Donnie lowered himself into the Lair. Leo, Lotus, and Mikey were already there, seated near the end table they had set up for TV-viewing munchies attacks. Zack looked up and across from the corner base. "Hi, Don, what took so long?"
He collapsed into a nearby easy chair. "First, I called the police and they said the punks I handled were out of their jurisdiction. So I called Allie's college campus police, since that warehouse was practically right next door. They said it wasn't a college crime. So I finally left the lot of them in Stern s office with a nice note."
"That's not going to make him happy," Mike observed as he scooted over on the couch to make room for Zack as he joined them.
"I'm beyond the point of caring." Donnie turned to Lotus, "Thanks for saving my shell, but you didn't have to run off."
Lotus shared a confused glance with Leo. "What are you talking about, Donatello?"
Now it was Donnie's turn to look confused. "You weren't the female ninja who just saved my shell?"
"She was with me the whole patrol, Donnie," Leo added. "What's going on?"
Raph slid down the ladder and joined the group. "Man, that felt good! What's wrong?"
"Are you sure you don't have any relatives visiting?" Donnie asked Lotus.
"I know nothing about this!" she insisted.
Raph turned to Zack as Splinter joined them. "What's going on?"
Zack shrugged, "Donnie's hallucinating about seeing female ninjas."
"I am not hallucinating. One of the punks in the warehouse almost got a shot off me. Except this," Donnie dug around in his pouch on his belt and tossed the bloody shurikin on the table, "was thrown into his gun hand by a female ninja who proceeded to help me handle the punks. Then she ran off. That's why I thought it was you." He turned apologetically to Lotus. "You're the only female ninja I know."
"She's the only female ninja any of us know," Zack commented sarcastically.
"I understand your confusion, but I know nothing about this."
The sewer cover clanged open. "Four deep-dish pizzas delivered right after patrol. You guys better have the cash." Keno dropped his head into the opening and turned it to gaze at the immobile group. This wasn't normal; usually there was a mad rush to the ladder. "Hello, does anyone know how I'm supposed to get down a ladder with four deep-dish pizzas?"
Zack finally trotted over and took the pizzas. Keno climbed down and turned to the kid with a puzzled expression. "What's with them?"
"Donnie had some weird encounter with a female ninja. They better tell you about it." Zack carried the pizzas to the group and Keno followed.
Leo turned to Keno as they joined the group. "You know the streets. Have you heard anything about a female ninja with a vendetta against punks?"
"A female ninja?" Keno gulped. "Haven't heard of anybody but Lotus."
"You need to expand your horizons. I am not the only female warrior that practices ninjutsu in the world."
"Well, have you heard about anybody with any kind of vendetta who might hire one?" Donnie asked, slapping his thigh in desperation.
"Not a thing," Keno answered with a big grin while he fidgeted in his seat.
Splinter frowned at his behavior.
"I didn't imagine her," Donnie insisted.
"No one saying you did, Bro," Raph answered.
Zack watched Keno curiously. "What's eatin' you?"
He almost jumped out of his seat. "Oh, nothing much. I just got a date."
"That's not nothing much for you, Keno," Mike laughed. "You have horrible luck with girls."
"Thanks for the reminder," he growled in mock-anger.
"Your problem is that you get too uptight around chicks," Raph propped up his feet as he leaned back in his chair.
"You're giving me advice about girls, Raph? You, who's typical Saturday night is spent beating up punks and ninjas alone?"
"Well, at least I don't get nervous around chicks."
"Ignore him," Mike advised. "You got any classes with Allie? How's she doing?"
"Didn't you just talk to her a couple of hours ago?" Donnie asked as he pulled a slice of pizza away from the pie.
Mike gave his brother a pitying look. "If you think I believe everything Allie tells me, you gotta be crazy."
"But a relationship is supposed to be built on trust," Leo objected.
"There are some things she tells me that I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt," Mike assured him.
"So what are they?" Raph leaned forward inquisitorially.
"That she loves me and she s still alive."
