Ninja Turtles: Transcension

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C H A P T E R
T H R E E


Post-Apocalypse Earth (Dimension X); New York City, December 19TH, 1996 A.G.

Under a mottled yellow sky, the cursed Earth stood still. In the blistering radioactive heat wave that had not relented a degree since the unofficial end of the Third Nuclear War just under a decade ago, a rumbling could be heard emanating from the underground cavernscaverns tunneled decades ago for the weak, now nearly extinct human race to take shelter from the endless falloutbeneath the black, blasted ruin that had once been called New York City.

In the hull of the newly restored steel, dome-shaped behemoth that prowled the caverns on huge, tank-like treads known only as the Technodrome, two figures rounded the corner on its Deck 7. An entire entourage of Rock Soldiers marched close behind, brandishing their plasma caster firearms with a few of the android Foot Soldiers pulling up the rear.

"I knew things would bounce back for us sooner or later, Saki," the talking pink brain spoke from within the stomach cavity of a burly, mannequin-like android body.

"Yes, Krang," the caped figure clad in bladed armor said, unenthused.

Krang cackled, his many jagged teeth gleaming in a twisted smile. "You and I have been through too much these past few months. Foiled by the Turtles again and again... our... troubles with one another... and then Dregg to top it off... and Gargon..." Krang licked his lips and turned to his ever-faithful Rock Soldier military commander, General Traag. "Prepare my soldiers and make preparations for inter-dimensional transit. Earth will see why I am the most feared warlord in Dimension X."

General Traag tipped his helmeted head. "Yes, Lord Krang. Your will be done."

"And the Turtles, too," the Shredder seethed, "donít forget about the Turtles!"

Krang gave a sigh, shaking his membranous mass. "There you go again about the Turtles. Iíve told you time and time again... forget about the Turtleswe have bigger goals, Saki. Bigger goals!"

The Shredder grinned tightly under his mask. "Earthmy Earthwill be ours."

"No, Saki." Krang wouldn’t give him even that small satisfaction. "Mine. But don’t worry... our day has finally come. I don’t intend to spend one more minute than necessary in this forsaken reality I was born in they call ‘Dimension X.’ The Technodrome, ours once more, finally is returning to Earth."

The Shredder sighed. Once, he had thought of nothing else but eventually usurping and overthrowing Krang, taking his place... somehow, over the years these thoughts had become ideas, and these ideas had become lost. Had he become subservient now; lost so much of who he used to be? "Yes, Krang."

"Only this time, Saki, my friend..." Krang cackled, "I promise you, it will be war."

 

Cartoon Earth (Dimension C); New York City, December 19TH, 1996 A.D.

Painful imagery... faces and places seen through a haze ebbing from blackness to red to a twisted version of normal vision. But it couldn’t beit was not reality he was viewing. Some kind of dream, maybe a delirious episode of a sort...

Leonardo’s eyes shot open. Jolting up and stumbling to his feet, he found himself faced with the horrible thing that had awakened him.

"No dream..." he muttered under his breath. "No episode..." He remembered the Shogun; being hit with some kind of energy pulse.

He remembered, but it made no difference. He had been transported to what looked like modern-day Central Park, New York City. Still, it was not his whereabouts that worried him at the moment, not the unexplained absence of his brothers and Renet... it was the six hundred foot dome noisily erupting from the earth, soil, debris, and pavement raining off its white plating and the eye that crowned the great monstrosity.

Leo gasped, backing away from the resulting tremors even as he got his footing.

"What the hell... is this?" he thought aloud.

He received no answer, only the droning of the domed, white superstructure’s engines as its tower-sized treads rolled its mass over the lip of the crevice it had burrowed out of.

"Wha?!" gasped Leonardo. A drill head nine meters in diameter poked out of the ground only a few feet from where he was standing. A whole cylinder-shaped structure revealed itself attached to the drill head.

"Some kind of... underground transport module?"

The craft broke free of the earth and slid aside. A door on its side hissed open and two burly figures stepped outside.

"Hey, Rocksteadylook!" the warthog-like one of the pair said. He pointed a chubby, pink finger at Leonardo. "A toitle!"

"Our lucky day, Bebop." The Rhinoceros-looking one grinned, then began advancing on Leonardo with his companion. "Just one of youse, huh? Oh well. Let’s make toitle soup outta this guy!"

Slowly, menacingly, Leonardo drew a katana with his only hand, a second one telescoping out of the cap on the stump of his left hand. "I don’t think so," he seethed.

Bebop stopped a moment, scratching his purple-mohawked scalp. "That’s funny... I thought the one with da swords wore a blue bandanna..."

