Holding tight to Michelle’s hand, Michelangelo felt his heart drop. Whatever Lord Simultaneous was mad about had something to do with Donatello’s trans-dimensional portal device. Was Lord Simultaneous there to undo the last year? The thought of never knowing Michelle caused a hard lump to form in his stomach.
“And, you,” Lord Simultaneous said turning his attention to the Daimyo. “You allowed them to pass through the portal into the Nexus. They do not belong in this Nexus.”
“Wait,” Donny interrupted. “This Nexus? There’s more than one? I thought this was the center of the multiverse?”
Lord Simultaneous groaned and turned his attention back to Donny. “There are multiverses with in the multiverse,” he said as if it were common knowledge. “There is a reason you’re not fighting various versions of yourselves here. They all have a Nexus assigned to them. There are even several versions of Null Time.”
“There are, like, multiple realities we have to keep in check,” Renet stated. “It’s a lot of work and it keeps getting bigger. I’ve even met three different versions of myself. That’s a trip. But, I don’t have to tell you about that.”
Lord Simultaneous turned his attention back to the Daimyo. “Do you have any idea the trouble that was almost created when you let these alternate Turtles through your portal? Reality almost crashed in on itself when the different Nexuses they were meant to go to tried to compensate by merging.”
“I did not think it would be an issue,” the Daimyo said in his defense. “They were coming from Third Earth.”
“But they don’t belong on Third Earth,” Lord Simultaneous replied. “In fact. They don’t belong anywhere. They are supposed to be dead. Including this one.” He pointed at Donny. “Your cloned body was supposed to disintegrate.”
Leatherhead, who had been standing quietly with Snow in his arms, suddenly moved forward to loom over the two Time Keepers. A low, ticking rumble resonated from his chest as he glared down at them. “That is a discrepancy that you will not correct.”
“Steady,” Donny soothed, caressing Leatherhead’s cheek.
“If none of this was supposed to happen,” Tello interjected, “why is it that the Turtles throughout the multiverse who had died are lining up to be reborn in this…, their world? This stands to reason that this was somehow destined.”
“You’ve got it reversed,” Lord Simultaneous said in rebuttal. “You weren’t destined to meet so they could be reborn. The spirit realm is an opportunist, taking advantage anytime something occurs to give you guys the ability to have children, but has no control over where this happens.”
“What’s taking you guys so long?” Raph said as he and Leo entered the room. “I thought we were gonna show the girls the pavilion and surrounding market.” Surprise and worry splayed across their faces the moment their eyes fell on Lord Simultaneous and Renet. “What are you guys doing here?”
“And, why does Mikey look like he’s on the verge of tears,” Leo added. “What’s going on?”
“We’re still getting to that,” Donny answered, fixing Lord Simultaneous with a steady gaze. “But don’t worry. Something tells me that if they wanted to fix everything by doing a reset, they wouldn’t have bothered coming here to tell us about it.”
“You’re correct,” Lord Simultaneous said with a slight nod. “If resets were only as simple as you make them sound. No. I’m here to inform you of the near cataclysmic event you caused so we can avoid the incident from happening again. Their existence in your world is fine, we can work around it. It was when they entered the Nexus that things really started to go awry.”
“Wait a minute,” Mikey interrupted. “If they weren’t supposed to enter the Nexus, why didn’t you stop it from happening?”
“It’s not that simple!” Pinching the bridge of his nose, Lord Simultaneous let out an exasperated sigh. “You don’t know how this works, do you.”
“I thought that was pretty much established,” Mikey replied.
“We can’t predict the future,” Renet stated with a snort. “Only observe it as it happens.”
“But you know what’s going to happen,” Mikey argued.
“Yes, but it must happen for us to know about it,” Lord Simultaneous said. “This timeline must continue to exist so we know the consequences of them entering the Nexus from Third Earth. Without it, we would not know and we get into paradoxical consequences. If I did go back to prevent them from entering, it would only create another yet another parallel dimension.”
“It’s complicated,” Renet added.
“My head is starting to hurt,” Michelle whimpered.
“Don’t try to think about it and just take our word for it,” Lord Simultaneous said to her. “We will be the ones to take you home. Okay,” Lord Simultaneous said, shifting his gaze to look them all in the eyes to drive the statement home. “After we get you all home, the girls, and the Donatello from another dimension cannot come back.”
