Return of the Mighty Mutanimals

a story by Jephael



AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place in 1995, two years after the Mutanimals' tragic demise in the "Terracide" storyarc.

  Leonardo couldn't tell where he was. It was too misty to see anything and all he could feel was the gravely ground beneath his feet.
  "Leonardo, it is good to see you."
  Leo jumped at the sound of his name, but he quickly recognized the voice that had spoken it. "Man Ray?" He turned to see his old friend standing beside him. "But-but how?"
    Man Ray put his hand on Leo's shoulder. "It's a long story, my friend. Suffice it to say, my fellow Mutanimals and I have been reaching out to you and your brothers for some time now. It hasn't been easy."
  "But why now? Why after all this time?" Leonardo asked.
  "The world is in grave danger and we need you four to bring us back so we can help save it."
  Before Leo could ask any further questions, Man Ray vanished and he could feel himself sinking into the earth. "Man Ray, come back! Help me!"



artwork by SuperMichaelMan
    Donatello found himself on what looked like a deserted island somewhere in the Florida Keys. The sight was beautiful to him. "Boy, give me a portable computer, and I'd be in heaven!"
  "You're not far off, Mon."
    Don's eyes went wide when he heard the familiar voice of Dreadmon. He looked behind himself to see the wolf man accompanied by none other than Mondo Gecko. "Okay, this can't be real! I must be imagining you guys or something."
  "Chill out, bro ham!" the mutant lizard said. "We're real. Well, not as real as we used to be, but it is us. We came to you in your dream so we could deliver a message."
  "A message?"
  "Ya, Mon. The world is going to end unless you and your brothers bring us Mutanimals back to life." Dreadmon added.
    "Back to life? How on Earth would we pull that off?" the turtle asked as he scratched his head when he noticed Mondo Gecko and Dreadmon were gone. "Hey, where'd you go?" He looked out into the water, only to see a humongous wave approaching him. "This can't be good."



artwork by Kobb
    Michaelangelo was climbing a large tree trunk when he noticed two strange figures sitting on one of the branches just a few feet above. "Yo dudes, what're you doing up here?"
  "We could ask you the same thing, plankton chip!"
  "Planto- wait a minute!" Mikey said as he reached the branch to come face to face with "Wingnut and Screwloose? It can't be! You and the other Mutanimals have been-"
  "Pushing up daisies?" Wingnut finished.
  "Yea, pretty much." the turtle replied. "So like am I dreaming or something?"
  "Well, sort of. But don't go jumping out of the tree just yet." Screwloose commented. "We came here to warn you about something that's threatening to destroy the world!"
  "That can't be good."
  "No, it isn't. That's why we need you and those other shellbacks to return us to the land of the living." Wingnut added.
      Michaelangelo was taken aback at the statement, but before he could say anything else, he felt the tree swaying back and forth, almost as if something were causing it to break free from its roots. "Uh oh, we better get down from-" Mikey looked back to see Wingnut and Screwloose were now gone. "Great, leave me hanging!"


      It was a typical dream for Raphael. He was fighting some human street thugs in a dark alleyway, taking them down one by one. With every criminal he finished, two more showed up. Some of them taunted Raph, which only made him angrier.
  "What a lousy ninja. No wonder she dumped you, ya freak!"
  "Shut the hell up!!!" he said as he stabbed the goon in the chest with his sai.
  "You're worthless. You couldn't even help rescue your brother."
  "YOU DON'T KNOW SPIT ABOUT ME!!!" Raphael screamed as he punched the other punk in the jaw.
    Six men were left, and they began to advance on him when from out of nowhere a large green tail swung out and caused the gang to evaporate. "Ut, you really need to learn to calm yourself, Raph."
  "Si, amigo. It's not good to hold onto these feelings and let them manifest into this anger."
      Raphael couldn't believe his eyes as he saw his long dead friends Leatherhead and Jagwar standing before him. But instead of being happy to greet them, he became even more on edge. "What kind of sick mind trick is this?! You're not my friends!"
  "Raphael, please calm yourself. It is us. Our spirits have been stuck between life and death for the better part of a year now and-"
  "Shut up, just SHUT UP!!! You can't be real!" Raph ran from the alleyway and crossed the street just when a bus came down the road and everything went white.