"Who cares? Jus’ shaddup’n get’im!"

Leo took a fighting stance. "I will kill you," he warned.

"Pshaw," Rocksteady grunted. "Since when do youse guys kill?" He went for his gun, his arm dropping to his side. Leonardo saw it and lunged to one side, expertly bringing his katana at just the right point. He brought it down over the creature’s wrist as he grabbed a hold of his pseudo alien-like firearm. Rocksteady’s severed hand, gun clenched in it, fell to the ground, the stump at the creature’s right wrist gushing arterial blood. "My... my hand! G-yahhh!" Leo turned on his heels, throwing his weight around with hopefully enough time to deal with...

Too late.

"Lights out, toitle," Bebop spoke from behind the smoking barrel of his own firearm. Leo grasped at the painful scorch mark on the front of his shell. "Nobody hurts my pal Rocksteady and walks away."

Leonardo painfully stirred on the ground, only vaguely remembering falling on his shell.

"Except fer today, toitle. You gets to live to deliver a message to your brothers," Bebop spoke, his gun poised on Leo’s head in case he tried anything. "Tell them we’re waitin’ for’em. Tell’em Shredder’n Krang’s waitin’. C’mon, Rocksteady."

With that, the mutant warthog and maimed rhinoceros left Leo to regain his bearings, clomping off to return to their transport module.

Leonardo’s next memories came in blurred snippets, remembered and reconciled only after he reached what his body had decided was destination. He remembered crawling along the ground above, searching, looking for something... an opening... a

"Sewer..."

Leonardo looked below him at the manhole he had managed to drag himself to, the cover of which pulled off. Painfully, Leo forced himself into the opening, letting himself drop.

Freefalling to the bottom, the darkness embraced him wholly in a muffled thump of a sound.

 

"He’s got your bandanna on, Raph!"

"Like, wake up, dude!"

Leonardo awakened to find himself surrounded by...

"Guys?" Leonardo looked around at the four Turtles, blinking rapidly in disbelief. "But there are four of you... and..."

The lettered belts. The purple, blue, and orange bandannas. Another Leonardo (with both hands) was standing there. Don wasn’t a cyborg. Raph had two good eyes.

Peering around, it was hard to describe... but his surroundings just seemed so... so colorful.

It didn’t take long for all the pieces to click into place. Leonardo remembered the enigmatic, yet somehow so familiar Shogun’s final words. Had he been talking about opening the doors to alternate dimensions? He must have, for that was what Leonardo had to be in.

Raph... Donny... Mike... he worried for his own brothers, wherever they might be. Probably in similar predicaments; hopefully together. More than likely, if Leo could just hang on, Renet would bail him out sooner or later.

That was, if she was in any condition to do so...

Soon the variably bandanna colored and letter belted Turtles took Leonardo to their own sewer lair, where they began comparing notes with him. It began first with introductory matters...

"Your hand..."

Leonardo gave the capped stump of his left hand a solemn glance, then looked to his counterpart. "You like swinging two swords, right? Well, lemme give you a little advice. If you ever run into a mutant monitor lizard named King Komodo... you stay the hell clear, okay?"

The other Leo shrugged. "Gotcha, but I can’t say that we’ve run into him yet."

"If he even exists in this reality." Leonardo grunted. "But... you guys look younger than my brothers and I. What’s the date now?"

"December 19th, 1996."

"í96? Iím six years into the future and in an alternate dimension?"

"Unbelievable..." the purple-bandannaed Don of the dimension gasped in awe.

Next they spoke of the variances in their dimensions, most notably how in Leo’s dimension, Splinter was Splinter, and in the Turtles’ dimension, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi, the man Leo and his own brothers spent their lives being brought up to avenge.

"In my reality, you, Hamato Yoshi, are the master of my own sensei, Splinter," Leonardo said to Splinter, old, but still so much younger than his own master. "My sensei was, in fact, your pet rat that you took from Japan."

The rat twisted a whisker between its fingers. "Interesting... when I lived in the sewers of this city as a man, the rats were my friends... it was from my contact with the rats and the mutagen that I am a mutant rat... I adopted the name Splinter to suit my new appearance." Splinter paused. "I never had any pets when I trained in Japan, however. You may call me Hamato Yoshi if it is less confusing for you."

"Thank you."

"Tell me, Leonardo of another dimension... am I alive in your reality?"

Leonardo wasn’t sure if he’d tell him that, in his reality, a young and vengeful Oroku Saki had killed him and his wife in their apartment. "No," was all he decided to say.

"I see..." He stopped, concerned. "What of Oroku Saki, the Shredder? Did you and your own brothers manage to put his and Krang’s menace down?"

