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Begin Again (Part 1 - Fish Out Of Water)

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In the early hours of the morning, he awoke to the sound of an automated alarm.

“Warning. Unauthorized intrusion detected.” The alarm, coming through a tinny speaker somewhere to his left, then began making whooping noises, before repeating itself in its calm female voice.

He forced his eyes awake. It took him a few seconds to realise that he was in the strange room from before. He turned his head to the left, towards the source of the sound. It was a radio. It sat on the table next to the bed, next to which was a lamp, a neatly folded pile of clothing, and a water gun of some kind. It was a pile that seemed to be intended for him.

He reached out to take hold of the weapon, swinging himself to a sitting position on the bed, and as he did so realised that his arm was hairless, free of freckles. He frowned. In fact, it really didn’t look like his own arm at all. His gaze travelled up his arm and towards the shoulder, and it took for him to finally gaze down his body to realise this was NOT his body at all.

His mouth hung open. He stood quickly, ignoring the blare of the alarm for a moment as he searched frantically for a mirror. He found one in the dresser and stood before it. Thick, sky blue tentacles hung from his head, like long hair. A sort of black opera mask had grown in around his wider eyes. Hell, it was just plain to see that the body he had right now reminded him of one of the girls that had been in the room with him previously.

“Oh fuck me…” they said, in a voice that they didn’t recognise.

The radio siren suddenly stopped, which cut off their train of thought. Their head snapped to look at the radio, and they reached over to grab the weapon from the table.

They jumped when a less calm version of the alarm’s recorded voice came in over the radio. “Come in human. Come in, human.” It said loudly. “There are multiple enemies headed in your direction and nobody else is nearby to help you. I’m sorry about what’s happened to you, but...”

He… she… they… tuned out the voice as they examined the Splattershot Jr. It looked similar to an Uzi, but painted light gray, and orange in some parts, like it was some offbrand Nerf gun. The hastily-attached rounded container snapped onto the back of seemed to hold… some type of liquid inside, they couldn't tell what. Looking over it though, it seemed very similar to the water pistol comparison he had made just before.

“...may have to fight them. I’ll be there as soon as I can, but-”

A bang on the door caused them to fumble and nearly drop the Splattershot. They whipped around and focused on the door, weapon trained on it, trembling.

It was silent, for just a moment. And then the explosion of a Blaster burst the door wide open, and on the other side was a creature, similar to the two she had already seen, but less… friendly. It froze for just a moment, in some sort of surprise at the target’s form, but that was enough time for the newly-turned Inkling to jam her finger on the trigger.

She was surprised to feel the force of the Splattershot’s blast. But she was more surprised by the projectile itself. A shot of orange ink burst from the muzzle of the weapon, one after another, and pelted the other creature, quickly causing them to burst into orange ink, which covered her and most of the doorway.

She could barely register what had just happened, before a shot of reddish ink zipped through the doorway and splattered against the back wall of the room. I can’t stay here, she quickly realised. I’ll be a goner for sure. But I’ll have to get out there…with them.

She pressed herself against the wall next to the doorway, invisible to the attackers. Gun against her chest, she slowly attempted to lean out to see how many were out there.

She snapped her head back as more red ink loosed itself in her direction. She was pretty sure she saw three more of those… things. They seemed similar to her, and yet seemed more sinister to the creatures she’d already met. Domes like suction cups grew along their red tentacles, and they all had a distinct black outfit. She didn’t get a good look at their eyes, they seemed to have been covered in something black as well.

She also saw that there was some kind of rock formation, like an arch, to the right of the open doorway, and open sky. She figured if she could at least make her way in that direction she’d have a better chance of survival.

And so, without much of a plan, much of a hope, she leapt from the doorway, Splattershot blazing, landed on the cold concrete ground, and ran for it past the archway. Most of the ground was covered in orange and red ink, which she avoided, not knowing better - leaping between patches and lines and puddles, shooting aimlessly behind her. The octopus-human-looking creatures were just cresting the hill now and headed for her. She’d gained some distance, somehow.

She had a quick idea and, aiming carefully, placed a few shots of ink on the ground, so that the way to her was covered in ink. She was standing in the open, near some odd kettle concreted into the ground, but surely they couldn’t cross the ink?

