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Evil draws men together."

- Aristotle


Earth (Dimension A); New York City, NY, May 30TH, 1972 A.D.

Null appeared, to a transdimensional flashing of light, into in one of Manhattan’s dankest back alleys. It was not, however, just any alley nor just any time.

"1972..." Stepping out of the alley and onto the sidewalk, he took a deep breath of the pungent New York morning air. "Ah yes, a good year..." Null made a coughing sound, wrinkling his nose a bit, "but perhaps not a fine year!" Straightening his black sports jacket with a quick tug, he proceeded to cross the street. Cars screeched to a halt mere feet away from him as he casually made his way across.

"Yo, asshole, get outta the road!" a disgruntled taxi cab driver shouted at Null with a thick Jersey accent. "Yeah, you bald weirdo, I’m talkin’ to you!"

Null shook his head and gave a wistful sigh. Not even regarding the driver with a look of acknowledgement, he snapped his finger... and the taxi cab instantly burst into flames, glass and debris thrown about as the vehicle leapt nearly five feet into the air as its gas tank was ruptured. "Everyone’s a critic..."

A normal enough pet shop was located directly across the street. Taking his time, Null walked up to the door, threw it open, and sauntered into the store.

An assortment of caged and aquariumed pets and pet care products and toys littered the walls of the relatively small shop. Kittens, puppies, and fish seemed to be the main commodity... with a couple terrariums worth of reptiles on display subtly near the back.

A middle-aged lady was near the fish tanks, currently dispensing some fish food to each one. A mildly obese middle-aged man, probably her boss, attended the counter, twisting a corner of his scraggly beard as he watched Null enter his store. "Can I help ya, mister?" he asked.

Null gave a short laugh. He took brisk, methodical paces toward the counter, a pause between each one. "Oh, absolutely... I believe you can be of the utmost help to me today." He was now in the man’s face. "You see... I have this problem..."

"Tell me about it, mister."

"You see... I heard a rumor that the turtles you sell in your pet shop—now this is just a rumor—these turtles... they have a tendency to mutate into these... man-like abominations."

The bearded man started twisting his beard faster. His employee started shooting nervous glances at Null, more and more wary of this strange new customer. "Yeah? I hear lotsa weird shit, too... what’s a guy to do?"

"Well, sir, if you’re asking me..." Null smiled wickedly, "... he can die!" Lunging over the counter, in one violent motion Null punched a clenched fist through the man’s stomach. Leaving it there, just a moment as he held the man’s dying gaze, he pulled it back out and let the man collapse over the counter. Flicking his wrist in a disgusted manner, the blood and gore coating Null’s fist and sleeve magically vanished.

The man’s employee dropped her bag of fish food, gave a bone-numbing shriek, and ran out the door as Null only chuckled.

"You know... I didn’t really need to come here," Null spoke. "Everything I need to accomplish I could just as easily do from the End of Time... but I thought this a much more poignant solution, I hope you agree." Staring about the store, his gaze locked onto a terrarium containing four baby turtles. He held his gaze there, and with every passing moment the hate welled and grew within him. "I hate you, Turtles..." Null spoke, his voice different now, lower, no trace of his usual cockiness, "... so much you have robbed from me." His eyes flashed ominously, his pupils becoming glowing red embers of hatred. "Now I will rob from you, Turtles... I will rob from you your very existence! Burn!"

His eyes now fiery red, Null raised both arms into the air and then back down again. To that, plumes of fire sprouted from almost random locations within the pet shop. Papers, bags, and the walls themselves quickly caught on fire, the fire itself quickly growing to a blaze.

The entire store on fire around his feet, Null laughed thunderously. Savoring the spectacle for a moment, he turned and exited out the front door. "Ta-ta for now, Turtles..."

"You stop right there, motherfucker!" a familiar voice came.

Null turned his gaze to see the four Ninja Turtles with a strange salamander-like female and Renet. Wisps of energy freshly crackled off of their bodies, the six of them apparently just having arrived. They had all assumed battle stances, ready to engage Null at a moment’s notice... but something was clearly the matter. Their postures were wavering, pain playing out across their faces... time was catching up with them already, same as it had before they had stopped Null from killing Peter Laird.

There would be no stopping it this time.

"Game’s up, Null!" Renet shouted. "End this, now!"

"A day late, Turtles," Null said, harrumphing, "and a buck short!" Snapping his finger, Null was vanished back into the transdimensional timestream.