"There is no ‘Krang’ in my reality, but we did put down Oroku Saki." Leo winced at the memories. "Our first encounter, I ran him through with both of my katanas and he blew himself up with a grenade on accident. The second time I cut off his head and burned his body over the harbor." And then the business with his worms reforming as that monster... but no need to go into that, Leonardo thought to himself. It seemed they probably wouldnít know what he was talking about.

"I see."

"But I understand the Krang of this dimension is a continuing threat," Leonardo spoke. The gazes he met of the Turtles told him he was right. "His ‘Technodrome’ has just now arisen in the city."

"Many times we have fought him," the blue-bandannaed Leo said. "We’ve defeated him before, but"

"But you did not kill him," Leonardo cut his counterpart off. "I suspected as much when I fought your ‘Bebop’ and ‘Rocksteady.’ You four do not kill."

"It is against the ninja code," Leo said defensively.

"Then the ‘ninja code’ of this dimension is a sham. The ninja of time’s past were skilled assassins, rogues that were often frowned upon by the locals... to stay your hand again and again at an enemy the magnitude of which I suspect this Krang warlord is... it is ridiculous."

"It’s ridiculous not to murder?" Raph spat.

Leonardo walked up to the Turtle. He saw the same fire in his eyes that he did in his own brother, only different. "Raphael... in my reality, you’d be the first to defend the killing of our enemies. But murder it is not... in honorable combat, death is simply the end result."

"But you’re killi"

"Quiet, my sons," Splinter spoke. "The Leonardo from another dimension is right. You see, I have hidden from you the truth about the way of the ninja... the way of the warrior... bushido... since I started training you."

"What?"

"It’s okay," Leonardo spoke. "I can see why your sensei would do that. I come from a reality where you four were raised by your sensei to one day assassinate the Shredder, the murderer of..." He broke off, coming dangerously close to telling the Splinter/Hamato Yoshi of the dimension what he knew he shouldn’t. "Essentially, we were raised to be killers. You four had no one to avenge... you were not raised differently in the art of ninjitsu, but you were raised differently in the way of the ninja."

"Your words have the ring of truth to them, Leonardo," Splinter spoke, nodding in agreement.

"Before I came to this sewer, the creature called Bebop told me to give you a message: ‘Krang and Shredder are waiting.’" Leonardo started pacing as he spoke. "I know not how I am here, but I will not stand idly by while your enemies destroy the city I lived in my whole life."

"You propose something...?" Splinter asked.

"I do." Leonardo stopped, then swept his gaze over all of the Turtles, settling it on Splinter. He held the old rat’s gaze for several moments before speaking. "For once in your lives... take the battle to your enemies. Take it to them... and vanquish them." Leonardo paused, letting his words sink in. "I will lead you."

 

"Apriiil!"

Running as fast as she could down the hallway of the Channel Six News office with her colleague, Irma, April OíNeil made it to her employerís office. Nearly out of breath, she quickly started to scramble into the door before she realized Mr. Burne Thompson himself was standing right in the middle of the doorway. "April, just what have you been doing, sleeping?"

April fidgeted, unsure what he was talking about. "Um, excuse me...?"

Vernon Fenwick appeared from behind the door, standing next to Burne then. "Oh dear, you didnít hear? Martial Law has been declared in the city, wouldnít you know."

April and Irma exchanged a worried glance.

The guys...

 

National Guard and U.S. Marines from the Light Drop Infantry freely marched forth with their M-14 Assault Rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers upon the streets of the Martial Law-declared New York City. While M-1 tanks rolled forth on their treads and wings of Air Force jet fighter-bombers streaked overhead, a certain van sped by at top speed.

"Bombs away!" Don shouted over the Turtle Com.

As Leonardo watched from the passenger seat of the Turtle Van, four of the bombs beneath the Turtle Blimp’s gondola over half a kilometer into the sky were released in quick succession above the Technodrome. The salvo impacted against the hulking structure hard, tearing through the uppermost regions of the white hull effectively, holes twenty feet in diameter left in its wake.

The Technodrome gave its response, the great eye that crowned it focusing on the Turtle Blimp above it. Three surface-to-air ImRec missiles were fired from its built-in launchers, quickly homing in on their airborne target.

"Don, Mikepunch out!" Leonardo shouted into the Communicator at the two Turtles manning the ungainly blimp. "Punch out!"

The missiles punched through the Turtle Blimp’s mass only seconds later, the floating vessel deflating rapidly and thrown on an erratic descent course. Mike and Don released the gondola module from the blimp’s underside, the sleek craft gliding through the air under the assistance of its twin turbines. Don seemed to be piloting it with evident skill.

