Raphael was like a steamroller when he got angry. Frustration built and built inside him till it had to escape to somewhere. Inevitably things got broken. This time it was the table. Michelangelo stared down at the table, now just so many matchwood shards. "Thanks a lot, Raph, now we get to eat our pizza off the floor."
Raphael was unrepentant. "I'm going nuts. We've been down here forever."
Leonardo looked up from the book he was reading. "Three days is not forever," he said mildly.
"Well it feels like forever." Raphael thumped Michelangelo on the shell. "How about a little workout, Mikey?"
Michelangelo pushed him away. There was stir crazy and then there was just plain crazy. "C'mon, buddy, we did that already today. Enough is enough. Besides, it's new comics day and I've got some serious reading to do."
Raphael turned hopefully to Leonardo.
"This is a good chance for you to settle down to some meditation, Raphael." Leonardo said, not even looking up from his book. "You could really benefit from it."
Raphael sent the book flying across the room. "I'm gonna meditate you in a minute! What I reallyneed, right now, is some action, and getting out of this rotten hole in the ground."
"Go see a movie, Raph," suggested Donatello, retrieving the book.
"Oh, great. So instead of sitting around in the sewer, I can sit around in the dark with a bunch of dumb humans." He tossed up his hands in disgust, then turned hopefully to Donatello. "Wanna go skateboarding, Donny?"
Donatello indicated the gutted modem on his workbench. "Sorry, Raph, I want to get this thing working properly. Once I do, we can surf the web." There was a joyful bellow from Michelangelo when he heard this.
"I'm gonna go totally nuts," roared Raphael smashing the remaining intact leg of the broken table. Splinter, sitting quietly in a corner opened one eye and beckoned Raphael over to him. Reluctantly Raphael dropped the table leg onto the floor and went to stand before his Sensei.
"Leonardo was right."
"I knew you'd say that."
"Meditation would help, my son, you need to learn to calm yourself. Such discipline can sometimes mean the difference between life and death." Raphael hung his head. Of course he knew Splinter was right, but it was hard for him to admit and his anger didn't help. The old rat gently patted his arm. "I know how difficult it is for you, Raphael, but I also know that you can achieve this peace of mind. You have done it before."
"Yeah but he was asleep that day," goaded Donatello.
Raphael swung around, ready to take him on. Splinter hissed, one paw slightly raised, a twitch of his tail. It was enough. Raphael knew not to ignore the warning. The rat gazed at him for long minutes before he spoke again. "I think it may be time for you to go and see how your friend Galatea is faring."
"Galatea?" Raphael was embarrassed. He shrugged and turned, hoping his brothers wouldn't see his discomfort. "Uh, I dunno. She wouldn't want to see me. She's probably busy teaching people how to de-oil seagulls and give the kiss of life to otters caught in drift nets."
"I hear she gives the kiss of life to turtles too," said Donatello.
This was too much for Raphael, and way too close to the truth. He leapt at Donatello but was floored and suddenly blinded. Leonardo sat on top of him, pulling a hat down over his eyes and draping a long overcoat onto his shell. Raphael threw his brother off and struggled to his feet. Leonardo put both hands in the middle of Raphael's back and pushed him towards the door. "Go. Please."
It was night when Raphael left the sewer pipe on the beach and walked along the sand towards Galatea's tumbledown shack. Behind the decrepit little house he could she the garden, and something moving about there. Raphael stilled and merged into the shadows. As he crept closer he saw that the figure in the garden was only Galatea herself, for some reason doing a little nocturnal gardening. "Galatea." He said quietly.
She jumped nervously, staring fearfully at the hulking figure in the trenchcoat. Yyes...?"
Raphael realised his mistake and as he took the hat off he leaned into the light. "It's me!"
"Raphael!" she cried joyfully, throwing her arms about him.
Raphael tolerated the hug beninly. "Uh...yeah."
"Well, it's so good to see you! Gollymalus! It's been...months." She held both his hands and gazed happily at him.
"What were you doing?" he said, staring into the gloom of the garden. "Talking to the unicorns?"
"Nah, wrong time of the moon. In populated areas they only come out under the new moon. It's darker then, less chance of being spotted."
"Sure." She seemed so sincere, it was easy to believe her nonsense. He let her drag him along the path towards the house.
"I was actually picking some herbs for a pizza. Come in and share with me."
"I thought your place would be overrun with people wanting to learn how to rescue stranded marine creatures."
"Well, it was, for a while, then the ones that weren't really dedicated disappeared, and the ones that were have gone off to find their own place on this big, wide coastline of ours. There's only so much I can teach." She pushed the door of the house open and led him into the lamplight. "You know, I'm picking up a lot of negative vibes here." She squeezed his hands one more time before letting go. "I think you're really badly stressed out. Where are your buddies tonight?"
"They threw me out."
"That doesn't sound like them."
"I was..." he shrugged sheepishly, "going a little stir crazy."
"What? Tired of the sewers? Never mind, a change of scenery always helps." She plucked at the overcoat. "If you take that horrible thing off I can probably untie a few of those knots in your neck." She ferreted about among the treasures on her shelves and came up with aromatic oils and massage oil.
"I don't have knots in my neck," he protested feebly, nevertheless letting her take the coat, which she hung up carelessly on the floor.
"Figure of speech, Raph. What I mean is, you have a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders, here... and here..." She jabbed him under the shell, kneading away at the knotted muscles.
