrostimulation to restart her brain, but we’ve had no success.” he explained. “Not as much as a blip on the brain activity monitor.”
“We’ve continued increasing the voltage, but if he raise it any higher, we risk electrocuting her and killing her.”
Stockman stroked his chin as he examined Hisako.
“Then perhaps it is time to try a different approach.” he suggested. “Considering this coma is self-inflicted, then she must have a way to pull herself out of it. All we need to do is force her to come out.”
He snapped his fingers and two men in black coats walked in. They were both wearing blue latex gloves and gave off an air of malice and sadism that rivaled even Stockman’s.
“As long as you don’t kill her or damage her mentally, she’s all yours.”
The two men smiled as they cracked their knuckles.
Inside Hisako’s mind, the girl forced herself to stay down. Her entire body hurt and she wanted so desperately to let go, just so the pain would end, even for a moment. Still, she knew she couldn’t let go. She knew that once she did, then Stockman won, and she was never gonna let that happen.
She forced herself to think about something other than the pain. In desperation, she latched onto the memories of the past four years. The memories of her family and friends strengthened her resolve and she kept herself down.
I know you’ll come for me guys…
The pain started up again, forcing her to concentrate harder.
April came around a second time, and this go around, everyone took it slow. Luckily, she seemed to be a bit more receptive to the idea of her friend living with mutants, especially after Casey explained Hisako’s history.
“So Hisako’s rough childhood was the result of her being used as a lab rat because of her ability to read minds. And these guys found her and took her in after she was rescued by… Leatherhead was it?”
The crocodile gave a single nod.
“Am I getting this right?” she asked.
“You’ve pretty much got it.” Casey told her.
“Though when you say it out loud like that, it really does sound insane.” Mikey commented.
“But what I don’t understand is what this has to do with me, or Casey.” April continued. “Why bring us into this?”
“Because those people from her past are the ones that attacked the Pizzeria.” Leo answered. “They took Hisako, and we’re going to need your help to rescue her.”
“My help?” April asked. “What can I do?”
“Those people who have our sister,” Donnie explained. “They work for TCRI.”
April help up a hand.
“Wait. You’re saying that your sister was held captive by TCRI?” She questioned before shaking her head. “That’s impossible. We’re the Technological Research and Creations Institute.”
“Yeah, we’ve seen the logo.” Raph quipped.
“Then you know our research is fully technology based. We don’t have any projects involving mind control or mutant animals.”
Raph snorted, leaning against the wall.
“Ever heard of a front?” he asked. “TCRI is just a cover for Stockman’s twisted science experiments.”
Now April was getting mad. She stood up, facing the red turtle.
“And now you’re accusing Dr. Baxter Stockman of being some Dr. Frankenstein?”
Leatherhead excused himself from the room as Leo came forward.
“Look April, it’s true. Stockman tortured Hisako for most of her childhood. She still has nightmares about him.”
“No way. I refuse to believe you!”
“So wait, you’re willing to believe Hisako is a telepath, and that her family is made up of mutants, but what you can’t believe is the fact that your boss is evil?” Raph questioned. “Casey, your girlfriend is not the brightest light bulb in the box.”
“He’s not evil!” April shouted. “That man has 18 patents, 5 PhDs and-”
“We’ve read his wiki page.” Leo interjected, starting to get a bit annoyed with April himself. “And frankly, I don’t care that he has a frikken Nobel Prize! That monster has my sister, so are you going to help us, or-”
“Leonardo!” Splinter interrupted.
Leo backed down, regaining his composure.
“Sorry Sensei.” he muttered.
“We are all worried about Hisako.” he said, playing a paw on his son’s arm. “But we cannot fight amongst ourselves, for we will only succeed in doing our enemy’s work for them.”
April watched the exchange, still steamed about her boss being accused, but then Donnie had a suggestion.
“Hey April.” he said, sliding onto the couch next to her.
“What, are you going to shout about how evil Stockman is too?”
