Leatherhead entered the town and immediately sought out Oroku Saki. The turtles had escaped him, injured him, and left him for dead but he was a survivor. The deep wound in his chest still ached, a bitter reminder of his failure. But, he would not fail again. All Turtles will pay.
He found Hun in Saki’s saloon and after a brief conversation Hun led Leatherhead to Saki. The business tycoon turned mayor was unhappy. The turtles Leatherhead was supposed have to kill had returned to town and claimed the land that Saki desired.
“Kill them,” Saki ordered, red in the face with anger. “Quickly. Do not capture them this time. Just kill them!”
“Yes, Mr. Oroku,” Leatherhead bowed. It was, after all, his goal to eradicate all turtles from this land.
Donatello sat with Leonardo at the bar to go over his options. It was going to take a lot to get the farm in working order. It was a good thing for Leonardo that the tribe was there to help. Some of the money Donatello had set aside will be used to pay Calhoun to build a new house. The rest of the money will go into fixing up the saloon.
The empty saloon was eerily quiet in the midafternoon. Donatello had become accustomed to the low din of many voices. He would reopen in a few more days. The saloon was his again to do with what he wanted. The people in town supported him before and they would support him again.
The scent that drifted from the kitchen had Donatello’s stomach declaring its hunger. Rubbing his eyes, Donatello decided that it was time for a break. “We can pick this up again after lunch…, and maybe a nap.”
Leonardo chuckled at that, leaning in to give Donny a soft kiss. “I promised Mikey that I would show him how to pickle vegetables and preserve fruit after lunch. Remember?”
“Oh yes,” Donny nodded. “I remember. He is eager to learn. I will admit that I am eager for him to learn. I remember enjoying the few jars that I had received from your father several years ago.”
“We won’t be able to eat them right away,” Leo stated as he made his way back to the kitchen. “They need time to reach their full flavor potential.”
“I will count the days,” Donatello smiled as he collected the paper work from the counter.
Leonardo entered the kitchen, leaving Donatello alone at the bar. He was so comfortable in his environment that he didn’t notice that he wasn’t alone for long. By the time he heard the foot steps behind him, his stalker was only inches away. It was the movement, caught in his peripheral vision that warned him of the danger. He managed to move away as Leatherhead brought the tomahawk down and the blade only grazed his shoulder.
Even though they had never met, he knew who it was. He had heard stories from several of the refugee turtles, including Raphael and Leonardo. There was no mistaking that the man attacking him was indeed Leatherhead. There was no doubt in his mind that the large crocodile in front of him had been sent by Saki.
Blood seeped into the torn fabric of Donatello’s shirt. Fear and pain sent him into a state of panic, closing his throat. He couldn’t have cried out for help. Time seemed to slow down and he feared that these were going to be his final moments.
Donatello tried to get away but he was trapped behind the bar. His only way out was to either jump the counter or try to get around the hunter. He decided on the former. As he turned to scramble over the bar, Leatherhead grabbed hold of him and his sharp nails tore at cloth as they struggled.
By the grace of the gods, Donatello managed to pull himself out of his attacker’s grip. Throwing himself over the bar, Donatello fell to the floor and tried to scramble away. “Help!”
“You shall die, turtle,” Leatherhead roared, leaping over the bar to land on top of Donny.
Whip in hand, Raphael rushed down the stairs to see what was causing the commotion. Reaching out to him, Donatello pleaded, “Raph!!!”
Leonardo and Michelangelo came out of the kitchen as Raph lunged himself at Leatherhead. There wasn’t any time to waste. Leonardo ran to the office to collect his guns and Michelangelo followed. The crack of Raphael’s whip could be heard over the commotion.
It didn’t take Leonardo long to collect his guns and run out of the back room. Michelangelo, however, fumbled around for a little bit. He didn’t have much experience when it came to handling a gun but he wasn’t about to sit back and do nothing.
Leonardo took aim but didn’t pull the trigger. He didn’t want to risk hitting Raphael, who was trading blows with the large crocodile. They were both all over the place and he couldn’t get a clear shot.
Donatello pulled himself off the ground and rushed over to Leonardo. “Don’t shoot!”
“I’m not an idiot,” Leo shouted back. “I’m not going to take the shot until I’m sure that I won’t hit Raph.”
Donatello glanced back at Mikey, who stood back out of the way. His hands trembled as he gripped the gun and his eyes were wide with fear. Donatello worried about how volatile Mikey was in that moment. The situation needed to be defused. He turned back to Leo. “We are not killers.”