"Sorry. Just try and relax, that would make it easier. The problem is, when you lock away a lot of anger like that, well, you have to build a pretty tough room to keep it in, and knocking the walls down can sometimes hurt. Here...lie down." She arranged him on the bed, arms out, head to one side. "Oh, that's good," she muttered almost dislocating a finger on his unresisting flesh. "Talk about wound up. I've seen watch springs that were more relaxed."
" I don't wanna lie down. I'm not tired."
"Of course not. And I don't want you to go to sleep. For one thing, you won't be able to help me get the pizza ready, and there's something else I want to do with you."
Having distracted him sufficiently with the magic word pizza she was able to get him to remain horizontal and make some impression with the massage.
"Oh yeah. Do what?"
"Well, you know, I felt really honoured, you know, to meet you and your friends, and there's something I want to do in return. Something kind of personal I'd like to share with you."
She finally lulled him into a state of relaxation. His jaws weren't locked together and he even shut his eyes. "Oh, well, that's really nice."
"What? That?" She twisted one arm till the joint popped and prodded him under the shell.
"Yeah, that...and sharing things with friends. What is it?"
For once she seemed a little embarrassed and lost for words. "Oh...well, it's not the sort of thing I could...you know, talk about. It's something we could do. Together. There now, how does that feel?"
He sat up and tested the functioning of his limbs. "Ok."
"Better than you did when you got here?"
He shrugged. "I guess."
"Don't kill me with enthusiasm. Well, come on. Let's go."
"But I just got here."
"You know, that thing I said I wanted to share with you."
"I thought you meant pizza."
"This is better than pizza. Come on, we've got to go down to the water."
She dragged him out onto the sand. The moon was just rising and bright on the water. "You want to go for a swim in the middle of the night?"
"It's a beautifulf night. Perfect for a swim."
She led the way down to the water, stripping her clothes off and leaving a trail of them on the sand. Raphael was a little scandalised. "What are you doing?"
"It's bad enough having to wear them on land, in the daytime. I refuse to wear them in the water at night."
It might have been embarrassment or sheer disgust, but Raphael stopped in his tracks and put one hand over his eyes. He waited a moment then peeked between his fingers. She was thigh deep in the water and her bare bottom mooned back at him. "You're gonna get yourself arrested!"
"They'll have to catch me first!" she dived into the water and came up spraying droplets all about her. "Come on!"
He didn't really have to be asked a second time. He raced down to the water and dived in, spraying water into the air as he came up beside her. "Heh. Nice in," he said, feeling a bit dumb. It was his first mixed skinny dip and he wasn't quite sure of the protocol. He stared down into the water, afraid that if he tried to look at her face he would just stare at her breasts instead.
"It's always nice in."
The moonlight played tricks on Raphael's eyes. Where a moment earlier he had seen the pale gleam of her legs, now there was the tail of a fish. "Yyou just grew a tail."
"That was my secret I wanted to share with you. Surprised?"
Surprise didn't even come close. Not that he was going to admit it. "Nah. I knew it all along." There wasn't time to develop the lie. A triangular fin cut through the water and dived at it, sai in hand. "Shark!"
"Where?" said Galatea calmly.
"Where?" said a second voice.
'There...?!" said Raphael feeling stupid again. He was pointing at the owner of the fin and it wasn't a shark at all, it was a bottlenose dolphin.
"What? Me?!" said the dolphin. "Thanks a lot, pal. Cheezamakelp, Gal, I know you said this guy could be a bit punchy, but I didn't expect insults before introductions."
Raphael stared at it, his sai hanging limply. "I don't believe it. It's a talking dolphin."
Galatea took Raphael by the hand and held one of the dolphin's flippers in her other hand. "Raphael, I'd like you to meet Simo, my boss...teacher, mentor, spiritual guide...whatever you like to call him. I guess Si is about on a par with Splinter."
"Excuse my surprise," said the dolphin as Raphael shook his flipper. "I'm not used to talking turtles."
Raphael shrugged. "Look, I'm sorry about the shark comment, it's just that I saw this fin, and well... we don't get a lot of dolphins down the sewers, you know."
"I'm not surprised, your manners are appalling." Simo snorted. "Come on, we've got a ride waiting."
"You got Raph a ride? Who?"
"Hey, I'm a turtle. I can swim for myself."
"Take the ride, Raph, you'll enjoy it."
"Who is it? Who did you get?" Galatea begged.
"Nobody you know." Simo dived into the silvery water and headed out to sea.
Michelangelo was bored. He had finished reading his comics and turned some of the pages (which he felt to have had less artistic merit) into paper planes. The planes had great annoyance value. One of them had landed on top of Donatello's head. He'd managed to lodge another one right under Leonardo's mask, interrupting his meditation. "Maybe you should go and rescue a few stranded marine creatures, too, Michelangelo." Leonardo suggested as he removed the offending paper plane.
"Ah, no thanks. I just needed a bit of noise. It's too quiet without Raph."
"Put the tv on, then."
"Hey, yeah, maybe I'll see April." He grabbed the remote and flicked on the set. It was like magic, there was April. She was in the middle of an outside broadcast. Behind her they could see the cooling stack of the Lavender Hills Nuclear Plant.
The whole place had been floodlit and April stepped out of shot to allow the camera to focus on the rescue crews who were working at the power plant. There were police cars and a large number of ambulances. Michelangelo had turned on the tv as April was half way through her report, but they got the gist of what was going on. "...rescue crews are moving in, but as yet nobody knows how many casualties there have been, or even how many people are trapped inside. What caused the damage is also unknown, although authorities have not ruled out sabotage." Donatello joined the other two turtles in front of the tv. All three stared in open-mouthed worry at the report. "This is April O'Neil at the Lavender Hill power plant, I'll be keeping you up to date as more news comes to hand."