“No.” Donny replied, holding up his hand. “I’m just going to make a suggestion. If you’re so sure Stockman isn’t the good guy, then helping us break into TCRI would prove his innocence. We’d see he has nothing to hide, and would know to look elsewhere.”
Mikey grinned as April seemed to be convinced by Donny’s words.
“Like I said,” the orange turtle whispered. “Technically, a genius.”
The three remaining turtles fist bumped as Donny continued.
“All you need to do is help us get inside.” he explained. “You do that, and you can prove you were right, or that we were right. Either way, the truth is revealed.”
April mulled it over before sighing.
“Alright.” she relented. “But I stand by my conviction that Stockman isn’t evil.”
Donny stood up.
“We’ll let the facts speak for themselves.” he concluded.
April stood up as the gang gathered around, Leatherhead returning as well.
“Can. We. Go. Now. Please?” Raph asked, his fists shaking with his sai in his hands.
April wasn’t scheduled to come in until the next day, so this gave the turtles plenty of time to plan. After hacking into the City Hall records, the turtles managed to dig up the blueprints and floor plans of TCRI, allowing Donny to figure out the best way in.
“Alright,” Donny said as he rolled out the large blueprint. “I’ve gone over the blueprints, and I have to say, Stockman has some serious state of the art security. Roof sensors, laser grids in the vent systems, and even motion detectors in the elevator shafts.”
“Yeesh.” Raph commented. “Are we breaking into TCRI, or Fort Knox?”
Ignoring Raph’s comment, Leo looked at Donny.
“Tell me you have a plan”
“I do.” The purple turtle replied. “All we need is for April to get into the security room and plant this bug in their system. It will disable the security system across the lab so we can get in. Once we get to April, we reactivate the system so we can find where they’re keeping Hisako and bust her out.
“But what about the guys in the security room?” Mikey asked.
“I thought of that.” Donny replied as he grabbed a small canister of what looked like a can of spray paint off his work table
“What’s your plan?” Raph snorted. “Hit them in the eyes with spray paint?”
“Hey, that stuff hurts.” Mikey countered, “Trust me.”
Donny cleared his throat, drawing their attention.
“Actually, this isn’t spray paint.” he explained. “It’s a pressurized chemical mixture that, once inhaled, will place whomever breathes it into a deep sleep.”
Mikey began laughing.
“Bro, that is by far one of the craziest-”
Donny took the container, blasting Mikey in the face. The orange turtle’s eyes rolled back as he collapsed on the ground. Raph looked at his sleeping brother, then at Donny.
“Where was that stuff years ago?” he questioned.
April took the spray, looking a bit apprehensive about using it.
“This won’t hurt them, will it?”
“Not one bit.” Donny promised. “They’ll just be asleep for around four hours, meaning that’s how long we’ll have to find Hisako once we get in.”
Still a bit worried, April tucked the can into her bag.
“Anything else?” She asked.
“The plan is simple.” Leo interjected. “Go in, knock out the guards, we come in through the vents, then we search the cameras for any sign of Hisako.”
“After that, we knock some skulls.” Raph finished, punching his palm.
April gave a sigh, sagging onto the couch and clutching her head.
“I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing to this...” she muttered, “This is crazy.”
Splinter placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“I know that this is much to process, and I know that you still hold reservations about what you have learned. However, I must ask you to cast those uncertainties aside. My daughter’s life depends on it.”
April looked up at Splinter, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.
“I know… but just so you know, I’m only doing this to prove Stockman’s not the criminal you all think he is.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetheart.” Raph grunted. “Just don’t go crying to us when you get proven wrong.”
“As long as you guys don’t come crying to me when I prove you’re all wrong.”
“Fine by me.” he called as he walked off. “Now if any of you need me, I’m gonna go wail on my bag until I can’t feel my knuckles.”
The next day, April walked through the doors of TCRI. She was so nervous that her entire body was strung tighter than a guitar string. She tugged at the strap of her purse, wringing the leather in her hands. Sweat poured down her brow as she tried to take deep breaths.
“You can do this April.” she muttered. “Just stay calm.”