“Are you kidding me?” Leo shouted. “He killed Usagi and Traximus in cold blood and intended on killing us just for being turtles.” His eyes went cold as he kept them on Leatherhead. “When I get a clear shot I’m taking it.”
“No, you’re not,” Donny said, stepping in front of the gun. “We can resolve this without violence.”
Leonardo looked at Donatello in disbelief. “It’s already violent. He’s fighting with Raphael and if we don’t do something, he’s going to kill Raphael. I’m not willing to lose another person who I have dared to love.”
A large crash had Donatello turning around. Raphael was on the floor and there was a large dent in the wall from where his carapace had hit. Leatherhead loomed over him, tomahawk in hand, ready to strike. Leonardo pushed past Donny and raised his gun.
“No!” Donny screamed. He ran towards Leatherhead and tackled him to the ground. “Please stop. Why are you doing this?” The tomahawk flew from Leatherhead’s hand as they hit the ground. Donatello tried desperately to hold the larger man’s hands down. “Why do you hunt our kind?”
“Your kind killed my family,” Leatherhead rumbled back as he tried to buck Donatello off. “When I came to this land, your kind attacked. You monsters took my sister and killed my mother along with the other settlers. I have sworn to eradicate your kind from this land.”
“No,” Donatello argued. “Turtles don’t kill.”
“I saw it,” Leatherhead said as he brought his tail up to strike the back of Donatello’s head. “The ones who attacked us were your large turtles with spiked shells.”
Donatello was dazed from the blow to the head but he was still aware of his surroundings. He felt Leatherhead’s large hand wrap around his neck and he was lifted. He gripped Leatherhead’s wrists as he fought to breathe. “Those were snappers, not turtles,” Don managed to choke out.
“You’re all the same,” Leatherhead replied. He moved so that Donatello was between him and Leonardo and kept Donatello in constant motion so Leonardo could not get a clear shot.
“No, we’re not,” Donatello rasped. He was starting to get light headed. “Turtles don’t kill, not even for food. Snappers have been killing and enslaving turtles since before the settlers started to take our land. We tell our children stories about them to keep them from wandering. But recently, we’ve added a new story, one about a crazed turtle hunter.”
It was hard to breathe and his vision was starting to tunnel but he swore that he saw a change in Leatherhead’s eyes. Donatello was getting weaker. His hands slipped from Leatherhead’s wrists and he went limp as he started to black out. There was a loud pop and the next thing he knew he was falling to the ground. He landed with a thud that drove the air from his lungs.
Donatello looked up to see Leatherhead down on his knees, holding his right shoulder. He couldn’t see any blood and didn’t know where Leatherhead had been shot or if he had been shot at all.
“You shot him?” Donatello rasped, turning to look at Leonardo. But Leonardo shook his head. Donatello turned back towards Leatherhead and then looked up past him. Michelangelo was still holding the gun out. His hands were trembling as tears streaked down his cheeks. It couldn’t have been. “Mikey?”
“H…He… was g…g…going to k…k…kill… you,” Mikey rambled out in his shock. “I…. I couldn’t let th…that happen.”
Tears filled Donatello’s eyes. “Mikey. The tribe….”
“I’m already marked,” Mikey cut him off. “What difference does it make?”
“You can never go back,” Donny stated. “They will never let you back in after this.”
“I don’t care,” Mikey cried out. “You’re alive. That’s all I care about.”
“He is not dead,” Raph pointed out, indicating Leatherhead. “In pain, and possibly dying, but not dead.”
“Get the kit from the office,” Donny said to Mikey and then turned to Leo. “I’m going to need your help.” He examined Leatherhead and discovered the bullet hole in his right shoulder, just above the shoulder blade. Dark blood seeped from the wound.
“You’re going to try to save him?” Leo asked, shaking his head. He still held his gun and had it pointed at Leatherhead. “He has killed countless turtles and who knows how many others, including Usagi.”
Donatello guided Leatherhead to lie on his stomach and the large hunter complied. Leatherhead was docile but Donatello had a feeling that it wasn’t because of the wound. The look on his face told Donatello that he was deep in thought. Donny pressed against the wound to see if he could feel the bullet. It wasn’t deep. The gun Michelangelo has used was a low caliber so there wasn’t much force behind it. The bullet managed to break the skin but was stopped by the dense muscle.
Michelangelo returned with the medical kit and Donatello pulled out the items he would need. He glanced up at Leonardo as he worked. “I will not leave him to suffer and die.”
“You should,” Leo said bitterly.
Tears stung Donatello’s eyes. He had to remind himself that Leonardo was raised by settlers and didn’t share in his beliefs. It still hurt to hear. He looked at Mikey. “Get me a bowl with some wood from the fire.”