"How long would it take to get to Lavender Hill?" said Leonardo.
Donatello pulled a chart off his desk and studied it for a moment. "If we take the main trunk sewer about two hours."
"Should we go get Raph first?" said Michelangelo.
Leonardo shook his head. "No, it would take too long, we've got to move on this as quick as we can."
"Who would gain from sabotaging a power plant?" wondered Donatello.
"Antinuclear protestors doing a really bad job of monkeywrenching?" suggested Leonardo.
Donatello shook his head. "Nah, can't buy that one; call it a peacenik weakness, but I just don't believe any monkeywrencher would be that dumb."
"Could be somebody doing a really bogus job in order to give the antinuclear dudes a bad name?"
Leonardo shrugged. It seemed like an implausably complex motive. "What about somebody wanting nuclear power? The sabotage could be a cover up for theft of radioactive material."
"Like somebody wants to make a bomb?" said Michelangelo.
"Or somebody wants to make a lot of money by selling the stuff to somebody who wants to make a bomb." They took off down the sewer.
Despite swimming as hard as he could, Raphael was no sea turtle and he really couldn't keep up with the swimming speed of Galatea and Simo. Abruptly the night about him turned misty and he almost swam into a wall of flesh that suddenly rose out of the ocean in front of him. "Wha...?" He trod water, staring up at the wall. It stared back at him.
"Your ride," said Simo.
" What the hell kind of boat is this?"
"Come up to the talking end and meet her."
Raphael latched onto Simo's dorsal fin and let himself be dragged through the water to where a pectoral flipper rested on the water and an eye the size of Raphael's shell gazed down at him.
"It's a whale," said Raphael finally.
"Om, this is your passenger, Raphael."
"Om..." said Galatea in a small, breathy voice.
"Galatea," said the whale. Her voice set the water vibrating around them, they could feel their very bones responding to the bass boom of the whale's voice.
"Great one, I am in awe."
"I ask only your acceptance and trust, my child." The great flipper raised above Galatea's head and moved gently down to pat her. The whale lowered herself in the water, and brought the flipper up beneath Raphael, lofting him into the air. "Come, little one, we have much travel before us."
"Not so much of the little," muttered Raphael. He ran along the whale's flipper, leaping from there to the whale's head where he found a secure position just forward of her blowhole. As the whale moved off, Simo and Galatea rode her bow-wave and Raphael stood on top of her. It beat surfing.
The turtles had arrived at Lavender Hill. From their vantage point just inside the perimiter fence they could see everything, the police and ambulance emergency crews, the tv vans.
"We need to be able to get in close enough to attract April's attention so she can tell us what's going on here," said Leonardo. It was too light for them to get far though. The whole field had been floodlit to help the emergency workers, and it was as bright as day. Michelangelo indicated one of the nearby emergency vans. There were radiation suits hanging up within easy reach.
"Off the rack in your size..." grinned Michelangelo, flicking starknives at the light and sending the area into darkness. The men who had been standing by the van swore at the darkness and went to get replacement lights. Michelangelo grabbed the radiation suits and held one up against Leonardo. "I think you'll like it, it's just your colour."
"Thanks, Mike." Leonardo put the suit on. It was miles too big but Michelangelo and Donatello helped him, rucking up the arms and legs so that his hands were in the mitts and his feet in the boots. When it was done, Leonardo affected an air of belonging and casually strolled across to where April was standing. "Ah...Ms O'Neil...might I have a word with you...in private."
"Leo!" she looked about frantically, worried that someone might have spotted him, but no one took any notice. "What are you doing here?"
"We came to help. What's the story?"
"Possible sabotage. The whole reactor's gone into shutdown, and they think there may have been a partial meltdown of the core."
Leonardo shrugged and stared for a moment at the power station. "Well I don't see any smoke or anything."
"No. That's the one hopeful sign, no external evidence of meltdown, but the whole reactor has gone into automatic shutdown. It's a failsafe procedure they installed here after Chernobyl, and the main problem is that no one can get in and see how bad things really are, and no one can get out and tell them."
"So the bottom line is there are people trapped down there, possibly with a reactor that has gone, or is about to go critical."
"You mind if I use that in my monologue, Leo? I'm due on air in two minutes and you just summed up the whole thing nicely."
"You do the talking, April. I'll see what we can do. Maybe get some action and a bit of good news into your next break." He moved away from her as her camera man came over. Leonardo strolled back to where the others waited, casually lifting another two radiation suits on his way.
"There's still people trapped inside. Any idea how we can get in?"
Donatello struggled with his suit. "Under and up," he said. "There has to be a way out for the water they use in their cooling ponds."
The three turtles moved back to the sewer, this time wearing the radiation suits. They could see light reflecting down the sewer tunnel. They made their way into the lit tunnel. There wasn't a soul to be seen, but plenty of evidence that the tunnel had been recently vacated. One wall had been broken, leaving a jagged hole that gave easy access to the power plant. They followed the trail of debris into the power plant and were suddenly confronted with a small robot coming in the opposite direction.
"Where're you going little feller?" said Michelangelo, stepping directly in its path. The robot avoided him and continued its scurrying progress. Leonardo bashed it with the hilt of his sword and the robot keeled over, its little legs quivering as if in death throes for a moment, and then stopping totally.
"Big termites," suggested Michelangelo.