“We’re never gonna get a chance to fight in the Nexus?” Rachael said with a hint of anger behind her usually stoic tone.
“That’s right,” Lord Simultaneous replied.
“Fine by me,” Donna shrugged.
Rachael huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. “That sucks.”
“What about our children?” Donny asked, retrieving Snow from Leatherhead to show her to them. “Will they be allowed to fight in the tournament one day?”
“Snow can,” Renet answered, stepping forward to get a closer look at Snow. “She is so cute,” she cooed, leaning down to rub noses with Snow. “I can’t believe this little thing becomes such an amazing fighter.”
“The others cannot,” Lord Simultaneous continued as he shot Renet a warning glare, causing her to back away. “They are also not supposed to exist. This includes the one you are carrying now.” He looked up at the Daimyo. “I know these four had followed their father through the portal several years back. Don’t let their kids do the same. Block them from entering.”
The Daimyo nodded. “You have my word.”
“I know it all sounds totally harsh,” Renet said apologetically. “But, we have done so- much to let you guys have this. The few rules you guys have to follow is a fair trade off.”
“What do you mean by that?” Raph demanded.
“There are those who would have preferred that your tampering with interdimensional events be undone,” Lord Simultaneous explained. “They didn’t care about the amount of work it would have taken. However, since you have done so much in your dimension and the multiverse as a whole, Renet managed to persuade me to pull some strings to allow this reality to continue to exist.”
“It wasn’t easy. We had to… uh…. What’s the best way to put it?” Renet looked off to the side as she thought. “It’s like, putting sealant on a cord to prevent it from unraveling.”
Donny lifted an eye ridge. “I don’t follow.”
“We have to ensure that there are no offshoots from this dimension,” Lord Simultaneous offered. “From the moment Michelangelo saved the Donatello from an alternate universe, we have made sure that there are no other parallel lines.”
“Which is why we couldn’t go to the point in time to prevent the girls from coming here,” Renet added. “It would have caused an offshoot of this dimension. One where they came here and one where they did not. We need to keep it at the one.”
“But, we’re not here to get deep into the complexities of how the multiverse works,” Lord Simultaneous said, waving it off. “The whole reason for this trip is to prevent the near cataclysmic event from happening again.”
“You have my word,” Leo stated with a slight bow of his head. “After you return us home, Splinter, Raph, Donny, Mikey and I will be the only ones to enter the Nexus from now on.”
“And Snow,” Donny added. “Once she’s old enough. Leatherhead too…. He’ll want to watch her fight.”
“She grows into a great warrior,” Renet said with a smile that then faded. “Not always a good person, but a great warrior.”
Donny held Snow protectively against his chest. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oops. I wasn’t supposed to say that,” Renet hesitated as she thought and looked down at Lord Simultaneous for help.
“There’s no harm in a general explanation,” Lord Simultaneous said with a grunt. “Now that you’ve brought it up. No details.”
“Right. In every other dimension, you’re dead since you didn’t have the other Donatello there to save you,” Renet said sorrowfully. “And in others, Raphael… did not survive the attack. So, Snow… she gets a thirst for vengeance and it consumes her. But, I’m sure this Snow will be fine as long as she is raised with love.”
“She gets that in spades,” Donny said, hugging Snow.
“Good,” Lord Simultaneous said. “Then all will be well. Now that it’s all settled, Renet and I have to get back to work. The multiverse is a never-ending cascade of problems when it comes to you turtles. We will return at the end of the tournament to take you home,” Lord Simultaneous said, opening a portal. “Don’t attempt to leave without us.”
“You have our word,” Splinter reassured him.
“Thank you for allowing us to continue to live on Third Earth with the guys,” Michelle said while waving goodbye.
“Thank you for allowing us to continue to live,” Rachael added as the portal closed.
“Why don’t we clear our heads while we take a look around the pavilion and wait for the next tier of the tournament to begin,” Leo offered. “We still have some time.”
A huge swell of relief filled Mikey and he pulled Michelle into a tight hug. Despite what Lord Simultaneous had said, it still felt like they had almost lost the girls. He did not want to go back to that unbearable loneliness.
From the way the others were acting, they felt the same. They all hugged their loved ones. Even Splinter and Sliver shared a modest display of affection, pressing their foreheads together.
Mikey swore that he would never take Michelle for granted. There were so many in the multiverse who will never know the joy of her being in his life.