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“Okay, what the hell just happened?"
A moment ago they were in April and Caseys apartment, quietly playing a Nintendo 64 video game with Shadow. Then, without any provocation or warning, they entered the maelstrom. Energy swirling and cascading about their bodies, when their stomachs settled and their vision finally returned to something resembling normal they found they were no longer in the apartment.
Michaelangelo shook his head, Raphaels abrupt shouting making his ears ring. His vision having been reduced to a dizzying blur he fought to regain his footing. "Man," he groaned, "I dunno."
"First there was that light " Leonardo spoke, feverishly rubbing his eyes, "then that feeling "
"Like we were being fuckin turned inside out!" Raph snarled.
"Yes. But somehow it felt familiar. Yknow?"
Mike got to his feet, his vision back for the most part. His eyes still felt like hed been sitting cooped up in the dark for six hours before suddenly walking outside to a bright, sunny afternoon. "Hes right. It did feel kinda familiar."
Leo gazed around. They were by the coast of an ocean, standing a few kilometers away from an island of pale gray, tightly-packed skyscrapers. Big skyscrapers, ones that lived up to their namesake. Ones the likes of which made New York Citys pale in comparison. That fact gave Leo the feeling that something wasnt quite right.
Donatello didnt appear daunted by the experience. Standing apart from the others, he stood straight up as his head swiveled around, scanning his surroundings with his red cybernetic eye. "This is not Earth," he spoke, continuing his probing.
"No shit, Sherlock! Where are we?"
"Judging from the surrounding terrain, analysis of those skyscrapers " A hovering aircar not so unlike their own blew overhead and made them jump as it afterburned toward the island off the coast. "That aircar " Don added, " we are back on Dhoonib, the city of Peblak."
"Dhoonib?" the others gasped in near unison.
Don shrugged, his bulky metallic arms raising in a show of bewilderment. "Where else?"
"This is the place we met Fugitoid," Mike spoke, remembering the incident three years before. "And where we first ran into the Triceratons."
Something came to Don. "Then those lights and that feeling we got we were in an Utrom transmat device!"
"The Utroms brought us here?" Leo asked, curiously. The Utroms were the highly technological alien race that had lived for some twenty years on Earth disguised as humans. The chemical waste they produced in New York in their "TCRI" factory was what had mutated the Turtles from ordinary pets to their current sentient and humanoid status. "This isnt even their homeworld. If they wanted us, wouldnt they have translocated us to Utromis? Dhoonib is just a backwater fringe world."
Don gave a shrug. "Dont look at me, guys. I may be the cyborg of this bunch, but I dont have all the answers."
"So what now, fearless leader?" Raph quipped.
"Well, what can we do?" Leo turned his gaze to the mainland behind them. There were as many skyscrapers as there were on the distant island but these were not as crammed together.
Yet there was something clearly amiss. Several buildings and structures were lying in almost complete ruin, having either collapsed on themselves or crashed onto nearby buildings. Almost all of the few that remained intact were billowing smoke out of their shattered windows, painting the crimson sky a sickly shade of amber. Leo spotted several raging fires between the cracks in buildings.
"I dont remember Peblak City being like this."
"Because it wasnt like this. Somethings up."
Raph took off his eyepatch and pulled his hockey mask over his face, covering his scarred side. Drawing his twin sai, he motioned to the others. "We gonna sit on our asses out here all day or are we gonna check it out?"
The three exchanged a look, then followed.
Pebak City had become a wasteland.
This fact became clearer and clearer as the Turtles made their way down the fragmented streets of the sprawling alien megalopolis.
"Where is everybody, anyway?" Mike asked. Aside from the stray aircar theyd seen streaking toward the island off the central coast, they had yet to see a single indigenous being of Dhoonib.
"Beats the hell outta me," Raph replied.
"Wonder where all the Federats are at." Donatello furrowed his brow at the cityscape. "Those Human Federation guys had this city bottled up pretty tight if I remember correctly."
Mike stopped dead in his tracks, suddenly jabbing a finger to the side. "Hey, guys, look!"
"Its the bar!"
The bar theyd frequented on their last visit was in plain sight, the entrance visible within an alley they were passing. A sign was posted unceremoniously beside the open doorway: "Portneroys Spaceport Jockeybar," accompanied by two smaller signs that warned "Watch your step," and "No tour bots."
Anxiously making their way inside and down the staircase, they expected to be immediately greeted by the same assortment of alien patrons theyd seen last time. Instead, they found it deserted.
"Great," Raph muttered. "Nobodys home."
"Waittaminute " Don said. A compartment on his left shoulder popped open, and a moment later the bar became flooded with radiant light.
All of a sudden, the Turtles could see the bar for the mausoleum it was.
Intestine-like organic fibers were strewn about the floor, all branching from the walls and ceilings. The walls and ceilings themselves were encrusted and honeycombed with what looked like the compacted remains of bones and fleshall of it crafted with insect-like precision and symmetry.