April squeaked, jumping slightly as she turned towards the person that had called out to her. The doctor that had called her name looked at her in confusion.
“You alright Miss O’Neil?” he asked. “You look a bit pale.”
April gulped, then tugged at the collar of her shirt.
“Sorry.” she muttered, “Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”
The doctor just smiled.
“You’ll get use to the late nights.” The doctor told her. “Just give yourself some time.”
April nodded quickly, then hurried off, desperate to get this over with. She got to the security office, her hand shaking as she reached for the knob. She hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath.
“Get a grip.” April hissed. “Just get a grip.”
She grabbed the handle, turning it slowly and opening the door. Inside, she could see a pair of security guards watching the monitors closely. She entered, closing the door behind her and silently locking it. Putting on a fake smile, she stepped forward
“Hey Kevin!” she called. “Hey Peter!”
“Hey April!” the two called back.
“You guys just get on?” she asked nervously.
“Yeah just a little while ago.” Kevin answered.
“And we’re gonna be stuck here all night probably.” Peter lamented. “And just when the Cubs finally made it to the World Series.”
“Yeah and if they win, then Back to the Future would’ve been right!” Kevin noted with a smile.
“True,” Peter replied. “Though they would have been off by a year.”
As the two continued their talk, April came in close, Donny’s aerosol can in her hand.
“So sorry.” she whispered.
Closing her eyes and turning away, she sprayed the two guards in the face. One whiff of the spray, and the two of them sank into their seats, snoring like lions. April opened one eye, looking at the two cautiously before opening her other eye. She leaned closer, giving them an experimental poke before sighing in relief.
“It worked.” she whispered.
She leaned against the console, just taking a few deep breaths before a voice suddenly spoke up in her ear.
“Umm, April?” Donny’s voice called through the earpiece she’d been given. “The bug?”
April shot up, suddenly remembering the other half of her mission. She fumbled around in her bag before pulling out a flash drive shaped like a turtle shell. After placing it into the system, the screens were covered in code before they were dominated by a turtle symbol.
“Alright.” she said. “System’s down.”
Outside, in a shadowy alley, Leo gave a thumbs up to the others.
“We’re good.” he whispered.
The turtles and Splinter all put on a set of climbing claws as Casey piggybacked on Raph’s back. They began scaling the walls of TCRI.
“Man, we ought to leave the wall crawling to the guy in the red and blue tights.” Mikey joked.
“Mikey, for once in your life, can you take anything seriously?” Raph asked irritated.
Splinter’s tail came out and whacked both of them. He then shushed them both, reminding them that stealth was key. Once they reached the roof, Casey dismounted Raph’s back as the ninjas shed their claws.
“Hey Leo,” Mikey asked softly. “Why did we have to leave Leatherhead behind? I’m sure he could have scaled that wall easily.”
“That may be true, but his sheer size and weight would have made stealth difficult.” Leo explained.
“Yeah, that guy’s about as stealthy as a monster truck in a china shop.” Raph snorted.
Down in the sewers beneath TCRI, Leatherhead crossed his arms.
“I… can hear you.” Leatherhead reminded him.
“It’s true.” he replied nervously.
“I know...” Leatherhead replied. “I will… Wait here… until… you need me.”
“We’ll call you the second that happens.” Leo promised, opening the vent for his companions. “Promise.”
With that, the turtles, Casey, and Splinter all made their way through the vents into TCRI.
April paced around the security room, nervous as hell and questioning the sanity of what she was doing.
“This is insane.” she muttered with every step. “This is insane. This is insane. This is insane.”
There was a loud crash as Raph’s fist punched through the grate covering the air vent. April squealed, jumping back as the team entered the room.
“Someone order a rescue party with extra keys?” Mikey jokingly asked, landing on the ground.
“Did he really just say that?” Casey asked confused.
“Unfortunately.” Raph responded groaning.
April struggled to regain composure as she approached the gang.
“How do you guys do this?” she asked exasperatedly. “I’m jumping at even the slightest noise!”
“Yeah, we noticed.” Raph told her. “Donny, find our sister.”
