Turtles Forever... A Trilogy

Dimensional Ass-Kicking Crime Fighting Teams

Chapter Thirty-Two...

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Location: 2012 TMNT World

Splinter12 paced around the lair with a worried gait. He wrung his hands together fearfully and stopped as he saw April12 staring at him from entrance to their dojo. She had materialised as if from no-where and was watching the Master warily.

"Master Splinter? What's wrong." April12 walked up to the restless rat and looked deeply into his eyes. "Is it the boys?"

Splinter12 smiled gently at the young woman before him. She was concerned but hiding the fear behind a wall of strength. He steeled himself to do the same and responded in a sure voice. "My sons have been gone for hours, April. I have no idea where they have gone and Leonardo has left me no note."

April12's eyes narrowed as her mind raced with thoughts. "Maybe they left suddenly? Or they could have been captured by the Kraang."

"Perhaps." Splinter12 felt a throbbing pain in his temple. He lifted a furry paw to rub his aching forehead. "I cannot sense them. I fear the worst."

April12 lay a hand on Splinter12's shoulder. "I'm sure they'll be okay. They are strong."

Splinter12 nodded and patted April12's hand. "Thank you, April. We should continue your training - it will give us a focus other than worrying needlessly."

April12 smiled brightly and prepared herself for defence. She slid her legs apart and stood with her knees slightly bent. Her arms rose to protect her face and Splinter12 acknowledged all this with a proud smile. It had only been a few months since the start of her training and she had advanced far beyond what Splinter12 had ever expected. Her natural flair for martial arts made her as talented as Michelangelo. The young turtle lacked the sharp focus April12 possessed, and she had effectively surpassed years of training within months.

"Protect yourself." Splinter12 started a slow offence, slowing his punches and kicks as he and April12 worked their way across the dojo. April12 countered effectively, allowing minimal penetration from her sensei’s attacks. Splinter12 reflected on her skills and he compared them to his sons. Although she was in the infancy of her training, he could see a tactical fighter emerging from the rough, a diamond reflecting the pillars of Ninjutsu. Mind, body and spirit were one - and April12 had little problem attaining mental dominance.

"Taijutsu is the study of body movement, April. Learn from my example and try to keep your strikes fluid." Splinter12 blocked a punch and deflected April12. She fell to the ground but rolled safely into a practiced move.

"At least I can fall properly now." April12 grinned. "Without worrying I'll break my neck."

Splinter12 nodded proudly. "You have a natural talent for Ninjutsu. You will make a fine kunoichi."

Half an hour flew by without either sensei or student pausing for a break. April12's stamina was increasing with every lesson - due to her practising mainly in her free time. Splinter12 was impressed by her dedication. Her skill with the iron fan was also increasing at a rapid rate. In fact, Splinter12 was certain she had a unique ability to grasp Ninjutsu at a superior rate to most human beings.

Suddenly, the aura of the dojo changed dramatically. Splinter12 felt his fur bristling with expectation, a slight breeze wafting over his face. The smell hit him sharply and he turned at once toward the source. The scent reminded him of burning wood, and had an underlying chemical tinge to it. April12 felt the change also and looked toward the far wall curiously.

There was nothing but an empty space.

"Master?" April12 felt the fear suddenly as she saw a vortex appear before her eyes. "What's going on?"

Splinter12 stood before his student, effectively protecting her from the spinning mass before them. He was guarded and ready, lest some devilish hell beast emerge.

He raised a furry eyebrow as two figures emerged from the swirling depths. These were no hell beasts. He saw the bandanas flapping in the maelstrom and recognised two of his sons as they came closer. Leo12 stepped through the vortex, shadowed by Raph12. They walked through the tornadic storm as if walking from one room to another. Both turtles were pale and had fresh wounds from battle. They knelt before their Master immediately.

"My sons. Where are your brothers?" Splinter12 felt a pang of despair. His turtles were sore and bruised from combat. His heart was breaking from the possibility that Mike12 and Don12 had not survived. His eyes were moist and fearful.

"They are in another dimension, Master." Leo12 looked up at his sensei. Splinter12 observed the leader with a critical eye. There was something different about him. He seemed to have a new confidence about him, as if he had learned much in the few hours he had been gone. He looked older than his years, much older. His wounds had been dressed but his eyes had a hardness that was only gained from battle.

"We need you there." Raph12 explained. "Donny needs you."

"Is Donatello all right? Has he been injured?" Splinter12's voice had a panicked edge. He assessed Raph12 and found the same look haunting his expression as his older brother. Something monumental had happened. His sons had faced the biggest threat of their lives without him even knowing about it. He could see the new experience defining them and shaping them - they were no longer children. They were warriors.

Leo12 looked up and shook his head instantly. "No, no, no. Donny's fine. He just needs support. He's taken on a lot and he's starting to crack."

Splinter12 and April12 traded a glance. Splinter12 glanced at the portal, thinking deeply. "Do I need to step inside this portal to reach Donatello?"

Leo12 nodded. "Hai, sensei."

Splinter12 walked up to the vortex and entered without pausing. He stepped into the swirling vortex without fear, his only concern being that his son was in need of assistance. He felt the air whip him and assault him from all angles as he blindly walked on, disappearing from view within seconds.

Leo12 and Raph12 rose to their feet and prepared to follow their sensei. They walked wearily, all the fight knocked out of them. They had been in a serious brawl, and April12 suddenly felt the need to protect them. They needed her. Donny needed her.

"Hold up. You aren't going without me." April12 grabbed her backpack and grabbed Raph12's arm. "Donny needs me too."

Raph12 nodded with a slight smile. "He'd be really happy to see you right now."

As they followed Splinter12 through the portal, April12 glanced back at the lair one last time. She swallowed a gulp and turned towards the unknown, her only thought to help Donatello. She had to make sure he was okay. Because he was her friend. She liked him and he liked her. He really liked her. More than just a friend.

She liked him more than she cared to admit.

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