Chapter 1: Beginnings
It was around midnight. In this part of town the light was dimmer, stars were a little easier to see without the blinding glow of the busier streets in the city that never sleeps. This part of the city never sleeps either, they just don't like to advertise their existence. Ka-thunk ka-thunk. Ka-thunk ka-thunk. My new board made a satisfying rhythmic thudding noise as it coasted over the cracks in the pavement.
My destination came into view so I easily dropped down off the curb and streaked across the dark street without looking, confident no cars would be passing through the area at this time of night. I flipped my board up with my foot and caught it, tucking it under my arm as I skipped up the concrete steps then shoving my way through the club house entrance without losing momentum. From outside faint bass had been audible and as soon as I opened the heavy door it broke over me in a wave. Without hesitating I pushed my way in past a few kids lounging in the foyer area, eliciting a "Hey!" of annoyance, my answer to which being a casual flip of the bird over my shoulder as I tripped lightly down some stairs leading to the first tier of the levelled warehouse. Each concrete ring was about three foot wide, four of them ran around the perimeter of the giant room leading down to a massive central area. I had no idea what this place had been before it was taken over by the gang who occupied it now but these days it was swarming with kids. Throwing my board down I flopped into one of the beanbags that littered this section of the club house and scraped my hoodie back from my face before unzipping it, dumping it on top of my board along with my backpack. It was hot in here after the cool air outside and the increased number of bodies added to the humidity.
Impatiently my eyes scanned the room from beneath my dark bangs, I gave an unconscious flick of my head to clear my vision before pulling my knees to my chest and resting my chin on them. My brown eyes scanned the room out of habit but I knew my big brother was unlikely to be in this area. The stadium style seating I was perched at the top of looked down on a large area that held a boxing ring and lots random workout gear. To my far right, built into the side of the building, was a decent sized indoor skate area which had enough ramps and rails to keep the skaters happy. On the far wall directly across from my perch and on the other side of the workout pit was scaffolding reaching from the floor all the way to the high ceilings. To my left was a large area filled with arcade games. Overrunning all of this were kids ranging in age from twelve to eighteen. It was Friday night which was always the busiest as the kids who were still in school celebrated the end of the week by coming to hang out with their less educationally inclined mates. The free games, food, booze, music, drugs….free everything was just too tempting for even the most streetwise kid who knew places like this always had an agenda.
My brother had dragged me to this place a few weeks ago and announced that we would be crashing here until further notice before taking off and only coming to check up on me every couple of days…that was until recently. As of today I hadn't seen Hayden for a week, way longer than usual and it was making me feel creeped out. Where the hell was he? I'd taken a little while to get used to this bizarro set up, at first the 'kid heaven' vibe had just screamed pedo at me but when no creepy old men came to offer me candy I'd slowly relaxed and began to enjoy the ride. There was plenty here to keep me happy and since I'd dropped out of school a few years ago I mainly spent my days skating and playing arcade games. Some kid had set up a drum kit behind Mortal Combat 3 a few days ago and let me have a hit which had been fun for a while. If Hayden had been around he would have made me practice in the boxing ring without a doubt. The guy was paranoid about me being able to protect myself and I couldn't blame him really.
Right now there was the usual martial arts training going on, pit held a bunch of kids going at each other bare fisted. Other places we'd crashed at before had had free food and drink like this one but the video games, booze and indoor skate park were new. Someone was trying really hard to draw in the neighbourhood kids and doing a good job of it too. It'd been ok here for a while, but now I was getting freaked out again by my brothers continuous disappearing acts and just wanted to find him and go. Where the hell was he?
My attention was caught by the movement of some larger bodies through the throng of kids dancing near the scaffolding where the large speakers were set up. The older club members, the ones over eighteen, rarely came into this area unless it was to watch a particularly promising fight where, if they liked what they saw go down in the pit, they would take the lucky winner into the back rooms of the warehouse for God knows what. More training? A membership badge? All I knew was we were barely here for a week before Hayden had his chance in the ring then he was taken back into the rooms behind the black door. From then on I had only been able to see him in short snatches and he refused to tell me what was going on despite my persistent nagging and puppy dog eyes.
