Casey drove through the warehouse district like a mad man, desperately trying to find Renaissance Motors. He was getting increasingly worried, knowing that every minute he was lost was another minute Hisako was in the hands of those kidnappers. He just had to hope that whoever was at this garage would be able to help him.
As Casey rounded a corner, he spotted the building he needed. Like Hisako had described, it was covered in Japanese letters and turtle shell designs on top of layers of other graffiti. He practically floored it, screeching up to the main door and ditching bike in an instant. He immediately tried to open the door to the garage, only to find the hinges welded shut. Cursing angrily, he turned to the only other door, the main car door. Casey went over to it, pounding on the metal as hard as he could.
“Hello?!” he called, pressing his ear against the door to try and hear if anyone was inside. “Is anyone there?!”
There was no response, not so much as a small rustle of movement. In a desperate motion, Casey tried to force the door up, but it was obviously locked.
“Great, nobody’s home...” he cursed.
He slumped against the garage, trying to come up with a plan. That’s when a thought struck him. Considering Hisako never talked about having any friends outside of himself and April, then odds are, this was where here brothers could be found. And if they had a secret like Hisako’s, which they most likely did, they wouldn’t just answer the door for anybody.
“I need to get in there.” he muttered, getting back on his feet.
He went over to Hisako’s bike, grabbing the keys out of the ignition. There was a second key on the ring, and Casey had a hunch of where it went to. He hunched down in front of the handle of the garage door, inserting the key in the lock.
“Come on, please be the right-” He heard the distinct click and breathed a sigh of the relief. “Goongala.”
He pulled the door open, slipping inside and closing the door behind him.
“I know you’re in here!” He called, walking slowly around the room. “Please, come out!”
Casey was right, there were people in the garage, but they were making sure that they remained undetected. Hiding in the rafters of the garage, the four turtles looked down at the intruder stalking about their above-ground hideout.
“How did this bozo find us?” Raph hissed at Leo, glaring down at Casey.
“I don’t know, Raph.” Leo replied.
Casey looked around the Shellraiser as Donny made his way over to Leo and Raph.
“He doesn’t look like a Purple Dragon,” Donny commented, examining Casey inquisitively. “And he’s way too loud to be a Motorhead.”
Mikey swung across the rafters, approaching Leo with a worried look on his face.
“Guys, he has the shell cycle.” he whispered.
The brothers all froze, then slid across the beams until they could see out a small window at the top of the garage. Sure enough, the shell cycle was lying on its side, abandoned by their new intruder.
“Where did he get that?” Leo questioned.
“Let’s find out.” Raph growled.
Before any of his brothers could protest, Raph jumped down from the rafters, landing silently behind Casey. The teen barely heard the sound of Raph drawing one of his sai, but he sure felt the cold tip pressing against the back of his neck. He froze as the red turtle snarled.
“You have exactly two seconds to tell me who you are, and what the shell you’re doing with that bike!”
Casey remained still, his heart racing from fear. Still, he gulped, forcing it down as he answered.
“N-names Casey. Casey Jones”
“Isn’t that the name of a train conductor?” Mikey asked, earning him a smack on the head from Donnie.
“Mikey this is serious!” he scolded.
“Sorry.” Mikey apologized.
The tip of Raph’s sai began to dig a bit deeper into Casey’s neck.
“That answers the first question.” Raph sneered. “But I still haven’t heard a decent excuse for having that bike!”
“My friend Hisako, she told me to take it.” Casey explained.
“And why would she do that?” Leo asked, joining his brothers on the ground.
“Because she didn’t have a choice.” Casey answered
There was a sudden rustle of motion, then Casey had a blade underneath his throat and the end of a staff pointed at him by a shadowy figure. Just in the darkness, Casey could make out someone twirling a set of nunchuks. Casey gulped.
“Bad choice of words.” he muttered to himself.
Raph was seconds away from spearing Casey through the neck, but even the hothead knew that they needed more info before they could act. Knowing Raph was probably holding himself back by mere margins, Leo took over the questioning.
“Why didn’t she have a choice?” he demanded. “Did you threaten her?”
Casey’s eyes went wide.
“No!” he immediately shouted. “I would never-!”
He took a deep breath, regaining himself. Getting worked up would probably just get him killed, and then Hisako would be trapped.