artwork by Machias Banshee


    One by one, each of the Turtles awoke from their visions. It was only 6:00 in the morning, but they were all so rattled by what they saw they couldn't go back to sleep.
    Michaelangelo went into the kitchen to have himself a bowl of cereal while Donatello poured himself a cup of coffee. Raphael went into the training room to hit the punching bag. He was already in a cold sweat, but too worked up to care.
    Leonardo meanwhile went to check on Master Splinter who was still sound asleep. Leo closed the door to his sensei's room and walked passed the door to the training room from which he could hear Raphael grunting. "Hey Raph, is everything okay in there?"
  "I'm fine, Leo. I don't need to talk with you, all right?"
  "You sure?" Leonardo asked as he poked his head into the room.
  "Leave me alone, damn it!" Raph took a deep breath and exhaled. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
  "It's okay, Raph. Come on, lets go eat some breakfast."
  By the time Leonardo and Raphael got to the kitchen, Mikey was halfway done eating his Apple Jacks. "Morning, guys." he said with his mouth full.
  "Mike, remember what Master Splinter said about table manners?" Don said.
  "Hey, cut me a break! I didn't sleep well. I had this weird dream that I saw Wingnut and Screwloose up in a tree!"
  "That's funny. I dreamt that I saw Man Ray somewhere." Leo mentioned.
  "I ran into Dreadmon and Gecko in my dream. They were warning me about some danger coming." Donatello added.
  "Man Ray said the same thing to me."
  "How about you, Raph? Did any of the other Mutanimals come to you in a dream?" Mikey asked.
  "Uh yea, I might've seen Jagwar and Leatherhead. Only..."
  "Only what?" Don asked.
  "I was kinda freaked out when I saw them, so I told them to stuff it and I ran out into oncoming traffic."
  "For God sake, doesn't your subconscious even have any common sense?!" Michaelangelo scolded his brother.
  "Hey, I thought it was Null or somebody trying to mess with my head. Before they showed up I was fighting a bunch of punks who were calling me a loser and talking about Ninjara!"
  "It can't be a coincidence that we each saw the Mutanimals in our dreams." Leonardo said. "Do you suppose it's possible they're actually trying to reach us from beyond the grave?"
  "That's a pretty far out notion, though I'm a scientist so I don't do supernatural type stuff." Donatello replied. "Maybe Splinter might know something."
  "About what, my pupil?" the wise old rat spoke as he entered the kitchen.
  "Sensei, what're you doing up?" Leo asked.
  "I like to awaken early in order to prepare for the day. What about you four? You aren't ordinarily up this soon."
  "Master Splinter, this is gonna sound mega-weird, but we were visited by the Mutanimals in our sleep!" Michaelangelo explained.
  Splinter chuckled. "Believe me, I've seen much weirder things. But please, do go on. Were all of you with all of them in the same dream?"
  "No, we each had our own dream where one of us encountered two of them." Leo answered. "Or in my case, just one since there were only seven Mutanimals."
  "They said they wanted us to bring them back to life in order to save the world." Donatello added.
  "So I see. They were an extraordinary group, though I can't imagine them somehow conquering death." Splinter exclaimed. "Wait a minute. Death! My sons, do you remember when we teamed up with the Mutanimals to fight the Four Horsemen?"
  "I try to block out those memories, sensei. Anything that reminds me of..."
  "My apologies, Raphael." Splinter said as he patted Raph on the shoulder. "But it is important that you recollect that adventure, for it may hold the key to what these dreams were about."
    For the next hour the Turtles recounted their experience with the Four Horsemen. Mike, Don and Leo tried hard not to mention Ninjara, though it was tricky since she was so involved with them at the time.
  "I believe your path is clear, my sons. You must journey back to South America and locate the Four Horsemen. They may be the key to resurrecting the Mutanimals!"
  "I'm not really in the mood to take a flight." Raph said grumpily.
  "We got no other choice, dude." Michaelangelo replied. "If Splinter's hunch is right, those Four Horsemen dudes could be wreaking havoc even as we speak! Besides, we don't have to take a plane."
  "What do you mean?" Leonardo asked.
  "Three words, bros: Cudley The Cowlick!"
  "On no, you are not calling that flying meatball here!" Raphael said.