Now as I watched the older kids moving through the crowd in their usual unofficial uniform of black on black I huffed in frustration, there were too many bodies between us and I couldn't tell if Hayden was with them. They were making a bee line for the black door at the back of the warehouse and would reach it in a few minutes. Swearing I quickly scooped up my hoodie and shoved it into my backpack before slinging it on and leaping down the stadium steps with my board under my arm. As I darted around a few guys practicing punches with boxing pads I thought I saw Hayden's profile and redoubled my efforts to reach them before they escaped out the rear door. I wove between two pillars and came up short as he was suddenly right there in front of me.
"I'm tellin ya man, they're real. Crank swears he was there last night when they took one of them down. Green and with…" the guy next to Hayden was hissing furiously at him as they pushed through the crowd. Hayden must have felt my eyes on him because at that moment he glanced over his shoulder, caught sight of me and roughly shoved the guy next to him. "Shut up." He jerked his head meaningfully towards me then turned to face me with a frown. "What do you want kid?"
I summoned up a frown to match his, I had no urge to try the puppy dog eyes this time around. "Where the hell have you been Hayden? I've been looking everywhere for you!" I crossed my arms across my chest angrily. The guy next to Hayden snickered. "Jeez Hayden who is this chick, your mom?"
I snapped a glare at him and jerked my chin at him as I gave him the once over "Fuck you dickhead." I spat. Hayden held an arm out to block the guy as he moved towards me threateningly and I smirked at his pissed off look.
Hayden gave an exasperated huff. "Look Scarlett I don't have time for this, something big went down last night and I've been called in to help handle it. This is huge for me so just get lost will ya?"
My smirk slid off my face and I reached out to grab at his arm as he turned to leave. "I don't like it here Hayden!" I blurted in desperation. "Can't we just go? Bec would take…"
"Jesus Christ Scarlett," he shook me off angrily "would you grow the fuck up already? There's food here and heaps of shit to do. If you're that bored go back to school." He threw the last bit over his shoulder as he started walking away again. The guy with him held my gaze a few moments before joining my brother, he gave an exaggerated pout and clasped his hands to his chest mockingly. "Will you be ok princess?" he simpered. I growled and flipped him off as he laughed and turned his back on me.
"Asshole!" I shouted. His mocking laughter drifted back to me over the music and with a snarl I started after them again only to be brought up short with a startled "Ooof" as I bounced off a hard wall of flesh.
I looked up into the hard face of Xever and blanched with fright. Where the hell had he come from? Xever was a scary dude the other kids warned my about. I had never seen him this up close before but was in no doubt he was the head honcho around here. He was a tall lanky guy known for having a bad temper and cutting tongue. He used feet and fists on anyone who displeased him and everyone here knew to stay out of his way. Word was he carried two wicked butterfly knives and could fillet you before you could blink. He glared down at me for a moment, black eyes cold in his dark face, before a flash of recognition lightened his expression, he paused then gruffly spat out "Go!" he drawled, wiggling his fingers at me while I blinked stupidly at them "Play!" I took him up on his dismissal and scampered off hurriedly as he disappeared in the same direction as Hayden, not stopping until I was hidden in the lower beams of the scaffolding closest to the back door.
Letting out a breath I watched Xever and his entourage enter the back rooms of the club house, the door was closed firmly behind them and a large meathead took up guard duty with his arms crossed over his massive chest. "Dammit!" I huffed. What now?
"Be calm my son, there is nothing that can be achieved when anger clouds the mind." Splinter's face remained placid, a reflection of his voice, as he watched his agitated son pace the length of the den once again. Raphael's snort bordered on rude, he raised both his hands to rub over his scalp then made yet another sharp turn and stalked back towards the far side of the room.
"Raph, Donnie will be fine, we just need to come up with a plan." Leonardo stood to one side of the path Raph was wearing into the rug, face stoic and voice soft. "We'll get him back as soon as..."
"Can it Leo!" Raph swung angrily and shoved a green finger into his brother's plastron. Leo instantly stiffened and narrowed his eyes, knowing exactly what would come next.