The purple turtle tipped Peter out of his chair, taking it for himself and pulling the flash drive out of the terminal. The cameras and security system turned back on, allowing Donny full view. He cracked his knuckles and began typing. He searched each of the camera feeds, growing more and more confused with each passing frame.
“She’s not here guys.” He said after a moment. “I can’t find her on any of the feeds.”
“What?!” Everyone save for April exclaimed.
“Whaddya mean you can’t find her?” Raph demanded.
“She’s not on any of the cameras!” Donny replied. “I’ve searched every signal, and there’s not a single trace of her!”
“But, there has to be!” Mikey cried out.
“See?!” April said, gesturing to the cameras triumphantly. “I told you! Hisako’s not here! I told you Stockman wasn’t evil, I told you TCRI wasn’t some mad science lab, but did you believe me? Oh no!”
Raph turned to April angrily, fingers hovering over his weapons.
“You wanna shut up before I take this Sai and shove it up your-”
“Wait, is that Hun?” Mikey interrupted, gesturing to one of the computer screens.
Both Raph and April looked to the camera Mikey was pointing to, just in time to see a familiar wall of muscle making his way out of TCRI.
“It is Hun!” Leo said in shock.
“That’s the guy who attacked the Pizzeria!” Casey added.
“That’s Mr. Hun, the representative of TCRI’s main financial backer.”
Everyone looked at April in surprise.
“Financial backer?” Leo asked. “Who?”
“I don’t know.” she replied. “He never comes personally. He always sends Hun, and Hun only refers to him as his boss. Although, one time I could have sworn he nearly called his boss ‘master’. Weird huh?”
“Indeed.” Splinter said with a small, contemplative nod.
“April, what does Hun do when he comes here?” Donny asked. “Where do they go?”
April thought for a moment.
“They go to Dr. Stockman’s private lab. It’s restricted to certain authorized personnel. He won’t even allow security cameras in there.”
The turtles all shared knowing looks.
“10 pizza boxes says that the private lab is the illegal genetics lab we’re look for.” Mikey quipped.
“I’ll take a piece of that action.” Raph replied.
April’s eyes went wide.
“Wait, you guys are going in there?!” she exclaimed. “But how? The lab’s on the six floor, surrounded by an army of guards and doctors, and you need an authorized keycard to even open the door, which, by the way, is enforced.”
This stopped the turtles for a moment, at least until Raph got an idea.
“Hey April, still got some of that sleep stuff?” he asked.
April blinked, then handed over the can. Raph gave it an experimental shake and smiled.
“This’ll do just fine.” he remarked, tossing the can and catching it.
On the sixth floor, doctors and guards milled about, doing their daily routine. As they did, an air grate that opened up to the middle of the room began to shake slightly. The cover came loose, nearly falling to the ground, but was quickly caught by a green hand. The cover was pulled into the vent, then the green hand returned, holding the aerosol can and a Sai.
“Nighty-night.” Raph whispered.
He stabbed the can, quickly dropping it on the ground as the gas filled the room. All it took was one whiff and the staff all fell, each and every one of them fast asleep.
Raph waited for the gas to dissipate, then he jumped down onto the ground, recovering his weapon.
“They’re out!” he called.
His brothers, Master Splinter, and finally April and Casey came sliding out of the vents. Casey managed to roll to his feet, but April had to be caught by Splinter. He set her down, gesturing for her to lead the way. They walked past several small labs of doctors out cold, using textbooks and half-finished projects as pillows.
“Man, I’m glad we didn’t have to break into an unstable chemical lab.” Mikey commented. “That would have been seriously messy.”
“Over there.” April said with a point. “That’s the door to Stockman’s private lab.”
Donny went and examined the door, whistling as he did.
“If he’s not hiding something back here, I’d be really surprised. This door is reinforced titanium, and from the rivets in the metal, I’d say we’re looking at an electronically controlled pneumatic seal.”
“English, Poindexter.” Casey interrupted.
“I knew I liked you, kid.” Raph commented.
