DonPrime had made contact with Venus and had agreed that the contest should take place in about three months. With his task complete, there was no other reason for the Primes to remain in Dimension Third Earth. Their own dimension needed them considerably, but they promised to return for the contest in a few months. On the way back to their world, they had rerouted and visited Renet. She had been thrilled to hear Leo87 had a successful operation, and had almost cried when DonPrime had told her he would return and see her often.
Back in Dimension Third Earth, Don03 had been considering the idea of cloaking Home World from their enemies. With the help of Leatherhead03, April03 and Don07 - he had effectively disguised the important universe from any snoopers. Of course, if some enemy were to delve too deep, then nothing would be able to hide Home World. It was just too vast and bright. The source dimension was like a beacon, and Don03 knew that it would be easily found if the wrong person sought to do Home World harm. The scientists developed an alarm system to activate when dimensional walls were breached in Home World - the only sure way to protect the vulnerable universe. All of the turtles - from their respective dimensions - would be alerted if the worst happened and would respond quickly and brutally to any threat. Although Home World didn't have their own 'real' version of the turtles, they had all versions striving to keep them safe from dimensional villains.
Don12 had come to his senses and alternated his vigil with Splinter12 and April12. He was reluctant to be forced into sleep again, so he accepted the help with a slight moan. Leo87 had been awake twice since the operation for brief moments, slurring a few comforting words to his brothers and sensei. However, the mere act of being conscious proved too much effort for the recovering turtle - but his wounds were less painful and he could flex his fingers with more strength. Don12 was overjoyed.
When it was time for Leo07, Don07, Raph07 and Mike07 to make the move back home - it was with disappointment. They had genuinely enjoyed the visit to another dimension, but knew their own universe was vulnerable without them. Besides, they were beginning to really miss their friends and sensei. They left with explicit instructions for the others to keep in touch about Leo87's condition - and also promised to return for the Turtle Tournament.
A week after they had left, Leo87 had started to shift and stir. He had woken several times during a restless night and the next day was wide-awake and smiling at everyone from his sick-bed. Don12 was so relieved he had tears in his eyes. Leo87's injured arm was useless to him. He could wiggle his fingers but he couldn't grip or hold anything.
Instead, Don12 waited on the little turtle hand and foot. Leo87 put up with the excessive attention, realising that the other had been through a gruelling ordeal himself. A friendship began to form between the two - and Don12's mood lightened as he returned to his normal self.
Leo87 was in bed for about two more weeks, then he insisted on getting up and tagging along with the other turtles in the lair. His arm was in a sling, but his resolve to recover was truly astounding. His own sensei and brothers were still bolstering his spirit through meditation, although he didn't really need the extra attention anymore. His spirit was thriving. His physical body was recovering well. Leo87 was truly on the mend.
Don03 had been investigating other turtle universes. A common theme ran throughout them - there was always a version of Shredder and Splinter. There was always an intense rivalry between the two enemies. As with good and evil, there was always Splinter and Shredder. The turtles were nearly always a foursome. There were some exceptions to the rule, but by the by, every version of the turtles was a group of four.
More impressive than that, it turned out Home World was spewing out other universes that were regarded merely as fan fiction by others of their own dimension. There appeared to be 'official' universes and a multitude of other dimensions spawned by 'fans.' Each dimension existed as a unique universe - as long as it was created in Home World.
The possibilities were endless. Don03 was hooked by the immensity of his find. Along with some surprising incarnations of them, he had found some truly tragic dimensions with versions of themselves killed during various battles. Leo87 was lucky to be alive, and in some dimensions, the turtles came to a gruesome and sticky end. Don03 kept his distance from these tormented realms - but they played on his mind heavily. They seemed fortunate to have returned from their battle relatively unscathed, and Don03 felt gratitude that they were all alive.
Some versions of them were more reptilian and monstrous than Don03 had ever seen before. Some barely had any humanity inside them at all, being mainly turtle rather than person. These reptilian husks fought with an instinctive brutality that was so typical of Mother Nature. They were snarling, vicious creatures that seemed to have no empathy at all. Except for the family cat, of course. Misty was the one thing they seemed to have intense affection for. The tortoiseshell marvel managed to soothe the savage beast, and the drooling turtles always had time for her. Unable to say her name, being barely human, they called her Mims* with much effort and allowed her to rub her head all over their own. Many times they were woken with a cat's face staring at them from their pillows, big glowing eyes beaming down at them and a soothing purr coming from the depths of her furry body as she would kiss them roughly with her tongue and meow for food. Like Klunk, Mims was a real character with a sweet undercurrent of affection.
Don03 was so immersed in this dimensional discovering that the time flew by without him doing much else. Leo87 was now training with bokken - trying without much success to get his limb working the way it once had. He finally realised that he would have to use one sword, in his good arm, and not wield two katana anymore.
April12, Leo12, Mike12 and Raph12 had returned to their own dimension. They were concerned about leaving Shredder12 free reign in their own world. It was a wise decision as they were engaged in combat from that moment on - facing many bizarre mutations. Don12 and Splinter12 stayed in Dimension Third Earth for as long as possible. However, Leo87 assured the worried turtle and the Master rat he would be fine on his own. He was healing well, and there was no reason for Don12 or Splinter12 to remain. In the end, Don12 left with a sigh and a promise to return every day to check on Leo87. Splinter12 left after a heartfelt embrace with Splinter03 - the former almost reluctant to leave the latter. A warm relationship had developed between the two sensei, and Splinter12 felt an intense affection for the little rat.
The weeks rolled by at an alarming rate. Don87, Raph87 and Mike87 had returned home to protect their dimension but were regularly visiting Leo87. The little turtle remained in Dimension Third Earth during his recovery, forming a close bond with Splinter03. They would sit and meditate together - Leo87, Splinter87 and Splinter03 - drink green tea and practice with the bokken together. Leo87 was fascinated by the story of Splinter03 - how he had been a pet of Master Yoshi. He never tired of hearing the origin story and Splinter87 would listen with a gentle smile as the other rat told of his love for his Master.
All too soon, The Turtle Tournament was looming. With weeks to go, Leo87 stepped up his training - his good arm now handling katana as he twirled the one blade effectively. It was almost time for the fight to begin.
The Ultimate Daimyo had been organising the Battle Nexus to accommodate turtle warriors. He had also made a trophy for the winning reptile - a beautiful shell made of gold to be etched with the winner's name. An honorary Battle Nexus Knighthood would also be awarded to the winner, the first of its kind, and automatic Master status would be given to the ultimate turtle warrior. There was a lot to fight for, and all versions of the turtles were preparing themselves for the big battle.
*Mims (Misty) RIP - 10th July 2013.
A friend's cat, I've known her for years.
This paragraph is a tribute to the legend that was Mims. She was an amazing moggy and I'll never forget her. Goodbye Mims, love you.
To come . . . . The turtle tournament