Level One: The Underground

A/N: Here we go. So this is a TMNT story I've been working on. The inspiration for it came from the manga Solo Leveling, original story by Chugong. It's a fun series, but this story isn't exactly like that, just the game theme was taken for this story. I don't guarantee an immediate update- it might be months, who knows- but I hope it will pass as an apology for anyone who is waiting on the Private's Predicament story or the next installation of the Peverell Triplets.

For the PP story, I'm not currently in my Penguins of Madagascar phase, I'm in my Harry Potter and TMNT Phase right now. I am so sorry for that. As for Year One for the Peverell Triplets, I'm almost finished with it. I have a few more chapters to go, then I need to figure out the plan for Year 2 before I being the updates for that story. So look forward to that sometime within the next couple of months.

Disclaimer: I don't own TMNT, they belong to Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and who ever bought the rights recently. This will be the only disclaimer for the story.

Story Notes: Some characters are OOC in this story. And because I like to torment dear Mikey and I love putting him with a more humane and non-vengeful Shredder. Karai is also biological daughter of Shredder.

Enjoy! Please R&R!

Summary: It was not something either of them had expected. Hell, they thought it was just a strange and weird dream. But that soon proves false. Oroku Saki and Hamato Michelangelo wind up in a twisted and sadistic game within their dreams- with real world consequences! With a puppet master hiding in the shadows and no way out except to win every level, Saki and Michelangelo have no choice but to team up to survive.

And with that partnership, a budding friendship. When their newfound dynamic slips into the realm of consciousness, neither side knows how to deal with it. What have they been truly hiding from those closest to them? How much is really known about either of them? One thing is certain, they are not what others thought they were. And their fates are drastically entwined. It's a game of survival and sadism as they play to win and survive.

Level One: The Underground

-Player One-

Michelangelo Hamato cursed as another invisible barrier blocked the stairs that led up and out of the subway, forcing him to go back once more to face the group of shadow beasts hot on his trail. He scowled at the creatures who thought they could corner him. They were shaped like wolves and large monkeys. All of them possessed glowing red eyes and gleaming white fangs and claws that made Mikey think they were planning on eating him after tearing him apart.

His nun-chucks were sent spinning with a flick of his wrists as he sprung forward and into the monsters that had surrounded him. He huffed as he finally broke through them, not watching as they dropped like puppets whose strings had been cut before they dissolved. 'Damn it! I thought I was supposed to have a player 2. So where are they?' Mikey growled to himself as two wolves popped up in front of him. He fought and pushed them back and down onto the tracks as a shadow train raced pass, when he spotted something in the corner of his eye.

A green door further down the platform. 'A safe room!' Mikey realized with relief. Then three of the monkeys replaced the wolves that had just dropped, and Mikey knew he had no choice but to run. He ran for the door as he heard the monkeys closing in behind him, only for him to pass through the green door and pull it shut. He flinched at the bang and screeches that reverberated through the frame. Then there was only silence to accompany Mikey as he looked around the safe room.

He had woken up in a plain room in the subway, with only a note written on the wall to explain the situation to him. He and a 'Player 2' had been selected through an undisclosed process to 'play' a game. They would have to work together and survive each round as they tried to piece together the puzzles, solve the riddles, and defeat the boss or complete the task necessary to help them progress. If they wanted to move on so they could escape. And as they defeated the boss of each level and continued through the game, the enemies would get more and more difficult to defeat. Thankfully he had found a few notes that hinted at other people's experiences, and hints to the boss of the level. One such note mentioning the three-piece key that would allow escape.

As for the boss here in the subway- a few notes mentioned it was strong and had an iron clad defense. He prayed he woke up before he reached the boss. Mikey scoffed at his own thought.

What a joke.

It pissed Mikey off that his mind was pulling such a stunt on him in his sleep. Sometimes, he truly hated his imagination- and himself- for making things so difficult for himself. He would've loved this usually, except that despite it being a dream, he had no control over anything in it. And that sucked. He was also thoroughly exhausted and in pain from where the creatures had gotten a few lucky hits. Mikey looked around the room a little longer and found a strange silver ring with notches, like there was another piece to it. Something told him it was part of the key mentioned in the note. He pocketed it and rested for a little longer.

Personally, he would have liked to stay in a safe room until he woke up, but the safe room- once entered by a player- had a limited amount of time that it would be impenetrable. After the allotted time had passed, it was free game for the beasts. Mikey learned this the hard way with the first safe room he had found. That was where most of his injuries had come from. Sighing in his resignation, he stood and left the room after peeking out. If he left the safe room before the allotted time was up, that remaining time was still in play for the feature that kept the monsters away. Which gave Mikey at least a few minutes to get further through the subway before they picked up his scent once more.

