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“Yo, get off me, man."

Raphael didn’t know that he was actually talking, only that he felt someone shaking him or trying to get him up. He didn’t like it. He was half-asleep, and comfortably so. Wherever he and the guys had decided to bed down for the night sure was cozy. Raphael felt completely embedded in the warm ooziness that soothed his whole body, almost like he’d fallen asleep soaking in a jacuzzi.

But the noise and commotion continued to stir him, threatening to wrest him from his peaceful slumber.

Able to sleep through no more, Raphael jolted awake. Leonardo was smacking his face left and right with his hand while Don was busy with his cybernetic arm. The arm was currently morphed into a small buzzsaw.

An active one.

"What the fuck—gaahhh!" Raphael tried to back away, but found he could move not an inch. He tried wriggling, but it was to no avail. It wasn’t until he looked down that he found out why.

He was glued to the wall. Glued to it with the same Alien organic honeycombing the creatures had used to turn the Spaceport Jockeybar into a hive.

"Shhh. Relax, Raph," Leo said. "We’re gonna get you out of here." Donatello’s buzzsaw began cutting away then, slicing a diagonal line to pre-programmed precision along the sticky organic material that bound Raph.

Raphael peered over each shoulder. "Where’s Mike?"

"I don’t know. We were separated. But right now… we have problems of our own."

As Leo and Don helped Raph slide out of his encasement, Leo silently pointed a finger to the far side of the chamber.

The biggest, most nightmarish creature imaginable to him sat perched there. Raph could hear it breathing in hissing, rhythmic bursts.

"Don and I think it may be the mother Alien," Leo offered.

Raph winced, daring not to take his eyes off the gigantic, spidery creature. "What, a queen?"

"That’s what I’m thinking."

"Then these Alien things… they’re really like insects?"

"Looks like Blanque was telling us the truth about them. Everything we’ve seen really does seems to indicate a typical queen-drone matriarchy, with the Queen controlling and maintaining the ‘hive mind,’ the mental link," Don explained. "In most insect species like ants and bees, the queen isn’t as intellectually adept as her drones, but in this case…"

"What it all comes down to is that you’re saying this skanky-ass mother bitch is the leader." Raph grunted, then nudged Don in the shoulder, nodding at the Queen. "Well then, you know what to do, buddy."

Don took his meaning. A moment later his buzzsaw-morphed arm had changed back into the default shape of a hefty arm cannon. He raised it, aimed its impressive twin barrels at the distant Queen’s crown-like head. He hesitated, looking back to his brothers. "For all we know, this Alien isn’t the only queen. There could be several other hives, each with an egg-laying queen of its own, all over the entire pl—"

"Shut up and shoot!"

Don sighed, then began his grim task.

The rapid fire barrage tore into the top of the Queen’s monstrous head, throwing chunks of black Alien flesh and releasing its acidic blood. The Queen was wide awake now. Oblivious to the fact that half of her head had been blown off, she snaked forward, shrieking with animal rage as she wrenched her body’s hindquarters. Wrenching and wrenching, finally she tore herself free of her egg sac, allowing her to freely lunge out at the Turtles. Don shifted his aim, peppering the Queen’s mass with as much of his cyborg firepower as he could dish out.

Only meters away from the Turtles, the Queen finally relented. Graceful no longer, she tumbled backward into the sizzling puddle of her blood and blasted pieces of black flesh. Her great fallen body heaved several times, twitching violently, as if unable to accept its own death. But the reality of its fate finally caught up to it and it went still, sinking a few inches into the melting floor.

"That wasn’t so hard," Don said. It wasn’t often that he got cocky, but this time he felt he had every right to be.

"Shit!" Leo gasped.

Through the dark oval openings in the honeycombed walls came a flood of Aliens.

They had known what had transpired before they even entered. Their mother had been killed; the hive mind had been severed. And before them now... her murderers. The drones and warriors were disoriented, their telepathic link in a state of madness and disorder. In the days ahead there would be chaos, anarchy. The drones would fight it out with each other, each in a battle to determine which one of them had the right to to ascend and metamorphosize into queenhood.

But right here, right now, the gathering of Aliens were united under one clear, unmistakable purpose:

Avenge the Queen!