“No.” he said softer this time. “I’m her friend. I work at Mario Brother’s Pizzeria. I would never hurt her.”
“Then where is she?” Leo asked.
Casey fell silent, praying his captor wouldn’t kill him after his next three words.
“I don’t know.”
Raph snapped. Tossing his Sai aside, he grabbed Casey and spun him around. Before anyone could intervene, he had the boy pinned to the wall, held up by the straps of his shirt and his golf bag. Unfortunately, by doing so, he had stepped into the little light provided by the boarded up windows. Casey’s eyes went wide as he stared at the red turtle, partially out of fear, but mostly out of shock at what he saw.
“Whaddya mean ya don’t know?!” Raph demanded. “You tell us where our sisters is, or I will beat the ever living shell outta-!”
“Raph!” The other three turtle shouted
Raph turned to them, and then noticed where he was standing. He blinked, then slowly released Casey, letting him fall to the ground.
“Oh shell...” the turtle swore.
“Yeah.” Donny commented. “Way to go.”
“You just blew our cover!” Leo chastised. “And now look, you’ve terrified the one person who could tell us where Hisako is!”
As the four brothers went off on one another, Casey slowly got to his feet, trying to process what he was seeing.
Okay… he thought to himself. Hisako’s brothers… are turtles… with ninja weapons… alright then…
Knowing every second counted, Casey forced the flood of questions into the back of his mind and straightened himself. Turtles or not, if they were Hisako’s brothers, and if they had any of the training that she had shown, he would be a fool not to ally with them.
“Umm, look.” he called.
The four turtles all turned to Casey.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but what I do know is that Hisako is in danger, and she needs help.” he continued, looking straight at the turtles.
Donny stepped forward, figuring he was the most rational of the brothers at the moment.
“Tell us what happened.” He said.
Casey took a deep breath and began talking.
“These guys came to the restaurant pretending to be cops, but after testing them, i knew they were fakes so I waited for Hisako to come and I warned her, but unfortunately I was unable to keep her safe for too long, which forced her to tell me about her psychic powers and her past with some creepy secret lab.” He paused just long enough to take another breath before continuing. “After that, she gave me the key to her bike and told me to come here and get help because those creeps in motorcycle helmets and the gigantic wall of muscle were after her and only her, and she was right because I was able to get away so I could find you and get help.”
Donny held up a hand, stopping Casey there. Leo came closer, looking at the purple turtle.
“Did you get any of that Don?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Mikey remarked. “He was talking faster than an auctioneer.”
“You mentioned guys in motorcycle helmets.” he said to Casey. “Were they dressed in all black and did they carry any unconventional weapons?”
“If by unconventional, you mean frikken swords and throwing stars, then yes.” Casey nodded.
The turtles all exchanged worried looks.
“It was Hun and those Motorheads.” Leo realized.
“They took Hisako.” Raph remarked. “Do you think it could be because…”
“No way.” Donny interrupted, though his voice was a bit shaky. “That guy thinks she’s dead. Leatherhead said so.”
Casey let out a cough, drawing the turtles’ attentions once more
“Remember when I said she told me about the creepy secret lab?” He asked them, “The freaks that took her… they kept calling her Oracle, the same name she was called back there.”
The turtles all froze, their collective stomachs plummeting. The turtles still holding weapons all let them clatter to the ground, feeling as though all the strength had left their bodies. Leo’s breath became ragged as his fists clenched tightly
“Shell!” Leo screamed, punching a support column behind him.
The pungent smell of antiseptics filled Hisako’s nose as she slowly regained consciousness. As she opened her eyes, she was nearly blinded by the sheer whiteness of her surroundings. She could hear the faint beeping of a heart rate monitor off to the side, as well as the sound of a camera zooming in on her.
Looking down at herself, Hisako found that she was laid out on a cold, metal table, once that was currently tilted at a 45 degree angle. Thick, leather straps restraining her at every joint, even around her neck. Her clothing had been replaced with an all too familiar hospital gown. She could also feel cold air passing over her head, and knew instantly her hair was gone.