Null gone, the Turtles, Mona Lisa, and Renet began receiving stares, shouts, and jeers from the morning New York City bustle. Exchanging a glance, they looked to the burning pet shop—beyond the point of salvation now—and knew what that meant.

Leonardo sighed. "We have failed..."

Raphael gritted his teeth, pushing back the pain coming from his chest. "That rat bastard son of a bitch..."

"All we can hope now is that... fate... allows us enough time... for our vengeance... before we fade away." Leonardo turned solemnly to Renet. "Will you take us to him one last time, Renet?"

Without a word, Renet gave a solemn nod and, with a wave of her Sacred Sands of Time Sceptre, they were off.

After they were gone a young boy, perhaps no older than fifteen, and his father stood on the corner, watching the flames rip through the pet store. The boy began to cry to his father, "Y-you promised me, Dad... you promised! I’ll never get those turtles now..."

The spectacled man held his son, patting him on the head. "I know, Chet, and I’m sorry..." The man sighed in sorrow. "Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be..."


The End of Time (Dimension <Null>); July 25TH, 3689 A.D.

Dropping from the transdimensional vortex Renet had created for them, the Turtles—Mona Lisa was gone now, replaced again by Venus—fell to their knees as they arrived at the End of Time. The pain was nearly insurmountable now, wracking their bodies to a degree such that they could barely even move.

Renet looked at the Turtles and paused. She hadn’t much chronal energy left either in herself or her Sceptre—in fact she might be lucky if she even had enough to get home herself—but she felt she had no choice but to expend a bit of it now.

"Here, you guys..." she spoke, beginning to wave her Sceptre at the five of them. Blue tendrils of energies seemed to waft from the Sceptre to coalesce around their bodies, stagnating for a moment before vanishing without a trace. The Turtles looked about, startled, but apparently no longer in nearly as much pain. "It’s a null-time field... I-I’ve just bought you guys some time."

Leonardo rose to his feet, nodding at Renet. "Thank you, Renet. I hope it is enough."

Deposited nearly at the summit of the now-familiar Mount Vesuvius—same location as their fateful final confrontation with the Shogun—they began to stealthily make their way up its craggy surface to the very top, crawling on all fours at some points.

When at last they reached the top, they found Null waiting for them on the dais, sitting expectantly on an invisible chair with his legs crossed. Seeing the first Turtle climb over the edge he gave a grunt, took one last puff of his cigar, and stubbed it out on his open hand. "You Turtles took your time," he remarked flippantly. "There’s no need to try and sneak your way up... I was fully aware Renet would pull one of her cheats and give you another respite. It will be the last. Nevertheless, I know you are all on borrowed time and I know you’re probably all just dying to get this show on the road—and I promise you it won’t be boring... so, shall we?" Null stood, brushing off his business attire. He waved to the Turtles and Renet as they all gathered at the top. "Come at me... I’m ready!"

His blade releasing itself from his stump cap, Leonardo raised his katana to the red sky above. "Get him!"

To that command, the five Turtles rushed forward across the rocky summit to meet their nemesis on equal ground. As they grew close, Null sprouted his bat wings, took a step back, and crossed his arms. Without further warning he abruptly split into five beings, about two meters between each one.

"Let’s be sporting, shall we?" all five of the Nulls spoke in unison, almost as a choir. At once, all five of them raised their fists up high and thick, black spikes protruded from their hands near the knuckles.

The Turtles met the Nulls head-on, the enemy parrying the Turtles’ weapons’ blows with their knuckle spikes, exchanging blows of their own as well. The only sounds that could be heard on the mountaintop being the grunting of the Turtles and their opponents and the clash of their weapons, the battle raged on for several minutes, neither side gaining a clear advantage.

"Enough!" all five Nulls shouted. Abruptly, the Turtles’ now found themselves striking against a blue-white force field that they could not penetrate.

The Nulls floated back a few feet, then converged back into one being. Brushing off his now-slightly soiled sports jacket, Null flashed a look of anger at the Turtles—there was no pretense now.

"You really want to play?" Null thundered. "Oh, how quaint. I’ve got some old playmates of yours that can’t wait to make your acquaintance!" He drew back a couple of paces, waving both hands in front of him as he beckoned aloud, "SuperShredder! Tokka! Rahzar! Bellybomb! Bloodsucker! Bebop! Rocksteady! Come to me now, your enemy awaits you! Malignoids, join me!"