“Who you calling kid?” Casey asked. “I’m probably older than you.”
Donny let out a cough, drawing their attention again.
“Like I was saying, this door is sealed tight. We’ll need to find a working key.”
“Then perhaps we should start with the doctors on this floor.” Splinter suggested.
“Great idea Sensei.” Leo agreed. “Everybody fan out, grab any key cards you can find.”
Everybody spread out, accosting doctors and guards alike to get into the door.
Stockman watched with a childish glee as The Master’s ‘information gatherers’ (read torturers) attempted to bring Project Oracle out of her coma. While their efforts were fruitless, it was still entertaining to watch.
“Dr. Stockman!” One of his security officers called out.
With a sigh, Stockman turned away from Oracle’s cell in order to face the oncoming officer.
“What is it?” he asked annoyed.
“There have been numerous unauthorized attempts to access the lab’s entrance.”
Stockman raised an eyebrow.
“Is that so?” he asked.
“Yes, and when I tried to access the security cameras to see who it was, I couldn’t get in.”
Now Stockman was intrigued. He began walking towards the lab’s private security booth, the guard hot on his heels. As he entered the booth, he saw that the computers to access the upper labs were now covered in streams of data, almost like a homemade firewall attempting to keep them out.
“It would seem that we have uninvited guests, ones with extensive knowledge of codes and-”
He paused for a moment, realization dawning.
“I think I may know who our intruders are.”
He began typing away at the code, destroying it with relative ease as he regained control of the system. As the cameras came back online, he brought the camera outside of the doorway onto the big screen.
“I knew it.” He said with an evil chuckle. “The four turtles have come for their sister.”
On the screen, Donatello was kneeling before the card swiper, testing the different cards that his brothers were handing him and tossing them aside when they failed. Stockman then squinted as he noticed three other figures amongst them.
“A large mutant rattus rattus.” he mused. “From his posture, he is obviously the true leader of the group, perhaps a sort of fatherly figure. Maybe he was the one who taught the turtles their martial arts.”
“But what about the two kids?” The security officer asked.
Stockman looked at them, mildly surprised.
“Miss O’Neil.” he said in surprise. “She is acquainted with these creatures? I must say that is unexpected, but it answers the question of who the boy is. He’s obviously that Casey Jones character that she has mentioned in the past.”
“Isn’t that also the name of the kid who Hun sent to tell the turtles?” The officer asked.
“How nice of him to come along for the ride. It makes tying up loose ends so much easier.” He let out a small sigh. “If only they had brought Project Leatherhead with them.”
He turned away from the camera, approaching the computer for the private lab. He typed in a passcode, a sadistic smile on his face.
“Let’s welcome our new guests properly.”
“Nope… Nope… Nope…”
Donny had just about gone through all of the key cards the group had collected, and still the door remained sealed. With every nope that came out of Donny’s mouth, Raph got more and more agitated.
“Argh!” he screamed, punching the door as hard as he could. “Why isn’t this working?! Open already!”
He began to try and pry the doors, and when he did, the card slider turned green, despite Donny not swiping a card yet. The doors suddenly hisses open and Raph fell through, landing flat on his face.
“Hey, it worked!” Mikey cheered. “We should let Raph go on a rage more often.”
Everyone stepped over Raph as the red turtle regained his composure. As they all looked around, they appeared to be in a large elevator. There were two buttons on the console, one that said BL, and another that said UL. BL was the one on the bottom, so Casey gave it a push. As the doors closed, they all stood there, waiting for the elevator to move.
“Umm, guys?” April questioned. “Shouldn’t we be moving?”
That’s when the floor of the elevator suddenly retracted, sending the seven of them plummeting into the elevator shaft. Below them, they could see what looked like some sort of body of water waiting to catch them. They landed with a symphony of splashes, all of them immediately swimming for the surface.
“Is everyone alright?” Leo called.
“I’m good!” Mikey called.
“I’m here!” Donny added.
“I am alright, my sons.”
Raph was the last to break the surface, and he was pissed.