It was Hisako’s worst nightmares all over again. She was back. They had her again. The crippling fear took hold of her and she could hear her own pulse on the monitor suddenly skyrocket. It was that frantic beeping that allowed her to focus, pushing past the fear that threatened to swallow her whole. She couldn’t allow herself to be consumed. She needed to figure out a way out, before He came for her.
In that moment, the clear Plexiglas window that served as the door to Hisako’s ‘room’ hissed as it opened. Hisako looked up to see the figure that had haunted her nightmares all her life. Any hope she’d held of escaping evaporated the second he stepped into her cell, every footstep making her jump.
“Ah, look who finally decided to wake up.” Stockman greeted in his typical cocky fashion. “I must say it is so wonderful to have you back with us. I was so heartbroken to hear you had perished at the hands of Project Leatherhead. When your survival was confirmed, I couldn’t contain my excitement.”
Hisako stared at the man, not saying a word. No matter how terrified she was, she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of begging for mercy. Stockman noticed this silent defiance and chuckled darkly.
“It would seem that four years on your own has strengthened more than your body.” he remarked. “I will enjoy breaking your spirits once again. And this time, there is nobody to come and rescue you.”
Hisako’s desperate mind latched onto the word rescue, reminding her that she wasn’t alone anymore. Images of her brothers, her father, and Leatherhead flooded her vision, strengthening her resolve. She clenched her fists tightly.
“You’re wrong…” she whispered, forcing her voice to sound braver then she was. “My brothers will find me…”
“Your brothers?” Stockman interrupted. “You mean those overgrown turtles you associate yourself with? I must admit, I was intrigued to learn there were mutants outside of my research. Perhaps I can examine them once they’re caught.”
Hisako’s breath hitched at the thought of her brothers suffering at the hands of Stockman. She started pulling against her restraints with increased vigor. Stockman watched this for a minute, then reached into his pocket, pulling out a small remote with a red button. Hisako stopped mid-struggle at the sight of it.
“I see you still remember what this device does.”
Hisako was now vividly aware of the electrodes attached to her head. With a sadistic smile, Stockman jammed his finger down on the button. It was as if every nerve in Hisako’s body was now on fire. Everything hurt. She screamed in pain, pulling against her restraints as Stockman just watched. After a moment, he released the button, allowing Hisako to sag in her chair. Tears were streaming down her face as she tried to regain her breath.
“While I would usually advise against any disobedience or futile escape attempts, I would love for you to keep fighting me. Give me a reason to use this again.”
Hisako looked up at Stockman, a strange green glow appearing in her eyes, one that had never appeared before, at least not in the time that Stockman had known her. Glancing over at the brain-wave monitor on the wall, Stockman could see increased activity. He smirked, giving Hisako a smug look.
“Attempting to use your powers on me?” he asked. “What are you going to do? Make me see your little red slide show? Or maybe you’ll try and guess what number I’m thinking of.”
Hisako just took a deep breath, as if bracing herself. All of a sudden, her head shot back and her eyes closed. Her brain activity went off the charts, then went basically flat lined. Stockman blinked, looking at the monitor, then down at Hisako. His self-assured grin slowly faded, replaced by an angry scowl.
“Forcing yourself into a coma.” he snarled. “Clever girl.”
He walked through the still open door, where about three doctors stood waiting.
“Wake her up.” he ordered. “By any means necessary.”
The doctors nodded, then walked into the room, the transparent door sealing behind them.
Splinter and Leatherhead sat at the dining room table, the both of them enjoying a cup of tea while they waited for the breakfast pizzas. Leatherhead had unfortunately broken a few mugs with his grip, but luckily, there were a few metal cups that were not so easily destroyed.
“This… is the best thing… I have ever tasted.” Leatherhead said softly.
Splinter just smiled, nodding a ‘you’re welcome’. In that moment, the unmistakable sound of bodies sliding down the tunnel reached their ears. Setting the tea aside, the two turned as the turtles came flying into the beanbag pile.
“My sons.” Splinter greeted. “Where is your-?”
He heard a fifth figure coming down the tunnel. Thinking it was Hisako, he paused, waiting for them to land. However, when he saw an unfamiliar human emerge from the tunnel, he immediately went into defensive mode. Leatherhead was the same, his eyes glowing red as he approached Casey, growling defensively. As Casey got to his feet, he saw the two mutants and jumped, nearly tripping over the various beanbags.