A blimp... a van... what else do these Turtles have? Leo wondered to himself. A pizza thrower?

The other Leo jabbed a finger at the Technodrome as they closed within three blocks of it. He pointed out, "It’s going right into the heart of Manhattan..."

"Then that’s where we fight it," he responded decisively. "We will strike hard and fade away... into the night."

As the Turtle Van came into range of the Technodrome, the twin railgun turret atop the van opened up on the dome’s underside and treads. Raph manned the gunnery controls, gleefully continuing to pepper the structure’s hull with automatic firepower. It didn’t take long for the magnetically-guided flechettes to leave their mark...

"Don, now!"

Don and Mike’s gondola swooped down from overhead, gliding forth on a crash course while the two Turtles aboard bailed. As Don and Mike tucked into their shells and somersaulted out their momentum on the sidewalk, the gondola struck the hull of the Technodrome head on.

After picking up the two Turtles, the other Leo put the pedal to the metal, the thick and unpleasant aroma of burning rubber filling Leonardo’s nostrils as the Turtle Van sped towards the smoky point of the gondola’s impact.

"Here we go... hang on!"

Riding up the ramp between the two treads meant for underground transport modules, the Turtle Van smashed inside. Leonardo, his counterpart, Raph. Mike, and Don were thrown about as the van skidded to a halt inside a metallic-walled docking bay.

The Turtles hopped out, drawing their weapons as a squad of purple and black clad Foot Soldiers swarmed in from the adjacent corridors and accessways.

One by one they fell, struck down almost as quickly as they were able to file into the chamber.

"These Foot... they are robots!" Leonardo spoke, kicking the oil-laden, sparking body of a Foot Soldier he had cut down.

"Um... androids, yeah, pretty much," Don confirmed.

"Interesting..."

As they started walking, Mike asked, "When we find Krang and Shredder... you will kill them, won’t you?"

Leonardo ignored the question. "Let’s keep moving."

The image of the Shredder abruptly flickered onto a screen on the wall. The helmeted visage appearing on it rocked back and forth, laughing. "Fools... freaks! The time of your doom is at last at hand! Tonight I dine on Turtle Soup!"

The blue-bandannaed Leo stepped forward. "I don’t think so, Shred Head! This time we’re gon"

Leonardo put a hand on his counterpart’s shoulder, then walked in front of him. "Look at you, Oroku Saki... an underling," Leonardo spoke, stepping up to the screen. "A whining, incompetent underling. The Shredder of my reality was many things I despised, but at least he was independent; at least he was a leader."

"I am the leader! You say these things to... to... taunt me!"

"Yes, Oroku Saki, do your whining. But when we meet face to face, you will find I have no patience for you or your master’s games. You had better kill me, for I will kill you where you stand."

A series of conflicted emotions played out on the Shredder’s face. Finally, the man spat "Bah!" and the screen shut off.

"Come on." Leonardo led the way into the adjacent corridor.

On their way they had to fight through odd one-wheeled robots with taser lines, mousers, more Foot Soldiers, and strange gun-toting Rock Soldiers that could only be rendered unconscious. The persistent enemies stalked them into the elevator platform they came upon, putting them on the defensive throughout their long ascent to the top deck.

There was something different about the way the other Turtles worked, Leonardo noticed as he watched them fight. A togetherness... a silent bond even stronger than the one he felt between he and his brothers.

Finally they reached the main chamber. The purple-caped Shredder, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, and a rock-comprised man even more burly than the Rock Soldiers the Turtles had run into on the way up. He stood in the center, an army-esque helmet on his rocky head, and holding a futuristic rifle militarily against his chest.

"There you are, my Turtle friends," the brain-like Krang cackled from within his android body. To Leonardo he looked not a whole lot unlike a TCRI Utrom inside one of their exoskeletons. "General Traag... you know what to do."

"Yessir." General Traag, the burly Rock Soldier, saluted Krang, then promptly charged the Turtles.

"You guys handle Bebop and Rocksteady... I’ve got the General," Leonardo instructed. He sheathed his katana for the moment, knowing from fighting the Rock Soldiers that it would do no good against Traag.

"You got it," the other Leo replied, drawing his own twin katana.

Leonardo began circling his opponent, sizing him up even as Traag did the same.

Traag winced as his plasma caster was smacked out of his grasp by a fierce roundhouse from Leonardo. "Eh?" Anger gleamed in his eye as he reached out to strangle Leonardo. "You’re gonna pay fer that!"

Leonardo caught the airborne plasma caster. "Maybe in the next life, General."