Donatello instinctively laid out a line of suppressing fire, pumping out a continuous, rapid-fire stream. While Don covered them, Raph and Leo drew the shuriken throwing stars they had tucked under their belts, throwing them into the mob of Aliens and aiming for the neck. The thunderous brakka-brakka booming of Don’s arm cannon going off and the muffled elephant shrieks of the falling Aliens were all that could be heard. Blood was flying and limbs were blowing off as the bodies began piling up.

Though Don had a seemingly unlimited supply of ammunition, his brothers did not. Raph’s sai were only good for short-range fighting, which simply wasn’t an option, and Leo’s remaining katana was only good for one swing before the Aliens’ acid would eat through it, and probably half of his arm with it. Exchanging a look of panic, the two started sifting through the mucus-layered honeycomb of the wall, pushing aside the chesbursted corpses of Peblak citizens that got in their way.

"I found one!" Leo shouted.

Raphael couldn’t hear him above the shooting, but saw a rifle of some kind in his hand. Weapons of the dead. Kneeling as he continued to search for a firearm of his own, Raph paid attention to Don’s cry of "Look out!"

More on reflex than sense, Raph turned. A drone had slipped by Don and was bounding toward him, tail whipping, claws beared, and both sets of jaws exposed. Acting on pure ninjitsu training, Raph had both sai drawn and ready. Vaulting toward the oncoming Alien, he made two swift crisscrossing motions with his weapons in mid-flight, then landed directly beside the creature with poised precision.

Blood was spurting freely from the two deep gashes in its neck. Uttering its shrill elephant wail, the Alien shook its banana-shaped head side to side, then fell face-first into the floor.

"Nice work!" Leo said, looking over to him between laser salvos.

"Yeah, yeah." Raphael heaved his two melting sai aside, then went back to searching for a weapon. If Leo had found a dead Peblak officer with a laser rifle, there could be more. After almost a minute of digging through the membranous webbing, Raph’s hand skimmed over metal. Shaking it clear, he tore it out and was opening fire on the Alien horde not a second later.

The stench of sulfur building and the scent of Alien acid becoming stronger, the three Turtles made their vigilant stand. Don kept the Aliens’ rush under control, while Leo and Raph picked off any of them that managed to get too close for comfort.

Just as it seemed there would be no end to the Alien horde, it stopped.

A lone, final drone skittered out of one of the wall openings, making a feeble attempt to charge the Turtles. A single blast from Leo’s rifle blew its shattered body across the chamber, splattering the bold creature against the wall.

The Turtles stood poised, waiting and expecting a second wave of Aliens that could arrive at any given moment. After two minutes of waiting, they seemed reasonably certain one wasn’t coming.

"We need to find Mike, you guys," Raphael spoke, laying his laser rifle over his shoulder. "Who knows what could have happened to him while we were fending off these bugs?"

"Damn…" Fear crept into Leo’s eyes, bringing him out of his adrenaline trance and filling him with brotherly worry. "He’s right."

"I see him!"

There he was, right where Don’s thermal scanner had led them in the adjacent chamber. Just as Don, Leo, and Raph had been, Mike was cocooned to the far wall. Thankfully, he seemed unscathed.

While Don went to work cutting him out of place, Leo’s eyes wandered about the chamber. It wasn’t so different from the one they had just come from, but it was darker, more dank, and the floor seemed to radiate warmth. Scattered all about the chamber were numerous clusters of the pod-like Alien eggs, placed in random locations.

"There we go!"

"Thanks," Michaelangelo uttered, prying himself out of the opening Don cut. He said nothing further as he stood away from the wall. He looked pale, ready to keel over at any moment. He nearly tripped over something as he began to walk away.

"You all right, dude?" Raphael asked. "You look like shit."

Mike blinked, then wiped some of the half-crustified phlegm-like liquid from his face. "I dunno, man," he rasped. He took another step, then fell to his knees, clutching the ends of the front of his shell. He moaned, then screamed with pain. He rolled onto his side, then his back, kicking and flailing frantically.

Leonardo tried to hold his writhing brother still. "What’s wrong? What’s wrong?"

"I-I-I don’t know!" he yelled. "It hurts! Jesus god, it hurts so much!"

Leo and Don noticed for the first time what it was that Mike had tripped over.

A dead Alien facehugger.

"My god..." Leo stared back at his twisting brother. "He’s... he’s got one of those things inside of him."

It was all the Turtles could do to look helplessly at one another.

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