“A giant rat and an alligator.” he muttered. “Okay then...”
“Actually,” Donny whispered. “Leatherhead is a crocodile.”
“Oh...” Casey muttered. “My bad.”
Needless to say, Splinter was far from happy with Casey’s intrusion into their home. He walked right up to him, pointing his walking stick in the boy’s face.
“Who is this?” Splinter demanded. “And why have you brought him into our home?”
That’s when Leatherhead noticed a distinct lack of his friend. The glow began to grow brighter as he too faced the group.
“Oracle… where… is she?” he asked.
Casey stepped towards Splinter and Leatherhead.
“She’s been kidnapped.” he explained.
“What?!” Leatherhead roared.
Splinter was suddenly shoved aside as Leatherhead picked Casey up like he was nothing, shoving him into the wall of the lair. He hit so hard that the brick cracked, nearly forming a Casey-shaped hole in the wall.
“What… have you done… to Oracle?!” he demanded.
The four turtles all grabbed onto Leatherhead’s arms, trying to pull him off.
“He’s not responsible!” Mikey tried to explain. “Hisako sent him! She sent him to come get help!”
Casey struggled in Leatherhead’s grip, trying desperately to breathe.
“Please...” he gasped. “They’re telling… the… truth…”
Leatherhead remained skeptical, but released Casey, allowing him to drop to the ground. He coughed and sputtered, rubbing his throat as he tried to regain his breath.
“I take it… he’s protective… of Hisako...” Casey wheezed.
“More than you could ever imagine.” Splinter replied.
Casey looked up at the rat, slightly fearing another shake-down. Luckily, Splinter was surprisingly calm.
“Tell us what you know.” he asked.
“Long story short, these guys in full motorcycle gear snatched her.” he explained. “And apparently, they’re from her past, at least, that’s what these guys said.”
Leatherhead turned to Casey, a fearful expression crossing his face,
“Her past?” he repeated.
Leo approached the croc, gently placing a hand on his shoulder.
“They called her Oracle.” he said softly. “Project Oracle.”
For the first time since the turtles had met him, Leatherhead seemed to quake in fear. He fell to his knees, clutching his head as tears of fear ran down his face.
“No...” he muttered. “Oracle...”
Master Splinter was in equal shock. His walking stick fell from his hand as he was forced to lean against a wall for support.
“My child… not again…”
Mikey walked over to Splinter, showing a surprisingly serious side as he helped his sensei regain his feet.
“We’ll find her.” he promised. “We’ve got to.”
Leo nodded, then turned to Donny.
“Don, see if you can find out anything about the place that Hisako’s been taken to.”
“How?” he asked.
Raph perked up.
“How about that name Hisako keeps screaming during the night.” he suggested. “Dexter Hackman?”
Leatherhead started growling as he looked up, the fear giving way to his trademark anger.
“No...” he corrected. “Baxter Stockman.”
Donny cracked his knuckles and ran over to his computer, beginning his search.
Stockman closed the door to his private office, sitting down at his desk. He opened his laptop, quickly logging in and turning on his private video-chat feed. After a minute, his call was answered by the Master, his form cloaked by the dimness of his feudal-era office.
“Stockman,” the Master greeted. “You have news for me?”
“I’m happy to report that the plan was a success.” Stockman reported. “Miraculously, Hun managed not to screw up in retrieving Project Oracle. She is now safely back in my care and she has sent a messenger to alert her turtle allies. I estimate that they shall also be in my care within the next 72 hours. Who knows? Maybe they will bring Project Leatherhead with them. It’s become quite clear to me that they have a deeper relationship then I initially believed.”
“Excellent Stockman.” The Master complemented, genuine pleasure in his voice. “You will keep me updated on your progress.”
Before the Master could hang up, Stockman held up a finger to stop him.
“There is… one slight issue with Project Oracle I must mention.” Stockman admitted.
“Issue?” the Master asked raising an eyebrow.
“You see,” Stockman began. “She has fallen into a self-induced comatose state, effectively making her brain dead. While I believe it is possible to wake her up, perhaps some assistance from your… ‘Information gathers’ would help speed up the process.”
The Master paused for a moment.