The squad of three stopped before the ink. They looked at the veritable sea of ink that had been laid down over time, and then at the Inkling that was undeniably their target. The Octolings looked to each other, then nodded and aimed their weapons.

Their red ink splashed on top of the orange ink, as they made a red bridge towards her. The Inkling stepped back carefully from their shots, wondering what they were up to.

And then the leader of the three smirked at her, and leapt at the ink trail, transforming into some kind of squid before her very eyes, and disappearing into the ink, her two comrades following behind her.

Oh fuck, was the only thing that went through her mind as she turned and ran, trying to find a corner to get away from them, but as they snaked after her, gaining inch after inch on her, it seemed impossible. She turned and aimed as best she could at the leader. Half her shots missed, but even those landed in the ink trail, and seemed to slow the others. But she kept firing, and saw one more Octoling burst into orange ink, showering her friends and forcing them up out of the ink, struggling to get out of the orange ink.

Huh… she thought to herself, before they opened fire.

They were definitely better than her. Several shots pelted into her chest, causing her to scream out in pain. This body really didn’t like the red ink - it felt like poison was burrowing into her, and she staggered back and fell backwards onto the cold concrete floor, just inches from the edge of the platform.

One of the Octolings stepped out of the ink, and slowly stepped toward her, not stopping until it was standing right above her body, pinned by its legs on either side. Feeling like she only had one chance left, the Inkling girl snapped her weapon arm up so it was pointed right at the thing’s face, and held down the trigger.

Click.

The Octoling smirked. In a low, female voice, it said, “You’re coming with us now.”

And then she exploded into green ink.

The girl expected to feel more pain as it spilled down on her, but oddly she just felt soaked and shocked. She looked around to see what happened.

The green-tentacled girl had arrived. She was standing a few meters away, holding an umbrella out like a weapon. She ran over and reached a hand out to the confused Inkling. “Hi. Can you understand me?" The squid girl nodded dumbly, and she was helped up. "I’m Marie. Come on. The last one’s trying to get away.”

The squid girl climbed back on her feet, and sprinted in the direction Marie had pointed in, leaping over the ink puddles, before reaching an ‘impenetrable’ floor of red ink. The Octoling on the other side, preparing to jump away, turned to look at her.

It had removed the veil from its eyes. They were glasses, she realised, as they looked across the way right at her. The Inkling was surprised to realise that this one's features were softer than she expected, and she had dark brown eyes.

And while she was taking this in... The Octoling wolf-whistled at her.

In her confusion, she looked down at her hands, and then the rest of her.

And realised that she had been battling these things nude this whole time.

She heard a sound like a bottle rocket going off, and looked back up.

And the Octoling had launched itself away, into the sky.

“...What.”

Her gaze followed its trail into the night sky, and then just stared into the stars. A minute passed. The danger seemingly over, the adrenaline started to wear off and the full realisation of what had happened to her began to hit. She sank to her knees and continued to stare outward, thoughts rushing through her mind. She heard Marie walk up next to her, and didn’t turn.

They both sat and looked up at the stars for at least five minutes. The cold night air brushed past them, and the naked Inkling began to shiver.

“Why didn’t you put those clothes on?” Marie asked. It occurred to the other that she understood the green squid suddenly. She attributed this to the transformation she’d undergone.

“...No time.” She finally spoke, amazed at the sound of her own voice. Her older voice was a lot deeper, more… male, because of course. This one was strangely more in line with the voice she imagined herself having if she were female, only younger. “I’d only gotten to pick up the… the weapon before I had to…”

She went silent. Marie understood.

“I… I didn’t just murder, did I…?”

“No. They are still alive, for better or worse. They most likely ended up regrouping back home.”

More silence. The Inkling turned her head to look up at her. “Why were they after me, though?”

Marie thought. “That… I don’t know. When you fell, you were only out here for maybe five minutes, tops before I got you inside to safety. Unless they saw you fall out of the sky, they really shouldn’t have known you were here…” There was a pause. The Inkling realised she was still working things out too.

Marie continued, “If they saw you falling, then I guess they had to have put together that you were that person somehow, and that you were still here… Hmm. And they wanted to take you away…”

Marie turned to look at her. “Whatever is going on, we won’t let you get captured by them. It’s… making the best of a bad situation for you, I realise... but you’ll like being a part of this world. I promise.”

“Now get some clothes on, you silly squid, it’s like three in the morning.”