To the Turtles’ horror, dozens upon dozens of helmeted, insectoid creatures materialized from nothing and began to storm toward them, followed quickly by the beings Null had just mentioned, the collective lot of them raining down on the Turtles as a unified army. The eyes of these enemies were blank, vapid, perhaps suggesting they were mere shadows of the beings they actually represented. As the ensuing battle proved, however, they were shadows with substance and they were firmly under the manipulation of Null.

As Renet looked on through teary eyes, the ill-prepared Turtles were getting pummeled and beaten down by the converging gauntlet of villains, and badly. It would only be a matter of time. Brandishing her Sceptre as a weapon, Renet prepared to join the grim battle to help her friends when a hand suddenly clapping down on her shoulder stopped her.

A purple-skinned woman with long, curled, brownish hair, and metallic jewelry about her body was standing behind her. "My name is Cherubae... and I’m here to help. Maybe even the odds."

Renet winced apprehensively at the stranger that had appeared out of seemingly nowhere. "H-how can you help?"

Cherubae smiled. "For starters... I know seven beings, slain before their time, who have waited a long time for retribution..." Wasting no time, with a wave of her hand six shimmering beings—a tiny seventh riding atop one of the beings—slowly materialized around the Turtles. "Mondo Gecko! Man Ray! Leatherhead! Jagwar! Dreadmon! Wingnut! Screwloose! Your time is here—your vengeance is now!"

Needing nothing further to know than that, the seven shimmering, semi-transparent beings joined the fighting beside the five gracious Turtles, quickly tearing into the gathered forces of Null’s summoning.

"Mutanimals?" Null shouted from high on his dais. "Mutanimals?! I had my men kill you... all of you! What kind of trickery is this?"

The tiny Screwloose grinned happily. He poked the creature he rode, a bat-like creature with metal wings named Wingnut. "Another rock, boss?" Screwloose asked. As Wingnut nodded, the tiny creature handed him a large rock over his shoulder. As he leapt a few feet into the air, above the reach of the force field, Wingnut heaved the projectile all the way up to Null, whom it struck firmly on the forehead.

Null stumbled backwards from where he observed the battle, waving a fist in a menacing manner at the two Mutanimals.

The battle was won in several individual confrontations. Leonardo maneuvered past the defenses of the massive SuperShredder and drove his katana and arm-blade firmly into the chest of his quarry; Raphael ripped through two of the Malignoids with his sai, eagerly diving into the next batch; Michaelangelo fought toe-to-toe with the mutated snapping turtle Tokka, finally jumping on his back and strangling the oversized mutant with his nunchuks; Donatello, having little luck fighting the wolf-like Rahzar, broke his bo-staff in half over his own knee and, just as Rahzar hoisted Donatello up in the air, he drove one sharp, broken end of his bo into the creature’s exposed neck; Venus held Bellybomb’s attention, already having blinded him with her kai mi balls; Leatherhead tangled with Bloodsucker, ripping chunks of the mutant leech with his bare teeth; Man Ray and Mondo Gecko tangled with Bebop and Rocksteady, Man Ray overwhelming Bebop as he wrestled him to the ground and Mondo cracking Rocksteady over the face with his skateboard; Jagwar, Dreadmon, and Wingnut held the attention of the remaining Malignoids, seemingly fighting a never-ending battle as they tore through the insectoid horde three at a time.

"Blast it! Enough of this charade—enough!" Null shoved both of his arms forward.

As if an invisible wall had just been shoved forward with the force of a Mack Truck, the Turtles and their ghostly Mutanimal companions were thrown back several meters as abruptly as they were violently. At the same time, what was left of the villains he had summoned vanished. "You..." Null seethed, jabbing a finger at the fallen Leonardo as he walked down from his dais, "... you are the one I want."

Taking slow, measured steps to the Turtle, Null gave Leonardo a kick in the side. "Get up—get up, you freak. Let’s go."

Snarling at Null, Leo helped himself up with his own sword. "You want me... alone?"

"You heard me," the winged man spoke. "You’re the one I want. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done."

As some of the phantom-like Mutanimals had regained their composure, Raphael got to his feet and began to lead a subtle charge toward Null from the side.

"No interference, I’m afraid!" Null roared. "Though I will give you my sincerest assurances I’ll be happy to join you just as soon as I’m done with this freak." The Turtles were blown back once again, this time as a gigantic dome-like force field was erected around the center of the dais at the mountain’s summit, about fifteen meters by fifteen meters in its circumference.

Only Leonardo and Null were within the field; there was no hiding now, not for either of them.