“You try my patience Stockman.” He responded before thinking for a moment. “Very well. I have invested too much into this project to let it slip through my fingers again.”
Stockman put his hands together, slightly bowing in gratitude.
“Thank you Master.” Stockman said with a sigh of relief. “I swear you shall not be disappointed.”
“I had better not.” The Master warned, “For your sake.
The connection ended there, reducing the screen to static.
Splinter bandaged up a few small wounds that Casey had received, both from his fight in the pizzeria, and from his two shake-downs. While that happened, Leatherhead stalked around the lair as the brothers all gathered around Donny’s computer.
“What did you find Donnie?” Leo asked.
“Looks like Baxter Stockman has made quite a name for himself.” Donnie noted, scrolling though information about the mad scientist on the net. “Nobel Prize winner in 2013, holder of 5 different PHDs, graduated from MIT at the age of 16. On top of that, he’s CEO and lead scientist at the Technological Creations and Research Institute.”
“That’s a mouthful.” Mikey commented.
“It’s just TCRI for short.” Donnie informed.
In the other room, Splinter overheard his son’s discussion, and stood up at Donatello’s last statement. He stood, quickly going to join his sons and Leatherhead with Casey scrambling to follow.
“Donatello,” Splinter called out as he entered the room. “What was that last thing you said?”
“That the organization Stockman owns is TCRI.”
For the second time that morning, Splinter’s walking stick clattered out of his hands. A torrent of memories flooded his vision. The tremendous crash as the large chemical truck demolished his home. The heat of the flames as his old life exploded before him. The feeling of being torn apart, both physically and mentally.
Leatherhead ceased his pacing, catching Splinter as he stumbled.
“You… know of… that place.” The croc commented. “It means… something… to you… Something… horrible.”
“That company took everything from me.” Splinter revealed. “My home. My wife. My child. Even my humanity. And now it seeks to take everything from me again.”
The brothers turned away from the computer, going to comfort their sensei. As they did, Casey walked over to the laptop, looking at the picture of the lab on the screen.
“Hey… I think that’s the lab that April’s interning at.” he realized.
Mikey looked over.
“Who’s April?” he asked.
“April O’Neil, my girlfriend.” he explained. “She got offered an internship by one of the scientists there. She’s been going on about it for weeks now.”
An idea suddenly struck Leo.
“Casey, do you think we could use her to get into TCRI?” Leo asked, a hopeful expression on his face.
Casey thought for a moment, as if hesitant to reply.
“It’s… possible.” He allowed, “But, you’d have to talk to her. And I mean, face-to-face.”
“If we have to reveal ourselves to another human to ensure Hisako comes home, then I say bring it on.” Raph decided.
“No!” Splinter interjected. “It is foolish to reveal our presence to just any human. It is bad enough that this young man has been dragged into our lives-”
“Hey!” Casey interrupted.
“-but to willing bring another is something I will not allow.”
Leo looked at his sensei, slightly torn.
“Sensei, while I would usually agree with you, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
“Yeah.” Casey added. “Look, I know I just met you guys, and I know i ain’t gonna earn your trust overnight, but Hisako is my friend, and she’s April’s as well. I’m willing to lay down my life to help her, and I can practically guarantee that April will do the same.”
Splinter paused for a moment, weighing his options. He did not want to put his trust in two humans he did not know, but he also knew that Leonardo spoke the truth. If they were to save Hisako, then they would need as much extra support as they could get. With a sigh, he lowered his head.
“Go.” he told them. “Find this April O’Neil. Bring her here.”
The turtles all nodded, then Raph paused.
“Bring her here?” he asked. “You sure Sensei?”
Splinter stood up, gripping his walking stick so hard his knuckles turned white.
“If you think I am going to sit idly by while TCRI destroys my life again, then you know nothing. Once we have a plan, I am coming along.”
Leatherhead cracked his knuckles, twisting his neck to pop it as well.
“Me too…” he added. “Oracle… needs me… and… I will not… fail her… again.”
Raph just nodded, then joined his brothers and Casey as they clambered out of the sewers.
It was April’s day off, the one day of the week that she didn’t have the schlep papers, get coffee, or run around delivering messages. While she had planned to spend the day relaxing and catching up on some reading, her empty pantry had quickly changed her plans.