  "Have you got a better idea of getting to Mutanisle?" Donatello shot back. "Come on, we've had Cudley take us back and forth countless times."
  "You have to admit, Raph, Cudley does know his way around the universe." Leonardo said.
    "I can summon Cudley immediately using meditation." Splinter said as he headed into the living room. "In the meantime, why don't the four of you prepare yourselves for the journey."
  Donatello went over to the phone they had sitting on the counter and started dialing a number.
  "Who're you calling?" Raph asked.
  "Kid Terra. He might be interested in aiding us, especially considering how devastated he was when he learned the Mutanimals were killed."
  Half an hour later, the Turtles met up with Kid Terra on the roof of the Channel 6 News building. "So what's all this about bringing back the Mutanimals?"
    "It's kind of hard to explain." Leonardo answered. "Basically, we're just following a hunch from Master Splinter."
  "So what're we doing just standing around here for?!"
  "Greetings, Turtles! Hello, Michaelangelo!" Cudley said with a smile as he appeared hovering just a few feet above them.
  "Hey, Cudley! Glad you got the message!" Mikey said with excitement.
  "It's been a long time, my friends. I've been meaning to come visit, but things have been pretty hectic lately at Stump Arena."
  "That's okay, Cudley. Things have been going pretty crazy here too! But right now we really need you to take us to the Mutanimals' base pronto!"
    "Very well, though I'm afraid the place has become quite a desolate area since you were there last." Cudley spoke as he slurped up Kid Terra and the Ninja Turtles into his large mouth.
  The trip only took about three minutes, but for Raphael that was three minutes too long. "Are we there yet?"
  "Raph, quit being a jackass!" Leonardo snapped.
  "PT'OOEY!!!" Cudley uttered as he spat out his five passengers. "Here we are, my friends."
  "Thank you, Cudley. Can you do us a favor and come back in about four hours?"
  "Will do, Donatello. Elsetime then."
    The Turtles looked around to see the trees had all been stripped of their green leafs and the trunks had scorch marks all over them. "Cudley wasn't kidding, dudes. This place just isn't the same." Michaelangelo said grimly.
  "Makes me wonder what old Jagwar would think." Kid said.
  "Funny coming from you, cowboy!" Raphael quipped. "So what're we looking for anyway, or are we just sight-seeing?"
  "Hold it! I hear someone." Leonardo said as he took out his katana. "It sounds like chanting. This way!"
  Kid Terra and the other Turtles followed Leo towards what was left of the Mutanimals' headquarters. The closer they got, the louder the mysterious chanting became.
  "Ah, if it isn't my son's old friends."
  Kid's eyes widened at the sight of the beautiful woman in leopard skin cloths. "Juntarra, what on Earth are you doing here?"
  "I am helping you on your quest to bring back Jagwar and the others. I've been feeling their spirits for months, crying out from beyond their shallow graves!"
  "I wouldn't say their graves are shallow. I mean our future selves dug those holes a good three or four feet deep."
  "Raphael, for crying out loud!" Donatello said.
  "Your future selves meant well, but they couldn't comprehend why the Mutanimals were destined to die, to be resurrected at the right moment."
  "How exactly are we going to do that?" Michaelangelo asked.
  "It is really quite simple. With the power of this orb, I will be able to harness Death's powers and revive the Mutanimals."
  "The Turnstone!!! Where'd you find that?" Leonardo asked.
    "It appeared to me the day the Mutanimals were slaughtered. I knew right away what it was capable of, but I was told by the Jaguar Spirit not to use it until the time came. He knew something terrible was going to happen on this day and the Mutanimals had to learn of it first from the other side."
  "Okay, but that still doesn't explain how they came to us in our dreams." Donatello admitted.
  Juntarra laughed. "For such a smart reptile, you can be pretty ignorant. The doorway between life and death is always opened in our dreams, but you can only see it when someone you deeply care about is trying to reach you from the other side. My son was always aware of that."
  Raphael shook his head in disbelief. "Are you seriously telling us that magic crystal ball is going to bring our friends back to life? No offense, but that really sounds like a load of CR-RAP!"
    Juntarra scowled at him. "I've been sensing your skepticism since you've arrived here, Raphael. I find that sad since you've experienced so much in the past, especially around the time you were with that fox lady. What was her name?"
