|Earth (Dimension A); Northampton, MA, December 12TH, 2159 A.D.|
“This way, my brothers... stay with me..."
In single-file, the four elderly Ninja Turtles made their way through the forests of Northampton’s snowy hills. Refusing any aid of hovercar, guide, or other assistance, they had been trekking across the snow-laden landscape for the better part of two days. They were seemingly no closer to their destination than when they had first started out.
"You old fool!" Raphael cackled at who looked to be Leonardo, his hoarse old voice almost inaudible. The outburst nearly caused him to double over in pain, but he did so regardless. "You’ve led us astray! I’ve had it!"
Leonardo coughed to clear his throat, then shot a wizened gaze at his angry brother. "Almost two hundred years, Brother... do you still not trust me, my leadership?"
The elderly Raphael held his brother’s gaze for a few uncomfortable moments. He soon relented. "I do, Brother. Lead us."
They continued on their path, into the underbrush. At one point Donatello lost his footing as he crossed a large root. Both Michaelangelo and Raphael darted as best they could to catch him mid-fall, but they were a moment too late. Their brother fell headlong into the snow-covered ground.
Donatello waved away his brothers’ help, his old legs shaking as he stood back to his feet. It had been an old affliction, one that had plagued him most of the past two decades. "I’m all right, brothers... please, let us keep moving..."
As they continued to follow Leonardo in clomping through the snow-covered thick brush and forestry—though somewhat diminished in the year 2159, was still more than prevalent enough for one to get lost in—the four Turtles’ thoughts began to drift elsewhere.
It had been two days ago to the hour when they had first set off into the cold winter wilderness of Northampton. Almost a week previous, all at once, the Turtles had grown ill in their homes. Doctors and modern twenty-second century medicine, even nanotechnology, could do nothing... the best human and Utrom physicians in the world—and the Sol System at large—had given the Turtles a week, two tops, to sort out their affairs. Their disease, blood-borne, was found to be incurable.
At one hundred and eighty-seven years old, the Turtles were dying.
"I-I’m cold, Leo..." Mike spoke to his brother from behind, shivering.
"We are almost there, my brother... I can feel it in my bones." Leonardo would lead his brothers this one last time, and they were so close to their destination.
Donatello had been the one to suggest it, Leonardo the one to gather the rest. It had seemed so obvious, so clear of a choice. In 1989, at the peak of their youth, they had inadvertently wandered into the Hall of Lost Legends, been told they were "early" and after a short adventure were sent back on their way.
So many years, decades spent cheating death, there would be no running from it this time. This was not an enemy they fought now, but rather time itself. All four brothers had come to the same realization: they could die in their beds... or take their rightful place in the Hall of Lost Legends.
In the year 2159, their lives and journeys nearly at an end, the Turtles felt their time was finally right... but time was running out.
They came to a stop as twinkling gossamer filled the air as will-o’-the-wisps, energies coursing through the air around them to set twenty meters in front of where they then stood in awe.
"It’s here! It really is!"
"It is just as I remember it..."
A grand, majestic castle-like structure materialized before the four brothers, its regal brick walls and buttresses extending almost indefinitely in either direction and a gigantic tower-like structure sprouting from the center up into the sky as far as their eyes could see.
A massive double-door creaked open in front of the Turtles. An all too familiar doorman was there waiting, quite eager to greet them.
"Ah," the ever-youthful Locke—not Loki this time, they felt certain—spoke as they stood before him, "you four are right on time. Come in, come in!" Locke smiled joyously at each of them. "Welcome to the Hall of Lost Legends, gentlemen!"
The Turtles exchanged a heavy sigh and fond glance with one another as they entered.
"It’s been a hell of a run," Michaelangelo spoke softly.
The four elderly brothers nodded in agreement, the double-doors closing shut behind them.
F I N