Null grinned sardonically. "How I have waited and longed for this moment... you know, you and your friends were quite right. It is so much more fitting that we end it like this, rather than just by my tinkerings in your humble beginnings and erasing you. Yes, I think I’m going to have some real satisfaction when I’m standing over your dead body, yes indeed..."

Leonardo spit some blood near Null’s shoes. "Don’t count on it."

Null continued to pace, his gaze fixated on his hated enemy. "So how would you have me now... as I am, business formal..." Null waved a hand up and down over his sports jacket and tie, "... or would you have me dress for the occasion... perhaps in the guise of one of your own rogues galleries..." Light began to glimmer over the outline of Null’s clothing and body.

Leo narrowed his eyes. "What are you doing..."

The light dispersed. Null now stood, about a foot taller, his bat-like wings seemingly increasing in their wingspan, and he was now dressed in the full bladed regalia of Oroku Saki "The Shredder," save for just the helmet.

"Better?" Null boomed, smiling broader than before as he gazed quickly over his handiwork. "I do like it... and all the better to end your insufferable existence."

Leonardo shook his head. "This... this hatred of yours toward us Turtles—towards me—the lengths you’ve gone to," he spoke. "This goes way beyond just you wanting revenge for our Dimension D selves thwarting your plans there."

"You’re quite right." Null narrowed his glowing red eyes to slits again. "Oh, you really don’t know, do you?" He released a gravelly hoarse laugh before locking eyes with Leonardo once again. "I’ll just go ahead and make it easy on you." He gave a sigh. "It may be hard for you to imagine, but I was once a very ordinary enough boy a long time ago in Reality. I had such a promising life ahead of me—or so I was told—and the sky was the limit. I remember, ironically, I was such a fan of something called the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles..."

Leonardo’s eyes widened with the shock of his sudden realization. The resemblance, the voice, deeper though it was—there could be no doubt. "My god... you’re Leon!"

Null just gave him his trademark smile. "In the flesh... or something pretty close to it, at least."

"But your power, Leon... you couldn’t have..."

Null’s eyes flashed with even more devilishly red luminescence. "Let us just say... Maligna was not the first supreme... creature... I’d made a deal with in my lifetime." He paused as he continued his pacing. "I grew up in Reality hating you Turtles, you most especially. I burned all of my blasted Ninja Turtle possessions, my parents’ house right along with them. I lived a life aloof... until I fell in with what you might call a Satanic Cult. I bled for them, I killed for them... in the end I sold my soul to become a true demon... to have true power." Null’s eyes flashed again and he jabbed a finger at Leo. "You made me! When I grew tired of my life on Earth, I began exploring other dimensions... I made my home in Dimension D, secure in my place as a businessman... for a time."

"Not long enough. Not by a longshot."

Null rolled his eyes. "Maybe you’ve read of my adventures during your time in Reality, though I must admit Mr. Dean Clarrain really only captured my bad side... you know what I mean?" He gave a short laugh. "When the Mutanimals came in the way of my plans, they were dealt with. Later, your Shogun came to me." Null smiled as Leo’s own anger began to noticeably rise. "That’s right, your older self came to visit me in Dimension D. He told me his plan to terminate all of your dimensions, to create a new Reality. He threatened to kill me if I didn’t give him the power he sought to do so... but I gave it to him quite willingly—he would be doing me a favor. With this knowledge, I escaped Dimension D to finish what that foolish Shogun failed to do... terminate you and your wretched kind!"

Leonardo took a deep breath, shoving his anger aside. Sheathing his katana for the moment, he held an open hand to Null. "Leon... if that’s really you, you have to believe me... I didn’t mean to rob you of those years... I didn’t mean to use you like that." He shook his head. "After we killed the Shogun I was thrown into your body—I don’t know why. Leon, I—"

"That name means nothing to me!" Null roared. "I am Null now, the man who will be the one to finally end your miserable existence!" With that, the demonic man lunged at Leonardo with his wrist blades, raking him across the shoulder and plastron.

The Turtle stumbled back, clutching at his bleeding shoulder as he again drew his katana. "All right, all right," Leonardo nearly spat. "I’m through playing with you. You win... let’s do this."

"By all means, let’s."

"You get that shithead, Leo!" Raphael cheered from outside the force field.

"And Leon looked like such a sweet kid..." Donatello piped as well.