  "I don't think you should go there, Juntarra. Trust me, I know what it's like to have a broken heart." Kid said.
    "Heartache over a breakup is nothing compared to the heartache of losing a child!" Juntarra said angrily. "I ask you to please assist me now. The Four Horsemen are destined to arrive soon, and we must be prepared!"
    The Turtles set to work as Juntarra instructed by digging up the Mutanimals' grave. Luckily, it wasn't necessary to move the bodies to a new location. Kid Terra meanwhile kept a lookout over the horizon. As he stood there he thought back to the day Man Ray forgave him for killing Bubbla the Glubub.
  "I want to thank you for being here today. It means a lot to me that you will witness the rebirth of the Mutanimals."
  "It's my pleasure, Juntarra." Kid said as he held her hand. "You know I never could bring myself to admit this, but I always sort of... liked you."
  Juntarra smiled. "I know. Perhaps in another life we could've been lovers."
  "Hey Don, Mike, check it out." Raphael said quietly. "It looks like the cowboy is getting chummy with Jagwar's mom."
  "She did nurse him back to health after Null shot him, so I'm guessing they grew a bond." Donatello figured.
  "Looks like more than that to me though. He is so macking on her!" Michaelangelo said, just a little too loudly.
  Leonardo groaned and shook his head. "You guys are classless."
  "The hour is upon us." Juntarra said as she let go of Kid Terra's hand. "The Four Horsemen will be here any minute."
  "Great! I've been looking forward to a rematch with those ugly freaks!" Raphael said brandishing his sai.
    "They aren't the ones we are here to vanquish." she spoke as the four shadowy figures emerged from behind the Mutanimals' graves. "It's about damn time you showed yourself, Death! I summoned you here hours ago!"
    "Forgive me, Juntarra. It has been so long I forgot where this place was. Ah, hello my old friends." the skeleton said as he waved his bony arm at the Turtles.
  "Um, hi." Mikey said meekly as he waved back before poking Leo on the shoulder. "Dude, this is really getting weird!"
  "I know, but obviously she has a plan. If things get too hairy, we'll step in." the fearless leader said quietly to his brothers.
    Using puppet strings, War, Famine and Pestilence brought the Mutanimals' remains out of their graves. "Excellent work, my sons!" Death said to them as he turned to Juntarra and placed his hands on the Turnstone. "Are you ready to join us?"
  "Yes, I am."
  "Join them?" Kid Terra said. "What does he mean by that?"
      "In order for the Mutanimals to be reborn, I must sacrifice my own freedom. I must become one with Death." With that Juntarra's eyes began to glow as the Turnstone itself began emitting a powerful beam that shot out and enveloped the Mutanimals. Amazingly, the beam regenerated the Mutanimals' bodies. At the same moment Death fused with Juntarra. Her leopard skinned clothes vanished and were replaced with a black cloak. "Return to me, my son. Return, and bring those that perished alongside you."
    "This is some crazy shit, huh guys?" Kid said as he looked over to the Turtles who suddenly were frozen in place. "Guys? What's the matter? What the hell did you do to them?!"
  "Worry not, Kid Terra. The Turtles are perfectly fine, for the spirits of the Mutanimals reside within them, and have done so for a very long time."
    Suddenly the ghostly form of Man Ray emitted from Leonardo's body just as Dreadmon and Mondo Gecko's souls emerged from Donatello. Wingnut and Screwloose followed, leaving Michaelangelo in shock just as Jagwar and Leatherhead left Raphael in a cold sweat.
  One by one, the Mutanimals reunited with their respective bodies. Behind them War, Famine and Pestilence evaporated into thin air.
  Juntarra removed the hood from her cloak as she kissed Jagwar on the forehead. "My son, welcome back to the land of the living."
  "Thank you, Madre. If it weren't for your sacrifice-"
  "We'd still be crab meat!"
  "Don't be disrespectful, Screwloose." Man Ray said. "I also wish to express my most gracious appreciation."
  "You're all quite welcome. Enjoy your new lives, Mutanimals!" Juntarra said as she vanished.
    The Turtles walked up to their friends and smiled. Michaelangelo was the first to break the silence. "So um, what's it feel like to be brought back to life?"