"C'mon Raph…" Michelangelo's voice was soft and pleading as he straightened from his spot leaning against the wall. Raph immediately flung his arm behind him towards Mikey's face, finger still pointed accusingly, angry eyes never leaving Leo. "You too Mikey!" Mikey had a second to be impressed at the excess of emotion contained within a single digit, not to mention his perfect aim without looking, then Raph's voice sent his stomach plummeting.
"Fearless leader," Raph spat "why the hell did you make us retreat? How could you just leave him there?!" His other hand came up to shove Leo back a step then he let both arms drop to his side, teeth and fists clenched. "Gah!" He stalked over to the practice dummy in the corner and proceeded to punch the stuffing out of it in an attempt to curb his anger.
Leo sighed and turned to Mikey, "We'll get him back." His younger brother nodded wordlessly. "We just have to think, what would Donny do?"
"Blow something up?" Mikey's voice rose hopefully at the end.
"I guess, it could cause a nice distraction and allow us to infiltrate the hideout." Leo's voice was laced with doubt as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Operation Blow Out. Ooh, I know where Donny keeps his T-bombs!" Mikey sprung towards the door of Donny's lab and Leo deftly caught him by the top ridge of his shell.
"I don't think Donny would want you in there going through his stuff Mikey, even if he needs rescuing he would rather you didn't blow yourself up in the process."
"Aw man, that was one time!"
Leo released him and cut him a dead eyed look.
"Fine." Mikey pouted for a moment then brightened, "How about cutting the power? That's always one of his favourites! Then we can just stealth in and rescue him".
"Well I do like it better than the bombs. A bit simplistic though don't you think?" Leo looked over to Master Splinter questioningly.
"The simpler the better I think in this case Leonardo. You have one objective only, retrieve your brother swiftly and return him home".
"Well what are you dweebs waiting for?" Raph stepped between them, green skin shining with sweat. His brothers could see straight away the glint of anger had left his eyes leaving a cold determination. "Let's go already before they get too organised."
After my failed attempt at following Hayden and getting some answers I was loitering amongst the lower beams of the scaffolding a few feet away from the rear doors. I'd hung around closer to them for all of fifteen seconds before the guard had noticed me and told me to "Shove off" with a clip around the ear to drive his point home. I scowled angrily at the ape and rubbed my scalp where he'd managed to scuff me. Douche bag. I checked my phone for the hundredth time and tapped Hayden's number to try calling him again. Stupid nob had his phone on silent. Either that or he was ignoring me. I scowled harder, dick.
"Hey, loser, you're in my spot." I was startled out of my grump as a passing kid roughly shoved me with his shoulder. My elbow slipped off its perch on the scaffolding next to my head at his jostling and my chin jerked sharply down before my neck dealt with the sudden weight of my head. My eyes narrowed as I glared up at the jerk through my bangs, clenching my jaw against his rough laughter. Drawing myself up to my full height I pulled my lips back from my teeth in a parody of a smile.
"The hell you just say?" I ground out. He cocked his head at me and took a step closer menacingly, placing a hand on a beam near my head so he could lean into my space.
"I said.." that was as far as he got before I grabbed a fistful of his shirt, pulled him closer and kneed him in the balls. I was trying to do it as hard as I could but my aim was a little off and I mostly got him in the thigh. He still let out a strangled sound as he bent double for a few moments to regain his composure then straightened with murder in his eyes. I was already moving, ducking under his arm and scampering back towards the guard at the rear door. I skidded to a halt as I drew level with the meathead and ducked behind him just as the tool chasing me made a grab for me. He missed and as his hand glanced off the shoulder of the guy I was now standing behind I made my voice high and hysterical "Oh God mister you gotta help me he was trying to cop a feel under the scaffolding and now he's after me…"
"You little bitch!" the douche I'd kneed in the balls made another grab for me and I cowered back behind my makeshift protector as he placed a meaty paw on the jerks chest and shoved him back. Soon they were into it on my behalf and I smirked as I quietly cracked the door open and slipped through pulling it shut behind me with a low snik.