“Come on, Margaret, let’s go! We don’t want to keep everyone else waiting.”
Anna—or as everyone else knew her, Agent 3—was being uncharacteristically enthusiastic as she led Margaret down a road that led to Pearl’s mansion. The shorter idol had invited every member of the Squidbeak Splatoon for a ‘badass, important dinner party’, and Anna was eager to take Margaret out of the house.
Margaret was called Agent 8 by most of the others, but Anna and Agent 4 (Who Anna later found was named Elise) were privileged to find out what her real name was after an impromptu sleepover months after Margaret and Anna got out of the Deepsea Metro. It took a long time to get Margaret to talk at all after the events with Commander Tartar, because she was still terrified, but her shell eventually broke down as she spent more time with the other agents. Now, Anna and Margaret roomed together, and Elise was staying with Pearl and Marina due to her missing rent because she just HAD to get the new weapon that Sheldon produced.
“Anna, I know you said this would be fun, but… I really don’t like being out here!” Margaret squeaked out anxiously, pulling down the cap she was wearing in an effort to hide her tentacles from view. Anna looked around nervously for a moment, then sighed softly.
“Margaret,” she began to say, almost in a scolding tone, “The ones who don’t really like you are back at Inkopolis! We’re too far out now for anyone to try and get you. Pearl’s apparently the only person around here for miles…”
Margaret turned to Anna, looking almost wistful, “Yeah… I guess you’re right,” she said, moreso to herself as she let her hands relax to her side.
The octoling’s fears were rather supported, much to Anna’s chagrin. When the two got to Inkopolis, they were met with some other octolings who were happy to see them, as well as some open-minded inklings that were happy to make friends with Margaret. But, as with many new things, a seemingly larger group of inklings, were scared and hateful towards the octolings that emerged. Several times at the start of Margaret’s attempts at Turf War, her teammates would either disconnect or the other team would target her specifically. Even Marina did nothing to quell the fears of these inklings: one was okay for them, but any more than that was clearly going to be a problem.
After a few moments of silence, paired with Anna looking intently at a map, the two jumped as a loud shout came from above them.
“Hey, losers, you’re late!” A higher pitch voice, which was none other than Pearl’s, called out from the balcony of her mansion. Marina strode up beside Pearl, shaking her head.
“Don’t yell at them like that, they had the farthest to walk,” she said softly to Pearl, then waved enthusiastically to the two below, “Hey guys! Come on up, the front door’s right in front of you guys.”
Anna nodded and started to quickly walk down the pathway, dragging Margaret along as the octoling continued to stare at Marina in admiration. Margaret had to be Marina’s number one fan, and it took everything in Anna’s power to ensure the idol wasn’t uncomfortable.
“After you!” Anna commented as she opened the front door, shoving Margaret in front of her and into the foyer of the mansion. Upon opening the door, the sound of Elise, Marie, Callie, and Cap’n Cuttlefish was heard from the other room, and they were surrounded by the smell of delicious food.
“Pearl came marching down the steps, followed by Marina, “I thought you would stand me up, which you know damn well I would not approve of,” she commented, coming over to lay a solid punch on both of their shoulders. Margaret yelped and rubbed her arm slowly, while Anna just laughed and punched the idol back.
“When someone says that something is badass AND important, I try to show up,” Anna replied lightheartedly as Pearl grumbled and rubbed her shoulder slowly. Marina sighed and walked up to Margaret.
“Hey… how are you holding up? It’s been a while since we last talked, Anna told me you were having trouble getting acclimated to the surface,” Marina asked in an almost whisper, allowing the two inklings to carry on in their playful banter. Margaret stared at Marina adoringly for a moment, then shook her head, as if to clear the fog from her brain.
“I’m doing… alright,” she sighed gently and looked at Marina, who had all the sympathy in the world to convey, “Anna’s nice, and I have a few octoling and inkling friends, but it feels like the amount of supporters is outweighed by the amount of hate I get.”
Marina nodded slowly, then smiled gently at Margaret, “Well, I’m hoping that something will change about that soon,” She replied, then turned towards the dining room, where Pearl and Anna were already seated with the others, “Come on, Pearl has something really important she wants to float by the rest of us.”
Margaret, who was mystified by the comment Marina made, followed behind her dutifully. The only open seat was right between Elise and Marie, so she sat down casually. Elise grinned at the octoling, while Marie acknowledged she was there before carrying on with her conversation with Cap’n and Callie.
“Hey, Margaret! They managed to get you out of the house, I see,” Elise commented playfully, jabbing her in the ribs with an elbow, “I thought I would never be able to see you face to face again!”
Margaret took a sharp inhale, sighing gently. Why was everyone in the Splatoon so hell-bent on trying to injure her? She hardly did anything!
“I’m fine, thanks. I just… I don’t really like going out. Anna just got me a new CD player, so I primarily use that and read up on inkling culture,” She explained calmly, trying to stifle a giggle as Elisa rolled her eyes. Elisa was always on the go and hyper, so Margaret’s calm and scholarly lifestyle practically killed her.
“God, you are no fun. Remind me to invite you to a Turf War match with my buds sometime,” she commented, then, noticing Margaret’s face become a bit pale, laughed nervously, “Don’t worry! They all really like octolings. One helped my friend get their sniper game up, she had been holding it wrong the whole time.”