  "It tingles a little bit, Mon. I have to admit though, getting killed hurt like hell!" Dreadmon said.
  "I wouldn't doubt that." Leonardo said as he shook hands with Jagwar. "It's good to have you guys back."
  "Si. We couldn't have done it without you."
  "Hey, sorry for the way I freaked out at you in my dream." Raphael said to Leatherhead.
  "Ut! It's okay, Raph. To be quite honest, I would've done the same thing."
  "It's good to see you, cowboy!" Mondo Gecko said, shaking hands with Kid Terra.
  "Same here, friend. I have to say, I missed you boys!"
  "We sure missed being alive! Heaven was fun, but it just doesn't beat good old Earth."
  "You were actually in heaven?" Donatello asked.
  "For a little while we were, but the powers that be decided it wasn't really our time yet." Wingnut explained.
  "Some saintly dude decided we'd be of use as guardian angels, appearing to people in their dreams and helping them out." Mondo Gecko mentioned. "That's how we found out about this demon guy who-"
  Just then the Earth shook with a large tremor. "Speak of the devil!" Man Ray said. "All right, Garticus! Show yourself!"
    "You speak my name, Mutanimals, but you do not know the terror that it will instill once I've taken over this puny world!" a fiendish voice retorted.
    Kid and the Turtles couldn't believe their eyes as they saw what looked like a six foot tall figure with the hind legs of a horse, the body of a walrus, the arms of a lion and the head of a golden retriever.
  Michaelangelo didn't know whether to be scared or amused at the sight. "So like what kind of whacked out creature are you supposed to be?"
      "I am an abomination created by the Greek goddess Iris. She was attempting to meld the world's greatest creatures into one, but the experiment was put to a halt by Zeus himself. Left to wander purgatory, I was shunned everywhere I went until I encountered a being similar to myself. A being known as Chien Khan!"
  "Chien Khan?!" Leonardo said. "But I thought April and Chu Hsi took care of that overgrown basset hound!"
  "Si, that's what we thought too." Jagwar replied. "As it turned out though, Garticus doesn't play well with others, and he quickly turned his back on Chien Khan the moment he found his own way back to Earth."
  "Enough talk! Once I have disposed of you all, the world will tremble before me!" Garticus said menacingly.
  "Oh shut up, plankton chip!" Screwloose snapped as he and Wingnut leapt into action and tackled the demon. Leatherhead soon joined in on the fight.
  "Ut! You might as well give up and go back where you came from! You were no match for us in Purgatory and you'll be no match for us here on Earth!"
      Garticus struggled helplessly under Leatherhead's massive arms. "Fine! I'll admit defeat... for now. But mark my words, Mutanimals, you will soon find yourselves back in the land of the damned! And when that day comes, the world will be mine and I will dance on your graves!" With that he vanished into thin air as quickly as Juntarra did earlier.
  "Well, that went way better than I hoped." Man Ray said.
  "For sure. I thought he was going to do that weird thing with his frog tongue again!" Mondo Gecko added.
  "I can't speak for my brothers, but I definitely don't need to know anything else about that weirdo!" Donatello said, someone grossed out by Mondo's comment.
  Just then Cudley the Cowlick showed up in the sky. "Greetings Turtles and... Mutanimals? Why I can't believe my eyes!"
  "Believe it, Cusdter. Our old amigos are back!" Michaelangelo said with excitement in his voice.
  "We should really throw you dudes a party in New York to celebrate!" Raphael added. "You can even crash in our lair for a while."
  "That's mighty nice of you, Mon, but we wouldn't want to impose." Dreadmon said.
    "Aw come on, Dreadmon! You and Jagwar have never been to the city before. It's awesome!" Mondo Gecko said, having gotten excited himself about the idea of going back to his hometown. "I can't wait to see the look on Candy's face when she sees we're back!"
  "You know, Candy took it awfully hard when you died. She hasn't been the same since." Leonardo said to Mondo as they proceeded to enter Cudley's mouth.
  "It certainly didn't help how Null hypnotized her into becoming his love slave!" Donatello added as the inter-dimensional cowlick ascended back into the sky.
  "He did WHAT?!" Mondo shouted. "That bastard!!! If I ever see him again, I'll-"
  "Take it easy, bro. Candy may have been majorly effected by all the crap Null and the Malignoids caused, but she's a pretty tough cookie." Raphael assured the mutant lizard.
