Zack stared at the bonsai trees in the Oriental garden. Splinter was inside, meditating, praying, or something and he wasn't about to interrupt him. This was a peaceful place; it might do some good to bring Allie here.
Allie, what was he going to do with his crazy sister? She was breaking Mike's heart along with her own. Why? What could be motivating her to do that? And his other big worry, why was she? He had to talk to Sammie. She had known Allie for years and she was studying psychology. Not that he believe that Sammie could cure her, but she could refer them to a good clinic.
A soft footfall made him look up to see a black figure melt into the shadows. Oh no, he eased off the bench and into the Temple. Splinter looked up, his snout poking out of the recess of the robe's hood. "Ninjas in the garden. They hid in the shadows so they can't be friendlies."
The doors flew open and six Foot Clan ninjas burst inside. Zack fell into stance with a sinking feeling in his stomach. He couldn't stop all of them. And Splinter was too weak to fight.
The rat grabbed hold of Zack's arm. "What are your master's orders?"
"To bring you to him unhurt if possible. Not mortally if not possible," a ninja answered.
"Then we will go willingly."
The ninjas came forward and grabbed hold of them. "Be careful! Splinter's not very well!"
"We will be most careful."
April tossed the papers she had been studying down on her desk. She couldn't concentrate, not after that discussion with Casey. The trouble was the conversations always came when she needed to be clear-headed. "It's not fair," she finally muttered to the empty office.
She gathered up the papers again and paused as she picked up her sketching of the Ronin. She had based it off the Turtles' descriptions. "You're a catalyst, aren't you? Everything swirls around and you mess with what you want to."
The telephone rang and April jumped. "Just a case of the normal invading your thought process in an eerie way." It rang again. "All right. Hello?"
"Is this April O'Neil of Channel Three Eyewitness News?"
"I am," she answered the harsh voice. "Can I help you?"
"I can help you. I have information on the Ronin. You are still interested in the Ronin?"
"Yes, I am interested. What's the information?"
"No. You will come to me."
April jotted down the address. "What if I don't come?"
"You will come, April O'Neil. How can you refuse?"
She hung up the phone and bit her lip. She glanced down at the picture.
"Let's see what secrets you're hiding."
Sammie frowned as she stared at her textbook then looked at the clock. The test was next week and she was going to be prepared.
She heard the window swing open, but didn't pay any real attention to it. Probably Mike or one of the other Turtles. "What's the problem tonight?" No one answered and suddenly an empty feeling erupted in her stomach. She pushed her chair from her desk and a black-gloved hand slapped across her mouth and an arm tightened around her torso, pinning her arms.
A ninja jumped in front of her and grabbed her feet. The two pulled her out of the chair, gagged her, tied her wrist together and bound her arms to her sides. "You're Turtle friends aren't here to help you now," one ninja crowed as they escorted her to the window.
Sammie didn't pay any attention to him. Allie was right, Allie was so
right. Allie was always right. And these guys are so stupid! But what's the
Shredder going to do when he sees it's me? He's not going to be happy about it.
This situation certainly knocks out that whole thing with the principal as first
in the absolute-worst-thing-Allie-has-gotten-me-involved-in category.
April double-checked the address. The corner held a squat building schedule for demolition. Some of its neighboring buildings were already in pieces. "I've seen worse," April muttered. The only light spilled onto the street from a light above the door.
April whirled around and stared at the open door of the building. A truck rumbled past and she jumped onto the curb and pressed against the building. All streets should require sidewalks. She regained her composure and faced the dark door. "Are you the one who called me about the Ronin?"
"I am. Come inside, April O'Neil."
"I don't think so."
"My friends will escort you inside. They are very persuasive."
"I won't be intimidated."
"No one is forcing you to come inside. Yet."
She edged closer to the door. "What is so important that you have to go to this extreme?"
"If you must know, come inside."
April grimaced but pulled the open door to her unflinchingly. The interior was dark, cool, and empty. Her shoes clacked on the concrete floor. "I'm inside. Where did you go?"
"Right here," the words brushed against her ear. She whirled and someone else grabbed her arms as she caught the glint of metal. "April, April, you are becoming predictable. Just offer information about your new pet subject and you come so willingly, and you new pet subject is whatever the lead story is on the eleven o'clock news." He traced her jawbone with his finger until she jerked her head away. "I can safely say you did not call your friends."
"What's your information, Shredder," April hissed. "I don't have time for games."
His dark eyes narrowed above his mask. "You will make time for this game. You are a key participant."
"What's the game? Maybe I don't want to play?"
"The only game worth playing. And I do have a small portion of information concerning the Ronin. She does not work for me." He turned to the ninja, "Search her."
The ninja yanked her purse away and frisked her. All he found was her Turtle Comm. The Shredder nodded as he examined the contents of her purse. "Put her with the others."
The ninja shoved her into a room. "April? What are you doing here?"
"Zack? Splinter? He got you two too? Where's Casey?"
"Safe in the Lair," Zack scowled. "This isn't good for the good guys."
"Something weird is going on."
Keno set his red pizza insulator box on top of the others and turned to Dan. "My shift's over. Now what's so wrong that it couldn't have waited five minutes?"
"I've been trying to reach Zack for over thirty minutes and he hasn't answered."
"Maybe he's busy."
"Casey said he took Splinter to a temple."
"They turned it off so they wouldn't be disturbed."
"I can't reach April either. By Turtle Comm or phone. And she never turns off hers."
"Okay, maybe something's wrong. Have you called the guys?"
"If it's nothing . . . ."
"Which it probably is," Keno interrupted.
"I'll look like an idiot."
"All right." Keno escorted Dan out the back door of the pizza parlor and into the alley. "What's the plan?"
"I don't really have one."
"You tell me all this and you don't even have a plan!"
Keno sighed and turned the corner to face the pack of Purple Dragons. "Back up slowly."
Keno glanced over his shoulder. A matching pack of Dragons blocked the exit. "Oh great."
"I have a plan." Dan backed up against Keno.
"Get out of this alive."