Before Margaret could respond, Pearl hopped up onto her chair, placing her hands on her hips, “Alright, nerds! It’s time to chow down! My chefs are great, so if you walk away from here hungry, it’s your own fault!”
Marina, who was watching Pearl in adoration, smiled brightly, “After you guys eat, we have something we would like to discuss with all of you. It’s kind of… well, we’ll save it for when we talk,” She winked playfully at the others, who all groaned in unison.
“Come on! You can’t just leave us hanging!” Callie and Marie practically said in unison, while Cap’n Cuttlefish tried to calm the two down. Elise sunk down in her seat, and Anna just groaned.
Despite the chaos, everyone perked up as Pearl’s butlers came in with trays of food. Cooked veggies, simmered fruits, and different kinds of cooked birds were placed neatly on trays, and then set down in front of all the guests. Pearl smiled proudly.
The food was gone within an hour, and everyone was stuffed and sleepy at the end of their meals. Everyone was practically dozing off, but were forced to bring their attention to the ever –hyper Pearl. Even Marina, who had the most patience for her, seemed mildly irritated that her dozing was ruined by her enthusiasm.
“Alright, now that you’re done eating like hogfish, listen up!” She exclaimed brightly, “As you know, Marina, Agent 8, and myself are the newest members to your little club. But, I promise that I will be able to make everything here ten times better!” She exclaimed, not even skipping a beat when Marie, Callie, and Cap’n made noises of protest.
“Look, the old Squidbeak is stuffy, outdated. We’re in the modern times now, ya know? We need to rebrand ourselves. Make us more relevant!” Pearl continued to elaborate, her hands on her hips, “We gotta put our efforts right now into something else. The Zapfish is safe for now, so we don’t have to care about that!”
“We still need to worry about the Octarians trying to take it again,” Marie pointed out, then shook her head, “I’d also like to point out that we are already the NEW Squidbeak Splatoon. We already changed it up. We’re meant to protect Inkopolis.”
“Yeah!” Callie chimed in, “We can’t be the new NEW Squidbeak Splatoon, that would just be dumb!”
Marina cleared her throat gently, “What Pearlie is trying to say is that there are other things that need to be saved in Inkopolis. We were thinking that, instead of waiting for a huge problem like the Zapfish being stolen, we try to help out with smaller things, like helping when a different item is stolen, or training kids in Turf War.”
Cap’n thought for a moment, clearly intrigued, “So you mean to tell me that you want to do charity work, essentially? Like volunteer cops? I like it!” He banged his cane down onto the floor, as if to punctuate his interest.
“Marina doesn’t make it sound as cool, but yeah, basically,” Pearl groaned softly, then perked up right away, “And I was thinking that one of us could be the poster child. Y’know, sell it to us. I don’t think it should be Marina or I, because, y’know… we’re pretty famous. And I don’t think Marie or Callie would be good, since they’re less famous than us, but still known.”
Marie rolled her eyes, “Gee, thanks for that.”
“Anyway!” Marina exclaimed quickly, “We were actually thinking that Agent 8 could be our poster child!”
Margaret, who had been listening intently the entire time, jumped a bit as she heard Marina mention her, “What? Why me?”
Well, we were thinking that a lot of inklings still strongly dislike you. If you are on the front cover of a hero group, people will begin to associate octolings with good!” Marina explained. Anna clearly looked nervous, looking at Margaret worriedly as the octoling fiddled with their shirt.
‘Yeah, that COULD happen, but that could also really backfire. What if they just think that she’s trying to get in somehow? Like, do something really bad?” Anna asked urgently. Pearl waved her hand dismissively.
“Even if that did happen, we could just have her do more for inklings. Have her show off that she doesn’t have any real problems.” Pearl suggested. Margaret was shaking slightly at this point, but she did not know whether it was from fear or excitement. Elisa had started to talk as well, and by this point everyone but Margaret was talking about her participation.
“I just don’t think it would work!” Elisa exclaimed worriedly.
“Well, I think it would be a great idea!” Callie responded enthusiastically.
This arguing continued for a while, before finally Margaret got up and slammed her hands on the table to get everyone’s attention.
“That’s enough!” Margaret exclaimed loudly, the room going silent as they looked to her, “I… I’ll do it. If it helps to have people hate me less, I’ll do it!”
Pearl smiled widely as she went over to Margaret, looking up at her. She almost appeared proud. “That’s the spirit! I’ll get you with my photographer tomorrow, alright?”
Margaret looked around at everyone else at the table. There was a mix of both excitement and fear etched on everyone’s faces. No one looked more fearful than Anna, who was staring at Margaret in disbelief. She had to look away, opting to look Pearl in the eye. She looked the most excited of them all, her yellow eyes gleaming in the lights of the dining room.
“…alright,” she agreed, nodding her head, “That sounds just fine. Text me and I’ll meet you there.”
Pearl nodded and stretched out slightly, yawning a bit, “Alright, good talk guys! Now get out of my house, we need rest!”
Pearl and Marina went out of the dining room and upstairs, Elisa following suit after looking at Margaret worriedly. Marie, Callie, and Cap’n all got up slowly, and did not even glance at Margaret as they left: they just patted her on the shoulder gently. When it was just Anna and Margaret, Anna stood up and walked over to Anna, looking her dead in the eye.
“You REALLY think this is a good idea?” Anna asked, looking at her with all of the concern she could possibly have.
And, Margaret had to admit it to herself: She really had no idea.