"Don't I wish!" said Donatello. "Look at that..." he flicked it with his bo, exposing a small chamber, clearly marked with the symbol for radioactive material.
"Going to steal itself some uranium," said Leonardo.
"What do you want to do with it?" said Donatello.
It looked like a broken toy lying there. "Just leave it where it is, we'll pick it up on the way back."
They moved on, into the main reactor area. There was no one around. "Looks like that little robot's been busy snaffling uranium," said Michelangelo.
Leonardo frowned. "Wonder what he did with the people who work here?"
"We could try the control room," suggested Donatello.
But when they got there the control centre too was deserted. Donatello sighed and made himself at home behind one of the computer terminals. Michelangelo leaned over his shoulder and reached for the switches. "So...which one opens the door?"
Donatello swatted his hand away. "This one."
"Going to let the rescue crew in, then?" said Leonardo.
"Going to tell us why not, or is this a game of read Donatello's mind if you can find it?"
Donatello gave an exaggerated sigh, as if he was having to explain all this to kindergarten children. "It would seem that our little pal from downstairs, or perhaps whoever built him, is quite versatile, and can programme power stations, as well as steal their fuel. The doors are timelocked, and if I break into the code, the whole reactor's going to go critical, and I don't think I want that just now."
Michelangelo tugged at Donatello's scarf. "That's ok, Don, we understand these strange little personal fetishes you have about not being incinerated."
"Well," said Leonardo, "let's see if we can't locate..."
"I think I know where they are," said Michelangelo suddenly excited. "Which way's the cafeteria?"
Leonardo scowled at him, "Mike, not everyone thinks with their stomach."
Still, it seemed as good a place to start as any. They found the corridor to the cafeteria and when they got to the glass door of the room, they saw inside a bunch of disconsolate looking workers arguing over their vending machine coffee. Michelangelo indicated them with a grin, "When food's around they're safe and sound."
"And stuck where they are till the doors open," said Donatello.
"Which will be...?" said Leonardo.
"Let's go home."
"Yeah. I can go play with my new toy."
There was little else they could do. Donatello felt that he would have been creating a bigger risk by trying to undo the door program. Having the workers sit in the caff and be bored for a few hours seemed a small price to pay. They went back down to the sewer, but the broken robot was gone from where they had left it. "I thought you wrecked it," said Leonardo.
"I did! The drive mechanism was trashed."
"Well something's come to get it, then."
Donatello held up a small electronic instrument and fiddled with it for a moment. It began to emit a tiny signal. Donatello pointed determinedly down the hole in the ground. "It went this a way."
"Where'd you get that from?" said Michelangelo peering at the device.
"Found it. Didn't think the folks back there would really be needing it."
"What's it tracking?" Leonardo asked.
"The uranium the robot had on board."
"How come it doesn't point back to the reactor?"
"A little fine tuning is all it needed."
They followed the trail through tunnels that got progressively darker, Donatello always leading the way with one eye on his little indicator. Suddenly he spotted the robot, not quite as broken as he'd originally thought. He pounced on it and grabbed it, just as it was about to disappear down a tiny hole through which the turtles couldn't possibly have followed it.
"Smashed the drive mechanishm, huh?" said Leonardo sarcastically.
"I trashed it, Leo. I know I did," he said defensively.
Michelangelo stared at the very not-broken robot. "Got better all by itself then?"
"Let's just get it home," said Donatello.
The moon had set and through the grey of pre-dawn three shapes moved through the trackless Atlantic. One vast bulk and two smaller shapes which rode easily on its bow wave. The whale glided to a stop, her hot breath bathing Raphael in a slightly oily shower. "Prepare to dive, little one."
"Well, when you're a blue whale I guess you can call everybody little." In a single smooth motion the whale slipped beneath the water, gliding down past Raphael who grabbed her dorsal fin as it came by him. The sun was coming up and down through the water Raphael could see what looked like buildings on the seabed. Galatea came through the water to him and took his hand, detatching him from the whale. She and Simo led him into the moon pool of the nearest building. Raphael spouted water and breathed gratefully. "Whew. For a minute there, just before we went under, I thought she said "prepare to die." I suppose you do this kind of thing all the time."
"Well, sometimes, when we're in a real hurry, one of they great ones gives us a ride, but I never met a blue whale before."
"I thought they'd been wiped out."
"Nah," said Simo, "they just keep away from humans these days. Lend me your hands, Gal." Simo tossed her a small device that looked like a plastic horseshoe. Galatea located it just forward of his dorsal fin, where it sat, not quite touching his skin. As she took her hands away from the device Simo suddenly rose into the air. Raphael gaped at him. "Traction field," said Simo. "Beats walkin'."
"Don't knock what you don't know," said Galatea. She perched herself on the edge of the pool. Raphael gazed at her. Her scales were a deep green but with an oily rainbow sheen that made him think of mother-of-pearl. A fragile dorsal fin ran down her back, following the line of scales that disappeared up under her hair. It was hard not to stare. She closed her eyes as though she was concentrating on something and her scales faded and her tail divided into a normal looking set of human lower limbs. She lifted her legs out of the water and stood still dripping, beside Raphael.
He badly needed to not think about the way her hand was resting on his shell. "Hey! Your feet are still wet, I thought they turned into a tail whenever they were wet."
"You watch too many movies," was all she said.
"Don't make mermaids like they used to," grinned Simo.
"I'm still getting used to a dolphin that talks."
"Hah!" (Said the turtle.) We all talk."