  "For sure. She's been living with Oyuki and April the last couple years. Infact, she even helped us take down this one baddie by the name Vid Vicious last Fourth of July!" Michaelangelo chimed in.
  "Still, I wouldn't want to see any poor woman seduced by that demonic prick!" Kid Terra mentioned.
  "Si, senior." Jagwar added as Cudley spit the twelve passengers back into the Channel 6 roof.
  "Space-time to get going then. I hope you don't mind, but I would like very much to inform Stump and Sling of this amazing occurrence!"
  "Ut, sure. But uh, tell them not to expect Little 'Skeeter and I back in the ring any time soon." Leatherhead responded.
  Screwloose smacked himself on the forehead. "How many times must I ask you not to call me that in public?"
  "Aw, but it be such a sweet term of endearment, Mon!" Dreadmon commented. "So uh, where to from here?"
  "First thing's first... we grab some 'za!" Leo answered with a sly grin.
  "Sounds like my kinda plan, bro-ham!" Mondo Gecko said.
    That same moment just a few blocks downtown, Candy Fine awoke to Mr. Big's To Be With You. She couldn't help but smile as it made her think back to when she was just a kid, before meeting mutants and aliens. Sadly, her daydreaming was cut short by a knock at her bedroom door. "Uh, come in."
  Oyuki popped her head in through the doorway. "Hey, April and I are about to head out for a jog and stop by 7-Eleven, Just wanted to know if you needed anything."
  "I'm good. Gonna hop in the shower before I head out myself." the beautiful blonde woman said as she got up and proceeded to remove her clothing. Just as she grabbed a bathrobe, she overheard a news announcer over the radio say -
  "This just in, a reported Ninja Turtle sighting on the outskirts of town!"
  "That's right, Tommy! The fab four were spotted with a large group of other strange mutant creatures.on the outskirts of the Channel 6 building where their friend journalist April O' Neil was once employed."
  "I'll tell ya one thing, Ralph. Any guy... mammal or reptile would consider himself one lucky fella to have somebody like her in his life!"
  "Amen to that! Now back to our classic rock countdown, here's a hit by Roxette titled-"
  "Candy Fine?"
  Startled by the unfamiliar voice, Candy clutched the belt on her robe as she turned around to see the strange orange-haired, purple-skinned woman now greeting her. "Uh yea?"
  "Forgive the intrusion, my dear. I'm Cherubae, a friend of the Turtles' as well as Leatherhead, Wingnut and Screwloose. Sadly I never had the pleasure of meeting Mondo, Man Ray, Jagwar and Dreadmon... that is until today."
  "I'm sorry, what... what the hell are you talking about?"
  "The Mutanimals. They've been brought back to life via the Turnstone."
  "I-I need to process this a moment." Candy said as she sat back on her bed.
  "Take all the time you need, my dear." Cherubae said with a smile as she looked out the window and gazed upon the sun beams emitting from the afternoon sky. "Great day to be alive, isn't it?"
  "Very funny. Let me get this straight, the Turnstone just happened to pop up out of nowhere and resurrect the Mutanimals?!" Candy said, still in a state of shock.
  "You don't sound so convinced here. Why don't you proceed to take your shower and meet me down at the lobby?"
  "Um, sure. I'll just do that."
    Meanwhile in the Turtles' lair, Leatherhead was gazing upon a photo of himself with the other Mutanimals and the Ninja Turtles.
  "Feels like a lifetime ago, am I right?" Raphael commented.
  "Ut! You got that right. Heck, I still remember back when I first was transformed and tricked by Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady into fighting you guys. Whatever happened to those punks anyway?"
  "About a month before our trip to Jerusalem, those two knuckleheads showed up bare ass naked, terrorizing a grocery store. Ninjara and I were all set to take them out when Leo was all like We had things under control, Raph! You're not being a team player and all that bullshit!"
  "Uh dude, Leonardo wasn't totally off base. Bebop and Rocksteady just wanted to buy some snacks." Michaelangelo insisted. "Don even noted they were too dimwitted to realize they were stealing. Besides, last we heard they've been living peacefully on that Eden planet."