"Theres bodies "
Don was right. Pasted at random intervals from the slime excretion-encrusted honeycomb were alien bodiessome humanoid, others with less-distinguishable inhuman attributes.
Just looking at the collection of corpses made Mike feel sick to his stomach. "My God "
Don approached one of the humanoid bodies, taking a moment to look at one of the knee-high organic pods that lay scattered around the bar. The one he studied was open, its interior visibly empty. Grunting, he moved to the body, examining it intently. "Its chest " he spoke, indicating a gaping hole above the sternum of the body. Ribs protruded outward from the hole. "Its like something exploded inside of it." A quick glance around revealed the rest of the bodies to have similar chest holes.
Don turned to see Mike holding up a giant crab-like creature, a tube draped uselessly from its underside, slime trickling out. Its eight fingers curled in rigor-mortis. It thankfully appeared to be long dead. "You got me."
Something else caught his eye. A body, a three-eyed alien with a purplish hue to its skin pigment just beside the corpse hed observed. It didnt have a hole in its chest.
As Don took a step toward it, the body sprang to life.
Its eyes shot open, looking pleadingly to Donatello and the others. "Vas pal koop!" it frantically yelped in speckled speech. "Vas pal koop! Vas pa"
It broke off as its words became caught in its throat. A sickening tearing sound could be heard, then followed by the muffled noise of breaking bones. A smattering of blood burst from the aliens chest, covering Don and Raph.
"What in the "
A black creature of an eels body and a sharks teeth erupted from the aliens chest. They only caught a glimpse of it before it landed on the organic-tendrilled floor and slithered off into the darkness.
"That was weird "
Leo uneasily turned to Don, who was standing paralyzed before the alien corpse. "What what do you make of this ?" he asked him.
Don stood as still as a statue, his gaze nervously fixed on the body he had just seen produce a diabolic offspring from its chest. "I-its hard to say I mean I jus"
Their only warning was a hiss. Then there was no time for anyone to react.
As if the walls themselves were coming to life, something large and black lurched out of the wall and wrapped its arms around Donatello. Its long, segmented tail whipping around, it struck both Michaelangelo and Raphael clear across the bar.
Leo instinctively went for his daisho, bringing both katana swords to full readiness as he waited for a good look at his target.
As if it knew it was being observed, the creature hurled Donatello aside with rabid ferocity, turning to face Leo. Its sleek, glistening skin was beetle-black, blending almost perfectly with the darkness. It had a long, smooth, banana-shaped head that protruded far behind its ribbed shoulders. It had no eyes, no nose of any kind.
All it had were teeth.
The creature maliciously hissed, opening its mouth to reveal a second jaw that slowly telescoped outward. It reared itself back, coiling to spring forward. It reached a six-fingered hand toward Leonardo as it finally did so.
Leo was ready.
Sidestepping it, he brought a katana around and under, vaulting to the side and skillfully cleaving the creatures misshapen head clean from the neck. Its body spasmed, its limbs flailing as the creature came to a grueling death. It dropped.
Leo screamed out loud, dropping his right sword as he clutched his arm. It felt as if it were on fire! Peering down at it, he saw his forearm viciously burnt, whole sections of flesh scorched away nearly to the bone. Looking to his sword, however, he found it to be dissolved almost completely from the hilt up, acrid smoke rising from its melted stump.
"That thing " Leo rasped accusingly, " its got acid for blood or something "
Raph stopped his sai thrust in mid-air. He had been preparing to give the corpse something to remember before Leos words hit him like a two-ton brick. "What?"
"Colonel, Ive found them!" a deep human voice called from the staircase exit.
Turning toward the voice, the Turtles saw three blue-uniformed men storm inside, brandishing their firearms as they immediately ran toward them.
"Federation troopers," Donatello spoke. They remembered the goons well. The minute theyd materialized on Dhoonib last time, troopers like them had stalked them because they thought they were accomplices to the Fugitoid, who they thought was carrying data on a Transmat device that both the Human Federation and the Triceraton Republic were after.
The lead trooper stopped before Leo, looked to the corpse of the creature he had just slew, then saluted. "Colonel Cavanaugh, Fifth Brigade, sir!" he addressed Leonardo and his brothers with an actual showing of respect. "Sirs, Ive been given orders to escort you four to Peblak Bay HQ. General Blanque wishes to see you."
"Blanque?" Raph spat. "Thats the asshole that had half this planets military chasing us when we were kids! What does he want with us? Is he the one who brought us here?"
"Im just a colonel, sirs. Please, time is critical."
Leo massaged his burnt arm, then sheathed his good sword. He turned to the others. "I say we hear him out."
Michaelangelo gave a helpless sigh. "Weve gotta find out whats going on here."
"Yeah. Why not?"
Leo motioned the Colonel to the stairway with a nod. "Lead the way, trooper."
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