"Well, you know it, and I know it, but it's not what you'd call common knowledge upstairs."
"Can you blame us? Do you know what would happen if the hairy ones knew we could talk?"
"They'd stop hunting you, catching you in nets, and cutting your throats because you compete for fish. A lot of lives would be saved."
"Get back in your shell! Instead of the harpoon routine, they'd just talk us to death, or bore us to death with their religion and politics. They've got to learn to open their minds to their responsibilities without being nursemaided every single step of the way. Look, don't get me wrong, I mean, humans are lovely animals, and I'd like to get to know them better, but, hey, we have a job to do here."
"I don't believe I've got myself into a situation with a meramaid, and a dolphin who has a job to do. Look, I really think I should have an explanation here. Nothing personal, you understand, I just feel like I must have dozed off and dreamt all this up. What kind of work do dolphins do, anyway?"
Galatea shoved them both towards the door. "Let's organise some breakfast and talk, I'm starving."
"Yeah!" Simo agreed. "Pizza."
"Oh, no. I bet you haven't even got any oregano for it."
"You get me some oregano that grows under the sea and I'll put it on your pizzas for you. Come on."
Through the grey humidity of the early morning, three turtles in radiation suits dragged themselves out of a sewer tunnel not far from the Lavender Hills nuclear power plant. The scene before them was not much changed from the night before, though the activity was a little less frenetic. Much of the adrenalin had worn off as the rescuers' repeated efforts failed. Spirits flagged and they were running of coffee. Even April O'Neil, whose expressions of hope, telecast earlier in the night had become more solemn as time ran out and the possibility of finding survivors lessened. She was leaning against the newsvan, draining yet another coffee when Leonardo sidled up to her.
"Oh, Leo! It's so good to see you! I was starting to worry about you guys too. Who's missing? I can only count three of you."
"Raph's goofing off," said Michelangelo.
"Sticking splints on shocked sharks," Donatello added.
"He went to visit Galatea" Leonardo explained. "We didn't have time to get him when we heard about the problem here."
"Did you find anything?"
"Yeah, definitely sabotage."
"What about the workers?"
"They're ok, but if there's any action here in less than fifteen hours, you really don't want to be here to see it."
"'Cause the reactor's been hotwired, a nice big nuclear booby trap."
"Well how can we stop them from trying to get in before fifteen hours is up?"
"Ring them up with a bomb threat?" suggested Michelangelo hopefully.
Leonardo slapped him on the shell. "Mikey! That's brilliant! Can we use the phone in your O.B. van, April?"
"Be my guest." Leonardo disappeared into the van.
"So is that all there was?" said April. "The power plant locked, people held hostage while someone stole the uranium? No clues?"
"One clue for me to mull over while I eat breakfast," said Donatello.
"Why can't you just read the back of the Cornflakes, like everybody else?" joked Michelangelo.
"Look, my relief crew should be getting here in about half an hour for the morning newsbreak. Why don't I meet you back at the lair after that?"
Leonardo emerged from the newsvan and glanced around him. Already his phone call was having the desired affect, police were calling back rescue workers and moving about, gathering in the reporters. "All done. Nothin' hurts like the truth."
"I'd better get the low down on this exciting new turn of events. Save me some breakfast, guys." April dashed off, sweeping past the far side of her van so that she could kick some life into the rest of her crew. The turtles watched her for a moment and then vanished back into their sewer.
Raphael sat opposite Galatea, staring at the large pizza on the table between them. "Fish cheese," he said dubiously.
"It's not fish, it's made from Porpoise milk," said Simo who hung disconcertingly in the air between them.
"So tell me the story," said Raphael. "From the start."
"Well," said Simo thoughtfully, "it goes back about fifteen million years or so."
"You can leave out the boring bits then."
"To begin with, I must draw you an analogy; when a female gives birth, when there is a new being about to enter the world, then the mother calls for help, and powerful spirits arrive to help with the delivery."
"I don't remember anyone helping me crack my shell."
Simo ignored him and continued. "And when a new entity is being born into the cosmos, then the mother calls for help, and midwives of the universe arrive. We cetacean people are the midwives of humanity. Because Gaia is a water planet, we assumed the humans would become water dwellers. Unfortunately, just at the psychological moment, when they should have returned to he seas, they discovered fire, and I'm afraid it's been downhill ever since."
Raphael indicated Galatea. "And the tail?"
"That's no way to speak of me!" she said through a faceful of pizza.
"Sorry. The bit of fluff with the tail?"
"There has always been a strong spiritual bond between humans and dolphins, although they live on the land, we found that we could call them, and they could call us. As it became clear to us that they weren't going to move into the water of their own free will, we tried to encourage them by enhancing our spiritual bond and showing them the physical advantages of the marine environment. It wasn't what you'd call an overwhelming success, though the ones with tails liked it well enough. Anyway, as time went by, we found that our spirit links faded, though we know we can still influence the behaviour of the hairy ones, they become more peaceful when we're around, and occasionally, even in these paradoxical times, we find a human sufficiently close to the vibration of Gaia to answer the call. Galatea is one of those very special persons."
"Gee, Si, you really know how to flatter."
"Just laying it on the line, kiddo."
"So, mutant turtle meets genetically engineered mermaid."
"Oh, no. Genetically I'm as human as the next person...uh...present company excepted. No, I've been bioengineered."
Raphael was about to speak but he froze as the black and white bulk of an orca came gliding into the room. He felt his belly turn to ice, overwhelmed by its size. It seemed to take more space than even the blue whale had, as he could take it all in at once, and it filled the room with its predatory presence. "Killer whale!" he choked, looking for a weapon.