Luck was on Mikey's side, as he didn't cross paths with any monsters for the rest of his time in the subway. He had come to a wall with two arches going forwards. And he knew he had to make a choice. He went left and continued for another several minutes before he found a large, cavernous room that resembled a very large platform with pillars and some fallen debris here and there. The platform had a couple drop offs into tracks coming and going from tunnels on either side of the platform. It was dim, but on the other side of the platform, he could make out a sealed door. He tensed and decided to play it safe as he moved between the pillars towards the side in case anything was around.

It was only a couple minutes before he heard the sound of a blade swinging through the air. He ducked on instinct, rolled out of the way and towards his attacker with his chains in hand and it clashed and tangled with a triple bladed glove that Mikey was all too familiar with. His blue eyes widened as they met with the Shredder's own brown ones. 'Really brain?!' Mikey squeaked internally. 'Whatever the hell this place is, it wasn't enough for you? You had to add in a damn Shredder?' he scowled at his thoughts and pushed Shredder's blades back so he could stand and jump back away from the man. He was ready for a fight.

-Player 2-

Oroku Saki was not pleased when he opened his eyes to find himself in a dingey and stained subway office with a note telling him that he and a 'Player 1' were in a twisted game. He was also frustrated at the fact that he couldn't place what was done or said to influence his subconscious in such a way. After all, he hadn't played any games in years.

To really improve his mood, the moment he left the office to see where he had wound up, he was immediately attacked by a group of shadow like monkeys the size of chimpanzees. He was not pleased as he watched them fall like marionettes with their strings cut or how they faded back into the shadows they had come from.

So here he was, wandering a disgusting subway and trying to find either a way out or a way to wake up. As he explored- he can't believe he had to use that word for himself- he had come across small notes with content that described what could be a large and deadly creature waiting for him at the end of this ridiculous dream. He had found a small silver plate with notches indicating something attached to it in his second safe room and had been searching for the other pieces that he was sure went with it. After all, if he had to escape to wake up, he would. He hoped he could get out without fighting the boss of the level or whatever it was... A newly discovered note put an end to that thought, unfortunately.

According to the note, whoever it was had found the two parts of the key but was unable to activate the key due to the third piece being swallowed by the beast in the subway depths. This left Oroku Saki with no choice but to make his way to the depths, killing off beasts as they came at him. At one point, he had the choice of two archways to go through and chose the right. It was a roundabout kind of path, and he suspected the other tunnel led to the same room as the one he found himself in.

He studied the pillars and parallel tracks before silently making his way through, being careful in case the beast of the subway was here. He tensed when he heard the sound of footsteps. They were very light, and if he hadn't been concentrating on hearing anything at all, he would have missed them. Whoever this person was, they were trained. He waited a moment longer for the person to get closer and then attacked. However, they ducked and dodged his attack on instinct. He then brought his blades down, only for a familiar chain to clash with them. 'What the hell is that turtle doing in my dream?' Saki wondered with some annoyance as Michelangelo rolled away from him a bit and prepared himself for a fight. One Shredder was more than willing to give.

-Player One & Player Two-

The duo stared at each other for a long moment as they tensed for a fight. Just as they were rushing at each other, a loud, animalistic screech sounded, and the very foundations shook. The shock wave and their own startlement sent the duo stumbling and crashing into each other- then onto the ground- painfully as the screech began to taper off. Mikey coughed as he struggled to sit up. "Get off me turtle, before I cut you down here and now." Shredded growled.

Mikey growled back. "I'm trying!" As he pushed against Shredder's chest- only just now realizing that he didn't wear his heavy metal armor but lighter, more traditional leather armor. He pushed himself off and rolled onto his shell. "At least my subconscious got you right." He muttered, ignoring the glare the man sent him as he sat up. The duo had stood and were eyeing each other as they tried to decide their next moves. Mikey went to speak, but before he could release a single sound, the heavy thuds of footsteps sounded from his left. The duo looked over and their eyes widened.

It was a large rat, the size of a buffalo. Its fur was black and had unusual patches of sleek, shiny, flat fur on its back along the spine. That same texture was wrapped fully around its neck, connecting to the patch on its back. Then there were the ones along its sides, seemingly protecting the ribs and internal organ, with very little wiry fur between the three patches. The paws themselves were enormous and the claws more like talons. Its eyes were red, and the bald tail was nearly 7ft in length. They could see the creature's yellow incisors. They were large, sharp, and dripping drool. Mikey shuddered a little at the sight, before steeling himself. He would not die in his own dream, let alone to a monster rat. With a calculated look on his face, he ran forward and began to circle the beast, looking for its weak points.