“Okay,” Mikey nodded and ran off towards the kitchen.
After cutting Leatherhead’s shirt away, Donny looked at Raph. “Will you grab me a bottle of whisky?”
“Yeah,” Raph said and headed back behind the counter.
Donatello swallowed hard as he thought about what he was going to say to Leonardo. “I know you are still in pain from your loss. What he has done is horrible but I will not let him die. If you can’t understand why… maybe we need to reevaluate our relationship.”
Leonardo stood looking at Don in disbelief for a moment. Slowly his gun lowered and he placed it back in its holster. “Save him if you want to. But he murdered innocent men and I will report his crimes. Once the county finds him guilty, he will be hanged.”
Mikey returned with a copper bowl filled with small pieces of burning wood. Donatello placed the metal tools in the heat to make sure they were sterile. He would also use the heat to cauterize the wound.
When Raph handed him the bottle of whisky, Don opened it and dumped some of the contents over the wound. Leatherhead hissed and twitched but otherwise did not move. “I’m going to need you to hold him down,” Donny said to Raph and Mikey. “If he moves too much it might cause more damage.”
Raph held Leatherhead’s head and right arm while Mikey held the left arm. Donatello used a pair of pliers to remove the bullet from the wound and then pressed a heated knife against the wound to cauterize it. He then covered the wound with a salve and wrapped it with some cloth.
“As long as you don’t get an infection, you should be alright,” Donny said to Leatherhead.
“I started out as a hero,” Leatherhead mumbled, staying on the floor. “I was protecting the settlers from suffering the same fate as my family. I guided them inland from where the boats dropped them off. I fought off any of the turtles… snappers who came to harm them. I cleared the area of them and made it a safe place for the settlers. More settlers sought my help in clearing areas of the turtles who menaced them. I assumed that they were all the same. By that time I had killed so many that I had lost myself and stopped caring. I never meant to become a monster.”
Raphael knelt down next to Leatherhead. “If you want to be hero again, you must… help those you hurt.”
“I will spend the rest of my life, trying to make amends,” Leatherhead stated. “I am sorry.”
Leonardo scoffed and headed to the back. Donatello’s heart sank. He had fallen in love with Leonardo but maybe they were too different. Leonardo paused, mid step. “Mikey, did you drop some of the wood when you took it out of the fire?”
“No,” Mikey answered. “I was careful and made sure that I didn’t drop any. Besides, if I had, the floor in the kitchen is stone and nothing that could catch fire is near the stove.”
“Then why does it smell like something is burning?” Leo asked as he continued towards the back. He headed towards the kitchen and opened the door to look inside. “It’s not coming from here.”
That was when Donatello noticed the smoke coming from under the office door. “The office,” he shouted as he got to his feet. “There’s a fire in my office!” He ran to see if he could put out the fire but when he put his hand on the handle it was so hot that it burned. He cradled his hand to his chest as a fresh set of tears stung his eyes. “No,” he whimpered.
Leonardo grabbed hold of Donny and pulled him back as the fire started to lick under the bottom of the door. “We need to go,” Leo said. “Now!”
Reluctantly, Donny allowed Leonardo to pull him away from the door. Raphael and Michelangelo helped Leatherhead up and together they headed for the door. Donatello pulled away from Leo and ran up to Leatherhead. “Did you do this?”
Leatherhead shook his head. “I did not.”
“We don’t have time for this.” Leo stood with his hand on the door handle. “We’ll find out what started the fire after we get out of the burning building.” The moment he opened the door, someone fired a gun. The bullet hit the door frame, just above Leo’s head. Ducking, Leo slammed the door shut again.
“What do we do now?” Mikey asked, panicked. “How are we gonna get out?”
Donatello went to the bar and grabbed his shotgun. The cut on his shoulder stung as he held the shotgun under his arm to load it. The fire had spread beyond the office and was now starting to consume the bar. He knew that once the flames took hold of the alcohol the fire would start to spread faster.
“What are you gonna do with that?” Leo asked. “You don’t kill.”
“That’s right,” Donny nodded. “I don’t kill. These shells aren’t all that powerful and are filled with salt. It will hurt like hell but they will live, so long as they get medical attention to avoid infection.”
Donatello looked at the bullet hole in the door frame and roughly calculated the trajectory back to a possible source. “The guy who shot that is on top of the building across the street.” He held up his shotgun. “This won’t reach. So it will be up to you.”
“Whatever you do, do it quickly,” Mikey choked out. “It’s getting hard to breathe.” Smoke was billowing up from the blue flames consuming the bar and alcohol.