Leonardo clashed with Null, the winged man that now wore the guise of the Shredder parrying the Turtle’s swings and thrusts with his bladed armor as he made thrusts of his own with his sword, a ninjato he had drawn from his side.

Null parried and blocked everything Leo threw at him, riposting with his ninjato. Leo grunted as Null’s blade sliced through his forearm, vaulting out of the way before any further countermove came.

"Do you not see it is hopeless?" Null boomed at Leonardo. "Do you not see I am stronger than you, quicker than you... better than you?"

"Never that..."

Leonardo delved back into the battle, swinging high with his katana while feigning to go low with his arm-blade... and coming around to make another high swing with his sword. While his opponent went low to block, the Turtle was already through the demon’s defenses—his blade struck true, missing the demon’s neck but cutting cleanly through his left wing nearly at the base. The wing fell to the ground, fluttering.

"Damn you, Leonardo!" Null shouted, holding at the bloodied stump of his maimed wing. "You will pay for that with your blood!"

"I don’t think so, Leon," the Turtle calmly spoke. "Not today."

Null was shaking with anger now. "Don’t call me that! That is not my name!"

The two stared each other down, about ten meters between the two of them. Each giving a respective grunt, it seemed clear their mutual, unspoken intent—they would make a run at one another... and one of them would be dying by the sword.

Leonardo broke first, running as fast as he could, dashing toward Null with everything he had. Passing the threshold, he leapt, his blade held firmly in place and his teeth gritted.

Null ran with inhuman speed, a cocksure grin etched on his face as he leapt at the same time as Leonardo, his ninjato poised as well. For what seemed like an eternity but was in fact only an instant, the two met each other in mid-flight.

When Leonardo landed, he was in one piece. When Null landed... he wasn’t.

The Turtle closed his eyes, exhaled. His work was finished.

"Leonardo!" Raphael whooped from afar, raising a sai victoriously. "You got’im! Fuckface wants to be like Shredder he can go and die like him, too!"

"Way to go, bro!" Michaelangelo piped.

As the force field wavered and soon fell, in the moments that next passed the ghost-like Mutanimals made their way slowly to Leonardo’s side. They stared down long and hard at the decapitated remains of Null. "Thank you, Leonardo," Man Ray offered at last, patting the Turtle on the shoulder.

With those parting three words from Man Ray, the seven Mutanimals disappeared.

"At last they can rest," Cherubae spoke with a smile, approaching Leonardo. "And now it is time for you and your brothers to return home... take advantage of every moment you guys have left."

Leonardo nodded weakly. "I would like to say goodbye... to our sensei."

Donatello grimaced. "We can’t possibly have much longer left, not if we’ve burned to death as baby turtles in 1972. Thanks to Null."

"I hate parting gifts," Raphael seethed.

Renet appeared from behind Cherubae. The look on her face didn’t seem promising. "There’s a problem..." She shook the Sacred Sands of Time Sceptre in front of her futilely. "I’m all out of juice. The chronal energies I had... they’re all gone. I used the last of it to buy you some more time and—"

"Greetings, Turtles!" came a loud, booming, almost cartoon-like voice. Hovering above them appeared was a gigantic disembodied floating cow head, a round metal stump at the base of its neck where its body should have been. "Somebody in need of an interdimensional ride...?"

"His name is Cudley Cowlick." Cherubae smiled meagerly at the Turtles, then nodded at Renet. "I saw this poor girl over here wasn’t doing so good on energy so I took the liberty of calling you guys a lift. Hope you don’t mind."

Mike seemed taken aback by the gigantic cow head, a mixture of astonishment and excitement playing out on his facial features. "Whoa... all right!"

Cudley smiled down at the Turtle. "Hello, Michaelangelo."

"Gah! It knows my name!"

"Of course I do, Michaelangelo." Cudley’s eyes widened, his eyelids fluttering. "Elsetime."

Cherubae regarded all the Turtles with a quick, advisory glance. "Don’t worry, you guys... he won’t bite."

"Maybe you can explain to me..." Leonardo grunted at Cudley, "... just how are we supposed to trave..."

All of a sudden he had his answer before he could even finish the question. Cudley floated down to the ground, closed his eyes, opened his giant mouth and extended his tongue to the ground like a loading ramp.

Raphael cringed. "Oh, hell no... you have got to be shitting me..."

Renet looked at Cherubae and shrugged, leading the way into Cudley’s mouth. She beckoned back to the Turtles from halfway onto his tongue, "All aboard, guys! It’s the Cudley express!"

It was time to go home one last time.