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"Innocence is a flower which withers when touched, but blooms not again, though watered with tears."
- Hooper


TH, 1958

It was the race of his life, and Oroku Saki was winning.

Through the streets of urban Osaka, the alleyways, the marketplaces, and tunnels the two brothers ran, not stopping for anything or anyone that got in their way. The shopkeepers and pedestrians that recognized the two troublemakers could do little but turn a blind eye.

At last they past the landmarks that signaled the finish line of their race: two adjacent telephone poles on one of the backstreets past one of the finer delis.

"You were letting me win!"

Nagi just chuckled. Putting his seven year-old brother into a headlock, he ruffled his longish hair and gave him a noogie that would surely sting well into the afternoon.

"Ow, you jerk!" Saki jumped away and gingerly rubbed at his aching scalp. "I’m telling Mother!"

The chuckling again. This time, however, Nagi seemed a little more sympathetic. "I’m sorry, Saki. I didn’t let you win. You beat me fair and square."



"Are you sure?"

"Of course!"

Saki sighed, taking his brother’s word for it. "Let’s go again, then."


"Another race—back home!"


The Oroku house was as alive as it ever got. Saki’s mother, Miyoko, was arguing with his father over matters that he neither understood nor concerned himself over. Nothing new there.

"You can’t afford to turn your back to these people, Kenji!" he couldn’t help but hear his mother shout at his father.

"Hoodlums, hooligans—they are little more than that," Kenji muttered, shuffling the paperwork he had come home with at the dining table. "I wish you would stop fussing over them."

"I’ll stop fussing over them when they stop threatening you!"

Angrily tossing his reading glasses on the table, Kenji stood up and stormed away.

For as long as he could remember, his parents had been like that. His father, the aristocratic businessman with a host of shady friends and alliances on the side; his mother, forever the voice of common sense.

Kenji stopped short of the front door as he saw him. "Saki!" he exclaimed, his face lighting up. Perhaps it was vain of him, but Saki had always felt his father loved him the best. Kenji had given up long ago on Nagi, and the little twins, Heitchi and Miko, were still in their reckless years. "There you are, my boy! Where is your brother?"

Saki shrugged. "When I beat him at racing again he took off somewhere. He said his sensei wanted to see him again tonight, and to tell you and Mother that he isn’t going to be back until late."

Kenji harrumphed. "Ever since I sent him to that kung-fu teacher your mother and I never see him. Just as well, I suppose. If he doesn’t want any part of this family, then he can practice martial arts until he’s blue in the face." He stalked out the door then, patting Saki’s head before he left.

"But Nagi looks after me…"


Saki had the sliding glass door of the balcony halfway open when Miko tackled his waist. He groaned, trying to wrench his three year younger sister free while being as gentle as he could about it.

"Where you going?" she questioned.

"Um, nowhere. Outside. See?" Saki pointed outside at the empty balcony.

Miko wrinkled her little pug nose at him. She probably meant it as a glower. "Why?"

"No reason…"

"Why?" she persisted.

"I don’t know."


"’Cause I want to, okay?" He gave Miko a hug, then patted her on the back. "Go. You know how Heitchi is when you leave him for too long."

"Okay!" In a flurry of skirt, enthusiasm, and energy, Saki’s sister disappeared into the unlit hallway.

Having gotten rid of her for the time being, Saki quickly made his way out onto the balcony, careful to leave the door open a crack. He then got on top of the table that had been placed on the balcony, from which he could grab a hold of the rim of the stainless steel gutters. It took just about every ounce of his strength, but he was able to pull himself onto the roof.

Finding his usual spot, Saki lay on the rooftop of his house, gazing in wonder at the clear night sky. As he heard his brother scrambling up the side of the roof some time later, Saki glanced at his watch. Nagi was just on time. If he could count on nothing else, he could always count on that.

"Hey, Saki," called Nagi. "You been up here all night?"

"About an hour."

Nagi nodded, then stretched an arm out. Saki could see the bruises from ten feet away. "Man, today was hell, I tell you. I must have sparred with thirty opponents—not to mention all the exercises."

Saki frowned. "When are you going to tell Mother and Father?"

"What about?"

"That you’re not going to kung-fu lessons. That you’re training in the Foot."

An awkward silence ensued before Nagi responded. "You know I can’t do that, Saki," he spoke quietly. "They’ve heard the stories about the Foot Clan… I don’t know what they’d do if they found out. But it’s still our secret, right? You promised, remember?"

"Yeah. I promised."

Nagi laid down beside Saki, stretching out and laying his head on his outstretched arms. "I tell you, Brother, I have seen the most beautiful girl this backwards country has to offer."

"A girl?" Saki blushed.

"Her name is Shen." He spoke the name with obvious adore. "She hangs around with this fellow Foot guy I’ve seen from time to time—Yoshi, I think his name is."

"Then she has a boyfriend."

Nagi waved a hand carelessly in front of him. He didn’t seem worried. "She’ll get rid of him if she thinks I am interested. She has to. Who could resist a guy as handsome and charming as me, right?"

"Um, right."

"But you don’t want to hear about that." Nagi sighed understandingly. He grinned as something else came across him. "You know, I heard our parents talking last night. They were talking about you."


"Yep. Seems Father has been talking with old Mr. Yoichi."

"His business partner?" He’d overheard his father talking about a Mr. Yoichi from time to time, but had never thought much about it. "About me?"

"I’m getting to it, Saki. All I know is that Father is trying to get you fixed up with Mr. Yoichi’s youngest daughter."

Saki didn’t take his meaning. "Fixed… up?"

"You know. The hook-up? The tying of the knot? Hitched? The ball and chain?"

Saki scratched his head.

"Okay, okay. Damn it, sometimes I wonder about you, Saki." Nagi sighed. "He is arranging your marriage."

Saki jumped. "M-marriage? But I’m… I’m only seven!"

"Oh, don’t get your little panties in a bind. You don’t have to get married until you’re about my age, and even then you don’t really have to. But it’s being set up right now."

"Oh." Saki still felt uneasy, not sure what to make of it. "This daughter of Mr. Yoichi’s…you know her?"

"Seen her once. It was at some company party Mr. Yoichi threw almost a year ago that Father made me go to. Saw her walking with her mother."

"And? Tell me about her!"

"Ah, interested, eh?" Nagi chuckled. "Well, I will say this: you’re lucky, Saki. Damn lucky. If Father had fixed me up with a girl as nice and nice looking as her, maybe I wouldn’t be setting my sights on Shen."

"Do you know her name?"

"Minya, I think. I can’t remember." Nagi clapped Saki on the shoulder a little harder than Saki appreciated. "Don’t worry. I understand you’ll get to meet her tomorrow."

Saki’s mouth fell open. "M-meet her? But I… oh, my goodness…"

"Looking forward to it?" Nagi laughed heartily, then got to his feet. "It’s getting pretty late, and I’m tired and sore from everything I’ve had to do today. Being in the Foot Clan is no walk in the park, as it were." He threw one leg over the other as he began rappelling down the rooftop. "See you in the morning."

"Goodnight." He held up a hand to wave as he left. Alone now, he was left to his thoughts of what Nagi had told him. "Minya…"


NOTE : All years/ages are extrapolated from Palladium Books' "TMNT & Other Strangeness" sourcebook indicating Oroku Saki is 34 years-old at the time of TMNT Vol. 1, #1 and that the issue itself took place in 1985 (various sources).


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