“That lousy piece of sewer scum!” Raph shouted. “When I get my hands on that Stockman guy, I’m gonna wring his-”
April suddenly screamed.
“Something just brushed up against my leg!”
Mikey suddenly jumped a bit in the water.
“I felt it too!”
Everyone was suddenly on edge.
“We’re not alone in here.” Donny realized.
Raph, still fuming with anger, just snorted.
“Whatever it is, let me at ’em!” he told them. “I can take on anything this Stockman guy throws at-”
Before he could finish his promise, a webbed, pinkish set of hands came out of the water, grabbing Raph by his shoulders and dragging him beneath the surface of the water.
“Raph!” the turtles screamed, diving under the water to help their brother.
Watching from the security booth, Stockman laughed as the turtles disappeared beneath the surface.
“It is moments like these when I am reminded that the cost of moving Project Fishface’s tank into that chamber beneath the elevator shaft was worth it.”
The security guard watched the camera, a bit wary about the possible outcomes.
“Dr. Stockman, what if those creatures somehow escape from Fishface?”
Stockman just snorted.
“That is highly unlikely.” he replied. “I have watched dozens of potential intruders meet their demise at the hands, or should I say teeth, of Project Fishface.”
Down in the tank, Raph was struggling as Fishface dragged the red turtle down lower and lower into the tank. As they continued their rapid descent, the mutant fish kept trying to take a bite out of him. Raph was using one hand to push against Fishface’s neck, keeping him from eating him, and the other was reaching for his Sai. Once he pulled it out, he stabbed Fishface in the shoulder, causing it to cry out in pain and let Raph go. He then swam as fast as he could towards the surface, meeting up with his brothers along the way. Once they reached the surface, they all began gasping for air.
“Raph!” Mikey cried out as they swam towards him.
“What happened?” Leo asked.
“There is something down there.” Raph told them. “And it ain’t friendly.”
Just as Raph finished that, Fishface came back up and actually jumped out of the water, coming back down and tackling Leo. The force of the attack sent them both back under the water.
“What the Shell was that?!” Mikey asked, completely freaked out.
“It appears to be a mutated version of a Lophius Piscatorius!” Donny replied, searching the water for any sign of the two of them.
“English Don!” Raph screamed.
“It’s an Anglerfish.” Donny clarified. “One of the deadliest fish in the sea.”
“Fascinating.” Mikey commented. “While you prepare a lecture, I’m gonna go save my brother!”
With that, Mikey dove in after Leo. Donnie and Raph followed shortly after.
Below the surface, Leo was wrestling with Fishface and having a hard keeping it away. Eventually, Fishface managed to sink his teeth into Leo’s shoulder, causing the blue turtle to cry out in pain. This unfortunately let what little air he had leave his lungs, making way for the salty water of the tank.
Just then, Mikey came in, giving a good kick to Fishface’s head. The mutant fish released Leo, allowing for Donny and Raph to pursue it while Mikey got Leo to the surface for air.
As the orange turtle broke the surface of the water, Leo began coughing and hacking up a surprising amount of water. After he finally stopped wheezing, he looked at his brother in relief.
“Thanks Mikey.” Leo said graciously.
The water’s surface rippled as Donny and Raph continued their battle with Fishface, Donny currently trying to get a strong enough swing under water to do some damage.
“This thing is kicking out shells.” Mikey noted.
“Well what do you expect?” Leo replied. “We’re in its element.”
“Where’s Jaws when you need him?” Mikey lamented.
This gave Leo an idea.
“Michelangelo, that’s a brilliant idea.” he said putting his hand on Mikey’s shoulder.
“It is?” Mikey questioned.
Just then, Fishface came up at breakneck speed, plowing right into Mikey. Fishface then rammed him right into one of the walls. The orange turtle rebounded hard, then started to sink beneath the water.
“Michelangelo!” Splinter, whom had been keeping April and Casey out of the fight, called out.
While the turtles could hold their breath for extended periods of time, 30 minutes from Donny’s tests, they were freshwater turtles, and this was salt water.