April pushed the door to her apartment complex open, holding about four large brown bags of groceries in her arms. As she shuffled over to the elevator, she did her best to try and juggle her bags and get her apartment keys at the same times.
“Where’s a bellhop when you need one?” she thought as she balanced a bag on her leg before finally grabbing her keys from her purse.
The elevator dinged and she got out, and was grateful when her neighbor poked her head out.
“Hey April!” a nerdy looking girl coke-bottle glasses called out.
“Hey Irma.” April replied. “Think you can help me?”
Irma came out, quickly taking two of the bags from April. When she saw the contents, she chuckled.
“Ran out of food again?” she asked
April nodded as they reached her apartment.
“I’ve been so focused on school and my new internship that I forgot to go shopping for the month.”
“That’ll do it to ya.” Irma remarked with a smile.
The two girls reached the apartment, where April deftly opened the door. She set the groceries down in the hallway, then took the other bags from Irma.
“Thanks for the help.”
“Any time.” Irma waved.
April closed the door, walking two of the bags into the kitchen. When she went back for the other two and returned to the kitchen, she nearly jumped out of her skin. Standing in her kitchen, golf bag over his shoulder and hockey mask on his head, was Casey. He waved sheepishly as the other two grocery bags fell to the ground.
“Hey April…” he waved.
“Casey!” April shouted in surprised, bending down to pick up the fallen groceries. “How did you get in here?”
Casey helped her gather up the rest, placing them on the counter. After that, he leaned against the pantry door, as if trying to find the right words.
“Well…” Casey started, waving his hand in front of him. “I used the key you keep under the mat. You said I could if there was an emergency”
“I see.” April noted with more than a small note of skepticism, putting various produce in her fridge. “So what’s the emergency? And why are you dressed like that?”
Casey paused. He honestly didn’t know how to explain what was going on. He barely understood it himself. Still he had to try. April was crucial to the plan.
“Well it’s…“Casey started. “... It’s kinda a long story.”
April raised an eyebrow, closing her refrigerator and leaning against it.
“I got time.” April responded, crossing her arms in suspicion. “Now spill.”
Casey gulped, then straightened up.
“Well,” he began nervously. “You see… there was an… incident... at the pizzeria. These guys attacked the shop and practically destroyed everything-”
April suddenly shot forward, her analytical mind quickly scanning Casey for any signs of wounds.
“What do you mean attacked?” she exclaimed. “Are you ok?”
She then noticed the bandages on his arms and quickly checked them over. Casey had to pull his arms free, holding his girlfriend so she was facing him.
“April, I promise you, I’m fine.” he reassured. “It’s just… Well...”
“Just what?” April asked.
“There was… They kinda… ok I’ll just say it. April…”
“Look, you ain’t proposing to her!” A deep, unfamiliar voice suddenly called from the fire escape. “Just tell her!”
Casey face palmed as April looked around in alarm.
“Who’s that?” She asked before turning to face Casey. “Casey, how many people are in my apartment?”
“That’s part of why I’m here.” Casey answered, silently wishing that he wasn’t on such a time crunch. “You know how Hisako is always talking about her brothers?”
She nodded slowly, confused.
“Yeah?” she responded. “But what does that have to do with-?”
That’s when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Ever so slowly, the turned around. Almost immediately, she stumbled back, having come face to face with Raphael.
“Hi.” He greeted curtly. “I’m Raphael. We need your help.”
As she continued stumbling back, she ran into Donatello, who attempted to steady her. Instead, he only succeeded in starling her further.
“Whoa, calm down.” he warned her. You’re going to cause yourself to faint.”
April was completely and utterly stupefied. As she ran into Leonardo, the blue turtle tried to stop her stumbling.
“We know our appearance is a bit… Much to handle, but I promise you, we’re not going to hurt you.”
“Yeah!” Mikey agreed, walking up to her. “We’re the good guys! I promise.”
April looked between the four turtles, then at Casey. She could barely form a single word as she stuttered and pointed. Casey took her arm, helping to steady her.
“April… meet Hisako’s brothers.”
It was then that April reached her breaking point. Her eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted. Casey barely managed to catch her before she hit the ground. As he adjusted his grip on her, he looked up at the four turtles.
“Well that went better than expected.” Donny remarked.