"Allie's doing fine," Keno interrupted. "We have same criminal justice class. The professor says she's got one of the best criminal minds he's ever met."
"Doesn't surprise me any," Raph grunted. Mike glared but said nothing.
Zack glanced at Mike and Raph. Once their antagonism over Allie--Raph's hate and Mike's love--had broke out into combat. They finally brought it back under control but everyone watched constantly for signs of another spat. "Why are you taking a criminal justice class?"
Keno watched the two Turtles and his words. "An elective; I needed three credit hours. That's the only class I have with her. It's pretty interesting."
"Uh oh, I hope this doesn't mean you re harboring criminal tendencies?" Raph grabbed Donnie's slice of pizza and took a big bite out of it. Donnie sighed and grabbed another slice.
"It means I like understanding how the justice system works."
Raph shrugged, "Don't get your pizza tossed on the ceiling."
"Ignore him," Lotus advised. "I cannot believe you do not know anything about this new ninja? You hear about everything."
"Maybe she's got reasons to keep her activities a secret." Keno swallowed, "I can put out some feelers and see if I can find out something."
Keno's feelers were the best on the streets. Leo was decently sure if anything could be found out, Keno would find it. But Raph wasn't so sure. "Let's go to that warehouse and look for some clues to this chick's identity."
Donnie shook his head. "I went over the place from top to bottom. She didn't leave anything except for the shurikin. Good luck tracing that."
Lotus picked up the shurikin and held it carefully between her fingers. "You can buy this at almost any weapons shop in the city, and very cheaply as well."
"Ain't you a killjoy," Raph growled.
"I never said we should not discover her identity. She could be working for the Shredder."
"All the more reason to be out looking for her," Raph insisted, jumping to his feet.
"Thanks, Lotus," Leo muttered. "As if he wasn't hard enough to control."
"I better go," Keno ran for the ladder. "Don't want to be late for my date."
"Have fun." Mike called after him, the only one who noticed his departure.
"Not tonight, Raph. Some of us are actually tired." Donnie brushed his hands together, dusting away the pizza crumbs.
"Or just plain chicken," he challenged, glaring at his purple bandanna-ed brother.
Donnie glared back. "Just because I can find other ways to channel my hostility and aggression does not mean that I am a chicken. Besides, if this ninja was working for the Shredder, why save my life?"
"It might be a diabolical scheme to gain your trust."
Zack blinked as he gazed at Lotus's cool face. "Do you sit around your apartment all day dreaming this stuff up?"
"But why use a ninja? He has to know we wouldn't trust a ninja." Donnie rested his chin on his knuckles as he lost himself in thought.
"I am a ninja," Lotus replied.
"And we don't trust you," Raph answered. He stood, non-perplexed, despite the withering glare Leo gave him. "If we're not going to do anything, I'm gonna cruise the news for some leads."
Leo turned to Lotus. "I'm sorry he started . . . ."
"You do not need to apologize for Raphael's behavior, Leonardo." Lotus's tone was icy and she made no attempt to try to gentle it. "I know what to expect from him. I must go."
"Lotus, we know you're cool," Zack called out as she and Leo neared the ladder. "Raph's just letting off some steam." He sighed as the couple exited the Lair for the streets and turned to Donnie. "Wanna go over tonight's patrol?"
The Turtle woke from his trance. "Sure, why not?"
Mike turned to Splinter as they left for the base. "You never said what you think of all this, Sensei?"
"Neither did you, my son," Splinter observed. "And you seem troubled."
"I don't like it," Mike announced flatly. "I just don't like it. I can't explain why, but I don't. And the fact that I can't explain is making me more worried."
"And that worries me, my son."
Zack grabbed the phone and quickly dialed a number. Why am I calling; she has a Turtle Comm.
But the voice on the other end spoke before he could hang up. "Hello?"
"Hi, Sammie. Is my sister there?"
"Hi, Zack. No, sorry. She's at the library studying. And she stressed that she couldn't be disturbed."
"Oh. Well, just tell her that I was checking up on her."
"Will do. Bye."