"Redeemer!" said Simo, making room for the orca.
"I don't believe this," murmured Raphael. "That's a killer whale! Don't you know, those things eat dolphins. And humans."
"Actually I belong to a tribe of salmon eaters," said the whale mildly.
"Still, death is not something the people of the sea fear," said Simo kindly. "We have no natural enemies, and so a chosen number of the orca people become our redeemers."
"You like seeing your relatives eaten?"
"We neither fear death nor anticipate it. It is a part of the karmic cycle."
"Well what about Galatea?"
"There are no tribes of human-eaters," said the orca placidly. "And in this place you are all safe, even the highest redeemers refrain from eating their relatives here. And orcas do not eat humans under any circumstances, that's just another nasty rumour that the hairy ones started for no reason I've ever been able to figure out."
Rapheal took another piece of the pizza. He still wasn't sure about it but he needed to think for a moment. "This place is really weird," he finally told Galatea. "What do you just come here for a laugh and then go home and talk to your cat for some sane company?"
"Galatea comes here when I call her," said Simo. "When I have work for her."
"What kind of work do you do for a dolphin? Catch their fish?"
"Anything that needs hands. This whole place was built by people like me."
"No job too big."
"So what's today's job? Switch channels on the tv? Change a lightbulb?"
"Today's job concerns Galatea's karma, and her progression," said Simo, and there seemed something sad about the way he looked at Galatea.
"Sounds like Splinter teaching us to meditate."
Galatea seemed suddenly a little pale. "Progression is a little different to meditation, it means progression to a higher plane, movement through the incarnation."
It still sounded like the kind of gobbledygook Splinter tended to spout. "I don't get it."
"No, but I will. I guess...?" she looked rather sadly at Simo.
"Radioactive waste," he said quietly. "Stupid hairies have been filling up containers and throwing them into the ocean. For some reason they have this idea that as long as you can't see the stuff it won't hurt you. Of course the containers are leaking."
Raphael frowned. "Am I missing something here? What's meditation got to do with radioactive waste?"
"It isn't meditation," Raph. It's progression...you know?"
"Listen," said Simo, "let me give you a hint...in order to progress to a higher incarnation, you have to finish with this one."
"You're going to go and mess with radioactive waste until you die? That's dumb. Don't do it."
"Fighting with Shredder is dumb, but you do it because you have to. I have to do this. You understand the concept of an honourable death. By doing this I can save a lot of lives."
"But you don't have to die doing it. You can wear protective gear, like they do in the reactors."
"They don't make those suits to last underwater. Anyway, you know what I'm like with raincoats and things."
"I know, claustrophobia. Look, don't joke about this. I don't want you to die."
"Well, I'm not exactly thrilled by the prospect myself, I mean, I like my life, I have good friends, but we'll meet again. We have a strong destiny link."
"Destiny link. That's great. Well I don't want a destiny link. If you're going down to seal up leaks in radioactive containers then I'll come with you."
"No," said Simo.
Galatea shrugged. "Lots of reasons."
"You would drown, I can breathe water, you can't. Even assuming we could dig up an aqualung for you, by the time we got about halfway there if the pressure didn't cave your shell in, you'd be breathing pure poison. And you have your brothers and Splinter to think of. You have a responsibility to them, and no doubt some unfinished business with Shredder."
"I said name one."
Galatea grinned and turned away from him. A man had come into the room. He eyed Raphael curiously but greeted Galatea.
"Hi, Homer. Hey this is my friend Raphael. Raph, this is Homer."
"As in Simpson?"
"As in Sapiens," he corrected with a grin. "Hey Gal we've got your gear ready, want to come and pick it up?"
"Ok." She began to follow Homer then turned back to Raphael, "wait for me, I'll be back."
Raphael began to follow her but Simo stopped him. "No. Let her prepare herself. This has come as a shock to her."
"Oh, that's really nice. We'll just sit here and talk while she gets all her glue or plastic bags or whatever the hell it is that you use to seal up radioactive waste containers."
"Don't you think if I could do something about this I would? I'd tear the living heart out of my body for Galatea, she's like a child to me."
"Why can't the man go?"
"This is Galatea's destiny."
"You're going to let her die down there. You're not even going with her, are you?"
"She's going deeper than I can dive, but she won't go alone."
Galatea returned, now dressed in a collection of utility belts that she was sure would have turned Batman green with envy. "So who is coming with me?"
"As in Khan?"
"The very one."
"I just know I'm dreaming this," Raphael muttered. "He died hundreds of years ago."
Simo turned patiently to him. "I keep talking, but you keep not listening. There is no death. The hairy one known as Ghengis Khan progressed, as many human war leaders do, to the form of a sperm whale, the largest carnivore on Gaia."
"It's kind of a recompense," Galatea explained. "Being a war leader is really bad karma."
"This is ridiculous." Raphael snapped. "I'm not going to let you go down there and die with Ghengis Khan." He went to grab her but Simo intervened. He moved faster through air than he did through water and with a single twist of his powerful body he flung Raphael halfway down the corridor, landing him on his back and stunning him. As he rolled over to get up, Simo was beside him, helping him.
"I am sorry. I do not like to use violence, especially on someone who seems so human."
Raphael shook him off. "There's no need to be insulting. Where is she?"
Raphael swung at him and felt his fist connect with a satisfying meaty thunk. "Fish face! You didn't even let me say goodbye. You sent her away to die with one of the greatest psychopaths in human history."