Leonardo looked through the window. It wasn’t the best glass. It was hard to see through and was used mostly to let light in. If Leonardo had broken the glass, he would have given away his location and the man on the roof would have shoot at him. There was just enough visibility through the yellow glass for Leo to make out a form.
Standing back from the window, Leo took his shot. The glass shattered and the flames roared as the fresh air rushed in. Donatello wasted little time. He opened the door and rushed out, the others following behind him. He looked up at the man on the building and saw him holding his arm.
“I saw the glint from his gun through the window and aimed for that,” Leo explained as they moved away from the saloon. “I must’ve hit it.”
“That’s amazing,” Donny said in awe.
Leo looked Don in the eyes. “I don’t like the idea of killing either. I want you to know that I have never killed anyone.”
People were starting to gather on the street to watch the fire. Some grabbed buckets and did their best to try to contain the fire so it didn’t spread to the other buildings. Donny stood and watched as his lively hood was consumed by the fire. “Saki had something to do with this.”
Leo nodded in agreement as he watched the fire. “He probably used Leatherhead as a distraction and sent someone else in to set the fire. Then he planted the man on top of the building to make sure we couldn’t get out.” He looked at Donny. “I don’t think you would ever be able to sway him. He aims to kill you even if you are unwilling to kill him.”
“I would be willing to make an exception for him,” Donny admitted. “Even the tribe elders reluctantly agree. That man is pure evil and we are running out of options. The money I was saving was to hire someone to do it.”
Leatherhead walked up to Donny. “Thank you for sparing me, though I do not deserve it.” He looked at Leo for a moment before dropping his gaze to the ground. “I will go to the county official now and confess my crimes. I will serve out whatever sentence they give me with dignity.”
“If you really want to redeem yourself, if you have anything on Saki then make sure you tell the county official,” Leo said. “I would much rather see him hang.”
Leatherhead nodded. “I will tell him all that I know. Farewell.” Still holding his wounded shoulder, Leatherhead left them and headed in the direction of the court house.
As the shock of the situation faded, the pain in Donatello’s shoulder started to make itself known. Looking down at himself he noticed how disheveled he was. His clothes were torn and blood ran in a slow trickle down his arm. His neck was sore and he knew that it was going to hurt worse in the morning. “This is only a temporary setback,” he whispered to himself.
“Turtles!” Saki’s voice had them turning around. Saki stood with his men on the other side of the road. Donny noted how one had his injured hand held against his chest. A wicked smile spread across Saki’s lips. “The four of you are under arrest.”
“On what charges?” Donny demanded.
“I have found my witnesses,” Saki replied, indicating his men. “They will attest to the charges against Hamato Leonardo and his companion, and that you stole the deeds from me.”
“I didn’t steal them,” Donny shouted. “I’ve never been in your home, beyond the threshold.”
“You hired someone,” Saki shouted back. “Most likely the two outlaws with whom you’ve become close friends.”
“They are new to town and in need of help,” Donny argued. “He doesn’t know the language of the tribe and needs me to help broker a deal. You have no evidence to prove otherwise.”
“I have witnesses,” Saki repeated.
“You have people you’ve payed to lie for you,” Leo blurted out, challenging Saki. “Just like you paid Old Hob to kill my parents and steal the deed to their land.”
“You kill Casey,” Raph added, pointing to Hun. “After Casey steal deeds from Don for you. I am witness. You tried to kill me.”
“Your friend was the one who stole the deeds?” Don asked in a small voice, unable to believe what he had heard. “Did you take part in it?” It felt as if his whole world was crashing down around him.
“I am sorry,” Raph answered in their native language. “I was young and stupid. It’s why I was so determined to get them back for you.”
“No one will believe you natives over me,” Saki spat out. The way he said ‘natives’, was like it had left a bad taste in his mouth. “The four of you will be hanged for your crimes.”
Mikey raised his hand. “What did I do?”
“I’m sure we’ll find something,” Saki said with an evil smile.
“There is no way, you are getting away with this,” Donny said, pointing his shotgun at Saki. Grief and anger clouded Donny’s mind. Why did everything have to go so horribly wrong? “You are the outlaw. You’re just hiding behind bureaucracy. You’ve manipulated and skirted the law to hurt others, and I would gladly give my life to stop you.”
“If that’s what you want,” Saki practically purred. His smile faded into a scowl. “Kill them.”
The turtles ran for cover as Saki’s men pulled their guns. Shots rang out, sending Donny into a near panic. He hid behind a thick post with his back against it and took a second to regain his composure. Steeling his nerves, Donny took a deep breath. Then he stepped out from behind the post, took aim at the closest of Saki’s men, and fired.