Saki had his own eyes narrowed at the beast. Stuck fighting an enormous rat with an imaginary turtle as his only back up. Perfect. He was startled by the turtle rushing forward, but before he could scold or scoff- he wasn't sure which one would have happened- he noticed the look on the turtle's face: Cold calculation and determination. He smirked and rushed in, claws away as he drew his spare tanto blade. He always knew the orange banded turtle was observant in addition to being the wild card, and he now figured that's why his mind conjured up this particular turtle. He distracted the rat to give Michelangelo a chance to find the weak points of the beast. It was a sound strategy that the turtle's brothers always failed to implement- mostly due to their blindness when it came to the turtle in orange and his skills.

As Saki worked to keep the rat's focus, Michelangelo would dart in to swipe at one thing or another that caught his eye. The shiny and sleek patches of fur were, in fact, metal plating. Mikey noted it after one of his nun-chucks bounced off and cracked when he had made an attempt at the ribs. Blue eyes narrowed further. The shiny patches were off limits. Mikey knew that rats used their tails for balance and decided to at least give them that edge. Only, that wasn't what happened. Michelangelo sliced through the tail. And the rat gave a horrifying and mind-numbing screech, turning and batting at the turtle who barely dodged. Then, the tail regrew after a mere 30 seconds and bashed him across the chest, sending him crashing onto the hard concrete in a roll several feet away. Mikey was pretty sure the worried call from the Shredder was his imagination due to hitting his head. He pushed it aside and dodged while Shredder got the rat's attention once more.

This time Mikey focused on the feet. Since the tail wouldn't work, they needed a different strategy. He stowed his fractured nun-chuck away and using the chain of his kusarigama, tripped the rat up as he thought of something. As expected, the rat used its tail to keep from falling, but that was all Mikey needed to see that the creature's underbelly was not armored. He had a plan. With that in mind he rushed over to the Shredder and lead him away after they cut the tail one more time to bide them the slightest bit of time.

Shredder knew the turtle had a plan and followed his lead to put some distance between them and the rat. "What did you figure out?" He asked once they were hidden by some of the pillars farthest from the rat that screeched angrily. Mikey quickly relayed his findings and his plan. "Very well. We'll need to be quick then." Shredder agreed. Nodding, the turtle headed out with Shredder on his heels. Shredder regained the rat's attention and as soon as Michelangelo sliced the rat's tail off- thus gaining its fury- Shredder moved quickly. He ignored how the turtle was head butted back after the tail was gone and used his small window to slide under the beast and slice open the stomach from tail to the neck plating. He hissed as the rat got its claws into his shoulder and arms before he rolled out from under and made his way to the turtle's side. The death cries raised the hair on his neck.

The duo was silent as they kept an eye on the creature, wanting to make sure it was dead. It was. And in the puddle of black, inky liquid that left the creature, was a piece of a key. They shared a look, each revealing their own piece of the key. Together- Shredder supporting the limping turtle- they made their way to the only door in the area after collecting the last piece from the puddle. The key was completed, and the door opened to a bright light. As they stepped into it, they both couldn't help their relief at the dream finally being over.

-Level One: Complete-

When Mikey woke up around 5AM, he immediately wanted to fall back to sleep. He was sore all over and his chest and ankle hurt especially. He knew it was just phantom remnants of his freaky dream though, so he rolled over, touched his feet to the floor, and stood up. Only to yelp and fall as his left ankle gave out on him. He winced as he sat up and looked down to spot the swollen ankle, groaning. "Really Mikey? Twisting your ankle getting out of bed? The clumsy act isn't just an act if you do this shit by accident." He scolded himself, gingerly feeling around his injury to make sure it was just twisted and not rolled. Thankfully- it was just twisted. He could handle twisted. Sighing at his luck- or lack thereof - he stood and limped his way towards the bathroom. Considering the absolute hell his mind put him through while he was asleep, Mikey decided he deserved a warm bath before training that day.

Oroku Saki was sore when he woke up that morning. But he attributed that to phantom pains from his dream- or whatever it was- and pushed himself up. He gritted his teeth against the flare of pain in his shoulder and arm. Looking revealed several long, bright red scratch marks, a couple deep enough that they bled. He blinked, wondering if he had hurt himself in his sleep. It wouldn't have been the first time by any means, but it has been years, over a decade even, since he had last done so. He scowled and rose from the bed to clean and bandage his arm. He would need to be more thorough in his meditation before bed it seemed.

Neither thought back to the weird dream as they went about their day. It was after all, just a dream. It was over... Or so they thought.