“Sensei!” Leo called out swimming towards Mikey. “I got Mikey, call plan B!”
Splinter nodded and reached for a small device on his belt that was, surprisingly, still functional.
Meanwhile, Leatherhead was sitting quietly in the sewers. Suddenly he heard a noise emanating from the shell cell he’d been given. He looked at it and saw a small red blinking dot on the screen. Leonardo had instructed him that if this should happen, they were in trouble, and that he should follow the sewer pipes leading towards the dots location.
Remembering Donatello’s note that he could identify his own position by a moving green dot, Leatherhead ran down the tunnels, watching as he closed in on his ally’s position. He made a right turn, then two lefts until he came to a small junction. According to the cell, he was right in front of his friends.
“There you are.” He snarled, his eyes glowing bright red.
Meanwhile, the turtles were having no luck with Fishface. Donny was on top of it, his Bo staff in the mutant’s mouth as he gripped onto either side like some demented cowboy trying to ride it. Fishface kept thrashing around, diving in and out of the water in an attempt to throw its would-be rider off. When that proved useless, Fishface charged forward, aiming at one of the walls with great speed. Then as it seemed they would run into it, Fishface suddenly stopped, throwing Donny off.
Mikey swam up to the monster and tried to hit him with his nunchuks while he was above water, but the ever agile Anglerfish quickly dove back under, causing Mikey to hit the surface of the water. Fishface then quickly swam away from Mikey, turned around, and swam back towards the orange turtle as fast as it could. It rammed into him, sending him flying through the air and crashing into a wall.
Raph and Leo swam up from under Fishface, hoping to tag team him. Fishface noticed them and dove back under the water, heading right towards them. It rammed right into Leo, sending the blue turtle spinning through the water. Before Raph could react, it grabbed him by the shoulders again, shoving him against a wall.
“Time... to... eat...” Fishface said in a gurgled voice that didn’t sound like anything remotely human.
At that very moment, Leatherhead burst through the wall above the pool, diving into the water without a second’s hesitation. Seeing Fishface’s hold on Raph, Leatherhead’s eyes began glowing even brighter as he charged. Fishface looked at this new opponent, immediately recognizing him as bigger prey and a bigger meal. The monster then released Raph, tossing him aside as it charged toward Leatherhead as well. As the two beasts wrestled, Raph swam towards the surface, snagging Leo on his way up. Once they hit air again, they joined their brothers and friends near the edge of the pool.
“You two ok Raph?” Mikey asked.
“Yeah bro, we’re good.” Raph reassured.
“Especially now that the cavalry’s shown up.” Leo added.
Just then, the water below them started swirling. Through the murky water, the seven of them could see Leatherhead taking a massive bite out of Fishface, causing the Anglerfish to cry out in pain. Then the water turned a thick shade of red. The group got as far away from the bloody water as they could, Mikey shivering at the sight.
“I’ll never be clean again.” Mikey said.
“We live in the sewers Mikey.” Raph reminded. “Our definition of clean was sketchy to begin with.”
Leatherhead then broke the surface, letting out a satisfied belch as he did. He covered his mouth in surprise, the glow from his eyes fading.
“Sorry.” he told them.
For a moment, they just floated there, awkwardly trying to process what had just happened. Finally, Casey spoke up.
“So… What now?” he asked.
“Now, we climb.” Leo supplied.
The ninjas all reapplied their climbing claws, Casey grabbing hold of Raph as Donny took April. One by one, they began climbing up the wall of the elevator shaft. Once they reached the elevator’s door, Leatherhead pried them open with ease. He got out of the elevator, then pulled the turtles up one by one, followed finally by Master Splinter.
“Finally, we made it.” Leo said with a sigh.
“Now we can find Hisako and get the shell outta-” Raph began.
The doors to the elevator suddenly slammed shut, surprising the group. Before any of them could question why, they heard an eerie slow clap coming towards them. Turning back towards the lab, they saw Dr. Baxter Stockman turn a corner, smiling maliciously with every step.
“Welcome to TCRI, turtles.”