"Listen, it is our custom to bring dying members of our group to the land. I had planned to return Galatea to her home. If you are there, you may be able to make her last few hours comfortable. I would feel happier knowing she had a friend on the land, I know she feels very deeply for you, and I think helping her through this would be good for you, too."
"Thanks a heap." Raphael pushed Simo away as he came to his feet. "How do I get out of this place?"
"I'll show you." He led Raphael back along the corridor to the moon pool. "There is no whale to take you home, Om has gone on her way, but one of the women of my tribe, Pippi, has said she will swim with you."
"Tell her not to bother." He dived into the water.
Pippi did follow him back to Galatea's little beach. She didn't speak to him but followed at a discreet distance, understanding that he needed to be alone. It was a slow trip, but he was in no hurry. She watched as he dragged himself up onto the beach and then found a spot where he could sit and wait for Galatea's final return.
Donatello couldn't have been happier if it was Christmas. He had little bits of the robot spread from one end of his workbench to he other. He had taken the whole thing apart, reconstructed some of it, rewired other parts and sorted many of its components into tidy piles that somehow seemed important. He held a minute piece with tweezers and peered at it through a magnifying lens. April leaned over his shoulder, trying to see what he was looking at. "Microchip?"
"Microsoft?" said Leonardo.
"Acme?" suggested Michelangelo.
"Yoshiwara," said Donatello.
Leonardo frowned. The name rang a bell but he couldn't exactly place it. "Who?"
"Do you remember that wierd business with the underground city Shredder was involved in? And those computer consoles that were really brain washing devices?"
Leonardo did remember. "Hey, April, I remember you saying something about some guy that was with Shredder, we went back and looked for him, but he was gone."
"Yeah. What a creep. Shredder called him Hideo. Short for hideous I think. I don't know if he built those robot things, but he sure knew how to use them."
Michelangelo fiddled with one of the robot components. "You think it was the same guy built this stuff and the computers in the underground city?"
Donatello snatched the component away from him and placed it carefully back in its requisite pile. "It's hard to say. Those computers were straightforward. Devious, but straightforward. This thing is really wierd science."
"In what way?" said Leonardo.
"Well, you know how I said I trashed the drive mechanism, and it still got away?"
"Well I really did smash it."
Michelangelo looked at him dubiously. "Then how come it still got away?"
"As far as I can work out, it reparied itself."
"You mean it got better?"
"It has built in redundancy circiuts. I hit it, I smashed it. Look, right here: this is the drive mechanism; trashed. Rubble. Kaput. It don't work. These non specific circuits over here have been pulled in. It cannibalised itself so it could get home."
Michelangelo shrugged. "Should've called a cab."
April hefted a phone book onto the table. "Dial a pizza?" said Michelangelo hopefully.
"Yoshiwara. We've gotta start looking somewhere."
Leonardo flicked through the book. "Nothing here."
"What about under Hideo." April suggested.
"Nope. Must operate under a different name. Or his company isn't located in this city. Or he has an unlisted number. I think we're going to need all the help we can get to find this guy."
"You wanna go get Raphael?" said Donatello.
"Yeah. I think he's probably paid his debt to society. C'mon, let's go rescue him from the stranded marine creatures."
"Look, guys," said April, "much as I'd love to go with you, I do need to sleep occasionally. Say hi to Raph and Galatea for me. I'll be back at Lavender
Hill for the grand opening. In the meantime, I'll be sleeping."
It was late afternoon when the three turtles arrived at Galatea's shack. Raphael was in the garden picking flowers, and he had his arms full of blooms when he came through the door and found his brothers. "Surprise!" they all bellowed.
"We brought some pizzas," said Donatello, indicating the boxes on the table.
"We remembered what Galatea's cooking was like," said Michelangelo with a grin.
Raphael looked dully at them. "She's dead," he said, and it was only then that they realised he was crying. He dropped the flowers he had just picked onto Galatea's bed. She was lying there, almost covered by the heap of flowers he had placed on her.
She weved feebly at the turtles. "Ah...don't let him bury me till I stop breathing." Her skin was raised in blistering welts. Leonardo knelt beside her and gently touched her forehead. A lump of hair came away in his hand.
"These look like radiation burns," said Donatello quietly.
"That's right, Don. Slight problem with some leaky cannisters of radioactive waste. Even when power's cheap, you have to pay for it."
"Well, what are you doing lying around here?" said Leonardo.
"Power walking!" snapped Raphael. "What do you think she's doing? She's got radiation poisoning. She's dying."
Leonardo shook his head. "Bad idea!"
Donatello nodded as though agreeing with something. "Leo, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"What I'm thinking, brother is "how fast can you hack?"
"I'm gone. I'm already halfway through the access codes. Donatello was out the door without a further word of explanation.
Leonardo closed the pizza box that Michelangelo was reaching int. "Drop the pizzas and get April. We need her at the lair."
"I've got a better idea, I'll take the pizzas with me, and go get April." He grinned, scooping up the boxes and taking off out the door before they could stop him.
Leonardo gathered the bedsheet around Galatea, flowers and all, and hefted her into his arms. He turned to Raphael who was sitting staring blankly at the wall, tears running unchecked down his face. "Hey. You wanna help save her or what?"
Donatello was working on the computer when April arrived. She peered blearily over his shoulder. "We got it!" he said. "We got him. Well, he can sure stand a small transfer of funds without noticing it too badly."
Splinter's ears pricked up and he also came to the computer. "Donatello, I hope this is not theft."