The stock against his shoulder as he wrestled with the General, Leonardo jammed the barrel of the plasma caster under Traag’s chin and pulled the trigger. Rock fragments and debris sprayed across the other side of the chamber as the disembodied corpse buckled over with a loud, reverberating noise.

Leonardo threw Traag’s plasma caster aside, drew his katana again, and stood away. He found the other Turtles to be done with Bebop and Rocksteady.

"Blast it!" Krang shrieked, the thick arms of his android body flailing wildly. "Kill them, Saki! Saki, you fool, do something!"

"Yes, Krno..." Shredder rasped, wincing. He looked slowly to the five Turtles, then repeated himself more decisively to the talking brain, "No."

"What did you say, Saki?"

"I said no." He began walking toward his master, taking long, meaningful strides.

"I know weíve had a... difficult past... havenít always seen eye-to-eye... this isnít about Lotus, is it? Nuh-no... okay... but..." Krang tried to back away, finding the wall. "S-Saki, whuh-what are doing...?"

"Something I should have done a long time ago." In one broad swipe of his arm across the midsection of his master’s android body, Shredder cleaved the horrified Krang messily in half, blood and pink matter spattering across his steel mask and helmet.

His task done, the Shredder stepped back, surveying his gruesome handiwork. With a pause, he turned to the one-handed Leonardo. "I became my own Master the day I betrayed your Hamato Yoshi and took over the Foot Clan. Ever since New York and Krang... I couldnít say that anymore. For the first time in much of my life... I am my own master again..."

Bebop and Rocksteady crawled to the Shredder, their firearms trained on the Turtles.

"Masta Shredda... you okay?" Rocksteady asked.

"I am fine, Rocksteady," Shredder answered. His voice was even, something of a serenity to it.

"Are you still our enemy, Oroku Saki?" the other Leo inquired. The other Turtles seemed to be wondering the same thing.

Shredder thought about that for a moment, not making a sound before returning with, "After everything we have been through I... I should think so, but today I think not. Years ago I betrayed your sensei in Japan... I will make my amends now. The Foot Clan here will die with me, I will see to it." He turned away from the corpse of Krang, just having made his first independent decision since before he could remember. Blood and pink matter still dripped from his gleaming blades. "Krang had a failsafe hardwired into the Technodrome. When his life signs cease, a self-destruct mechanism initiates. You Turtles have five minutes to get out of here."

Leonardo furrowed his brow in concern. "What about you?"

Shredder smiled beneath his mask. "Don’t worry about me. Leonardo... wherever you came from, I thank you. You opened my eyes... and set me free."

"Shouldn’t weese get outta here, boss?" Bebop asked.

He looked to his two henchmen. "Bebop... Rocksteady... my loyal servants to the end. I release you both from my service."

"Aren’t you comin’ too, boss?" Rocksteady asked.

Shredder turned away from them. "You two had better get movingyou Turtles, too."

Leonardo held the Shredder’s gaze for a long moment, tipped his head, then led the Turtles back the way they came, Bebop and Rocksteady going another way.

 

Speeding away from the Technodrome in the now-battered Turtle Van, the Turtles made their escape with only seconds to spare.

Behind them, the Technodrome went up in a chain reaction of white hot exploding gases and liquid hydrogen, the family of conduits and pipelines running throughout its superstructure consigning the entire mobile dome to an explosive release not unlike a small-yield tactical nuclear detonation. The van shook after the initial thunderclap, shuddering as the blast wave passed over them. Debris and shrapnel drummed against the van’s rear and across its roof, some of it punching holes in its sides.

Three blocks away, they were safe. And victorious.

"Your methods, Leonardo... I don’t agree with them, but... but you’re a good leader." The other Leo looked away from his driving for a moment, extending a hand.

Leonardo clasped it and shook. "And you are, too, I’m sure. This dimension is a little bit wily... wacky, even. That you and your own brothers have managed to endure everything your enemies have thrown at you and still endure thus far only speaks highly of your ability to lead your brothers out of danger."

"Thank you."

"Krang, Traag... Shredder... they’re all dead," Don rasped. "Dead with that Technodrome. Since Dregg’s gone, it’s like our whole rogues gallery has been cleaned out..."

"There’s more to life than just fighting our enemies, Donatello," Leonardo spoke. "But in my reality... enemies new and old had a funny way of finding us whether we liked it or not."

"Well, that looks like a cowabunga-acious wrap, bros," Mike chimed. "Turtle power?"

The four Turtles aside from Leonardo brought a hand together. "Turtle power!"

Leonardo shook his head, repressing a small, wry grin.

 

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