  "Oh whatever! Like I give two shits about those morons! They're nothing but trouble!"
  "Geez, Raph. What suddenly got your goat?!"
  "My son, are you sure Bebop and Rocksteady are not the source of your emotional outburst?"
  "Si. Splinter makes a good point." Jagwar spoke. "When Leatherhead and I were inside your dream, we couldn't help but notice those thugs who were trash talking you. Perhaps they represented your inner demons."
  "Okay, you know what?! This conversation is over!!!" Raphael said as he stormed off towards the dojo.
  "What's with the plankton chip?" Screwloose asked.
  "Trying to reason with him some days is like pulling teeth!" Leo commented.
    Mondo Gecko was the first to follow Raphael into the dojo. "Hey man, I know what it's like to have your heart stepped on. It takes time. Plus you never know. I lucked out when I got Candy back. Maybe the same will happen for you."
  "I highly doubt it, Mondo. Besides Candy came back to you because she realized it was wrong to reject you based on your mutated appearance. Ninjara broke up with me because she realized what an asshole I am. I can't say I blame her for it. Listen, why don't you go be with the others? I kinda want to be alone right now."
  "I'm not so sure I should leave you alone. Sounds to me like you've been really hurting all this time."
  Raphael let out a sigh as he turned to look his friend in the eye. "My future self has warned me not to be such a hot-head, but I guess it's just in my nature. Because of that I lost her."
  "Sometimes these things are just beyond our control, bro." Michaelangelo said, standing from the doorway. "Come on, the pizza's just about to arrive. Lets have us some fun!"
  Raph smiled at he joined his brother and their friend and returned to the living room of the lair where Don, Leo and the rest of the Mutanimals were waiting. "Sorry about the outburst, guys. Now's not the time to wallow in what we've lost. It's time to celebrate what we've gotten back."
    A few hours later, April and Oyuki showed up and were more than amazed to see the Turtles with their resurrected friends. April was almost in tears as she hugged Jagwar and Man Ray who had meant so much to her during her times in South America. Having never gotten to meet the Mutanimals before, Oyuki was a little shy, but Mikey quickly took her around the room to introduce her to them, starting with Dreadmon, Wingnut and Screwloose.
    Over the next 45 minutes, the Mutanimals regaled their friends with stories of their adventures in the afterworld when Cherubae arrived along with Candy Fine. Everyone froze for a second as Mondo gecko got up and approached his girlfriend. The two nearly broke down as they embraced.
  "It's you. It's really you this time!" Candy said between sobs as she stroked the mutant gecko's hair.
  "It's me, babe."
    Once the pizzas arrived, everybody was enjoying themselves. Michaelangelo and Oyuki played darts with Leatherhead and Dreadmon, while Leonardo and Splinter chatted with Man Ray and Jagwar. Donatello was showing Wingnut and Screwloose the early designs for the cybernetic mech suits he was planning to make.
  Raphael kept quietly to himself, momentarily glancing over at Mondo Gecko and Candy cuddling on the couch. The somber turtle thought briefly back to a time he and Ninjara were that way.
  "Penny for your thoughts, Raph?" April said as she patted him on the shoulder.
  "I never told anybody this before, but there were times I was considering proposing to... her, to Ninjara."
  "You really loved her, didn't you?"
  Raphael choked back a few tears. "I thought I was finally over her, but seeing the Mutanimals back in our lives just brought up all these damn memories! I feel like such a dick for saying it, but I almost wish we hadn't revived... God, what the hell is wrong with me?! How can I even have such a messed up thought?! I'm freaking glad they're back! If anything, I wish she was never in our lives!"
  "It's good that you're letting these feelings out, Raphael." Cherubae said as she walked up to him and April. "Breakups can suck, but they're a part of growing up. Trust me when I say this - you'll meet someone new down the road, and just as special, if not moreso."
  "In the meantime, live for all of us... your friends and family." April said as she took Raphael by the hand and led him over to Leo and Splinter.
  "There's my favorite sulky bro!"
  "Very funny, Leo! Sorry for being such a whiny bitch all day. Same to you guys." Raph said as he turned to Jagwar. "Having you fellas back is the best thing ever!"
  "Glad to hear it, amigo. You know what they say - you only live twice!"
  "A men to that!" Splinter replied.


THE END


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