"Call it repayment of a debt, Master."
April punched a finger at the screen. "This guy owes me one, besides, I think a lot of this money came from Shredder in the first place."
Donatello shrugged. "Anyway, it's only to pay Galatea's medical expenses."
Leonardo arrived with Galatea in his arms. Raphael followed, he was carrying Driftwood the cat. Splinter motioned Leonardo to put Galatea into a bed he had prepared for her. Klunk, alerted by some form of cat ESP turned up to touch noses with the interloper. Out of a sense of duty they hissed at each other, then Woody jumped onto the bed beside Galatea and curled defensively about her feet. Splinter offered each of them a piece of sushi and they each ate without so much as glaring at each other.
April sat beside Galatea's bed. "Ah, my little sister."
"Gail O'Neil," said Donatello.
"I still think we should have called her May," pouted Michelangelo. April frowned at him. "June?" he suggested.
"She's been working at the Lavender Hill nuclear power plant," Donatello explained. "Just started yesterday."
"Which is the day they had a nasty reactor breakdown..." Leonardo added.
"How do we get her in?" said Raphael, not yet allowing himself to feel hope.
Leonardo handed him a radiation suit. "You put this on, and we'll get a torn one on Galatea, that should explain the burns."
"No, wait, she's going to look kind of suspicious, wearing just a radiation suit, you
know... over nothing."
"Not to mention kinky," Michelangelo leered. Leonardo stopped Raphael from thumping Michelangelo, who was less than repentant. "I was kidding," he said.
Raphael turned hopefully to April and gestured at her clothes. "April...could you? Would you...?"
"What am I supposed to wear?"
Michelangelo offered her one of his disguises, a set of overalls and oversize tee shirt. "The things I do!" she muttered. "Ok, OUT! Go on, move it, scram! This isn't a peep show."
Raphael carried Galatea to April's car. She was dressed in April's clothes and the torn radiation suit. She was barely conscious. They left the car parked by the same access hatch they had used earlier. It was far enough from the plant not to arouse suspicion, but close enough to allow them quick access by way of the sewer tunnel.
"Timing's right on," said Donatello. "We've got eighteen minutes."
"Well, I'm going to join my crew. Good luck!" said April.
The turtles made their way through the sewer tunnel, all dressed now in the radiation suits. Leonardo led them through the damaged power plant. Donatello carried a stopwatch which he kept checking. They stood just inside the main doors of the plant, and on Donatello's signal came bursting out through the doors to a barrage of lights and tv crews, carrying Galatea to a waiting ambulance. "This one's got bad radiation burns. The rest are ok," said Donatello.
The waiting news crews poured in through the doors of the power plant, to interview the survivors. In a moment the turtles were gone.
Whether it is day or night in the intensive care ward didn't matter. Time was measured by the steady beep of the machines that kept tireless watch over the patients there. Galatea lay, bald and blotchy, cocooned like an insect among her tubes and machines. A single nurse sat just outside Galatea's door, she who minds the minders, watching the machines that watch the patients. April paused by the station. "Hi. April O'Neil. I've come to see my sister."
"Oh, Ms O'Neil! This is so exciting! When we were watching you do that report on the power plant disaster, we never for a moment would have dreamt how personal it was for you."
"Yeah. Me neither."
"I mean, your own sister. You were so brave! No one would have guessed."
"Well, there's a certain professional detatchment that goes with being a newsreader. You know, it's a bit like theatre, the show must go on and all that stuff...even though you're just dying inside." It had never occurred to April just how much acting might be required by a reporter. It had never occurred to her that she might get involved with teenage mutant ninja turtles, either, though. She wandered into Galatea's room. The blind was drawn over the window, but she could see a crack of night sky outside. "Hello little sister."
"Hiya, sis. Gee, it's nice to see a familiar face! Can you explaing how I got here...and how I'm paying for all this?"
"All taken care of! In fact, your medical expenses are being fought over by the Lavender Hill nuclear power station, and a guy called Hideo who was responsible for most of the green stuff that oiled up the ocean last time we met. As for how you got here, I think there's someone who can tell that story a little better than me." She leant across to the window and pulled the curtain back. There was a dark figure outside the window. April opened the window and closed the door as the four turtles slipped in. "Just keep it down to a dull roar, guys, or we're going to upset the lady out there."
Galatea grinned at them. "Hi guys!"
"Like your new hair do, Gal," said Michelangelo rubbing his fingers over her bald head.
"I was thinking of painting it green," she said.
Leonardo nodded approvingly. "Classy!"
Donatello shifted to the side of her bed. "I brought you something...the people on tv always complain about hospital food." He placed a box of chocolates on the blanket beside her.
"Oh, thank you..."
"Shows what you know, dude!" Michelangelo sneered. "They don't let people in insensetive care eat junk food. I brought you something to read." He lovingly presented her with a handful of somewhat crumpled comics.
"Far out! The Lone Rider and Atlantis Girl. My favourites. That was really thoughtful, Mike."
Leonardo laid a bunch of flowers on the bed beside her. "From your garden. We've been keeping an eye on things for you."
"My favourite ones. How are the unicorns?"
"Keeping well hidden," said Raphael." "I brought you this." He shoved a seashell into her hand. "Simo says hi."
She smiled at him. "I don't know how you managed all this, but I'm glad you did. So tell me, how did I come to be here, and who is this Hideo person April mentioned?"
Michelangelo grinned and settled himself in the chair beside Galatea's bed. "Lemme tell ya a story," he said.